HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Texans will replace NRG Stadium's natural grass with an artificial surface for the rest of the season.

General manager Rick Smith announced Friday that they will install an AstroTurf surface. Smith says the players prefer playing on natural grass but that "it's our responsibility, both at the club level as well as the league level, to protect players from unnecessary risk."

The current surface has been used since the stadium opened in 2002. It has often been criticized, especially by visiting coaches.

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Smith says they decided to make the change because the performance of the grass this season was "not up to historical standards."

The turf will be ready for Houston's next home game Sept. 27 against Tampa Bay.