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Notes: Phillips' influence, Cushing's impact



Notes from the Texans' practice and locker room on Thursday at Reliant Stadium:

Another day, another good reportTexans running back Arian Foster practiced again on Thursday, and both he and head coach Gary Kubiak had good things to say about the day's work. For more on Foster's return from his hamstring injury, click here.

Phillips' thoughts on MiamiDefensive coordinator Wade Phillips huddled with reporters after practice and had good things to say about the Dolphins, who put up 488 yards of offense in their Monday-night loss to the Patriots.

"I think they really opened it up with their offense," Phillips said. "The quarterback threw for 400 yards. They've got a lot of weapons. We saw that in that game against New England, and they played really well on offense and that's our challenge on defense."

Phillips also thinks highly of quarterback Chad Henne, who has endured criticism at times from Miami fans and media.

"Anytime a quarterback can scramble around and make a first down when they normally wouldn't get one, that gives them a little benefit offensively," Phillips said. "You've got to be aware of that."

Playing for WadePhillips' 3-4 defense has been embraced by the players, and one of the many reasons why is the simplicity of the scheme.

"He hasn't changed much up," free safety Danieal Manning said. "That's one good thing. With no OTAs or anything like that, he just implemented the defense and just (got) guys going out there and playing it. That's pretty much it. It's real simple."

Nose tackle Shaun Cody concurred. He thinks Phillips' influence has instilled confidence, which in turn has caused he and his teammates to ratchet up the speed with which they play.

"I think when you have that confidence, you play faster as players because you know what you're doing," Cody said. "You know your coach knows what he's doing. We've been playing faster, I think."

Cushing's impactLinebacker Brian Cushing registered a team-high seven tackles in Sunday's win over the Colts. Kubiak explained Thursday what he's enthused about from the third-year defender so far in 2011.

"He looks really good," Kubiak said. "He's playing very, very hard. The biggest thing with Cushing as I've told y'all for the last six weeks, probably, (is) he's had a good 4-5 weeks of practice, and that's what Brian's been missing. He's been able to stay on the field and work every day, no setbacks and the effort he played with last week.

"If he plays that way all year, he's going to lead a lot of things, so he's doing a good job."

On Monday, Kubiak said that Cushing tallied 8-10 effort plays that the coaches point out to players as examples of what to do right. Cushing explained that he won't settle for anything less.

"No, that's expected out of myself," Cushing said Thursday. "That's something I want to do every week, week in and week out and continue to do that and lead the team and just do what I can."

Quotable"I think everybody in the country is, everybody that saw the game and all our fans, and certainly the coaches are." –Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, on if he is impressed by OLB Mario Williams

"Luckily for us, the heat turned back up this week in Houston, so I think we'll be well prepared for that, or as prepared as they are down there."—Outside linebacker Connor Barwin, on playing in hot weather

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