Texans focus on knocking off Colts
So far, no good. The Colts are 15-1 against the Texans since Houston was awarded an expansion team. Some of their most painful defeats have come against Indianapolis, including a 35-27 loss Nov. 29 when the Texans blew a 20-7 lead at home.
That was the big thud to an 0-4 stretch to finish November, and it took a 4-0 stretch at the end of the 2009 season to salvage their first winning year at 9-7 and perhaps save the job of coach Gary Kubiak. This was a team that couldn't close the deal in the final minutes of critical games, but it hopes to draw from those experiences.
"I think you have to get in those spots to learn how to play and win those football games," Kubiak said. "The good news is, out of 16 games, we had 15 of those where we had a chance to win [last season]. Now we have to go do it and get over that hump, as you say."
If the Texans are to earn their first playoff berth, a victory over the Colts in the opener at home would be a good start.
"They're the king of the division until someone knocks 'em off, and we'd love to do that with the first game of the season," Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans said.
It is a defense that must open the season without NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Brian Cushing, who must serve a four-game suspension for violation of the league's performance enhancement policy.
"We're over the shock, so to speak, but Brian's handling it like a pro," Kubiak said. "We've got to treat it like an injury."
More observations from Texans training camp:
The competition is young and heated. Arian Foster, a second-year back from Tennessee described by the Texans as "a young man with a chip on his shoulder," played well at the end of last season. Steve Slaton, who had fumbling issues and eventually was shut down last season because of a neck injury, is healthier and slimmer. Rookie Ben Tate of Auburn has played well.
"I told our team that not many teams have two kickers like we have going head to head, so respect the battle," Kubiak said. "We're going to end up with a great kicker, and the other one is probably going to be somewhere trying to beat us."
ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen will file reports from all the training camps and sends updates on the road via Twitter (@mortreport).
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