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Houston Texans

Texans prepared for tough opener


The Texans are tired of losing to the Indianapolis Colts. But let them be the ones to tell you.

"Our team is 1-15 against them and we're tired of losing," safety Bernard Pollard said. "We're to the point now where it has to hurt at some point. When a man is getting punched so much, you have to get tired of it. We're ready to play."

How tired?

"Very tired, as a team, and not just me personally," quarterback Matt Schaub said. "It's time that we step up and say enough is enough and go out and finish ball games. In the past, we've played well, we've been in ball games, we've been leading and we haven't finished. It's about consistency and playing four quarters."

The Texans have held the lead in the fourth quarter of their last four games against the Colts and yet, last season's Super Bowl finalists will take a six-game winning streak in the series into Sunday's game at Reliant Stadium.

"They've been our nemesis; we can't really finish off against them," tight end Owen Daniels said. "It's great to have them at the beginning of the year. We know what they're going to do and they know what we're going to do. We're just going out there and play ball and worry about ourselves and take care of our business, and we'll be all right."

The Texans were agonizingly close to beating the Colts last season. The first game came down to a missed 42-yard field goal by Kris Brown at the final buzzer in a 20-17 Colts victory.

In their second meeting at Reliant Stadium, Houston took a 17-0 lead in the second quarter and ended up losing 35-27.

Getting past such a huge hurdle in the first game would presumably be great for the Texans' confidence.

"I wouldn't matter who it is, and I know you're going to say 'yeah, right,'" Kubiak said. "Opening day is a big day, (but) all 16 are big. Is it big because they are the Colts and they're in our division? Yes. But it happens twice a year.

"It's two teams that know each other pretty good. They're both going to be fresh and get a few players back they've been missing in preseason. We're excited about it."

Cornerback Glover Quin, a rookie last year, remembers how deadly Peyton Manning can be in the Colts' rapid-fire no huddle offense.

"Last year in the fourth quarter, we got a big hit on first down," Quin said. "He got right back on the ball and threw a 30-yard pass down the middle because we were still celebrating. We have to celebrate at 3:15 (the end of the game). Our coaches say if we make a play, let's make another one. If they make a play, line up and we'll stop them the next time."

Manning is keenly aware of the close games and remains respectful of the Texans. No need to stir up what already are raw feelings from so many losses.

"They played really good in their third preseason game against Dallas," Manning said. "They've added a top draft choice at cornerback (Kareem Jackson). It was kind of a young team a couple of years ago, but now they've played a lot together and it's really kind of turned into a more of a veteran team in their front and their linebackers, and their offense is excellent."

Pollard agrees with Manning.

"We're playing a really good team, but they're playing a good team, too," Pollard said. "Peyton Manning is going to do some things. You aren't going to stop him. At the same time, if we line up and run assignments and get our stance right, there's no reason we shouldn't come out with a win in this game."

The Texans will open with Quin at one cornerback and Jackson, their first-round pick, at the other. It must look like a juicy treat for Manning, yet Kubiak is comfortable with the Texans' decision to go young at the position.

"That's the decision we've made as a team," Kubiak said. "That makes it tough, but that's the way we decided to go and we believe in those guys. The only way they'll be able to do it is if they play them a few times. We'll get a chance real quick."

Jackson, starting his first pro regular-season game, says his nerves are controlled so far.

"But I'm pretty sure once the game's coming around and I get out there, I'll have a couple nerves," Jackson said. "It's going to be a challenge, but from seeing the guys we see every day in practice (Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones), I think we'll be ready for the task."

Quin has great admiration for Manning and the Colts' offense, but he's ready to go to battle.

"He's a great quarterback and you have to respect him for who he is, but when it's time to play, it's time to play," Quin said. "I'm not sitting back there saying 'Ohh, that's Peyton Manning.' I'm not like that.

"One day I'll be telling my little boy watching his Hall of Fame speech that I played against him a whole bunch of times. But come Sunday at 12 o'clock, it's time to get after Peyton Manning. Then, hopefully at 3:15, 3:30 it'll be like, 'Good game, Peyton Manning, but we got the win.' That's the plan."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky. Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro sports.

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