The Texans practiced in shoulder pads for the first time in training camp on Sunday morning. The open practice drew 3,594 Texans fans to the Methodist Training Center, where there unfortunately was not a cloud in the sky to keep the sun in check on a blistering-hot morning.
Quick-hit observations and notes from the field:
- Defensive end Mario Williams did not practice. He also sat out on Saturday afternoon, when the Texans practiced indoors. "His hip is bothering him a little bit and has some swelling," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "We were able to get the swelling down the way we wanted this morning. It might be a couple of days before we are able to get back under control, then we could just go from there. It could be a few practices." Kubiak said that, more than anything, keeping Williams out of practice is a precautionary measure.
- Kubiak said that the Texans would likely begin their kicking competition in full on Tuesday. "They have been kicking competitively, but not with the team yet," he said of Kris Brown and Neil Rackers.
- With pads on for the first time in camp, the intensity level was noticeably higher at practice. "It's a different story putting them pads on, now! It's a different story!" safety Bernard Pollard shouted at wide receiver Kevin Walter after rookie cornerback Kareem Jackson hit Walter on an incomplete pass.
- Here's how the progression of carries went among the running backs at the start of 7-on-7s: Two for Arian Foster, two for Steve Slaton, two for Ben Tate, one for Chris Henry, one for Jeremiah Johnson and one more for Henry.
- On Tate's first carry, he countered back to his right for a big gain. On his second carry, he got stood up behind the line of scrimmage by rookie linebacker Darryl Sharpton, the fourth-round pick out of Miami.
- The first play of 11-on-11s was a "Welcome to the NFL" moment for Jackson. The first-round pick from Alabama got burned by Andre Johnson on an out-and-up route down the left sideline. Jackson bit hard on the out part of the route, and Johnson blew by him for a wide-open touchdown on a beautifully executed play-action pass from Matt Schaub.
- Johnson was all over the field, running seemingly every route in the Texans' playbook. He caught everything thrown his way, whether it was over the middle, in the flat or deep down the sideline.
- Also during 11-on-11s, rookie tight end Garrett Graham made a one-handed stab to catch a pass from John David Booty with his left hand. He was being covered closely by rookie safety Nicholas Polk on the play, making it even more impressive.
- Jacoby Jones and Trindon Holliday were the only players who fielded punts this morning with Glenn Martinez sidelined by a hamstring injury. Jones dropped his first return after running forward a few yards, and Holliday muffed his second return but recovered it and darted right for a big gain. Both players got it together on their third returns and beat the defense for touchdowns.
- Tight end Owen Daniels, who's on the active/PUP list, was a man of the people this morning. During 11-on-11s, a ball ended up in the stands after quarterback Dan Orlovsky intentionally threw it out of bounds. The fan who got it was instructed to throw it back, much to the crowd's displeasure, but Daniels had them cheering when he ran back a minute later and handed a ball to a kid on the other side of the fence. After practice, Daniels **signed autographs for at least 20 minutes.** "They're always behind us and they've got our backs, so it's good to show some support back to them and thank them for coming out and sitting in this sun and this heat," Daniels said. Andre Johnson also signed for dozens of fans after practice on his own accord.