Head coach Gary Kubiak held the last practice of the bye week Tuesday, giving players until Monday to rest their legs and recover from injuries before the Texans prepare to face New Orleans on Nov. 18.
Mario's moves: Against the Raiders, the Texans used defensive end Mario Williams several times at outside linebacker and moved linebacker Danny Clark to the front end to rush the passer.
Kubiak does not plan to use that formation often, but he liked the way Williams adapted to the outside spot. The head coach was also impressed with another change the defensive end made Sunday: switching from a three-point stance to standing upright.
"He was very quick off the ball in some of those situations," Kubiak said. "It's something that he likes and if it makes him better, makes us better, then it's something we have to take a look at.
"A lot of guys like to be in their three-point stance, they feel better coming out. Some guys see the ball a little better when their standing up. Whatever it was, I know he was very quick off the ball in those few situations. If it's something he feels good and it will help his game, then we'll do more of it."
Williams, who has registered four sacks this season, has matured significantly in his second professional year. The defensive end has been quick to recognize offensive schemes and beat max protection.
"He is playing hard," Kubiak said. "Mario's got a new attitude about him in what he's doing, and I'm just very excited about the direction that he's heading. Can he get better? Yes, he can get a lot better. He's still a kid. But I think he's loving football and he's working really hard at being good."
Dre countdown: Wideout Andre Johnson is counting the days until his return against the Saints. The Pro Bowler, who injured his knee in Week 2, is anxious to join a receiving unit that has stepped up to carry the offensive load in his absence.
"We had a lot of guys that can make plays, and I went down and those guys showed what they can do," Johnson said. "And I think by me coming back, I think it's going to help us out a lot, and it's going to help me out a lot having those guys out on the field with me."
Johnson started out strong this season, recording 14 catches for 262 yards and three touchdowns before spraining his left knee against the Panthers. His upcoming return has already boosted team morale, which improved significantly when their Texans ended a three-game skid with a 24-17 win in Oakland last week.
"They knew the decision we made last week was one that we had to make," Kubiak said. "That was tough for them to see him standing there when he was practicing pretty good. He's already brought a big boost. He brought a boost to our team last week just practicing with us."
Johnson's return means wideout André Davis will return to a backup role. Davis has dazzled as a starter, notching five plays over 40 yards and three touchdown catches.
Kubiak said he will rotate in Davis frequently and continue to design long-yardage plays for the speedy receiver.
"We have to find ways to get him out there, whether that's more three receivers, four receivers, five receivers, whatever we have to do to move the football here in these last seven games," Kubiak said. "We have a crowded group over there. That's a nice problem and it's a very bright future for that group."
Green, Robinson get second opinions: The bye week for running back Ahman Green will begin with a trip to the doctor's office. Green will get a second opinion on the sore knee that has been hampering him since Week 3.
"We're going to find out what's really going on, why is it swelling all the time and giving me pain and discomfort," Green said.
The 10-year veteran has received three MRIs, all of which were inconclusive, prompting the team to send him to Mobile, Ala. to meet with another athletic physician.
"I'll just be happy because then we'll finally know," Green said. "We'll have our finger on the dot to see what exactly it is. When you're out there kind of going blind in something in the dark, you don't know what it is, you don't know how to treat it and how to deal with it. So once we find the problem, then we'll have a solution.
Meanwhile, cornerback Dunta Robinson did not undergo surgery Tuesday and will join Green in getting a second opinion from Dr. Anderson this week.
In Oakland, Robinson suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and a severely torn hamstring on the same leg, and will receive surgery on both in the next few days.
Cleaning up last seven: Going into the bye week with a record of 4-5 isn't bad, but it isn't great either, especially when the team started 2-0.
Kubiak and his coaching staff plan to use the bye week to figure out how to get the most out of their players for the last seven games of the season. Their primary goal will be to make sure the team wins the turnover battle like they did in Oakland.
"I just want to see us continue to clean up our football," Kubiak said. "I think you go back to the first nine, if you look at special teams, we played some very good special teams at times. You look at the offense, we moved the ball extremely well at times. Defensively, we played very well at times. Everything I'm saying, it's been in spots. I'd like to see us get more consistent, not hurt ourselves as a football team, which means protecting the football and then we'll see what happens. We got better that day cleaning the ball up."