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Practice Insider - Thursday


Wide receiver Kevin Walter knows he will be running for a lot more balls come Sunday.

The Houston Texans continued Thursday to prepare for Peyton Manning and Co., while Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson nursed a sprained left knee.

Which wideouts: With wide receiver Andre Johnson not suiting up for Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts, the big question has been: Which wideouts will get to start?

That question was partially answered in Thursday's practice when head coach Gary Kubiak said that Kevin Walter will start at one receiving spot.

"We're going to play all four of them," Kubiak said. "I'll make a decision tomorrow about exactly who's going to start, but we're going to play all four of the kids. We're going to rotate them. It's going to take all of them for us to be successful, but we'll lock in who will be the starters tomorrow. Kevin's definitely one of them, I'll tell you that."

Walter normally lines up in the "Z" slot, but can also play at the "X" position. If he does move spots, then wideout Jacoby Jones could start in the "Z" spot. If Walter stays put, then Andre' Davis could be the second starting receiver.

Regardless, Walter, who has notched two receptions this season, will have to step up and catch more balls, and his coach thinks he's ready for that task.

"I could sit here all day and tell you how much he does for the football team in his effort and how he plays the game," Kubiak said. "And he played really well last week. Do we need more out of him? Yeah."

All hands on deck: All four receivers are working overtime to fill Johnson's void. The Pro Bowl receiver, who sprained his left knee last Sunday in Carolina, has recorded 262 receiving yards so far this season, which totals more than half of the entire Texans' receiving yardage.

Kubiak said he believes the four are capable of carrying the load.

"Does it scare me? No, it doesn't scare me, because I believe in the group and that's the key," Kubiak said. "These guys are really working hard, they really practiced well today. Is there a focus on them? Yeah, there is, but you know, we're not going to beat the Colts unless we all go out there and really play well and above and beyond and over our head, and they've got to be part of that. It's not just them. It's about the team."

Backs are back: Running backs Ahman Green and Ron Dayne rested for most of Wednesday's practice, but the two backs were back at it Thursday. Green ran at full speed during the outdoor workouts, but Dayne was forced to limit his reps due to the ribs he bruised in Carolina.

"Ahman's fine," Kubiak said. "Ronnie, there's a little bit of question on Ronnie. He did practice some today. He did not put on his pads with the rest of the guys, so we'll push him tomorrow and we'll make that decision. If not, Samkon (Gado) will go."

The running game will figure heavily in the Texans' offensive scheme against the Colts. Last year, Dayne ran for a career-best 153 yards in the Texans' 27-24 win over Indy. His rushing yardage not only produced offense, it kept Peyton Manning off the field.

So far this season, Ahman Green and Ron Dayne have averaged 110 yards combined per game. It appears that Gado will team up with the two to boost that number come Sunday.

Johnson update: Kubiak said he had no new information to report about Johnson aside from him not being able to play on Sunday.

"We were hoping for a miracle and we've still got time for one, but it doesn't look good," Kubiak said. "You know, like I said, the good news is he's going to be fine. The question is how long's it going to be? Is it going to be a week, three weeks, five weeks? I don't think we know until they kind of get him out of the thing that he's in right now and really test him out, and the plan is to do that tomorrow."

Kubiak said five weeks would be the worst case scenario, but the coach doesn't think it will take Johnson that long to return to the field.

"I'm very optimistic, especially with a guy like him who's a really hard worker and very well-conditioned player," Kubiak said. "If anybody should make it back quicker than the doctors think that he can, it's probably that guy. So I'm going to be on the optimistic side."

Injury Report: Defensive tackle Travis Johnson has been practicing this week and will see action against the Colts…defensive end N.D. Kalu is still recovering from a fractured hand.

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