The Texans' defense will be focusing on its red zone play against the Colts.
The Texans practiced with a full squad Thursday. Quarterback Matt Schaub, linebacker DeMeco Ryans and running back Ron Dayne all took reps, but head Coach Gary Kubiak said all three players would still be considered day-to-day as the team gets ready to take on the Colts.
Schaub progresses: Quarterback Matt Schaub increased his reps at practice Thursday, showing a greater range of motion in the left shoulder he injured. The quarterback started working with the scout team earlier this week and could serve as a backup to Sage Rosenfels this Sunday in Indianapolis.
"Matt has never been to Indianapolis and seen what it's like to play there and run a team in that situation and that environment," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "Can I get him to that point this week? I don't know. I will be smart with him, but I would hope that by the end of the week we feel like maybe he can be Sage's backup."
Rosenfels has started the previous two games and is 3-0 this season as starter. The quarterback has thrown 12 touchdown passes, but he has a tough road ahead as the Texans take on two of the hottest teams in the NFL: Indianapolis and Jacksonville.
"For a guy to be 3-0 in this league, and then the games that he stepped up and played well for us to win have been exceptional," Kubiak said. "But I'll say this, and I just told him, if he doesn't play the best he's ever played, we're not going to go down there and beat Indy, so I expect even more out of him this week."
Rosenfels said he is preparing for a disciplined Colts' defense.
"They're very fundamentally sound," Rosenfels said. "I could probably give you the same speech about the Colts defense as I did about Tampa Bay's defense. Some great athletes, very fundamentally sound, very well-coached. They really make you earn it, they rally to the football and they live off turnovers, so we have to do a great job of executing this week."
Mario vs. Manning: Defensive end Mario Williams is looking to extend his sacking streak to six consecutive games. That means taking down Peyton Manning, but rattling last year's Super Bowl MVP is not so easy.
"It's just the whole thing," Williams said. "It's the offensive line, and it's him (Peyton Manning) just knowing the scheme of things and getting rid of the ball."
Kubiak said he doesn't know if throwing Manning off his game is possible.
"I don't know if anybody's ever rattled him," Kubiak said. "I think it's important that you make him get the ball out as quick as you can, but the biggest key for the defense is knowing they're going to make plays."
Kubiak and defensive coordinator Richard Smith want the defense to focus on its red zone play so that the Texans are only giving up three points when Indy's offense comes up with big plays.
"Hopefully, you hold them to some three's that maybe frustrate them a little bit, and then find a way to get a turnover or two," Kubiak said. "Then offensively, hopefully we can help them by holding the ball a little bit."
Meaningful win: The Indianapolis Colts are on a five-game winning streak, have a 12-2 overall record, have clinched a fifth-straight AFC South crown and have nailed down the No. 2 seed in the upcoming AFC playoffs.
And that doesn't scare the Texans. It motivates them.
"It's a great chance for us to go up there and get a win and keep the streak going and just keep our momentum going," offensive tackle Eric Winston said. "We built some up over the last two weeks and we've been playing pretty well and doing things that we're playing the way we want to play, and we've just got to continue that. We can't get away from our game plan, and just go out there and execute."
There had been talk around the league that Colts head coach Tony Dungy would rest his starters against Houston so they are fresh for the postseason. Dungy said earlier this week that he would probably shy away from that tactic.
"If they want to keep the guys out there, I don't blame them," Winston said "I hope they don't. I hope they play Peyton and those guys. It'd mean more if we were to get a victory with them in."
A Texans win would make the team 8-7, which would be the franchise's best record after 15 games.
Injury report: For the Texans' official injury report, click here.