Johnson returns to practice

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Wide receiver Andre Johnson returned to practice on Thursday, a day after sitting out because of a lung contusion suffered against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 7.

Texans coach Gary Kubiak called it a "step in the right direction."

"(I'm) very encouraged," Kubiak said. "He took probably pretty close to almost all the reps he normally takes and didn't seem to have any problems. We'll see how he feels."

On Wednesday, Johnson did not practice but was able to run before practice. He told reporters afterward that the team would have to cut his leg off to keep him from playing against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Johnson said he did not feel any discomfort after practicing on Thursday. He was scheduled to receive another scan on his lungs on Thursday afternoon.

"I'm still not in any pain," he said. "I feel good; I feel fine. My breathing's fine when I'm out there running. Hopefully, there's s nothing bad when they look at the scan today."

{QUOTE}The injury made it difficult for Johnson to breathe and caused him to cough up blood in the fourth quarter against the 49ers. The NFL's leading receiver with 634 yards, Johnson will wear rib protectors under his shoulder pads if he plays on Sunday.

"I haven't played in anything like that since I played Little League, so it's been a long time," he said. "I think it's something I definitely have to get used to a little bit, but I don't think it'll restrain me."

Johnson's teammates were relieved to see him on the practice field on Thursday.

"I didn't know he was practicing today," wide receiver Kevin Walter said. "I saw him out there in the huddle on the first play, and I was like, 'Hey, hey; it's good to see you, man. It's good to see you out here.'

"I know he's feeling a lot better and he'll be ready to roll. We need him this Sunday."

Johnson was listed as limited on the official injury report on Thursday. If he is unable to play against the Bills, André Davis would take his place in the starting lineup opposite Walter.

Follow Nick Scurfield on Twitter at *twitter.com/NickScurfield or find him on the "I'm A Texan Club" at imatexan.com/profiles/Nick_Scurf/*.

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