Texans guard Wade Smith was excused from a light practice on Tuesday morning. Head coach Gary Kubiak said he gave Smith a "personal leave of absence" to deal with family issues.
Tight end Owen Daniels and linebacker Xavier Adibi, who have been battling hamstring injuries, practiced for the second consecutive day.
Wide receiver Andre Johnson, defensive end Mario Williams, right tackle Eric Winston and right guard Mike Brisiel sat out of the Texans' light practice on Tuesday morning. Kubiak called Johnson and Williams "day-to-day" but expects them to return on Thursday.
"Andre has not even made a trip over here to the field," Kubiak said. "I've kept him inside (for rehab). Mario is over here and participating in the walkthroughs and those types of things. I don't see any reason why they are not ready, but we'll see where we're at come Thursday or Friday. We'll get going with their routine on Thursday."
Kubiak on Johnson: "Absolutely amazing"With the help of painkilling shots before – and sometimes during – games, Johnson has been playing through a high-ankle sprain since Week 2. Despite sitting out in Week 4 at Oakland, he ranks fourth in the NFL with 71 catches and 1,018 receiving yards.
"I think he's been absolutely amazing," Kubiak said. "I think it's kind of flown under the radar. This guy has played with a hurt ankle all year long, except for opening day. He's missed a game-and-a-half, really played limping around for almost a month, and yet he's sitting there in the top four or five guys in the league as a receiver. I'm amazed. I really am. I'm surprised more people haven't said things about it. For him to give it up for his team has been incredible."
Johnson aggravated his ankle injury against the Cowboys in Week 3 and at Philadelphia last week. Both times, he missed only a handful of plays before returning to finish the game.
"I just try to do everything I can to help the team win games on Sunday," Johnson said. "That's pretty much it. I'm going to do whatever I have to do as far as rehab. I can deal with the pain. I'm just going to go out there and keep playing. It doesn't matter how many times I re-tweak it or whatever, I'm going to keep playing. The only thing that's going to keep me from playing is if it's broken."
Johnson trails Broncos wideout Brandon Lloyd by 135 yards for the league lead in receiving. He has a chance to join Jerry Rice (1993-95) as the only players ever to lead the NFL in receiving in three consecutive seasons.
Roster shufflingThe Texans made three roster moves on Tuesday, placing defensive end Jesse Nading on injured reserve, signing free agent safety Quintin Demps and adding defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard to their practice squad.
Nading injured his left knee against the New York Giants in Week 5. He finished his second season out of Colorado State with nine tackles and 0.5 sacks in five games.
Demps, 25, was a fourth-round pick out of UTEP by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2008. He had 12 tackles, one sack and one interception in two seasons in Philadelphia, where he also returned kickoffs as a rookie. He played for the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League earlier this season.
Before signing Demps, the Texans had only three safeties on their active roster: Bernard Pollard, Eugene Wilson and Troy Nolan.
The right attitudeThe Texans have lost five of their last six games, mostly in heartbreaking fashion. At 5-7, they're still alive in the AFC South race, and Kubiak is impressed with the players' attitude.
"They're excellent," Kubiak said. "Confidence-wise, obviously, when you've lost a few close games, it's not the same from that standpoint. As far as our work and how we're doing things, we're fine. Their heads are up. They would like to play today. It's going to be a long, long week before we step on the field again. We have to keep it in perspective and get ready to go on Monday."