The Texans will be playing without multiple key players for Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs at NRG Stadium.
Texans rookie running back Dameon Pierce is out with a high-ankle sprain suffered against the Dallas Cowboys that's expected to sideline him for one to two games as it's not in the severe category after undergoing a magnetic resonance imaging exam Monday, according to league sources. Pierce leads all rookies with 939 rushing yards and has four touchdown runs.
Without Pierce, the Texans are expected to lean on Dare Ogunbowale and Rex Burkhead as their main two running backs. They could also elevate Royce Freeman or Gerrid Doaks from the practice squad.
Veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks remains sidelined with a calf injury and isn't expected to play. It's trending toward wide receiver Nico Collins missing another game with a foot injury. Both players aren't practicing. The Texans are set to go with Chris Moore, who caught a career-high 10 passes against Dallas, Phillip Dorsett and Amari Rodgers as their primary wide receivers against Kansas City.
Texans rookie cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (hamstring) and offensive guard Justin McCray (hamstring) worked out on a side field with trainers. Stingley has missed four consecutive games. McCray didn't play against the Cowboys.
"Nico Collins, Brandin Cooks Derek Stingley, all those guys are getting better," Texans coach Lovie Smith said. "Exactly when they'll be back on the football field, we don't know."
Texans cornerback Steven Nelson is not practicing due to an ankle injury and is expected to miss this game. If Nelson is out after getting hurt against the Cowboys, the Texans would go with Tremon Smith, who intercepted two passes against Dallas, and Desmond King with Tavierre Thomas as the primary nickel.
Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil missed practice due to a minor illness, but is expected to play Sunday. Tunsil has performed at a Pro Bowl level, shutting down Cowboys pass rusher Micah Parsons during a 27-23 loss.
"He is sick, should be good to go," Smith said. "This time of year, you have some of those cold and flu symptoms going around. Guys will miss a few days, but he should be good to go."
Texans rookie offensive guard Kenyon Green is practicing after injuring his ankle against Dallas and finishing the game. He was limited along with defensive tackle Kurt Hinish, who missed the Cowboys game with a shoulder injury, defensive tackle Roy Lopez (hip) and defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth (calf).
Texans rookie fullback Troy Hairston, who missed the Cowboys game with a rib injury after getting injured against the Cleveland Browns and returned to practice Friday, participated fully.
Defensive end Jonathan Greenard is practicing for the second week in a row after being designated for return. He could be activated as soon as this week.
"It was good to see Jonathan Greenard," Smith said. "I know he practiced last week back into the mix."
Smith declined to elaborate on the reasons behind waiving running back Eno Benjamin, who was claimed off waivers by the New Orleans Saints.
Benjamin was deeply unhappy with his limited playing time and expressed his displeasure after the Cowboys game after rushing for one yard on three carries.
Smith used his stock answer to characterize Benjamin's release, an answer he used previously when the team cut linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill at his request.
"Once a player is not on our team, I try not to talk too much about it when they move on," Smith said. "We just thought we need to go in a different direction. Just going to leave it at that. Sometimes, divorce is a good thing."
Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790