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Texans right guard Mike Brisiel is normally the quiet one who prefers to blend into the background.
But Brisiel was front and center Tuesday as he returned to practice for the first time since breaking his right leg three weeks ago against Cincinnati. All signs are pointing to Brisiel being able to give the Texans some meaningful snaps when they host Cincinnati on Saturday in the opening round of the playoffs.
His presence was a bit of a surprise though the hope when he had surgery to repair the fracture on Dec. 12 was that he could return to action in three to four weeks. He made it back on the low end just as safety Daniel Manning did when he suffered a similar break earlier in the season.
“Just working close with the rehab staff we’ve got,” Brisiel said of how he was able to return so quickly. “I’m not worried about it. I’m just trusting them and trusting myself. I’m confident.”
Having his experience and veteran leadership back should be a huge boost to the Texans offensive line, which has a struggled some since Brisiel went out during the Cincinnati game. The plan if all goes well is that Brisiel will be able to play 60 to 70 percent of the snaps Saturday with Antoine Caldwell filling in the gaps after starting the last three games.
“We missed Mike,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Tuesday. “Caldwell has played a lot of football but Mike is a big part of what we are doing and hopefully we will get them back.”
That seemed to be the shared sentiment among Brisiel’s teammates, as well, Tuesday. In addition to experience, Brisiel brings toughness and consistency that was missing during his absence.
“It means a lot because Brisiel has probably been the most consistent player from week to week in our room,” said left tackle Duane Brown. “He always grades out how and always has the correct assignment checks.”
While certainly flattered, the normally reserved Brisiel seemed a little suspicious at the praise heaped on him by Brown.
“Don’t believe him. Don’t believe anything he says. He’s the one who got snubbed,” said Brisiel, referencing the fact Brown was left off the Pro Bowl team last week. “He’s had a heck of a year. He’s just trying to pass the puck over to me a little bit.”
Still Brisiel was pleased to know his presence means so much to his fellow offensive linemen and teammates.
“It makes me feel good,” he said. “I try to come out and work hard every day and try to keep forward every day and for them to say that means a lot.”
Their confidence seemed rooted in the way in which he goes to work every day. And that confidence probably only grew after it became obvious Brisiel likely played an entire half of football with that broken leg and didn’t complain at all.
“I think it says a lot about him,” said offensive coordinator Rick Dennison. “He played the dog gone half the game like that. He’s always shown to be very resilient and very tough. He don’t say much and just keeps it working.”
Even now, Brisiel seems reluctant to even acknowledge the pain he must have been in during the Cincinnati game.
“I can’t tell you,” he said when asked how he played a half with a broken leg. “That was a while a ago and I don’t remember to tell you the truth.”
He wasn’t much more elaborate about his obviously high threshold for pain.
“I’m too busy getting my butt whooped out there to worry about how much pain I’m in,” Brisiel said.
All he knows is he feels much better now and he anticipates feeling even better by the time Saturday gets here.
“I can’t give a percentage,” Brisiel said.”I just know every day I get better and I will continue to get better. Saturday at (3:30) is when I should be 100 percent.
“I’m ready. I’m excited. The whole Texans organization is excited.”