Two days after playing the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football, the Texans returned to the practice field to prepare for their preseason finale against the Buccaneers. They will have a light practice on Thursday morning before flying to Tampa Bay.
Cushing a game-time decision:Rookie linebacker Brian Cushing took a step forward in his recovery from a sprained knee by participating in all of practice on Wednesday. He did double duty, taking reps with both the regular defense and scout-team defense. He also worked out with coaches in pads after practice.
Head coach Gary Kubiak expects Cushing to be a game-time decision at Tampa on Friday.
"I want to see how he comes out of today," Kubiak said. "This is as hard as we've pushed him. Tomorrow morning will be a very light workout, but we'll probably work him a little bit more than the other guys, and just see how he comes out of it, if he has any soreness or what's going on.
"He's ready to go. We still have to make a decision whether or not we put him on the field on Friday."
No change on Schaub: There was little news on the status of quarterback Matt Schaub, who sprained his left ankle in the second quarter against the Vikings and has been wearing a protective boot since.
"He's made a lot of progress in the last 24 hours," Kubiak said. "He's out here with the group watching things. He's on a regular treatment schedule and trying to get ready for New York."
Kubiak still considers Schaub, receiver Kevin Walter (hamstring) and safety Eugene Wilson (knee) to be day-to-day.
Casey unleashed?: With backups set to play the majority of snaps on Friday, Kubiak was asked if rookie tight end James Casey will be "unleashed" this week.
"Yeah, we're going to unleash him everywhere this week," Kubiak said with a grin. "Fullback, tight end – he's going to play everywhere. He will play a few snaps this week."
Casey will see considerable reps at fullback because starter Vonta Leach, who suffered a lower leg bruise against Minnesota and didn't practice Wednesday, is not expected to play. The rookie from Rice has been taking reps at fullback since training camp started and said he feels comfortable at the position.
A fifth-round draft pick, Casey isn't taking anything for granted as the final preseason game approaches.
"I've got a lot riding on this game," Casey said. "It's the biggest game of my life. It could be my last game. The cuts are the next day, so I need to go out there and hopefully have a really good game."
Enter Grossman: Quarterback Rex Grossman practiced on Wednesday and will play against the Bucs. He has been out since straining his hamstring on his first series of the preseason opener at Kansas City.
"I could see Rex playing a great deal next game," Kubiak said.
Grossman was projected to miss 4-5 weeks with the injury, but he'll return to game action after only 20 days on the sidelines. Though he said he is not at 100 percent, Grossman feels good enough to play and be effective.
"I worked hard to get to this point," he said. "I know I need to play in this game and show what I can do out there. I circled this game as a game I needed to get back for. I worked hard. I feel like I'm ready to go."
Cody leading the pack: Several starting positions are still up for grabs, including spots in the secondary and at linebacker. Kubiak said that defensive tackle Shaun Cody has moved to the forefront at his position ahead of second-year players Frank Okam and DelJuan Robinson. Cody started next to Amobi Okoye against the Vikings on Monday night.
"If you just look at all of them together, I think Shaun jumps out at you in how he's played and what he's done," Kubiak said. "He did some good things last week. Frank and DelJuan, to me, have been neck-and-neck young players. One day, he's good, the next, not so good. He's fighting for consistency."