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Camp report: Day 16


The Texans wrapped up their final practice in Houston Tuesday morning before heading to Metairia, La., where they will scrimmage against the New Orleans Saints until Saturday's game. Wide receiver Andre Johnson went through individual drills but is not expected to play this weekend.

'Dre practices: Andre Johnson worked out with the team for the first time since he pulled his groin on Aug. 2. The wide receiver primarily went through individual drills. Coach Gary Kubiak said he wasn't surprised to see his star wideout on the field, but he plans to hold Johnson out from the game to give him more time to heal.

"I shouldn't say I'm real surprised because they (team doctors) told me that should we have had a (regular season) game (last weekend) they think he (Johnson) could have pushed and played," Kubiak said. "I think he's getting antsy. He's tired of going through some of these things, but we'll be smart with him.

"We went through an individual with him today, and he actually did a little bit more. But I don't think it makes sense right now to push him to that point this week."

{QUOTE}Wide receiver Tim Carter and guard Fred Weary also will be listed as day-to-day. Carter took a blow to the head against Denver and has been experiencing headaches. Weary had the screws removed from the leg he fractured in December.

Still in the running back market: Kubiak said the team would discuss running back prospects on the plane flight to New Orleans. After Ahman Green went down with a pulled groin last Saturday, the Texans began looking at backs who could help the team in practice scenarios.

"We are discussing it all the time," Kubiak said. "It could very well happen; it could not happen. We got (through) clean these two days. We feel good getting on the plane to go there.

"It's day-to-day right now by position as to what we think we need. Right now, these four players have got to work because we need to figure out who the players are going to be."

The four guys are: Chris Brown, Darius Walker, Chris Taylor and Steve Slaton. On Monday, Kubiak said he planned to give Brown the bulk of the carries in New Orleans. Brown missed a week of camp with a back injury and is eager for a chance to prove he can shoulder the load on the ground.

Slaton impressed with his speed against the Broncos, and Kubiak would like to see the rookie get more reps as a punt returner.

Green's loss has been a disappointment to the team, but Kubiak said the Pro Bowler does not think the injury will sideline him for long.

"The thing that I'm encouraged of – and I think I told you yesterday – is how positive he is with me," Kubiak said. "Last year, when we went through this he was very apprehensive. He knew he was going to have a hard time (coming back). He tells me he's going to be fine. He feels good. I don't want to put a timetable on it right now. I think we just go day-to-day, but the strength is there, so that's a good sign.

A change of pace: During his tenure as offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos, Kubiak participated in joint practices with several teams around the NFL. One day before the Texans' first practice with the New Orleans Saints in Metairie, La., Kubiak spoke of how the change of pace provided by joint practices will benefit his players after 16 days of training camp.

"It's a good changeup," Kubiak said. "Guys have got to be ready to go because it gets very competitive. I think the fact that (the Saints) are an excellent team and the way people are talking about them this season, it's a great judge for us to go up there for three or four days and see where we're at."

Recently, New Orleans added another dimension to its already explosive offense by trading for tight end Jeremy Shockey. The Saints also made a concerted effort to shore up their defense, bringing in first-round draft pick defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis from USC and ex-New York Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma and New England Patriots cornerback Randall Gay – signings that have them looking like contenders for the NFC crown this year.

"They have a lot of talent over there and we are looking to go down there and be a physical football team and improve our team," quarterback Matt Schaub said. "Come Saturday when we come home, we want to come out of it a better football team."

Since the Texans don't play the Saints in the regular season, Kubiak isn't worried about showing New Orleans too much of his playbook in practice. However, Houston will run strictly base packages as the team continues to build confidence in its system heading into the regular season.

Both teams will be in shirts and shoulder pads on Wednesday and Thursday mornings and will practice with just helmets in the afternoon on Wednesday. Still, Kubiak doesn't expect either team to be timid.

"I'm sure it will get physical, and that's a good thing," he said. "I think it'll be good for both of us.

"We play in a division where it's very, very physical and we've got to be a more physical team on both sides of the ball to get better and catch some of those teams. I think it's an overall mentality. Working against this team should definitely help."

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