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Houston Texans

Practice report: Texans climb in NFL rankings


After playing four games at home in the month of October, the Texans get ready to head to Minnesota and take on Adrian Peterson and the Vikings.

Offense climbs in NFL rankings: During their four-game home stand, the Texans played some of the best football the organization has to offer. They enter the week with the fourth-ranked offense in the NFL, 11th in rushing (118.4) and fifth in passing (253.1).

Much of that production is due to the tandem of quarterback Matt Schaub and wide receiver Andre Johnson, who leads the league with 56 catches for 772 yards and a 110.3 average per game. The Pro Bowler was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month on Wednesday after recording 41 receptions for 593 yards in October.

"Those things are special, but I can tell you one thing his number one thing he wants to do is win," coach Gary Kubiak said. "He's an unselfish player and he makes everybody better around him."

'Dre most certainly has helped bring out the best in Schaub. In the quarterback's past four starts, Schaub has thrown for 1,233 yards and nine touchdowns. He also leads the league in passer rating (113.6) over the last fives games.

{QUOTE}The big test will be putting up those numbers on the road against the Viking's eighth-ranked defense.

"He's obviously got a lot of confidence right now in how he's been playing, but it doesn't change what we have to go do and what it's going to take to get it done," Kubiak said. "He's been playing very, very well and practicing well. We need him to continue to play at that level for us to be successful."

Previewing the Vikings: The Texans (3-4) head to Minnesota and face a talented Vikings team (3-4) that is hungry for a win.

"The bottom line is, they're a dang good football team," Kubiak said. "They're a heck of a defense. I think they're ranked eighth in defense in this league and twelfth on offense. That's about as balanced as you can get as a football team. A lot of people picked that football team to be there at the end this year."

The Vikings' stout defense is led by defensive end Jared Allen, who topped the league in sacks last season. Rookie left tackle Duane Brown will have his hands full trying to manage Allen's speed and power.

"You can't send too many guys out to block them because they've got other guys across the defensive line that you've got to account for," Brown said. "So, a lot of the times the tackle is left out on a island with him, and he's very talented and good with his hands, an experienced guy. You've just got to try to find a way to block him. I'm not sure what they have planned to try to stop him individually, but we'll find a way."

The biggest challenge, of course, will be containing Adrian Peterson, who ranks second in the league in rushing this season with 684 yards.

"He's a physical runner and runs hard, one of the best running backs we have in the league right now," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "It's going to be a task. It's going to be an all-day thing because they are going to run it and continue to run it because they have such a workhorse back there.

"It's going to be difficult to stop him, but I think we just have to play physical and everybody will have to be in the right place. When we get a chance to tackle him we really have to gang tackle."

On the road again: The four-game home stand has been good to the Texans. They won their last three and are tied for second in the AFC South with Indianapolis and Jacksonville.

A fourth-straight win could have the team talking playoffs, but no one is uttering the "p" word yet. The Texans know that they first have to take care of business on the road.

"It's just a different environment," tackle Eric Winston said. "Instead of 70,000 people behind you, you have 70,000 people against you. We've got to keep that away from us. We've got to just do our job. We've got to carry the same kind of momentum, the same way we've been playing from here up to Minnesota."

The Texans have struggled away from Reliant Stadium over the last two years. They won only two road games in 2007 and haven't secured one yet this season.

"That's as tough as it gets," coach Kubiak said. "You've got to go out and function in a hostile environment and none more hostile than this.

"I've been to this place many times, a very tough place to play, very loud and they're dang good, too. So, we've got our work cut out for us. We'll work with noise all week."

Injury notes: Running back Ahman Green sat out of practice with a groin injury and will be day to day.

"His groin tightened up on him," Kubiak said. "He got his knee banged on the same play to soreness in his leg. So, it's just a combination of things, but he made a lot of progress from yesterday to today."

Wide receiver Kevin Walter did not participate because of a sore knee, but he is expected to return on Thursday.

"He took a shot there late in the fourth quarter on the backside of a run and it just bothered him a little bit today," Kubiak said. "Of course, Kevin wants to practice. We're the ones who sat him down. So, I would hope he practices tomorrow and he should be fine."

For the official injury report, click here.

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