Texans rule out injured Brandin Cooks, Derek Stingley Jr. for Browns game

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 23: Wide receiver Brandin Cooks #13 of the Houston Texans warms up before a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on October 23, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images) (STEVE MARCUS, 2022 Steve Marcus)

The Texans will be shorthanded at wide receiver against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Texans veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks was officially ruled out due to a calf injury that prevented him from practicing Friday. Cooks was limited Thursday due to the injury.

Cooks leads the Texans with 44 receptions for 520 yards and one touchdown this season.

With Cooks out of the lineup, the Texans will lean on Nico Collins, Phillip Dorsett and Chris Moore as their primary wide receivers.

The Texans also ruled out rookie cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. as he’ll miss his third consecutive game with a strained hamstring.

Cooks became emotional at the NFL trade deadline due to his displeasure when it expired with no trade after the Texans held discussions with multiple teams with no deal reached primarily due to their asking price -- a second-round draft pick and a fourth-round selection, per league sources -- and his $18 million fully guaranteed 2023 salary.

Cooks rejoined the Texans after missing a game against the Philadelphia Eagles for personal reasons.

He has started the past three games, catching five passes for 59 yards against the Miami Dolphins, three passes for 70 yards against the Washington Commanders and four passes for 37 yards against the New York Giants.

Drafted third overall, Stingley, a former LSU consensus All-American, hasn’t allowed a touchdown pass all season and has provided sound coverage and tackling.

“Mild hamstring,” Texans coach Lovie Smith said. “Getting better.”

The Texans will have to match up against Browns standout wide receiver Amari Cooper without Stingley.

Stingley has been replaced at outside cornerback by Desmond King, starting opposite Steven Nelson with Tavierre Thomas filling in as the primary nickel.

Stingley has recorded 43 tackles, one interception and one sack, starting nine games for the 1-9-1 Texans. He has been targeted 53 times, allowing 34 completions for 409 yards and no scores.

Meanwhile, rookie linebacker Christian Harris is set to play Sunday. Harris injured his shoulder and didn’t return, but didn’t sustain any structural damage. He participated fully.

Texans rookie guard Kenyon Green (illness) participated fully and is also set to play Sunday. The first-round draft pick from Texas A&M, a former blue-chip recruit from Atascosita High School, said after practice Friday that he’s feeling much better after becoming nauseous Wednesday and not practicing Thursday.

Texans veteran running back Rex Burkhead is in the NFL concussion protocol. He participated fully and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.

Former Arizona Cardinals running back Eno Benjamin, inactive for the past two games since being claimed off waivers, could be active for the first time since joining the team.

Benjamin has rushed for 299 yards on 70 carries and scored two touchdowns this season, starting three games when Conner was injured. He has rushed for 417 career yards and three touchdowns, catching 30 passes for 226 yards.

“He’s the next option,” Smith said. “We want to get a look at him. It’s always about the next guy up. Things normally work themselves out where you deserve to get a chance, it happens. He’s been here a couple weeks now. It’s documented what type of football player. If we do need someone else to set up, it’s good to have a player like that in the hole ready to go.”

Aaron Wilson is a contributor to KPRC 2 and click2houston.com