Thursday notebook: Johnson, Williams sit out of practice

Wide receiver and defensive end did not practice on Thursday, but Texans coach Gary Kubiak expects them both to return on Friday.

“Mario and Andre are on their usual route; I guess that’s the way to put it,” Kubiak said. “They should be out tomorrow to do something.”

Johnson (ankle) and Williams (sports hernia) typically don’t practice on Wednesdays. Thursday is like a Wednesday this week since the Texans’ game is a day later than usual on Monday Night Football.

Rookie tight end also sat out of practice on Thursday. Graham strained a hamstring earlier this week and “looks pretty iffy” for Monday, Kubiak said.

All systems go
Tight end took another step toward returning from a hamstring injury against the Ravens, upping his workload in practice on Thursday.

“He looks good,” Kubiak said. “He practiced Monday, Tuesday and took a bigger dose today. All systems look like they’re go, so we’ll put the pads on a little bit tomorrow and see. (It’s) good to have him back.”

Daniels aggravated his hamstring injury before the Texans played the Colts in Week 8. He hasn’t played in a game since.

“After all he’s been through, we wanted to make sure we got him as healthy as he possibly could,” Kubiak said. “I just didn’t want to put him out there and go through the same thing. He looks good and he has held up through the three practices that we’ve had.”

Demps on returns?
Kubiak was asked how likely it is that safety , who signed with the Texans on Tuesday, will return kickoffs on Monday night.

“I don’t know,” Kubiak said. “I don’t know if he’ll be up (active). We’ll have to see. He could do it. That is something he’s done.”

A third-year pro out of UTEP, Demps was the primary kickoff returner for the as a rookie in 2008. He averaged 25.3 yards per return with one touchdown, which incidentally came against the Ravens on a 100-yard return.

Texans wide receiver and running back have combined to average 20.1 yards on returns this season.

Thoughts on Pro Bowl voting
As announced by the league on Wednesday, Johnson and Texans running back lead the AFC in fan voting for the 2011 Pro Bowl at their respective positions.

Foster has 414,033 votes, the eighth-highest total of any NFL player.

“It means that the fans are appreciative of what you’re doing for the game, and I really am humbled by it,” Foster said.

Johnson, a four-time Pro Bowler, has the most votes of any AFC wide receiver with 340,996.

“It means a lot, but at the same time, I’m focused on trying to win games and get this organization to where it wants to be,” Johnson said. “You know, you can go to all the Pro Bowls you want to, but if you’re not winning, I don’t really think it matters.”

Quotes: Kubiak Friday press conference

Texans head coach Gary Kubiak met with the media on Friday at noon at Reliant Stadium. The following is a transcript of his interview.

Texans coach Gary Kubiak
(on injuries from the game) “(G) ’s got a little shoulder issue that he’s going to be day-to-day right now. (TE) just has bruised ribs; he should be fine. (WR) Andre (Johnson) basically just re-tweaked his ankle but all the preliminary tests we took this morning show nothing, no significant change in what we’re looking at since he did it. (DE) Mario’s (Williams) sports hernia, you know he’s been battling through that all year long. And that’s about it.”

(on DE ’ sports hernia) “Obviously, it’s been bothering him, but he’s been fighting through it for the team. I know it’s bothering him, just watching him play last night, watching him try to fight through it. He had some injections on Wednesday in Philadelphia before the game. Sometimes it takes a few days for those injections to kick in. He’s been doing all he can but I know it’s obviously bothering him. So we’ll continue to treat him the same way we’ve been doing it, trying to bring him along to each game day. I think he’s trying to give us everything he’s got, but it’s obviously been bothering him.”

(on if there was a mistake made by the game officials on how much time went off the clock during the review of Philadelphia’s third-and-19 play in the fourth quarter) “I don’t know. I’ll have to go back and look.”

(on the play of the Texans defense against Philadelphia) “Well, it wasn’t good enough. We got beat. Like I said, our objective was to try and be sound and keep (Philadelphia QB Michael Vick) in the pocket, make him beat us from the pocket. He’s playing well. It doesn’t matter if he’s moving or in the pocket, he’s doing a hell of a job. When you get beat, nothing is good enough. So it didn’t work out.”

(on the third-and-19 play in the fourth quarter that Philadelphia TE Brent Celek converted for a first down) “It should never happen. We were in quarters. Bottom line right there, is we were just trying to get off the field, make them kick a field goal so a touchdown wins the game for you. I think the issue was time; he (Philadelphia QB Michael Vick) had too much time to throw. We didn’t hold up in coverage long enough. In this league, you get third-and-10-plus, you should be off the field 90 to 95 percent of the time. You obviously can’t give up a play right there.”

(on if QB checked out of any plays on the drives that followed after Houston took a 24-20 lead) “When we went down 27-24, we got the ball back and we threw two passes. They were complete for first downs. We had a completion, a completion for a first down. Then we lined up and jumped offside. We had first-and-15. I think we jumped offside again. We ended up with like a third-and-15. That’s why I think there were four passes there. After that, we were down by 10 with inside of five minutes left, so I’m going to throw the ball, try to win the game. So that’s why you saw the passes. Up to that point, we were very balanced in what we were doing.”

(on what Philadelphia was doing to contain RB ) “They did a really good job. They played us kind of all over the map; a lot of pressure, a lot of different coverages, never really locked into one or two things that they were doing. If you take away (WR) Arian’s (Foster) right before the half and you take away (WR) Andre’s (Johnson) run and couple of (RB) Derrick’s (Ward), which were very good, our running game wasn’t what it had been. We kept grinding and it helped us move the ball, kept us balanced in our approach and what we were doing, like I said, until we got down 34-24, we had been running a little bit better than we did last night. I wouldn’t say it was anything they did. We got to do what we’ve been doing better.”

(on why the Texans didn’t tackle as well against Philadelphia as they did the week before against Tennessee, other than going against Eagles QB Michael Vick) “Well, we were trying to tackle a hell of a player back there. That made it tougher. Still, that’s no excuse. You got to find a way to get him down. We had him in our grasp, in the pocket, probably three or four times and let him get away. Out in the open field, the back really made some of us look bad. We didn’t tackle well and especially didn’t tackle well in the fourth quarter in those two drives.”

(on if he is concerned about his kickoff and kickoff return teams) “Well actually, our kickoff return had improved a great deal over the course of the last month, but yesterday was very poor. We struggled. (RB) Steve (Slaton) dropped one ball. That wind was blowing one way and we misjudge a ball that one time. We got hurt in the field position game. The kickoff when we went up 24-20 really hurt the team. It flipped the field position. At 27-24, we had a chance to pin them and had a poor punt. Everything added to it. Once we hit 24-20, it started with the kickoff and then we took our turns making mistakes.”

(on if they were meaning to kick a squib kick at 24-20) “No, absolutely not. Just missed it.”

(on the most disappointing part of this game) “Just that we couldn’t finish the deal. We went into a tough place to play against what I think is a hell of a football team and like I said last night, we had control of the game going into the fourth quarter and then let it get away from us. That’s part of this league. You get into those games, you’ve got to find a way to close and we found a way not to close in all three phases. Not just one.”

(on what they can do that they haven’t already done) “We’ve just got to keep going. We’re playing a lot of people. We’re playing some new faces back there. We’ve got to keep doing that. We’ve got a safety issue right now. We’ve got three safeties on this football team. We’ve lost two in the last couple weeks, so that’s something that we’ve got to address. We’ve got to find a way to continue to get better somehow, someway with the people we’ve got.”

(on what happened to SS when he went down) “He just got the breath knocked out of him, really. As far as I know, he’s fine today.”

(on if he plans to keep defensive coordinator Frank Bush on the field) “Yeah, we’ll continue to do that.”

(on if the new faces have had a positive impact the past month or so) “I think (CB) Jason (Allen), for a guy who’s been here two and half to three weeks; I think the coaches have done a good job of getting him in position to help us out. I think he’s done some good things. (LB Darryl) Sharpton deserves the right to go on the field even though last night we were in a lot of nickel, so he did not play that much. I think he only played 11 or 12 plays, he and (LB) Zac (Diles). It depends on who you’re playing as far as much how much time they get. (DE) Timmy (Jamison) came in and did some good things. He played sparingly in the game last night, but was very effective when he played. We need to give him a chance to play some more.”

(on if he feels fortunate that even though they are 5-7, they still have a shot at the division) “I don’t know what’s going to happen in the division. Like I said last night, we’re all playing each other here over the course of the next four weeks and still five weeks for a few teams. It’ll work itself out. Right now, we’ve got to concentrate on trying to win our sixth game and we’ve got another great team coming in here next week and so we need to stay focused on that.”

(on what QB Matt Schaub was complaining about after the 4th and 5 incompletion) “I think he might’ve been complaining about the pass interference. I think. I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him.”

(on his team complaining a lot about pass interference not being called on the fourth down pass to WR ) “We thought it was pass interference, but if they don’t make the call, they don’t make it.”

(on QB not knowing where his helmet was at the end of the first half)  “I didn’t know anything about that.  Sometimes, y’all have to understand, that if you’re the quarterback or you’re the certain linebacker that has the ability to have the (communication) system in their helmet, your helmets are kept somewhere else because you can’t have two of the same guys go on the field at the same time that have the communication system.”

(on whether CB has earned more playing time with the way he has played)  “Yeah.  He played about three or four plays and he went in there and they ran Iso on him and he ended up at Will linebacker because we got caught in nickel and he blew up the fullback and made the tackle.  So yeah, he needs to get out there some more.”

(on CB )  “He’s playing special teams; hasn’t played much on defense.  That’s just our decision with what we see right now on the practice field.  It doesn’t mean he’s not capable of going out there, but right now we’re working with (CB) Jason (Allen) and getting him involved.”

(on if CB Antwaun Molden should get more opportunities on defense)  “I think he’s getting opportunities on the practice field.  We’ll see how it goes.”

(on how QB Matt Schaub’s play this season compares to last year through 12 games)  “Well, his numbers are down because our offense has shifted in another direction, so that’s what’s going on from that standpoint.  I think he’s been pretty consistent, but I think he’d be the first one to tell you that he can play better.  It’s like last night, he’s got six or seven plays that I know he wants back.  We had a long talk this morning.  Playing that position in this league is about trying to be perfect and not just be good.  He’s pretty damn good, but we need him to be perfect.”

(on if there is an emphasis for QB Matt Schaub and the offense to score points because the defense is struggling)  “You bet there is.  That’s part of his job.  You play that position, that’s something you carry with you.”

(on whether the increased pressure to score has changed the way QB Matt Schaub plays this year compared to last season)  “I carried him to that same standard last year.”

(on what he has done to try and get the team off to better starts in games)  “Let’s be realistic.  Let’s look at last night.  Why did we get off to a bad start?  We gave up an 85-yard drive and an 80-yard drive in the first two drives of the game and we ran seven plays and kicked a field goal, so we played poorly on defense in the first quarter.  We had the wind at our back in a tough place to plan and were never able to take advantage of it in the first quarter, so we dug ourselves a big hole and we fought our way out of it.  And then we got a little lucky, actually, when we cut the game to 17-10 and we threw the interception, we could’ve been in real trouble, but we stood up and held them to three so we’re probably very fortunate to be in a 10-point game at halftime.”

(on whether his team feels confident when its behind in games)  “Well, I’ve always tried to teach them since I’ve been here that it doesn’t matter if you’re up 10 or 14 in the first quarter or down 10 or 14 in the first quarter, you’ve got to play four quarters, and I think that’s what this league is all about.  The good teams find a way to do that week in and week out.”