Cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who missed the first two preseason games with a groin injury, returned to practice on Monday at the Methodist Training Center.
The former Cincinnati Bengals starter is expected to make his Texans debut on Saturday at San Francisco.
"He looked great during camp, and obviously the groin has held him up a little bit," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "He was back out today. We'll pick it up each day with him and hopefully he's ready to carry his load on Saturday night, but he needs to play. It's very important.
"At the same time… I don't think you throw him out there and play him three quarters. We'll see how he practices throughout the week."
A sixth-year veteran, Joseph said that he doesn't think the injury set him back because he was able to take mental reps from the sideline.
"Things are moving fine, right on schedule where we wanted to be," he said. "I'm looking forward to practicing and playing Saturday... You always want to shake off the rust a little bit."
Troops at practice
The Texans had about 25 troops from the USO as guests at practice on Monday. Players, assistant coaches, Kubiak, general manager Rick Smith, vice chairman Cal McNair and chairman Bob McNair greeted them individually after practice as they walked off the field.
Several players signed autographs and posed for pictures in addition to thanking the troops for their service.
"We're always grateful for what they do for us, and in return, we give them a little bit of entertainment to take their minds off of what's going on in their lives," Foster said. "I'm happy to be a part of that and put a smile on people's faces for a short while."
Along with Joseph, running back Derrick Ward (concussion) and wide receiver Paul Williams (hamstring) also returned to the field for the Texans' light, no-pads practice on Monday.
Inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans sat out with a sore shoulder, but Kubiak said he isn't worried about the two-time Pro Bowler's recovery.
"I think it's just taking some time," Kubiak said. "It got really swollen on him and (he's) just getting the flexibility back and going through the rehab process. We were being smart last week. Today, we didn't do much at all. It'll be day-to-day with him, but I don't have any doubt that he will be back sometime soon."
Wide receiver Lestar Jean also was not on the field Monday. The promising undrafted rookie from Florida Atlantic injured his shoulder against the Saints on Saturday.
"He's got a pretty banged up shoulder," Kubiak said. "They're in an evaluation process right now. You're not going to see him out here in the next couple days, but we should know more here toward the end of this week."
"If that's what the head man says, that's what the head man says. I'm a chess piece. If Bobby Fischer tells me to go, I'm gonna go."
- RB Arian Foster, on head coach Gary Kubiak saying that the Texans' starters will play for three quarters against San Francisco