HOUSTON (AP) – Houston’s offensive line has never been great, but recent injuries have left the struggling unit in worse shape than ever.
David Carr has been sacked a league-high 43 times this season, and now he must face the undefeated Indianapolis Colts and NFL sack leader Robert Mathis.
Rookie Drew Hodgdon, who has been starting at center since a shakeup before the Seattle game, will miss Sunday’s game with a sprained arch in his foot. Right guard Zach Wiegert has been out with a high ankle sprain since Oct. 16.
Houston (1-7) was forced to use three players at center against Jacksonville. Hodgdon was injured and then replaced by Todd Washington who sat down after one play with a neck injury.
“After Todd took one play, (Steve) McKinney’s standing there going ‘I guess I’m playing center because no one else in the huddle can snap,'” Carr said. “It was definitely tough, but they bounced back.”
Well sort of.
They managed to finish the game, but Carr was sacked six times, including once where his fumble led to a touchdown by the Jaguars.
Now Carr will likely line up against a team that has racked up a league-high 28 sacks with seldom used Fred Weary at center. The 6-foot-4, 308 pound Weary has been inactive every game this season and was active only twice last year.
“It’s finally my chance to go out there and maybe make a statement about myself,” Weary said. “It’s about not letting nothing get me down, not being the weak link.”
Coach Dom Capers wants to plug Weary in at center because he thinks McKinney is more productive at left guard and wants to keep Chester Pitts at left tackle.
“We’re going to have to have a couple different combinations in case we have an injury like we had in the game,” Capers said.
The Colts sacked Carr five times in their first meeting this season.
Indianapolis forced a fumble on one of those sacks and its defense ran it back for a score in Houston’s 38-20 loss.
Carr has undoubtedly gotten used to getting hit often, being sacked a whopping 183 times in his career. But he was hopeful that things were beginning to improve before the recent spate of injuries.
He said the problems are frustrating.
“Yeah definitely, I would be lying if I said it wasn’t,” he said. “We had to play musical chairs on the offensive line where more than one guy moves so it was tough definitely.”
As he works through a dismal season where he is on pace to break his own NFL record of being sacked 76 times, Carr said a priority for the team in the offseason has to be figuring out a way to better protect him.
“I think that’s the first thing on their list is to make sure we’re not giving up the sacks,” he said. “Because obviously one stat that sticks out when you talk about our team is we give up too many sacks _ whoever’s fault it is.”
The affable quarterback always praises the hard work of his linemen and remains optimistic that things will improve. He said he hasn’t been able to show how good of an NFL quarterback he can be because he’s sacked so often.
“I think there is still a lot of potential not only for myself. … I feel bad for guys like Andre (Johnson), Domanick (Davis) and guys that have just unbelievable talent.”