Practice report: Johnson, others limited Wednesday

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WR Andre Johnson (80) wasn't the only Texans player off the practice field Wednesday

The Texans practiced outside at the Methodist Training Center on a windy Wednesday afternoon, doing so without a few key players.

Johnson out: Wide receiver Andre Johnson was in attendance but didn't practice because of a lung contusion. For more on his status for the Bills game, click here.

New week, same plan: Linebacker Brian Cushing also was held out of practice, as the rookie playmaker is still bothered by a sore foot. Head coach Gary Kubiak explained that Cushing's week will look much like the last two, when he didn't practice much but played on Sunday.

"We'll keep the same program with him for right now," Kubiak said. "Hopefully, we have no setbacks between now and the bye week and then we get him a good break and hopefully his practice can pick up after that."

Cushing followed up his Week 7 AFC Defensive Player of the Week performance with a team-best eight total tackles against the 49ers. The rookie continues to excel despite missing time during the week.

"My foot's OK," Cushing said. "Same thing: Play, then rest it during the week and just do what I can to stay off it as much as possible."

Cushing says the learning process and adjustment to professional football keeps getting better for him.

"The routine of anything is really helpful," he said. "You come in and you're not exactly sure what works and what doesn't. It's week in and week out. You're playing some pretty good teams with some pretty good running backs and you have to find out what's best for you."

Linebacker Jaime Winborn joined the 53-man roster a week ago, and in that time with the team, even he has seen progress from Cushing.

"I think he's getting better every day," Winborn, a veteran of nine NFL seasons, said. "He's definitely a guy you want to have on your team."

Winborn and former NFL safety Corey Chavous, teammates at Vanderbilt, are fledgling draft analysts for a website that they started together. They've both been impressed by Cushing since his days at USC.

{QUOTE}"We studied Brian coming out and we thought 'Man, this guy's a monster,'" Winborn siad. "Then when I came in the locker room and I saw him, I said, 'Good gracious! That's why (veteran) linebackers are getting out of the league nowadays!'"

Winborn at work: Wednesday was the second time the newly-signed Winborn practiced with the team. On top of his backup linebacker duties, Winborn also figures to make an impact on special teams.

He's excited to be back on an NFL roster after the Falcons cut him in early September, and he's especially excited to be in Houston.

"This has always been a team that's been looking at me and been scouting me," Winborn said. "We just could never get anything done. Now, we finally got it done and I'm just happy to be here and help the team win."

Winborn describes himself as a "pretty versatile guy" who can play multiple linebacker positions and special teams, which is something in which he prides himself. Also, with nearly a decade's worth of experience in the league, he's also eager to dispense advice when asked.

"I try to help guys however I can help them, even though I don't have the accolades," Winborn said. "But I've seen a lot of different defenses, different teams, and I just think this is a really good defense and has a tremendous upside."

One player he says has a lot of potential is DeMeco Ryans.

"He's always been exceptional and he has a tremendous upside," Winborn said. "I don't think he's anywhere near the potential he can be. That's hard to say, you would think, being a Pro Bowl player. The guy's just tremendous. Works hard. Smart. Very, very humble. The type of guy you want to build your defense around."

OD…or Awesome?: Tight end Owen Daniels has a team-best five touchdown receptions, which places him in a tie for second in the NFL. He's also picked up chunks of yardage consistently through the first seven games, ranking 10th in the league with 497 total yards. His teammate-appointed nickname, fittingly, is "Awesome."

Daniels appears to be uncomfortable with the moniker.

"Vonta (Leach) or Kyle (Shanahan) said something in a meeting, I think last training camp," Daniels said. "Vonta's going to run with it. He's kind of made it stick. If he didn't continue to say it over and over this year-and-a-half, it would be gone. It just makes me feel weird."

Quarterback Matt Schaub thinks the nickname is a perfect fit.

"It's pretty deserving," Schaub said. "He goes out and plays well week in and week out, and makes plays for us. When you're around these guys, everyone gets a nickname every now and then. That's one that he's developed over the years."

Kubiak wasn't involved in the nickname discussion, but he's certainly happy to have Daniels in his offense.

"He's turned into a great player, very special," Kubiak said. "He seems to be getting better every week, being a complete football player, and what a great kid he is, too. I think he's on his way to a great career."

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

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