Notes and quotes from the Texans’ fifth day of 2012 Training Camp presented by XFINITY at the Methodist Training Center:
Andre Update: Texans coach Gary Kubiak reaffirmed in the afternoon that he hopes wide receiver Andre Johnson will return from a pulled groin next Monday. Johnson ran with Texans director of sports medicine/head athletic trainer Geoff Kaplan during practice and “looked good,” according to Kubiak. “Like I told y’all, (it’ll be) next week,” Kubiak said. “I don’t know if that’s Monday, but… I think we’re fine there. I know we’re going to be fine. We’ve got some time to make up for and he knows that, but I’ve got to do the right thing, too.”
The Bullock show: Rookie kicker Randy Bullock showed off a strong and accurate leg in the morning, going 9-of-11 on field goals from 44-54 yards in front of the entire team. His two misses came from 44 yards, wide right, and 47 yards, wide left. Some of Bullock’s kicks barely squeaked through the uprights, but many were right down the middle. Most were good with several yards to spare. Veteran kicker Shayne Graham was ill and did not attempt any field goals. The kicking competition is expected to last well into the preseason, and both kickers appeared to be relatively even heading into Wednesday.
WR shuffle: The Texans’ third wide receiver spot is still up for grabs, which precipitated a shuffling of the pecking order at wideout on Wednesday morning. Keshawn Martin, a rookie fourth-round pick from Michigan State, was elevated to first-team duty opposite Kevin Walter. Veteran Bryant Johnson got some first-team reps behind Martin. Lestar Jean, who had practiced as a starter during OTAs and the last few days of training camp with Andre Johnson sidelined by injury, was relegated to second-team duty along with rookie third-round pick DeVier Posey. “They’re all talented,” Kubiak said. “Seems like right now, they’re all in a position to make some plays and separate themselves, but nobody’s separating themselves. They’re going to have to do it. I don’t want to sit down and throw a dart at the board and say, ‘I’m keeping this guy.’ I want to keep him because they do it on the field and I see it, you see it, everybody sees it. We’ll keep giving them opportunities and see who steps up. (Martin’s) been making plays. If you’re doing it, we’re going to give you a chance to do it some more.”
MVP McCain: Cornerback Brice McCain is, by all accounts, having an outstanding training camp. Defensive backs coach Vance Joseph shouted, “MVP today, baby – MVP today” at McCain on Wednesday morning after the fourth-year corner broke up a fade pass in the end zone to close out 1-on-1 drills. McCain has lined up a starter while Kareem Jackson sits out with a hamstring injury, and “he’s looked very good,” Kubiak said. “He’s getting to play as a starter a lot of times because we’re resting J.J. (Johnathan Joseph) sometimes and Kareem’s been out. He’s looked exceptional. Brice found his confidence as a pro last year, and you can continue to see it.” After a rough 2010 season, McCain emerged as one of the league’s best nickel corners in 2011, and he’s taking another step forward in 2012.
Sonnie and Shelley: Asked after the morning practice which players have stood out to him, Kubiak named little-known nose tackle Ra’Shon Harris and guard Shelley Smith. “Sonnie Harris has been doing some really good things,” Kubiak said. “On the offensive side of the ball, I think Shelley Smith stood out to me a little bit. He’s going to get in the mix for this guard spot if he keeps playing the way he’s playing.” Harris (6-5, 300), in his fourth year in the NFL out of Oregon, has played in two career games. He was signed to the Texans’ practice squad last November. Smith, a Texans sixth-round draft pick out of Colorado State in 2010, spent last season on injured reserve with an ankle injury.
Quotes of the Day
“I’m a lineman. I’m a fighter, man. I got up, I knew it was kind of hard to walk, but I wanted to block the next play. Of course, going against J.J. Watt, I realized that I was pretty hurt.” – T Duane Brown, on wanting to stay on the practice field after suffering a bone bruise in the morning
“Up and down. Very talented. He’s got a chance to help this team. He’s got to grow real, real fast. There’s no rookie year for him or (Keshawn) Martin. It’s got to be right now.” – Kubiak, on rookie WR DeVier Posey
“We just got into the pads yesterday, so that was kind of an adjustment phase. It got to the point where there was no wind. It was all sun.” – Rookie OLB Whitney Mercilus, on if heat has been a factor so far at training camp
“I see him being just like DeMeco (Ryans). He played in Dallas under (linebackers coach) Reggie (Herring), under the same exact defense with (defensive coordinator) Wade (Phillips). So he came in here and knew everything. He didn’t even need a playbook. He’s a vet… He’s a leader, and I look up to the guy.” – OLB Brooks Reed, on how ILB Bradie James will fit in with the defense