A day at the lanes

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The Texans were scheduled to finish their second mini-camp of the 2006 offseason Wednesday and they did, just not on the practice fields across from Reliant Stadium.

In a move designed to reward his players for their hard work over the past month and to initiate a little team bonding, head coach Gary Kubiak gave his players a day away from football as the team went bowling to kick off their break before training camp begins at the end of July.

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"I think they've been busting their butts for a month and we have to come together as a team in a lot of ways, not just on the field," Kubiak said. "This is a chance for everybody to relax and to build relationships off the field as we get ready to go this season."

Typically teams take trips to the movie theater or other less hands-on activities to build morale, but the players responded well to Wednesday's bowling trip. Despite the time of day, the morning bowling excursion was highly competitive with the players constantly checking the scoreboard to see how the competition was doing.

"It's nice to watch them bond together and compete in something off the field," Kubiak said. "They have to be able to count on each other in a lot of ways in life as well as football."

Each player rolled two games with the top-10 scores from the offense and the defense advancing to a roll off between the two units with each player rolling one frame to aid their respective team's cumulative score.

Top individual honors went to Bennie Joppru, who started his second game with seven-consecutive strikes and finished with a score of 266.

"I didn't throw a good ball there in the eighth (frame)," Joppru said. "I pulled the ball a little and didn't give it a chance, but we ended up pretty good."

After Joppru started the game with four consecutive strikes, a crowd started to form as the tight end pursued a perfect game. Kubiak made his way down to watch and offered an easy explanation for what happened to Joppru in the eighth frame.

"He couldn't handle the pressure," Kubiak said smiling.

Joppru was the top offensive qualifier and rolled the 10th frame for the offense as they looked to claim the win and the championship team trophy. Joppru failed to strike, but did manage a spare to put the pressure squarely on the shoulders of linebacker Troy Evans, who ended the game for the defense.

Trailing by eight pins heading into the 10th frame, Evans needed nine pins to win the match. The linebacker knocked down seven on his first attempt putting himself in a tight spot.

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Kubiak had told the players before the roll off that if they wanted to distract their competition, "anything goes," but added that the players could not touch or stand in front of the bowler.

The players came up with some creative strategies to distract their opponents, and as Evans lined up the potential game-winning throw, the offense lined the lane in an effort to distract him.

It didn't work. Evans converted on his spare and added seven more pins with his extra toss in the 10th, claiming a 178-169 win for the defense. The coaching staff also participated in the roll off, but finished a distant third with a score of 104. Kubiak did not participate.

The offense has a chance for revenge on t he field once they strap on their pads for training camp, which begins July 28.

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