The Texans have signed free agent linebacker Barrett Ruud and practice squad guard Cody White, released kick returner Trindon Holliday and placed linebacker Brian Cushing on injured reserve.
Ruud (6-2, 241) will help the Texans try to replace Cushing, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on Monday. The 29-year-old Ruud, an eighth-year veteran, started 77 games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans from 2006-11. He was released by the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 8.
"We thought a lot of him as a player as we've studied him in the past," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "We felt fortunate to get him signed."
Ruud had four consecutive 100-tackle seasons in Tampa from 2007-10. He ranked fifth in the NFL with 136 tackles in 2008 and tied for second in the league with 142 tackles in 2009. He had 57 tackles and an interception for the Titans last season before being placed on injured reserve with a groin injury on Dec. 13. He signed with the Seattle Seahawks in April and was traded to the Saints in August.
"It's going to be fun to come here to a team that's really got things rolling right now," Ruud said. "Physically, I feel great. I feel like I can play right now physically. It's just a matter of learning what I'm supposed to do... It's just going to be a lot of cramming the playbook for me."
White, an undrafted rookie from Illinois State, was activated after another team expressed interest in signing him to its 53-man roster. The Texans recently lost practice squad running back Jonathan Grimes to the New York Jets and did not want to let White (6-3, 301) get away.
Holliday had 10 kick returns for 194 yards (19.4 average) and 16 punt returns for 147 yards (9.2 avg) in five games. The Texans rank last in the NFL with 17.6 yards per kickoff return. Rookie wide receiver Keshawn Martin, an All-Big Ten kick returner at Michigan State, will take over for Holliday on returns.
Kubiak called it a "tough decision" to release Holliday, who returned three kicks for touchdowns in the preseason.
"As you move through the season, you have issues at one spot or another," Kubiak said. "We're carrying 11 defensive backs right now. We had six wide receivers, so we have to go pull from somewhere, so that's the place we chose to go. By no means is it a statement of what we thought of Trindon. We have not been playing up to par on special teams giving returns the opportunity, so that had nothing to do with it. You never know. Our paths may cross again."
Cushing, a defensive captain, finishes the 2012 season with 29 tackles, most on the team through Week 5. Ruud joins the Texans' mix at inside linebacker with veterans Bradie James and Tim Dobbins, along with special teams standouts Mister Alexander and Jesse Nading.