Safety Ed Reed could play when the Texans open the season at San Diego on Monday night after returning to practice this week as he recovers from hip surgery.
"I don't want to say it can't happen because there's been such good progress,'' coach Gary Kubiak said. "So we'll see day to day.''
Reed was taken off the physically unable to perform list on Saturday and returned on a limited basis. He has been recovering from April surgery to repair a partially torn labrum.
The nine-time Pro Bowler, signed in the offseason, will practice in pads for the first time on Friday. Kubiak said he'll know more about his status for the opener in the next couple of days.
"He's come a long way,'' Kubiak said. "There's some progress that would have to be made to get him ready to go on Monday, but boy, has he made a lot of progress.''
Reed traveled to Vail, Colo., last month to visit the surgeon who performed the procedure on his hip. He received injections during the visit and went to Atlanta to continue his rehabilitation before rejoining the team. Kubiak was encouraged by the way Reed has moved around in Houston's three practices this week and is eager to see him work in pads.
If he plays on Monday, Kubiak noted that it will certainly be in a limited capacity since the 34-year-old did not see any work in a preseason game.
The Texans plan to start Shiloh Keo at free safety if Reed isn't ready to go against the Chargers. Keo was a fifth-round draft pick in 2011 who spent time on the practice squad that year before appearing in 14 games last season.
"Shiloh has a great command of what we do defensively so there's a lot of confidence in him at this point,'' Kubiak said, adding that he's much-improved. "I just think he's taken advantage of an opportunity.''
Also Thursday, Kubiak announced T.J. Yates will be Matt Schaub's backup at quarterback. Yates, who has filled that role the last two seasons, fought off Case Keenum for the job. Kubiak said they were both so good in camp that he couldn't have made a wrong decision on the spot.
"I think T.J. answered the bell,'' Kubiak said. "He got pushed and T.J. played as good as he's played around here throughout the preseason.''
He believes the pair will continue to compete throughout the season; something that he thinks will make the team better.