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By Dave Thomas

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 10:  Head coach Gary Kubiak of the Houston Texans looks on in the first half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 10, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

(Credit, Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The reported return of head coach Gary Kubiak to the sidelines this Sunday will hopefully spur on a Houston Texan team that is desperate for a win.

Kubiak, who suffered what was described as a “mini-stroke” two weeks ago at halftime of his team’s match up with Indianapolis, will reportedly be roaming the sidelines at Reliant Stadium when the Texans host the Oakland Raiders Sunday afternoon.

Heading into the contest, the Texans sit at 2-7, one game back of the 3-6 Raiders in the overall AFC standings. While neither team has any realistic shot of making the playoffs as a wild card, both have something to prove come Sunday.

For the Texans, they quite simply just want a victory to give them something to feel good about. After winning two close games (San Diego, Tennessee) to start the season, Houston has proceeded to drop seven straight contests, among which include blowout losses to Baltimore, San Francisco and St. Louis. Couple in the fact that there have been some major injury issues (see below) along the way, and you have a season that has gone from hope and promise to dismay and quite frankly doom.

Injuries Continue to Mount

One of the staples of Houston’s success in recent years has been the ability to run the ball, most notably through the arms and legs of Arian Foster.

Banged up and hobbled in recent weeks, Foster underwent back surgery earlier in the week. Not having Foster (542 yards rushing through eight games) available to carry the ball puts more emphasis and pressure on back Ben Tate (56 yards rushing last week). The pressure is also increased on young quarterback Case Keenum, who now does not have one of the top backs in the game (when healthy) at his disposal.

In a 27-24 loss last Sunday in Arizona, Keenum was 22-of-43 for 201 yards and three TDs. Not bad numbers for a guy who had not started a game prior to this season, but not good enough to get his team over the hump. With veteran QB Matt Schaub carrying a clipboard now, the job and pressure squarely falls on Keenum to deliver the team’s first win since Week 2 of the season.

Meanwhile, Houston’s defense will have to hold Oakland and quarterback Terrelle Pryor to limited gains and points if they have hope of winning this Sunday. In their last five games, Houston has been outscored 143-80.

If Houston is to get off the snide against the Raiders, some healthier bodies would certainly help.

Along with the loss of Foster, the Texans lost talented linebacker Brian Cushing a few weeks ago to a season-ending knee injury. That marked the second straight season that Cushing was done before November play.

As of Thursday’s injury report:

Did not participate 

  • Tight end Ryan Griffin (concussion)
  • Corner back Kareem Jackson – (chest)
  • Punter Shane Lechler (flu)
  • Corner back Elbert Mack (hamstring/groin)
  • Inside linebacker Joe Mays (knee abdomen)
  • Inside linebacker Mike Mohamed (hamstring)

Limited participation 

  • Inside linebacker Darryl Sharpton (foot/toe)
  • Guard Wade Smith (knee)
  • Running back Ben Tate (ribs)

Full participation 

  • Guard Brandon Brooks (toe/knee)
  • Tackle Andrew Gardner (knee)
  • Guard/center Ben Jones (chest)
  • Safety Shiloh Keo (Achilles/hamstring)
  • Wide receiver Keshawn Martin (shoulder)
  • Corner back Brice McCain (hip)
  • Tackle Derek Newton (knee/elbow)
  • Wide receiver DeVier Posey (hip)
  • Defensive end J.J. Watt (elbow)

For more Houston Texans news and updates, visit Houston Texans Central.

Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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