Texans left tackle Duane Brown suffered a left ankle injury in practice on Wednesday morning.
Brown was hurt on a running play during 9-on-7s when a teammate fell into his leg. He stayed on the field for one more snap before walking off under his own power. After trainers iced down his ankle on the sideline, Brown was carted across the street to Reliant Stadium for an MRI to determine the severity of the injury.
"He got rolled up, kind of got hit on the outside of his leg," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "It's part of football, unfortunately. We'll hold our breath. Hopefully, he's OK."
Brown, who's entering his fifth season and the final year of his rookie contract, was named second-team All-Pro in 2011 after allowing just 2.5 sacks. The Texans practiced in full pads on Wednesday at the Methodist Training Center.
"Hell, it's tough," Kubiak said. "You've got to battle to get better playing football; you've got to put these pads on and get after it to be a good team. You hold your breath every play. I'm just trying to sit here and think positive. I think the fact that he did play a few more plays, he did walk off the field on his own, is a positive sign, and hopefully I'll be smiling at 2:45."
Losing Brown for a significant period of time would be a major blow to the Texans' offense, which is already replacing two starters on the right side of the offensive line.
"Duane crosses that line from just being a good, solid player," offensive line coach John Benton said. "He's really an offensive weapon for us, so that really hurts (to see him leave practice). Hopefully, he's OK and he's back quickly."
Rashad Butler played the remainder of Wednesday morning's practice in Brown's place. Derek Newton worked as the starting right tackle.
Butler, who started four games at left tackle when Brown was suspended in 2010, is competing with Newton for the starting right tackle job. The seventh-year pro has been with the Texans since 2007 and was the team's backup swing tackle from 2009-11, so he has experience on both sides.
"Rashad's played in games for us at left tackle as a starter and he's done a good job," Benton said. "Full confidence he can handle the job out there. He and Newton were competing, and if they both have to be starters, then that's how we go."