The Houston Texans made it through their first preseason game Monday night with reasons to be encouraged on both sides of the football, but they didn’t do so without adding significantly to their injury list.
Offensive line and running took hits during the Monday night’s 20-16 win over the New York Jets. Offensive guards Antoine Caldwell and Kasey Studdard both suffered serious ankle injuries that will have them sidelined for some time. Caldwell has a high ankle sprain while, while Studdard’s injury could be a little more serious.
Then at running back, where the body count has been low throughout training camp, took another hit when Derrick Ward suffered a concussion during the first quarter Monday. Texans head coach Gary Kubkiak said Ward is fine, but didn’t offer any time frame for his return.
That left the Texans with two healthy bodies on Tuesday, though Kubiak is hopeful starter Arian Foster can return when practice resumes Wednesday after he missed Monday night’s game with a hamstring injury. Fifth stringer and street free agent Chris Ogbonnaya had a workhorse performance with two touchdowns against the Jets and he can expect even more work Saturday against the New Orleans Saints despite being obviously sore.
The most serious of the injuries Monday night seemed to be rookie linebacker Cheta Ozougwu, who spent the night at Methodist Hospital after sustaining a concussion at some point during the second half.
“He was resting and doing fine when I went to see him and his family a while ago,” Kubiak said of the seventh round pick out of Rice. “He obviously took a pretty good shot.”
Now the Texans must turn their attention to how to fill an obvious void at running back going forward. Kubiak is hopeful but not certain Foster can return this week, while Ben Tate and Steve Slaton have been ruled out with hamstring injuries.
Jarvis Williams, who was just signed Thursday, and Ogbonnaya are the only two healthy running backs on the roster. The Texans also became a little thinner along the offensive line with Caldwell and Studdard’s injuries, which has Kubiak wondering what he can do when adding bodies at this point in training camp really isn’t an option.
“When you get to this point in training camp you have to get creative when you start having problems like this because you are three weeks away from putting your team together,” Kubiak said. “I would love to go get two or three running backs and a couple of offensive linemen. That sounds easy but it’s not as easy as it sounds.
“What we will have to do is get creative in what we are doing. For the New Orleans game we will have to adjust practice and what we are doing in practice and how we are practicing and how many groups we are practicing.”