Practice report: LT Brown practices

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The Texans practiced outside at the Methodist Training Center on a foggy Thursday in Houston.

Brown practices:Left tackle Duane Brown (knee) returned to practice on a limited basis. Joel Dreessen and Jacoby Jones, who both were limited on Wednesday because of shoulder injuries, practiced in full.

The only players to sit out of practice were Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Cushing and defensive tackle Shaun Cody. But Kubiak was optimistic about the two former USC Trojans.

"I think they've both got an excellent chance of being ready to go," Kubiak said.

Back plans: Kubiak again was asked whether running back Arian Foster will start against the Patriots. A day earlier, he said that the undrafted rookie from Tennessee had a "good chance" of being in the starting lineup.

"That depends on what we're doing as far as how we start the game, but obviously Ryan (Moats) and Arian will get the majority of the ball," Kubiak said on Thursday.

Foster had 19 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins in Week 16. Moats had 23 rushing yards and four catches for 39 yards in the game.

Different feeling: Players have been bristling with anticipation this week because, for the first time in team history, the Texans are alive in the playoff race in the final week of the season.

Despite what he called a slow start to Thursday's practice, Kubiak has noticed an increase in intensity and focus this week.

"They haven't been in this situation where it means so much at this time in the season, and you can sense a little difference," Kubiak said. "That's the way you want it to be, that's what you work for and that's what you want it to be for a long time, not just one time. Hopefully, we learn from this experience, this opportunity we have as a football team and we'll play well."

Sherrill stops by: Former college football coach Jackie Sherrill was on the sidelines at Texans practice for a few minutes. Sherrill, who coached at Washington State, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M and Mississippi State for a combined 26 seasons, was at Reliant Stadium as a Gridiron Legend for the fourth-annual Texas Bowl.

After practice, Sherrill met with four different Texans that he coached: Kubiak (Texas A&M, 1982), linebackers coach Johnny Holland (Texas A&M, 1983-86) and defensive tackle DelJuan Robinson (Mississippi State, 2003). He also caught up with practice squad tight end Dezmond Sherrod, whom Sherrill recruited to play at Mississippi State.

Follow Nick Scurfield on Twitter at *twitter.com/NickScurfield or find him on the "I'm A Texan Club" at imatexan.com/profiles/Nick_Scurf/*.

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