Texans' Ka'imi Fairbairn expected back for Bills game

Lining up his kick, Ka'imi Fairbairn measured his steps carefully before following through to split the uprights on a field goal before practice.

Sidelined since the start of the season on injured reserve, the Texans' regular kicker was designated for return this week and is on track to be activated and kick Sunday on the road against the Buffalo Bills. Barring any setbacks, Fairbairn would replace Joey Slye after missing the first three games of the regular season. Fairbairn practiced Wednesday, didn't experience soreness and has made steady progress from his leg injury, according to Texans special teams coordinator Frank Ross.

"Yes sir, excited for him," Ross saidThursday morningat NRG Stadium. "I'm excited for him to continue to make progress to see if he's ready to go this week."

Should Fairbairn replace Slye, who has made 4 of 5 field goals and 7 of 8 extra points, they don't anticipate placing any limitations on his range and responsibilities in the kicking game.

Indianapolis Colts v Houston Texans

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"I don't think you're going to put a player out there if they can't perform to the best of their ability and we won't," Ross said. "If he's going to go out there and be our kicker on Sunday he's going to be ready to kick whatever his range is. If he can kick it from 75 out, he'll kick it from 75 out. We expect him to be at full capacity, if he's out there being our kicker on Sunday."

Signed to a four-year, $17.6 million contract that includes $9 million guaranteed and a $4 million base salary in 2021, the former Lou Groza Award winner from UCLA made 87.1 percent of his field goals last season (27 of 31) and 37 of 40 extra points last season.

In four NFL seasons, Fairbairn has made 104 of 123 field goals (84.6 percent) and 148 of 161 extra points (91.9 percent).

Practicing Wednesday without incident, Fairbairn passed a critical test on his road to recovery.

"Looked good, felt good after and was able to push through his leg and not hold anything back and not getting sore after," Ross said. "Feeling good at this point."

Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 years and has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128

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