Texans inside linebacker Darryl Sharpton said Thursday that he expects to return practice next week.
Sharpton is on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list with a quadriceps injury. He must return to practice by Wednesday, Nov. 7, to be eligible to play this season. Once he returns to practice, the Texans have three weeks – until Week 13 – to place him on the active roster.
"I've been working hard, overcoming some things," Sharpton said in the Texans' locker room at Reliant Stadium. "I'm close to getting back out there. I'm gonna give it a shot next week, and I feel good about it. I look forward to hitting some people and getting back on the football field. I miss it."
Sharpton, a fourth-round draft pick out of Miami (Fla.) in 2010, suffered a season-ending quad injury last Oct. 30 against Jacksonville. He had a setback in his rehab in the first week of training camp, a hip issue that flared up as he tried to push himself with team trainers to see if he was ready to return.
Sharpton said he wasn't 100 percent at the start of camp but "good enough to play at that point." Now, he feels "a lot better overall." He has been running and exercising with trainers on a side field at practice for several weeks.
"It's all about just going out there and playing at this point, because nothing I can do in the training room and the weight room can simulate actually playing," Sharpton said. "So I'm just really excited about getting back out there. I can't wait to put the helmet and shoulder pads back on.
"Over the last couple weeks, everything's just been getting better and better. I feel pretty explosive. It felt good to hit some bags (for the first time this week), but now I'm ready to hit some people. I've been feeling explosive and fast, and I'm very happy about my progress and the way I've healed up."
If Sharpton returns to practice as planned next Wednesday, it will be one year and seven days from the last time he played football. He rotated with DeMeco Ryans at Mo linebacker in the first eight games of last season before his injury, which tore the quad tendon from his right knee.
The injury required surgery and months of rehab before Sharpton was able to run again. He was expected to compete for a starting job with Bradie James this offseason but was unable to get back on the field.
"It's been frustrating, not being able to play football for a long time when that's all I've done my whole life," Sharpton said. "I'm just going to harness that energy and release into one big swoop and help this team out.
"God's got me through these trials and tribulations. Everything happens for a reason, but I just keep my faith. Without my faith, I don't know where I'd be right now mentally. I've always just stayed positive."
With defensive captain Brian Cushing out for the season with a knee injury, there's more opportunity than ever for Sharpton to help the team. The Texans released Mister Alexander on Wednesday, leaving them with three inside linebackers in James, Tim Dobbins and Barrett Ruud.
"Even if Cush was still here, I still think I could help the team with what I can bring to the table," Sharpton said. "I just can't wait to put what I'm talking about on display."