Texans deal with injuries, focus on 'Fins

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Wide receiver Andre Johnson and the Texans head to Miami for a Week 16 rumble against the Dolphins.

The report from Texans practice on Wednesday at the Methodist Training Center:

Brown and Cushing rest: Neither left tackle Duane Brown nor linebacker Brian Cushing practiced on Wednesday. Brown is still nursing a left knee injury, while Cushing is out with rib, knee and foot injuries.

Rashad Butler played in relief of Brown on Sunday in St. Louis, and the team waived safety Brian Russell on Tuesday so they could sign offensive tackle Ephraim Salaam on Wednesday. But Kubiak thinks Brown still might contribute against the Dolphins.

"I think he's got a chance, so we'll be hopeful," Kubiak said. "We'll work Butler, and of course Ephraim will be ready to play."

When asked if he could play if the game were tonight, Brown wasn't optimistic.

"Probably not. Not at the level that I like to play at," he said.

But Brown was optimistic about playing Sunday, seeing as how it's four days away.

"I still have a few days to rest up some more," he said. "I'm going to try and see what I can do tomorrow and I'll take it from there."

As for Cushing, the linebacker expects to play Sunday in Miami.

"Last game was a little tough," Cushing said. "But I got two games left, and I'll tough it out. I'll be fine. This is what it's all about right here. These last two games are huge, and I have to play my best ball."

For the complete injury report for both teams, click here.

Salaam is back: Salaam, who played for the Texans from 2006-08, returns to Houston after being released by Detroit on Dec. 7. He was glad to be back, and Kubiak and Salaam's teammates were glad to have him back.

For Kubiak, knowing that Salaam has battled multiple times against Miami's Jason Taylor and Joey Porter is comforting.

{QUOTE}"The big thing there was Ephraim's experience in knowing what we're doing," Kubiak said. "He's had to play against these two players in his career many, many times. If Duane can't go and Butler starts, then Ephraim would be our swing guy. We need somebody who can go play in a pinch, and he's been in some football games in this league."

Miami connection: With four former Miami Hurricanes on the roster in receiver Andre Johnson, right tackle Eric Winston, center Chris Myers and Butler, Sunday's road game will be a homecoming of sorts. Johnson will have a large cheering section Sunday at Land Shark Stadium.

"I've been getting phone calls all week about tickets and stuff like that," Johnson said. "Right now, I have like 125 family members and friends coming to the game—coaches, former coaches and stuff like that. It's a lot of fun. Everybody's excited about me coming home to play."

Foster thoughts: Rookie running back Arian Foster was a bright spot in the Seattle game, coming off the bench and picking up 88 yards from scrimmage. He carried the ball twice Sunday for a total of seven yards and was on his way to a big gain with a first-half reception, but he fumbled it away in the red zone. Foster didn't play another offensive snap that game, but Kubiak hasn't given up on him.

"He can help us," Kubiak said. "He's a talented young man. We're counting on him doing his job. He can help us go to Miami and win."

Foster said the fumble isn't gnawing at him.

"You just have to forget about it," Foster said. "It happens. Marcus Allen said, 'If you haven't fumbled it, you haven't carried it.' And not to say that it's a good thing, but it happened. It happens to everybody. You just have to let it go and ensure that it doesn't happen again."

Kubiak also explained that his displeasure with Foster wasn't based solely on Sunday's first-half gaffe.

"I want to see him prepare better during the week and practice better during the week. He took a step in the right direction today," Kubiak said.

Quarterback Matt Schaub saw that progress this afternoon as well.

"He had a great practice today," Schaub said. "Knew his stuff, he picked up blitzes. He knew where he was going and was very workman-like, so it was good to see that out of a young player."

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