Practice Insider: Wednesday

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Fred Bennett has three interceptions in his last four outings, giving him the team lead.

The Texans have the longest injured reserve list in the NFL with 16 players. On Wednesday, the healthy Texans began preparing for Tampa Bay.

Mario much improved: After suffering from a painful foot problem for most of his rookie season, defensive end Mario Williams wanted to show the league what he could do with a healthy body and a year of experience under his belt.

What Williams has done is put up Pro Bowl numbers, getting at least one sack in each of the past three games for a total of 8.5 sacks this season. The 6-7, 293-pound phenom also has forced two fumble and scored a touchdown.

"If you want to compare it to last year, I was doing everything last year," Williams said. "I was in every position, going up and down the defensive line throughout the whole game and I had a little injury. I'm blessed to not have an injury this year.

"I'm just more comfortable. It's getting later on in the year and I'm settling down, finally."

Even if Williams is saving his best for last, he will have a challenge ahead of him in the Tampa Bay offensive line. This season, the Buccaneers have allowed only 11 sacks.

"Jeff, he's a great quarterback and he likes to step up," Williams said of Bucs signal-caller Jeff Garcia. "He's not shy in the pocket. He's not one of the guys that is going to take off because he feels a little pressure. He's going to be in that pocket and deliver the ball.

"We're just going to try to have to get back there to him."

O-line additions: With starting guard Fred Weary and backup guard/center Chris White moving to injured reserve Tuesday, the Texans had to replenish their offensive line. They did so by signing right guard Mike Brisiel and center/guard Drew Hodgdon to the active roster.

The 6-5, 296-pound Brisiel was signed from the practice squad, where he has spent the past two seasons. He began competing in practice Wednesday with rookies Kasey Studdard and Brandon Frye for the starting spot. Head coach Gary Kubiak will evaluate the right guards this week and dress two of them on Sunday.

Brisiel, who also has taken snaps at center, is no stranger to this type of competition.

"I've been having to prepare – if you're a backup in this league, you've got to be able to do more than one thing," Brisiel said. "I've been playing center and both guards, just trying to increase my chances of getting bumped up.

"You've just got to do your job every time. You can't stick around on an NFL team unless you're working hard and improving each week, so things shouldn't really change."

Hodgdon, on the other hand, will move into White's spot, backing up Mike Flanagan at the center spot. Hodgdon played 11 games for the Texans in 2005-06 before being cut in late August.

"It helps me to not have to learn a new offense," Hodgdon said. "It'd be difficult right now to go to a different team at this point in the season and expect to play. At center, it takes a couple of weeks just to be able to really get a grip on the playbook. So that's a definite advantage for me, and it's good to be back."

Running back roundup: Rusher Ahman Green, who has battled a knee injury since Week 2 and sat out against the Titans, continued to show progress. Green practiced with the scout team last week and Wednesday he took reps with the starting offense. Cutting drills have been causing swelling in Green's knee, so the Pro Bowler will continue to be listed as day-to-day.

Running back Ron Dayne, who started for Green in the last three games, sat out of practice with a sore ankle. He is expected to play against the Buccaneers.

Schaub doubtful: Quarterback Matt Schaub is out of the sling that had been protecting his dislocated left shoulder, but he will probably not play against the Bucaneers. The starting quarterback will be listed as day-to-day. If Schaub is not ready to go, Sage Rosenfels will start in his place.

The team's only other quarterback is Shane Boyd, a second-year player who was signed to the practice squad in late October. The Texans likely will move him to the active roster for reassurance purposes, and Boyd is preparing himself for game action.

"If I am the backup and Sage goes down, the team's looking for me to continue to keep the flow going, keep the offense moving, regardless if I haven't been getting reps or what number I am on the depth chart," Boyd said. "So you've just got to continue to get yourself mentally ready every week knowing that your number could be called at any time."

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

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