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Houston Texans

Camp report: Day 12


Head coach Gary Kubiak didn't like the tempo of Wednesday's practice as the players ran through situational drills. Now, the team will kick it up a notch and get Denver-specific to prepare for Saturday's preseason opener.

'Dre report: As of now, there's a slim chance wide receiver Andre Johnson will play against the Broncos. He has been in the pool rehabbing his groin while head athletic trainer Kevin Bastin supervises his workouts.

On Wednesday, Johnson did a little bit of running, but coaches want to make sure he is 100 percent healthy before he steps on the field in the preseason.

"I would say if we were playing a regular season game this week, we'd be pushing him," Kubiak said. "And I think it would be close whether or not he could play. Since we're in the situation we're in, in preseason, we'll be extra cautious with him. He's conditioning with Kevin right now and hopefully we get him back to work next week."

Johnson's injury isn't major and doesn't require surgery. He's had some soreness, but his groin has been feeling healthier each day.

"It's getting better," Johnson said. "It feels better than it felt yesterday. I ran a little bit today, felt pretty good, and just taking it day-by-day.

"I mean, you don't want to come back too early and then pull it or make it worse. I am getting massages on it and, like I said, just taking it one day at a time and doing a lot of rehab to make sure that when I come back, I am at full strength."

Fletcher a camp surprise: Cornerback Jamar Fletecher could be the surprise of training camp, according to Kubiak. The eighth-year pro took advantage of the extra reps he got when DeMarcus Faggins tweaked his hamstring several weeks ago. Fletcher started making plays on the ball and the coaches started to notice.

"Fletcher knows what he's doing," Kubiak said. "He's a real pro, but he's making more plays on the ball. He's finding ways to get his hands on the ball and playing a lot of spots, too."

{QUOTE}Now that Faggins is healthy, Kubiak is having a hard time getting Fletcher off the field. In fact, Fletcher has been starting some when the defense is in nickel.

"Right now in nickel, he would go inside there if Fred (Bennett) had to stay outside and do a heck of a job," Kubiak said. "You're going to play three, four, or five cornerbacks on any given game day. You can list two starters, but those guys play. So he's pushing to get a lot of playing time."

Bennett and Jacques Reeves are slated to start at corner, and Fletcher is competing with Faggins, rookie Antwaun Molden, Derrick Roberson and Dexter Wynn for backup spots. Fletcher started two games last season and played in 10, but he didn't get much playing time in the second half of the season.

"I just think he was disappointed last year," Kubiak said. "He made our team and he was playing a little bit early for the team. Kind of got to a situation where he didn't suit up some. I know he got upset, which you should if you're a player. That should bother you. He was not a big part of what we were doing late in the season. A lot of guys can go south in those types of situations. But what he did was rededicate himself, get his mind right and he's had an excellent camp."

Playing time talk: Kubiak is close to determining how much time his starters will play in the first preseason game. Typically, they play a quarter, but the head coach would like to see some younger players get additional snaps.

Rookie left tackle Duane Brown probably will play the entire first half, and wideout Jacoby Jones could see more time with Johnson on the sidelines.

"I think our team is in a situation where we've got some young players that are starters that we need to play more than the typical first 15 plays," Kubiak said. "So we've got to go decide who those guys are."

Colorado contingency: At this point, every Texans fan knows the close ties the team shares with the Broncos. Kubiak played for Denver and coached there under his protégé Mike Shanahan, Denver's head coach and father of Houston's offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Then, there is assistant head coach Alex Gibbs, who became a zone-blocking legend with the Broncos. General manager Rick Smith also got his pro start in Denver, coaching the defensive backs before moving to the pro personnel department.

As for players, the Texans signed center Chris Myers, safety Nick Ferguson and running back Mike Bell from Denver this year.

When asked about all the hype that is generated when these two teams meet, this is what Kubiak had to say:

"Teams are teams whoever you play. You just get to see some old friends, guys you work with for a long time. But yeah, I would say three years later I have moved on. We've got a lot of things to worry about. It just so happens that we're playing some buddies this weekend."

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