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Houston Texans

Practice report: Open competition on D-line


There are few injuries to report from Houston as the Texans prepare to host the surging Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

Green embracing backup role: Ahman Green is finally healthy, but he hasn't returned to the starting lineup. The four-time Pro Bowl running back, who missed two games with a sprained ankle this season, is backing up rookie Steve Slaton.

"It doesn't bother me," Green said. "It actually excites me because it keeps the defense honest and you've got two different runners interchanging throughout the game. So somebody is always fresh every third or fourth play, which is a good thing when you're playing against an aggressive defense."

The switch also doesn't bother coach Gary Kubiak, who sees the makings of a one-two punch.

"We'll still rotate like we did," Kubiak said. "If Steve's (Slaton) going and he's feeling good and he's performing the way he's been performing, then he's going to be out there the majority of the time. But, as long as Ahman keeps coming, that's a nice changeup for us."

{QUOTE}Slaton started last week and had 16 carries for 93 yards and two touchdowns. Green came off the bench to run for 47 yards on 12 carries. The tandem will share the load again this week with Green looking his best since Week 1.

"The thing I like is he's feeling good," Kubiak said. "He's feeling healthy. He's worked all week and there hasn't been any lightness to what he's been doing. So I would say he's feeling better."

Open competition on the D-line: Texans coaches have made it clear that there is an open competition on the defensive line and if players don't practice well during the week, they won't get playing time on Sunday.

The competition has brought the best out of defensive tackle DelJuan Robinson and defensive end Tim Bulman. Robinson started last week in place of Amobi Okoye. Bulman saw action for the first time this season.

"We've been heavy at that position all year and every time we make a move as a football team, that position comes up because we are heavy there," Kubiak said. "So what we do is create an open competition during the week and we're watching guys get better.

"We're watching DelJuan get better. We're watching Bulman get better. Earl (Cochran), coming off of some nicks, has come back and played the way we expect him to play. So I think the competition has settled in on the eight guys being more effective last week than we've been all year."

Okoye, who came off the bench in pass-rushing situations, had his best game of the season.

"I thought he played his best game of the year this past week, personally," Kubiak said. "All we did with Amobi was we tried to limit his reps. We thought like he was on the field too much and was losing some effectiveness as a pass rusher on third downs. DelJuan had been playing very, very well, so DelJuan spotted him on a lot of situations inside and I think it made Amobi play better."

Injury notes: Safety Will Demps had limited participation in practice but probably will start on Sunday. Safeties Dominique Barber and Nick Ferguson sat out. Barber will be out against Miami, but Ferguson is probable.

For the official injury report, click **here**.

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