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Texans’ CJ Stroud returns as limited participant in practice

HOUSTON — Houston Texans quarterback CJ Stroud returned as a limited participant in practice after missing the last two games with a concussion.

Texans coach DeMeco Ryans said Stroud is in “phase four” of the concussion protocol and has one more phase to go.

“It’s encouraging to have CJ back in practice today,” Ryans said. “It was encouraging to see him. It’s a morale booster for everyone to see him back, healthy and progressing in the right direction. Happy about that.”

Stroud suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter of the Texans’ Week 14 loss to the New York Jets. He entered the concussion protocol and did not practice or play for two weeks.

In Stroud’s absence, the Texans went 1-1, beating the Tennessee Titans 19-16 in Week 15 and losing 36-22 to the Cleveland Browns in Week 16.

Case Keenum started two games in place of Stroud and threw one touchdown with three interceptions. Keenum was on the bench for Davis Mills against the Browns in the fourth quarter, and Mills threw two touchdowns.

The Texans are in a three-way tie with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South as they sit at 8-7. The Texans are also the No. 8 seed in the AFC, so they’ll hope Stroud returns as they battle for the playoffs.

Before Stroud suffered a concussion, he led the league in passing yards (3,631) and threw 20 touchdowns to five interceptions. Entering Week 14, the Texans offense with Stroud ranked 10th in scoring (23.8 per game) and sixth in total offense (373.1). Without him, the offense averaged 295 yards and 17 points per game.

For Week 17, the Texans host the Tennessee Titans as they attempt to stay afloat in both the AFC South and the wild-card race. The Texans control their destiny for the rest; if they win against the Titans and Colts, they will make the playoffs.

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