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Practice report: Titans coming to town


LB DeMeco Ryans (59) and LB Brian Cushing (56) will face a diverse offense on Monday night against the Titans

On Monday morning at the Methodist Training Center, the Texans practiced for the first time since last Wednesday. It was a cool, gray morning with heavy winds as the team began preparing for next Monday's game against the Titans.

The Texans will practice again on Tuesday, take Wednesday off and then go Thursday through Saturday before resting on Sunday.

Health watch: Rookie linebacker Brian Cushing (foot) and defensive end Mario Williams (shoulder) have practiced and played through nagging injuries through the first half of the season. Texans coach Gary Kubiak said the time off during the bye week served them well.

""Yeah, obviously, Cush practiced today, so we hope to get him on more of a practice schedule," Kubiak said. "Mario really was doing it before we left on break, so I think it helped them all. They were moving around pretty good today."

Wide receiver Jacoby Jones, who's enjoying a Pro Bowl-caliber season as a kick returner, missed practice on Monday because of a calf injury.

"Coming out of the (Colts) game, it bothered him a little bit," Kubiak said. "He did practice (last) Tuesday. It was sore, (but) there was no concern, really. He went home, got away for a few days and came back with some swelling, so we're getting it checked out."

Prepping for the big stage: The bright lights of Monday Night Football await the Texans. Depending on which player you talk to, it's either a really big deal or not different than any other game.

Put All-Pro wideout Andre Johnson in the camp with those who relish the opportunity.

{QUOTE}"Monday Night Football is very big," Johnson said. "Everybody is watching, and who doesn't like watching Monday Night Football? This is a real big game with them winning three games in a row and us coming off a loss against Indianapolis."

Cornerback Dunta Robinson doesn't see it the same way.

"It's just another game, and that's the way we've got to look at it," Robinson said. "This is the game that we have this week and it's the most important thing we've got going on right now. The big stage, that's where you want to be, but you can't go out there and try to do too much. I think we've got enough veterans in this locker room, that we're going to take care of our business."

Williams has been an absolute terror in the two primetime games in which he's played. He has notched a combined 6.5 sacks in those games, three against Jacksonville's David Garrard last year in a Week 13 Monday night victory, and a career-best 3.5 sacks against the Broncos in a Thursday night victory in 2007.

Williams, though, can't explain his performances in primetime.

"I don't know," Williams said. "Every game is going to be different. Hopefully, we can go out and do the same thing as a team and get a victory. At this point, every game is going to be very important. It's November, it's time to get that last stretch, so we've got to go out and play hard."

Robinson is looking forward to seeing how Williams performs in the showdown with the Titans.

"I'm glad we have a primetime game coming up," Robinson said when asked about Williams' 6.5 primetime sacks. "Maybe after this game, he'll have 9.5 sacks."

Kubiak is decidedly even-keeled when considering the magnitude of games, regardless of the time of day they're played.

"It's another game," Kubiak said. "It's one of 16, but we obviously know how important it is as we start these last seven. Any time you play Monday Night Football in this league, for players, it's special. But we've got a long week ahead of us and we need to stay focused on ourselves here for a couple of days, and then we'll get started on Tennessee on Thursday."

Casey returns: Monday also marked the return to the practice field for tight end James Casey, who spent the past two weeks rehabbing his right knee after arthroscopic surgery. That's good news for the Texans, who were down to backup Joel Dreessen and rookie Anthony Hill after the injuries to Casey and starter Owen Daniels.

Casey, a rookie from Rice University, was happy to be back with his teammates.

"I felt really good," Casey said. "I felt a lot better than I was expecting to feel. It was two weeks ago today that I got the knee scoped. I was out there pretty much full go."

Kubiak also envisions Casey returning to help the offense and special teams next Monday night, provided he's OK over the next few practices.

"He can bring a lot," Kubiak said. "Obviously, he helps Joe (Marciano) a lot on special teams. Obviously, he can do some things for us offensively, so he'll become a big part of what we're doing over the course of the next seven weeks."

Johnson is enthusiastic about what Casey can contribute to the offense.

"I think James is very talented," Johnson said. "I watched him a lot when he played at Rice. I think he as great hands as a receiver. I think there are still some things he has to learn, but every week, by him being out on the practice field, he's learning and getting better and better."

When asked whether or not he'll be ready for the Titans game, Casey said, "There's no doubt in my mind that I'll play."

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