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Thursday notebook: Johnson practices, plans to play


Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Thursday that wide receivers Andre Johnson (ankle) and Jacoby Jones (calf) will be game-time decisions against the New York Giants. Johnson was a limited participant in Thursday's practice.

"Andre took what we expected him to take today," Kubiak said. "It was very encouraging as we work toward the weekend."

Kubiak said that Johnson is "way ahead of where he was last week at this point." Unable to practice last Thursday, the four-time Pro Bowler was inactive for the Texans' Week 4 game at Oakland.

"It feels better than a week ago," Johnson said of his high-ankle sprain. "It's not 100 percent, but I feel like I'm able to go out there and play… I plan on playing (Sunday), but at the same time, if it was up to me I would've tried to play last Sunday. Coach Kubiak is in charge of all that."

Johnson had a brace on his ankle on Thursday. He said the brace does not limit him at all. He'll test his ankle again at practice tomorrow.

Backup plans
If Johnson and Jones can't play this week, the Texans would have three active receivers: Kevin Walter, David Anderson and sparingly-used-to-date rookie Dorin Dickerson.

"Dickerson, he was up last week," Kubiak said. "He has been preparing to play. Of course, David steps up if there is an issue there. He's been fine."

If Jones can't play, Anderson would return punts for the Texans. Cornerback Glover Quin also would be an option on punt returns, while running back Steve Slaton would handle kickoff returns.

Ward, Wind and Fire?Derrick Ward was the "Wind" in the New York Giants' dynamic "Earth, Wind and Fire" running back trio in 2008. At the rate things are going, the Texans might soon need to come up with a comparable nickname for Ward, Slaton and Arian Foster.

Ward's 12-carry, 80-yard performance at Oakland has him in position to get more involved in the Texans' offense in the weeks ahead.

"He's been successful in this league, so you know nothing is too big for him when he steps on the field each week," Kubiak said. "He's done good stuff. He gives us another big guy that is a tough guy to tackle. Steve is the change-up guy of the three. I'm just very encouraged just by getting him, and now even more so encouraged by how far he has come."

Ward was on the injury report Wednesday with sore ribs, but Kubiak said that "shouldn't be a factor" come Sunday.

Think pink
At least a dozen Texans players wore pink-and-black shoes at practice in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Sunday is Pink Ribbon Day at Reliant Stadium, and many players will be wearing a combination of pink shoes, pink gloves, pink armbands and pink towels.

"It's such a good message that you could send in our sport," Kubiak said. "I think everybody has their reason why they put on their pink towel or the pink shoes. It's probably affecting a lot of guys' lives. I know I had a good friend back in Denver that I was thinking about all last week just because of this situation."

Fans can show their support and gear up in pink merchandise this week from the Go Texan Store or the team's official online shop.

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