By Sam McPherson

Six different players appear on the Houston Texans injury list this week, all marked as questionable for Sunday’s Week 3 home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, But of course, the one player that everyone has their eyes on is running back Arian Foster. The Texans desperately need him back in order to make their offense click.

The backup running backs haven’t been able to do enough in his absence, and the defense has struggled as well with the team off to an 0-2 start in 2015. Houston hopes to reverse its fortunes on Sunday against a rookie QB from Tampa Bay. To do that, the Texans need to be healthy.

Foster was a limited participant in Thursday’s practice as tries to recover from groin surgery, but the All-Pro RB is still not back to 100 percent. He could be a game-time decision on Sunday. However, with current third-string back Jonathan Grimes also listed as questionable and missing workouts on Thursday with a knee problem, the Texans could be down to just two healthy running backs for Week 3: Alfred Blue and Chris Polk.

The offensive line also has had its injury issues, although things may be looking up there. Guard Xavier Su’a-Filo (calf) was limited in practice this week, while tackles Chris Clark (knee/elbow) and Derek Newton (knee) were full participants. If the line can stay healthy, that certainly helps the running game.

With an unsettled quarterback situation, the Houston offense needs a potent rushing attack. That may not happen this week, meaning either Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett will once again carry a heavy burden come game time. Add to the situation that backup tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz was limited at practice this week due to his own knee problems, and the offense could be down to one healthy tight end (starter Garrett Graham).

Finally, explosive wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins still is making his way through the NFL’s concussion protocols, although the Texans expect him to be ready to play on Sunday. With brain injuries, however, you never really know. If Houston is without all four of these offensive “questionables” against the Bucs in Week 3, it could be a long day for the Texans QB.

On defense, there is little new to report, other than both linebacker Mike Mohamed (calf) and free safety Lonnie Ballentine (knee) were listed as questionable despite not practicing this week again. There’s little chance either player will see the field on Sunday against Winston and the Bucs offense.

The Texans are 0-2 after somewhat-close losses to the Kansas City Chiefs and the Carolina Panthers. They don’t want to fall to 0-3, because that all but signals a non-playoff season ahead. However, if the Houston staff can’t get Foster ready soon, it may be another long season for the team and its fans.

Questionable:
Lonnie Ballentine, Free Safety (knee)
C.J. Fiedorowicz, Tight End (knee)
Arian Foster, Running Back (groin)
Jonathan Grimes, Running Back (knee)
DeAndre Hopkins, Wide Receiver (concussion)
Mike Mohamed, Linebacker (calf)

Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf, hockey and fantasy sports for CBS, AXS and Examiner. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach.

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