Notes from the Texans' practice and locker room on Wednesday at Reliant Stadium:
The Texans are in the playoffs in large part due to the defensive turnaround orchestrated by coordinator Wade Phillips. After missing a pair of games because of a medical leave, Phillips returned in Week 17 and will be back in the coaches' booth Saturday against Cincinnati.
"I know from a confidence standpoint for everybody it's nice to have him back in the locker room last weekend," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "We've got to make sure Wade gets good and healthy and everything goes okay."
The players have echoed their appreciation for Phillips' guidance the last year, and outside linebacker Connor Barwin described the teaching style of the veteran coordinator.
"I don't know exactly how it works, but Wade comes in with some gems," Barwin said. "They might be short and quick, but just he's wise. He comes in and just hits you with a little gem, a little 15-second, 20 words and you're just like 'Okay, alright' and that's all you need. It's a different kind of motivation than probably most of us grew up with our football coaches, but it definitely works."
Kubiak said cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who was limited in practice on Tuesday with achilles soreness, looked "good" on Wednesday and was pleased with the Pro Bowler's performance. Joseph agreed, and explained how he felt.
"Saturday, I think it'll be even better than it was today," Joseph said. "If I had to put a percentage, I'd probably say I was 95 percent."
Joseph said he was surprised by the sensations he felt Tuesday.
"It caught me off-guard to be honest because coming into practice, I felt perfectly fine, and just to have a little soreness kind of threw me for a loop there," Joseph said. "I just wanted to make sure things were right moving, so we could get things taken care of accordingly."
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton missed Wednesday's practice with the flu, but the only thing the Texans were focused on when it came to Cincinnati's signal caller was his effectiveness on the field. Barwin and his teammates are impressed by the rookie from TCU.
"The guy is an NFL quarterback and he can make every single throw," Barwin said. "He can stand back there and throw it 30 yards across the field to the other hash or throw it deep. He can make all those kind of throws, so definitely really impressive."
Linebacker Brian Cushing agreed, and is impressed with what the Katy native has done with the Bengals' offense as a whole.
"I see a quarterback that's played well beyond a rookie," Cushing said. "I think he's got very good weapons around him, a good scheme, but I think he's smart. He doesn't make a lot of rookie mistakes or young mistakes, and he's done a really good job of controlling the ball and moving the ball and getting it to the right receivers at the right time. I think that's what's important to him, and he's got a lot of confidence as well."
"I think the whole locker room enjoys it and I guess maybe a little bit somewhere it kind of brings the team closer together."—Outside linebacker Connor Barwin describing 'On the Nose' with Shaun Cody, a weekly segment on Texans TV.
"Well, we've got to go make it brew. You know, we've got to go win a game here, a playoff game."—Head coach Gary Kubiak on if he has a sense that something is brewing here in Houston as compared to when he was younger when the playoffs were here.