Running back Ahman Green is working to get back on the field this week. The Texans running game has been nearly extinct since Green was sidelined with a knee injury in the second quarter of the Texans game against the Carolina Panthers.
Green is hopeful that the knee he bruised in the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs allows him to play this week. The Texans need him to snap a two-game losing streak when the Miami Dolphins visit the Texans at Reliant Stadium on Sunday.
The Dolphins will bring with them the worst run defense in the league, allowing 199.2 rushing yards per game. The Texans boast a dreadful running game, ranking 23rd in the NFL, averaging 88.8 rushing yards per game.
"I'm just taking it one day at a time and it is getting better every day, that's the good thing," Green said. "We're definitely far away from where we were at last week, the way it was feeling, so that's the good positive thing I've got to say about the knee."
It's been an emotional few weeks for Green, who has been trying to deal with his frustration of not being able to play with family issues going on just a few blocks from Reliant Stadium.
His stepfather, Edward Scott, was hospitalized for more than a month at MD Anderson Hospital. Tuesday evening, Scott passed away after a five-year battle with liver cancer.
"When they diagnosed him the first time, they told him three years at tops, so he outlived that and it basically prepared me and my mom and my fiancie Marie for all this, because it's tough," Green said. "Regardless of if we knew it was coming, it's still tough to handle. It's something that, like I said, he was my step dad so he basically raised somebody else's seed and I'm proud of the fact that he took that responsibility, because he did an awesome job with taking care of me and taking care of my mom growing up.
"And so I feel a stress is left off my back because I didn't want to see him suffer no more. Because he was suffering just to get out of the bed and to go use the bathroom and things like that, simple stuff. And when you see somebody you love like that go through basically pain every day, you kind of, you're like, let's get this over with because it's almost, it's torture watching him go through that."
Scott, who was 70, entered Green's life at the age of 6 and was a fixture throughout his childhood and adulthood. He was born in New Orleans, but lived wherever Green was playing. He had arrived in Houston the last weekend of August, and was almost immediately admitted to MD Anderson as his health started to fade.
Green said it was because of how Scott raised him that he was out on the practice field with the Texans Wednesday.
"The way my dad raised me and my mom with him, they basically said, 'You know, you've got to roll with the punches.' Regardless of if they're little pitter pat punches or big punches like the one me and my family had yesterday. And, you know, got to just focus on what's in front of me.
"If he was here right now, he'd be like don't worry about him, play football. I know how he works. And that's not being clichi; that's not saying what everybody else says when they lose a loved one; that's the truth, that's how my dad was. He basically made me who I am because I played with a lot of stuff in terms of emotional, physical injuries. I played with a ton; there's a lot of stuff a lot of people don't know about what I've gone on the football field with, either on my mind or hurting my body. And he helped build that confidence and that pride, that willingness to basically give it all up for my team on the field, regardless of how I feel."
-- Texans rookie Amobi Okoye won the league's Defensive Rookie of the Month honors for September. In four starts, Okoye recorded 10 tackles, an AFC-high four sacks for 30 yards, a team-high four quarterback pressures and he had one forced fumble.
The last Texan to win the honor was DeMeco Ryans, who picked it up last December.
"It means a lot; it means a lot," Okoye said of the award. "I feel like it's just scratching the surface as far as it goes. ... I heard about it a while back, I think I saw it a couple of times with DeMeco, but I never really paid that much attention to it. I'm just taking it one game at a time. It's just a start for me of all the goals I want to accomplish, and hopefully I can keep this thing rolling."
-- Texans coach Gary Kubiak made it clear there is no cornerback controversy. Despite the recent struggles of DeMarcus Faggins, Kubiak said he will start Sunday. Jamar Fletcher and Fred Bennett will also play.
"Petey's our starter," Kubiak said. "I believe in him. He'll be there starting this weekend. He's going to play good; I believe in the kid. He's had a few unfortunate plays, which happens in football if you're a corner. That's part of the business. You've got to have a short memory, so I expect him to come back and play well this week."
-- The Texans suited up all of their injured players -- except Andre Johnson -- for practice Wednesday. Only Ahman Green showed some signs of progress, though.
"I want him to come back as fast as he can, but we worry about it," Kubiak said. "He's definitely got a heck of a separation there. There've been guys who come back and play in two weeks, there's guys that take four."
Mathis' lower leg is still bothering him.
"He didn't do much of anything today, limping around pretty good," Kubiak said.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We blitzed plenty last week. We came 27 times. A lot of it was in the run game, but actually a lot of our pressures have come when we're working with a four-man rush. That's something we're doing better, and if we think we have to do it we're going to do it. We have tried it, but it hasn't necessarily been the answer to us getting pressure on the quarterback."
-- Coach Gary Kubiak, on the effectiveness of the blitz.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Texans have seen cornerback DeMarcus Faggins struggle in the secondary, but Faggins remains the starter for the game Sunday. Fred Bennett will increase his playing time. He has been inactive the past two weeks because of a hamstring injury he suffered against Carolina. He will play possibly at nickel back and at Faggins' position. Kubiak said he has faith that Faggins will play better this week.
Ron Dayne and Samkon Gado will be the Texans' top running backs heading into Sunday's game if Ahman Green cannot play. Dayne struggled last week and Gado didn't play. But the coaches are confident the two can handle the offense.
The Texans also plan to just go with three active receivers, if Jerome Mathis, Jacoby Jones and Andre Johnson are all still too hurt to play.
The Texans want to run the ball. That has been Miami's biggest defensive weakness and the Texans' biggest weakness on offense. They need to get improved blocking from their offensive line and open up holes for whoever is able to play -- Ahman Green, Ron Dayne or Samkon Gado.
Defensively, the Texans need to contain Ronnie Brown and limit the big plays. DeMarcus Faggins will definitely be someone the Dolphins offense will look to exploit since he has struggled in recent weeks. The Texans must try to put Faggins in position to succeed.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Texans OT Ephraim Salaam vs. Dolphins DE Jason Taylor: Salaam played great against Julius Peppers two weeks ago, almost making Peppers a non-factor in the game. He struggled mightily against John Abraham last week, and pointed the finger at himself for a lot of the problems the offense had last week. Abraham got loose for the lone sack of the game and forced Schaub to fumble. He also had three tackles. One holding call against Salaam negated a touchdown throw by Schaub in the fourth quarter. Taylor is coming off one of the best seasons of his career. He was the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year last year and earned his fifth Pro Bowl invitation.
Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown vs. Texans run defense: Brown has been playing well the last few weeks, and the Texans run defense is the strongest part of their entire team. It has been consistent. No team has even rushed for a total of 100 yards against them. Brown hasn't been slowed by any defenses the last few weeks. He'll work to get through the gaps this week against the Texans, but DeMeco Ryans, Anthony Weaver, Amobi Okoye and Mario Williams will work to stop him from moving the chains.
Green (knee) practiced a little and said he is feeling significantly better than a week ago. That doesn't mean he will play Sunday though. He still needs to make more progress and the team needs to see how his knee reacts to practicing again. He may be at 75 percent if he plays.
Jones (shoulder) went through a few drills Wednesday, but the pain from his shoulder was still significant. It will take at least one more week until he returns.
Mathis (lower leg) was still limping too bad to take part in any of practice Wednesday. He is not likely to play.
Schaub (thigh bruise) practiced and doesn't expect to be hindered by the injury Sunday.
CB Dunta Robinson is practicing and playing despite hurting his hand Sunday. He doesn't need to wear a cast or any bulky protection.
WR Andre Johnson is continuing rehab and is likely two more weeks away from returning to practice.