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Camp report: Day 11


The Texans cancelled their morning practice because of the bad weather, but they made the afternoon count. The players were tenacious at the line of scrimmage and didn't make many mental mistakes. Head coach Gary Kubiak will have a lot to think about as he puts together the lineup for Saturday's game against the Broncos.

Back on track: Coach Kubiak didn't like what he saw from the team on Monday. They were sloppy, slow and losing their composure. Tuesday was a different story.

"That might have been one of our better practices," Kubiak said. "I'll tell you, we were bouncing around, very physical in the front end of practice and a lot of mental stuff on the back end - trying to freshen them up here the rest of the week and get these kids in the position to go and compete."

Kubiak has been resting some of the veteran players in the afternoon to save their legs from getting worn down on the turf. All the healthy veterans took the field in Tuesday's session at the Methodist Training Center, including running back Ahman Green who knee hasn't had any flare ups with his knee so far this camp.

Green took a few more reps while Chris Brown was sidelined with a back injury. Kubiak said he was impressed with the way Green played during that week.

Saturday's lineup develops: Kubiak is beginning to put together the lineup for Saturday's preseason game against Denver. But there are few things he already knows:

{QUOTE}Green will start at running back.

"He's had a great offseason and having a good camp," Kubiak said. "He needs to play. His stages need to pick up as we go through preseason."

The coach will play three quarterbacks, but he doesn't know who the third will be. Matt Schaub and Sage Rosenfels are a lock. Kubiak is deciding between rookie Alex Brink and second-year pro Shane Boyd.

Running back Chris Brown is a maybe/yes.

"I have to make a decision," Kubiak said. "He looked pretty good. He came out of yesterday pretty good, and we'll see how he comes out of today. We'll take him a day at a time."

Running back Mike Bell is a maybe/no because of a tweaked hamstring.

"He claimed he had this problem before and he was back in a couple days, but we don't feel like he's close right now," Kubiak said. "As of right now, I would say it doesn't look good."

Wide receiver Andre Johnson is a pretty definite no.

"There is a good chance that one doesn't play," Kubiak said.

Travis Johnson needs to be pushed: Defensive tackle Travis Johnson was selected 16th overall by the Texans in the 2005 draft. He put together his best pro season last year, recording 41 total tackles, an interception and six passes defensed. But Kubiak said that isn't good enough. Johnson is capable of more.

"He played as good as he's ever played for us last year, but there is still another level for Travis to reach as a player if we're going to go where we want to go," Kubiak said. "He's got to find another gear and we've got to work him to get that done.

"I think we've done a good job of the way we've used him. Our trainers and stuff, we've worked him into this and that hasn't' been a problem in camp. He's the one saying, 'Hey, I can go twice a day.' So that's what we wanted. We wanted to keep him healthy and get him in the best position to compete. And we think we've got him there right now, and now its time to go."

Johnson was slowed by a hip problem during OTAs, but that injury hasn't bothered as much him during camp. Kubiak would like to see Johnson in better shape so that he doesn't get winded during the 50-plus plays he sees during games.

"I think he's capable of it," Kubiak said. "I think he's capable of being one hell of a player, but his conditioning level has got to be the best it's been and keeping him health. And that is why we're taking a different approach with him."

Johnson's position isn't glamorous. As a nose tackle, his job is to manhandle two offensive linemen so that defensive tackle Amobi Okoye can rush the passer. Johnson's body looks like it was built for the trenches, and Kubiak thinks the tackle can develop into an All-Pro player.

"If he becomes a great player, a Pro Bowl player, then our football team is going to benefit from that," Kubiak said. "So that's our job as coaches; is to keep pushing him and see if we can find that."

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