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Practice report: Schaub draws the line


Things were almost business-as-usual for the Texans on Wednesday as they settled into their weekly practice routine and began game planning for the Tennessee Titans. However, it appears to be the calm before the storm as both the Texans and the Titans got geared up for their rivalry game on Sunday at LP Field.

Rookie running backs impress: With Ahman Green still sidelined with a sprained ankle, running back Steve Slaton probably will get his first NFL start on Sunday.

Slaton, who recorded 43 yards rushing on 13 carries against a physical Steelers' defense, has impressed Titans coach Jeff Fisher with his bursts of speed and ability to turn the corner. The rookie will be facing a Titans' defensive that ranks second against the run, allowing only 60.5 yards per game.

"The runs against Dallas in the preseason and he (Slaton) hit a couple of tough runs against the Steelers, which is a group that is typically hard to run against," Fisher said. "He's a good player. We thought highly of him in our draft room."

{QUOTE}Meanwhile, the Texans are working to contain Titans rookie running back Chris Johnson, who ran for 109 yards last Sunday against Cincinnati.

"He's giving them big-play ability," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "When he's touched the ball, he's given them a chance to make a big play all through the preseason. He's done it in the regular season. He did it in Cincinnati last week."

Johnson has emerged as one of the fastest running backs in the league and third-year pro LenDale White is coming off a 1,000-yard rushing season. The Texans know they will have to do a better job of plugging the middle and making tackles in the backfield.

"This time we really have to focus on shutting the run game down and stopping them and make them turn the ball over and punt the ball," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said.

"We know they have a good running game. The rookie running back (Johnson) has been doing a good job for them. LenDale is running well. So, our biggest focus is stopping them in the run game and getting them in third and long and get after Kerry Collins."

Schaub vs. Haynesworth: Last season, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth got the best of Matt Schaub, knocking the quarterback out of both meetings. With Schaub out of the lineup, back up Sage Rosenfels came in and threw for 475 yards and five touchdowns, including a 290-yard, four-touchdown game. The Texans barely lost both games.

This season, Haynesworth has said he is ready for round two against Schaub but he doesn't want to send him to the sidelines because the Pro Bowl tackle would prefer that Rosenfels not enter the game.

Those comments have the Texans shaking their heads instead of shaking in their boots.

"Everyone has an opinion," Rosenfels said. "It's a free country, and he (Haynesworth) can do what he wants. He's a very good player, and he backs it up every Sunday. He can say what he wants. I think its great motivation for our guys, especially our offensive line. I think they're going to come out and play a very physical football game and be excited to protect Matt and also run the ball."

Schaub, who took a few hard hits in Week 1, wants to let his play do all the talking.

"Everyone has a different personality and handles things differently," Schaub said. "My outlook is, guys are going to say what they want, but they got the best of us last year. They beat us and so we have to come out this year - it's a new year - and play our game, play smart football and let our play talk."

Injury report: While Kubiak is concerned because his team did not practice for four days due to Hurricane Ike, the time off did help several players who had been slowed by injuries.

Guard Chester Pitts is no longer bothered by the ankle he sprained against the Steelers. Defensive tackle Travis Johnson has seen improvement in the knee he injured in the same game.

The only Texans who did not practice on Wednesday were tight end Mark Bruener (hamstring) and running back Ahman Green (ankle).

Kubiak said it is doubtful that Green would dress against Tennessee.

"As of right now, if we played today, it would be Slaton and Chris (Taylor) and Darius (Walker) would be up," Kubiak said. "Ahman still didn't practice today - and I would say, I keep telling you he's day-to-day but I'd say he's very doubtful for this week."

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

Roster moves: The Texans signed tight end Clark Harris to the practice squad and released linebacker Kelvis Coley.

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