Notes from the Texans' practice and locker room on Wednesday at Reliant Stadium:
After a November spent terrorizing opposing quarterbacks, linebacker Connor Barwin was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month. He picked up the honor after notching 6.5 sacks and 16 tackles, and he recorded a sack in each of the month's games. Sunday against Jacksonville, he brought down a Jaguar quarterback four times, and finished with 10 total tackles. Barwin was appreciative of the honor, and quick to point out that he had some help.
"I think it's good for our whole defense, but it's kind of a funny award," Barwin said. "If you put together a couple of games like Cush (ILB Brian Cushing) has had or a couple of other guys have had, they could easily have gotten it. It's just kind of how things line up."
Rookie defensive end J.J. Watt was happy for Barwin, and agreed that the defense collectively has performed at a high level so far.
"Anytime one of your guys gets an award like that, it's big," Watt said. "Connor's most definitely deserving, and as a defense, anytime one of your players gets recognized, it's awesome. It just goes to show you that our defense is playing well and anyone can get it at any time."
Safety Danieal Manning played a limited number of snaps, but was happy to be back on the field Sunday in Jacksonville. He recorded the first tackle from scrimmage, as he popped running back Maurice Jones-Drew , and in all, said it was great to return to action. He's also anxious to log more playing time as well.
"I sure hope so," Manning said. "I got more practice and more snaps in practice, so I think it's looking toward that."
With a productive receiving corps in wideouts Roddy White and Julio Jones, along with tight end Tony Gonzalez, Manning knows the secondary will have a challenge this Sunday.
"They pose a threat on all of our positions in the secondary," Manning said. "Safeties, we got to come down and cover Gonzalez. You got the outside with the corners, so they've got to play well. It's going to be a match up."
Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson spent 2004 to 2009 with the Texans, and will play in Reliant Stadium for the first time since the 2009 season-ending victory against New England. During a conference call today with the Houston media, he said he wasn't surprised by the success the team is enjoying in 2011, and described what his happiest times were as a Texan.
"My fondest would be beating New England Patriots to get our first winning season, to go 9-7," Robinson said. "I would say another memory was my rookie year and just being introduced to professional football, making plays and just getting the fan support."
Linebacker DeMeco Ryans smiled when Robinson's name came up in the locker room, and said he looks forward to competing against the former Texan on Sunday.
"It's going to be fun seeing Dunta on the other side," Ryans said. "Dunta, he's always been a 'big hit' guy, so he's always done that. He was a great teammate for us, so it'll be good to see him playing with Atlanta now."
"I've never done it before, so I couldn't tell you." –Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison on how hard it is to integrate a new quarterback into the offense so late in the season.
"We're ready to go. We've won five in a row, got to make it six, right? That's the attitude." –Tighte end Joel Dreessen on the current attitude of the team.