Starting right guard Mike Brisiel suffered a lower-leg fracture against the Cincinnati Bengals and had surgery on Monday morning, but the Texans hope he can return this season.
Texans coach Gary Kubiak said it was the same injury that free safety Danieal Manning had earlier this season. Manning missed four weeks – three games and a bye – with a fractured fibula. Brisiel, one of the Texans' toughest players, was injured in the first half on Sunday but still played the rest of the game.
"He had some lower leg pain, and it ends up being exactly what Danieal Manning did," Kubiak said. "Hopefully, we can be as lucky with him as we were with Danieal. He's doing fine. The surgery went well; it was exactly like Danieal's. The prognosis is that hopefully he can be back on the field in 3-4 weeks if everything goes smooth, so that's where we're at."
Antoine Caldwell will start for Brisiel, who ended the last two seasons on injured reserve but has not missed a game this season. The Texans' offensive line has featured the same five starters every week, helping the team lead the AFC in rushing with 151.9 yards per game.
Caldwell, a third-round pick out of Alabama in 2009, started three games as a rookie and seven games last season. He suffered a high-ankle sprain in the preseason but has been the Texans' sixth offensive lineman every Sunday.
"He's been through a lot of nicks this year, too, himself," Kubiak said. "He has had six, seven, eight good weeks of work. He's always pushed Mike for that job. They split time in the past, so it's time for him to step up and play. He's been working very hard. He's played with the group before, so they know he can come in and do a good job."
Veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason, 37, was released by the Texans on Sunday. The Texans traded a conditional draft pick to the New York Jets for him on Oct. 11. He had six catches for 55 yards in seven games in Houston.
"Really, that stems from some other issues that we have on the team for me," Kubiak said. "I appreciate what Derrick did. He was a true pro with me, did a hell of a job for us. But we've got some issues going on... I'm concerned about our special teams as we move forward from a standpoint of depth and guys contributing on gameday."
The Texans lost cornerback/kickoff returner Sherrick McManis to an ankle injury in the second half at Cincinnati. Kubiak said McManis could miss time and indicated the Texans will sign either Jeff Maehl or Trindon Holliday from the practice squad to be a fourth receiver and contribute on special teams.
Kubiak did not provide much new information on All-Pro wide receiver Andre Johnson, who sat out Sunday's victory with a left hamstring injury. Last Friday, Johnson said he didn't know if he would play in Week 15.
"If I could, I'd have Andre back this next week," Kubiak said. "I think he needs to play, needs to get back in the flow of things before we do get to January, but we've got to be smart here. I mean, he did nothing last week, basically – a little running in the pool. We'll increase that this week. Where we'll be, I don't know. We'll do the smart thing, but we do need to get him back on the field. We need some field reps."