Practice report: Seeking consistency

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Steve Slaton and the Texans prepped Wednesday for this weekend's contest against the Bengals

The Texans practiced outdoors on Wednesday at the Methodist Training Center as they began preparing for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Line items: With the loss of right guard Mike Brisiel to injury, the Texans have now turned to Chris White and Antoine Caldwell to replace him. The club also signed guard Tutan Reyes to the 53-man roster, and he hopes to provide depth for Houston, as you can read here.

Split personality: The Texans have struggled to put together two good halves of football in a single game. Head coach Gary Kubiak and his players admitted that they played much better Sunday after the half than they did in the first 30 minutes. The common thought throughout the first five weeks has been about the inconsistency from half-to-half.

"I think it's just being able to do things for four quarters," Kubiak said. "It's all of us. We've got to be consistent in what we're doing."

Kubiak's words were echoed by his players in the locker room.

"Any player on a defense that's had the year we've had would be frustrated," defensive end Antonio Smith said. "When you have games where you can dominate and play real good and then you have games where you can give up almost 200 yards rushing, I think any defensive player out there would be frustrated with that.

"But you've just got to find 'it', and once you find 'it', you've got to sustain it."

The offensive players readily admit they're striving for consistency as well. Some think that their desire needs to stay the same, regardless of the situation.

"We've got to come out with that fire from the get-go, not waiting to be down" running back Steve Slaton said. "Just wanting it. I think we wanted it a little bit more in the second half (against the Cardinals) than we did in the first half."

Impressed with Cincy: At 4-1, the Bengals are alone atop the AFC North division. The one loss came in Week 1 when the Broncos' Brandon Stokley caught a tipped pass on his way to a game-winning 87-yard touchdown with 11 seconds to play.

Cincy has bounced back from 2007 and 2008 seasons in which they won seven and four games, respectively.

"You can't make a lot of mistakes this Sunday," cornerback Dunta Robinson said. "We're going to be playing in a hostile environment, in 'The Jungle.' We can't start slow. That's something that we can't do this Sunday."

The Cincinnati offense is commanded by former Pro Bowler Carson Palmer, who has thrown seven touchdowns so far in 2009. When the Texans beat the Bengals 35-6 at Reilant Stadium last season, they faced quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick because Palmer was out with an injury.

{QUOTE}"I think he's one of the best in the business," Kubiak said. "He's the heart and soul, the leader of the team, and we're facing a totally different football team this week than we did last year."

Running back Cedric Benson leads the NFL with 487 rushing yards through the first five games, and Kubiak is impressed with the former Texas Longhorn.

"He's a fine player, and you can see he's hungry right now," Kubiak said. "He got a new start there and obviously they're giving him great opportunities. He's always been a fine player, and you see that happen to a lot of guys—they move one time and then they settle down and really get their careers going."

Linebacker U: Rookie linebacker Brian Cushing has stepped into the starting lineup from the college ranks seamlessly, but he's not the only former USC Trojan to do so this year. Cushing's former teammates Clay Matthews III and Rey Maualuga are contributing to the Packers and Bengals, respectively.

Maualuga is teammates in Cincinnati with linebacker Keith Rivers, another former Trojan who was a first-round pick in 2008. Sunday's game will be a mini-reunion of sorts for Cushing.

"We were linebackers all through college, but more importantly, best friends," Cushing said. "That was the kind of trio that came up. It was special playing with all those guys."

Maualuga, a second-round choice in April, has impacted the Cincinnati defense with 27 total tackles and a sack. That he lasted into the second round and wasn't snapped up by another team in the first was a surprise to Cushing last spring.

"I remember I was still in New York in the green room, and there were a bunch of people telling me Rey still hadn't been picked yet," Cushing said. "I just couldn't believe it."

Considering the success of Maualuga, Rivers, Matthews and himself, Cushing has plenty of reasons to be prideful of his college connection.

"We like to think of ourselves as the new 'Linebacker U.," Cushing said of USC. "That's what we used to break down the huddle call with every day. I think it was kind of reminder, kind of a pride thing. I think it drove us that much more."

Injury report: To see the Texans injury report, click here.

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