With two days until their preseason game against the New Orleans Saints, the Texans are getting healthier at running back.
Arian Foster (hamstring) practiced for the second consecutive day on Thursday and has "looked good," according to Texans coach Gary Kubiak. Second-year running back Ben Tate, who also has been battling a hamstring injury, returned to practice for the first time in more than a week.
Kubiak was optimistic that both backs will play against the Saints on Saturday night.
"I think they will unless there's a setback between now and tomorrow," Kubiak said. "I think they'll play. It's their first time out, so I have to decide how much I'll play them. I would think between Ben and between Arian, if we can kind of do with them what we did with the first group last week (about 15 plays), that'd be good."
Another player who could make his 2011 debut on Saturday is cornerback Johnathan Joseph. The free agent signee from the Cincinnati Bengals returned to the practice field on Thursday morning after missing the preseason opener with a groin injury.
"He took all the individual periods – that was planned – and did not do the team (period), so a step forward today," Kubiak said. "I'd say it's 50-50 (that he plays on Saturday)."
Proceeding with caution
The Texans held linebacker DeMeco Ryans out of practice with a swollen elbow, an injury that happened in the Jets game. Ryans had an MRI on Wednesday and said after Thursday morning's practice that he's "just taking it day-by-day."
"We're being cautious with him right now, trying to rehab it and make sure we get it back down before we send him out here," Kubiak said. "It's still an evaluation process. He's going to be fine. I'm just trying to be smart. This is our only day in pads this week. We needed to work, and it didn't make sense to send him out here and bang on it some more."
Ryans also is returning from an Achilles injury that ended his 2010 season after six weeks. He has been able to practice throughout training camp and started Monday's game against the Jets.
More reps for the 1s
The Texans' starters will get more playing time against the Saints than they did against the Jets. They played for the first quarter, about 15 plays, on Monday.
"Our ones will play more football," Kubiak said. "How much will that be? I don't know, but (the plan is) just to pick it up a little bit. Obviously you get a little bit more limited in the second half with who you play as you go through the preseason."
"He's doing really good. It's a natural position for him. We can play him at the deep safety. We can play him down in the box. I think his career's got a chance of taking off. That's where he really belongs."
- Kubiak, on how former cornerback Glover Quin looks at strong safety
"He's impressive. I tell you what, him and (Darryl) Sharpton right now have been very, very impressive. They have really taken to what we're doing and are doing really well."
- Kubiak, on ILB Xavier Adibi, who had two sacks against the Jets