Texans' Greenard practicing, feeling 'good,' after thinking season was over

Running through drills with his teammates, Texans veteran defensive end Jonathan Greenard had a smile on his face.

After initial concern that his season was over, believing he had suffered a more serious injury than a torn calf muscle, Greenard was designated for return from injured reserve this week. The Texans have 21 days to activate him or have him remain on injured reserve. Greenard is encouraged by his progress. 

Greenard first got hurt in practice before the Texans' game against the Las Vegas Raiders. He knew immediately he was hurt and feared he had torn his Achilles, which would have ended his season.

"It was weird, I've never dealt with anything like that, I thought somebody kicked me," Greenard said. "I honestly thought it was my Achilles at first when it popped. I instantly thought it was going to be some months. Thankfully, the doctors looked at the MRI and said it was just a torn calf. Just got to be careful with it. Those things are soft tissue. I feel pretty good. Just got to get my wind right and get back in football shape.

"Anytime, I get to get back out there with my boys and suit up again. I'm thankful because I honestly didn't think it was going to happen for me. To get out there and be with the guys and still see the morale is high, for the love of the game, I'm thankful. I feel good. I'm confident."

It's considered unlikely that Greenard will play Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. He led the Texans with eight sacks last season.

"We’ll always find a spot for a good defensive lineman," Texans coach Lovie Smith said. "We’ll find a way to get him into the mix once he’s ready to go. He has started the process."

A former third-round draft pick from Florida, Greenard has 1 1/2 sacks, five tackles for losses and three quarterback hits this season. 

He's on track to play again this season. When that happens is unclear, but generally the 1-10-1 Texans have players practice for at least a week before they're activated.

"No number on it, you'll know when you know, just keep rushing and repetitions, to feel more confident," Greenard said. "Soft tissue, it's kind of the same. You've got to stay on one thing before another thing pops up to make sure everything is equally connecting to reduce risk of injury. 

"I just go when they tell me. My main focus is to get in football shape. There's no other way to get in shape, but to play ball. We're just going to take it slow. Obviously, you see the results of how the season is going and you think you can make some plays. You always keep that hungry mentality and not lose sight of that goal."

Meanwhile, starting wide receivers Brandin Cooks (calf) and Nico Collins (foot) didn't practice the past two days with Cooks working on the side with trainers and Collins watching during the portion open to media. Collins is catching passes on the side.

Texans rookie cornerback Derek Stingley (hamstring) isn't practicing. The first-round draft pick, characterized as having a "mild hamstring strain," by Smith has missed three consecutive games and could miss his fourth in a row Sunday against the Cowboys.

“I wouldn’t say it was a more significant injury than anticipated," Smith said. "Whenever there’s a hamstring, if a guy legitimately pulls a hamstring, it’s going to take a while. Whenever you pull a hamstring, I know from experience, it takes a while, and especially for a young player that pulled it for the first time in his life. Have to be patient with him, we have to be. 

"Eventually he’ll be back out there. Again, few weeks ago he was up in the press box. We didn’t have him on the sideline because we didn’t know if he could get out of the way. This week, he’s down on the sideline. He’s making progress."

Because Stingley has to be able to match the footwork and speed of elite wide receivers, the Texans will continue to exercise caution with the former LSU consensus All-American.

"Just think about a torn muscle," Smith said. "It’s hard to really kind of work through those, and especially at some positions. An offensive lineman can handle an injured hamstring a lot better than a guy that has to be all-out, full-speed every snap he’s on the football field."

Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790.

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