Notes from the Texans' practice and locker room on Wednesday at Reliant Stadium:
Sharing the load
Running backs Arian Foster and Derrick Ward didn't practice on Wednesday because of injury, so Ben Tate and Steve Slaton took the bulk of the reps in practice. For more on that story and a recap of other injuries, click here.
Second-year running back Ben Tate is third in the NFL in rushing yards, just 10 yards behind league leader Fred Jackson (229) of Buffalo. At 4.7 yards per carry, with 100-plus yards in both games, the reserve ball-carrier is seizing the moment.
"He's gotten an opportunity through injury, that's an honest fact, and he's taken advantage of it," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "You got to be impressed with what he's doing with this opportunity, and hopefully it continues."
Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison is also impressed, and hinted after practice on Wednesdsay that Tate could even be better.
"The thing we missed was having him in OTAs because that wasn't available to us," Dennison said. "You don't know how far he would've gone along, and there was a big question because he hadn't spent a whole lot of time and certainly he's done everything we've asked."
Prepping for the Saints
New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is known for being an aggressive play-caller, and he often blitzes from a variety of spots on the field. Kubiak was asked about the way the Saints rush the passer, and it was clear he holds the New Orleans defense in high regard.
"There's a lot of people that put pressure on people, but these guys will do it all downs and distances," Kubiak said. "It doesn't matter. When you're building a plan, that's got to be in the back of your mind all the time."
Quarterback Matt Schaub elaborated on that, pointing out that he and the offense need to be ready to adjust quickly.
"You've got to understand where your outlets are and where to get rid of the football to," Schaub said. "That's probably the thing that has gotten a lot of other teams in trouble, the Bears last week for one, so just understanding the potential that they can bring more than you have to block is an issue."
Wide receiver Kevin Walter practiced today, while fellow pass-catcher Jacoby Jones did not. Walter missed Sunday's win over the Dolphins because of a shoulder injury he suffered in the victory over the Colts. He was back this afternoon and extremely happy to be back.
"It was great," Walter said of his return. "It was killing me last week sitting on the sideline watching those guys operate and getting the win out there. It's not me. I hate sitting out, but I'm glad to be back."
Jones, meanwhile, missed today's work with a knee injury he suffered against Miami. Kubiak said that they think Jones will be OK, but he may not practice until Friday.
"It was a long day yesterday, but definitely a great day, so I'm definitely on a very big emotional high. I'm just anxious to get back and see them." –Quarterback Matt Schaub, on his wife giving birth to twin daughters yesterday
"I've been in the huddle where one time everybody was serious and he came in and told a joke right before he said the play and he got a laugh out of everybody and kind of loosened everybody up. But you never know. He's serious most of the time." –Wide receiver Andre Johnson on Schaub's demeanor in the huddle