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Texans excited for MNF


Twenty-nine players on the Texans' 53-man roster have not played in a Monday Night Football game.

Wide receiver Andre Johnson has watched friends and former teammates like Chad "Ocho Cinco" Johnson and Santana Moss light it up on Monday Night Football, but they haven't watched him.

Johnson, the Texans' third overall pick in 2003 draft, has never played on Monday night, but that will change in less than a week when Houston hosts its first MNF game in franchise history against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"It's prime time," Johnson said. "Everybody is watching, all your friends, all your peers. I think that's one game that everybody watches every week, Monday Night Football. I watch it every week. I think it's going to be a great game for us, a good football team coming in with Jacksonville."

Johnson is one of 29 players on the Texans' 53-man roster that has not played in a Monday night game. The Pro Bowl receiver is the first player in the league this season to record 1,000 receiving yards, but he and the Texans often are overlooked by the national media.

{QUOTE}The players hope this game will show the NFL fans what they've been missing.

"I think it can, because a lot of people really don't know who we are, don't know the type of players that we have here," Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "For us, it's a chance to showcase and go out and show people what the Houston Texans are all about.

"If you play great on Monday night, everybody's watching, so everybody's going to see you and see what you're doing on Monday night. People don't forget how you perform on Monday night."

The list of epic MNF performances is too long to recount. There have been a few in Houston, dating back the Oilers' Luv Ya Blue days. In 1978, Houston hosted the Miami Dolphins and gave fans blue and white pompons before the game. The sight of over 70,000 fans waving the pompons helped inspire Earl Campbell to rush for 199 yards and the Oilers to pull out a 35-30 victory.

Now, the Texans are ready to make Monday night memories of their own.

"Everyone plays their best game of the year for the most part," quarterback Sage Rosenfels said. "It's the most intensity; guys want to make plays so badly in those games."

Rosenfels has played in a handful of Monday night games as a backup. This game, however, has much bigger implications. It's a chance for him to show why the Texans rank fourth in the league in total offense (371.3 yards per game) and in passing (257.2), and it's an opportunity to for prove himself as a starter.

The Texans' defense also would like to make a statement and follow up last Sunday's game where they forced a season-high five turnovers.

"We've got to go show them that we can play that type of defense," Ryans said. "We were an aggressive defense and made plays and got turnovers. We are an offense that's going to move the ball up and down the field all day, and special teams that can hit a big play. That's what you should expect when you see the Houston Texans."

The players got a taste of the national spotlight last season when they hosted the Denver Broncos on Thursday night on the NFL Network. In the 31-13 win, Mario Williams garnered hype as one of the most dominant defensive ends in the league after sacking quarterback Jay Cutler three times.

"Last year, we played on Thursday night and it was the biggest game of my life," Williams said. "You know, just to be out there under the lights in a prime-time game on Thursday night, and now it's Monday night. Hopefully, we'll go out there and we'll do the same thing."

Coach Gary Kubiak believes the team earned the Monday night game with last year's win over the Broncos, and he's excited to see them rise to occasion against AFC foe Jacksonville.

"I think everybody in this league will tell you that's kind of something they look forward to, having an opportunity to play in front of their peers, being the only game in town for that night," Kubiak said. "It hasn't happened around here for a while. I think they kind of earned it the way they played last year in the Thursday night outing against Denver.

"This is an opportunity for them. We've been through some rough spots, but they should be very excited to step on the field this Monday night here at home."

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