Ejiofor's season is done

Houston Texans' OLB Duke Ejiofor suffers torn ACL, out for season

Photo by Zach Tarrant/Houstontexans.com

The Houston Texans announced late Friday afternoon that OLB Duke Ejiofor sustained an ACL injury during the first day of padded practice — originally reported by Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. With no timetable on his return, Texans' head coach Bill O'Brien expects a long rehab process for the 25-year-old Houston native.

"Duke Ejiofor suffered a knee injury in practice," head coach Bill O'Brien said Saturday morning. "Duke has been through a lot...It's a tough blow for him, and it's going to be a long rehab for him. We'll place him on IR in the next couple of days."

In 2018, the Texans selected Ejiofor in the sixth-round of the 2018 NFL Draft. During the 12 games he played as a rookie, Ejiofor showed promise recording nine tackles, a sack, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery in 158 defensive snaps and 56 on special teams. He suffered a torn Achilles' tendon last training camp and missed all of the 2019 season.

With Ejiofor out, O'Brien says he expects to increase the role of Jacob Martin to help fill in the void. Acquired in a trade from the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for Jadeveon Clowney, Martin recorded 11 tackles (six solo hits), seven quarterback hits and 3.5 sacks in 221 defensive snaps in 2019.

"He brings a lot of energy to practice," O'Brien said. "Really quick first step in pass rush game. Gotten better at understanding our system. Body type that helps us on special teams. Great guy, really good pro, brings a lot of juice to our defense."

In addition to Martin, the Texans will rely on rookie Jonathan Greenard and third-year linebacker Peter Kalambayi to step in for the injured Ejiofor.

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Houston drops first of three

Mariners heat up late to take series opener over Astros

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

With the playoffs just a little over a week away, the Astros started their last week of regular-season games in Seattle against the Mariners. A couple of wins against them would secure Houston's spot as the AL West's second playoff participant, with Oakland all but having locked up the first spot sitting six games in front of Houston with seven left to play. Here is a quick rundown of the opener from T-Mobile Park:

Final Score: Mariners 6, Astros 1.

Record: 27-27, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Marco Gonzalez (7-2, 3.06 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (3-3, 4.24 ERA).

Bitter end to an impressive start for McCullers Jr.

Both starting pitchers would take a scoreless deep late into Monday night's game. While the Astros were trying to figure out Marco Gonzalez, Lance McCullers Jr. was repeating the success of his last start, a seven-inning two-hit start against the Rangers.

McCullers Jr. allowed a two-out walk in the bottom of the first inning, then proceeded to retire the next fourteen batters before a one-out double in the bottom of the sixth gave the Mariners their first hit of the night. He would go on to finish the sixth before things unraveled in the seventh.

A leadoff walk would result in a run after an error by Jose Altuve left runners on first and second, setting up an RBI-double to give the Mariners the first run of the night and a 1-0 lead. McCullers Jr. looked like he was going to cap off his night by stranding the runners on second and third after back-to-back strikeouts, but before he could get the last out of the inning allowed a three-run home run to blow the game open at 4-0. His final line: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 HR, 102 P.

Mariners take the opener

Despite getting several hits against him along the way, Houston could not get anything substantial going against Gonzalez, who would shutout the Astros over eight innings of work. After Enoli Paredes finished the seventh, Brandon Bielak would take over out of Houston's bullpen for the bottom of the eighth.

He struggled mightily, loading the bases with no outs, including a hit batter before allowing a two-RBI single to extend Seattle's lead to 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the top of the ninth, getting a two-out double by Carlos Correa, who would score on an RBI-single by Josh Reddick. That would be too little, too late as the 6-1 score would go final as the Mariners took the opener, keeping the Astros' magic number at two.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will be another 8:10 PM Central start on Tuesday. On the mound will be Framber Valdez (4-3, 3.82 ERA) for the Astros and Ljay Newsome (0-1, 6.35 ERA) for the Mariners.

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