Pro Bowl cornerback Johnathan Joseph did not practice on Wednesday because of a hamstring injury that kept him out of last Thursday's game at Detroit.
Joseph is not expected to practice on Thursday. Texans coach Gary Kubiak said he hopes Joseph can take "a few reps" at practice on Friday and be a game-time decision on Sunday before the Texans play the Tennessee Titans in Nashville.
"Johnathan worked pretty good with the trainers today, ran pretty good, so that's a step in the right direction," Kubiak said on Wednesday afternoon. "As always, when you've got guys in that mode or closer to being back on the field, the question is how they come out of their workouts with the trainers, so we'll see where he's at tomorrow."
Joseph was one of six Texans players to sit out on Wednesday. Defensive end J.J. Watt missed practice with an illness but is expected to return on Thursday. Inside linebacker Bradie James (hamstring), right tackle Derek Newton (knee), guard Antoine Caldwell (hamstring) and outside linebacker Brooks Reed (groin) all stayed inside Reliant Stadium for rehab, while Joseph worked on with trainers on a field adjacent to practice at the Methodist Training Center.
Running back Ben Tate (hamstring) participated in practice and is expected to be available to play on Sunday. Nose tackle Shaun Cody (ribs/back) and inside linebacker Tim Dobbins (shoulder) also practiced and are expected to return from injuries to face the Titans.
If Newton does not play, Ryan Harris would start at right tackle. The Texans would likely use a rotation of Dobbins, Darryl Sharpton and Barrett Ruud at inside linebacker if James is unavailable in Week 13. Rookie Whitney Mercilus will start for Reed, who is out for at least a couple of weeks. Alan Ball would likely make his second consecutive start at cornerback if Joseph is not ready to play.
Kubiak said Watt, one of the leading candidates for NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors, showed up sick in the morning and was sent home by the team to recover.
"He was here; he wanted to go (practice)," Kubiak said. "We've had some issues with some sick guys ever since we got back from Chicago, so the best thing is to keep him away from everybody and hopefully, he's feeling better tomorrow and we can get back to work. I think he'll be OK."