McKinney, 31, joined the Texans in 2002 after spending his first four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.
The Texans lost several key players to injury against the Indianapolis Colts. Head coach Gary Kubiak announced the extent of their injuries and their likely replacements on Monday.
McKinney out for season: With word of Cedric Killings' steady recovery, the biggest news of the day was that starting center Steve McKinney tore the ACL in his left knee and is out for the season. McKinney, who has played in every game in Texans history, was named the starter after an offseason-long position battle with Mike Flanagan, a Pro Bowler in 2003 with the Green Bay Packers who now steps back into the starting role he held for nine games last season.
"That's why Mike's here," Kubiak said. "For us to keep two veteran centers on our roster was for this very reason. Now did we think Steve was going to be lost to a season-ending injury? No. But history told us that we would need them both to get through this season.
"Mike's been preparing to play. He's a veteran center; he knows what we're doing. And then we've got Chris White, a young kid that y'all know we all think a lot of, so his process will get elevated and those two will work, but Mike's ready to go."
Still, several players were stung by the loss of their teammate.
"Steve and I have been together for six years now, so we're not just teammates, we're friends," guard Chester Pitts said. "Obviously, it's rough and it's not what you want, but we all know it's part of the game. It's just how it works out sometimes."
"It's definitely tough," quarterback Matt Schaub said. "Any time you lose a player, especially for the season, it's a tough blow because he's been a big part of what we've been able to do here so far this season. He's a good blocker in the pass and in the run, so he'll be missed. But Mike Flanagan can step in and get the job done as well."
Green day-to-day: Running back Ahman Green is considered day-to-day after an MRI revealed no damage to his bruised left knee, injured on a hard hit in the season opener against Kansas City. Green did not return to the Colts game after struggling with the injury early in the first half.
Running back Ron Dayne looks good for the Atlanta game after sitting out Week 3 with a sore chest.
"As of today, I'd like to think that Ronnie is going to be fine and ready to go, so that would be a big positive," Kubiak said.
If Green cannot play on Sunday, Samkon Gado will again help replace him along with fullback Jameel Cook, who turned in an admirable performance at halfback on Sunday with five carries for 15 yards and two receptions for 12 yards.
"I would say he played well," Kubiak said of Cook. "He's a hybrid type of guy. He plays for us in the nickel, he's good in pass protection. I was pleased with the way he played and I think he would come back this week and play even better with more reps."
Jones out, Davis may start: With Andre Johnson still wearing an immobilizer on his left knee and rookie Jacoby Jones out with a separated shoulder, Andre' Davis may start at wide receiver against Atlanta after racking up 70 yards on four receptions against the Colts.
"I think that's a very good possibility," Kubiak said. "He showed that he's played before. He went in there and he was very effective, made big plays. He's got some speed. He has not been up because of the special teams; that's not a factor with him right now with our receiver situation, he's going to be up. So I think you're definitely going to see him more. Does he start this week? We'll see. We'll see how this week goes."
Johnson will probably come out of the immobilizer within the next two days, at which point the star receiver will be evaluated on a daily basis.
"I would think he's still doubtful as we go into this week," Kubiak said. "As far as Jacoby, it's going to be a week-to-week thing. We're hoping that it's a two-week process with him, but that's going to be a week-to-week deal."
The Texans are in need of another receiver with Jerome Mathis the only other healthy wideout on the roster. Kubiak said they are considering activating Harry Williams from the practice squad or re-signing Bethel Johnson, Keenan McCardell or David Anderson, all who were with the Texans through training camp and have a grasp of the offense.
Punt returning trio: Dexter Wynn and Mathis are likely to replace Jones at punt returner, while Jamar Fletcher may also get the opportunity.
"I would think they'll both do it," Kubiak said of Wynn and Mathis. "I would think Dexter would start doing it, but Jerome definitely has the ability to do that. We can also do it with Fletcher, too. We think he would do a very good job for us."
Jones, who says he never missed a game or practice while at Lane College, isn't happy about his injury.
"It's a big disappointment because I still want to play," he said. "I don't want to miss games. I'm not used to missing games and practice, so it's something I've got to deal with."
Part of the game:Kubiak noted a silver lining as he discussed moving on from the injuries.
"It's a very tough situation, but it is what it is and we've got to push through it," Kubiak said. ""Everybody in this league loses players. We've lost a few, we've had more than our share right now, but we're going to find a way to fight through it and we're going to be better when it's all said and done. These young kids are going to grow up and play well for us."
His players have gotten the message and are looking forward to the challenge ahead.
"It's just the nature of the business, and I think that's what makes a great team is if you have guys who can step up and play like starters," defensive end N.D. Kalu said. "And we'll see in Atlanta because we can't use an excuse, so we'll see what type of team we really are. This is a great chance for us to prove that we're a good team, not just a good starting 22."