The Texans received mixed news on Wednesday: Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson practiced more extensively than he has since his knee injury occured, while quarterback Matt Schaub is suffering from the lingering effects of a concussion.
Forgot about 'Dre? Wide receiver Andre Johnson returned to practice with his teammates for the first time since spraining his left knee in Week 2 against the Carolina Panthers and took approximately 15 snaps.
"It was very good," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "He means a lot to the team, just him putting on that uniform and coming out here. We'll do more with him tomorrow and monitor him but when he comes back and puts on that uniform, it'll mean a whole lot to our team."
His teammates were ecstatic to have him back, even in a limited role, but the most excited person on the field was number 80.
"I've been gone a few weeks from the team, not out on the field playing with them, and I was happy to be out there with them," Johnson said. "I was bouncing around like a little kid, like it's my first day of practice again, so I was excited about it…We're just going take it one day at a time and see what happens."
Johnson said he thinks the plan is for him to increase his reps and workload in practice each day in the hopes of playing this week.
"I'm in the meetings learning the game plan and everything as if I'm preparing for Sunday," he said. "You never know what can happen, so like I said you just take it one day at a time. I'm pretty sure I'll communicate with coach Kubiak more during the week."
Any return, however, is solely dependent on Johnson's progress in the next two days. Since his knee has not been hit in several weeks, he could run the risk of a severe knee injury if he returns, and the Texans have a bye week coming up that would allow Johnson to regain full strength for the Nov. 18 game against New Orleans.
"We're shooting for this week, but we're also going to be smart about this week," Kubiak said. "So we'll have to see."
Schaub has concussion:Kubiak announced that quarterback Matt Schaub suffered a concussion as a result of the illegal hit by Chargers cornerback Drayton Florence on Sunday. According to the head coach, Schaub is unlikely to play this week and the team is preparing as if Sage Rosenfels is the starter.
If that's the case, newly signed Craig Nall will be thrust into the backup role while Schaub may be either the backup or third quarterback.
Schaub was unsure of the severity of the concussion but is undergoing a series of tests each day.
"Things are clearing up," he said. "There are still some headaches that come and go and some cloudiness, but it's just something that needs to work itself out. We're just going to take it day-to-day and see how things feel."
Rosenfels ready: Kubiak called this a pivotal game for Rosenfels, who knows he will likely be the starter heading into a game for one of the few times in his six-year career.
"We're going on the road in a tough place to play, really a very tough environment," Kubiak said. "He's got to step up and lead this team and get us back going on the right track, so I think it's a big game in his career. It's a big game for us and I expect him to play well."
Rosenfels has thrown five interceptions with his five touchdowns in the last two games, but he entered both when the Texans were facing huge deficits. He won't have to play with such a sense of urgency if he gets the nod from the start in this one.
"When you go in the fourth quarter and you're down by three or four touchdowns, you're trying to score touchdowns as quickly as possible," Rosenfels said. "When you do that, you force throws and things like that. Obviously, if you start a football game or you play the entire game, you're going to try to be smarter with the ball and take the throws that the defense gives you."
'Good taste' needed: There is one thing that can turn around the Texans' season.
"Winning," defensive end N.D. Kalu said. "That's it. We've got to win. I don't care who we're playing, we need a win in the worst way just to get this bad taste out of our mouth."
Moving to 4-5 instead of reeling off four straight losses will be especially critical for the team's spirits heading into the bye week.
"You definitely don't want to go into a bye week with a bad taste in your mouth," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "You want to go in with a win, come back and just get that feeling of winning back in. We haven't won a game since Miami…We definitely have to win this game.
"Everybody has to look at themselves and see what are they doing – what are they doing right, what are they doing wrong? Look at yourself and find out what are you making mistakes on and clean it up. If everybody does that, then we'll be a better team."
Cornerback rotation:Rookie Fred Bennett will continue to see more playing time at cornerback but will remain in rotation with DeMarcus "Petey" Faggins.
"I think we continue with what we're doing, and that has been upping Fred's play," Kubiak said. "And he's earned the right to play some more and he's going to play some more this week, but Petey's going to be out there too in nickel, a starter in nickel, so nothing's really changed from that standpoint."
Notes:Cornerback Jamar Fletcher has appendicitis and is in the hospital being checked out…running back Ahman Green did not practice today, and Kubiak said he has made the decision to withhold the running back from practice every Wednesday from now on…running back Adimchinobi Echemandu (hamstring) practiced lightly, while running back Ron Dayne went at full speed…former Oilers head coach Bum Phillips stopped by practice and spoke with Kubiak for several minutes afterward.
Injury report: Click here for the Texans' official injury report, as well as a list of the Oakland Raiders' injuries.