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Houston Texans

Practice Insider - Wednesday


Running back Ahman Green is preparing to play the NFL's toughest run defense on Sunday.

Wide receiver Andre Johnson went through sprinting and cutting drills Wednesday, showing that he is close to returning to the football field. The Pro Bowler, who suffered a knee sprain in Week 2, will be listed as day-to-day.

Still on the run: Seven weeks into the season and the Houston Texans are still trying to fix the running game. The team is averaging 3.1 yards per carry and 81.7 rushing yards per game.

The bleak stats had been blamed on running back Ahman Green being sidelined with a knee injury, but Green returned to the starting lineup Sunday and the Texans garnered only 61 yards rushing against Jacksonville.

So why is the offense covering zero ground? Head coach Gary Kubiak is going back to ground zero to find the answers.

"You've got to dissect every play," Kubiak said. "If you're looking at your plays and saying, 'We're running bad plays here. We've got no chance here,' then as a coach you've got to figure out some ways to go run the ball.

"If we're running those plays and breaking down at one spot or another, we've got to get better at those spots. I think it's a combination of all of those things, and it's also a combination of being committed from the standpoint of playing a game that you come out of the game with 35 to 40 carries."

Green said the team also must get better at calling plays at the line of scrimmage and then executing them with consistency.

"Everybody's got to be consistent and just be on the same page," Green said. "Knowing where we've got different audibles and different line calls, knowing when to make them and why we're making them."

The 10-year veteran thinks that consistency will come through practice.

"We'll just continue to work in practice, which we're doing, working hard and then doing the same in the game, just working hard and taking it one play at a time," Green said.

Uphill battle: The running game's uphill battle will be even tougher Sunday when the Texans square off against a Tennessee team that sports the best run defense in the NFL, yielding an average of 63.8 rushing yards per game.

The Texans think that facing the Titans is just the challenge the offense needs to kick the running game into high gear.

"We could go up against the worst defenses and put up 100 yards on them, but then the problem really isn't fixed," running back Samkon Gado said. "Now we're forced to deal with it, and so if we can run the ball well against the tough defenses in the league, then we can run the ball against anybody. So this, in that sense, is a blessing in disguise and hopefully we can capitalize on it."

Kubiak agreed, saying the team would continue to run until they figured out how to capitalize on each rushing attack.

"It's a tremendous challenge for our football team, especially with our disappointments in the last two weeks with us running the ball," Kubiak said. "As I've told you before, we're not going to quit running; we're going to keep running and just at some point we're going to do it better. The challenge against us can't get any bigger, but we're going to have to find a way to run the ball."

Walter's way: Wide receiver Kevin Walter was not surprised by his career high 160-receiving yard performance Sunday. The five-year veteran has been preparing to play that way his entire career.

"I always believe in hard work, hard work pays off," Walter said. "You just have to go out there and prepare yourself like you're going to catch a lot of balls and if you do, you do and if you don't, you don't. You have to work hard and opportunities like that will come."

Kubiak said Walter's work ethic is precisely why he has been giving the wideout more opportunities to make long-yardage plays.

"He works out here like it's game day, every day," Kubiak said. "He's really into football, a very physical player. He'll give up his body for us to get another yard in the run game, so players respect that. They see that down in and down out. They give him a lot of respect for how he plays the game."

Vince's return: Titans quarterback Vince Young is listed as day-to-day with a quadriceps injury. However, it's hard to believe that the University of Texas hero would sit on the sidelines in front of his hometown fans. Last season, a Houston crowd celebrated Young when he completed a season sweep of the Texans with a 39-yard overtime run.

A diplomatic Kubiak said he understands why fans are enamored with Young - the quarterback simply knows how to win.

"He's going to find a way to win the game, find a way to make the plays that's the difference in the game," Kubiak said. "That's the way he's always been. When it comes to putting W's on the board, there's nobody better than that kid in college and at the pro level also. I just have a lot of respect for him."

Defensive tackle Travis Johnson says the reason Young has one of the top quarterback ratings for the fourth is because he has the "it factor."

"He has 'it.' That's all you can say about him," Johnson said. "You can't say he's the greatest quarterback, can't say he's the greatest running back, can't say he's the greatest receiver, he just has 'it.' And that's a big thing in this league, because if you've got 'it,' you can do a whole lot of things."

"It" aside, the Texans want to keep Young from being able to pin his ears back and take off downfield.

"The first game plan better be to stop the run," Kubiak said. "If we don't stop him from running the ball, especially after what happened to us last week, we're going to be in for a long day."

Texans defensive coordinator Richard Smith is also game planning for backup quarterback Kerry Collins to play under center. Collins filled in for Young when he went down against Atlanta on Sunday.

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

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