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Browns, Texans Playoff Primer: Who are the star players on Houston's defense?

Though they’ve been flying under the radar, the Texans’ defense has quite a few “studs”

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Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The Houston Texans have been very strong defensively for most of the 2023 regular season and that’s due to the development of young talent over the past handful of years.

Despite the outcome of their regular season matchup, Houston’s defense is nothing to be scoffed at. They’re in the top 10-12 when it comes to a lot of the most important defensive categories, and have been getting healthier and healthier in recent weeks. The Texans were without multiple defenders in Week 16, and it most likely affected the final outcome of the game.

Though there are a couple more guys who have had their moments for Houston’s defense in 2023, these four players have consistently been top-notch throughout the entire year.

DE Jonathan Greenard

2023 Stats

Tackles: 52

TFL: 15

Sacks: 12.5

PFF Grade: 78.2

Greenard is enjoying a breakout campaign this year for Houston and has been on a tear over the 2nd half of the season with 8.5 sacks in the last 8 games. He’s developed into one of the best pure pass rushers in the AFC and he’s certainly somebody that Cleveland is going to have to game plan around.

He should be receiving a hefty contract extension soon.

DE Will Anderson Jr.

2023 Stats

Tackles: 45

TFL: 10

Sacks: 7

PFF Grade: 81.8

Anderson Jr. was one of the most dominant pass rushers in college football for 3 years at Alabama before being drafted by the Texans in the 1st round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Anderson has been without a doubt one of the best rookie defenders in the league this season, and he’s just getting started.

The pass-rush duo of Greenard and Anderson is going to be a dangerous one going forward.

CB Derek Stingley Jr.

2023 Stats

Tackles: 39

Pass Deflections: 13

Interceptions: 5

PFF Grade: 81.8

Stingley had a rough start to the season due to a hamstring injury but he’s been very, very good over the last 7-8 weeks of the regular season. He’s a ball hawk who has a knack for being able to consistently get himself into advantageous positions in coverage.

Despite Amari Cooper’s huge receiving day in Week 16, Stingley only allowed 3 catches for 43 yards on 7 targets when assigned to Cooper. Houston might have Stingley “shadowing” Cooper more often this game in man coverage.

LB Blake Cashman

2023 Stats

Tackles: 106

TFL: 9

Pass Deflections: 5

Sacks: 2

PFF Grade: 83.7

Cashman was somebody who Cleveland was keeping tabs on in the 2019 NFL Draft. He’s extremely versatile in terms of his overall skillset and capabilities. He’s been excellent in coverage for Houston this season and isn’t afraid to throw his body around against the run.

He’s by far the best linebacker that the Texans have, and he should be healthy and good to go against Cleveland on Saturday after dealing with a hamstring injury that kept him out of their first matchup.

Are there any other Houston defenders that Cleveland should be worried about? Join fellow Browns fans in the comment section below.