Foster, Johnson among sidelined Texans

A week into training camp, some of the Houston Texans’ stars are

already ailing.

Running back Arian Foster (hamstring), receiver Andre Johnson

(dislocated finger) and linebacker Brian Cushing (knee) sat out

Saturday’s practices, though all three are expected back by the end

of next week.

Johnson hurt his left index finger on Tuesday, the Texans’

second day of practice. Coach Gary Kubiak said Johnson is also one

of several players who’s been sick in recent days. Foster pulled

his left hamstring on Friday, and Cushing has been out all week

while recovering from offseason knee surgery.

Kubiak said Saturday that Johnson may return to practice on

Sunday, and Foster will definitely miss ”a few days.” Kubiak is

hoping that Cushing returns by the middle of next week.

”I think, offensively, we’re behind right now,” Kubiak said.

”We’re missing some guys. We don’t have Andre at practice. Arian

doesn’t practice. This game’s not easy. You’ve got to be out there

for us to get better.”

Foster was the NFL’s leading rusher last season (1,616 yards).

He downplayed the severity of his injury, and happily mingled with

fans after Saturday’s workout, which was open to the public.

”I think any time you have a hamstring injury, you have to rest

it,” Foster said. ”That’s the only thing that can heal it. So

that’s what we’re doing right now.”

Foster, an undrafted free agent in 2009, pulled a hamstring just

before the Senior Bowl, and tweaked it in his rookie season with

Houston. He’s not nearly as concerned this time.

”Knee injuries are frightening,” Foster said. ”Hamstrings are

part of the business.”

The temperature has hovered in the upper 90s with high humidity

in Houston most of the week, but despite the health issues, the

Texans practiced for more than two hours on Saturday.

Tight end Owen Daniels was back on the field after sitting out

practice Friday with an illness. Running back Derrick Ward left

Saturday morning’s practice because of exhaustion, and guard Kasey

Studdard is now sick and sat out the afternoon session.

Kubiak didn’t think that the illnesses were related to the

heat.

”There have actually been some other people in the organization

with the same issue, and they haven’t been out there practicing,”

Kubiak said. ”I think it’s just something we have to deal with;

it’s always something. But that’s their job, to figure out a way to

deal with it.”

Kubiak said the upside of having starters sidelined is

evaluating what the younger players can do.

Steve Slaton, Ben Tate and Chris Ogbonnaya took most of the

carries in team drills on Saturday. Slaton has disappointed since a

solid rookie season in 2008, and 2010 second-round draft pick Tate

is back after breaking his right ankle in Houston’s first preseason

game and missing last season. Ogbonnaya, a former Texas star, was

signed to the Texans’ practice squad last September.

”Steve’s practicing well,” Kubiak said. ”Ogbonnaya is really

making a push to make this team and, to me, Tate – that’s as good

as Tate has practiced around here. Our guys need to know that, and

I told them, `Hey, we’ve got problems. Whoever lines up at running

back for us is going to play good and they did that today.”

The Texans open the preseason against the New York Jets on Aug.

15, and Kubiak hasn’t started to assess who will play and for how

long. He said the lockout has compressed the timeframe on those

decisions.

”We’ll probably be sitting up here Saturday night, having a

pow-wow, `OK, we think this guy is ready to go, is that guy ready

to go?” he said. ”It’s another interesting situation than what

we’ve dealt with in the past. The key is that we’re ready Sept. 11

(the season opener against Indianapolis), that’s the most important

thing, so we’ve got to do right by all those players.”