In the leadup to Saturday's playoff game against the Bengals, Texans coach Gary Kubiak knows his players are aware of what's at stake.
“I don't think I have to tell them a whole heck of a lot,” Kubiak said. “They understand. They were right here last year. They understand the situation. You play good, you win, or you go home. That's the way this thing works.”
He has, however, been stressing one point: Don't worry about making mistakes.
“I think the biggest thing that I'll be talking about over the next 48 hours is I don't want them to worry about making mistakes,” Kubiak said. “I want them to play with a reckless abandon. I want them to cut it loose because I think that's the most important thing. I don't want to see any apprehension on anybody's part.”
Houston is limping into the playoffs, having lost three of its last four games. The Texans will have to put that disappointing finish to the regular season behind them.
“It's more or less telling us, ‘Don't worry about if you mess up, whatever, let's go on,'” RB Arian Foster said. “You have to move on because if we don't rebound off of our mistakes, then it will be our last mistakes.”
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- Kubiak said that ILB Tim Dobbins (ankle) and RG Antoine Caldwell (back) were the only players who missed practice Thursday.
- Foster can become the first player in NFL history to rush for 100 or more yards in his first three playoff games. “I think the thing I respect the most about Arian, it looks like the bigger the moment, the better he runs,” Kubiak said. “And that's a quality in a player that's special.”
- In their last home game, the Texans lost 23-6 to the Vikings, and Houston heard some boos from its own fans. Obviously, the players are hoping that doesn't happen Saturday. “I'm a strong believer in energy,” Foster said. “And when everybody's energy is focused on one thing towards a positive thing, you can feel that. And you can also feel the opposite, when everybody is booing.”
- DE J.J. Watt was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month for December after leading the NFL with six sacks and four forced fumbles. He also earned that honor in September. “Frankly, I think that's too small for J.J,” DE Antonio Smith said. “I'm still campaigning for MVP, and until it's set in stone, I'm not going to be excited for just AFC Player of the Month. To me, he's the best player in the League.”
Follow Texans blogger Sean Bielawski on Twitter, @CBSTexans.