Practice report: Must win

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Head coach Gary Kubiak and the Texans know that Sunday's contest against Jacksonville is crucial in their playoff-chase.

The Texans practiced indoors at the Methodist Training Center practice bubble on a chilly, gray Wednesday morning. They'll face the Jaguars in Jacksonville this Sunday.

Health watch: Head coach Gary Kubiak and the Texans were without a handful of players at Wednesday's practice. The reasons why varied.

Kubiak said linebackers Zac Diles and Xavier Adibi were at the facility but didn't practice because they were sick. Rookie linebacker Brian Cushing didn't practice, either, because of his "normal Wednesday" routine. Rookie cornerback Glover Quin was held out because he's "just beat up" and needed "a day's rest," per Kubiak.

Left tackle Duane Brown, who exited Sunday's game after the late onside kick attempt, also missed practice.

"(He) did do walkthroughs but did not do practice," Kubiak said, adding that Brown's injury is "basically a sprained knee."

"I feel good about him," Kubiak said. "It was really scary – if you saw the play in the game, you'd have thought something really bad could have happened, so I think we're very, very lucky with him. His toughness, his frame of mind right now, he'd have gone today if I'd asked him to. But we'll rest him and probably practice him on Friday."

Five-game season: At 5-6 and with five games remaining in the season, the Texans are bunched up with a group of other teams on the outside looking in at a Wild Card playoff berth. After practice this afternoon, Kubiak and his players answered the proverbial "must-win" questions about Sunday's contest against the Jaguars.

"We need a win, so I'm not going to sit here and sugarcoat that," Kubiak said. "But we practiced good and just need to stay positive, stay strong, stay together and go find a way to win a game."

Strong safety Bernard Pollard said the Texans are still capable of running the table, and they need to unite to do so.

{QUOTE}"We've got five games left, and there's no reason we can't win out. There's none, whatsoever," Pollard said. "I don't care who you put in front of us: We've played with the Colts, we've played with the Titans. Could we have won the games? Yes, we could have, but we found a way to lose it. Now, we've got to come together and fight. We've got to keep scrapping."

Quarterback Matt Schaub concurred and said Sunday's contest is a "must-win."

"We've got to go out and get a win this week and then we'll look for the next one," Schaub said. "But right now, we've just got to go get (win) number six."

Focal point: Nicknamed the "Pocket Hercules," Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew already has eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing this season. The diminutive runner also leads the NFL with 13 touchdown runs, scoring in all but three games this season.

In Week 3, Jones-Drew carried 23 times for 119 yards and three touchdowns against the Texans. But Jones-Drew had the attention of the Texans long before that performance in late September.

"He was the same way in college," Kubiak said of Jones-Drew's career at UCLA. "You go back and look at his runs in college, I remember studying him coming out and he came out of a bunch of piles and made big plays when people thought he was down. He's fast, too."

Defensive tackle Jeff Zgonina also is mightily impressed by Jones-Drew and described him in a peculiar, yet fitting, way.

"He's a small, big guy," Zgonina said. "He can start and stop on a dime. He can run you over if he has to. He's fast. He's got it all."

Third tackle: With Brown's injury, backup Rashad Butler got extra work in practice today. Kubiak said the fourth-year pro from the University of Miami has done well since mid-July.

"He's made a lot of progress," Kubiak. "We went into camp concerned about who our third tackle would be. It wasn't a problem from camp on. He was very good, very positive. He has not played a lot of football, but if Duane can't go, he's the guy. It's a good opportunity for him as a player."

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

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