The Texans returned to practice on Monday after a three-day break following their Thursday-night loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Tight end Owen Daniels, who has missed the last five games with a hamstring injury, was back on the field. But the Texans were without wide receiver Andre Johnson (ankle), defensive end Mario Williams (sports hernia), right tackle Eric Winston (shoulder) and right guard Mike Brisiel (shoulder), none of whom are expected to practice until Thursday.
"Andre just re-tweaked his ankle (against the Eagles), so we left him inside to get his treatment," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "It's probably nothing different from what we've been dealing with, but we'll see as time goes. As far as Eric and Brisiel, they will be out probably 'til Thursday to just nurse shoulders. They're beat up."
The Texans will have another light practice on Tuesday morning. Players will be off on Wednesday before beginning their normal weekly routine on Thursday.
Happy returnDaniels said that he felt "no ill effects at all" in his strained left hamstring, which he patiently has been nursing back to 100 percent with the Texans' training staff.
"It feels great," he said after practice. "I didn't feel anything today. I actually stretched out for a ball that the trainers were saying I should've been a little more careful. It's hard when it feels good. It's good to be able to stretch out like that and run and feel normal."
Kubiak said last week that Daniels was "pretty darn close" to returning. He was a game-time decision at Philadelphia.
"I think if that game last week was on Sunday, I probably would've played," Daniels said. "The extra days definitely helped out. There's always some uncertainty right when you think you're feeling good, but when it comes to hammies they tell you to wait another week. So maybe it was a blessing in disguise that we did play on Thursday, so I'll be feeling really good for next Monday."
Kubiak does not know whether Daniels will be able to start against the Ravens on Monday Night Football.
"I've got to see if he's ready to play first," Kubiak said. "I'm just hoping that he's available to play and we go from there, but right now it's a day-to-day (question)."
Williams' sports herniaLast Friday, Kubiak disclosed that defensive end Mario Williams has been playing with a sports hernia injury all season. On Monday, Kubiak said Williams did not undergo any further tests over the weekend.
"We have our routine on how we get him to each Sunday," Kubiak said. "I think just a Sunday-Thursday quick turnaround was very difficult on him last week. Coming out of the game, it was bothering quite a bit, but now that we've got a good stretch before we play again, I don't see any problem with him returning to his routine."
Williams had two tackles against the Eagles, along with several plays where he came within inches of sacking quarterback Michael Vick.
"It's just something that I've got to keep an eye on, the training staff keeps an eye on, and I've got to go out there and just chop wood," Williams said. "Every movement that you make, it's the central part of your body, and you feel it with everything you do.
"This past week it was definitely the worst it's been since training camp. So, you know, just be optimistic and hope for the best – that's all I can do."
Still aliveAt 5-7, the Texans are still alive in the AFC South, where parity reigns supreme in 2010. It's the only division in the league in which only two games separate first and last place.
The Jacksonville Jaguars lead the way at 7-5, followed by the Indianapolis Colts at 6-6. The Tennessee Titans share the Texans' 5-7 record.
"I thought that it was going to be this way just because you look at the schedule and how we all play each other," Kubiak said. "Everybody kind of has their problems, so to speak. Jacksonville got a big win yesterday, and we play them (in Week 17 at Reliant Stadium). All of us play each other, but our problem right now is that we've got to beat Baltimore. We've got a big game Monday night and we'll have to play excellent to beat them. We've got to stay focused on that."