HOUSTON -- When the Houston Texans began this week's organized team activities Monday, the big story featured injured players and how soon they will be able to return.
Free safety Ed Reed remains in Colorado undergoing rehabilitation after arthroscopic hip surgery. The Texans are hoping he'll be full speed at the start of training camp at the earliest and two weeks into camp at the latest.
Inside linebacker Brian Cushing was riding the stationary bike next to the practice field Monday. He underwent surgery to repair an anterior cruciate ligament in October and vows to be 100 percent at the start of camp.
Right tackle Derek Newton began running last week. He's still recovering from surgery on a patellar tendon in his right knee. The Texans hope he'll be ready for the start of camp.
Outside linebacker Brooks Reed, who underwent surgery on his groin in January, is 100 percent and is participating in the OTAs.
Inside linebacker Darryl Sharpton is still recovering from a hip injury that caused him to finish the season on injured reserve. He was on the practice field Monday but couldn't go all out.
"We're going to be a little protective with him, keep him out of some special teams drills and stuff, but he's back to work," coach Gary Kubiak said.
With Ed Reed absent, rookie D.J. Swearinger, a second-round pick, is sharing time at free safety with Shiloh Keo, who is entering his third season.
Brooks Reed is getting a lot of time at Cushing's position. The coaches would like for another player to play well enough to start at strong-side linebacker so Brooks Reed can move inside.
"We know Brooks can line up outside and play tomorrow if we opened the season, so we're very concerned about getting him his reps inside from that standpoint," Kubiak said. "He's fine physically. He's a really sharp player, and he's got a bunch of it (the mental part) from phase two of the (offseason) program.
"We think it's best that he gets a ton of reps in the OTAs. It's better off if he gets them somewhere he hasn't played because we know he can always go back to the strong side."
With Brooks Reed working inside, a veteran and two rookies are competing at his strong-side position.
Bryan Braman, the Texans' best special teams player, is working with the first team. Rookies Sam Montgomery (third round) and Trevardo Williams (fourth) are behind him. The coaches would love for one of them to emerge as a starter.
Ryan Harris, a veteran who was the swing tackle last season, is running first team on the right side with Newton out. Rookie Brennan Williams, a third-round pick, suffered a minor knee injury in the rookie minicamp and isn't ready to challenge for the starting job.