The Texans entered training camp with a crowded backfield, but they'll likely be down three key running backs in their preseason opener against the New York Jets on Monday night.
Arian Foster, Steve Slaton and Ben Tate are all expected to miss the game because of hamstring injuries. Texans coach Gary Kubiak said on Saturday morning that his team's running back rotation will consist of Derrick Ward, Chris Ogbonnaya and newly-signed Javarris Williams.
"Tate just hasn't come along," Kubiak said. "Everybody thought he could – our trainers, our doctors – but he hasn't. So, we'll listen to him. Arian, we've been shooting for next week with Arian the whole time."
Foster wouldn't have played much anyway, since the Texans' starters will take only 10-12 snaps against the Jets. But each preseason game could be invaluable to Slaton and Tate, who are fighting for playing time and perhaps a spot on the roster.
Cornerback Johnathan Joseph sat out for the second consecutive morning with tightness in his groin. He received an injection on Friday and should return to action shortly.
After expressing disappointment with the secondary in Joseph's absence on Friday, Kubiak noticed improvement on Saturday.
"We were just better detailed today," Kubiak said. "We went three good days in pads and banged on each other, and then we took them off and we just didn't get the detail we needed to get yesterday. They came back today focused, but that's training camp. Good teams put good days back-to-back-to-back, and that's what we're trying to do now"
Kubiak continues to be impressed with second-year cornerback Sherrick McManis, a former fifth-round pick out of Northwestern.
"He has a really good camp going," Kubiak said. "He, Ogbonnaya and a couple of young players have been doing well… (McManis) is making plays on that side of the ball. He's got his hands on a few interceptions and he loves to hit, so his big positives come out once we start playing. He's a guy that loves contact and loves to stick his nose in there."
Practice on Saturday morning was the Texans' last of six camp practices that were open to the public. Several thousand fans showed up to watch the 8-10 a.m. session at the Methodist Training Center.
As he does at the last open practice of every camp, Kubiak had the entire team walk to the fence around the field and sign autographs for several minutes after practice.
"We haven't been able to give them their (annual) night practice because of some of the things we're doing schedule-wise and the new rules with the CBA, so I appreciate them coming out here in the heat," Kubiak said. "It helps players get going. They wake up and know they have a long day ahead of them, so I appreciate it."
Kubiak gave an update on inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who has been able to participate in practice throughout camp as he returns from an Achilles injury.
"That really is one of the tougher injuries in all football, but I think he's really done a good job of taking care of his business," Kubiak said. "Remember, it happened early last year (Week 6), so we've had our hands on him a great deal of time before the lockout. He has come back and come a long way. He's not where he needs to be yet, but I don't have any doubt he'll get there by opening day."
"Yeah, I thought he would've been last year. I really do. He's taking to what they are doing, very smart young man, strong, and the leg is coming around better every day. Yeah, I think there could be many, and hopefully he's one."
- Kubiak on if OLB Connor Barwin could be a breakout player this year
"I was coached really hard last year on footwork, on footwork and progression. So this offseason, even though I wasn't really sure where I would be, I really focused on that and what Coach (Greg) Knapp taught me last year: Getting the ball out on time and trusting my throws and trusting that the receivers are going to be there… I think it's helped me coming into camp."
- QB Matt Leinart, on his mechanics