Texans trying to turn yards into points

Updated: October 22, 2003, 6:56 PM ET
ESPN

HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans rank with the AFC South elite when it comes to piling up yards, but unlike division rivals Indianapolis and Tennessee they're not converting that yardage into points.

So while the Colts and Titans are vying for the division lead, the Texans are mired at 2-4 and prohibitive underdogs at Indianapolis Sunday.

"It's execution," tight end Billy Miller said Wednesday. "Something's happening when we get down there. I don't know if we're pressing, I don't know what it is. But we've got to find out this week because it's definitely a problem."

Houston's 19-14 loss at home last Sunday to the New York Jets was a microcosm of the offensive impotence all season. The Texans mounted two long first-quarter drives and capped each with a touchdown, then went on to easily outgain New York. Yet the Texans never so much as attempted a field goal and their final drive ended with a failed fourth-down play at the Jets' 9.

The Texans' task now is to mix in a little paydirt with all their land acquisition. That means eliminating ill-timed penalties and improving their 31 percent conversion rate on third downs, which ranks them near the bottom of the conference.

"I think the yardage comes from having great individual players on this team and we can pull it together on a couple of plays and make some nice drives, but it takes a team effort when you get down in the red zone or in critical situations like third-down plays," quarterback David Carr said.

"That's something we're still lacking. We haven't matured enough to get the third down or the touchdown, or instead of getting seven (points) getting three, or maybe getting knocked out of field goal range."

Throw in a defense whose best game in the points-against column is 19 (last Sunday) and an offense that's third from the bottom in the AFC at 16.7 points per game, and it's clear why the second-year Texans have a 2-4 record.

At least they are moving the ball unlike last year, center Steve McKinney said, so there's hope the scoreboard will jibe with the stat sheet sooner or later.

"I think it's something that comes," said McKinney, a four-year starter on the explosive Colts offenses led by Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison. "As long as we keep putting up yards and moving the football, the big plays and scoring opportunities are going to come.

"You can't get impatient or frustrated with it. You just have to keep working hard at doing what you're doing. What we're doing is working, we just have to score more points."

^Notes:@ Pro Bowl cornerback Aaron Glenn, who missed the past two games with a groin injury, practiced for the first time in three weeks Wednesday and appeared fit. Coach Dom Capers reserved judgment on whether Glenn will return, although he acknowledged the Texans need all the help they can get defending Harrison. ... Outside linebacker Charlie Clemons has an injured left foot and did not practice. Capers said it was possible rookie Antwan Peek could replace him in the lineup Sunday. He would become the fourth rookie to make at least one start this season, joining receiver Andre Johnson, defensive lineman Terrance Martin and running back Domanick Davis. Last season as many as six rookies started any given game for the expansion Texans.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index