Practice report: Controlling clock is key

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The newest addition to the Texans, fullback Cecil Sapp, practiced with the team on Wednesday as coach Gary Kubiak gets his troops ready for the Indianapolis Colts. After spending three long weeks on the road, Houston will host its home opener on Sunday, Oct. 5.

Return to Reliant: The Texans have never needed Reliant Stadium as much as they do right now. They have lost three road games in a row to teams that made the playoffs last year, and getting a win under their belts could be crucial to success of their season.

"The game is very important," wide receiver Andre Johnson said. "All of our division games are very important. We knew that coming into this season that we were going to play three division games really early in the season in our first five games.

"We knew how big those games were, and in the first two that we've had we haven't gone out and played to the best of our abilities. So hopefully in this one we can do that on Sunday."

The good news is the Texans were stellar at home last season, posting a 6-2 record at Reliant Stadium. They will play all of this season with the roof open because of the damage the stadium sustained during Hurricane Ike. The Texans won both their games with the roof open in 2007.

The bad news is that the Colts are coming to town and they hold an 11-1 record over Houston.

"We didn't want to be 0-3 right now," tight end Owen Daniels said. "I don't think it really matters who we are playing, it's a tough game every weekend. But fortunately we get to play a divisional opponent, which we need to improve on and we need to get a win. So I think that's good motivation for us."

{QUOTE}Indy has started out slow this season, losing two of its three games. Quarterback Peyton Manning doesn't look like his MVP-self, starting center Jeff Saturday is coming off a knee injury and safety Bob Sanders recently underwent arthroscopic knee surgery. But the Texans know they can't take the Colts lightly.

"It's a surprise because you know what they can do and what they are capable of," quarterback Matt Schaub said. "Obviously, they've had some injuries and some players nicked up and it seems like they are a little bit off timing-wise and certain things on their team.

"But they're a good football and we can't think, 'Hey, they're a 1-2.' Because they are one or two plays from both of those losses being wins. They're still a tremendous football team in this league and they won the Super Bowl a few years ago, so they're still the same team the were."

Controlling the clock: Controlling the clock was key to Jacksonville's win over the Colts in Week 3. The Jags were able to run the ball and keep their offense on the field for almost 40 minutes, sending Colts Peyton Manning to the sidelines for the majority of the game.

The Texans would like to do the same thing.

"Coach (Alex) Gibbs and the coaching staff really have a good plan going for this game to be able to control the clock and run the ball more," left tackle Duane Brown said. "They (Colts) have a great pass rush, so you really can't drop back on them every down or else they are going to make you pay for it sooner or later. So, we have a pretty good game plan going into it to be able to control the ball."

The Colts defensive line uses its speed to get o the quarterback and keep teams from executing their passing game. Defensive end Dwight Freeney already has recorded two sacks and end Robert Mathis has chipped in another. But Indy has struggled against the run this season.

"If you watch them on film, Indy is not too concerned with anything else but getting to the quarterback and I think they leave the responsibility of the run to the interior lineman and the linebackers," Brown said. "They just try to do everything they can to bring pressure to the quarterback and, like I said, we have a pretty good game plan going into it to try to beat that."

Sapp joins Texans: Fullback Cecil Sapp signed with the Texans on Tuesday. The sixth-year pro who spent fives years with the Denver Broncos was brought in so that Chris Taylor could focus on running the ball. Taylor had been splitting time between fullback and halfback.

Injury notes: Safety Will Demps (hamstring) and linebacker DeMeco Ryans (ankle) did not participate in practice. Ryans injured his ankle last Sunday and missed two plays against the Jags.

"I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I think Will is going to be ready to play," Kubiak said. "I'll know more as we get to Friday."

Running back Ahman Green did not make the team's injury report and participated in all the team's drills. Kubiak hopes that Green will be able to help support rookie Steve Slaton.

"He's better than he was last week," Kubiak said. "He practiced today. Last week, he practiced strictly with the scout team. Today, he's working with the offense. So it's my hope that he's ready to go in there and play with Steve (Slaton) this weekend."

For the official injury report, click here.

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