Texans inside linebacker Darryl Sharpton tore a tendon in his quadriceps on Sunday and will miss the rest of the season.
A second-year pro out of Miami (Fla.), Sharpton was injured early in the second quarter of the Texans' 24-14 victory over Jacksonville at Reliant Stadium. Coach Gary Kubiak called it "a very strange injury" and said that Sharpton will need to have surgery.
"He's a very physical player," Kubiak said. "He's been playing really well for us on special teams. The hard thing is – and I went out on the field and I can picture his face right now – the only thing that can hold him back from being a heck of a player in this league is injury... He's a reckless player and his body gets nicked and stuff but he always plays through it, and then I'll be darned, this happens to him. I just feel so bad for players like that."
Sharpton had nine tackles in the first seven games. He had been rotating with starting Mike linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who is still working his way back from last season's Achilles injury and a preseason elbow injury.
Ryans played as much as he had all season on Sunday and recorded four tackles.
"We've been giving him a break with Sharp, and Sharp has been playing very well," Kubiak said. "DeMeco continues to come along physically… Obviously, we're going to ask him to take his full load back, and we may have to do some things as a team to get him some help in here defensively because we're going to be another body short."
Tim Dobbins, a sixth-year veteran, is the Texans' only remaining healthy backup at inside linebacker.
This is the Texans' third season-ending injury in the last four weeks. Pro Bowl outside linebacker Mario Williams went out in Week 5 with a pectoral injury, and safety Dominique Barber suffered a broken leg one week later. Wide receiver Andre Johnson, fullback James Casey and free safety Danieal Manning also have been injured over the last five games.
"It's been one a week for us," Kubiak said. "I think it's five weeks in a row now. We've got some challenges ahead of us… What's it been, three starters and arguably our best special teams player (Barber)? And then here goes Sharpton. It's been tough, but our expectation is the next guy goes in and we've got to keep playing."