NOVEMBER 25: Finally, some good news for the Texans’ interior offensive line. After season-ending injuries to Quessenberry and Kenyon and Kendrick Green, and Patterson, the substitute starter at center, getting carted off with a broken fibula, nearly a month ago, Houston is finally getting some reinforcement. The team announced that they have officially activated Scruggs from injured reserve, allowing the second-round rookie to finally be available to potentially make his NFL debut. Whether or not he plays or starts has yet to be determined. He has only been back at practice since Wednesday and is trying to unseat the team’s fourth option at center, Dieter, who currently ranks as the NFL’s 23rd-best center, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
In order to make room for Scruggs on the active roster, the Texans have waived linebacker Garret Wallow. Wallow spent most of this year on the practice squad after being waived halfway through his rookie contract in the preseason. The former fifth-round pick started five games in his first two seasons but only made an appearance this year when he was promoted to the active roster a week ago. If he clears waivers, Wallow will almost certainly be retained on a practice squad contract.
Lastly, the Texans announced that cornerback Desmond King and wide receiver Steven Sims have been activated from the practice squad as standard gameday elevations for tomorrow’s divisional matchup against the Jaguars. King has appeared in three games this year for the Steelers after spending the past two seasons in Houston as a starter. The Texans brought him back to their p-squad this week. Sims was elevated last week and caught both his targets for 25 yards. Sims also took punt returner duties, fielding two for 16 yards.
NOVEMBER 22: Juice Scruggs has endured a long journey back from the hamstring injury he suffered during the preseason. The second-round Texans draftee has not yet made his NFL debut, despite his injury occurring in the team’s preseason finale.
The Texans have finally designated the Penn State product for return Wednesday, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson tweets. Scruggs, who was moving toward being the Texans’ starting center during training camp, now has three weeks to be activated from IR. No activation in that span will make this a true redshirt year for the high-end interior O-line prospect.
Making multiple trades for O-linemen in August, the Texans have also seen long-term injuries affect their front. Projected guard starter Kenyon Green is out for the season, and trade pickup Kendrick Green joins him on season-ending IR. The team’s primary center starter last season, Scott Quessenberry, suffered season-ending injuries — ACL and MCL tears — early during training camp. That paved the way for Scruggs, but his hamstring setback has thus far defined his rookie year.
The Texans will give the No. 62 overall pick a chance to change that soon. Houston has also dealt with center availability issues in-season. Jarrett Patterson started seven games this season, but the sixth-round rookie is on IR after being carted off the field in Week 8. Free agent pickup Michael Deiter resides as option 4 for the Texans; the ex-Dolphins third-rounder has started the past three games at center.
Houston has just two IR activations remaining this season. It stands to reason Scruggs will be given a shot to come back. Though, the 6-4 team is contending for a playoff spot. A key performer going down with a short-term injury now could still be brought back later this season, but the ascending team may need to keep players on the active roster in the event of multiweek injuries going forward. DeMeco Ryans‘ previous team ran into this issue, with the 49ers using all their IR activations during the 2022 regular season.
Scruggs has already needed to overcome obstacles to keep his career going. A 2019 car accident left his playing future in serious doubt. The 6-3, 315-pound blocker earned third-team All-Big Ten honors in 2022, cementing his status as one of the top interior linemen in this year’s class.