Texans' Williams fractures vertebra on return, can move arms and legs

Updated: August 23, 2008, 10:22 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

IRVING, Texas -- Houston Texans receiver Harry Williams was taken off the field on a stretcher Friday night after being hit in the head during a collision with a teammate. He was trying to make a tackle on a kickoff return by the Dallas Cowboys.

[+] EnlargeHarry Williams
AP Photo/Matt SlocumTexans receiver Harry Williams is transported by medical staff after suffering a spinal injury.
Dr. Walter Lowe, a member of the Texans medical staff, told ESPN.com's Matt Mosley that Williams "was paralyzed on the field." Lowe said Williams started to regain "neurologic function" on his way to Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas and is now "almost normal."

Although Williams can move his arms and legs, he was diagnosed with a fracture of the C3 vertebra. He will have surgery to have two vertebrae fused this weekend. Dr. Drew Dossett, a member of the Cowboys' medical staff, will perform the procedure.

"Harry [Williams] was injured during a kickoff in the first quarter of the game," the Texans said in a statement released early Saturday morning. "On the field, he was alert, but paralyzed from the neck down. His spine was immobilized and he was taken in an ambulance to Presbyterian Hospital-Dallas for evaluation. During his transportation to the hospital, he began to regain feeling in his arms and legs. "At the current time, he has regained almost normal neurologic function. The evaluation at the hospital revealed a fracture of the C3 vertebra and a significant ligamentous injury to the neck. This injury will require surgical stabilization this weekend."

After the game, Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Williams was "doing well."

"There's movement through his body … feeling throughout his body," Kubiak said after Houston's 23-22 loss. "All the feedback is that Harry's going to be fine."

Kubiak said Williams' teammates "love that kid" and that while Kubiak was talking to Williams as he was being tended to on the field, Williams told Kubiak to tell his teammates to "win the game for me."

"Unfortunately," Kubiak said. "That didn't work out."

Williams spent most of last season on the Texans' practice squad, playing in only two games. He is considered a long shot to make the team as a receiver, but has been one of Houston's best special teams players in the preseason.

Texans tackle Eric Winston said the team was upset by the injury.

"It's a tough thing to shake off and keep playing," Winston said. "There were two or three plays where you couldn't even think about football.

"You hate to see it happen to a guy like Harry. He was battling his tail off to make the team. He was just doing everything he was supposed to be doing."

ESPN's Ed Werder and ESPN.com's Matt Mosley contributed to this report. Information from The Associated Press was also used in this report.