Texans inside linebacker Darryl Sharpton will start on Thursday at the Detroit Lions.
Sharpton, who had seven tackles on Sunday in his first game off the Physically Unable to Perform list, will play at Mo linebacker on the weakside. Tim Dobbins, who has started the last four games, will be a game-time decision because of a shoulder injury. Bradie James will continue to start at Mike linebacker on the strongside.
"It means a lot to me," Sharpton said Tuesday in the Texans' locker room. "I'm going to go out there, give it my all, make sure my body's ready to play. We're going to try to bring home another victory."
Sharpton played 45 snaps Sunday against the Jaguars, including 32 on defense. It was his first action since Oct. 30, 2011, when he tore his right quadriceps tendon in the eighth game of last season.
"I thought Sharpton played well," Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. "He made a couple of big plays, several big hits. I know he's sore this week; he hadn't played in a year and a half. I thought he played well. He's gonna start this game, so I thought he played well enough to start."
A fourth-round draft pick out of Miami (Fla.) in 2010, Sharpton said he went to every single meeting and practice during his year-long absence from the field, taking notes and staying on top the Texans' defense mentally while he was unable to play.
"He stayed with it the whole time," Phillips said. "Sometimes you have an injury, especially a lingering one like he had (where) he's on PUP, didn't know if he was going to play this year, but he knew every defense… He didn't make many mistakes out there. He's a very instinctive player, which helps, and he's a real hard hitter, which helps also, but I just thought he was ready to play when he played. A lot of guys would get distracted and not be able to do that."
Sharpton showed no signs of hesitation in his first game back, tackling Jaguars players with reckless abandon and jarring hits. Now, just four days later, he'll start for the first time since late in his rookie season in 2010.
"After not playing for a year, there's a lot of built-up thoughts when you're watching football, like, 'Man, if I was out there, I would do this, I would do that,'" Sharpton said. "And now I actually have a chance to do it, so I'm just trying to take advantage of every snap I get and really appreciate it and just give it my all every play.
"After that long break and now I'm back, I feel like, yeah, I came back to life. It feels good, and I'm just trying to stay healthy and keep contributing."