Practice report: Cushing sits, 'Dre backs Schaub

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The Texans practiced outside at the Methodist Training Center on Wednesday as they began preparations for the San Francisco 49ers.

Cushing wins honor, doesn't practice:Wednesday was a mixed bag for rookie linebacker Brian Cushing. He was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week (see press release) but also was held out of practice with a sore foot.

The same injury kept Cushing out of practice last Thursday and limited him last Wednesday and Friday. Texans coach Gary Kubiak called his decision to rest Cushing on Wednesday a precautionary move.

"Sometimes, the foot needs a little bit more rest than just a day or two off," Cushing said. "It's a little significant of an injury, but nothing too serious. Obviously, I played (last week) and I can play with it. It's just a little sore.

"It's not like it's going to hold me out of the game. I'm sure I'll come back to practice again later in the week and play again."

Kubiak expects Cushing to be able to play on Sunday against the 49ers. He plans to have Cushing practice a little on Thursday and then take most of his normal reps on Friday.

"He seemed to handle it last week very well, so we'll probably give him a break until we feel like he's back feeling really, really good," Kubiak said. "I was really impressed last week because he really played without practicing. That tells you that he can watch a practice, focus on what's going on in the meeting room and still go out and do it on Sunday, and that's what being a pro's about."

Player of the week:As for the player of the week award, Cushing is the first rookie to receive such honors this season. He leads the Texans – and all rookies – with 48 tackles, and had nine tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception last Sunday.

"He's been playing his butt off," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "He's been doing a great job for us. We still have a lot of stuff to get better on, but he's a great player and going to continue to make big plays for us."

Cushing, no stranger to accolades after an All-American career at USC, was grateful for the award.

"Any time something like that happens, it's special," he said. "It's an honor. I'm real happy about it. Of course, it doesn't mean anything if I don't come out and perform again this week."

'Dre backs Schaub:Matt Schaub has taken his lumps from the media in two-plus seasons as the Texans' quarterback, mostly because of missing five games two consecutive seasons due to injuries and illness.

Now, he leads the league with 14 touchdown passes and is second to Ben Roehtlisberger with 1,810 passing yards.

"I think Matt takes a lot of criticism, and sometimes people need to stop talking and they can look at the numbers, and I think they speak for themselves," wide receiver Andre Johnson said.

{QUOTE}Johnson, who watches film with Schaub every morning, has been in Schaub's corner since the quarterback arrived in Houston via trade in 2007.

"He was different," Johnson said. "As soon as he signed, he called me, and I think that was real big of him. He didn't have to do that.

"Since the day he got here, we've just been communicating a lot. We talk about everything we see on the field and things like that. I have a bond with him that I didn't have with David (Carr) when he was here."

Right guard split:Against the Bengals, Chris White and rookie Antoine Caldwell split time filling in for injured guard Mike Brisiel, who was placed on injured reserve last week. White started and Caldwell, a third-round draft pick from Alabama, began spelling him in the second quarter.

"I think we go right back and do what we did last week," Kubiak said. "They played pretty much down the middle. Chris was probably a little steadier, but the young kid (Caldwell) showed the flashes of why we drafted him and why we think he can be a starter in this league. So I think we keep going and let them show us who deserves to be out there full-time."

Safety net:In four weeks, Bernard Pollard has gone from being unemployed to being a key cog in the Texans' rapidly improving defense.

Pollard was released by the Chiefs in their final roster cut on Sept. 5 despite leading the team in tackles in 2008. The Texans signed him on Sept. 24, and he became their starting strong safety 10 days later.

In the three games with Pollard in the starting lineup, the Texans have ranked second in the NFL with 45 rushing yards allowed per game.

"We knew we had a chance with him because of (defensive backs coach) David's (Gibbs) relationship with him and the time he had spent (in Kansas City)," Kubiak said. "But he's adapted very well and he's been very good and seems to be getting even more comfortable."

Kubiak said that the sure tackling of cornerbacks Dunta Robinson and Glover Quin also have helped the Texans to stop giving up big plays on the ground.

Like the Jets: The 49ers play a physical brand of football under head coach Mike Singletary, a Hall of Fame linebacker who played for the Chicago Bears for 12 seasons. San Francisco's offense revolves around Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore. Defensively, they run a 3-4 and rank in the top-10 in the league against the run this season.

Kubiak said that this week will be a lot like playing the New York Jets, who beat the Texans 24-7 at Reliant Stadium in Week 1.

"They present the same problems for us," Kubiak said. "They run the football extremely well and they give us problems with their 3-4, scheme so we've got a big challenge."

New addition: The Texans have signed free agent veteran linebacker Jamie Winborn, the team officially announced on Wednesday. To make room for Winbon, the team released rookie defensive end Tim Jamison, who recently had been called up from the practice squad.

Winborn was a second-round pick by the 49ers out of Vanderbilt in 2001. He spent the past two seasons in Denver, starting 11 games for the Broncos in 2008. The Texans lost linebackers Chaun Thompson and Khary Campbell to season-ending injuries earlier this season.

Injury report: For the offiicial injury report for both the Texans and 49ers, click here.

Follow Nick Scurfield on Twitter at *twitter.com/NickScurfield or find him on the "I'm A Texan Club" at imatexan.com/profiles/Nick_Scurf/*.

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