Carr missed a game for the first time in his brief NFL career last Sunday due to a sprained right ankle he suffered in a loss at Indianapolis on Oct. 26. The No. 1 pick of the 2002 draft returned to practice on Wednesday and said he expects to start against the Bengals.
“He did fine with the things we asked him to do,” coach Dom Capers said. “He took a limited number of snaps, but I thought he did well with the snaps that he took.”
Carr did not appear to favor his heavily taped ankle during the two-hour practice session or afterward. He was upgraded to probable on Thursday.
The only scenario Carr could imagine that would prevent him from starting would be re-injuring the ankle during practice.
“But I don’t see that happening,” he said. “We’ve got it taped up pretty well. If we can prevent anything from setting it back I think I’ll be OK.”
In Carr’s place last week, veteran Tony Banks got the start and led Houston to a 14-10 upset of Carolina.
Banks became the first quarterback other than Carr to start for the second-year Texans as he completed 13 of 19 passes for 154 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Billy Miller in the fourth quarter.
Carr’s injury isn’t the only one of concern to the Texans.
Davis rushed for 74 yards against Carolina before leaving with a strained chest, spoiling his bid to become the first player to run for 100 yards in each of his first three NFL starts. Mack, who ran for a score in the win, briefly left the game due to a sore right knee.
Sunday’s matchup features two teams much improved from when they met last season in a game made more memorable for a guarantee made by Cincinnati wide receiver Chad Johnson. Johnson and former coach Dick LeBeau guaranteed that the 0-7 Bengals would beat the 2-5 Texans, and both were proved right when Cincinnati handed Houston the worst loss in its brief history, 38-3.
“Remember, we were doing real bad,” Johnson said this week. “We were 0-7. Things weren’t going well at all. I did that guarantee as a stir-up, in here, to get us motivated in a way. I knew they (teammates) wouldn’t leave me hanging. I just put us out there on a limb, and we didn’t have a choice but to go and play.”
The Texans weren’t happy with Johnson’s comments at the time and haven’t forgotten them.
“We’ve got some payback, trust me,” Houston center Steve McKinney said. “We’ve got some young guys, so I’ll be sure to remind them what happened last year.”
Cincinnati had won two straight and three of four heading into last Sunday’s game against Arizona, and was hoping to remain one game behind first-place Baltimore in the weak AFC North. Instead, the Cardinals’ Marcel Shipp rushed for 141 yards while the Bengals managed just 47 yards on the ground in a 17-14 defeat.
“Every time you lose it’s disappointing,” quarterback Jon Kitna said, “but this was a big opportunity for us to be on a legitimate roll in this league.”
After throwing one interception in his previous four games, Kitna had two passes picked off by the Cardinals. Running back Corey Dillon, still bothered by a groin pull, carried seven times for just five yards and didn’t play in the second half.
Dillon has been downgraded to doubtful for this matchup, meaning Rudi Johnson again is likely to get the bulk of the carries.
One trend that continued Sunday for the Bengals—who haven’t scored first this season—is their propensity for losing close games. Cincinnati’s last five losses have been by a combined 19 points.