In a surprising turn of events, Wednesday marked the return of Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud to limited practice, 17 days after suffering a concussion. Despite the positive development, Stroud, a star rookie, is still in the concussion protocol, leaving his availability for Sunday’s game against Tennessee uncertain.
Coach DeMeco Ryans provided insight after Wednesday’s workout, stating, “He’s in stage four of the concussion protocol, still has one more phase.” Stroud had been sidelined for the past two games following a concussion sustained in a December 10 loss to the Jets, where his head made contact with the turf in the fourth quarter.
Ryans expressed encouragement at Stroud’s return to practice, noting, “It’s encouraging to have C.J. back out at practice (Wednesday), it’s encouraging to see him.” He emphasized that Stroud is progressing in the right direction, lifting the spirits of the team.
Texans receiver Nico Collins commented on Stroud’s return, acknowledging the significance of his presence in practice. “Nobody wants to miss playing time – especially due to injury,” Collins said. “He knows what’s at stake right now and knows what we need. We need to pick up where we left off and focus on Tennessee this week – because it’s a big one.”
With the Texans (8-7) still in contention for both the AFC South title and a wild-card playoff spot, the outcome of Sunday’s game holds significant playoff implications. A loss would decrease their chances of reaching the postseason for the first time since 2019 to just 13%.
In Stroud’s absence, veteran Case Keenum has started the last two games, contributing to a crucial overtime win against the Titans two weeks ago but struggling in a loss to Cleveland last week. Davis Mills, the team’s starter for most of the past two seasons, also saw action. If Stroud can return on Sunday, it would provide a substantial boost to the Texans, as the second overall pick has been a driving force behind Houston’s improvement this season, amassing 3,631 yards and 20 touchdowns with just five interceptions.