Texans coach David Culley saidFriday morningthat it's "unlikely" that Pro Bowl left offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil will be designated for return from injured reserve along with injured defensive tackle Vincent Taylor.
Culley had previously characterized Tunsil's status as day to day and had hoped initially he could be back in four weeks.
Tunsil underwent successful thumb surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb in October. Tunsil is out of the cast and has made steady progress in his recovery.
There were conversations about whether it made sense for Tunsil to play again this year considering the possibility of a setback and the fact that the Texans have a 4-11 record heading into Sunday's road game against the San Francisco 49ers with several league sources expressing that they didn't expect him to return this season.
Tunsil has been replaced at left tackle by former first-round draft pick Tytus Howard, who has graded out highly as a pass blocker since shifting from left guard.
One of the top blockers in the NFL, Tunsil was initially going to attempt to play through the injury and forego surgery until after the season, but it was determined that the best course of action was to immediately have surgery. The UCL is attached to the middle joint of the thumb, which keeps the thumb stable to allow to pinch and grasp objects.
Tunsil left during a 25-22 loss to the New England Patriots in the first half after falling on the ground while blocking in the final minutes of the second quarter.
One year after signing Tunsil to a three-year, $66 million contract extension that included $50 million guaranteed with a $13 million signing bonus, the Texans restructured that deal this offseason to create $10.106 million in salary cap space. Signed to a three-year, $66 million contract extension a year ago that included $50 million guaranteed with a $13 million signing bonus with an average of $22 million annually, Tunsil's original $16.15 million base salary was converted into a $15.16 million signing bonus. He now has a $990,000 fully guaranteed base salary for 2021 and a salary cap figure of $9.29 million, down from $19.4 million.
Including the fifth-year club option of $10.85 million Tunsil was paid last year, the deal still has a total value of $76.35 million.
Taylor broke his ankle in September against the Jacksonville Jaguars and underwent surgery. He was replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Roy Lopez.