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Nick's Notes: Brian Cushing day-to-day with bruised ribs


Notes and quotes from Texans head coach Gary Kubiak's Sunday afternoon press conference at Reliant Stadium, a day after the Texans beat the San Francisco 49ers 20-9 in their home preseason opener:

Bruised ribs for Cushing
The Texans came out of the 49ers game without any major injuries. Kubiak said the biggest one of note was to linebacker Brian Cushing, who went to the locker room during the second quarter because of bruised ribs.

Kubiak said Cushing, the Texans' 2011 MVP, should be on the field when the Texans return to practice on Tuesday.

"He didn't miss any of his time (in the game)," Kubiak said. "He played extremely well. He's pretty sore today, so I think he'll be day-to-day."

Starting nose tackle Shaun Cody, who sat out last week with a lower back injury, is expected to start running tomorrow. He is also day-to-day.

Watt "very close"
Defensive end J.J. Watt will likely return to practice next week after the Texans' third preseason game at New Orleans. That would mean he won't play in a game until the regular-season opener on Sept. 9, because the Texans' starters will not play in the preseason finale against Minnesota on Aug. 30.

Watt has been out for two weeks with a dislocated left elbow.

"I think we're very close," Kubiak said. "He's going to go to work starting tomorrow doing a lot of sled work and position-specific type stuff. He will still work with the trainers. I think we are very close to getting him on the field, and to say later this week would probably get me really excited, but I think to say that he'll be on the field next week, getting his reps with the defense, would probably be a pretty fair assessment at this point."

RT battle
In the ongoing competition for the Texans' starting right tackle job, Derek Newton started against San Francisco in place of Rashad Butler, who started the previous game at Carolina. The two players rotated throughout the first three quarters.

Kubiak characterized Newton's performance as "pretty good."

"He continues to flash," Kubiak said. "He's a young player that flashes the ability to be one heck of a player. We're trying to find that consistency there along the way, but I think he took a step forward. We gave him an opportunity to start; I think he took advantage of it. I think he went out there and did some good things. We still got to get it totally consistent. Butler played well also in the game. That battle is going to go until the very end."

Patience with Posey
Rookie wide receiver DeVier Posey, a third-round pick from Ohio State, still does not have a catch in the preseason. He has been targeted just one time in both of the Texans' first two preseason games, both times in the fourth quarter.

Because rookie fourth-round pick Keshawn Martin and second-year pro Lestar Jean have played so well, Posey has had fewer opportunities.

"The way it kind of played out last night, the guys that are working with the third group did not get many reps last night," Kubiak said. "It's just the way the game came out. I wish I would have got DeVier a little bit more but those other two guys (Martin and Jean) are playing extremely well. They're picking things up extremely well. I wouldn't say that DeVier is not doing the same things; I would not say that. I just think that it has taken him a little bit more time to get going with the offense, so to speak. I mentioned many times throughout the course of the month, he did miss a year of football in a lot of ways last year, but his ability shows up… We're going to play our starters a bunch this week, but before this preseason is over, he'll get plenty of time."

Keenum review
Last week, Kubiak said he wanted to give more reps to rookie quarterback Case Keenum than in the preseason opener. Keenum was the Texans' fourth quarterback at Carolina and completed 2-of-3 passes for 33 yards.

Keenum was the Texans' third quarterback on Saturday, but he once again threw only three passes. The Texans ran the ball late to protect their lead and close out the game. Keenum was 1-of-3 for 20 yards, with the completion coming on a play-action bootleg pass to tight end Logan Brock.

"It's tough as a coach because you're trying to put that game away, you're probably not throwing the ball there with five or six minutes left, but I wanted to give the young man a chance to make some plays," Kubiak said. "He made a great play in the first play on the boot. He made a great throw. He missed DeVier on the deep over route that would have been a nice play for both of them to make, but I like what he's done, I like the way he handles himself, he handles the group…  It's a good battle going on between him and (John) Beck."

Harris on the rise
Kubiak named tight end Garrett Graham, inside linebacker Mister Alexander and cornerback Brandon Harris as players who are "taking a big step early in their career" this offseason.

Harris, a second-round pick out of Miami in 2011, played sparingly as a rookie. He broke up a couple of passes on Saturday.

"From the last four, five days of OTAs throughout this training camp, he's become a better player every time he steps on the field," Kubiak said. "That's been important. And the thing I liked last night, he responded. He needs to play better on special teams for us, and he did that last night. He and I talked about it last week, and he came back and did a pretty good job."

Quotes of the Day
"I think we pride ourselves on playing with great effort as a team. We really challenge each other. Players are hard on each other. We talk all the time about little plays that are the difference between winning and losing. I'll give you a great example, last night, the play James Casey makes on the third-and-2 is the difference between being up 10-6 at halftime or being down. Plays like that are the difference… We always talk about those types of plays as a team because we think they're the difference when it's all said and done, week-in and week-out, of winning." – Texans coach Gary Kubiak, on a first-down catch Casey made in the second quarter to keep a scoring drive alive

"That's important. They practiced real good the last 8-10 days to me, because Andre had missed some time and Matt had been rusty. You can see them, in practice, starting to come together a little bit. That's very important because that gives confidence to our whole offense." – Kubiak, on Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson connecting for a couple passes on Saturday

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