Notes from the Texans' practice and locker room on Tuesday at Reliant Stadium:
Yates is set
Despite playing just the first series of Sunday's game versus Tennessee, quarterback T.J. Yates is ready to go for the playoffs, and said as much on Tuesday.
"I took the full load at practice today," Yates said. "I didn't take any reps off and it feels good. I went out there and was able to throw the ball just fine, no pain."
Yates' last victory under center came in Cincinnati, and it helped clinch the AFC South title for the Texans. Bengals' head coach Marvin Lewis was impressed with Yates then, and even more impressed now.
"I think he's settled in, he's confident in what he's doing and they're confident with what they're doing with him," Lewis said during a Tuesday conference call with the Houston media. "I'm sure the rest of the team has really rallied around that and feels good about the things that he's doing."
The player with the most-recent playoff experience is free safety Danieal Manning, who suited up in last season's NFC title game with the Bears. He logged six tackles in that contest, one of which was for a loss. Head coach Gary Kubiak said Manning's focus today was even sharper than it normally is.
"Watching Danieal Manning practice today and watching him prepare – if you're his teammate, you know there was something different about it today," Kubiak said. "You just ask those guys to lead the way, and we got a lot of good players that need to jump in there and go with them, so we'll find out."
Manning said he was impressed by the way his teammates—most of whom have zero postseason experience—practiced today.
"I think we're handling it well," Manning said. "It starts from top-down. The coaches are definitely standing on As and Bs and see if they're gonna check down the list on everything we need to do from special team meetings – I was in there – and all the way throughout the whole game plan."
The veteran safety will also go back to returning kickoffs on Saturday, and said he's excited to get that chance to impact the game on special teams.
Tough as nails
Nobody in the Texans organization will ever question Mike Brisiel's toughness: he played much of the game in Cincinnati with a broken leg. That injury sidelined him for the final three contests of 2011, but the right guard was back at practice Tuesday and appears ready to play this weekend.
"That's an amazing recovery," Kubiak said. "Danieal did the same thing. We'll see how he comes out of each day, but we sure hope he's ready to go."
Brisiel was very low-key about the rapid recovery, and described the comeback.
"I've been working with the rehab staff and I ran last week and I've been getting better every day," Brisiel said. "So I really wasn't worried that much."
Left tackle Duane Brown explained that Brisiel isn't just tough: he's also good.
"We get graded from week to week and from a grading standpoint he's been the highest grader from week-in and week-out," Brown said. "We've all played pretty well but watching film out there, he's probably been one of the most consistent."
"Yes, they will definitely be a little closer."—Quarterback T.J. Yates on his family's seating arrangements in comparison to the regular season game against Cincinnati.
"I don't like to really get in the quarterback's head because I know he has a thousand other things to think about when he's out on the field, but T.J. knows where I'm at."—Wide receiver Andre Johnson, on whether or not he lobbies for the ball in the huddle.