Linebacker Brian Cushing was back on the practice field on Wednesday for the first time in a month after his four-game suspension for performance-enhancing substances ended earlier this week.
"It felt great," Cushing said. "Just the chance to go back out there, running around, have a helmet on, it doesn't even feel like I've missed a step. I'm feeling good, I'm feeling in shape and I'm ready to go for Sunday."
Cushing spent his suspension in New Jersey working out six days a week with his long-time trainer, Joe DeFranco. Texans coach Gary Kubiak was impressed with Cushing's conditioning, saying that he is physically "just like he would be opening day."
"We got him as many reps as we can," Kubiak said. "It's just getting back into talking with his teammates, scheme-wise and all those things. We worked with noise today to make it even harder on him. It's very good to have him back; everybody is very upbeat and glad to have him back on the football field."
Not surprisingly, Cushing said that he's proud of his teammates for starting the season 3-1 without him. He has watched tape of every Texans game twice and said he's 90-95 percent up to speed on knowing his defensive assignments.
"I think I'll be 100 percent come Sunday," he said. "It's just a matter of getting on the field about two or three times and really (ironing) it out. You can go over as many things as you want and go on a chalkboard and watch some film, but in order to fully be prepared, you have to go out there and do it on the field."
Wide receivers Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones sat out of practice on Wednesday. Johnson has a high-ankle sprain that kept him inactive in Week 4 at Oakland. Jones has a calf injury that sidelined him in the second half of the game.
"Andre actually ran pretty good here today," Kubiak said. "He did not work out with the team. I liked the way he ran around, and we're hoping tomorrow he takes same of his normal routes. But it was a step in the right direction today."
Jones did not run or do any other side-work at practice on Wednesday.
"He'll be day-to-day," Kubiak said. "Kap (director of sports medicine/head athletic trainer Geoff Kaplan) wants to keep him off of it. We'll probably come out here Friday and test him to see where he's at."
Free safety Eugene Wilson (hamstring), who was inactive at Oakland, practiced on a limited basis. Kubiak said that Wilson should be back this week if everything goes well.
Running back Derrick Ward was limited with what Kubiak termed "sore ribs." Ward also should be OK to play on Sunday.
Tight end Owen Daniels (hamstring) also was limited, although Kubiak said he's fine.
"I think we were smarter with him last week and I think it showed in his speed on the field," Kubiak said.
More reps coming
It appears that free safety Troy Nolan will see more time on the field this Sunday regardless of Wilson's status. Nolan made the most of his opportunity to play last week by recording two interceptions.
"When you're a backup, nobody really knows how you're taking care of your business until you get thrown in the fire," Kubiak said. "He got thrown in the fire the other day and obviously, he told everybody that he's been paying attention. He's going to play a lot. His reps are going to pick up… It's nice to know that he's fixing to help us big-time."
Quote of the day
"I feel like I have something to prove every time I step on the field. That's just my kind of attitude, the kind of way I play the game. Nothing's going to change. I'm sure some people are going to be looking for drop-offs and stuff like that, but nothing like that is going to happen. Come Sunday, I'll be right back out there again. I'm looking forward to it."
- LB Brian Cushing, on if he feels like he has something to prove this week