The Texans face the Jaguars on the road Sunday, and practiced Thursday in Houston for the second straight morning. Here are four notable news items from the day of preparation.
1) Harris Highlights
For the second straight day, rookie Christian Harris practiced with the linebackers. While he still hasn't been added to the 53-man roster, his 21-day activation window from injured reserve began earlier this week. There's a chance he could play this Sunday at Jacksonville. But even if he doesn't, linebackers coach Miles Smith is glad to have Harris back at work.
"Being a rookie, he hasn't played a whole lot of professional football yet at this point," Smith said. "Got hurt so early in training camp. It's been exciting to see him out there. I mean the guy can move."
Smith lauded the Alabama product's "pure athleticism", but said he still needs to work on the "mental aspect of the game" before he can be game-ready.
"As he becomes more and more familiar with our defense and gets a little more experience under his belt, he has a lot of potential," Smith said. "Obviously, it's still potential at this point because he actually hasn't gotten on the field, but we'll see how that goes going forward."
2) Pierce playing time
Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton was asked about the running back rotation of Dameon Pierce and Rex Burkhead. The former leads the team in carries and yards, while the latter has been on the field at the end of games through the first four contests of the season. Hamilton acknowledged that Pierce has the "ability to process the information" and can physically do what's asked of him. But he explained why the veteran Burkhead has been on the field late in games, in favor of the rookie.
"Just like with any young player, it's not always in the best interest of the unit to put them in those situations," Hamilton said.
3) Any place, any time
Speaking of Pierce, he's coming back to the state where he played collegiately. A Florida Gator from 2018 through 2021, Pierce is looking forward to a return to the Sunshine State, but ultimately, he'd gladly play anywhere.
"I'll play football in the parking lot if I had to," Pierce said.
For the second week in a row, Pierce's mother will be in attendance. She saw her first Texans game at NRG Stadium last Sunday, when Pierce carried 14 times for 131 yards and a touchdown.
4) Hands full on special teams
According to Jaguars Special Teams Coordinator Frank Ross, his unit's counterparts in Jacksonville are formidable.
Riley Patterson has made 7-of-8 field goal attempts, punter Logan Cooke is seventh in the NFL with a 43.8 yards (net) average, and the Jaguars coverage units are good. Ross was impressed with the "energy" Jacksonville Special Teams Coordinator Heath Farwell has "infused" there.
"That's a good kicking game unit," Ross said. "We have our hands full. Chad Muma, the gunner in (Chris) Claybrooks, Daniel Thomas. You've got one of the best special teams players in the NFL in (Andrew) Wingard, running all their core four game. He's their game plan guy in the personal protector. We've got our hands full this week."
Kickoff is scheduled for noon CT at Jacksonville's TIAA Bank Field.