Notes: Dealing with Brees, new territory


Notes from the Texans' practice and locker room on Thursday at Reliant Stadium:

Running back rotationArian Foster returned to practice today, but did so with limited reps. For more on his status and the rest of the running backs on the squad, click here.

Cushing in 2011
After a dynamic campaign in 2009 when he won the AP's Defensive Rookie of the Year award, linebacker Brian Cushing wasn't as pleased with his 2010 performance. Through two games this season, Cushing leads the team in tackles with 17 and has drawn praise from the coaches for his 'hustle' plays that don't show up on the stat sheet. Cushing attributes some of this year's success to his health.

"My knee's feeling a lot better," Cushing said. "I can practice throughout the week and I'm able to go out there Sunday and really play full speed, which is a good feeling."

Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is mightily impressed by what he's seen from Cushing so far, and thinks even bigger things for the inside linebacker are on the way.

"I think he's played outstanding," Phillips said. "He's a holy terror on the field. Every play, he's all out and he's getting better and better at his techniques and learning. I think he's got a chance to be something special this year."

Brees is blazingQuarterback Drew Brees has thrown six touchdowns and zero interceptions through the Saints' first two contests, and his quarterback rating is 114.9. It's another fast start for the New Orleans signal caller, and it's not a surprise to Phillips, who was the defensive coordinator in Brees' final two seasons in San Diego.

"He can make a play when nobody else can. He can move around in the pocket and find somebody that's barely off their man. He's a great leader. I can't say enough great things about Drew Brees because that's what he is," Phillips said.

Linebacker Connor Barwin cited Brees' high "skill level" and ability to get rid of the ball quickly as two more things that separate him from other quarterbacks.

Safety Glover Quin, who practiced against Brees and the Saints in each of his first two training camps with Houston, was especially complimentary of him.

"He's a great quarterback," Quin said. "He's a high-tempo guy. He very rarely takes sacks. If his read's not open, he's going to get rid of it to the checkdown and go to second down."

Uncharted WatersA win Sunday in New Orleans would push the Texans to three games above the .500 mark, a feat never achieved in franchise history. Multiple times, Houston has been two games above .500, with the most recent instance being last season after a Week 6 victory over the Chiefs. But don't expect the Texans to be satisfied or impressed with the mark should they attain it.

"I don't know if it means a lot," right tackle Eric Winston said. "I think just beating the Saints at home, more than being 3-0, is a bigger testament to what this team would be made of."

"I didn't know that." –Defensive end Antonio Smith, when told that the Texans scoring defense is ranked first in the NFL.

"They were wearing the sacks over their heads when we came there." –Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips on his memories of the fans in New Orleans, when he was the defensive coordinator and head coach of the Saints in the 1980's.

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