Long the darling of pundits as a would-be “sleeper” rising in the AFC, Kubiak has felt the heat from media and fans for the past couple seasons for failing to reach those lofty expectations. When it was announced that Peyton Manning was likely lost for the season, the road to the AFC South title appeared to be set for Gary Kubiak and the Houston Texans.

Along the way, the Texans have been beset by injuries. Mario Williams was lost for the season. Danieal Manning broke his leg. Arian Foster missed time early in the season. Andre Johnson hasn’t played since the Week 4 win over Pittsburgh.

The Texans have withstood the storm by running the ball effectively with Arian Foster and Ben Tate, timely passing from Matt Schaub and a defense reimagined by Wade Phillips. The Houston defense ranks second behind San Francisco, allowing just 16.6 points per game. They looked ahead to the return of Andre Johnson following the Texans’ Week 11 Bye.

Kubiak will need Johnson at be ready, as the Texans were dealt another huge blow on Monday. It was announced that quarterback Matt Schaub would be sidelined for the duration of the season because of a Lisfranc injury. That thrusts Heisman winner Matt Leinart into the starting role for the Texans. The return of Johnson obviously helps, but this squad is winning behind the running game and its defense.

After my initial posting, I received a quick note from Dr. Selene Parekh from Duke University with a detailed analysis of the Lisfranc injury and its treatment .

Leinart’s a mid- to low-QB2 with Johnson and all-world tailback Arian Foster at the ready.

We’ll have two weeks to mull Leinart’s relative value and monitor reports out of Houston.