Posted on: December 19, 2008 7:40 am

A Christmas Story: Texan Style

“Sometimes people feel like it’s a tough road ahead and they have a huge hurdle to overcome. Just going and making them smile and making their day a little bit brighter, sometimes that helps.” - Chester Pitts

There seems to be a small revolution taking place here at Toxic Talk. From the responses I get to these types of stories, I am beginning to think that a media overkill of negativity has gotten people sick and tired of reading about players getting arrested or throwing temper tantrums on the sideline. We no longer want to read about "punks, jerks and losers" to quote John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.
We like to hear about the good things players are doing.
And the Texan players are constantly doing that.
This week, Kris Brown, Steve Slaton, Kevin Walter and Chester Pitts attended the annual Methodist Hospital’s Pigskin Challenge, an event that entertains patients, hospital staff and players alike, according to houstontexans.com.
The players introduced themselves and then competed with onlookers in a game of musical chairs, followed by relay games and limbo lines. The day was capped off by a dance contest won by Slaton. Although Pitts claims Slaton had an unfair advantage.
“It’s not fair, a 220-pound running back against an offensive lineman,” Pitts said. “I felt like I performed fairly well. I came out to perform. I was ready. I was prepared. But when he did the jump in the air and the worm, there was absolutely no competition. There was nothing I could do to compete with that.”
Then the players spent the rest of the day spending time with the patients at the hospital.
“It’s a positive to see the people in the hospital and give them a ray of hope,” Slaton said. “Some of them are fans, so they are really excited. And it feels good to help bring a smile to their faces.”
And Toxic Talk will continue to feature these types of stories and, hopefully, become the revolutionary blog that gets the mainstream media to spend more time talking about the good things these guys do and maybe we can spend less time hyping the garbage sensationalism that comes with all the negative stories.
And that would be a great gift this holiday season.
Category: NFL
Tags: Texans
Posted on: December 16, 2008 5:13 pm

Is This The Andre Johnson Shrine?

Houston Rockets forward Shane Battier has given Gary Kubiak a gameplan for the Texans. Throw the ball to Andre Johnson on every play. “I tell you what, he’s a sharp guy," Kubiak said of Battier.
But the Texans won't be throwing to Andre ever play. But whoever is the quarterback for the AFC in the Pro Bowl will get the chance to throw the ball to Andre.
Andre has been named a starter for the AFC in the Pro Bowl, the third time he has been selected to earn a trip to Hawaii.
And Toxic Talk has become the home for Andre Johnson man-love. Somewhere in Bristol, Connecticut, the four-letter network is having to amp its Brett Favre man-love to keep up.
 But today, Andre is not alone in getting love from this Toxic Texan fan.
Mario Williams has also been named a starter for the AFC in the Pro Bowl. It's the first time ever that two Texans were named as starters to the Pro Bowl and only the second time that two Texans were named to the Pro Bowl. Aaron Glenn and Gary Walker both made the Pro Bowl in 2002, Glenn as a starter.
But that's not all. Matt Schaub has again been nominated for FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week. However, I don't have my hopes up for him winning. If 400+ passing yards didn't win it last week (the fan voting named Jay Cutler the winner) but you can still vote for him at http://www.nfl.com/partner?partnerType=players-air-and-ground as he is on the ballot for the 4th time this season.
 Also, Steve Slaton is once again on the ballot for NFL Rookie of the Week. He lost the fan voting last week to Denver's Ryan Clady. The Broncos really brought the vote last week. You can vote for Slaton at http://www.nfl.com/partner?partnerType=Rookies as he is on the ballot for the 7th time this season.
This week also brings us a new nomination as Gary Kubiak has been nominated for NFL Coach of the Week. You can vote for Kubiak at http://www.nfl.com/partner?partnerType=coaches unless you are Iggy. Marvin Lewis is also on the ballot.
And that is what is happening in Texan land. Winners will be named Friday.
Category: NFL
Posted on: December 12, 2008 9:55 am

Rookie Clause

"To see these guys out here pick out stuff and know they are going to enjoy it for months, maybe years, is a great feeling.” - Duane Brown

The Houston Texans roster consists of several rookies. Steve Slaton, Xavier Adibi, Dominique Barber, Duane Brown, Antwaun Molden, Jesse Nading, Frank Okam, Darnell Jenkins and Alex Brink. As happens with any NFL team, all these rookies have to go through all sorts of hazings and initiations.
Too bad not all of the hazings and initiations can be like this.

These rookies played Santa Clause this past week for 28 underprivileged youth in the city of Houston, presenting each child with a $100 gift card donated by Academy Sport + Outdoors. But they didn't just give those kids the gift cards, wish them a Merry Christmas and then leave. They actually went through Academy with the kids and helped them shop for their gifts. Also, the rookies signed footballs for all the kids.

Then there was Barber helping the kids test out hula hoops. “That’s probably not my best sport, but it was fun,” he said.

“It’s awesome,” Slaton said. “You really don’t get to spend that much time with kids during the season. To come out in the community and spend time with these kids is a plus.”

(source: houstontexans.com)
Category: NFL
Tags: Texans
Posted on: December 9, 2008 6:13 pm

Schaub, Slaton Recognized

"There’s a lot of yards out there—to have 550 yards in a football game, I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of one like that. And to do it on the road in that temperature was really special." - Gary Kubiak

Kubiak is not the only one impressed with the Texans' performance this past week. For the third time this season, Texans quarterback Matt Schaub has been nominated as one of the finalists for the FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week award. And Steve Slaton has been nominated for NFL Rookie of the Week honors for the sixth time this season.

“I don’t know if I could imagine any quarterback going in there in that temperature and in that place and throwing for 414 yards," Kubiak said of Schaub's performance against the Packers. Schaub completed 28-of-42 passes for 414 yards and two touchdowns. He set a franchise record in passing yards and matched a career high with attempts.

Slaton gained
a game-high 120 yards on 26 carries against the Packers and had three catches for 40 yards, but was quick to note that his performance was a "team" thing and not a "me" thing. “It’s just the O-line, the fullbacks and the receivers blocking their guys downfield. They are doing a great job and it’s leaving me with mismatches with linebackers.”

You can vote for Schaub at http://www.nfl.com/partner?partnerType=players-air-and-ground and for Slaton at http://www.nfl.com/partner?partnerType=Rookies

(source: houstonrexans.com)
Category: NFL
Tags: Schaub, Slaton, Texans
Posted on: November 18, 2008 12:47 pm

Vote For Slaton

“I think they’ll bring him out there at some point this week and let him throw the ball around, set his feet. But I guess I’m beginning to think and feel more confident that he will play this year.”  - Gary Kubiak on Matt Schaub

Quarterback Matt Schaub will be throwing this week in practice, but Kubiak expects another two weeks beforew he might play again. You’re talking about six weeks right now, so I’m sure hoping that a couple of weeks from now, we’re very close to getting him back on the football field.”

While the Texans were able to fing a running game against the Indianapolis Colts, the defense did not do the job the players or Kubiak believes it can do.  “I just think we’ve found ways to break down, whether it’s breaking down assignment-wise (or) breaking down not tackling well yesterday in the second half,” Kubiak said. “Obviously, as coaches, we can always do a better job. " Dunta Robinson thought blown assignments were a problem as well. “It was sloppy by the defense,” Robinson said. “We didn’t play well, especially in the second half. A lot of mistakes, a lot of blown assignments—so, things that we shouldn’t be doing, things that we do over and over in practice and it’s still going on.”

The Texans are still searching for their first road win of 2008. "First off, it’s tough to win on the road in the National Football League, regardless of where you’re playing. If you’re not playing well, it makes it even tougher. We’ve had our opportunities this year. We had an opportunity at Jacksonville. We had an opportunity yesterday. We had a bunch of opportunities at Tennessee early in the year, but it usually comes down to how you’re playing. Turnovers have been a big part of our problems on the road, not so (much) yesterday until the last few minutes, but you’ve got to play exceptional on the road. You’ve got to play clean. You’ve got to play exceptional and get a few breaks, and we haven’t done that, so no excuses,” Kubiak said.

Kubiak also denied that facing a suspect run defense against the Colts is why the Texans focused on the running game more this week on offense.  “No. I think, first off, it’s part of the formula to winning against that football team. There’s no doubt about that. And I’ve said this before, I think we’ve gotten out of running the ball some because we got behind in some football games and we’ve played some teams that are very good against the run, when I go back and think about Minnesota and Baltimore. The Giants did a good job yesterday (against Baltimore), but that’s not important. But we’ve gotten ourselves behind and had to throw the ball more than we’d like to. Yesterday, we stuck to our game plan and, like I said, if you get in that dome and all of a sudden, whether you’re down by 10 or whether you’re down by seven and you start throwing every down – and we threw it 20 times; we caught 20 passes; we end up throwing it 18 times and still had a couple of tough plays, a couple of sacks and a ball knocked out on the quarterback – but bad things are going to happen to you against that football team. So that was the formula for yesterday. Obviously, it wasn’t enough, but would I like to see our football team run the ball as much as we did yesterday? Yes, I would.”

Kubiak also praised the play of Steve Slaton (more on him later). Well, first off, there’s talk about a lot of rookies in this league, but this kid has got to be having as fine a season as anybody around. Man, he was thrown into the fire in Week 2. It’s not like we brought him along slowly. We threw a lot on his plate, and he has really responded, even responded to the point where he got worn down, which I think we talked about that enough. But he was fresh yesterday. He looked like his old self. There’s still a lot of football to play this year, but he’s putting up some very good numbers. When you average 11 yards a carry in this league, I don’t care where you play or where it happens, that’s a special day. It’s sad because he had a special day as a player, it’s a shame we couldn’t hand him a (game) ball and win a football game.” Dunta Robinson also had nothing but praise for the rookie. “You’re watching a special talent. For a long time, since Domanick Davis went down, we haven’t had a running back with big-play ability. That’s what he brings to the table. He can break any run and he can take it the distance. That’s what you saw yesterday.”

As for the Vote For Slaton Campaign:

Slaton was nominated for the NFLPLAYERS.COM’s Rookie of the Week award for the fourth time this season and will be trying to win it for the second time. He won the award the first time the Texans and Colts played this season. You can vote for Slaton at http://www.nfl.com/partner?partnerType=Rookies .

(source houstontexans.com)

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 14, 2008 10:09 am
Edited on: November 14, 2008 10:10 am

Hard Work, Pressure Manning And Run The Football

"They only way you work out of stuff like this is to keep showing up for work everyday and keep busting your tail and playing hard and something good will happen to you." - Gary Kubiak

The Texans back-to-back losses have dropped them to 3-6 on the season, but don't expect them to just mail it in. The team is taking this approach and looking forwards to facing the Indianapolis Colts in a rematch of earlier this year when the Texans led 27-10 with 5 minutes left and lost 31-27. The Texans then reeled off three consecutive home wins before losing in Minnesota.

Look for the Texans to try and put pressure on Peyton Manning, something they were successful doing in Houston earlier this season. "We lined up and sat still until he was ready to go and for the most part, we hit him in the mouth. We just didn’t get a chance to finish the game,” Kevin Bentley said, when asked how the Texans reacted to Manning's many audibles and formation shifts and hand signals. Bentley recorded a sack in that game and Mario Williams got Manning twice. “I think people actually let him confuse them,” Bentley said. “He’s not very confusing.  It’s not really confusing if you know what he’s going to do. You know he’s going to do all of the hand movements and all of the chatter. You’ve just got to be able to sit through all of that and be ready to play when he’s ready to play.”

Look for Steve Slaton to get the start at running back but expect to see Ahman Green and Ryan Moats to get some carries as well. With Green able to play, the team is 3-3. When Green has missed games due to injury, the Texans are 0-3. “When he has been up, when he’s been healthy and been up and been a part of the rotation for this football team or when he was a starter for the first few weeks last year, this team played better,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “He’s got big-play ability. He’s a fine player. He’s very good in protection so it does make us better. But we’ve had to deal without him a lot, so that’s just part of it.” 

Moats has played in three games at running back and kick returner for the Texans and led the team with seven carries for 34 yards last Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. "He is a 100-percent-effort guy. He can make some people miss in small spaces, and we’re really happy to have him," said running backs coach Chick Harris.

Moats smiled when he was told how Harris described his all-out, all-the-time effort. “I guess that’s just the way I’ve been bred as far as when I run the ball, I run it,” he said. “I mean, if it’s a walkthrough, I can’t really ‘walk through.’ I know they laugh at me sometimes because I’m going 1,000 miles per hour even through a walkthrough, but I don’t know – there’s just something in my body that tells me, ‘Go,’ and when it’s time to go, I just go.”

The running game for the Texans will be a critical factor in their meeting with the Colts. One of the difficulties in the turnovers in the past two games has been the Texans lack of a running game facing the top two rushing defenses in the league, which was very damaging in both games in the red zone. At least two of Rosenfels' interceptions in the past two games have occurred in the end zone. The ability to run in those situations can only help rectify that problem.

Fittingly, the Texans are picked to lose this game. They are 0-4 on the road, they have lost back-to-back games and the Colts have put together a winning streak against a couple of tough opponents. But the Colts aren't the dominant team they have been in the past years and are vulnerable to being beat here.

The Texans have to get over 100 yards rushing, have to get some sacks on Manning and for crying out loud they have to win the turnover battle to overcome a playoff caliber team such as the Colts.

It can be done. That's how the Texans beat the Colts in 06.

(source houstontexans.com)

Category: NFL
Tags: Colts, Texans
Posted on: November 13, 2008 11:25 am

Ravens In The Rear View Mirror

As the Houston Texans move on to face their next opponent, the Indianapolis Colts, the one thing they won't do is dwell on the 41-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.  "It’s Wednesday now. So now, we’re just getting ready for the Colts,” Ahman Green said.

That's a good thing too. Because the Colts have thoroughly owned the Houston Texans, winning 12 of the 13 meetings between these two teams, although the Texans know they had a very good chance to beat them earlier this season. “I think we did some really good things against them the last time. It obviously showed us that we can go toe-to-toe with them and really outplay them. It’s going to be different, though, at their place. They play a little more confidently, and I think their defense is a little better when they play at home. So it’s going to be another challenge, but we have confidence in what we did against them last time and how we’ve been moving the ball," said Owen Daniels.

As has been reported, many times, the Texans top priority to winning any game has to be cutting down on the turnovers.  “I think it’s something that happens but at the same time, when you’re playing, it’s not like you’re running with the ball saying, ‘Oh, I’m going to turn the ball over.’ It’s just something that happens. I think it’s just something that we just have to become more aware of while we’re playing. Other than that, that’s pretty much all you can do about it," Andre Johnson said.\

Sage Rodenfels refused to bottom out after what has to be considered the worst start of his Texan tenure. “I try never to beat myself up; I think it’s an insane thing to do.” Rosenfels and the Texans are, however, concerned with the return of Bob Sanders to the Colts defense this week. “He can play in the box as an extra, sort of almost a linebacker, but he’s also fast enough to cover in the secondary and wreak havoc with the receivers.”

This past Tuesday, three Texans (Owen Daniels, Eric Winston and David Anderson) visited the Shriners Hospital for Children to meet with patients in the orthopaedics wing. The children, in rehab for ailments ranging from cerebral palsy to scoliosis, are members of the players’ “Small, Medium and Large” Texans All Community Team (T.A.C.T) program group. “With our position, I think we’re responsible to do things like this,” Daniels said. “And it’s great to come out to this Shriners Hospital and to see kids being this tough – strong, brave kids in the conditions that they’re in. It’s really inspirational.”

Winston has been visiting children's ever since his days at the University of Miami. “There’s just something about them that I really get into,” he said. “I think it’s just awesome how much good they do here, and the Shriners in general are such an amazing organization that helps so many kids every year in different places around the country. I don’t think we could’ve picked a better organization.”

Anderson found it easy to break the ice with the children by having them autograph his Texans polo shirt with their names and favorite numbers. "Sometimes, they get scared to ask us for our autograph,” Anderson said. “So I find if you ask them for theirs first, they start asking and then everyone gets into signing because a lot of kids don’t want to ask. It just kind of gets the interaction a little easier because sometimes, you don’t know what exactly topics to bring up first with kids. Numbers and names and stuff like that are always a simple, good way to start a conversation.”

(quotes and notes creditted to houstontexans.com) 

Category: NFL
Tags: Texans
Posted on: November 10, 2008 5:07 pm

Same Old Song And Dance Routine

" Turnovers, turnovers.”

The dreaded word that has plagued the Houston Texans all season were spoken by Gary Kubiak. Yesterday it reared its ugly head again. Sage Rosenfels threw 4 interceptions and the Ravens broke the game open in the 4th quarter, exploding to a 41-13 win over the Houston Texans.

  “I’ve got to figure out something to do different. I have to figure out a way to get us to play four quarters of clean football."

This isn't about coaches. Texan fans will probably call for Kubiak's head but turnovers are on the players. This isn't high school or even college football. This is the NFL. This is where the players have to go out and execute. Turnovers cannot be blamed on the coaches. Not at the money pro players make. Andre Johnson agrees. “They can’t go out and play the game for us. We have to go out there and play the game. All they do is call the plays, so you can’t really sit here and say it was his fault. It's not his fault at all. He doesn’t have to go out there and play - we do.”

The turnovers are frustrating the entire team, Andre says. “Like I said earlier, turning the ball over, not executing when we were supposed to. It’s pretty much been the same story; it’s no secret. You guys know it. You watch it every week.” 

Yes, we have watched it every week. And yes, it gets frustrating for everyone to watch and know that this team could play with the best in the league. But then to lose like they did against the Steelers, Titans and Ravens. It's really hard to look back and say "this position needs improving" or "this is the weakness of our club" when we can't look past the turnovers to see where we really stack up opposed to where we need to be.

(quotes from houstontexans.com)

Category: NFL
Tags: Ravens, Texans
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com