Friday of Pro Bowl week began with the players posing for team photos in the morning outside their hotel. The AFC was up first at 8 a.m., 30 minutes before the start of practice at nearby St. Thomas Aquinas High School. The AFC and NFC have been alternating days all week as to which team practices first in the morning.
Today's practice lasted about an hour. It was another beautiful sunny day, and hundreds of students filled the bleachers around the field, as did youth football players from an upcoming USA vs. the World football game.
Andre Johnson spent much of practice chatting with Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. The two both hail from Miami and have been friends for years. I also spotted DeMeco Ryans clowning around a little bit with LeRon McClain, the Ravens fullback who was Ryans' teammate and close friend at Alabama.
ESPN's Suzy Kolber was on the sidelines watching practice, as was New York Jets coach Rex Ryan. There also was a Texans fan, Jacob Clark, with a very interesting story.
Clark, who won an all-expenses paid trip to South Florida from a sweepstakes on playmakermobile.com, was on the sidelines wearing a Battle Red Texans jersey with David Carr's last name on it. I joked to Clark that he had the wrong No. 8 (Carr had the same number as Matt Schaub), but he replied by saying that Texans merchandise is hard to come by where he's from.
Turns out Clark lives near Lewiston, Maine, which is approximately 1,700 miles away from Reliant Stadium. He doesn't have any major Houston ties, but he became a Texans fan several years ago after admiring the team's development from afar.
"I was a fan of football, a fan of the NFL, didn't really have a favorite team," Clark said. "I saw how the Texans were buliding their team, drafting and stuff like that, and kind of fell in love with the way they were buildilng their team, defense first and working around there with guys like Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans. I just kind of grew with them."
Check out HoustonTexans.com later today for a video and written story on Andre Johnson. I spoke with Ochocinco and Darrelle Revis about him today, and Johnson also shared with us how he's enrolled back in school this semester.
We'll also have plenty on the way in the coming days about Texans Cheerleader Randi, who represented the Texans in style at a Pro Bowl cheerleader fashion show in South Beach last night. She's participating in a "Battle of the Beauties" competition with other cheerleaders later this afternoon.