After missing all of training camp and most of OTAs, Arian Foster practiced for the first time on Wednesday. Foster's return was just one of several players who took the field after dealing with injuries. According to head coach Gary Kubiak, 82 players were in attendance at Wednesday's practice, the most since training camp opened.
-WR DeAndre Hopkins is in Phase I of the league's concussion protocol after suffering a hit early in Saturday's preseason win against Miami. His return for Sunday's preseason game against New Orleans is uncertain.
"You've got to go through five stages," Kubiak said. "Can you make up five stages between now and Sunday? Yes, you can, but we'll see. He's day-to-day right now."
-OLB Whitney Mercilus, who has been out with a hamstring injury for most of training camp, practiced on the side field while the team ran drills.
"I've actually got to check," Kubiak said about the outside linebacker's return. "Whitney is very, very close to getting back out here too."
-G Wade Smith did not practice but is progressing well and could possible start in the Texans season opener on September 9. Smith underwent knee surgery on August 13.
"He's doing great," Kubiak said. "Obviously, we don't bring him out here. We leave him inside. I'm not worried about Wade knowing what to do. We're pushing really hard to opening day with him. He's doing everything he possibly can do to get there."
-ILB Tim Dobbins returned to practice after missing the past two weeks. Dobbins injured his back and shoulder on August 5 during training camp.