Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 10/13/11
Derrick Mason did his best on Wednesday to minimize any residual bitterness he held against the Jets, choosing instead to steer the conversation to his playing on Sunday for a team in desperate need of his route running, knowledge and, most significantly, his reliability. At 37 years of age, Mason won't provide the Texans any of the explosiveness they will lack for as long as perennial Pro-Bowl receiver Andre Johnson is sidelined, but for a franchise that has spun a revolving door of skill position personnel this season, there is no harm in taking a flyer on Mason, whose 12,000 receiving yards speaks to his history of steady production. The Texans would love for Mason to play at Baltimore on Sunday and to help fill the void left on Johnson's absence. "I will play Sunday. I will play Sunday. I'm going to do whatever I need to do to play Sunday and not just because it's Baltimore or just because I want to be out there," said Mason, who spent six seasons with the Ravens before signing with the Jets this past offseason. "I'm a football player. I want to be out on the field. I'm a competitor, so I'm going to do whatever I need to do to make sure that I'm able to play on Sunday. I'll be in the playbook all (Wednesday) night, (Thursday) morning, all the way up until Sunday to make sure that whatever plays that I'm called to run, I'm able to run them." With the Texans getting next to nothing from Jacoby Jones since Johnson succumbed to a right hamstring injury in the second quarter against the Steelers two weeks ago, their acquisition of Mason via trade was necessary. Perhaps Mason's history of durability -- he played in all 16 games in each of the previous eight seasons -- can rub off on the rest of the Texans' skill position players, for injuries have not only undermined offensive efficiency, they are behind the constant roster fluctuations. As they welcomed Mason to their locker room, the Texans also signed return specialist Trindon Holliday and linebacker Jesse Nading to their active roster, and added linebacker Thaddeus Gibson and receiver Juaquin Iglesias to their practice squad. They bid adieu to receiver David Anderson and running back Chris Ogbonnaya in the process, continuing the upheaval that has come to define the opening stretch of their season. Without Johnson, Texans coach Gary Kubiak couldn't afford to keep sending out Jones as the primary punt returner, thus the addition of Holliday. With running backs Derrick Ward (ankle) and Ben Tate (groin) back at practice on Wednesday, the Texans released Ogbonnaya, who opened the season on the practice squad and was later elevated when veteran Steve Slaton was released following the loss to the Saints. With all the comings and goings, it's easy to get confused over who will and won't suit up for the Texans on Sundays. It's also difficult to recall precisely when the offense had all of its key cogs on the field together. "That's how the NFL is, though," Ward said. "With the skill guys that get injured and miss some time and come back, you've just got to try to go with the flow and keep the wheels turning on the car. We'll see how it goes this week, but we all know what we have to do. We're all professionals. I've been in this situation before with injuries and coming back and fitting right in, so hopefully we'll get the job done and keep going." The Texans weren't looking to make excuses for their inconsistent offensive production, but one can't overlook the fact that their two best skill players, Johnson and running back Arian Foster, haven't participated in a full game together this season. The dizzying rotation of bodies at running back and receiver can't help but to stagger the pace, even if the Texans don't want to claim a negative impact on continuity. Would the red-zone woes that plagued the Texans against the Dolphins and Saints have been so pronounced with Foster available? The Texans produced 473 yards against the Raiders but didn't look fluid doing so, largely due to the fact that Oakland minimized the impact Foster made and dared the Texans to beat them with a Johnson-less aerial attack. "The offense remains the same," Texans tight end Owen Daniels said. "We just can't create those huge plays that Dre makes. We just hope that we can get that type of production in little chunks from other people. "You usually see Dre make a 50-, 60-yard catch every game. We won't necessarily have that type of big play. We'll still call those plays and we still hope that we get the looks that we want, but it might be more of different chunks of yardage to make up for what he would usually put out there for us, which is fine." Mason now joins Daniels, Jones and Walter in attempting to help the Texans inch the football down the field. Foster has regained his rhythm, and the Texans have the depth at tailback they anticipated when they resigned Ward and watched Tate blossom. Johnson remains unavailable and versatile fullback James Casey (strained pectoral) is dinged, so all the frontline pieces aren't quite in place. The Texans must adjust. Facing the defensive-minded Ravens makes the challenge that much greater. Whoever is present and accounted for must deliver. "Guys have just got to play better," Texans left tackle Duane Brown said. "We're all learning the same stuff; it's not like guys are trying to get caught up to speed. If one guy goes down you've always got to be expected to step in and be ready to play. I don't think it's so much continuity or chemistry. People have got to take advantage of opportunities. Everyone has to be able to pick up the slack." Follow me on Twitter at moisekapenda
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