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Houston Texans

Practice Insider - Wednesday


Wide receiver Jerome Mathis will have a chance to run a few into the end zone against the Colts.

The Houston Texans practiced for the first time since their 34-21 victory in North Carolina. Wide receiver Andre Johnson sat out during the afternoon workouts to receive treatment on his knee.

The 'Dre report:The good news for the Texans is that an MRI Monday of wide receiver Andre Johnson's left knee revealed no damage that would require surgery. The bad news is that Johnson will probably miss Sunday's game against the Colts.

"How long will he be out? I don't know," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "I know that it's very favorable that this could be a short-term deal. I don't think we'll know until he's re-examined, which I think the re-examination's going to take place Friday. It's obvious that the chances are great that he's not going to play this weekend, and we have to prepare for him not to play, but we're sure hoping that it doesn't take very long."

Johnson, who sprained his knee during the fourth quarter in game against the Panthers, said he had been working with head athletic trainer Kevin Bastin, but could not predict a return date.

"I'm just taking it day-by-day, week-by-week," Johnson said. "I'm doing everything possible that I can do to get myself ready to be back on the field."

Calling all receivers:If Johnson is indeed sidelined on Sunday, the entire Texans' receiving corps will have to step up their production. Big time.

Kubiak said he wouldn't announce who will start until he sees more reps from all the wideouts, but each player would get significant playing time against the Indianapolis Colts.

"We're just going to play all four of them," Kubiak said. "They can all move. Probably the one guy that stays stationary is Jerome (Mathis), but the other three have to know both spots, and they will be able to do that."

That means receivers Kevin Walter, Jacoby Jones and Andre' Davis will line up at both the "X" and "Z" positions with Mathis staying at the "Z" spot. Switching spots will certainly test Jones, who is still getting comfortable with his routes.

"It's a comfort zone for him to have Andre next to him," Kubiak said. "I don't know if you guys saw a couple of plays last week, we got a little confused coming out of the huddle and Andre got him right."

Johnson has been getting everything right so far this season. He recorded seven catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns against Carolina, and his 262 yards receiving in the first two games rank fourth in the NFL.

Johnson leaves big yardage to fill, but the Texans proved last Sunday they have the willpower to overcome such adversity.

Up a notch: The Texans are sporting an added swagger in their step after defeating the Panthers on the road, but their head coaches knows the team will have to kick it up a notch to defeat Peyton Manning and crew.

"We've got to find another notch, there's no doubt about that," Kubiak said. "Last year in the game we played here, it went as close to perfect as it could possibly go for us in keeping them off the field and being able to run the ball on offense and still, three seconds left, still in doubt who's going to win the football game. So that tells you what they're made of and that's the way they're built. They're great on offense, they don't give up big plays on defense and they've got the best quarterback in the game."

Kubiak went on to say that Manning could be the greatest quarterback to play the game.

"I've never seen anybody better; I'm going to be honest with you," Kubiak said. "He's got total command of the game of football, not just their offense. Some of the throws he's making and the way he diagnoses a defense, and the things he's getting done at the line of scrimmage, it may be a long time before we ever see that again."

Turnovers are key:The key to the Texans' kicking it up a notch will be forcing Colts' turnovers. Forced fumbles ignited a scoring spree against the Chiefs and sealed a victory against the Panthers.

"Turnovers, you have to look at turnovers being a factor in what's happened here the last two weeks," Kubiak said. "We've gotten turnovers in each game and even though we've turned the ball over a little bit on offense, we've been in a plus (turnover margin)."

And by forcing turnovers, the Texans can help keep the Colts' offense off the field, which was Kubiak's well-executed game plan last year. But to pull off back-to-back wins against Indy, the Texans are going to have to excel in every area of the game.

"Any coach would tell you when they play them, they'd love to keep them off the field," Kubiak said. "But that's easier said than done. I think the key is just that we've got to play clean. We can't help them at all. If we turn the ball over, any time you punt it or turn the ball over to them, that's not good. So we're going to have to play exceptional as a football team in all three phases."

Injury report:Running back Ron Dayne sat out of practice Wedensday as a precautionary measure...running back Ahman Green went through less reps because of a sore knee...both are expected to play Sunday.

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