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Tony Gutierrez, Associated Press
Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates (13) pitches the ball to Arian Foster during the second quarter of an NFL wild card playoff football game Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, in Houston.

HOUSTON — When the Texans opened training camp, right tackle Eric Winston says he wasn't expecting much from the incoming rookie class.

Winston had confidence in the choices that coach Gary Kubiak and general manager Rick Smith made in the draft. He just hadn't seen many first-year players mature quickly enough to make dramatic impacts for their teams.

J.J. Watt, Brooks Reed and T.J. Yates have turned out to be exceptions.

The three have all played pivotal roles in helping the Texans (11-6) overcome myriad injuries to reach the postseason and advance to the second round. Houston plays at Baltimore (12-4) on Sunday for a berth in the AFC championship game.