The Houston Texans could soon be getting another playmaker back for their defensive line. Jonathan Greenard, who led the team with 8.0 sacks last season, returned to practice on Wednesday.
"We'll always find a spot for a good defensive lineman," Head Coach Lovie Smith said. "It's not like when you're the starter – our number eight lineman has probably gotten over 30 plays every game, so we'll find a way to get him into the mix once he's ready to go. We're not necessarily saying that (he will play). He has started the process. Today was the first day he has actually practiced with us. Wasn't a whole lot of hitting and things like that, a little lighter practice today."
The Texans opened their 21-day practice window for Greenard, who missed the last eight games and was on the Reserve/Injured list for seven games due to a torn calf muscle. Greenard said he felt encouraged by his first practice in nearly two months.
"Anytime I get to go back out there with the boys just to suit up again, I'm thankful for that opportunity because I honestly didn't think it was going to happen this year again," Greenard said. "But to get out there and be with the guys and still see the morale is high just for the love of the game, I'm just thankful I can even get a chance to step back out there."
The third-year defensive lineman had not played since Week 4 against the Los Angeles Chargers and was inactive for the Oct. 9 game at Jacksonville due to a separate injury.
Following the Texans Week 6 bye, Greenard returned and suffered a non-contact injury in practice. Greenard took two steps to his right and instantly felt the pop, fearing the worst.
"I honestly thought it was my Achilles at first," Greenard said. "Honestly, when it popped so I instantly thought that it was going to be some months until, thankfully, the doctors looked at the MRI and they said it was just a torn calf. So just got to be careful with it, you know what I'm saying? Those things with soft tissue. So I feel pretty good, just try to get my wind right and get back in football shape and see where it goes."
Through his four starts this season, Greenard recorded nine tackles (six solo), 1.5 sacks, five tackles for loss and three quarterback hits.
The Texans will travel to Dallas to face the Cowboys in Week 14. Sunday's kickoff from AT&T Stadium takes place at noon CT on FOX and SportsRadio 610.
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