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Practice Insider - Wednesday


Joel Dreessen celebrates his second touchdown.

Head coach Gary Kubiak prepared the team Wednesday for the Cleveland Brown's explosive offense and shoot-out style of play.

Wild card hunt: The Texans (5-5) improved to the best record the franchise has had after 10 games with last Sunday's win over New Orleans. The team also put themselves in the hunt for the wild card.

"That's what you are looking for in this business," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "That's why you bust your tail, to play in these big games. That's how players grow up. That's how coaches grow up. You get better when you can go out there and be at your best in those situations. We are going to have our chance in some tough environments and none tougher than this weekend."

Their opponent Sunday, Cleveland (6-4), is in a similar position after knocking off defending AFC North Champ Baltimore. The Browns, like the six remaining opponents the Texans face this season, are hungry for a playoff spot.

"The people we play from here on out, I think almost all of them will be a playoff football team right now if it started today," Kubiak said. "We are playing some great football teams down the stretch. We just need to stay focused on what we are doing and play good football and give ourselves the best chance to be successful."

Specifically, the defense can't let the Brown's high-powered offense make big plays.

"They're throwing the ball around a bunch.," Kubiak said. "If you're giving up five, six, seven yards up top, you better be tackling well and you better be pretty forceful in what you're doing."

Walker moves up: Rookie running back Darius Walker moved up from the practice squad Tuesday, taking the roster spot of quarterback Craig Nall who signed with the team on October 30 and was inactive as the team's third quarterback against Oakland and New Orleans.

Starter Ahman Green continues to be day-to-day with swelling in his knee, and the Texans wanted another rusher to back up Ron Dayne and Adimchinobe Echmenandu. Walker had impressed Kubiak with his play on the practice field and Nall was no longer needed with quarterbacks Matt Schaub and Sage Rosenfels both healthy.

"Our roster's okay, so we're going to have some patience (with Ahman Green) and see what happens," Kubiak said. "Darius is up. Darius worked today. If Darius keeps working the way he practiced today, then we'll expect him to play this weekend."

Walker, a Notre Dame product, is excited to don a game jersey, but he knows he will have to step up if Green is not able to go on Sunday.

"It really is a great feeling, especially going from having to watch and not even dress to actually dressing and actually having an opportunity to get in the game," Walker said. "It really feels great. But I know it's a big task, because they expect a lot out of me."

'Dre feeling good: Against the Saints, wide receiver Andre Johnson hadn't played for the previous eight games because of a sprained left knee. You would have never known. Within the first five minutes of the game, Johnson broke free for a 73-yard touchdown pass and then went on to record 120 receiving yard.

"It had been a while, and then for my first catch to be a 73-yard touchdown, that just made it even better," Johnson said. "When I ran out of the tunnel, just the way the fans cheered and during warmups all my teammates coming up to me just shaking my hand saying welcome back, you would think I had missed football for a whole year."

Johnson, one of the team's most humble players, knows his return means a lot to the Texans, but he doesn't like to talk about that. The five-year veteran focuses on leading by example.

"I just go out and bust my butt every day," Johnson said "And I feel like when you're on a team, you watch other guys to see what they do, and I think guys see what I do and I see what other guys do. So when you have a hard worker on the team, you want to try to go out and match that guy's intensity."

Big time Dreessen: Tight end Joel Dreessen has recorded six receptions for 46 yards. The three-year veteran backs up starter Owen Daniels, who has grabbed 44 catches for 542 yards. So what does Dreessen have over Daniels? Two touchdowns.

Dreessen grabbed his second touchdown of the season against the Saints with a 10-yard pass from Schaub. Daniels, who recorded 74 receiving yards in the game, hasn't scored a touchdown this season.

Teammates tease Daniels about those statistics and Dresseen about his moves after the touchdowns.

"I was so excited to get the ball," Dresseen said. "I was a little bit embarrassed with me skipping around there and spiking it and flexing. It was a little too much."

Injury Report: For the Texans official injury report, please **click here**.

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