Texans offensive stars healthy, set to return against Saints

HOUSTON -- The offensive outlook in Houston has gotten a whole lot brighter.

For the first time since the second week of the season, Houston's top three offensive players should be healthy for Sunday's game against New Orleans.

Matt Schaub has recovered from a concussion, Ahman Green has had a week off to rest his troublesome knee and, perhaps most importantly, Andre Johnson is set to return after missing seven games with a sprained knee.

Healthy in Houston

</center> The 
Texans are hoping got get back some offensive firepower this week with the return of QB 
Matt Schaub, WR 
Andre Johnson and RB Ahman Green. If all three starters return, it will be the first time they will have played together since Week 2. 

Matt Schaub, QB
Games missed: 1

Yards: 1,658

TDs: 5

INTs: 7

Andre Johnson, WR
Games missed: 7

Yards: 262

Rec.: 14

TDs: 3

Ahman Green, RB
Games missed: 3

Att.: 70

Yards: 260

TDs: 2

"There's a lot of bounce in everybody's step having those guys back, especially Andre," coach Gary Kubiak said. "It means a great deal to this football team, not just the offense."

The Texans (4-5) started the season 2-0 for the first time in franchise history behind the strong play of the trio. Johnson was injured near the end of the second game, and Green started struggling with a knee bruise and swelling soon after.

Schaub injured his hip on a helmet-to-helmet hit Oct. 21 and suffered a concussion on another one a week later. He missed one game recovering from the concussion.

Houston's passing game has been the strength of the team as Andre' Davis and Kevin Walter emerged in Johnson's absence. Now that he's back, the Texans will have that elusive threat to take pressure off him, a threat they've always looked for.

"At the beginning of the season, that was the big question that everyone asked about," Schaub said. "But we knew what guys were capable of doing if given the opportunity. It was unfortunate that we had to have that displayed as a result of Andre getting injured."

Johnson said he's not quite 100 percent, but he's healthy enough that he shouldn't be limited Sunday. After never missing extended time before in his career, he can't wait to return.

"I'll just be anxious to get out there and just make a play, because when you make that first play everything's back to normal again," he said. "The biggest thing is just trying to get out there and make a play. But you don't want to do nothing crazy, go out there and try to make a play too fast and do something to hurt your team."

Schaub and Johnson immediately clicked after the quarterback was traded from Atlanta in March. Their off-the-field rapport carried over in the first two games as they combined for 262 yards and three touchdowns.

"I think it was something special," Johnson said. "A lot of people were surprised at how fast it happened, but that's what hard work does."

So how long will it take for them to pick up where they left off after such a long break?

"I don't think it will take long," Johnson said. "It goes by how we do in practice. Me and Matt talked about everything football-wise that we've seen on film and when we're on the field, so we were pretty much on the same page at all times."

Though the whole team is excited about Johnson's return, Schaub might be looking forward to it most. Since Johnson has been injured he's thrown two touchdowns and six interceptions.

"I've never been around a player like that," Schaub said. "He's so dependable and works extremely hard. If you give him an opportunity, he's going to make you look good and make big plays."

Kubiak thinks Johnson's return could not only help the passing game, but also be a boost to the running game because he's such a threat. Houston has had trouble running while Green struggled with the knee problem. He has gained just 116 yards rushing since getting 144 in the first two games.

Even with Green healthy enough to start, the Texans will likely use Ron Dayne extensively. He had 21 carries for 122 yards in Houston's win over Oakland for the Texans' first successful rushing performance since Sept. 16.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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