The Texans' defensive line has been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic with six players testing positive.
They may be set to get one player back.
Defensive end DeMarcus Walker was activated from the reserve-COVID-19 list. Although Walker remains on injured reserve, he can be designated for return and his health has improved significantly since injuring his hamstring.
In 10 games and one start for the Texans, the former Denver Broncos second-round draft pick from Florida State has 23 tackles, two sacks, four tackles for losses and six quarterback hits.
The Texans, who placed wide receiver Brandin Cooks, kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn, linebacker Eric Wilson, the only unvaccinated player on the roster, per coach David Culley, and injured linebacker Tae Davis on the reserve-COVID-19 list.
The defensive line has been hit the hardest by positive COVID tests with defensive ends Jon Greenard, Jacob Martin and Derek Rivers sidelined along with defensive tackles Maliek Collins and Jaleel Johnson.
The Texans plan to activate defensive ends Chris Smith and Demone Harris from the practice squad. They also signed defensive tackle Xavier Williams and defensive end Ron'Dell Carter to the active roster.
"We’ve been playing eight guys there for the most part all year," Culley said. "They’ve been kind of splitting time. We’ve added some guys to that list that have been on our practice squad that have been with us, adding those guys up. Some of those guys that have been playing maybe 20 plays will end up playing 30 plays now. Instead of splitting the time, they will probably be playing even more just because of the experience.”
The Texans' starting defensive linemen for Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Chargers are expected to be defensive ends Jordan Jenkins and Chris Smith and defensive tackles Ross Blacklock and Roy Lopez.
“We’re going with Ross just like we have been doing," Culley said. "Those same guys that have been playing will end up just playing for us a little bit more. We are moving up (Demone) Harris and Chris Smith to play some more. Just those guys eight guys that have been playing that aren’t on the COVID list, they’re just going to play more. Obviously, we will substitute them as we need to substitute them, but they are just going to play more than what they have been playing in the past.”