Houston might only have a 3-4 record, but looks can be very deceiving in this case. The Texans have rebounded from an 0-4 start and ride a three-game winning streak into the Metrodome.
With the Vikings turning the sights on the Houston Texans
this week, it begs the question which Texans team are we going to see? The one that started 0-4 and had all the earmarks of the kind of dregs the Lions and Bengals have turned out to be, or the team that is on a franchise-best three-game winning streak looking for more coming to Minnesota?
The Texans are loaded with young stars on both sides of the ball, with Matt Schaub
, Andre Johnson
and Steve Slaton
on offense, and Mario Williams
and DeMeco Ryans
on defense. They have been able to overcome one of the more bizarre starts to a season that any team has been forced to endure and come out of it on the positive side.
For those who may have forgotten, the Texans played their first three games of the 2008 season on the road after having their bye week and part of their stadium washed away by Hurricane Ike. Complicating matters was that their first four games were all against 2007 playoff teams – at Pittsburgh, at Tennessee, at Jacksonville and vs. Indianapolis. The last two losses were by four points or less – a 30-27 overtime loss to the Jaguars and a 31-27 loss in which the Texans led 27-10 with seven minutes to play.
The team has rebounded nicely by defeating Miami, Detroit and Cincinnati the last three weeks – not exactly a Murderer's Row, but three teams the Texans have dispatched of relatively easily.
Looks can be deceiving at times and the Texans would fall into that category. They're currently 3-4, but the three wins have been in their last three games and an argument could be made that Houston could be heading into the Metrodome on a five-game winning streak with a bounce of the ball here or there against the Jags and Colts. You can rest assured the Vikings aren't taking the Texans for granted. The fans may not have too much respect for them, but the Vikings know better – this is a team that can't be taken for granted.
E.J. Henderson made his first appearance in the Vikings locker room Wednesday since having toe surgery that ended his 2008 season. While Henderson dislocated two toes on his left foot, but he only needed surgery on his big toe and said he expects to be ready by the time the Vikings start their offseason conditioning program. He added that he hopes to be on the sideline for future games, helping out the team wherever he can from the sidelines.
If Adrian Peterson wants to win the NFC rushing title, he's going to have a lot of work to do. He is second in the conference in rushing with 684 yards through seven games, but is 260 yards behind Clinton Portis, who will have a bye next week. Through eight games, Portis has 944 yards and is on a current pace to rush for nearly 1,900 yards.
As of Wednesday afternoon, about 1,500 tickets remained for Sunday's game, about half the amount that were unsold as of Monday. The Vikings are likely going to be granted an extension beyond the blackout deadline of noon Thursday. Considering that CBS affiliate WCCO-TV is carrying the game (one of only two Vikings games on CBS this season) it is all but assured that if there are any tickets remaining for the game, the station will buy up the remaining tickets and the 11-year streak of no local blackouts will continue.
The Vikings released their first injury report of the week. LB David Herron (hip) didn't not participate and four others – Ray Edwards (knee), Garrett Mills (ankle), Sidney Rice (knee) and Madieu Williams (neck) – were limited in practice.
Two key offensive players for the Texans missed Wednesday's practice. Running back and Viking nemesis Ahman Green was out with a thigh injury and wide receiver Kevin Walter was sidelined with a knee strain.
Fans are being urged to bring a non-perishable food item to Sunday's game. Members of the Vikings Women's Organization and volunteers from the Second Harvest Heartland Food Bank will be stationed outside the Metrodome to collect canned food from 10 a.m. until gametime.
Tarvaris Jackson was back at practice Wednesday after being excused from Monday's practice to spend time with his son, who had a medical procedure done in Jackson's home state of Alabama.
The Vikings will honor the late Karl Kassulke at the Metrodome on Sunday. The hard-hitting Vikings safety played from 1963-72 before a motorcycle accident left him paralyzed before the 1973 training camp. Kassulke, 67, died of a heart attack earlier this week.
The Lions weren't tipping their hand as to whether a signing was imminent, but some whispers out of Detroit say that Daunte Culpepper might sign a contract this week to resume his NFL career.