10 questions with Simmons


Wide receiver Mark Simmons wants to play in his first NFL game in 2009.

Wide receiver Mark Simmons, who enters his second NFL season, is looking to prove himself during training camp this year. He has improved his route running and conditioning and could climb his way up a crowded receiving depth chart.

1. How did you perform in OTAs and in mini-camp?

"I think OTAs and mini-camp went well. I got accustomed to the practice routine and got more familiar with the plays, and I got to work on my timing with the new quarterbacks, Dan (Orlovsky) and Rex (Grossman). Mini-camp was really great because I got more reps with the starters with a lot of the veterans not out there. We got to show we could get the job done without the veterans there."

2. What are the differences between Grossman and Orlovsky?

"Rex just got off the boat. He was only with us for a week, really. It was hard for him to show all he could do because he didn't even know the playbook yet. Dan has been here all offseason and knows the entire playbook, so it's hard to compare. The big difference is their physical size. Dan is 6-5 and Rex is 6-1. Rex has a good arm. You can tell he is a little rusty, but you can tell that he has been there and that he is ready to get the job done."

3. Where do you see yourself fitting into a deep unit of wide receivers?

"Hopefully, in the top half. I feel like I have a lot of ability and I think this preseason, I will show them I can play in this league. For me to be in the top half, it will come down to what I do in training camp. I think OTAs and mini-camp helped me position myself, but it will come down to what I do on the field when I get my chance."

4. What part of your game do you need to improve to get in the top half?

"I need to be more consistent. Mentally, I need to be sharp at all times and not let myself drop passes or have a lackluster performance. I need to be consistent every time I go out there."

5. You play with arguably the best wide receiver in the league in Andre Johnson. What have you learned from him?

"I've learned discipline and how to be a pro. He's a bigger receiver than I am, but he's helped me on releases and routes."

6. The Texans' offense finished third in the NFL last season. What does this unit need to do to improve this season?

"The key is turning the ball over less, and we are stressing that. Last year, we had a lot of yards and a lot of big plays, but the reason we lost games was because of turnovers. If we can correct that part and hold on to the ball better, this can be one of the best offenses in the league."

7. Do you think that the sentiment on the team is "playoffs or bust"?

"I think if we do what we need to do, everything will take care of itself. I think we need to get over that hump, and we can do that by keeping the turnovers down. We are ready to get over that hump."

8. What kind of physical shape are you in this year compared to last year?

"I think I'm in a lot better shape than I was last offseason at this time. I'm ready to get started now. Ray Wright has been pushing us more than we were pushed last year. You can see the results. A lot of players are feeling better about their bodies and they aren't getting as tired as quick."

9. You did some training in California during your vacation. What did you do there?

"I trained with a couple of players who are in the league. We trained in the valley near L.A. and we ran the sand dunes out there. We pulled tires and pushed wheelbarrows up the hill with weights in them. It was actually pretty fun."

10. Do you have fun plans before training camp begins?

"I don't have any fun plans. I had all my fun earlier this summer, so I am going to rest up and get ready for camp."

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