Notes from the Texans' practice and locker room on Thursday at Reliant Stadium:
In the second half of the win in Cincinnati, tight end Joel Dreessen injured his knee. He returned to the game, but has been limited in practice this week. Despite that, he believes he'll play Sunday against Carolina.
"Any time you feel pain like that or you can't practice, there's a little bit of concern, but I'm doing everything I can in the training room to get ready to play," Dreessen said. "I expect myself to play. We're having too much fun right now to possibly miss any time, but at the same time, I've got to be smart with my body."
Dreessen leads the Texans with six touchdown catches this season, and he scored on the first drive of the second half Sunday against the Bengals.
With right guard Mike Brisiel out with a broken fibula, third-year offensive lineman Antoine Caldwell is now the starter. He's split time in the past two seasons with Brisiel, and has experience in the offense. He shared his thoughts on the opportunity, which comes at the expense of Brisiel's health.
"Mike has worked his tail off all year," Caldwell said. "The starting five has probably played better than anybody in the League. Seeing him go down and tough it out in that last game, it's something that's special and this team needs guys like Mike. Mike's going to be back, but until then, I'm definitely going to take this opportunity and make the most of it."
Running back Arian Foster is confident Caldwell will work just fine in place of Brisiel.
"He was rotating with Mike and we fared very well last year as an offense, and hopefully we don't miss a beat," Foster said. "Any time you haven't played a lot of significant snaps, it's going to take you a little while to get back in the flow, but he's a good athlete and he'll do fine."
'Ol Man Smith
Defensive end Antonio Smith played in Super Bowl XLIII with the Cardinals, who wound up falling to the Steelers in that contest. He sees some similarities to the current Texans and that Arizona squad.
"I think that this is a beautiful thing," Smith said. "I'm glad my teammates are getting to enjoy some of the same things I've enjoyed before. I love watching them."
Smith spoke proudly of his teammates, and feels a bit of a paternal bond with them.
"I feel like an old dad right now because they're just happy and jumping around the locker room and I'm just looking at them like, 'I told ya'll,'" Smith said. "The way the city is backing us is awesome and they're getting a taste of it and everybody's talking about it."
"Just his poise and I've seen it all year even in practice. He's got a lot of command in the huddle and that's the same way he's been out there on the field." –Right guard Antoine Caldwell on what's impressed him about QB T.J. Yates.