Injuries: DeAndre Hopkins expected to sit out Sunday

The Houston Texans likely will finish out the season without their best player.

DeAndre Hopkins is expected to miss the first game of his five-year career due to a calf injury, NFL Network Ian Rapoport reported, per a team source. The 25-year-old injured the calf on Christmas and played through the issue.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, coach Bill O'Brien said he probably wouldn't know Hopkins' status until game time. The Texansface the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

Houston losing one of its few remaining playmakers is apropos for a season which saw the Texans ship J.J. Watt, Deshaun Watson, and Whitney Mercilus -- among 17 others -- to injured reserve over the course of the season.

Hopkins was in the midst of an All-Pro year, leading the NFL in touchdown receptions with 13 -- three more than the next closest player. Nuk entered Week 17 ranked second in the NFL with 1,378 yards, and fifth with 96 catches.

Despite playing with three different quarterbacks -- including Tom Savage and T.J. Yates -- Hopkins carried the Texans' passing offense. The next closest player to the wideout's 96 receptions is running back Lamar Miller with 36.

Hopkins was the lone bright spot in the Texans' blowout loss on Christmas night, hauling in an acrobatic touchdown that was perhaps the catch of the season. As he has his entire career, Nuk made the ridiculous look routine with his body-contortion, physicality, superior balance and sticky hands.

With the expected return of Watson in 2018, perhaps Hopkins' days of lifting inferior quarterbacks will be left behind in 2017.

Here are the other injuries we're monitoring on Thursday:

  1. Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said Melvin Gordon (ankle) was limited at practice.
  1. Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (ankle, thumb) told reporters he's good to go for Sunday's game against Panthers.
  1. Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (knee) sat out practice, but is expected to play Sunday.
  1. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday due to Achilles tendon and shoulder issues. He was limited. Running back Mike Gillislee (knee), however, sat out practice again.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't practice because of illness.

  1. Buffalo Bills wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin was back on the practice field after not taking part in Wednesday's session because of a knee injury.
  1. New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (neck) didn't practice for the second straight day. Rookie tight end Evan Engram (ribs) also didn't practice.
  1. Tennessee Titans running back DeMarco Murray (knee) sat out practice again.
  1. Ron Rivera said Carolina Panthers guard Trai Turner (concussion) is trending in the right direction for Sunday. Veteran safety Kurt Coleman (ankle) was limited at practice.
  1. Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee (ankle) and tight end Marcedes Lewis (ankle) both didn't practice. Wide receivers Keelan Cole (quad) and Allen Hurns (ankle) were limited.
  1. New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (hamstring) was limited again in practice. Safety Kenny Vaccaro underwent surgery to fix a severe core muscle injury from Dr. William Meyers, Rapoport reported, per a source. He is expected to fully recover, Rapoport added.
  1. Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner (hamstring), defensive end Michael Bennett (knee/illness), tight end Jimmy Graham (knee) and safetyEarl Thomas (knee) did not participate at practice.
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