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Phillips Takes Over For Texans

Posted Nov 6, 2013

Notebook: Tight end Ballard joins Cards; Fitzgerald no longer on injury report

Texans interim head coach Wade Phillips runs on to the practice field Wednesday.

Texans coach Gary Kubiak will miss Sunday’s game against the Cardinals as he recovers from a transient ischemic attack, and his absence will change the way Arizona prepares for the matchup.

Bruce Arians said Houston’s elevation of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to interim coach and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison to play-caller forces the Cardinals to toss away any prior research.

 “Once you have a different play-caller, that’s a change,” the Cardinals’ coach said. “There are no tendencies. You have to throw all of that out the window and just play the offense the way it’s designed to be played. Defensively, you play your defense. There’s nothing that we have on Rick Dennison other than (Sunday’s second) half of football.”

Phillips will keep the interim coaching tag until Kubiak is healthy enough to return, which is expected to be as soon as Nov. 17 against the Raiders.

Phillips, who has 37 years of NFL coaching experience, has been a full-time head coach with the Broncos, Bills and, most recently, the Cowboys. He was the interim coach in four games for the Saints in 1985 and three games for the Falcons in 2003. His interim coaching record is 3-4.

“I’ve been in those situations before, so hopefully my experience will help,” Phillips said.

The Texans scored 21 first-half points against Indianapolis but only three after intermission. Phillips said Kubiak’s health scare may have affected the team.

“You always certainly have concerns for people that you care about, and that’s one that everybody cares about with our football team, our head coach,” Phillips said. “There were a lot of unknowns. You still have to play football, and you have to do what you have to do, but there was certainly kind of a haze there as far as what was going on.”

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said Kubiak’s health is in everyone’s minds, but at 2-6 on the year, the team must be prepared for the matchup with the Cardinals.

“We know how important it is that we stay focused and we stay locked in,” Watt said. “Also, we know it would make coach Kubiak smile a little bit if we could get a win for him.”

BALLARD ON BOARD

Tight end Jake Ballard joined the Cardinals on Wednesday after agreeing to terms with the club earlier in the week.

Ballard had 38 catches for 604 yards and four touchdowns with the New York Giants in 2011 but missed all of last season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in Super Bowl XLVI. He went to training camp with the New England Patriots this year but was released on Aug. 30.

Ballard said he was “probably doing more than I should have at the time” with the Patriots. Now, Ballard said, he feels better physically and is ready to contribute if called upon.

“I got the playbook last night, I’ve been looking at it for, 10 hours now, I guess,” Ballard said. “I just need to keep doing that, see how the practices go and make a judgment from there. But I’m definitely up for playing or doing whatever they need me to do.”

Arizona released seventh-round draft pick D.C. Jefferson, also a tight end, to make room for Ballard.

FITZ OFF INJURY REPORT, WASHINGTON AND SOWELL SIT

The bye week apparently was significant for Larry Fitzgerald and his bad hamstring, since the wide receiver was not put on the injury report for the first time in a few weeks.

Linebacker Daryl Washington and left tackle Bradley Sowell missed Wednesday’s practice due to illness. Their status going forward will be day-to-day. Wide receiver Brittan Golden (hamstring) also did not practice. Limited players were linebacker John Abraham (shoulder), running back Rashard Mendenhall (toe) and defensive end Frostee Rucker (calf).

For Houston, running back Arian Foster (back) did not practice, while the Texans’ No. 2 back, Ben Tate, was limited with his bad ribs.

Also sitting out for the Texans were linebacker Mike Mohamed (hamstring), linebacker Darryl Sharpton (foot, toe) and guard Wade Smith (knee). Llinebacker Tavares Goodman (back), tight end Garrett Graham (thigh) and safety Shiloh Keo (ankle) were limited.

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