Rookie linebacker Brian Cushing (56) and strong safety Bernard Pollard (31) both missed the Texans' practice on Thursday.
The Texans practiced without some key players on defense on Thursday as they continued to prepare for the San Francisco 49ers.
Flu-like symptoms for Pollard: Texans coach Gary Kubiak said after practice on Wednesday that safety Bernard Pollard did not practice due to flu-like symptoms.
"Pollard is sick on us today, so we sent him home," Kubiak said. "He came in this morning not feeling good, went in the meeting and started feeling worse, so we sent him home to get him started on getting him ready to go and getting him well."
Pollard has been a vital part of the Texans' surging run defense. He has 19 tackles in three starts at strong safety since signing with the team on Sept. 24. The Texans' run defense has allowed only 45.0 yards per game since Week 4, Pollard's first game in the starting lineup.
Will he be able to play on Sunday against the 49ers?
"I sure hope so," Kubiak said.
Cushing rests again: Rookie linebacker Brian Cushing was kept out of practice for the second consecutive day with a sore foot. The reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Week still appears to be on track to play against the 49ers.
"I'm encouraged," Kubiak said. "He's (been) taking all the mental reps, taking all the walk-throughs and stuff. He will practice tomorrow, and I feel good that he'll be ready to go. We're basically on the same pattern we were last week."
Last week, Cushing was limited on Wednesday and Friday and did not practice Thursday. It didn't affect his production on Sunday, as he racked up nine tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception against the Bengals.
Okoye on the rise: In the last four games, defensive tackle Amobi Okoye has 13 tackles, 1.5 sacks, two tackles for loss and two pass deflections.
At this point in the season, Okoye has 18 tackles. It took him until Week 16 to reach that mark last season. A 2007 first-round draft pick, Okoye already has exceeded his 2008 sack total (1.0) and equaled his number of tackles for loss.
"He's steadily playing his best football as a pro," Kubiak said. "I think there's still another level for him to find, but he's obviously playing with more confidence and playing better.
"He's been more active, more of a factor his past month than probably any time since he's been here. So that's very positive."
Honoring wounded warriors: The Texans will have their annual "Salute to the Military" day at Reliant Stadium this Sunday when the 49ers come to town. All five branches of the U.S. military – Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Marines – will be recognized at the stadium on Sunday.
Earlier this week, the Texans hosted 30 USO Wounded Warriors from the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio for a field day at the Methodist Training Center. Kicker Kris Brown, center Chris Myers, guard Kasey Studdard and receiver Glenn Martinez all participated in kicking, throwing and other football drills with the veterans.
"It was certainly an honor for me to be able to spend a little time with those guys and show them a little bit of what I do and what my position is," Brown said. "It's a small token of appreciation on behalf of myself and the organization for everything that they've done for our country. Those guys are really the true heroes of this country."
To read more about the Texans' time with the vets, click here.