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Camp report: Day 4


The Texans went through a more rigorous Monday morning training camp session since only special teams practiced in the afternoon. Running back Chris Brown missed a second day of camp, but the ground game still looked strong, according to head coach Gary Kubiak.

Brown sits out: Chris Brown was forced to miss a second day of training camp. On Saturday, he took an unexcused absence to attend to a family matter. Back problems kept him from participating on Monday.

"His back was bothering him when he came in this morning and so we have him out of practice and he won't practice in the afternoon on special teams," Kubiak said. "We'll see if his back is better tomorrow.

"It's part of camp. You're always going to have things to deal with. But for him to help his football team, he has to be on the field."

The running backs didn't look like they needed too much help, however. Rookie Steve Slaton was getting to the outside corners. Second-year pro Darius Walker pounded through holes. Chris Taylor worked out at running back and fullback. And Ahman Green's knee continued to look 100 percent.

"Just really, really an impressive morning from the group because they were short a guy, one of their partners was down and they had to pull on each other a little," Kubiak said. "But the running back group had a hell of a practice."

Brown is expected to return on Tuesday.

{QUOTE}Zgonina stays spry: Jeff Zgonina is entering his 16th year in the league, but the defensive tackle doesn't look like he's lost a step. Maybe that's because he has the sturdiest legs on the team. Regardless, Zgonina can play mean in the trenches, and he knows how to earn a roster spot.

"Timing, being in the right place at the right time," Zgonina said to explain his longevity. "That's all, no matter where you're drafted. First, free agent, seventh like myself, you know. You get in the right situation and unfortunate circumstances happen, guys get hurt or whatever and you finally get thrown in there, you finally get to stick, you've got a chance. That's how I got in. A couple guys got hurt and I finally got to play more and show what I could do."

Zgonina, who roomed and played with general manager Rick Smith at Purdue, is competing for a roster spot as a run-stopping tackle. And like every year in camp, he is nervous about making the team.

"You just never know," Zgonina said. "It's a lot of luck. I'm nervous. It's my livelihood. I don't want to give it up yet, so you've got to worry about it. It's got to be in the back of your head. Also, I can't worry about it because it will affect my play. Early on, I worried way too much over it, stressed about it. It is what it is, that's all I got to say. I'm going to give you my best every day in practice and preseason games and hopefully it's good enough to help this team."

Injury notes: Linebacker Chaun Thompson, who has been backing up DeMeco Ryans at middle linebacker, could be out for eight to 10 days with a hamstring injury. Thompson had been impressing coaches with his ability to shoot the gap and get to the quarterback.

"I think he knows what he is as a player and as a pass rusher," Kubiak said of Thompson. "The time (lost) is going to hurt him, but I think we just have to get him back out here."

Wide receiver Jacoby Jones is day-to-day with a foot injury.

"We talked this morning; we will wait and see," Kubiak said. "He won't do anything this afternoon, but I can probably catch you guys up on that day-to-day."

Cornerback Petey Faggins sat out another day with a hamstring injury.

Returner needed: The team held its first special teams practice Monday afternoon, giving coordinator Joe Marciano a chance to evaluate the talent for kick and punt returns.

André Davis, who returned three kickoffs for touchdown last season, has his position locked down. His game-changing speed prompted the Texans to sign him to a lucrative free agent contract.

At punt return, Jones is the front runner, but Kubiak would like to have a solid backup for the second-year pro. Last season, Jones injured his shoulder on a 74-yard return and was never the same in his rookie campaign.

"Well, I would think if we walked out there today, they're definitely the two guys," Kubiak said. "But I think we've got to prepare for things that could happen along the way. I think we feel good about some guys' kick return. Our question is our punt return behind Jacoby Jones, other than David Anderson nobody's really taking direction. So we'll have to wait and see."

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