Notes from the Texans' practice and locker room on Wednesday at Reliant Stadium:
Absent on WednesdayWide receiver Andre Johnson was one of a handful of Texans who didn't practice at the Methodist Training Center on Wednesday. For more on that story, click here.
Dynamic DuoArian Foster and Ben Tate are eighth and ninth, respectively, in the NFL in rushing yardage. Foster has 656 yards to Tate's 623, and the tandem is frightening to Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris.
"They're scary," Morris said during a Wednesday conference call with the Houston media. "They do a great job and I hate to call anybody a system running back, but their system fits these guys to a tee and what they do. They run the ball north and south. They run it downhill. They run right at you."
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak doesn't believe his squad is limited to just Foster and Tate, either. He was quick to point out that Derrick Ward is also capable of putting up yards.
"I think we have three, believe it or not," Kubiak said. "I really like our third. I think if he was getting the same opportunities, you'd see the same thing."
Cornerback Johnathan Joseph has helped anchor the secondary and is one of the many reasons the defense is currently ranked first in the NFL. Numerous teammates described his influence, and were effusive in their praise.
"I knew a good amount about him, coming in, with two (former college) teammates on the Bengals, Rey Maualuga and Keith Rivers telling me how good of a player we got," linebacker Brian Cushing said. "He's just lived up to it and more. He's been a shutdown corner for us and a great defensive player."
Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman also thinks highly of Joseph, who's tops on the Texans with three interceptions this season.
"He's playing at an extremely high level," Freeman said. "Secondary, all around, is just a very, very solid defense."
But Joseph believes the rest of the defense deserves some credit as well.
"The guys up front are playing tremendous," Joseph said. We're getting pressure on the quarterback every play, pretty much, and we've got other guys in the back end. The safeties have been playing tremendous, our linebackers have been playing tremendous in pass and run defense, so I think overall it's a number of different things. I'm just glad to be a part of it."
The M WordThe Texans have won three games in a row, and look to improve to four games over .500 with a victory Sunday against Tampa Bay. Naturally, in the midst of a win streak, they were asked Wednesday about the importance of sustaining that momentum.
"After a couple games here at home putting back-to-back wins together, three in a row now, we got to go take it on the road and go execute our game plan much like we did the last time on the road at Tennessee and go get a tough challenging win on the road," quarterback Matt Schaub said.
Linebacker Brooks Reed assented, and said that a win over the Buccaneers would mean a lot.
"This is a huge game for us, the game right before the bye week," Reed said. "We just got to have another great week of practice."
"I said when I first got in here, that was last year and doesn't have anything to do with this year. We're sitting right now number one, and of course we've got a red dot on our back, but that's a good thing." – Cornerback Johnathan Joseph on the success the defense is having after it struggled in 2010.
"It's weird. I don't think we're worried about being an elite team or what people think about us." –Tight end Owen Daniels on the idea that the Texans are one of the best teams in the NFL.