After putting together back-to-back weeks of spectacular football, catching a combined 13 passes for 325 yards and a touchdown in wins over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cincinnati Bengals, Noah Brown is questionable heading into Sunday’s home tilt against the Arizona Cardinals.
His 22-yard reception on the Texans' final drive against the Bengals was vital to setting up the eventual game-winning 38-yard field goal made by Matt Ammendola, gaining an extra 15 yards after the catch and helping the Texans to a 30-27 victory.
Brown hasn’t practiced with the team all week while dealing with a knee injury. His absence this week was supplanted by the return of Nico Collins, who missed the Bengals game with a calf injury.
Collins, who has put together a couple of career-high performances already as part of a breakout season for the fourth-year receiver, looked ready to go in practice this week. He’s hauled in 36 receptions on 54 targets for
631 yards and four touchdowns, ranks third in the NFL in yards per reception (17.5) and yards per target (11.9).
Despite missing Wednesday and Thursday’s workouts, Dameon Pierce was a limited participant on Friday. He’s missed the previous three games with an ankle injury.
Pierce has averaged just 3.0 yards per carry this season on 109 attempts for 327 yards.
Unable to sustain any type of success on the ground through the first nine weeks, the Texans seemed to figure something out on the ground. Devin Singletary, making his second straight start, rushed for 150 yards on 30 attempts and had five runs of at least 10 yards in their statement win over the Bengals in Week 10.
Offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik said Thursday that when the Texans get a healthy Pierce back, they’ll roll with a rotation to keep Piece, who became just the fourth running back in the NFL this season to carry the ball 30 times, fresh down the stretch.
“It really won’t be any different than it was before,” Slowik said. “I know DP is working his tail off to try and get back as soon as he can. When that happens, we’ll roll.”
The Texans are going to be without a stable of linebackers for Sunday’s game, as well. With the NFL levying a two-game ban on Denzel Perryman for an illegal hit against the Bengals, the group is also reeling with rookie Henry To’oTo’o missing practice all week with a concussion and Jake Hansen banged up with a hand and hamstring injury. They’ve both been ruled out for Sunday.
That leaves the Texans with just two healthy linebackers that have been regular contributors for the defense this season in both Blake Cashman and Christian Harris.
When the Texans are in their base 4-3 defense, they’ll have just Cory Littleton, Neville Hewitt and practice squad player Garrett Wallow to choose from.
Rookie edge rusher Will Anderson has been up and down all week dealing with a knee injury. He was limited Wednesday, a full participant Thursday, but did not participate in Friday’s workout.
Officially listed as questionable heading into Sunday, the Texans would most certainly miss his speed and athleticism off the edge to counter Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and his ability to extend plays and operate outside the pocket.
Veteran safety Jimmie Ward hasn’t practiced all week and has also been ruled out as he continues to deal with a hamstring injury. Ward, 32, will miss his fourth game this season.
DeAndre Houston-Carson filled in admirably against the Bengals, tallying seven tackles, intercepted Joe Burrow in the red zone in the fourth quarter, and made what DeMeco Ryans called the ‘play of the game' when he tackled receiver Tyler Boyd short of the end zone after a 64-yard reception on the Bengals final offensive drive of the game.