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Players continue on comeback trail


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The hospital news is good on three fronts for the Texans this week, especially when it comes to running back Ahman Green.

The Pro Bowl running back, who has been out for the past two games with a knee injury, appears to be ready to play as the Texans eye Sunday's game at Jacksonville. He's not even listed on the injury report.

"I feel pretty good," Green said Wednesday. "Every day is a test day for me and I just can't wait to get back out there. That's about it."

Green, whose 4.3 yards-per-carry average is best among Texans running backs, isn't making any bold statements about being all the way back. But he should play.

"I'll say (I'm) well enough to play," said Green, who started the first three games before experiencing the knee pain against Indianapolis. "That's how I'm going to put it. It feels good and pretty much I'm just going to take it one day at a time like I did last week."

Coach Gary Kubiak is optimistic.

"Yeah, he looked good," Kubiak said after watching Green practice. "He took his normal reps and that was a positive for him, so I feel real good about him."

And the veteran running back doesn't expect to be tentative when he plays Sunday either.

"That's what practice is for," Green said. "I'm going to get ready in practice. That's always been my approach to every practice through my career, especially if I had an injury or I've sat a couple of games.

"When I come back, that week of practice is my preparation for the game."

{QUOTE}Green is eager to play because sitting on the sidelines was difficult to accept.

"Torture," Green said. "I've been the same since I was little. If I wasn't playing when I knew I should be out there helping my team out, it's hard to watch."

Kubiak will be glad to get Green back since the ex-Packers star helps the team in many ways.

"Just his experience and his know-how and his knack for running the ball well," Kubiak said. "It's going to be great to have a leader like him back in there. Hopefully, we can get that run game kick-started. I think everyone needs to pick up their game blocking and reading the runs the right way."

Another positive sign for the Texans is that rookie wide receiver Jacoby Jones is likely to play and Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson is getting closer to seeing the field.

"Jacoby, I think, is a day-to-day deal," Kubiak said. "He practiced and did more than he's done in the past three weeks, but I think we'll still wait and see. We'll put the pads on him tomorrow."

The exuberant rookie Jones was much more positive.

"Oh, yeah, I'm playing, unless the coaches or doctors say otherwise," Jones said. "If it's up to me, I'm playing.

"I'm going to go all out there. I can't sit out any more, man. I'm going crazy. So I'm getting back on this field, trying to help this team out."

The third-round pick out of Lane College played in the first three games, starting the third against Indianapolis when he separated his shoulder. He was the sensation of the early games when he caught five passes for 59 yards and returned eight punts for 132 yards, including one for 74 yards.

Like Green, Jones can't wait to get back.

"Frustration isn't the word, man," Jones said. "It's driving me crazy. I want to have fun, too. Those guys look like they're having fun, Kevin Walter, André (Davis). So I'm trying to get out there with them, kind of do my thing, too."

Kubiak is more cautious about the return of Johnson, who sprained his knee against Carolina in Week 2 after catching a team-high 14 passes the first two games. He still leads the team in touchdowns scored with three.

"Andre ran today," Kubiak said Wednesday. "He was out here right before practice and did a bunch of running. He's made a lot of progress. I think we're very, very encouraged in what we are seeing.

"I think as far as this week goes, he would still be very, very doubtful, but I think we're right on schedule with what we were thinking. Hopefully, next week (versus Tennessee) we're looking at getting him back."

Tight end Owen Daniels has stepped up in Johnson's absence and leads the team with 24 catches for 293 yards.

"He's been very, very important," Kubiak said of Daniels. "He struggled on the line of scrimmage in the first few games. He's played better on the line of scrimmage and he has a lot of confidence right now."

Daniels caught seven passes for 96 yards against Miami last Sunday, including four for 72 in the fourth quarter of the Texans' big comeback.

"In the game the other day, he told me, 'Give me the ball,'" Kubiak said. "He's never said that to me. He's only been here two years, but he makes two big plays in the last drive and has a lot of confidence. He was our offensive player of the game. He's becoming a pretty darn good player."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Carley is a veteran Houston sportswriter who has covered the NFL for more than 25 years. He has worked for such newspapers as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Houston Post, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and the National Sports Daily covering such teams as the Dallas Cowboys, the Houston Oilers, the Los Angeles Rams and the Oakland Raiders.

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