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Practice Insider - Friday


Ron Dayne will get his second consecutive start Sunday.

The Texans practiced outside Friday at the Methodist Training Center. On Saturday, the team heads to Cleveland where they look to improve to 6-5 and gain ground in the wild-card race.

Green down: Running back Ahman Green will miss his fifth game of the season Sunday when the Texans travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns. Green will continue to be listed as day-to-day and not move to the injured reserve.

"I would say we are a position right now with our 53-man roster where we can have some patience," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "If we have a problem at a position or two, it might force our hand a little bit. But right now, we will have patience with him."

Kubiak must now decide if he will suit up three backs for the game. Ron Dayne, who rushed for 89 yards against the Saints, will get his second start in a row. Kubiak's decision comes down to dressing both Adimchinobi Echemandu and Darius Walker, a rookie who moved up from the practice squad earlier this week, or suiting up five wide receivers.

"It'll be between Darius or Joe (Echemandu) if we suit two halfbacks," Kubiak said. "I just wanted to put him (Walker) in position to where he can be ready to help this football team, so he's active. And I'm kind of evaluating how he's practicing, him and Joe together."

Kubiak has been impressed with Walker's play this week, especially how the rookie has adjusted to going against a 3-4 defense.

"It's an interesting week to try to get him ready, because they're a 3-4 team," Kubiak said. "A lot of your rules change for a back, so it's a complicated week for him. But I think he's done pretty good."

The coach will probably go with two backs and five wideouts because his receivers can also contribute on special teams.

"The problem is between those two guys is if they were special teams players, I'd suit them all the time," Kubiak said. "But Darius and Joe, they're really not playing special teams. So it makes it hard."

Scouting Cribbs: Browns kick returner Joshua Cribbs could be the most dangerous special teams player in the league right now. He's averaging 32.8 yards per kickoff return, the most among full-time returners. In Week 11 against the Ravens, Cribbs recorded 306 return yards, which is the third-highest single-game total in league history.

To keep Cribbs from running game changing plays, the Texans will have to step up their special teams coverage and blanket him.

"The problem is he is back there on punts and he's back there on kicks," Kubiak said. "You go into a game and say, 'You've got to kick it away from him,' and you give up a lot of field position for four quarters. The bottom line is we've got to cover."

Browns' O-line: Defensive end Mario Williams will have his hands full going against a loaded offensive line in Cleveland. Rookie tackle Joe Thomas, the third overall pick in this year's draft, is putting together a Pro Bowl season protecting quarterback Derek Anderson.

"I think the difference has been their offensive line," Kubiak said of the Browns' improved offense. "Drafting that young tackle (Thomas), their offensive line had really gotten very solid, and the play of their quarterback has probably been the key."

Things don't get an easier on the other side of the line with tackle Kevin Schaffer.

"It's their toughness upfront - the way they are playing upfront," Kubiak said. "That tackle (Thomas) is going to be a great player for a long, long time. And then the kid from Atlanta (Schaffer) on the other side is going to be a good player, too."

Williams, who lined up at various spots along the defensive line in against New Orleans, will square off against both offensive linemen.

The matchup: The Texans and Browns have met the past three seasons because the NFL strength of schedule allows the weaker teams in the league to play each other. It's a different situation now.

Both teams will be battling Sunday for position in the AFC wild-card race with the Texans trying to win three in a row.

The Texans are in good position to improve to 6-5 now that Pro Bowl wideout Andre Johnson is back in the starting lineup. The team is 3-0 in games where Johnson has played this season. They lost five of seven while he was sidelined with a knee sprain earlier this season.

Injury report: For the Texans' official injury report, please **click here.**

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