By Sam McPherson
Despite questions in the secondary, the Houston Texans are getting some good injury news this week as the team slowly returns to a good standing in the health department. Tied for the AFC South Division lead with the Indianapolis Colts, Houston hosts the offensive-minded New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
Two cornerbacks are questionable for this Week 12 matchup: Kareem Jackson’s ankle injury has kept him out of the last four games, but he may get the start on Sunday, while Johnathan Joseph is nursing both knee and wrist injuries. Considering the Saints like to throw the ball a lot, the Texans defense needs both these CBs to be on the field.
Both Jackson and Joseph were limited in Wednesday’s workouts. Meanwhile, some depth in the secondary will be lost with CB A.J. Bouye out for this game with a concussion. He was unable to participant in practice this week as he works through the league protocol for head injuries.
One Texans starter that has cleared the NFL concussion protocol is quarterback Brian Hoyer. He missed last week’s game against the New York Jets, and backup T.J. Yates did well enough in relief to keep the Houston winning streak intact. However, Hoyer has more capability and familiarity with the team’s personnel and playbook, and that means the Texans can survive a shootout with the Saints if need be.
The final injury concern centers around offensive tackle Derek Newton, who was a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice due to an elbow injury. However, Newton hasn’t missed a start this year, and he is probably a go for Sunday’s game. It might depend on Friday’s workouts, so this is one area to keep an eye on as the game approaches this weekend.
Otherwise, the Texans listed 12 players as completing the full workouts on Wednesday, and that dozen is probable for the game Sunday. This group includes Hoyer and also key players like linebackers Max Bullough (shoulder/hamstring), Jadeveon Clowney (wrist) and Akeem Dent (hamstring). This trio will come in handy against the Saints to slow down the New Orleans running game.
Offensively, running back Chris Polk (knee/hamstring) and wide receiver Nate Washington (hip) also are probable for the game Sunday, giving Hoyer a relatively full arsenal for taking on the porous Saints defense.
This is a great time for Houston to be getting healthier, with just six games left on the schedule. With a 5-5 record, the Texans need to bank this home win against a struggling New Orleans squad that doesn’t play very well away from home all that often. The two cities are neighbors, somewhat, but it’s a big difference for the Saints away from the Superdome.
If Houston wants to win nine games this season and have a good shot at winning the AFC South, this game is a must-win situation for them. Having the solid health returning to the team now is an excellent sign of positive things hopefully to come for the Texans.
Max Bullough, Linebacker (hamstring/shoulder)
Jadeveoon Clowney, Linebacker (wrist)
Akeem Dent, Linebacker (hamstring)
Brian Hoyer, Quarterback (concussion)
Chris Polk, Running Back (knee/hamstring)
Nate Washington, Wide Receiver (hip)
Kareem Jackson, Cornerback (ankle)
Johnathan Joseph, Cornerback (knee/wrist)
Derek Newton, Offensive Tackle (elbow)
A.J. Bouye, Cornerback (concussion)
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.