One of the two major stories on the first day of trianing camp was wide receiver Andre Johnson. The back-to-back league leader in receiving yards missed the first few days of organized team activities this spring because of a contract dispute, but he reported to camp on Friday without a hint of discord.
"I've always wanted to be here," Johnson said after the morning practice. "I've never thought about holding out. I think that me missing the first few days of OTAs got a little blown out of proportion. I came in. I'm here now. That's all that matters."
Texans owner Bob McNair said that even though Johnson has five years left on his contract, he hopes to negotiate a new deal with the star receiver within a couple of weeks.
"Clearly, we've never done anything like this before and there has to be a reason for doing it, and Andre is a special guy so we're giving him some special consideration," McNair said.
The other headliner on Friday was first-round draft pick Kareem Jackson. The rookie cornerback missed the morning practice as he finalized his contract, but he signed shortly thereafter and was out at practice in the afternoon.
"It was very important for me to be out here with my teammates," Jackson said. "These guys are out here running around and sacrificing things. I wanted to get out here and be with them and show that I wanted to be part of the team."
Five Things Worth Noting• The Texans did not wear pads in either practice on Friday. They practiced outside in front of fans in the morning with 85-degree weather (heat index 105). In the afternoon, they practiced without helmets on inside the Methodist Training Center practice bubble.
• Tight ends Owen Daniels and Anthony Hill, who are recovering from ACL injuries, were placed on the active/PUP list on Friday. They still count toward the 80-man roster limit and can be taken off the list at any time during camp. The Texans are hoping that Daniels, a Pro Bowler in 2008, will be ready for opening day against the Indianapolis Colts in six weeks.
• Xavier Adibi and Danny Clark are the likely candidates to start at strongside linebacker during Brian Cushing's four-game suspension to start the season, but it was Cushing who got the first-team reps on Friday. "As we're teaching these first 10 days, there are a plenty of reps to go around," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "We don't change anything. As we approach the preseason, then some of that mindset will change."
• As he did during OTAs, Arian Foster lined up as the first-team running back. The backfield competition should be fierce. Steve Slaton and rookie Ben Tate are healthy, and don't forget about Chris Henry and Jeremiah Johnson; Kubiak said that the reps would be split "right down the middle" among all five backs.
• The announced attendance for the Texans' Friday morning practice was 3,714, the largest opening-day crowd in the team's training camp history. "This is a big-time opportunity not only for us, but for fans in the city of Houston to come out and get look at us," quarterback Matt Schaub said. "To see them come out and support us on a hot Friday morning, it means a lot."
Five Things Worth Quoting
"We think he is going to be our first Hall of Famer and we'd like to see him spend his entire career with the Texans, and so hopefully that is what we will be able to achieve. That is what I'd like to see happen. We're ready to sit down and talk about putting something together that might allow that to happen."
- McNair, on Johnson
"It's a big difference. I was in a spread offense. I was getting the signals from the sideline. There wasn't too much in picking up blitzes my last two years."
- Tate, on the Texans' playbook compared to the one he had at Auburn
"That was overwhelming. I've never seen that many numbers, and for it to be going toward me. So that was very overwhelming."
- Jackson, on signing his rookie contract
"I was told back in college by one of my coaches that 'Confidence is a result of demonstrative performance.' I feel like after the way we finished last season and taking the next step for this franchise we should have confidence. We've had a great offseason of work. We have all the players and enough pieces to the puzzle in place."
- Schaub, on the team's goals
"I've got to have a good camp. I've got to have a great preseason. I've got to prepare myself for when I'm back and I'm going to train harder than ever and I've got to top last year. That's my biggest concern."
- Cushing, on his mentality with being suspended for the first four games of the season