Five Texans players have been ruled out of Sunday's game at Tennessee, including Pro Bowl cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who has hamstring and groin injuries.
Starting inside linebacker Bradie James (hamstring), right tackle Derek Newton (knee) and outside linebacker Brooks Reed (groin) also were ruled out on Friday afternoon, as was backup right guard Antoine Caldwell (hamstring). Cornerback Alan Ball, who started for Joseph last Thursday at Detroit, is questionable after sitting out Friday with a sore foot. He will be a game-time decision.
"It's come on pretty hard here over the course of the last two weeks and the amount of ball we've played in such a short period of time didn't help the cause, but that's part of the deal and we've got to work through it," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said on Friday afternoon. "We'll get an extra day of rest next week. That's part of this league. Each Sunday, how do you find a way to win? What do we have to go do this weekend to win? We've got a lot of young guys being put in a tough spot, but hey, that's what it's all about. We've had a good week, a good week of preparation."
If Ball cannot play, Brice McCain would start at cornerback opposite Kareem Jackson. Brandon Harris would be the Texans' nickel corner. Second-year cornerback Roc Carmichael also would be part of the defensive back rotation.
Ryan Harris will start at right tackle for Newton. Andrew Gardner will be the Texans' swing tackle behind Harris and left tackle Duane Brown. Darryl Sharpton, Tim Dobbins and Barrett Ruud will form a rotation at inside linebacker with James on the sideline. Rookie Whitney Mercilus will start at outside linebacker for Reed, who is out for at least a couple of games.
Kubiak said none of the injuries appear to be long-term.
"I think it's a day-to-day process," he said. "These guys will be much better served right now in the training room than trying to get a few reps of practice here or there. We've got a long way to go, and these guys are extremely important to this football team. We're just trying to do what's best for all of them.
"There is probably a pecking order of who is one, two, as far as who you think will come back first, but the key is they're all making progress. At this point on Friday this week, for us to set any of them back doesn't make any sense. We've got to get them back on this team."