Turn for the better

Ankles usually aren't newsworthy unless there's a massive run on capri pants.

But when an injured ankle is attached to the starting quarterback, it's news. And Texans fans are angling for any ankle acumen they can acquire on David Carr, who missed his first start as a Texan last week as Houston upset Carolina. Carr returned to practice today to test his sprained right ankle as the Texans began preparation for their game at Cincinnati Sunday.

"It was the first day back for David and he did fine with the things we asked him to do," head coach Dom Capers said. "We didn't have him do everything. He worked on a limited basis and took a limited number of snaps. But I thought he did well with the snaps he took."

Carr is officially listed as questionable on the injury report and the Texans have a detailed practice plan for him this week.

"We've got him to where he took a certain number of reps today, a few more tomorrow and then take all the reps he would take as a starter on Friday -- provided that there are no setbacks with the ankle," Capers said.

Carr, meanwhile, is excited about the chance to get back on the practice field.

"I'm excited to go out there and do some drills," he said. "There's no pain. I just keep taping it up. If I can't be 100 percent on game day, though, I probably won't go."

Through his first 23 games, Carr really only saw the training room when he was getting taped up or taking a dip in the whirlpool. But over the past 10 days, he's realized how valuable head athletic trainer Kevin Bastin and his staff are to the team's well-being.

"You don't really notice them when you're healthy," Carr said. "But when you're injured, they're your best friends. You're always talking to them. I like to think I'm a good patient. You'd have to ask them."

PLENTY IN RESERVE

David Carr, Joey Harrington and Patrick Ramsey were the three quarterbacks taken in the first round of the 2002 draft. Here's a look at the career numbers of who backs them up.

Texans: Tony Banks (1,234-2,274, 14,726 yds., 73 TDs, 69 INTs)

Lions: Mike McMahon (120-282, 1,596 yds., 10 TDs, 11 INTs)

Redskins: Tim Hasselback (2-3, 20 yds., 0 TDs, 0 INTs)

Backup quarterback Tony Banks started his first game for Houston against the Panthers and showed why the Texans have him here. Banks completed a methodical 13 of 19 passes for 154 yards and the game-winning touchdown. He didn't throw an interception. And now he's the proverbial big man on campus.

"Yeah, but I've been in this situation before," Banks said. "You can turn into the villain real fast. It's nice to be able to help my team contribute and I just worry about what the guys in here think. I've had their confidence since I've been here but it always helps to do it on the field."

Banks expects Carr to go Sunday. But he is approaching this week of preparation just like every other week. A game, or an ankle, can turn on any snap and Banks knows he has to be ready.

"I won't get as many reps this week because David is going to test it today and tomorrow," Banks said. "If I know Dave, he's going to be out there and I'm there to support him every step of the way.

         "I
         just have to be ready in case he rolls it again."
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