Notes from the Texans' practice and locker room on Wednesday at Reliant Stadium:
Good to goTexans running back Arian Foster was a full participant in Wednesday's practice at the Methodist Training Center. For more on that story, click here.
It's not just the hairThe Steelers come to town with a defense led by safety Troy Polamalu and James Harrison. Polamalu, in particular, was the topic of conversation after Wednesday's practice, and everyone associated with the Texans holds the 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year in high regard.
"One of the great football players this game's seen in a long time, no doubt," head coach Gary Kubiak said.
Quarterback Matt Schaub elaborated on that point, saying that the Texans must be aware of Polamalu's presence at all times.
"We got to understand where he is and where he's going to be because he might look like he's in one spot, but then he might end up in another," Schaub said. "You just got to identify pre-snap and post-snap what he's doing."
Wide receiver Andre Johnson said Kubiak emphasized the importance of keeping Polamalu and Harrison "off the stat sheet". But Johnson conceded that's a tough task to accomplish.
Red zone woesWith Foster's return, a point of interest against the Steelers and really the rest of the Texans' opponents, will be how effectively the team operates in the red zone. The Texans settled for a field goal four times against the Saints, a frustrating statistic for Kubiak and the offense.
Foster was asked about that today in the locker room, but he quickly pointed out that improvement will come as a unit, and not merely because he's back.
"I think it's a collective effort," Foster said. "I'm not sure how much I can contribute. We're all working towards fixing those woes and it's early in the season, but it's not too late to right the ship."
Left tackle Duane Brown, though, was complimentary of Foster's presence inside the 20, citing the 2010 NFL rushing champ's vision.
"I think that one thing you just can't coach is vision," Brown said. "He has great vision and he makes one cut and he has deceptive speed and power. He gets downhill and it's hard for guys to tackle him."
Ogbonnaya is upThe Texans waived running back Steve Slaton Tuesday, and signed Chris Ogbonnaya from the practice squad to the active roster. The former Texas Longhorn was excited about the opportunity, and said he never stopped persevering, even after being cut at the end of the preseason. In fact, he thinks it was his extensive work during the month of August that led to him gaining a roster spot this week.
"I think that getting all those reps was a blessing for me," Ogbonnaya, who played high school ball in Houston at Strake Jesuit, said. "I know a lot of the guys were hurt, but for me it allowed me to grow as a player; you know, learn the system a lot better, just to get better."
Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison praised Ogbonnaya's toughness, consistency and abilities in pass-protection, and was confident in what he can add as a reserve ball-carrier.
"He'll contribute if and when the chance comes," Dennison said.
Quotable"That's awesome, man." –Left tackle Duane Brown's reaction to Arian Foster's return to the practice field.
"I'm pretty sure on every team when you get in the red zone, guys are probably in the huddle, 'Hey man, we need to get seven points here,' but that's what makes this game so challenging because you have a defense out there trying to make you go three-and-out." –Wide receiver Andre Johnson on struggles in the red zone.