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HOUSTON – The Houston Texans are allowing the fewest yards in the NFL and gaining the seventh most.
So why are they 2-4? Simple. Houston has the second-worst turnover margin in the NFL and has the most penalty yards.
Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison is at a loss to explain why the team is struggling so much in the two areas this season.
"We can beat our head against the wall because that's what we're doing right now," he said of the coaching staff. "Mistakes are really driving us nuts. We emphasize it every week; we're doing more to emphasize it."
Coach Gary Kubiak is searching for ways to get his team to clean up its play before Sunday's trip to undefeated Kansas City. He added a couple of new drills in practice this week in an attempt to solve the turnover problem.
"We're just talking about some different things we think can help us play some mistake-free football for a change," Kubiak said. "You don't stay the same. If it continues, you've got to continue to search for something each week. That's what we're trying to do this week by changing things up and trying to get it to go away."
Houston has 12 more turnovers than its opponents and 46 penalties for 459 yards this season.
Veteran left tackle Duane Brown, who has been virtually penalty-free in the past, has contributed to the problem this season. He knows the Texans have to eliminate their mistakes if they hope to beat the Chiefs.
"Everyone just needs to focus on themselves and doing their job and being accountable," he said.
Quarterback Matt Schaub said it hasn't just been the penalties that have been frustrating, but when the team is committing them.
Houston had a third-and-4 at the St. Louis 4 on Sunday when right tackle Derek Newton was flagged for a false start. Schaub's pass on third down was 2 yards short and the Texans had to settle for a field goal.
"Those things hurt you, especially when you have a manageable situation to begin with," Schaub said.
Houston had four turnovers in Sunday's loss, and could have to face Kansas City with an inexperienced quarterback. The Chiefs lead the NFL with a plus-12 turnover margin.
Schaub injured his right ankle and foot and missed practice on Wednesday. Schaub has swelling and his status for Sunday's game won't be determined until late in the week. If he can't play, Kubiak will have to decide between backups T.J. Yates and Case Keenum.
The two split time with the first team on Wednesday and will continue to do so until Schaub comes back.
"I believe in both of them," Kubiak said. "I think they both move (well). They both understand our offense. I've got to see what I think is best for our football team."
Yates led Houston to its first playoff win two years ago when Schaub was hurt, but struggled after Schaub was hurt on Sunday. He threw two interceptions, and the first one was returned 98 yards for a touchdown.
Keenum had a record-setting career at the University of Houston before spending last season on the practice squad. He has never been active for an NFL game.
Receiver Andre Johnson said the Texans have to figure out a way to get back on track regardless of who plays quarterback on Sunday. The good news, he says, is that everyone seems focused and optimistic.
"Everybody is just talking about getting out of this funk. That's a great thing," he said. "Guys are still able to keep positive energy around here. Even at practice (Wednesday) the energy was very positive ... guys were just talking about what we need to do to get things back right."
Despite their recent slump, the Texans know that negative thinking won't help anything.
"I don't even want to talk about what will happen if we lose this game," Brown said. "Us winning this game will mean everything."
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org