HOUSTON -- High on the list of the Dolphins’ priorities last offseason was finding a pass rusher who could complement Cameron Wake. They drafted Olivier Vernon in the hopes he could be that guy.
But perhaps they have had one under their nose all along.
Defensive tackle Randy Starks was responsible for both of the team’s sacks Sunday, dropping Texans quarterback Matt Schaub twice in a dominant first half.
Starks said afterward that he focused more on his pass rush in the offseason, because the Dolphins’ switch to a 4-3 defense dictates that he play the “three-technique,” lining up opposite the guard’s outside shoulder.
“I’ll probably have more opportunities for one-on-ones,” Starks said. “[But Sunday], the [defensive backs] helped me get those sacks with the coverage.”
Both of Starks’ sacks helped keep points off the board.
The first pushed back a Shayne Graham field-goal attempt that ultimately fell short, and the second stopped Houston’s momentum after its first of three interceptions. Starks also had a key tackle on a third-down run in the first half, ending another Texans drive.
But can he sustain it? Starks, the ninth-year defensive lineman, already has nearly half of his entire 2011 sack total (4.5), although he proved in 2009 that he can generate pressure up the middle. His seven sacks that year were a career-best.
Before the game went sideways on the Dolphins, Reggie Bush was probably the most dominant offensive player on the field.
He ran with strength and speed in the first half Sunday, powering his way between the tackles and beating defensive ends to the edge. The Dolphins made a concerted effort to feed Bush early, giving him the ball on three of the game’s first four plays and six of the first 10.
When the Dolphins fell behind, they got away from the running game, but Bush still finished with 69 yards on 14 carries. He also had six catches for 46 yards.
“It was really encouraging,” Bush said. “The offensive line did a great job of opening up holes for us and making it easy for the running backs to go out there and make plays.”
THIS AND THAT
• The Dolphins inactives were: Lamar Miller, Will Yeatman, Pat Devlin, Sammy Brown, Ray Feinga, Michael Egnew and Rishard Matthews.
• Jonathan Freeny, activated from the practice squad to the 53-man roster Saturday, dressed and played Sunday. On the season’s opening kickoff, Freeny was flagged for holding.
• Texans receiver Lestar Jean, who played his college ball at Florida Atlantic, had one catch for 9 yards.
• The Dolphins fumbled three times, losing one — the Daniel Thomas carry late in the first half. Thomas sustained a head injury on that play and did not return.
• Wake, Jake Long and John Denney were the Dolphins’ captains.
• Reliant Stadium’s retractable roof was closed for the game.
• After the game, the Texans announced they had signed Schaub to a four-year contract extension reportedly worth $62 million.
Houston now leads the all-time series 7-0.