Notes from the Texans' practice and locker room on Friday at Reliant Stadium:
Manning UpAfter missing just three whole games due to a broken left fibula, free safety Danieal Manning is slated for a return to action Sunday against the Jaguars. Coaches, teammates and Manning himself are amazed at the rapid healing process by Manning, and thankful for his return to the lineup.
"He'll start," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "He'll play. We will try to keep a play count on him so it doesn't get out of hand, but it's been amazing and can't hold him back. He's ready to go."
Cornerback Johnathan Joseph is also happy Manning's back in the fold, and described what the veteran safety brings to the defense.
"He adds another dimension," Joseph said. "When he left, he was blitzing well, getting quarterback sacks, and of course he was covering well. He's a great tackler."
Manning attributed the speedy recovery to prayer, and a lot of hard work in the training room.
"I just came out here and I put my best foot forward in working out," Manning said. "I kept telling the trainers back and forth, I said, 'How long will it be before I'm able to get on the field?' And they said, 'Well, you've got to go through these certain exercises before we let you pass and get out there on that field,' so I breezed through those. Every day I was up here, five hours a day."
Lawrence Vickers did not practice at all this week due to a hamstring injury, but he hasn't been ruled out for Sunday's game. Kubiak said the fullback is a game-time decision.
"I feel good with him playing if he's okay," Kubiak said. "He worked hard yesterday. We brought him back today. He's feeling pretty good, but with the amount of time we're on the field today, I thought we'd give him another day's rest. He actually gets two with tomorrow. If he shows me Sunday morning he can do it, he'll go."
Kubiak also said fellow fullback James Casey is "100 percent" recovered from a pectoral injury, and will be ready to go against the Jaguars.
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Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was corralled by the media on Friday, and answered a range of questions about this year's defense and why it's experiencing success. Many of his players have credited Phillips for putting them in the right place, and Phillips matter-of-factly attributed much of that to experience.
"I've coached the same defense for almost 30 years," Phillips said. "We've tweaked it through the years. We don't run it the same as we did with the Oilers, but there's a lot of things that are similar. Things that we did well with the Houston Oilers way back, we're still running some of those same calls."
Phillips was an assistant when his father Bum, was the head coach in Houton in the late 1970's. The younger Phillips said he hears from his father several times a week, as well as after every game. The elder Phillips often has pointers and questions about what happened on the field.
"He's a stickler for a couple things we do and a couple things we don't do," Phillips said. "Every once in a while he says, 'I know I don't know anything about it, but don't you think you ought to do this?' He tries to put it on me that way."
"I don't do a whole lot. Don't tell anybody." –Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, joking about his role in turning around the defense's fortunes this season.
"Screws and a metal plate." –Free safety Danieal Manning, on what doctors inserted in his injured left leg.