Notes from the Texans' practice and locker room on Wednesday at Reliant Stadium:
Fans chanted his first name on Sunday at Reliant Stadium, and quarterback T.J. Yates continues to impress those around him as he prepares for start number two this Sunday. Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said Yates showed even more progress on Wednesday.
"I gave him a couple things that he didn't do so well last week and he did better," Dennison said. "He improved, which we kind of expected from him. He's a smart kid who works hard at what we tell him to do and he'll get better as we keep going."
Head coach Gary Kubiak, himself a backup during his playing career with the Broncos, can relate to some of the challenges Yates is facing.
"I know what he's going through," Kubiak said. "I know how he's thinking. It's like last Friday at practice, he struggled a little bit at times on Friday and I made him repeat some plays. After practice I went over to Dennison and I said, 'You know what he's thinking right now?' Rick said, 'What's that?' I said, 'He's thinking, 'Let's go play the dang game. I'm tired of practicing.'"
Yates remains calm about what's ahead, and was quick to credit Kubiak, Dennison and quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp for that.
"They do a good job of not throwing too much stuff at me or a lot of information that I don't really need to know going into the week," Yates said. "Sometimes, Knapper will be very good about if I don't really need to know something and it doesn't matter too much, he'll make sure that it doesn't get in my brain and start rattling around up there because sometimes you can be kind of thinking a little too much."
Garcia in the offense
The Texans added veteran quarterback Jeff Garcia to the squad, releasing Kellen Clemens to make room. The former Pro Bowler tried out twice with the team before signing late yesterday, and was excited to be on board in an offense like this.
"I've always wanted to play for the Shanahan-Kubiak-type of offense," Garcia said. "I feel like that's the type of offense that really would've suited me in a great way with the movement of the quarterback, getting the quarterback outside, with the way they run the football with the zone run. Those type of things I just feel like are a part of what I do, so to be back now, to have this opportunity is exciting to just be able to learn it and try to get on the same page as quick as possible."
Eager to return
Fullback Lawrence Vickers practiced with the team Wednesday, and continues his recovery from a hamstring injury he suffered in Tampa Bay. Kubiak believes Vickers will be "good to go" Sunday against Cincinnati, and described what he means to the run game.
"He's been a big part of what we're doing in our two-back offense," Kubiak said. "He's playing very, very well for us, so to have him back not only for us, but for (special teams coordinator) Joe (Marciano) is important."
Vickers, a native Houstonian, is ready to return in more ways than one, and didn't enjoy being on the sidelines during Sunday's win over the Falcons.
"I missed it," Vickers said. "It was crazy. It was actually louder than being in New Orleans, to me it was. It was like a playoff atmosphere, a lot of people said. I've never been to the playoffs, so I don't know. I know it was crazy and I can just only imagine how much better it could be. I had to sit on the sideline and eat sunflower seeds all day. I'm ready to get back on the field, man. I'm excited."
"He's a hell of a lot better than I was, I can promise you that." –Head coach Gary Kubiak on if he sees any of himself as a quarterback in T.J. Yates.
"There's a lot of 'ifs' flying around. That doesn't really matter. We're just trying to beat Cincinnati. If anything else happens, that's awesome but we're just trying to get a win against Cincinnati." –Running back Arian Foster on the possibility of clinching the AFC South with a win and a Tennessee loss this weekend.