HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) — The Texans are slowly but surely shoring up their injured offensive and defensive lines.
Right tackle Derek Newton (hamstring) will play in next Sunday’s season opener against the Chicago Bears in NRG Stadium, per Texans head coach Bill O’Brien.
O’Brien also said J.J. Watt (back) is making significant progress and could be ready for Week 1. The third-year coach also hinted injured left tackle Duane Brown (torn quad) won’t open the 2016 NFL season on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list.
Newton dressed for Thursday’s preseason finale, a 28-17 Houston win over the Cowboys. He just returned to practice in a limited role this past week but O’Brien said he should be at full speed for game week.
“Derek should be ready to go, practice this week and then playing in the game,” O’Brien said.
“I don’t think he can play the whole game. We’ll have to see how many steps, see how he does in practice and be ready to rotate him during the game. Even though he wasn’t practicing, he was able to condition and able to run, so hopefully he’s prepared from that standpoint.”
O’Brien certainly sounded optimistic about the star defensive end’s status with nine days until a highly-anticipated Texans season gets underway.
“I think the arrow is pointing toward [a Week 1 return], I would say we’re headed in the right direction with [Watt],” O’Brien said.
“He feels much better than he did, say, two weeks ago. I don’t think we’re at the point today where we’re going to active him right now, but I know that it looks decent for him to be able to play in the first game.”
Brown hasn’t practiced, much less played since tearing his quad tendon against Jacksonville in the final game of the 2015 regular season. The longest-tenured Texan indicated after the Arizona preseason game that he is confident a return is imminent.
The way O’Brien spoke on Friday, it seems unlikely the Texans would put him on the PUP list, which means Brown would miss a minimum of six games.
“I don’t really have an update, but I know Duane’s doing better,” O’Brien said. “I’ll be able to give a better answer on him relative to the Chicago game later this week.”
While the Texans are still cutting the roster down to 53 players, that’s not the talk of a coach preparing to play two months without the franchise left tackle.
Houston wrapped up a 4-0 preseason this week and may be getting their stalwarts in the trenches back just in time for the games that count.