After a three-day break, the Texans returned to practice on Thursday with all but two players on the field at the Methodist Training Center.
Cornerback Alan Ball, who sat out last week with a sore foot, and outside linebacker Brooks Reed, who is out several weeks with a groin injury, did not practice. Everybody else did, including on-the-mend cornerback Johnathan Joseph (hamstring/groin), inside linebacker Bradie James (hamstring), right tackle Derek Newton (knee) and guard Antoine Caldwell (hamstring).
Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Joseph, James, Newton and Caldwell all will likely be game-time decisions on Monday night when the Texans face the New England Patriots in Foxboro. Starters Joseph, James and Newton all took between one-third to one-half of the reps in Thursday's practice.
Kubiak said Joseph looked "very explosive," an encouraging sign for the 2011 Pro Bowler's chances to play against Tom Brady and the high-flying Patriots passing offense. Joseph has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury.
"We'll be smart as we work through the week," Kubiak said. "I think all those guys, that group of guys, are all gonna be game-time decisions. How they come out of their practice reps here over the course of the next couple days will probably have a lot to do with where we're at. A step in the right direction for all those guys that went back to work today."
James, who's tied for third on the team with 55 tackles, was injured late in the Texans' overtime victory at Detroit on Thanksgiving Day. The veteran linebacker proclaimed himself a go for Monday night on Thursday.
"It's great to be out there with the guys," James said. "We're on the brink of doing something special. You want to be a part of that. Health wise, I'm back, feel good. I'm looking forward to a big game this week. There's nothing that's going to keep me out of this one."
Darryl Sharpton, Tim Dobbins and Barrett Ruud rotated at inside linebacker in Week 13. Ryan Harris started at right tackle for Newton, who suffered an injury to his right patella tendon in the first half at Detroit.