Sheryl - houston, TX, US: Did anyone stand out today.
OK, this is the last email of the day. Thank you to everyone who sent in questions. I'm sorry if I didn't get to you, but today we had a very full mail bag.
All eyes were on the rookies today. Brian Cushing jumped right in with the first team and tight end James Casey had a great diving catch. Also, Antoine Caldwell got worked hard by assistant head coach Alex Gibbs. Defensive back Brice McCain, Glover Quin and Troy Nolan are getting a lot of technique work from defensive backs coach David Gibbs. They need a little polishing, but they have a lot of potential. McCain is fast and Quin's got size.
ben - spring, TX, US: With 3 solid 'true' tight ends ahead of him, do you think James Casey's biggest impact this season will be as a receiver moreso than a tight end on the line of scrimmage
James Casey is going to work out as a tight end. He's a pass-catching tight end, but he's got the size and work ethic to become a solid blocker. If he can improve his blocking skills and excel on special teams, he'll find a way on the field. The Texans also can use Casey as a fullback or in the "Wildcat" formation. I think we'll see a lot more two tight-end sets this season.
doug - houston, TX, US: Brook....first great job on the website...enjoy your stories and interviews with players and coaches...... What are you looking forward to seeing with OTA's?
Alright fans, I'm going to take a couple more questions, then I have to call it a day.
Thanks for the shout out. I have to say that I am most excited to see who wins the weakside LB spot. The competition there is stiff. I'm also want to see how linebacker Brian Cushing uprgrades the defense and how Amobi Okoye responds to new defensive line coach Bill Kollar. I think this defense will have a new attitude in 2009.
nicholas hartnett - galveston, TX, US: Do you think the texans might change things up a little by switching back in forth between some 3-4 and 4-3 fronts? i know anotonio smith can drop back in coverage
Coach Gary Kubiak keeps saying that the Texans will remain a 4-3 team, so I don't see them switching. But I do think they will be more creative. D-coordinator Frank Bush talked to me about moving Antonio Smith to the inside to rush the passer and he pointed out that Smith could drop back in coverage. I think this defense really is going to be built around Mario Williams' pass rushing skills, and Bush is going to get creative so that teams have trouble double-teaming or figuring out what to do with Mario.
Troy - Chicago, IL, US: It seems like there is a lot of pressure on Amobe to pick it up a notch this year. After the first OTA, does Amobe seem to be more focused and ready to contribute as expected?
I talked to GM Rick Smith about Amobi Okoye before OTAs. Smith told he that Amobi has to step up for the defense to execute and that Amobi knows this. Today, new defensive line coach Bill Kollar was all over his unit and he had Amobi running at a high gear. I think Kollar will be riding Amobi hard and it will be interesting to see the results.
Jason Shelton - Kuwait City, TX, KU: Greetings Brooke from Kuwait, Which running backs are the Texans most likely to keep?
Thanks for reaching out from Kuwait! Well, Steve Slaton is a given. The Texans want to find a bigger back to complement Slaton in short-yardage situations. If Chris Brown can convince them that he will be healthy all season, he'll be around. But I also was impressed with Arian Foster, a rookie free agent out of Tennessee. He's got the size and the speed to play in the Texans' one-cut running scheme.
nicholashartnett - galveston, TX, US: What is up with the texans at safety?
Right now, it looks like the starters are Eugene Wilson (free safety) and Nick Ferguson (strong safety). But look for Dominique Barber to compete with Ferguson for starting honors. The coaches liked Barber's progress last season and he's got a size advantage on Ferguson.
Geoff - Charlottesville, VA, US: Hi Brooke, I think you are doing an awesome job! I rely on you for all my Texans coverage since I live out of state. Keep up the good work! I was curious about the running back situation. Do you have any insight into who the Texans are thinking of bringing into the season? Are the Texans content with the group they've got now, or do you see them trying to trade or bring in additional free agents? Did you get a chance to see any of the UDFA rookie running backs, and if so, how did they look? Thanks!
There are four people competing to be "the" complement to Steve Slaton: Chris Brown, Ryan Moats, Arian Foster and Jeremiah Johnson. Chris Brown certainly looks the part because he is big and fast, but he has a history of injuries. I was impressed with Arian Foster's size. He looks like someone who could excel in the Texans' one-cut scheme. I think the coaches are excited to see what they have in him. Moats also is very quick and has a great work ethic- he's the perfect backup guy. However, GM Rick Smith told me they will continue to look at who is available and see if they can upgrade their talent. So there could be some additions to this group.
robert - Houston, TX, US: Any word on how Justin Brantly looked on this first day of OTA?
Justin Brantly is a big guy for a punter. I was really impressed with his size coming out of Texas A&M. He worked out with incumbent punter Matt Turk doing individual drills, so it was hard to get much of a read on him.
Michael Hill - Houston, TX, US: Do you think Antoine Caldwell could push Chris Myers out and be the starter next season. Is he good enough?
The coaches have said that Caldwell will back up Chris Myers and it's hard to see a rookie starting right away. Plus, they like that this offensive line started all 16 games together last season, so they are very comfortable with the zone blocking scheme. That being said, I think Caldwell will make a big push. He's a big guy and a quick learner (graduated in three years). Caldwell was getting worked hard in practice today, but I think he'll have a steep learning curve and will push Myers.
Tim OBriant - Cypress, TX, US: Is the new backup QB, Dan Orlovsky, in camp? Is he considered a hidden gem (i.e., as "good" as Sage was) or just a semi-capable body filling a uniform? Also, are than any other notables not attending OTAs other than D-Rob?
QB Dan Orlovsky was taking reps behing Matt Schaub in OTAs today, and I think he's very impressive. Orlovsky is taller than Schaub and he gets great zip on the ball. He started for the Lions last year. And, yes, they were terrible, but I think Orlovsky has a ton of potential and is much more than a jersey-filler. As for no-shows, CB Dunta Robinson wasn't there because of his contract holdout and DE Connor Barwin, the second-round draft pick, is still in school. Everyone else, including DeMeco Ryans, was there.
Stanley Tucker - Fort Lee, VA, US: Are you gonna get some coverage of how cornerback Glover Quin is doing during the OTA's?
We are going to cover each of the Texans' draft picks. I actually just wrote about Glover Quinn being one of the most interesting prospects. He's a big cornerback at 5-11, 204 pounds. He has the potential to a big-hitting cornerback and he has the build to play safety. I am curious to see how he progresses.
Gerold Williams Ii - Bryan, TX, US: How do you see Jacoby Jones doing this season. Before his injury last season it looked like he was developing into a nice wide receiver.
This is going to be an interesting year for Jacoby Jones. He struggled last year with fumbles. Jones fell on the depth chart and was listed as the fifth receiver on the team with Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, Andre Davis and David Anderson before him. Right now, he's the best punt returner, but he's got his work cut out for him at receiver. He still needs to improve his route running and he's got to get better at holding onto the ball.
David - Harrison, NY, US: As of now, who is most likely to be the Texans #2 tight end?
As of today, it would be Joel Dreessen. Owen Daniels is clearly No. 1. Dreessen knows the playbook, he's caught touchdown passes for this team and he can block. There isn't another tight end on the team that has as complete of a game. Anthony Hill, a fourth-round draft pick, looks like he could contribute right away as a blocking tight end. And James Casey, a fifth-round pick, can do it all. Casey's more of a receiver, but he's got the size and work ethic to become a solid blocker.
ben - spring, TX, US: Does Cato June have any chance of starting at the WILL linebacker position? I think with his experience and knowledge of the position should give him an edge over guys like Diles and Adibi. Also, he was playing the WILL in Indianapolis when he had his best seasons in the league.
Cato June will be competing at WILL against Zac Diles and Xavier Adibi. The Texans signed June to give them depth, but he very well could win the position. The Texans want more speed and durability there. June is up there in years, but he did have a Pro Bowl season with the Colts and he knows what it takes to get to the Super Bowl. If he out plays Adibi and Diles, the position is his.
Kortney - Missouri City, TX, US: We didnt add any DBs expected to make an immediate impact during the draft or in FA, so what are we looking like on the back end. Reeves played well last year, but Bennett seemed to have a sophmore slump after an impressive rookie campaign. With his size, could we be looking to try him at FS?
You make a good point about the situation at DB. The Texans didn't add an immediate impact player because they are banking on Dunta Robinson to have a career year and for Fred Bennett to step up in year three. Bennett has the size and the range to be a physical player at corner, and I don't see him moving to safety. Jaq Reeves had a better year in 2008 than a lot of people gave him credit for and finished with four interceptions, but he has to get out of the habit of just facing his receiver and not turning to make a play on the ball. I do think it will be interesting to see how fourth-round draft pick Glover Quinn develops. At 5-11, 200 pounds, he looks big enough to play safety.
raven casey - Richmond, TX, US: is it true if u dont make the playoffs it layoffs for the coaching staff
The Texans are a trendy pick this year as a team that can make a splash in the playoffs. The expectations are high in Reliant Stadium, and the pressure is on the coaches to make sure the team lives up to those expectations. But I can't make a blanket statement like "playoffs or pink slips" - too much happens during the course of an NFL season to make that claim. Let's just say that the pressure is on, and if the team doesn't make the playoffs heads could roll.
ben - spring, TX, US: Will Travis Johnson automatically be the starter next to Okoye this season? I'm hoping that Shaun Cody or Deljuan Robinson can push him for that 2nd DT starting spot.
Travis Johnson does NOT have the nod as the starting D-tackle. In fact, Johnson didn't practice today because of an injury. Watch for Shaun Cody and DelJuan to battle for starting honors. DelJuan started several games last season when Amobi Okoye was injured and the coaches like his work ethic and play against the run. Cody is more of a pass-rushing D-tackle, but he will get the chance to compete for the job.
stephen gibson - spring, TX, US: why don't the texans give gram harrell a shot at backup qb?
The Texans are taking three quarterbacks into OTAs: Matt Schaub, Dan Orlovsky and Alex Brink. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said that the team didn't draft or sign another QB because they want to get Brink reps and see what they have in him. So I think they will go with Brink during the offseason workouts and then assess the situation before training camp.
ben - spring, TX, US: how do the rookies look in the OTAs?
A lot of these rookies look that part of pros right away. Brian Cushing was the biggest linebacker on the field by far. The Texans aren't tackling right now, but Cushing looked like he wanted to lay some people out. He's going to have to work on his technique and learn the defensive schemes, but the learning curve should be steep for him. Third-round draft pick Antoine Caldwell was holding his own at center. He can play both guard or center, but assistant head coach Alex Gibbs worked him hard at center. Caldwell is sharp and he should pick up the zone scheme quickly. Tight end Anthony Hill has long arms and looks like he could develop into a good blocker. James Casey layed out to make a catch that was impressive. Defensive end Connor Barwin wasn't there because he is in school until June13.
Tim OBriant - Cypress, TX, US: The Texans seem overloaded at LB. Who stands out and who stands to lose out?
There are 2 definite starters at LB: DeMeco Ryans (Mike) and Brian Cushing (strongside). Last season, Zac Diles started at SAM until he suffered a season-ending leg injury in Novemeber. He is going to move to the weakside and compete against Xavier Adibi. Really, those two have the most to lose, since both were starters for stretches in 2008. Cato June gives the Texans depth at both the WILL and SAM spots ans Kevin Bentley can back up Ryans.
traci - LEAGUE CITY, TX, US: any news on DUNTA?????????
There is no news on Dunta Robinson's contract negotiations with the team. Dunta didn't come to OTAs, which are not mandatory workouts. But coach Gary Kubiak said that Dunta assured him that he will be at the first mandatory workout, which are mini-camps in the middle of June. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans said after practice that he wanted to call Dunta and let him know that practice went well and they are looking forward to getting him back. It seems like Dunta has the support of his teammates and they are counting on him to show up for mini-camps.
Javier - Houston, TX, US: Hello Brooke my question to you is if coach Gary Kubiak does not take the texans to the playoffs this upcoming season. do you think he will be on the hot seat to keep his job when the 2009 season is over.
If the Texans don't make the playoffs this year, I think everyone in Reliant Stadium will be on the hot seat. Even the team's cafeteria crew. Owner Bob McNair is setting the bar at playoffs this year and he doesn't want to be let down.
Carmen Hix - Friendswood, TX, US: I heard that one of the new draftees to the Texans went to High School at Clearbrook HS in Friendswood. Which one?
It's tight end Anthony Hill. The Texans drafted him in the fourth round out of NC State and he could get playing time right away as a blocking tight end.
Kortney - Missouri City, TX, US: With all the depth that we now have add OLB since we've added Cato June and Brian Cushing, it should be interesting to see where everyone is lining up. Are Cush and Diles just battling for SLB or is Diles going to move over and play WLB.
The Texans just walked off the field after their first practice during organized team activities (OTAs). These non-mandatory workouts run on May 18-21, May 26-28, June 1-4 and June 9-11 and they give coaches a chance to evaluate the team, especially the rookies and new free agents, before training camp. I wrote about the five big questions that the Texans have going into OTAs. After Day 1, you already could see that two of the biggest storyline will be: Who will start at weakside LB and who will be the backup to RB Steve Slaton. Without further ado, let's dive into it.
The competition at LB started the moment the Texans drafted Brian Cushing No. 15 overall. D-coordinator Frank Bush wants Cushing starting at the strongside. There's going to be a lot expected of him right away. Last year, Zac Diles moved from backup MIKE to SAM. Now, he is working out on the weakside and competing against Xavier Adibi, who won a starting spot there last season. Bush told me he felt like Diles was the most consistent player on defense until he was injured last November. I think Diles will find his way on the field. Cato June has played both the SAM and WILL positions and will provide depth. Also, look for Kevin Bentley to back up DeMeco Ryans at middle linebacker.