HOUSTON – After missing only one game while recovering from a mini-stroke, Texans coach Gary Kubiak is back at it.
While that's certainly good news for the Texans, this struggling team still has plenty of problems to deal with. Houston will try to break a franchise-record seven-game skid when it hosts Oakland on Sunday.
The Raiders have lost two straight and are last in the AFC West.
"Our attitude is very positive," Kubiak said. "It's time to be strong — very strong. And that's what we're looking for is strength in people, strength in numbers as we move forward, and everybody having a positive attitude."
The Texans were a preseason favorite to reach the Super Bowl, but they've dealt with mounting problems as the losses piled up. Quarterback Matt Schaub had a terrible start to the season and was benched after an injury in favor of undrafted second-year player Case Keenum.
Keenum has done some good things in his first three NFL games after spending all of last season on the practice squad following a record-setting career at the University of Houston. But he's been unable to move the offense in the second half of any of his starts as the Texans' losing streak outlasted the two six-game streaks the team had during its franchise-worst 2-14 season in 2005.
Kubiak has been encouraged by Keenum's work, but said he'll decide each week if he'll stick with him or go back to Schaub.
"I think Case has played really well and done a lot of good things," Kubiak said. "He has made a lot of mistakes, too, that he's got to correct. We've been in some close ballgames with the ball in his hand at the end of the game and we've got to get over the hump there ...
"I think he needs a little pressure on him to continue to have to play well and stay in there. I'm not going to give anybody anything, much less a quarterback."
Raiders coach Dennis Allen has been impressed with Keenum and raved about his ability to get the ball to Andre Johnson. Johnson didn't have a touchdown reception in Houston's first seven games, but has grabbed five in the last two.
Five things to know about the Raiders-Texans game:
LECHLER AILING: Houston punter Shane Lechler has been hospitalized this week with a bad case of the flu. Kubiak said he doesn't expect to see Lechler at the stadium this week while he recovers, but Lechler told him he'd be ready to play against his former team on Sunday.
When asked what the Texans would do if Lechler isn't able to play, Kubiak quipped: "Go for it, I guess." He then added that kicker Randy Bullock could punt in a jam.
PRYOR'S PERCENTAGE: Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor has had a tough stretch. Since the start of Week 6 he has completed just 61 of 120 passes for 714 yards with one touchdown and eight interceptions, leaving him last in the NFL in that span in completion percentage (50.8) and passer rating (44.2), and tied for the most interceptions. He has thrown 112 straight passes since his last touchdown.
REED IN REARVIEW MIRROR: The Texans cut veteran safety Ed Reed on Tuesday after a short and disappointing stint in Houston. Reed missed the first two games after hip surgery and was recently relegated to a backup role. The previous Friday, he expressed his displeasure at not starting. Last Sunday, after Houston's seventh straight loss, he publicly criticized the team and said it had been outplayed and outcoached. Reed signed with the Jets on Thursday.
The Texans denied his release had anything to do with his recent comments.
"I thought it was fair to him to give him an opportunity to play somewhere else, whatever he wanted to do," Kubiak said. "That's how we came to the conclusion."
FACING WATT: The Raiders could get right tackle Tony Pashos back this week to go against Houston defensive end J.J. Watt. Pashos has missed 3 ½ games with a hip injury, but returned to practice Wednesday. If he can't play, the Raiders will look to rookie Menelik Watson, who has just one NFL start, to fill in against last season's Defensive Player of the Year.
TATE'S TOUGH: Houston running back Ben Tate broke four ribs on Oct. 20, but hasn't missed any time because of the injury. That's good news for the Texans, who can't afford to be without him after losing Arian Foster for the season to a back injury. Tate had X-rays this week and said the cracks in his ribs are getting smaller, but doctors told him it will be a couple of more weeks before they are completely healed. Tate has 455 yards rushing and a touchdown this season.
AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this report.