HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – During the Texans 17-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at Reliant Stadium, punter Brett Hartmann went down with an injury without being touched. A routine punt during the final minute of the game led to Hartmann being helped off the field by Texans trainers as he hopped on one foot to get to the sideline.

“It’s my understanding that he just got caught in the seam or tripped,” coach Gary Kubiak said about Hartmann’s fall.

He was not the first player of the day to suffer a painful injury after a fall that didn’t involve physical contact with anybody else.

The field seemed to be more of an issue on Sunday possibly because there was a high school playoff game at Reliant Stadium on Saturday.

“I know some guys were complaining about it,” nose tackle Shaun Cody said. “Because they played a game on it, it might be a little torn up.”

Dropping like flies

Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson, who missed six games after tearing a hamstring muscle in his right leg, suffered a game-ending injury while running a deep route in full stride in the fourth quarter.

“I pulled up with something in my left hamstring,” said Johnson, who will have an MRI on Monday. “It’s very aggravating. I never had hamstring problems, so I’m wondering where it’s coming from.”

134858926 8 Texans Players Say Field Not Up To Par

Texans receiver Andre Johnson, left, hops off the field after suffering a hamstring injury. (credit: Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Inside linebacker Brian Cushing experienced a similar, less severe, flukey tumble to the ground during the second quarter after Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez changed directions while running with the ball. He hobbled off the field from an apparent knee injury and eventually left the game for the locker room. He returned for the second half after having x-rays, which didn’t reveal any damage to his knee or leg.

“I was a little nervous, especially with the way it (knee) got caught under me,” Cushing said about going down.

All three of those players went down untouched.

A bunch of squares

texans field vertical shot Texans Players Say Field Not Up To Par

(credit: Anna-Megan Rale/CBS Houston)

In most retractable-roof or domed stadiums, teams use natural grass or some form of synthetic turf, which is installed by unrolling it onto the space.

The field inside Reliant Stadium is composed of actual grass on top of several square pallets, which are pieced together like a puzzle and dissembled when the space is needed for other events. On the seams and corners where each pallet is pieced to the next exist visible unevenness.

The continuity problem between each pallet causes gaps, indentions and lifted areas that can cause tripping.

Cody, who’s in his seventh NFL season and third with the Texans, says he doesn’t know of another NFL field that is pieced together like the one at Reliant.

“It’s a little squirrely sometimes,” Cody said. “When it’s dry, it gets a little lumpy. I didn’t think it was too bad; but then again, I wasn’t running around as much as the other guys.”

Combat the problem

Tight end Joel Dreessen has five touchdown catches for the Texans this season and knows all about the complications that can happen when running down the field.

“I thought it was really good at first considering they played some high school games on it,” Dreessen said about the game-day grass. “But it (the field) got chopped up fast.

“I was on the ground too much. I slipped a couple times. I’ll probably wear the longer spikes at Reliant for the rest of the year.”

Even though the field’s unevenness may pose a threat to Texans players, Kubiak says injuries are a part of the NFL.

“I think our field is pretty good,” Kubiak said after Sunday’s game. “It’s put together different than most fields, but I haven’t noticed that it’s been any different than any other place we play.”

Follow Anna-Megan Raley on Facebook and Twitter.

Comments (9)
  1. Vic says:

    I’ve seen the field in terrible condition over the years, and it USUALLY follows football games played by HS or College teams. McNair paid $700M for the Texans license, the fans and citizens paid $352M to build Reliant Stadium to watch….you guessed it, the NFL. Can we please protect our massive NFL investment and players by kindly organizing High School and College events elsewhere?!!!!!!!

  2. mike5011ad says:

    solution is simple. Field turf like all the other indoor stadiums. Cowboys stadium has the similar aspect of retractable roof with a lot of light that comes in, but they use the field turf instead. They have high schools and colleges play in there all the time and it’s never a problem.

  3. Scotty says:

    Terriblle journalism!- This is the same field that has been used over the last seven plus years at relaint for football and soccer. Lets do a comparison to the number of field related injuries over the years to the number of athletes who participated in their sports on reliants playing surface. Then lets go around the NFL and look for field related issues at other stadiums. I am sure you would be surprised how safe the playing surface at reliant really is. Football is a rough sport and people get hurt all the time, must we allways try to blame someone or something? Keep up the good work grounds crew!

  4. MikeD says:

    Why aren’t they playing High School and College games in the Astrodome? Just a thought.

  5. Dewman says:

    Guarantee most players prefer natural turf over field turf. Field turf is still harder than grass and will cause a great deal of wear and tear on the joints.

    1. Haroun says:

      Thank you. She has had to overcome quite a bit. She was not able to speak until age 3 due to her hnivag autism. Please visit her web page where you can read her story.:)

  6. BigD says:

    Astrodome is not safe as ruled by the county fire marshal… Fire Marshal BILL, “Let me show ya somthin” Let’s say you mistake the reliant field, for a field of real grass…

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