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Houston Texans

Camp report: Day 9


The Texans suffered a huge scare when Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson dove for a catch and came up limping. The injury appears to be a groin strain and the wideout will undergo more tests this weekend. To read more about Johnson's injury, click **here**.

Bell needs conditioning: Running back Mike Bell had trouble handling his first full practice in the Houston heat. He cramped up several times and tweaked his hamstring.

Bell was released by the Broncos in July because they wanted him to move to fullback and he struggled with the transition. Bell had not been conditioning with a team before he signed with Houston on Thursday.

"To be honest with you, he's not in the shape the rest of our football team is and we found that out real fast," coach Gary Kubiak said. "He got gassed the first night he was out here. He got gassed earlier today, and he's not up with our team.

"Unfortunately, that's what happens when you bring guys in the middle of camp or stuff. If they're not in excellent shape, they get exposed in a way very, very quick. I just don't think he was in very good condition."

{QUOTE}Kubiak has placed a huge emphasis on the conditioning of his players this season. Guard Chester Pitts (6-4, 310) came into camp 10 pounds lighter so that he could be more agile in the team's zone blocking scheme. The coach would like to see left tackle Duane Brown (6-4, 318) lose 10-15 pounds before the season begins.

Bell will be asked to get fitter right away so that he can help out a running back unit that has been down a player with Chris Brown sidelined with a back injury.

Gibbs improves defensive line: Everyone is talking about how zone blocking guru Alex Gibbs is making the offensive line better. Well, he's doing the same thing with the D-line. When Gibbs pushes the offensive line during one-on-one drills against the defense, he increases the level of competition and fires up the d-linemen.

Gibbs gets fired up when an offensive lineman shuts down a defender, and the defense can't stand seeing the assistant head coach get that excited.

The defensive line also has also improved its play against a zone scheme, which should help their run defense this season.

"If you can play great in that scheme, I think everything else can be a little simplified to you," defensive tackle Amobi Okoye said. "If you can go against him and his scheme and what he's telling his offensive line to do, and you can beat that, you should be good."

Okam to increase motor: The Texans drafted defensive tackle Frank Okam in the fifth round this year to help stuff the run. The former Longhorn is massive, but he will have to get his motor going if he is going to help the team in the trenches.

"I saw a good motor in OTAs; I saw a little bit of a lack of it sometimes here at camp," Kubiak said. "But I've seen him bounce back the last few days. That's what we drafted; we drafted a talented, big kid that didn't play with a motor all the time. It's our job to find his motor on a consistent basis. If he does that, he'll be a very productive player in this league."

Defensive line coaches Frank Bush and Jethro Franklin have made Okam into their special project. With Okoye being more of a pass rushing tackle, the coaches would like to make Okam into a player who can clog the middle. But the coaches know Okam will need a lot work before he gets there.

"I think he's just always played 'Hey, I'm the biggest guy on this damn field. If I go here they can't block me.' Kubiak said. "In this league, if you go there they can block you. There are good players in this league, so now he's having to be more of a technician and those types of things."

Demps to wear second transmitter: Linebacker DeMeco Ryans will wear the defensive helmet fitted with a transmitter so he can relay calls. Safety Will Demps will wear the helmet when Ryans is not on the field.

Only one player can wear the helmet on the field, and each team can designate two players to have such helmets.

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