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Practice report: Texans set for San Francisco


TE Owen Daniels and the Texans are gunning for their second straight win this Sunday

In sunny and breezy conditions at the Methodist Training Center on Friday, the Texans practiced one last time before their Week 7 matchup at home versus the 49ers.

Back in business: After missing the previous two days of practice because of his lingering foot injury, rookie linebacker Brian Cushing returned to practice on Friday and went through the full range of work with his teammates.

"Cush practiced today and he's ready to go," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "We're pretty much on the schedule we were last week, so we're fine."

The reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Week has practiced sparingly the last two weeks because of the foot soreness, but he was able to play through the pain in last weekend's win at Cincinnati.

Kubiak also added that strong safety Bernard Pollard was "back to work today, feeling fine," after missing Thursday's practice due to flu-like symptoms.

In all, Kubiak said the only injury question marks for Sunday were safety Nick Ferguson (knee) and newly-acquired linebacker Jamie Winborn (calf).

Houston connection: Kubiak and San Francisco head coach Mike Singletary have a unique connection in that they both grew up in Houston, played their college ball in the Southwest Conference, squared off against each other in the NFL and now will coach against each other on Sunday.

Kubiak, an Aggie, and Singletary, a Baylor Bear, go back a long way. The Texans' head coach remembers playing against "Samurai Mike" in college and in the NFL.

"I played against Mike when I was at A&M," Kubiak said. "It was not pretty. They got us pretty good."

Kubiak also filled in for John Elway in the mid-1980's with the Broncos, quarterbacking Denver against Singletary's Chicago Bears squad. Needless to say, he has the utmost respect for Singletary.

{QUOTE}"I have so much respect for him not only as a player but as a person," Kubiak said of Singletary, a Hall of Fame linebacker. "He's done such a great job with that football team, and they reflect him when you watch them play."

The 49ers are off to a 3-2 start in 2009. Since Singletary took over during the 2008 season for Mike Nolan, he's guided San Francisco to an 8-6 mark.

"All three phases, they're very physical," Kubiak said. "It'll be a big, big test for our football team, so we're looking forward to it."

Fumbles cured?: During Monday's press conference, Kubiak spoke of how the team would focus on correcting the fumble problems that running back Steve Slaton has encountered so far in 2009. He coughed up the ball once on Sunday and has lost the football five times so far this season.

"Obviously, it's been a concern," Kubiak said. "He's made a lot of great plays and done a lot of great things for our team. But we've been concentrating on it big time this week. We've had everybody pulling on Steve, and I know he's tired of everybody yanking on him all week."

Kubiak has made all defensive players extra-aware of Slaton's issues with ball security. In turn, they've tried to force fumbles during and after plays to remind him to hold on to the ball.

"This team (49ers) and the way they play with their physical nature, if you're not protecting the ball, you're going to get it knocked out," Kubiak said. "Let's face it: Our team doesn't play well when we lose the turnover battle. It will be huge in this game."

Praise for O.D.: Tight end Owen Daniels shares the team lead with Andre Johnson in receiving touchdowns with four. Daniels has 374 yards on 32 catches - second in both categories on the club behind Johnson.

Kubiak explained what makes Daniels such a special player.

"Just his work," Kubiak said. "He's a lot like Andre from the standpoint of he doesn't say much at all, he just works really, really hard. He's very accountable to his teammates."

Kubiak said Daniels is so accountable, he studies and prepares for a part of the game in which he's rarely - if ever - used.

"He's been in Joe (Marciano)'s special teams meetings every day since he's been here," Kubiak said. "He really doesn't even have to be there. That's the player Owen is. Just very committed to everybody around here."

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