Thursday notebook: Injuries aplenty for Jags, Texans

Late-season injuries have shaken up the Texans and Jaguars’ lineups heading into their regular-season finale at Reliant Stadium.

The Jaguars already know they’ll be without quarterback David Garrard, who has a finger injury in his throwing hand. They also could be without Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who has yet to practice this week because of a knee injury that sidelined him in Week 16.

Fourth-year quarterback Trent Edwards will start in Garrard’s place.

“I just studied him coming out of college (at Stanford),” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said on Thursday. “He’s got a very good arm and moves very well, so he fits what they do. So I imagine that we’ll see the same stuff they do with David.”

The Texans placed rookie linebacker on injured reserve on Wednesday and ruled out rookie cornerback on Thursday. will start at middle linebacker in Sharpton’s place. Wide receiver will be counted on to contribute with ’s status up in the air.

“We probably are going to have some new faces step up,” Kubiak said. “We’ve just got to go out there and play with the same effort we’ve been playing with and we’ve got to find a way to make a few more plays. They are a very physical football team. Every time we get together with them, it’s very physical. Our focus is good today.”

Milestones within reach
Despite the Texans’ disappointing 5-10 record, running back and quarterback have a chance to achieve rare statistical milestones on Sunday.

Foster needs 56 rushing yards and four receiving yards to become the sixth player in NFL history with 1,500 rushing yards and 600 receiving yards in the same season. Schaub needs 103 passing yards to become the fifth player in history with 9,000 yards in a two-year period.

“We talk about having balance as an offense, and… (that) tells you that we went out there and got some of those things accomplished,” Kubiak said. “It says a lot about the job that has been done by a lot of people, but the credit needs to go to those guys up front. They’ve done a hell of a job.”

Under the direction of John Benton, the Texans’ offensive line has paved the way for Foster to lead the league in rushing this season. They helped Schaub lead the league in passing in 2009.

Support for Kubiak
A day after former Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips gave a ringing endorsement of Kubiak, players also came to his defense in the locker room on Thursday.

“I think he’s done so much for this organization,” tight end said. “The Texans weren’t winners until he came in. We haven’t been a losing team for three years until things kind of didn’t work out for us this year. But he’s really turned the culture around here. He’s gotten the right guys in here to get where we want to get. That probably goes a little unnoticed or is overlooked just because all of the things that have happened this year.”

Jacoby Jones was asked if the best statement the team can make in favor of keeping Kubiak would be to go out and win on Sunday.

“We love Coach,” Jones said. “He’s a great coach. He’s one of the best coaches I ever had. If that what it takes, we are going to go out and bust our behinds and get this W.”

Health check
Kicker (right hamstring) did not practice for the second consecutive day, but that has been the norm in recent weeks. Johnson (ankle) was the only other Texan to sit out.

Defensive tackle (knee), linebacker (knee/foot), tight end (hamstring), defensive tackle (ankle) and safety (shoulder) were limited in practice.

Quotes: Kubiak Monday press conference

Monday at Reliant Stadium, Texans head coach Gary Kubiak answered questions at his weekly press conference. The following is a transcript of his interview.

Texans head coach Gary Kubiak
(on DE saying there was confusion on defense in the second half) “We suited seven defensive linemen yesterday for maybe the only game since I’ve been here that we’ve tried that. We did that yesterday and then we had two guys get nicked up on us. (DT Shaun) Cody got nicked up on us. (DT) got nicked up on us. We’re trying to rotate guys because of the altitude and trying to keep guys fresh, so we got ourselves into a pickle so to speak. It was our fault as coaches. We got out of whack with some substitutions and we had to waste a timeout one time and another time got the wrong personnel on the field. He’s right. There was some confusion and it stems from the number issue we had at the defensive line position. Those things happen. You’ve got to work through them and find a way to work through them but you don’t want them to cost you timeouts. That’s what happened.”


(on if he wishes he would’ve used RB more in the second half yesterday) “I liked what we did. We moved the ball very well other than the first two drives to start the game, where we were very committed to the run. We were six runs to one pass and it was not good. It was two three-and-outs. I thought we moved the ball extremely well. We got ourselves in a second and 20 situation the second time we touched the ball in the third quarter. Arian touched the ball on some screens. We had a screen that was almost a 35- or 40-yard play. I consider that him touching the ball. To be honest with you, I didn’t like the way we ran the ball yesterday. We can run the ball a lot better. We can play a lot better in the backfield than we played yesterday. We moved the football. The only thing we needed to do is finish a couple drives in the second half. I didn’t have a problem with what we were doing.”


(on if there is any update on WR and if he’ll play on Sunday against Jacksonville) “I hope he taps me on the shoulder and says he’s ready to go. He won’t practice. He will not practice Wednesday and Thursday. If he tells me Friday that he feels good enough to play, then he’s going to play. Like I said, he was not ready to go. It’s kind of been every week. We get to Friday or Saturday and he says, ‘I’ll be fine. I’ll take a shot and I’ll go.’ You could tell this week it wasn’t the same. We’ll have to wait and see how it goes.”


(on QB saying they knew all week that he wasn’t going to play) “Maybe Matt knew that. He normally taps me on the shoulder and says, ‘I’m okay,’ so I was waiting on it. It didn’t happen.”


(on how bad he feels about how this season has played out) “I’m very disappointed. Words can’t describe how I feel. I told you guys before. I told you we had a good football team coming out of camp. We had a lot of reasons to be very optimistic. We had some issues early in the season and weathered the storm on missing some key players. We weathered the storm very, very well. Bottom line is we’ve lost five or six football games that we could’ve easily won and that’s the difference in having a great season and having the season we’re having right now. I’m extremely disappointed from that standpoint.”


(on what the excuse is this week for mistakes on defense) “We didn’t stop them one time in the second half. The kid (QB Tim Tebow) made a lot of great plays. I’m not here to make excuses. I’ll answer your questions but I’m not making excuses. We lost contain on the scramble for a touchdown. That’s a fact. That’s not an excuse. We didn’t stop big plays. We gave up four plays and an 80-yard drive to start the second half. The next two plays, I think they went another 60.  When you give up big plays in this business, you’re going to struggle to win. That’s what we did and we were in zone coverages when we gave up those big plays.”


(on LB struggling playing in space this season) “Well we need him to do everything. When he’s not making great plays and is not factoring in the football game 10, 12, 14 tackles and causing fumbles, then good things aren’t happening for us defensively. He’s beat up like everybody else, but that’s part of the game at this point. He does some good things in the game but he also made some big mistakes in the game. It’s kind of the same issue with everybody on that side of the ball and that’s the reason we end up giving up 24 points in the second half.”


(on CB getting beat on the post by WR Jabar Gaffney) “We’re in quarters. He’s got some safety help initially. It was play-action pass so the safety, I think it was (FS) Troy (Nolan), squatted a little bit. He loses his help right there. He’s got to play the post. He got his eyes on the backfield and got outrun. No excuse. That’s his play to make.”


(on how worried he is about his job as well as his coaches and players jobs) “Nothing’s changed for me. I wouldn’t answer the question any differently. I’m concerned about trying to get ready to win a football game. I would answer it the same way.”


(on if there is anything he would like to change about this season or do differently) “We came out of camp good. We talked about being a faster starting football team going into this season. We had been a poor starting football team. We got off to a very good start. We started 2-0  so if you asked me about that, things were good at that point. If I could change one thing, I’d like (No.) 59 (LB ) to still be playing throughout the course of the season. That’s been a big, big loss. We lost our leader and our quarterback on defense from the day we left the field 4-2. So that’s been very, very difficult. Any time you’re not successful, you go back and there are a lot of things you’d change and do differently. I’m sure when I go back and take a look over it again, which I’ve taken many looks over, I’m sure I’ll come up with a lot of things that I’d like to change. The bottom line is we lost too many close football games and haven’t made plays in some critical times. We’re all responsible for that. That’s me making calls, players making plays. That’s the case.”


(on people saying that he takes the blame for everyone else when the play calls are bad) “What I do as a coordinator is I do the game plans. I go out there to cal the game, but I take input from everybody. I take input from (offensive line coach) John Benton, Rico (offensive coordinator Rick Dennison) and I work together. I take input from all of the coaches. I think calling games in this league is about everybody putting their brains together. It really doesn’t matter who actually says, ‘okay, this is the play we’re going to run.’ I think we all come to that conclusion and what we want to do in situations and we go forward with that. I think being good and to me, there’s been a lot of good things on offense, comes from a lot of guys working together. It’s not just about the guy who sends the play in.”


(on if he still feels like the team is close to being good despite losing eight-of-nine games, with many that could have gone either way) “I don’t have any doubt. But getting close doesn’t matter in this business. You’ve got to win those games. There has been at least five or six (close games); I can go through each one of them but we’ve had opportunities to make a play here or there that could’ve won football games this year. I’ve told y’all all along, the key is getting yourself to be able to play in games like that every week, and we’re playing in them but we’re not winning them. That’s what’s very, very disappointing. You have to learn to make those plays. If you want to be a great team, you’ve got to make those plays in crunch time. It’s something we’ve really struggled with.”


(on if it is cutting it too close that the offense has to be perfect or is on mistake away from winning late in games) “I don’t think it’s one mistake. Don’t let me sit here and say it’s that one. I think there’s a series of things that happen throughout the course of the game to put you in those situations. But usually in the fourth quarter there’s four, five, six plays that is a difference in the football game and you got to go make three or four of them. You’ve got to make more than your opponent and we obviously haven’t been doing that. It’s like yesterday, look at the last play of the game for us. What do you pin that on? You know, a ball got tipped. We’re fixing to make a great play and win a game and everybody’s going to be happy and everything is going to be good, but the ball got tipped and it got picked. Somehow, they found a way to make that play and we didn’t. It’s not like you go blame the quarterback or blame an offensive lineman for not getting the guy’s hands down. I mean, it happened. You got to keep playing so these things don’t happen to you. To me, it’s just a mentality of working through things and having the mentality that you’re going to find a way to win in those situations.”


(on if he is surprised that he has not found a way to turn things around on defense, like the team did in 2009) “That’s a great point. You’re right. We struggled last year early and we found our way out of it but along the way, as we were working our way out of it and starting to play great defense we didn’t have some of the issues we had this year. We struggled and then we started having big issues with guys going out and stuff; and that’s not an excuse. Those things made things harder and harder for us to bail our way out of it. Last year, we stayed pretty darn healthy on that side of the football. So it made it more difficult, but it’s still not acceptable from a standpoint of not finding a way to get it somewhat settled down and corrected.”


(on why WR had a breakout performance) “I challenged him the night before the game and told he was going to get a chance to start for the second time this year. I think his first start, he lasted a quarter and hurt his calf, I think at Oakland, if I’m right. But it’s time for him to grow up and prove that he can do that. He played pretty darn good yesterday. He’s got a couple plays there, one in the fourth quarter I can think of, that I’d like to see him make, that can be a big difference in a game. But he took a step forward and made some guys miss after catching the ball, which should be a big strength of his game. To come out statistically the way he did, that’s a step in the right direction. But a very talented young man.”


(on if having DT at the start of the season would have allowed assistant head coach/defensive line coach Bill Kollar to do things differently on the defensive line) “Well, we had the guy we thought was going to be that person for us when we went with Frank (Okam) coming out of training camp, but that didn’t work out. (DT) Damione (Lewis) has been a pleasant surprise. I mean, he’s played nine or 10 years in this league and he’s brought a nice presence to our room and what it means to be a pro and how important this job is to you and how quick it can go away. I’ve been very impressed with the way he’s played. He’s done a good job.”


(on how rookie LB graded out against the Broncos and his injury status) “He struggled a little bit, but it sure as heck wasn’t effort. All the sudden you go from playing well at Will (weakside linebacker) and you’re doing a good job. We wanted to put a little more on his plate, put him at Mike (middle linebacker), let him run the defense, so to speak. So, from that standpoint, he had some mistakes that took him back a little bit. But nothing to do with effort. He was exceptional in his effort in the game.


“He actually is done for the year. He will not play this week. He subluxed his shoulder and could possibly be facing surgery and he played the whole damn game with it, so that tells you what kind of guy he is. We knew about it at halftime, he refused to come out. He played the whole second half with it.”


(on the exact injury to LB Darryl Sharpton) “He subluxed it, it popped out. It’s got to be fixed.”


(on other injuries from the Denver game) “(CB Sherrick) McManis got a pretty good hamstring (injury), so he probably won’t be available either. Other than that, we’ll see. (NT) is beat up. (DT) Earl Mitchell got an ankle (injury). So those are the four right now.”


(on how much it hurts him that some fans are planning to demonstrate their discontent with the season) “It’s part of my job and I understand that. I came here to win games and do a job to win games and that’s what Bob (McNair) pays me to do. It’s not a lack of effort and work, and it won’t be this week, neither. So, I’m okay with all that.”


(on the calls that have gone against him this season) “We had a tough one yesterday. I think the second and 15, when they called (CB) Jason (Allen) for, I think it was for illegal contact, or something that gave them a free first down. It was probably the toughest one for us to deal with in the game. I thought, maybe they were moving late in the game. But it’s like I tell you all the time, good teams find a way to play through calls that don’t go your way. So we got to do a better job of playing through them.”