Notes from the Texans' practice and locker room on Thursday at Reliant Stadium:
Manning, Jones to returnAs he announced late in the preseason, Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Thursday that free safety Danieal Manning and wide receiver Jacoby Jones will be the Texans' kick returners in Week 1. Manning will return kickoffs, Jones will return punts.
"We'll go from there," Kubiak said. "Sherrick (McManis) is always capable of doing that. GQ (Glover Quin) and Bryant Johnson, who we picked up, can return punts, but we'll start with those two."
Manning averaged 26.8 yards per kickoff return in five seasons with the Chicago Bears. He didn't return kickoffs in the preseason as the Texans wanted him to focus solely on learning the defense.
"We were practicing a little bit today in it," he said. "I didn't know how it was going to be. I didn't get any reps in preseason, but I'm excited now.
Ryans feeling goodInside linebacker DeMeco Ryans has practiced fully all week after missing the last three preseason games with an elbow injury. The Texans' longtime defensive captain is also coming off a season-ending Achilles injury.
"Everything is feeling fine," Ryans said with a broad smile on Thursday. "I missed a lot more time than I expected, but it's good to be back out there practicing with the guys and just really looking forward to Sunday."
The Texans' game against the Colts will be Ryans' first game since he tore his Achilles in Week 6 last season against the Kansas City Chiefs.
"I'm very excited," Ryans said. "It's been a long time coming. Watching a lot of games alone by myself last year, it was tough, very tough on me, so I'm really excited to step back out on the field and I know the fans are going to be electric the first game of the season. Everyone's going to be pumped up, so I'm looking forward to it."
Us firstColts quarterback Peyton Manning is not playing on Sunday, but defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said that hasn't changed how the Texans' defense is tactically preparing.
"The first ballgame is enough," Phillips said. "Maybe later in the season maybe some things change, but right now we're excited about playing this game. We want to put our defense together, play mistake-free and make some plays."
Phillips is not taking Manning's replacement, 16-year-veteran Kerry Collins, lightly.
"He's an experienced quarterback that can play the game, and he's won games," Phillips said. "I think he scored 31 (against Houston) last year at Tennessee. He's more than capable. I've got great respect for him; a guy who's played a long time who knows how to play… If we don't play our best, any game, we don't deserve to win. We got to go out and play our best every game."
Bowling for a causeRyans is hosting a charity bowling event tonight at 300 Houston. The proceeds benefit the DeMeco Ryans Foundation, with proceeds supporting a Thanksgiving meal giveaway in Houston in November.
"Most of our guys on the Texans come out and have fans or whoever wants to come out and bowl with us," Ryans said. "This will be the third or fourth or year that we've fed thousands of families, myself teaming up with Andre Johnson and Mario Williams. All the money raised tonight will go to support that event."
In April, Ryans purchased truckloads of supplies and distributed to tornado survivors in several cities in his home state of Alabama. Learn more about his foundation at demecoryansfoundation.org.
"I'm going to get an e-mail from the hamstring gods, and they're going to tell me when it's ready. I refresh my e-mail every 20 minutes."
- RB Arian Foster, a philosophy major at Tennessee, on when he'll know for sure that his hamstring is healthy
"I think it's just like you said. Every year, if you get bullied on, me personally, that's something I probably would be getting bigger, getting stronger, getting as much confidence as I can to when that next school year comes to not get bullied on. On a football field or whatever, I think that's how you got to take it. If you don't, you're going to remain whatever you were the year before. If you don't try to better what you were the year before, you're going to be there. It ain't going to magically happen and just come in here in the locker room and, 'Oh, I'm a better defense.' No, you got to work, and I think that the work we put in, in this preseason and in training camp, it was a physical camp to me. It was a real physical camp, especially in 100-something plus every day banging. Kub (coach Gary Kubiak) made it an emphasis that we're going to lay the leather this training camp, and I think it's paying off and building the confidence... to getting us to feeling like a winning defense."
- DE Antonio Smith, on if last year's lowly performance fuels the defense this year