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Killings surprises teammates at practice

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Five days ago, Cedric Killings' teammates gathered around him in prayer as he lay motionless on the field during the Texans' game against the Colts. Images of Bills tight end Kevin Everett were fresh in their minds, and they prayed for the best as they feared the worst for their fallen teammate.

The scene was much more joyous on Friday as they gathered around him on the field once again. Killings punctuated his remarkable recovery from the fracture of his C4 vertebra by surprising his teammates with a visit at the end of their practice at the Methodist Training Center.

Killings, who injured his spine on a collision with Colts wide receiver Roy Hall on Sept. 23, was able to walk out of Methodist Hospital under his own power after being released on Friday. The 6-2, 310-pound defensive tackle then made his way to the team's indoor practice facility and entered the field area while the players were taking a knee around head coach Gary Kubiak during their post-practice huddle.

At the sight of him, the entire team erupted in a rousing roar of exultation. The teammate that many of the Texans had last seen in a hospital bed was walking toward them without so much as a limp. And although he was wearing a brace to keep his neck immobile and has a black eye, his teammates know how much worse it could have been.

"Everybody was pumped up," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "Everybody stood up, started clapping for him. It was just an amazing, amazing thing to see him walk through those doors."

Despite noticeable pain and stiffness, Killings couldn't suppress an ear-to-ear smile that fellow defensive lineman N.D. Kalu said Killings is known for.

"That smile, it would light up the whole practice stadium," Kalu said. "It was just good to see him walking, because that's your number one concern when you see somebody have an injury like that. It was just inspiring for us."

Kubiak, the only one who knew about the surprise beforehand, brought Killings before the team and made a touching announcement.

"We're glad to see you up walking around, and this football team has a lot of respect for you as a player and a man," Kubiak said to Killings. "Normally, we name three captains every week; we're making you our honorary captain this week. We're going to go down there and get a 'W' for you."

Killings didn't follow that up with a big speech. He didn't need to. His presence more than did the talking on this day.

"I don't think it was so much what he said, it was just him coming in smiling and being the same old Cedric Killings that we have all grown to know and love," defensive end Anthony Weaver said. "Whenever somebody can go through what he's been through and stay in those positive spirits, that's special and that's something we can all be thankful for.

{QUOTE}"It makes you believe in the power of prayer, because when he went down, we were all praying for him. And to see him walk in there today, it's a huge relief in all of our hearts. He was the same old Cedric, smiling, enjoying life, and you have to love that."

The 30-year-old Killings is in his second season with the Texans. In that short time, the fifth-year veteran has made an indelible impression in the locker room.

"Because he's not a star, people outside this locker room don't know how good of a person he is," Kalu said. "But he's one of those guys that you want your sons to grow up to be like, you want your sisters to marry, so you don't ever want to see something bad happen to him."

After a deflating, injury-riddled loss last week, Killings' visit brightened the spirits of the entire team as they prepare to head to Atlanta.

"We now know one of our family members is back ok and back with us," defensive tackle Amobi Okoye said. "I think it's a great thing for the coaches to dedicate the game to him. I know I'm going to go out there and play hard for him.

"Hopefully, the recovery process will be a speedy one for him."

Neurosurgeon Rob Parrish said that Killings has made dramatic improvements in all areas over the past few days and that he would rehab with the team before moving closer to his home in Miami. He also noted how blessed Killings is to have avoided more serious injury. Had the impact of the collision been only slightly higher, Killings likely would be in similar condition to Everett, the Bills' tight end who is fighting to walk again and may be left with permanent neurological damage.

"We're certainly fortunate," Parrish said. "The force wasn't quite enough to cause the kind of fracture and spinal cord compression that Everett had in the Buffalo situation."

Parrish said that among other factors, Killings' upbeat attitude played a huge role in his recovery.

"This guy's got the best attitude, equal to any patient I've ever had," Parrish said. "He's been a great patient to work with; he's a great person and I've really appreciated having the opportunity to be his doctor."

Killings offered his gratitude for all the encouragement he's received in the past week.

"For all the support, all the calls, from the fans, from the community, from coaches - just everybody, everything has been tremendous and been great and a part of this," Killings said. "(I'm) just really excited, very fortunate and blessed to be in this position right here and to be able to be here standing and talking in front of you. Again, we are very thankful and we appreciate everything, all the support."

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