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Camp report: Day 2


Defensive end Mario Williams dominated during individual drills Saturday.

In the Texans' first open training camp practice of the year, the team worked out for a record crowd of 3,354 fans who cheered loudly for wideout Andre Johnson and lined up for autographs from linebacker DeMeco Ryans.

'Dre feeling good: Andre Johnson was eager to take the field Friday after missing OTAs due to arthroscopic surgery, and the wide receiver looked like he hadn't taken a day off, beating defensive backs C.C. Brown, Will Demps and Fred Bennett to catch a long touchdown pass.

But the wide receiver left the morning practice feeling sore and sluggish and he sat out the afternoon session. That rest proved pivotal. Johnson returned with fresh legs on Saturday and continued to create incredible separation from his coverage.

"Yesterday, I didn't feel too good, to be honest," Johnson said. "You know, I was kind of winded. But today I feel real good. I don't really know what it was, maybe the heat got to me. But today I came out and played a lot better."

{QUOTE}And the best news is that the Pro Bowler's knee is feeling fine.

"I haven't really had any problems with it," Johnson said. "When I am out running routes, when I break down, I have no problems, no pain and no nothing. I still go in and do some things just for precaution. But other than that, it is feeling fine."

Johnson is looking forward to getting a lot of reps with quarterback Matt Schaub, who is 100 percent after undergoing surgery on his non-throwing shoulder in January. The duo's instant chemistry was interrupted last season due to their respective injuries.

"We started off real well, but we had the injuries happen," Johnson said. "And just from talking to him in the offseason, he is still ready to go out and show people that he can be a star quarterback of the league.

"You can see it just from being with him in the huddle and just from talking to him when we talk about plays when we are out at practice. He is getting better and he is going to make this team better."

One-practice players: Head coach Gary Kubiak is determined to keep the veterans fresh for the season, despite playing with a reduced camp roster of 80 players.

Rosevelt Colvin, who is playing on the defensive line, did not particpate in the morning and will alternate practices with defensive end N.D. Kalu. The two veterans, who actually share many similarities as players, could end up competing for a roster spot.

"They're undersized ends that rush the passer," Kubiak said. "From that standpoint, they're very much alike, and they've both been playing a long time. So I think it's natural for us to stagger them in practice and let them get to the point where they can be as good as they can be and then let it work itself out."

Running back Ahman Green also will only practice in the morning when the team is wearing pads, and Kubiak will draw from the team's remaining four backs in the afternoon.

"I really think Ahman's a guy that plays his best when he works, and he'll tell you that," Kubiak said. "Are we going to make him a one-a-day player? Yeah, we are, so he won't practice this afternoon. But I think Ahman's a guy that needs to work to be at his optimum level, and I think he would tell you the same thing. So it won't be a lack of work, but it'll be smart work."

Banged up: Guard Mike Brisiel cracked his nose in two places Friday afternoon when he caught an elbow from defensive end Anthony Weaver. He wore a protective nose piece in practice Saturday and participated in all of the team's drills.

"Brisiel did fracture his nose yesterday, but you guys can see what he's all about," Kubiak said. "He's out here today, and he's going to be kind of tough to get off the field."

Brisiel took over as a starter when Fred Weary went down last December. Now, Weary is trying to catch up with the rest of the offensive line and master the new zone blocking scheme. Weary and running back Chris Taylor were among several players Saturday morning who were limited during portions of the practice by the heat and humidity.

Also suffering from the searing heat is rookie left tackle Duane Brown, who has had trouble coping with the conditions and could benefit from shedding some weight.

"I know Duane got a little gassed, but he's got to catch up with the football team," Kubiak said. "(He's) a little overweight.

"So we've got to push him, and he's got to catch up with the rest of his teammates. In this business, you've got to be able to go all day and he's figuring that out, and we've got to catch him up with everybody else."

Dunta remains upbeat: For as long as Dunta Robinson can remember, summertime meant strapping on the football helmet and gearing up for the season. So watching the Texans begin camp hasn't been easy for the cornerback who was placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list on Friday.

"I mean, it's tough, you know, but if I wasn't doing so good (in his recovery), I'd be down," Robinson said. "But I've come out here and I've worked hard every day since I got hurt in November, so I really can't worry about it because I know there will be a day when I'm back out on the field. So with that being said, I let my work ethic drive me. Not being able to get out on the field, that drives me to get back on the field; it makes me work a little bit harder."

Robinson, who has said he will be ready to play once he can match up against Johnson in practice, hasn't suffered a setback yet in his rehab.

"My body's telling me, 'You can play,' but other mouths are telling me – you know, doctors, etc. – they're telling me that, 'You're not ready yet,'" Robinson said. "So like I said, I've just got to keep working on this thing. I've come a long ways from where I was. At one point, the timetable was maybe miss the entire 2008 season and to be where I am in July headed into August, it's truly a blessing, man, so I'm just going to keep working."

Robinson predicts he will return in November after the Texans release him from PUP and plans to be back to his hard-hitting ways in no time.

"Most of it would be just adrenaline rush, doing what I love again," Robinson said. "Once you get back out on the field, it's like riding a bike: Everything comes back together."

Leach teaches fullback 101: Vonta Leach has been working with Chris Taylor on making the move from running back to fullback.

"Fullback is a whole lot different position," Leach said. "Things happen a whole lot faster at fullback, so I'm just trying to teach him the steps and what to look for and how to read it. I'm trying to teach him to see what I see, at a quicker pace. We see the same thing, but it happens so much faster."

Leach said he won't teach Taylor how to hit. The three-year veteran will have to pick that up on his own.

"You've just got to tell him just to go in there and just hit somebody," Leach said. "You can't really teach that. You've just got to go in there and you've just got to have that 'I don't care' attitude."

Taylor is coming back from a knee injury he suffered last year and was moved to fullback on the first day of camp.

The team was carrying five running backs on the roster, including Taylor, and two fullbacks (Leach and Jameel Cook). Excelling at fullback certainly would increase Taylor's chances of making the team.

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