Wednesday notebook: Friday decision looms on Johnson


Texans coach Gary Kubiak expects to know on Friday whether wide receiver Andre Johnson can play in the season finale against Jacksonville.

The five-time Pro Bowler was inactive in Week 16 with an ankle injury. He won't practice on Thursday after sitting out of the Texans' Wednesday indoor practice at the Methodist Training Center.

"I hope he's beating me up to play this week," Kubiak said. "But obviously, it's worse than it has been… It's strictly up to him. He can either do it or he can't. We will do nothing to set him back, for sure."

Rumors aplentyKubiak addressed the frenzied speculation about his job, with rumors swirling around in the media at a fever pitch this week.

"I'm going to do this for a long time," he said. "I'm a good coach. I've got a lot to give. I plan on coaching for a long time. I know it's part of the business. When you get yourself in the position I'm in as a head coach, those are things you've got to deal with. So I will deal them the right way and I will come out of it a better football coach, and I understand it's part of the deal. Is it tough? You bet. It's pretty damn tough."

Join the crowdJaguars quarterback David Garrard will miss Sunday's game because of a finger injury in his right hand. Garrard is scheduled to have surgery on Thursday.

"Somebody said that to me out on the field," Kubiak said. "Join the crowd. Hey, we've all got a lot of players out. We've got a few out ourselves."

Eyes on the prizeTexans running back Arian Foster leads the NFL with 1,436 rushing yards, 56 more than Jamaal Charles of the Chiefs. Kubiak said it'd be "very important" for Foster to win the league rushing title on Sunday.

"I don't think you go out into the game and say, 'We're just going to run the ball so Arian wins the title,'" Kubiak said. "But I think it's important that if we play the way we're capable of playing, he should find a way to get that done. So it's important to everybody. I think I've had one guy in my career do that, and that was Terrell Davis (1998), so this would be very nice."

Special guestsFormer Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips and quarterback Dan Pastorini were guests at practice on Wednesday. They watched from the sidelines and had friendly chats with Kubiak, general manager Rick Smith, chairman and CEO Bob McNair and vice chairman Cal McNair after practice.

"They just wanted to come out to practice," Kubiak said. "They may come out tomorrow, too. I had a chance to visit with them. I just think they're showing their support for our players and what we're doing, and that means a lot to me. It means a great deal."

Kubiak was a ball boy for the Oilers when Phillips was head coach in the late 1970s.

Business as usualBecause the Texans are out of the playoff race, Kubiak has been asked for weeks if he'll give playing time to quarterbacks Dan Orlovsky and Matt Leinart or other backup players. Wednesday was no exception.

"I wish we had the ability to experiment," he said. "I wish we had so many guys sitting there that haven't played. Other than the quarterback position and probably (Steve) Slaton, everybody on this football team has been on that field. We need to put our best group on the field. We need to win a football game this Sunday and end the season the right way. So no, from that standpoint, I don't see us throwing guys out there that haven't played."

Health checkRookie linebacker Darryl Sharpton (shoulder) was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday. Kubiak said that rookie cornerback Sherrick McManis (hamstring) also will not be available on Sunday.

Other players who did not participate in practice were defensive tackle Shaun Cody (knee), tight ends Owen Daniels (knee) and Garrett Graham (hamstring), defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (ankle) and kicker Neil Rackers (right hamstring).

Linebacker Brian Cushing (knee/foot) and safety Bernard Pollard (shoulder) were limited in practice.

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