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Camp battle: Right guard


Right guard was a high-risk spot for the Texans last season.

Fred Weary was having his best season as a pro until he broke a leg. Chris White moved into the position and suffered a knee injury. Mike Brisiel buckled his hard hat on tight and finished out the season with the first four starts of his pro career.

Now, they are all back after surviving the emotional yo-yoing of last season and competing for playing time in the zone blocking scheme of new assistant head coach Alex Gibbs.

Weary wants his job back. Brisiel wants to keep his and White is trying to fit into the mix.

Brisiel gets the persistence award. He was cut by the Texans three times before getting a spot on the 53-man roster. When it came last December, his reaction was obvious.

"You have no idea how many emotions were going through my body when I stepped on that field," Brisiel said. "It was really great. I knew they were bringing me up to the 53-man roster, but I had no idea they were going to give me the chance to compete for playing time."

{QUOTE}Did he call family and friends about his promotion?

"No, I was too worried about my job," Brisiel said. "I didn't even care if anyone knew I was out there. I just wanted to do my job so I'd get a chance to be out there again."

Brisiel was an undrafted free agent signee in 2006. He was on and off the practice squad three times before he got his big break last December. How did he fight the frustration before making the team?

"I guess it was not wanting a real job," Brisiel said. "We're so lucky to be doing something like this; I'd like to keep going as long as possible and crack the lineup somehow.

"This league is about opportunity. I got one. I'm by no means done. I've got a long way to go to work on consistency. Every part of my game needs improvement. I'm just going to do that."

Weary is still in frustration mode. He hasn't been able to compete so far in camp due to a nagging hamstring. Watching is misery.

"My mind and my heart is ready to go, but I can't push what my body's not ready to do,'' Weary said. "It would cause me problems down the road if I pushed too much now.

"It's frustrating to see guys out here competing and battling and I want to be in the mix doing that, too. But I have to be healthy to go out and help this football team."

The thin ranks of offensive linemen worry coach Gary Kubiak.

"The depth in the offensive line, I think at any camp, right now if you look around is almost nil," Kubiak said. "We work with two groups, with a couple of extra players, so it's scary right now as you look forward."

No one is more anxious to join the battle than Weary.

"When you've got something going on with your leg, you overcompensate in other areas and that brought on the hamstring,'' Weary said. "Now, we're trying to figure out what's going on.

"I want so much to be competing and doing what I was doing so well last year. When you can't do that, it hurts you mentally as a football player."

Although Brisiel has moved ahead on the depth chart, Weary still is there to help.

"I've been the same with Mike since the first day I met him," Weary said. "He knows he can come to me and ask any question. It's nothing about who's doing what. At the end of the day, it's about wins and losses.

"It's not like you have to feel bad that somebody is playing in front of you. I'm always there for him. I've told him each and every day just to keep up working.

"He's learned how to practice. He's learned how to go out and do the things he's supposed to do to succeed."

White is back on the field getting reps in practice and trying to forget his bad luck last season.

"I guess it was Tennessee when Fred went down and I went in for him and then I went down and Mike got his chance," White said. "That's what you're supposed to do. If the door opens, you're supposed to kick it in and run with it.

"I figured I'd get some playing time based on the depth of the rotation. I didn't think I'd get as much in camp right now. But I'm here to do what I can to help the team."

Still, Kubiak will be happier when Weary returns to give the offensive line more depth.

"I'm a little disappointed,'' Kubiak said. "I thought he'd be back at some point this week. Coming out of the meeting Saturday, it doesn't look that way. There's no concern about Fred as a player or a person. You guys know what I think of him. I'm concerned that he's behind in our system. That's what concerns me.

"Hopefully, we make up some ground this week and he can get in there and compete before this camp is done, because that's important."

Brisiel isn't sure what a real job would be. For now, it doesn't matter.

"I don't even want to think about that right now," he said. "It will come up sometime, but hopefully not too soon."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky. Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro sports.

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