Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Monday that running back Arian Foster could return to practice this week and that Derrick Ward, Foster's backup, is day-to-day with a sprained ankle.
Foster was inactive in Week 1 with a strained left hamstring, which he aggravated in a preseason game at San Francisco on Aug. 27.
"He worked out today," Kubiak said. "Worked very hard today and worked good. He will come back in tomorrow and work again. I would like to sit here and hope that he would be on the field Wednesday, but we'll see. He is working well."
Foster was described as a game-time decision for Sunday's game against the Colts, but it sounds like the Texans will need to see him practice before he returns to the lineup.
"It'll all be predicated on practice," Kubiak said. "I think there's some positions where guys can maybe not practice through the week and play, polish a little bit on Friday and play. I don't know if running back's one of those spots. I think you've got to know that you can burst and you can go.
"So we're going to watch Arian practice. He's a very good practice player; he works very hard in practice. If he's doing the things that we know that he can do, then we want him out there. He puts us at our best. All indications were Friday that we were heading in that direction, so we'll see where we're at on Wednesday."
Foster led the league with 1,616 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns last season. Even without him, the Texans ran for 167 yards and two touchdowns on 41 attempts in Week 1. That included a 24-carry, 116-yard day from second-year back Ben Tate.
"Ben played very good," Kubiak said. "It was really his first time out, and he goes out there and runs for 100-plus yards. He did a good job in pass protection, too, so I was encouraged by that. We played very good up front.
"I told the backs today, I think there was about 30, 40 more yards out there. I think there's some other things we can do running the ball and do it a little better… It's important whether we're missing somebody or not that we continue to run the ball well, and we were fortunate to do that yesterday."
If Ward is out this week, it could mean more carries for Steve Slaton. Fourth on the depth chart, Slaton had two carries for 12 yards and one catch for six yards in the fourth quarter on Sunday.
"It all depends where Arian's at when we get to the week," Kubiak said. "Obviously, Tate's earned the right to go out there and carry it some more, but I've said all along that I think Slaton has been an impressive player this camp."
Slaton had 1,282 rushing yards as a rookie in 2008. His production dipped in 2009 because of a nerve issue in his neck that led to fumbling problems and required surgery. He spent last season as the Texans' third running back behind Foster and Ward.
"Everything he's been through in his career, he never felt sorry for himself," Kubiak said. "He's worked really, really hard this camp. He has earned the right to be on this football team. Through what we've been through, for him to step on the field yesterday and make a couple of plays tells you what he's made of. I think Steve will help this team and will help it a great deal before the year's out."