Familiarity abounds when Texans and Bills meet

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HOUSTON (AP) — Sunday's game between Houston and Buffalo will be a reunion of two old friends in Texans coach Bill O'Brien and Bills coach Doug Marrone.

The pair has been buddies for years, working as assistants at Georgia Tech in the late 1990s and maintaining their relationship in the years since.

The ties between these two run so deep that O'Brien's wife introduced Marrone to his wife when he was coaching at Northeastern in 1994.

"He's one of my closest friends," O'Brien said. "He's a guy that helped me really break into this profession as a graduate assistant at Georgia Tech. He's a fantastic football coach."

Of course, this week things are a little different with the pair exchanging good-natured jabs that included Marrone joking that O'Brien had a pampered upbringing.

"Listen, I was a scholarship player at Syracuse," Marrone said. "Bill went to Brown. OK. He's from Massachusetts and went to some hoity-toity prep school, all right? I went to a high school in the Bronx."

Marrone finally got serious and addressed the importance of their friendship.

"We have a great relationship through the year, except for this week," Marrone said. "And I'm sure he'd say the same."

The two find themselves in similar situations this week with both of their teams looking to bounce back from tough losses after opening their seasons 2-0.

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three interceptions in Houston's 30-17 loss to the New York Giants last week after not having a turnover in the first two games. Now he'll face a Buffalo defense featuring Mario Williams, the top overall pick of the Texans in 2006.

"Their front four, they've got one if not the best in the game in terms of the way they're able to not only stop the run, but get after the quarterback in the passing game," Fitzpatrick said. "They wreak a lot of havoc up there."

Here are a few other things to know about the Bills-Texans game.


With Sunday's start, center Chris Myers will have started 100 straight games for the Texans since joining the team in 2008. The start will stretch his streak of consecutive starts to 116 overall, which is the second-longest active streak among offensive linemen.

"I wasn't keeping track by any means," he said. "Someone mentioned it the other day. It's a pretty cool little thing. Little side note."


Houston's DeAndre Hopkins and Buffalo's Sammy Watkins played together at Clemson and Hopkins said that the rookie is like a brother to him. Hopkins is in his second season after being selected 27th overall in last year's draft. Hopkins was the No. 4 pick in the 2014 draft. Hopkins said he wasn't jealous that Watkins was drafted so much higher than him.

"I definitely think he was worth that pick, if not higher than fourth," Hopkins said.

Hopkins downplayed the notion that he took Watkins under his wing at Clemson, saying he was so good he didn't really need any help. But Watkins raved about what Hopkins meant to him as a mentor.

"He gave me great advice throughout my whole career," Watkins said. "He really just told me: 'Everything is football. You can go out there and make plays. You definitely can be a great receiver at this level,' and he really just gave me so much confidence coming in."


The Bills have had at least one sack in 16 straight games dating to Sept. 29, 2013. It's the longest streak in franchise history since Buffalo recorded at least one in a team-record 29 consecutive games when Bruce Smith was playing from Oct. 1996 to Oct. 1998, according to STATS.

The Bills have four sacks this season led by Williams, who has two.


Houston running back Arian Foster is listed day to day for Sunday's game with a hamstring injury. He ran for more than 100 yards in the first two games this season before missing Sunday's game against New York with the injury.

O'Brien said they'll likely work him out before the game on Sunday to see if he can go. If Foster does play he'll look to rush for 100 yards in three straight games for just the second time in his career and the first since 2011.


Texans receiver Andre Johnson needs seven receptions and 148 yards on Sunday to reach 950 receptions and 13,000 yards receiving. If he reaches 950 receptions against the Bills, he'll tie Marvin Harrison in needing the fewest games (158 games) in NFL history to reach the mark. Jerry Rice holds the record to reach 13,000 yards receiving by doing it in his 154th game and Harrison is second at 162.


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