Thursday notebook: Jones likely to return kickoffs


The Texans practiced indoors on a windy Thursday at the Methodist Training Center, piping in heavy crowd noise as they prepare to face the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Linebacker Xavier Adibi (hamstring) returned to the practice field for the first time since the Texans' bye week. The only injured players to sit out were defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (ankle) and defensive end Jesse Nading (knee). Running back Steve Slaton missed practice to attend to a personal matter.

Players are all business in advance of their Monday night game, a matchup of 4-2 teams that has major AFC South implications.

"This game is very big – probably the biggest game for the organization," wide receiver Andre Johnson said. "The mindset is where it needs to be. Guys are focused. You could see it as we were out in practice today. Guys are locked in, and we know how big of a game it is for us."

Jones on kickoffs
Texans coach Gary Kubiak called it "pretty likely" that wide receiver Jacoby Jones will get a chance to return kickoffs on Monday night.

"We want him to touch the ball," Kubiak said. "Any way he can get a chance to do it, he'll get a chance."

Kubiak said that the team still has confidence in Slaton, who has averaged 19.5 yards on 20 kickoff returns this season. Jones has averaged 25.3 yards on three returns.

"I thought Steve did a pretty good job in the preseason," Kubiak said. "I did not think we were doing a good job (blocking) for him early in the season, and Jacoby was hurt, too. But if (Jones) is ready to go and he's feeling good, there's a chance he could be back there; always is."

Jones, one of the top punt returners in the league, said he has always enjoyed returning kickoffs.

"It's like playing 'It' – catch me if you can," he said.

Cushing adjusting
Thursday was Brian Cushing's third practice as the Texans' middle linebacker. He moved inside after the bye week to replace DeMeco Ryans, who suffered a season-ending injury in Week 6.

"Every day, I feel a lot better," Cushing said. "I feel a big improvement, and I'm just really excited to play in that position and see what I can do there."

Kubiak is impressed by the quick strides Cushing has made at his new position.

"Some things we struggled with Monday and Tuesday, they were fine and OK today," Kubiak said. "So I can imagine it's going to be like that, but it's exciting to see what's going on and watching him try and take over and lead from that standpoint. Like I told him this morning, 'Hey, we've all gotta pick it up.' They've all got to help from that standpoint."

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