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Camp report: Day 3


Sunday morning marked the first camp practice with the team wearing full pads. The defense set the tone for the day, going hard in pass rush drills and putting the offensive linemen on their heels.

Mario and "The Chain Gang": Mario Williams continued to look unstoppable in pass rush drills, blowing by the left tackles on just about every rep. He is so quick off the ball and he is playing with extreme confidence. He expects to get to the quarterback (


"We're expecting a lot, but I think the most important thing is Mario's expecting a great deal out of himself," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "He's as good a worker as I've ever been around in football at a very young age right now and (he's) taking his game to a new level every day."

But Williams isn't the only lineman that coaches are noticing.

{QUOTE}Defensive tackle Amobi Okoye also looked stronger and faster off the line of scrimmage. Last year, Okoye struggled with his consistency and felt worn down at the end of his rookie campaign. The second-year pro got in better shape this offseason, giving him a faster first step. Okoye is considered more of a pass-rushing tackle, but he has been working on improving his run defense.

"He is much more of a pro," Kubiak said. "I think our biggest battles with Amobi last year were consistency of effort and those types of things for young guys that we're asking a lot out of, and that's not an issue right now. He is a worker. He's getting better from that standpoint."

The defensive line as a unit stood out in the Sunday morning practice, playing with grit and enthusiasm. Even undrafted rookie free agent Jessie Nading got defensive line coach Frank Bush fired up when he blew by tackle Brandon Frye.

The D-line's tough play in the trenches inspired tackle Travis Johnson to name the unit "The Chain Gang," and Johnson leads the linemen in singing the Sam Cooke song when jogging between drills.

Brown battles back: The most popular drill for fans to watch during open practices has been the pass rush drill where the linemen match up against each other (


Watch video). The most entertaining part of it all is listening to assistant head coach Alex Gibbs get after the O-line.

When guard Kasey Studdard put together a few good reps, Gibbs screamed out, "That's the way to play, Studdly."

Gibbs was less complimentary of rookie left tackle Duane Brown, who has struggled with the heat. Brown got burned a few times early on in the drill and Gibbs was in Brown's face about improving his footwork.

The coaching worked, because Brown ended the day by fending off linebacker Rosevelt Colvin. Gibbs said it was the best rep Brown has had so far in camp.

A blast from the past: Former Texans returner and fan favorite J.J. Moses attended Sunday morning's practice and chatted with Texans owner Bob McNair and special teams coordinator Joe Marciano among others.

Moses is one of the newest Texans Ambassadors, which is a group of former Texans and NFL players with ties to football in Houston who represent the team at games and in the community.

A member of the Texans during the 2003-04 seasons, Moses spent the 2002 season with the Green Bay Packers and two games in 2005 with the Arizona Cardinals before retiring. His best season was in 2004, when he returned 36 punts for 309 yards (8.6 avg.) and 59 kickoffs for 1,303 yards (22.1 avg.).

An Iowa native who attended Iowa State with current Texans quarterback Sage Rosenfels, Moses resides in Houston now and remains active in the community.

"Right now I'm on the staff at the University of Houston," he said. "I'm a mentor for all of the student athletes up there. I'm involved with Lakewood Church. I'm an usher, and I do a few speaking engagements throughout the church and the city, actually. So I love it."

Moses tries to keep in touch with his old teammates that still play with the Texans.

"Of course, you have Dunta (Robinson), you have Petey (Faggins), you have Matt Turk. Matt wasn't here while I was here, but I ended up meeting Matt and a lot of the guys," Moses said. "So I know a lot of the guys, a lot of the training guys, and of course, Mr. McNair."

Other first-year members of the Texans Ambassadors include former Texas A&M and Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Richmond Webb, as well as erstwhile Texans linebackers Kailee Wong and Jamie Sharper.

"I see Kailee at a gym that I work out at, a 24-hour fitness (center)," Moses said. "I haven't see Jamie for a while. But it's an honor (to be a Texans Ambassador) because you get to stay in this circle, being around the guys and you get a chance to see what it's like off the field."

As far as his prediction for the Texans this season, Moses is bullish.

"I think they're going to be a playoff team," he said. "I like coach (Gary) Kubiak. I think he's a good coach. He's a player's coach. He can relate to the guys, and the guys seem like they like him."

Adibi, Roberson impress Kubiak: Rookie Xavier Adibi, who has been backing up Morlon Greenwood at weak-side linebacker, possesses speed and a high football IQ. At 6-2, 224, the fourth-round draft pick could benefit from increasing his muscle mass, but the Texans expect big things from him this season.

"Well, there are some things you can't teach in football," Kubiak said. "There are instincts that you can't teach, and he really has a nose for the ball - seems like good things happen to him."

Cornerback Derrick Roberson, a second-year pro who played on the practice squad last season, could emerge as a training camp surprise.

"That corner's trying to make this team," Kubiak said. "It just seems like every day he comes out here, he is making a pick or he is close to a pick, just very good football instincts.

"That's what I see from Xavier, he is going to have to be a big contributor to Joe (Marciano, special teams coordinator) on special teams and we'll see, but very, very instinctive player."

Odds and ends: Middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans will wear a helmet fitted with an ear piece so he can relay calls from defensive coordinator Richard Smith. Right now, linebacker Kevin Bentley is the leading candidate to fill in for Ryans when he is not in the game.

"With Kevin Bentley coming in here, I think he senses his group is getting better, and that should make our football team better," Kubiak said.

"Plus, we are going to need to know who's going to run the defense when he (Ryans) is not in there. And right now it looks like it will be Kevin Bentley, so we have to get him a lot of work."

Wide receiver Jacboy Jones did not practice in the afternoon because of an ankle issue. Cornerback Petey Faggins has been riding the bike a lot during practice because he tweaked his hamstring.

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