Friday notebook: Allen taking on key role


Texans coach Gary Kubiak announced Friday that rookie tight end Garrett Graham has been ruled out of Monday night's game against the Ravens.

Otherwise, it was good news on the injury front for the Texans. Wide receiver Andre Johnson (ankle) and defensive end Mario Williams (groin) returned to practice, and both are on track to play in Week 14.

"They're right where they normally are during the week," Kubiak said after practice. "They'll be fine."

The Texans will have their final practice of the week on Saturday.

Allen stepping up
Cornerback Jason Allen has quickly become a key member of the Texans' secondary since being claimed off waivers from the Dolphins on Nov. 11.

"He's basically starting at nickel," Kubiak said. "We're trying to take a series or two off of Kareem (Jackson) somehow throughout the game… Depending on what people are doing against us, he's probably playing 70-80 percent of the game."

Allen had his first interception with the Texans last Thursday at Philadelphia. It was his fourth interception of the season.

"He's playing better," Kubiak said. "He's getting a feel for what we're doing. We actually had to go back and do some things because of the things he's missed throughout camp and early in the season. He's shown signs that he can help us, so we stopped and went back and got them done."

"Caught in the wash"
One player who has not seen much of the field is rookie wide receiver Dorin Dickerson. The seventh-round draft pick out of Pittsburgh has played in only four games this season.

"The problem is you can only suit 45 (on gameday)," Kubiak said. "He's always the guy sitting there on Sunday, 'Are we going to suit him or are we going to suit a ninth DB? Do we have a sixth healthy linebacker?' So he's caught in the wash. Would I like to suit him? I'd love to suit him every week and have him play special teams and get experience, but when you show up on Sunday, you get 45 guys, and he's just kind of been getting caught in the wash.

"He's been doing his job. There's a chance he could suit up this week, but I don't know."

Impressed with Leinart
Quarterback Matt Leinart remains third on the depth chart behind Dan Orlovsky, but the former Arizona Cardinals starter and Heisman Trophy winner has fared well in his limited practice reps this season.

"I've been very impressed with him, guys," Kubiak said. "For a guy and what he's been through, I'm very impressed with him mentally and how much football he knows and where he's come with us. I'm very impressed with how he practices. He's a leader. He has that kind of 'it' factor when he's around people. I've seen this happen before in guys' careers, and I don't have any doubt that it's going to happen to him. I think he's going to be a fine player."

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