Derek Newton, who started 14 games for the Texans at right tackle last season, is expected to be sidelined by injury until training camp.
Newton had surgery this offseason to repair the patella tendon in his right knee, an injury that sidelined him for two games in December. The Texans added two offensive tackles in the 2013 NFL Draft in third-round pick Brennan Williams from North Carolina and sixth-rounder David Quessenberry from San Jose State.
"Newton's gonna miss the whole (spring) offseason," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said in his office at Reliant Stadium on Monday. "We've got a great opportunity, I guess is the best way to put it, for a young player to come in and see if he can step out there and help us early. (Williams) is gonna get a great chance, and of course we get (Quessenberry) in the sixth round."
The Texans used quarterback T.J. Yates as a reference for Williams leading up to the draft. Yates and Williams were teammates at North Carolina in 2009 and 2010.
"We pulled from T.J. a little bit on this kid, asking him some questions about him, and T.J. really stood up for him," Kubiak said. "He's got all the length, all the measurable that you're looking for. From the top three tackles in the draft, it was a huge draft from that standpoint, and it was like, 'Where is it going next?' We thought this kid fit, so we felt very fortunate to get him in the third."
Kubiak said the Texans expected Quessenberry to be drafted shortly after Williams went in the third round. When he was still there in the sixth, general manager Rick Smith decided to trade up eight spots to get him.
Newton, a seventh-round pick from Arkansas State in 2011, started last season after playing sparingly as a rookie. The Texans also finished 2012 with two rookies rotating at right guard in Ben Jones and Brandon Brooks.
"We played rookies on the right side the majority of the year," Kubiak said. "That was a big growing situation for us as a football team. I thought Newt did some really good things; he's gonna be a fine player. Unfortunately gets hurt late in the season and played hurt for us; giving him a lot of credit for that. We gotta get him back. It's gonna be training camp before he's healthy.
"The biggest thing you can do when you've got young players is give them reps. If they prove they can go in there and do it right off the get-go, that makes us a better team, so we'll see."
The Texans also re-signed reserve tackles Ryan Harris and Andrew Gardner earlier this offseason. Harris started two games last season while rotating approximately every third series with Newton.