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Brooks Reed, Alan Ball practice on Tuesday


Cornerback Alan Ball returned to practice on Tuesday at the Methodist Training Center after missing the bulk of the last month with a foot injury.

Head coach Gary Kubiak did not say Ball would definitely be active for the Saturday playoff matchup with the Bengals, but he said the veteran corner would likely play if he practiced the rest of the week without any health problems.

"It'd very important, if he's ready to go," Kubiak said. "He's probably as good a special teams player as we've had all year. We just feel very fortunate that he's got a chance to come back and help us this week. That's a big piece we've been waiting to get back."

Texans outside linebacker Brooks Reed, who was inactive Sunday because of a groin injury, also practiced on Tuesday. In his Monday press conference, Kubiak joked that if Reed were able to walk this week, he would be able to play Saturday. Tuesday afternoon, Kubiak shared his thoughts on what he had seen from the second-year linebacker.

"He did a little bit," Kubiak said. "We're pretty light today. It's been 48 hours since we played. We're heading in the right direction."

Reed injured his groin during the Thanksgiving Day victory at Detroit and returned in Week 16 against the Vikings. He played the first half against Minnesota and was held out of the regular-season finale at Indianapolis.

"It's great to have Brooks back," defensive end J.J. Watt said. "We have good chemistry. It's good to have him out there as a pass rusher and as a run player. He's a very good player, a lot of intensity, and it's going to be nice to have him out there."

The Texans practiced outside on Tuesday so about three hours later in the day than they did during the regular season.

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