The Texans lost offensive tackle Rashad Butler to a season-ending triceps injury on Thursday night in their preseason finale at Reliant Stadium.
Butler, the Texans' top backup at left and right tackle, tore his right triceps in the second quarter. He missed the final 14 games of last season with a torn left triceps.
"He's finished; out for the year," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "(It's) unfortunate. Tough, tough deal."
Butler, 29, found out on Monday that he had lost the competition for the Texans' starting right tackle job to Derek Newton. The seventh-year veteran started at left tackle against the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday with the Texans' starters all getting the night off.
"It's tough," Kubiak said. "He comes back from the other injury, he battles, does a heck of a job. We obviously had a ton of confidence in him, giving him a chance to be our starter. That was very, very close. We go with Newton, he handled himself like a big-time pro with me and the team all week. He looked like to me was playing well, and then that happens. You're hurt for guys in this business that work their tail off and they get years taken away from them like that, because they're hard to come by."
Andrew Gardner is the most likely candidate to replace Butler, who had been the Texans' swing tackle since 2009. Gardner (6-6, 309), a third-year pro from Georgia Tech, has been listed as the Texans' backup left tackle all preseason.
A sixth-round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2009, Gardner also has had stints with the Baltimore Ravens, Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals. He spent most of last season on the Texans' active roster but appeared in just one game.
"He's played; he's done some good stuff, had a good camp for us," Kubiak said. "He's played some football in this league and obviously he moves up the ladder right there. It's a blow because Butler had been in that battle with Newton and that guy just seems like it's one thing after another. Just got to find a way to work through it."
Gardner, 26, said he is comfortable at either tackle position.
"It really doesn't matter," he said. "At this point in my career, I've played everything but center, and if they need that, I'll try to do that, too. You have to be ready to play whenever they need you. That's the way I prepared myself last year even though I wasn't the swing guy, and that's the way I prepared all preseason. If that's what they need me to do, then I'm ready to go."
Nathan Menkin, an undrafted rookie from Mary Hardin-Baylor, is the only other tackle on the Texans' roster. The Texans will cut their roster from 75 to 53 players on Friday.