The Texans' 2007 starting offensive unit reunited for the first time since Week 2 with tight end Owen Daniels, running back Ahman Green and wide receiver Andre Johnson all practicing Thursday.
Rosenfels to start: With quarterback Matt Schaub still suffering from the lingering effect of a concussion, head coach Gary Kubiak named Sage Rosenfels the starter for Sunday's game in Oakland.
The head coach believes that Rosenfels could be a capable starter in the league, but the backup still has a lot riding on his shoulders in this pivotal game for the Texans (3-5).
"It's a big game in his career; it's in a very important game for this team," Kubiak said. "He knows he's starting, he knows he's the guy, he knows he's got to go lead this football team in a very difficult environment in Oakland, so there's a lot to gain for Sage Rosenfels and a lot to gain for our team, so I'm expecting him to play well."
Rosenfels, meanwhile, is expecting a physical Raiders defense led by defensive tackle Warren Sapp.
"It's going to be tough going out there and we're going to have to find a way to score some points," Rosenfels said.
"I'm just trying to attack their defense and figure out what their coverage is and find a way to get our guys the football."
Kubiak would like to have Schaub available as a third option against the Raiders, but the coach has to wait until game day for head athletic trainer Kevin Bastin to evaluate the quarterback, who endured a vicious hit from San Diego Chargers cornerback Drayton Florence (click **here** for more).
"If they say he's fine, then he would be an emergency player for us," Kubiak. "If we lost two players, I know he could go in there and hand the ball off and function us through the game. Like I said, that's not my call. They're the ones monitoring his situation and they would have to tell me it's OK if that happens."
If Kubiak does not activate Schaub, new quarterback Craig Nall will be the only reserve option. In a pinch, Daniels also could play quarterback since he has some college experience behind center.
Nall fitting in: Nall finished his second day of practice with the Texans after signing with the team on Tuesday.
The six-year veteran, who played four seasons at Green Bay under offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, then the Packers' head coach, is quickly adapting to the Texans' system.
"The substance of the system is still the same and all the protections are very, very similar," Nall said. "Being in that system for four years, I think it's kind of easy to revert back to it because I did spend so much time early on trying to learn it, because if you're a rookie coming into a West Coast system like this, it can be overwhelming - not to say that my head isn't spinning right now."
Nall has been cramming to get ready for the Raiders.
"It's like I'm taking the bar (exam) this week." Nall said. "Just trying to re-familiarize myself with the terminology, and I think the biggest difference from what I remember when I was in Green Bay is the running game is a little bit different. It seems like there's more zone blocking than gap schemes."
As Brett Favre's backup, Nall played with several Texans, including center Mike Flanagan, running back Ahman Green and defensive end Earl Cochran, which also has helped him adapt to his new team
"Most of them are on offense, which is good, because I kind of relate to them and talk to how we used to do things in Green Bay and how they're doing it here and exactly what has changed," Nall said. "So I'm going to try to lean on those guys as much as I can this week, and Sage and Matt, all three of the quarterbacks have been really helpful thus far, helping me kind of get adjusted."
Andre and Ahman update: Wide receiver Andre Johnson, who sprained his knee in Week 2, showed he could play Sunday if the team needed him.
"I think there's definitely a chance that Andre could be out there, definitely," Kubiak said. "No doubt, from what I saw today. But we'll see. We'll take it day to day."
Johnson said he is preparing to suit up and will look to his coaches to decide if he is ready to play.
"I said yesterday if this was a game that depended on our season and I had to go out and play, yeah, I feel healthy enough where I can go out and play," Johnson said. "But I knew that the decision was not on me. It was about what I could go out and do in practice and what I show the coaches. I'm just going out there working every day."
As for Ahman Green, the running back ran hard in Thursday's workouts after sitting out the previous day. The 10-year veteran told Kubiak he feels healthy enough to play on Sunday, but the head coach will evaluate the rusher on a day-by-day basis.
"I told him, 'Hey, Ahman, it's not important that you show me on Wednesday or show me on Thursday, but it's important for this team that you're there on Sunday if you can be,'" Kubiak said. "And we made the right decision last week – the kid wasn't feeling good. His knee was swollen. We gave him yesterday off, he practiced very well today. Let's not get ahead our self; let's hope he wakes up in the morning and is feeling good."
Butler to see action: Second-year tackle Rashad Butler could see playing time against the Raiders on both the right and left side of the offensive line.
"I expect Butler to be active this week," Kubiak said. "He's come a long, long way and I think you'll see more of that, because these kids, I tell them all the time in practice, 'Hell, if you do it, I'll find a way to get you up,' and I want to be true to my word with this team."
Butler has had trouble keeping on weight due to ulcerative colitis. However, the tackle has been able to manage the disease and has maintained about a 15-pound weight gain.
"He's been able to hold the weight; that's been an issue for him as a player, and now he's holding it," Kubiak said. "He's out here playing extremely well in practice. Our players want him up. They want him up because of the way he's practicing, so he'll get his chance this week. He'll be up."
Injury Report: For the Texans' official injury report, please **click here**.