GAME PLAN: The Texans are beat up at quarterback and tailback, but at least backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels has played some. So if the Broncos assume the Texans will come out passing, they have to figure out if it's better to lay back against the pass or stick an eighth player in the box, as they have been doing, to protect their run defense.
Offensively, the Broncos are thrilled to have a full backfield again, and will run the ball. Selvin Young and Travis Henry should split carries. The Texans know full well what is coming -- they run the same offense -- but the challenge is stopping it. Denver will also take some shots against Houston's cornerbacks.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Texans WR Andre Johnson vs. Broncos CB Champ Bailey. The Broncos haven't moved Bailey around this season, so Johnson will get plenty of plays against Dre' Bly too. But when Bailey and Johnson matchup, it will be a battle between one of the most talented receivers and cornerbacks in the NFL.
Broncos OLT Matt Lepsis vs. Texans RDE Mario Williams. Lepsis and Williams are each coming off good games. Lepsis held Chiefs end Jared Allen without a sack last week. Williams is having a strong second season. The Broncos will do their share of chipping and double-teaming Williams to keep him away from quarterback Jay Cutler.
Broncos WR Brandon Marshall vs. Texans CBs Von Hutchins and Fred Bennett. Had Dunta Robinson been healthy, he might have shadowed Marshall, who reached 1,000 yards last week and is by far Denver's best playmaker. Marshall caught 10 passes last week and could come close to that number this week. He'll be targeted often.
INJURY IMPACT: S Nick Ferguson is improving from a knee injury, but missed practice Tuesday. He could be held out to give him 10 days to heal before Denver plays at San Diego on Dec. 24.
--WR Brandon Stokley wants to play this week. He missed practice Tuesday with a sore knee but wants to practice Wednesday before the Broncos leave to Houston. He said he doesn't know for sure if he will play.
--WR Javon Walker, who was inactive last week because he wasn't full
speed in practice due to a knee injury, practiced Tuesday. Depending
on Broncos coach Mike Shanahan's evaluation of him in practice, Walker
could be back in the lineup this week.
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