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Practice insider - Friday


Running backs Ron Dayne and Ahman Green have been preparing to out-rush the competition from Kansas City.

The Texans worked through nerves and focused on the run defense during the last practice before Sunday's kickoff.

Pregame jitters: Take the pulse of a Texan player or coach, and it's running high. This team is raring for Sunday's home opener against Kansas City. And all that excitement came out during Friday's workout…in a good way.

First-time franchise starting quarterback Matt Schaub worked off the pregame jitters, and rookies Amobi Okoye and Jacoby Jones talked to veterans about the heightened intensity level on the field come Sunday.

"We practiced a little nervous today, but that's a good thing," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "That means we're excited and ready to go.

"I mean you go through a preseason and all the work, and guys can say what they want to say, but coming out of the preseason for the opening week is a totally different environment, a different tempo by the players and coaches."

That tempo, of course, moves faster and stronger than anything the rookies have experienced. Kubiak said that facing a field pulsating at that beat is what makes the rookie experience so special.

"There are some great days and great moments for a lot of players," Kubiak said. "I know there will be special moments for Amobi (Okoye) and Jacoby (Jones) when they step on this field."

Thinking back: Talking about the Texans' rookies' first game made Kubiak think back to the first time he suited up as a starter. The coach was a third string quarterback for the Denver Broncos, backing up Hall of Famer John Elway.

"The first time I ever played was in Seattle in my rookie year, week 11," Kubiak said. "(Steve) DeBerg was hurt. John (Elway) was starting the game, and I was John's backup. About 10 a.m. Sunday morning I get a call that John had pneumonia, and I was starting. I had never even taken a snap from our center and I started against the Seattle Seahawks. I ran to the stadium. I asked the center to help me out and I took some snaps. That was the first time I ever stepped on the field."

Reliving the glory days, however, did not distract Kubiak from the task at hand.

"Those are great things to go back and look at, but I'm working on getting this thing going right now," Kubiak said. "That's the most important thing."

In a rush: The most important thing to get going will be the Texans' rush defense. The team's young defensive line will face Larry Johnson, the two-time Pro Bowler who last year set an NFL single-season record with 416 carries. And the last time Johnson visited Reliant Stadium during the regular season he rushed for over 200 yards. The LJ test won't be easy, but it will provide Kubiak with a good measuring stick for the defense's progress.

"We're going to find out where we're at, because this team's going to run the ball if we put 10 in the box or 9 in the box," Kubiak said. "They're still going to run the ball. That's what they're made of. That's a big challenge for our defense."
The coach also doesn't buy the Kansas City talk that Johnson has not reached top physical form after sitting out most of the preseason and will therefore see limited touches on Sunday.

"You look at him as an athlete, and this kid's ready to carry the ball," Kubiak said. "He gives them the best chance to win on Sunday week in and week out. So he's going to touch it one way or another. We know that."

In a rush, too: Texans running back Ahman Green rested his knees during preseason play, saving his juice for explosive real deal performances. The back is back. And he wants to prove what a four-time Pro Bowler who ran for 8,491 yards and 54 touchdowns in nine seasons can do on the field. Green wants to out-rush the opposition.

"I'm a competitor, you know," Green said. "And I know I'm playing against a running back who's also well respected in the league. I'm just going to make sure I play the best that I can play. And I know if my team, myself and Ron (Dayne) in the backfield can out-rush their offense, then we're doing our jobs."

That's music to Kubiak's ears. The coach likes what he has seen from the passing game, but he wants more production on the ground.

"I think a challenge for us offensively is that we've got to find a way to run the ball," Kubiak said.

Green has a way: make quick adjustments to a fast Chiefs' defense that rolls into coverages.

"I know my assignment is to fire rapidly," Green said.

Notes: Cornerback Dexter Wynn, who took fewer reps during Thursday's practice because of a hand injury, worked out at full speed on Friday…Kubiak said he doesn't know if he'll be wearing white for the Liberty White kickoff…He'll wear whatever is hanging in his locker.

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