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Houston Texans

Arian Foster, Brooks Reed leave practice early


Texans running back Arian Foster and outside linebacker Brooks Reed left practice early on Thursday with injury concerns, but coach Gary Kubiak said it was just precautionary.

Foster (knee) and Reed (hip) both sat out approximately the final third of practice.

"Precautionary reasons right now," Kubiak said. "Arian said his knee was sore, so we pulled him out. Same thing with Brooks… I expect those two guys are fine."

The Texans did not have any other significant health issues as they practiced in pads on Thursday. Starting nose tackle Shaun Cody (back/ankle) and defensive end J.J. Watt (elbow) were full participants. Inside linebacker Brian Cushing (ribs) participated on a limited basis.

"We had a good, physical day," Kubiak said. "Those guys that had been out held up good. Shaun held up good, Cush, J.J. Everybody's fine."

If Foster's injury ends up affecting his status for Week 1, the Texans have two capable backup running backs in Ben Tate and Justin Forsett. Tate started three of the first four games last season and topped 100 rushing yards in his first two starts. Forsett was an offseason free agent addition from the Seattle Seahawks.

"I used to say two fine backs, now I think we have three real good ones," Kubiak said. "I think Forsett's had an excellent preseason… If something happens to Ben or Arian, we're going to keep our rotation going. He's (Forsett) going to become part of the rotation… We think he's very capable of playing like a starter and being effective."

Next in line after Reed at outside linebacker would be rookie Whitney Mercilus, a first-round draft pick from Illinois.

"He may have to be a bigger factor than we thought," Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said on Thursday. "We want to work him in some. I don't think he's quite ready to go full-time, but Brooks Reed wasn't last year when he went in after the fourth play of the fifth game last year. I think he can do the things. We saw him in preseason play and do some good things. He got better and better against the run. We feel good about Whitney playing."

The Texans drafted Mercilus to spell Reed and Connor Barwin and eventually form a three-man rotation at outside linebacker. Mercilus has been backing up Barwin on the weakside. Reed plays on the strongside, but his backup, Bryan Braman, has not practiced since the third preseason game because of a hamstring injury.

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