Outside linebacker Geno Hayes, relegated to special teams duty in a 27-16 loss at New Orleans, will return to the field for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense against Houston on Sunday.
Hayes will play defensive snaps against the Texans, head coach Raheem Morris said, but the club's second-leading tackler behind middle linebacker Mason Foster won't start for the second consecutive week.
Adam Hayward, Foster and Quincy Black are expected to open at linebacker for the Buccaneers, who have lost three of their past four games to fall to 4-4.
"Geno had a nice day of practice today and hopefully it's a wake-up call to get him back on the field and get him going again,'' Morris said after Wednesday's practice. "We just had too many uncommon, consistent issues the previous weeks that I wanted to get across to him.
"We'll get him out there in a part-time role this week and see what he can do. Hopefully, we can develop a nice competition at linebacker.''
Also, Jeremy Zuttah (knee) has improved to the point where he may start at left guard Sunday, Morris said, replacing Ted Larsen.
WR Mike Williams (thigh), S Tanard Jackson (hamstring) and DT Frank Okam (calf) did not practice for the Bucs on Wednesday and TE Kellen Winslow was excused.
Texans coach Gary Kubiak said in a conference call that Pro Bowl WR Andre Johnson might play against Tampa Bay after missing five games with a hamstring injury that required minor surgery.
"Andre's progress has been excellent over the course of the last four days,'' Kubiak said, "and he's running pretty much close to top-end speed. There's an opportunity, but at the same time, we're going to be very smart. We're going to make sure he's 100 percent before we send him back out there.''
While the Bucs have held a halftime lead only 10 times during Morris' 40-game tenure, the Texans are outscoring opponents 148-45 through the opening two quarters this season. …Led by a dynamic ground game, Houston leads the NFL in average time of possession (33:43). …RB Derrick Ward, a free agent bust in Tampa, is in his second year with the Texans, backing up Arian Foster and Ben Tate. …Michael Koenen of the Bucs is the NFL's only punter ranked in the top four in net average (41.6) and most punts placed inside the 20-yard line (16).