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Practice report: Green to get 15 carries


The Texans worked out for the last time Friday before they head to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. Coach Gary Kubiak prepared his team for a hostile road environment and an even more hostile 3-4 defense.

Running back rotation: Throughout the week, the Texans have emphasized how important their running game will be to moving the chains at Pittsburgh. The team will look to pound the ball early and give themselves manageable first-down situations. Kubiak will rely on a rotation of three backs to do just that: Ahman Green, Steve Slaton and Chris Taylor.

Green will get the start. The Pro Bowler missed most of the preseason after pulling his hamstring in the first play of the first game, but he has been practicing at full speed for several weeks. Regardless, Kubiak plans to ease Green into the rotation, giving him no more than 15 carries.

"We're going to rotate them," Kubiak said. "Basically, Ahman, Slaton and Chris are all going to play. We're going to keep them fresh on the field. I have confidence in all three of them. I think the two young kids have looked as good as they've looked all camp this week.

"We're not going to go crazy with Ahman in this game and set him back. I'm hoping he comes out of this game maybe somewhere between 12 and 15 good carries. We go too far, it's going to be a mistake. But he's had two good weeks, a full-practice player. He's looked good this week, so I'm excited to see him get going."

{QUOTE}Taylor also will get carries at fullback, coming in for Vonta Leach. Slaton had missed a practice with turf toe, but Kubiak said the injury was no longer an issue.

"We just really were trying to be smart with him last week, not play him," Kubiak said. "I gave him an extra day off on Saturday, but he has practiced ever since. He's been fine."

Salaam to back up Brown: Left tackle Ephraim Salaam proved in practice that he is ready to come off the bench and back up rookie Duane Brown.

"The biggest question we had going into the week was would Ephraim make enough progress to be our swing tackle on Sunday, and as of walking off this field right now, he's done that," Kubiak said. "Expect him to be the swing tackle."

Salaam returned to the field Monday for the first time since having knee surgery during training camp. His return provides much-needed depth to the offensive line.

Brown excelled during the preseason, but he has never played a regular-season NFL game or against such a physical front seven. If he struggles to protect Matt Schaub's blindside, the Texans have Salaam as insurance.

Anderson fourth on depth chart: Wide receiver David Anderson has moved into the fourth slot on the depth chart, climbing past Jacboy Jones.

"David has earned the role," Kubiak said. "David is going to play a bunch in this game. He's had a great camp and he'll go into this game playing the same role he's played throughout the preseason."

Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter and André Davis fill the top three spots, with Jones dropping down to the fifth receiver. Jones struggled during the preseason to hold onto the ball, fumbling on punt returns and dropping a two-point conversion that would have won the game against Dallas.

Anderson, on the other hand, made a touchdown grab against Denver and was one of the team's most consistent receivers.

"I can play him all over the place," Kubiak said. "There's no mistakes; good after the catch. Teammates can count on him. He's earned the right to be on the field when you look at the last six weeks. And that's what this game is all about. You have to earn your keep and he's earned his."

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