Manning, Johnson return to practice


Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson was expected to practice this week. Free safety Danieal Manning was not. Both players took the field on Monday as the Texans returned from their bye week break.

Johnson, who has missed the last six games with a hamstring injury, remains on track to return on Sunday to face the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"He took all his reps with the team," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "We will monitor his reps in practice and probably going into the game, but all systems should be go this weekend."

Manning's participation in practice was a big surprise. He was projected to miss anywhere from 4-10 weeks after fracturing his left fibula in Week 7 at Tennessee and having surgery. If he plays against the Jaguars, he will have missed four weeks.

"It's amazing how far this young man has come," Kubiak said. "If he doesn't have any setbacks throughout the week, he should have a great opportunity to be available this weekend, so we'll see how it goes."

Last week, Kubiak indicated Manning was still a few weeks away from working out on a side field during practice. Instead, he was able to practice only four weeks after his surgery.

"It went great today," Manning said. "Of course I was limited on reps, but the initial part of just being out there with the guys and running around, testing some to see how fast I could run and see how my cuts were, it felt great out there… I got to put a lot more pressure on it, way more than I did when I was getting rehab. I felt great. No pain after practice, nothing. Just like nothing ever happened.

"I'm staying positive, but I'm looking forward to playing on Sunday."

An offseason free agent acquisition from the Chicago Bears, Manning has two interceptions and is averaging 27.4 yards per kickoff return this season.

He credited head athletic trainer Geoff Kaplan and the rest of the Texans' training staff for helping him to be about two-and-a-half weeks ahead of schedule in his rehab.

"They did a great job with me," Manning said. "Every day, I was up here, up here about 8, 9 every morning. I didn't get home 'til about 2 (p.m.) every day. I was doing the same thing on the same leg, working it out, running and strengthening it, and I'm able to get out there in four weeks."

Manning's teammates were certainly happy to see it.

"I was surprised to see him on the field with us," cornerback Johnathan Joseph said. "I rode him before we even got out there; I told him to slow it down just a little bit. But it was great for us to see him out there. He picked us up a little bit, us coming off the off week and having him back out there with us to begin this thing and finish it up down the stretch."

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