A rare bit of rain in Houston pushed the Texans inside for practice on Thursday at the Methodist Training Center.
Inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans (elbow), who's also coming back from an Achilles injury, sat out of practice. It's unlikely that Ryans will play at San Francisco on Saturday after not practicing all week, but Texans coach Gary Kubiak has yet to rule him out.
"He wouldn't practice (anyway) today on the turf," Kubiak said on Thursday. "I wouldn't turn him loose. We'll see. We'll wake up tomorrow, see where he's at. Obviously, he hasn't had any work this week. That really doesn't scare me really as much as just that we do the right thing with him."
Ryans is the only Texans starter whose health is a question mark heading into Saturday's game. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph (groin) will make his Texans preseason debut against the 49ers, and all of the other starters are expected to play well into the third quarter.
The backup offensive line is another story. Guards Antoine Caldwell (ankle) and Shelley Smith (undisclosed) and tackle Rashad Butler (hamstring) are all nicked up. Guard Kasey Studdard (ankle surgery) is likely out for the season.
"It's a little nerve-racking right now," Kubiak said. "Obviously, our ones have been fine. Our second group is really our third group that we started camp with. It's been a struggle here the last couple weeks. It's a big game to get through hopefully healthy and play those young guys next week, but we're down in numbers."
Kubiak said that Butler, the Texans' backup swing tackle, is "fine" but probably will not play on Saturday. He did not practice this week.
Collins to the Colts
The Texans' Week 1 opponent, division rival Indianapolis, signed veteran quarterback Kerry Collins on Wednesday amid concerns about Peyton Manning's availability for the start of the season.
"I didn't even know until I got off the field yesterday, but he's a good player," Kubiak said. "He's played really well in this league, and obviously he's got some people there he's familiar with. He's a hell of a player. There's room for good players in this league."
Collins, 38, retired from the Tennessee Titans after last season. In 16 NFL seasons, he has thrown for 40,441 yards with 206 touchdowns and 195 interceptions.
Manning has yet to practice in 2011 after having neck surgery in the offseason. It's unclear whether he'll be available for the regular-season opener at Reliant Stadium.
"New life" for McCain
Third-year cornerback Brice McCain has had a strong training camp and preseason under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and defensive backs coach Vance Joseph.
"He's got new life – new group, new coaches," Kubiak said. "He's taking to what they're doing and he's just had a really good camp. He's had a chance to get his hands on a couple balls. He's made plays (and is) playing with a lot more confidence right now than he ended up last year."
McCain, one of the Texans' best corners in man coverage, was a sixth-round pick from Utah in 2009. He had an interception last Saturday against the New Orleans Saints.
"Oh, yeah. I feel at home on the football field. I don't care where they put me. They can put me at outside 'backer or somewhere, nose tackle. I just like to be on the field. I feel like if I can get on the field, I have a chance to make plays, and that's when I feel at home."
- SS Glover Quin, on if he feels at home playing safety