Notes: Backups, Johnson and Phillips return


*Watch head coach Gary Kubiak's Monday press conference live at 3:30 p.m. on Texans TV.

Johnson's return
After missing the previous three contests due to a hamstring injury, wide receiver Andre Johnson played Sunday against Tennessee and caught a pair of passes for 21 yards. He was on a playcount, but was happy to be back out on the field after the layoff.

"It felt good, it was a lot of fun," Johnson said. "I was a little anxious first. I'm ready to go, I'm ready to play next week."

Head coach Gary Kubiak was pleased with Johnson's performance and playcount, and thinks the Pro Bowler is on the right track for the postseason.

"He felt really good after he got going six or seven plays," Kubiak said. "He came to me and said, 'I really felt good those last 10.' But it's time to get him to next week."         

Phillips in the booth
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, like Johnson, also returned to action against the Titans. After missing the previous two games because of medical leave, Phillips called plays from the press box and Kubiak was glad he was back.

"It was good," Kubiak said. "I could feel his presence up in the booth. We've got something we got to clean up in coverage and some of these things, but obviously it was good for the staff and everybody to have him back."

Tate's Day
With 97 yards on just 16 carries, running back Ben Tate averaged 6.1 yards a carry Sunday against the Titans. He finished the season with 942 yards. Tate capped off the opening drive by punching in a 4-yard touchdown run, and his longest carry of the day was a 56-yard rumble on the first drive of the second half.  His teammates wished he could've cracked the 1,000 yard mark, but were proud of his accomplishments nonetheless.

"It sucks that we didn't get Ben to 1,000 yards today but he came close," running back Derrick Ward said. "Now we just got to worry about trying to get enough yards and touchdowns to help our team win next week."

Backups were big
With running back Arian Foster, corner Johnathan Joseph and tight end Owen Daniels inactive, several Texans had opportunities for more playing time Sunday against Tennessee. Additionally, quarterback T.J. Yates was knocked out with a shoulder injury after the first series, and several more starters were yanked after the halftime intermission.

That all added up to extended playing time for the likes of quarterback Jake Delhomme, running back Derrick Ward,  linebackers Bryan Braman, Jesse Nading and Tim Dobbins to name a few.

Braman and Nading combined for a sandwich sack of Matt Hasselbeck, Dobbins forced a fumble the final two minutes of regulation, and wide receiver Bryant Johnson hauled in a touchdown pass from Delhomme as well.

Braman's most notable play came, however, on a special teams tackle in the first quarter when he lost his helmet and still managed to corral Marc Mariani.

"They were excited about it," Braman said of his teammates' reaction to the hit. "They got pumped up. Not too many people continue to play after they lose their helmet. I was kind of worried what coach was going to say about how I was getting blocked."

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