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Houston Texans

Practice report: Texans 'locked in' for Bears


Safety Nick Ferguson (knee) will be a game-time decision on Sunday.

Back in focus:Texans coach Gary Kubiak was pleased with his team's focus in practice on Friday as they resumed preparations for the Chicago Bears, who can earn a playoff spot with a victory and some help from other NFC teams.

The Texans had Thursday off for the Christmas holiday after having a practice on Wednesday that Kubiak had said was sloppy at times.

"We came back and locked in to what we're doing," Kubiak said. "They know what type of football team they're playing and they know how well (the Bears) are going to play, just because of their situation and what they have at stake. But like I've said, that's what we need to end with. We need a challenge like that."

Jones still the man: Wide receiver Jacoby Jones, who has returned two punts for touchdowns this season, is not being relieved of his punt returning duties despite fumbling a punt return in two consecutive games.

"He's going back there," Kubiak said. "He needs to get better, but he's going back there."

A dangerous duo:Bears kick returners Devin Hester (kickoffs/punts) and Danieal Manning (kickoffs) will have Texans special teams coordinator Joe Marciano on red alert this Sunday. The Texans were burned for an 80-yard punt return touchdown by the Raiders' Johnnie Lee Higgins in last week's loss at Oakland.

Hester earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors as a kick returner in 2006 and 2007. Though he has had a quiet season, he holds the NFL's all-time record for kickoff returns for touchdowns in a season with six (four punt, two kickoff), set last year. He had five return touchdowns (three punt, two kickoff) in his rookie season in 2006.

Manning has returned 30 kickoffs for 883 yards (29.4 average) this season, including an 83-yard touchdown.

"That one-two punch is the best there is in football," Kubiak said. "You can get beat on special teams in this league just like you can on offense and defense. We had that happen to us last week, so it will be Joe's biggest test as a coach and our group's also."

More in store for Harris: Tight end Clark Harris has excelled as the Texans' long snapper in place of Bryan Pittman, who is currently serving a four-game suspension for violating NFL substance abuse policies. Harris was signed to the Texans' practice squad on Nov. 4 and to the active roster on Dec. 3 in time for Houston's game against the Packers at Lambeau Field.

"He's done a good job; he really has," Kubiak said. "To be put in the tough situation he was in his first playing time in Green Bay, he's handled everything pretty darn well. I really think with a good offseason, he's someone who can help us also offensively."

The Texans have not used Harris on offense in practice in order to let him to focus on long-snapping duties, but Kubiak intends to pick up Harris' offensive work during the offseason. Harris was an accomplished receiving tight end at Rutgers, starting 33 games and compiling 2,015 yards receiving while doubling as the Scarlet Knights' long snapper.

"He can play tight end," Kubiak said. "He's got some skills. He can run. So we'll put that on his plate also. We didn't want to do that right now, but we'll get him in our meetings and make sure he knows what he's doing from an offensive standpoint."

Injuries:Rookie linebacker Xavier Adibi (groin) and veteran safety Nick Ferguson (knee) will be game-time decisions on Sunday. Both are listed as questionable on the official injury report.

"They were both very limited in what they did today," Kubiak said. "They did practice, but they were limited. We'll work them both out Sunday morning and we'll see."

Adibi has not played since Week 15 against the Tennessee Titans. Ferguson experienced swelling in his knee this week after the Raiders game. If Ferguson cannot play, safety Brandon Harrison will start in his place.

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

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