SURFACE: Natural Grass
TV: CBS (Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf)
PREDICTION: Colts 30-27
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Colts averaged 3.5 yards per carry last season and, contrary to strategic design, QB Peyton Manning had to throw in the fourth quarter to win. He put up 85 passes in two meetings last year and has more weapons outside than ever, but kick-starting the running game is a primary focus. The Texans want to do the same. Controlling the clock has kept them in many games against the Colts — the last four games have been decided by a total of 21 points — and RB Arian Foster, who has size and speed, is the type of runner that has stung the Colts' speedy yet undersized defense in the past. WR Andre Johnson had 15 catches for 170 yards in two games against the Colts last season. FAST FACTS: Texans DE Mario Williams has four sacks in his last four games against the Colts ... Manning is 15-1 all-time against the Texans with 37 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Texans: — LT Duane Brown is supposed to keep DE Dwight Freeney off QB Matt Schaub. Brown weighed 328 last year, but reported at 312 this year and enters the season at 310. Brown feels quicker at 310, and quickness is Freeney's strength.
"The first time we played them, he put his patented spin move on me," Brown said. "It was a rough one. I've gotten better every time I've faced him. I feel like I've improved a lot this offseason, mentally and physically. I'm just trying to keep that progression going this year."
— RB Arian Foster is starting the second game of his two-year career. He started the last game of last season against New England. He averaged 6 yards in preseason. Unless the Texans fall behind and have to play catch-up, the coaches would like for him to touch the ball 15 to 20 times a game.
"They made me No. 1, so I've got to prove them right," Foster said. "I'm excited about this opportunity."
"I don't think either guy has stepped up and said, 'This is all mine,' and I'm waiting for one of them to do it," coach Gary Kubiak said.
Caldwell, 6-3, 311, was a third-round pick last year. Brisiel, 6-5, 305, is a three-year veteran who started every play at right guard in 2008 but suffered a season-ending foot injury in the sixth game last season.
— TE Owen Daniels continues to improve. He returned two practice two weeks ago. He'll play against the Colts in his first action since suffering a season-ending knee injury in the eighth game last season. The coaches want him to play about 25 snaps. He'll find out Friday if he's starting. Joel Dreessen has replaced him in the lineup.
— OLB Xavier Adibi, who backed up on the weak side during his first two years, starts on the strong side in place of the suspended Brian Cushing. Adibi, 6-2, 242, doesn't have Cushing's power, explosiveness, intensity or tackling ability, but he does have more speed and quickness. Adibi might be able to keep up with TE Dallas Clark better than Cushing did last season. Clark had a career-high 14 catches in one game against the Texans, and Cushing was the victim of most of those receptions.
Colts: — WR Anthony Gonzalez (back) saw limited work in Thursday's practice. Gonzalez is expected to play Sunday at Houston.
— C Jeff Saturday (knee) took part in his first two full workouts Wednesday and Thursday. Saturday had been doing limited work in practice since last week. He remains hopeful of being able to start at Houston on Sunday.
— OT Charlie Johnson (foot) went through limited practice Wednesday and Thursday. Johnson has not ruled out starting Sunday's game at Houston but refused to make any guarantees about his availability.
— OT Jeff Linkenbach, an undrafted rookie from Cincinnati, could get the call to start at left offensive tackle Sunday if Charlie Johnson is unable to play. Linkenbach saw work at left tackle during training camp and the preseason while Johnson has been sidelined.
— CB Jacob Lacey (head) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. A final determination on his availability for the Houston game probably won't be made until Friday or Saturday.
— LB Cody Glenn (hamstring) didn't participate in practices Wednesday or Thursday. Glenn has an outside chance of playing at Houston on Sunday but a decision most likely won't be made until Saturday.
— S Bob Sanders sat out Thursday's practice, as is his normal game-week routine. Prior to the workout, Sanders said that he was feeling good and was ready to start Sunday's game at Houston.
"It's been awhile since I played, since I've been on the field. I feel fresh. I feel rejuvenated," he said. "I feel ready to go."
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