The Texans made a roster move on Tuesday, activating tight end Anthony Hill from the reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list and waiving rookie defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard.
Hill, a fourth-round draft pick from North Carolina State in 2009, tore his ACL against the Seattle Seahawks last season. He played in five games as a rookie and had one catch for nine yards.
Sheppard, an undrafted free agent from Arkansas, played in one game this season after being called up from the Texans' practice squad on Oct. 25.
Running back Steve Slaton will return kickoffs again this week. He has alternated return duties with Jacoby Jones throughout the season.
Slaton, who grew up in the Philadelphia suburb of Levittown, Pa., returned the Texans' lone kickoff against the Tennessee Titans in Week 12.
"Steve has been practicing well and has done a good job, and he's going home," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "Hopefully, he'll bust one out there. He's done a good job. He deserves the chance to touch the football."
Daniels "pretty darn close"
Tight end Owen Daniels will return soon from a hamstring injury, but it might not be this week.
"He's doing really good," Kubiak said. "I would say (it's) pretty darn close whether he's ready to go Thursday with such a short week. It's probably 50/50 right now… He's done some scout team this week, and obviously we are not very physical in what we are doing this week, but I would definitely count on him next week. This week is still pretty touchy."
Daniels last played on Nov. 1 against the Indianapolis Colts. He aggravated his hamstring injury in warm-ups before that game.
"I know he's chomping to get back and finish his season and get back to where he was," Kubiak said. "I think we've done the right thing to get him totally healthy before goes back on the field."
Along with Daniels, players who sat out of Tuesday's practice were linebacker Xavier Adibi (hamstring), defensive end Jesse Nading (knee) and safety Torri Williams (hamstring).
Wide receiver David Anderson (hamstring), linebacker Brian Cushing (knee), wide receiver Kevin Walter (calf) and defensive end Mario Williams (groin) were limited in practice. Walter tweaked his calf in the game on Sunday but is expected to play on Thursday.