After an action-packed opening day on Friday, things calmed down considerably on the second day of Texans training camp. There were no contract discussions, no rookie signings, no players placed on the PUP list. Even the weather at the open morning practice was subdued, with cloud cover keeping the sun in check and keeping the temperature down.
Running back Arian Foster continues to impress in his reps with the first team. Texans coach Gary Kubiak said he has come a long way from a year ago, when he went from an undrafted rookie to a practice squad player to a starter in the season finale.
"I don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves here, but he's a great example that you take a rookie and you pound it in him, pound it in him, pound it in him pound it in him, and some of them get it at some point and some of them don't and they move on," Kubiak said. "Well, he found a way to get it at some point last year. He's a totally different young man.
"He's grown up. We're not having to battle Arian for how he practices or his effort or how he meets or those things. That's over. It's all about football with him. He's got a chance. He's got a chance to be a fine player, and I think we're all excited to see what he's doing right now, including his teammates."
Foster, who ran for 216 yards on 39 yards in the last two games last season, is determined to make the most of his current opportunity.
"I think I have matured," he said. "I came in last year as a rookie, I made mistakes off the field and on the field, just being late and things like that. I just saw last year and really took in how guys like Andre (Johnson) and) Matt (Schaub)… take care of their business off the field, and I try to incorporate that in my personality now. I try to be a professional in everything I do now, whether it's picking up a small piece of trash when I see it. It's small, but it just kind of builds character."
Five Things Worth Noting• Rookie kick returner Trindon Holliday electrified the morning crowd of 4,181 Texans fans with his speed in punt return drills. With seven defenders running at him and no blockers, he fielded two consecutive punts and simply outran the coverage to the sidelines, from which point he turned on the jets and burst upfield. The first return was to the left side, while the second was to the right. Both drew big cheers from the crowd.
• Defensive end Mario Williams and Ryans sat out of the Texans' afternoon practice inside the Methodist Training Center, which features a playing surface that can be a bit tougher on players' joints than the outdoor fields. "I think DeMeco will be an every-other-day (afternoon) guy," Kubiak said. "Mario's hip is a little sore, so we gave him the afternoon off." Johnson also didn't practice in the afternoon, which is status quo in indoor practices for the star receiver.
• Kubiak said that second-year tight end James Casey looks more comfortable in the offense and is getting an opportunity to battle Joel Dreessen for a starting spot with Owen Daniels out. After both practices, Kubiak also said that Casey has been impressive as a long snapper. "When it comes down to a roster spots, the way he's snapping right now may surprise some people," Kubiak said.
• The Texans will begin full-contact practices on Sunday, when Kubiak says the team will practice in shells (shoulder pads). Monday will bring with it the Texans' first full-pads practice of training camp. "Now we're going to stop all those long deep routes, everybody running fast," safety Bernard Pollard said, referencing the offensive players' free reign on the first two days. "That's going to be null and void now. We get a chance to put (pads) on and we get a chance to hit, and we're going to let it be known."
• Chris Mortensen and his ESPN Tour Bus stopped through Texans training camp on Saturday morning. Mortensen interviewed Kubiak, Schaub and Ryans in his bus after practice and later aired a live segment about the Texans from down on the practice field. Click here to view his report.
Five Things Worth Quoting"I was told when I was little that once you get complacent, you die a little inside. You never want to be content as a human. I don't care if it's in sports or in business or whatever, you never want to be content. My mentality hasn't really changed. It's just once you get an opportunity, you have to produce. You have to show them what you can do. I wasn't up at 5:30 this offseason for nothing, so my mentality isn't, 'This spot is mine.' My mentality is, 'This spot is going to get taken. I am going to take it.'"
- Foster, on if his mentality has changed this year
"That decision will be made down the road. All of our focus is for him to get ready for the Colts. As I said yesterday, we are going to know a lot more about Owen in the next two weeks. His rehab looks good. He's picked it up and I've been watching him every morning. I think Owen is as good a worker as I've ever been around. So if anybody is going to make it to that spot, then he's got an excellent chance. So we'll be smart with him."
- Kubiak, on TE Owen Daniels' status for the opening game of the regular season
"What we will probably struggle with in training camp is the fact that we have two kickers and a deep snapper. We have two tight ends that aren't participating. It's making our numbers at other positions tough. (General manager) Rick (Smith) and I will have to approach it day-to-day."
- Kubiak, on the Texans' depth
"A lot of people don't get second chances. Rick Smith and (Texans owner) Mr. (Bob) McNair, they reached out. My biggest thing is that I want to let them know I'm the player they want. I'm the player that they need. I'm going to continue to be that player. This is year five for me. This is a great organization and a great place to play, and I wouldn't mind finishing up here."
- Pollard, on being a Houston Texan
"Well, the person that tries to convince him the most is Kevin Walter. The person who has the least convincing to do is obviously Andre (Johnson), but he's probably always open the most. Then there is me, who is somewhere in the middle. I try to argue or finagle my way into getting a ball or two."
- WR David Anderson, on which receiver does the best job of convincing QB Matt Schaub that he's open