HOUSTON – Just as Texans veteran wide receiver Noah Brown has manufactured a torrid two-game tear, he is sidelined with a knee injury that has prevented him from practicing.
Brown’s status for Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals is still being determined, but it’s a negative development that he was unable to practice Wednesday and Thursday. He has been working out on the side and is able to move fairly well. The Texans are preparing to play without him on Sunday, per sources.
Brown caught a career-high seven passes for 172 yards on eight targets against the Cincinnati Bengals during a 30-27 last-second win. His 22-yard reception helped set up kicker Matt Ammendola’s game-winning 39-yard field goal.
He caught all four of his deep targets for 121 yards, fourth-most in a game this season. He has 227 yards on six deep targets and a touchdown over the past two weeks, according to NextGen Stats.
And now Brown could miss a game.
“We’ll see,” Texans coach DeMeco Ryans said when asked about Brown’s availability this week.
Brown caught six passes for 153 yards in a comeback win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
He has combined for 13 receptions, 325 yards and one touchdown over the past two weeks.
For the season , he has 21 receptions for 439 yards with a 75-yard touchdown catch that tied for the longest touchdown reception of the season. And he has averaged 20.9 yards per reception. Since being activated from injured reserve with a groin injury, he has caught 18 passes for 419 yards and averaged 23.3 yards per catch with 15 first downs.
“Noah’s been outstanding,” Ryans said Monday. “He always seems to be open. Noah’s been a very reliable guy. He finds a way to make big-time plays for us week after week.”
Against the Bengals, Brown caught passes for seven first downs.
Against the Bengals, six of his receptions were for 20 yards or more.
“It’s been great having him back,” Ryans said. “He’s showing up big time for us and helped us to win these games over the past couple weeks.”
“The thing that sticks out to me about Noah is his consistency in OTAs and training camp,” Ryans said. “I could highlight Noah every day for running a route to the exact precision, exactly how it’s supposed to be ran. He’s been able to have career days in back-to-back weeks, just because he just goes out, he puts the work in, doesn’t say much. But he shows up in the crunch time and makes big plays for us.”
Signed to a one-year contract this offseason after playing for the Dallas Cowboys, Brown has made a lot of progress in the past five seasons.
“I wish y’all could have seen him three or four years ago,” said Texans tight end Dalton Schultz, a former Cowboys starter. “He’s been nose to the grindstone for every year that I’ve been with him. That guy loves ball just as much as anybody, but to actually put the work in and finally start to see some big-time payoffs. I’m so happy for the guy.”
Brown had a career-best 153 receiving yards and a touchdown on six catches against the Buccaneers. He had receptions on all six targets.
“He’s been working his (butt) off,” Schultz said. “I can’t say that enough. So to see him go out there and get that big game he’s been so deserving of the last few years, that’s awesome.”
A former Ohio State player, Brown is putting together his best season as a pro.
“He’s been really intelligent,” Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud said. “He is very smart. He comes from a different type of offense, but football is football, and he’s been able to just be a ballplayer. He feels coverage really well. He knows when to break. He knows when to cut things, and he blocks his tail off, too. I think that’s something he’s very, very great at, and that’s what kind of helps him get open in play-action and things like that. He’s been amazing. He’s been a safety blanket ever since he’s gotten back.
“And Noah has definitely been a leader in that room, and he’s not a man of many words, but he’s a leader of example, which is really helpful. He is very intelligent and very smart, and I’m really proud of him and can’t wait to keep playing with him. Really excited to see what he does for the rest of the year.”
Wide receiver Nico Collins practiced for the second consecutive game. He is set to go for Sunday’s game after missing the Bengals game with a strained calf.
Collins declared that he feels good and he will play Sunday.
“Oh yeah, for sure,” Collins said when asked if he will play. “I felt great. It felt good to be back out there and get my groove back. It’s a long season, got to maintain for all 17 weeks and continue to grow and stay healthy.”
Running back Dameon Pierce, a Pro Bowl alternate as a rookie last season, isn’t practicing due to an ankle injury that has kept him out the past two games. He is not expected to play Sunday, per a league source.
When Pierce returns, he will split time with Devin Singletary, per offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik, even though Singletary rushed for a career-high 150 yards on 30 carries with one touchdown against Cincinnati.
“Yeah, nothing has changed,” Slowik said. “I’ve kind of been saying this for a while. I really believe in having guys that can distribute carries. I think that keeps you fresh as the game keeps going, especially through the course of a season. I know ‘Motor’ had 30 carries last game. You have 30 carries in multiple games, that adds up fast, and we don’t want to put that on any one player, so it really won’t be any different than it was before. I know DP is working his tail off to try to get back as soon as he can. When that happens, we’ll roll.”
Safety and team captain Jimmie Ward remains out with a hamstring injury.
Starting linebacker Henry To’oTo’o remains in the concussion protocol and didn’t practice.
He’s expected to be replaced Sunday by Blake Cashman at Mike linebacker with Christian Harris at Will linebacker and Cory Littleton at Sam linebacker, per sources.
Backup linebacker Jake Hansen (hand surgery, hamstring) didn’t practice.
Tight end Brevin Jordan (foot, plantar fasciitis) returned to practice on a limited basis.
Starting fullback Andrew Beck practiced for the second day in a row after missing one game with ankle, elbow and shoulder injuries.
Wide receiver Robert Woods (foot) returned to practice and participated fully.
Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil participated fully. He is rested on Wednesdays due to a knee injury.
Defensive end Will Anderson Jr. (knee) participated fully along with defensive tackle Kurt Hinish (knee), offensive guard Tytus Howard (knee) and tight end Dalton Schultz (hamstring).
Defensive end Jonathan Greenard (shoulder), offensive tackle Charlie Heck (back), defensive end Jerry Hughes (back) and Steven Nelson (back, neck), Schultz (hamstring), offensive guard Tytus Howard (knee), offensive tackle Charlie Heck (back) and defensive end Jonathan Greenard (shoulder).
The following players were limited: safety Grayland Arnold (calf), Collins, offensive tackle George Fant (hip) and Jordan.
Aaron Wilson is a Texans and NFL reporter for KPRC 2 and click2houston.com