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Practice Insider - Friday


Safety Von Hutchins has earned a starting spot opposite C.C. Brown.

To prepare for their first road trip, the Texans practiced with crowd noise blaring from outside speakers. The simulated sound may not be as loud as the fans at Bank of America Stadium, but the team feels it's ready to cash in against the Panthers.

Transactions continue: The Texans released tight end Joel Dreessen Thursday and resigned defensive tackle Cedric Killings. Houston had signed Killings over the summer, but let him ago in early September in their last round of cuts.

The defensive tackle brings an inside presence to a defensive line that has been battling injuries over the last few weeks. The tight end spot, on the other hand, had been four men deep with Dreessen backing up Owen Daniels, Mark Bruener and Jeb Putzier.

Killings, a five-year NFL veteran, already knows the defensive coordinator Richard Smith's system and could be seeing significant playing time in Charlotte.

"Cedric was one of the toughest players I've ever cut because he made this team during the summer, but we just ran out of room," Kubiak said. "We welcome him back, and he could very well be playing this week."

D-line line-up: Defensive tackles Amobi Okoye and Travis Johnson might miss Sunday's game due to injuries. Okoye, who is dealing with a hurt toe, sat out of Thursday's practice, but returned to action Friday.

"His toe was bothering him a little bit, and it was more a precaution then anything," Kubiak said. "He did practice today. I just asked him when we got in our group right there, and he said he felt fine. So I expect he'll be ready to go after practice today."

Johnson is still trying to recover from the ankle he sprained in the opener against the Chiefs. If he does not make it back to the starting lineup, Kubiak could possibly move Earl Cochran from the end to the inside. However, the head coach said he's more likely to pull from his depth chart.

"I think Earl would be the most obvious guy to maybe move inside a little bit," Kubiak said. "Right now, we feel good enough with Cedric. We have a lot of confidence in him that if one of those guys can't go, we'll suit Cedric up."

Some more safety stuff: Still so much talk about the safety spot. That's because Kubiak still hadn't announced who would start for an injured Jason Simmons. Stand still, the starters are in: C.C. Brown and Von Hutchins.

"Von is definitely the starter, Kubiak said. "He's earned that right. He's played well, but those other two kids, you're going to see them play.

Those two kids would be newcomers Michael Boulware and Will Demps. Demps has only been with the Texans for a matter of days, but he has been catching on quickly to Houston's backfield playbook.

"They're both ready to play," Kubiak said. "Our defense is set this week. We know that we have to get those guys in position to play. There's no way around that right now. We approached our defensive scheme this week and our game plan knowing that those guys had to be ready to play."

And ready the Texans' troops appear to be.

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