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Old 11-22-2015, 12:21 PM   #1
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Texans start Yates against Jets and former QB Fitzpatrick

The New York Jets will start Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday against the Houston Texans after he had thumb surgery last week.

In Houston the quarterback situation continues to be an issue and the Texans will start their third different player at the position on Sunday with Brian Hoyer out with a concussion.

With Hoyer out, T.J. Yates will get his first start since he was a rookie on Jan. 15, 2012, when the Texans lost 20-13 to the Ravens in the playoffs. The Texans picked up Brandon Weeden off waivers on Wednesday and he'll back up Yates on Sunday.

For Fitzpatrick, it's a chance to face a former team that traded him after last season. He started 12 games for Houston in 2014.

"The fact that they didn't necessarily want me at the end of the year plays into it a little bit for me, just from the personal standpoint," Fitzpatrick said.

"But it's not a big thing, other than we're out there trying to win a game, get back on track. So the personal stuff has to be set aside and I've got to try to win a football game."

The surgery was to repair a torn ligament on the left thumb of the right-handed quarterback. He played two games with the injury before having surgery last Friday. Fitzpatrick said there are factors other than tolerating the pain that he's dealing with in the wake of the surgery.

"If it was that easy, then for sure there wouldn't an issue," he said. "There's just an issue with fresh off a surgery, just making sure everything stays clean, the incision and all that. There's a couple different factors that are playing into it."

The Jets are coming off a loss to the Bills and Houston has won two straight, capped by Monday night's victory over previously undefeated Cincinnati.

Yates took over after Hoyer was injured in that one and accounted for the only touchdown of the night with a TD pass to DeAndre Hopkins. He expects playing this week to be a bit easier because he got almost all the snaps with the first team in practice.

"Some of those plays I ran in the game were the first time I've ever run them, period, practice or game," he said. "So you feel more comfortable going in, getting more reps during the week."

Some things to know about the Jets-Texans game.

RUNNING WOES: The Texans are averaging 87.2 yards rushing this season, which ranks 28th in the league. The challenge to improve the running game will be even more difficult when they face a defense that ranks first in the NFL against the run, allowing 88.1 yards a game. Houston has started Alfred Blue in the two games since Arian Foster was lost for the season, but has managed just 61 yards rushing combined in those games. The Texans will also use Chris Polk and Jonathan Grimes to try to jumpstart the running game.

DYNAMIC DUO: Jets wide receivers Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall have touchdown catches in the same game five times this season. Decker has a team-leading seven, while Marshall has six. Both players are in the top five among NFL wide receivers in touchdowns since 2010, with Marshall (46) in third place and Decker (45) tied with Green Bay's Jordy Nelson for fourth.

HOPKINS' HEALTH: Hopkins has missed practice this week with a knee injury, but said Thursday that he's fine and will play on Sunday. Hopkins is third in the NFL with 927 yards receiving and his seven touchdown receptions are tied for fourth in the league. "DeAndre's played a lot of football for us, so I think he'll remember the plays and I think he'll be ready to go," O'Brien said.

BANGED-UP: The Jets were unsure whether they'd have defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson (hamstring) on Sunday. Coach Todd Bowles said Richardson would be a game-time decision. Antonio Cromartie (bruised thigh) missed the Jets' previous game against Buffalo after being hurt early against Jacksonville, but is expected to play Sunday. Safety Calvin Pryor is expected to play after missing three games, and backup running back Bilal Powell could return after sitting for four games both because of high ankle sprains.

MACC'S BACK: The game marks the return to Houston for Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan, who worked in the Texans front office for 15 years before being hired by New York in January. Maccagnan, Houston's director of college scouting the past four years, worked closely with Texans GM Rick Smith during their time together and counts him as one of the biggest influences on his professional life.

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