The Texans wrapped up a nine-day stretch of training camp practices with a highly competitive two-hour practice in full pads at the Methodist Training Center on Saturday morning.
The team got Saturday afternoon off to rest and will not practice on Sunday. The Texans play their first preseason game in seven days at Arizona.
"We've been getting after it really good," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "I knew we needed to hit this morning. We held up very good as a team. We've got 72 healthy bodies right now. That's pretty darn good for the practices that we had. I feel really good about where we're at. Now, we get to go and start playing somebody."
With 14 practices in the books, Kubiak was asked if he notices any differences in the team compared squads from his previous four training camps in Houston.
"There's two things that jump at me right now," he said. "I like the way we're running the ball on offense. I like some of the things that we're doing. John (Benton) and Rick (Dennison) are doing some of the things that we added. I like the fact that we've got a few backs that make some big plays.
"The biggest thing… is to see that the defense is so much improved. They're making plays every day. There's no highs and lows. They're very consistent at what they're doing, and that's very pleasing."
A Texans training camp-record 5,182 fans attended practice on Saturday. The seventh and final open practice of camp is on Monday, Aug. 9, at 8 a.m.
Five Things Worth Noting
• The Texans' sideline erupted when roookie cornerback Kareem Jackson (5-10, 197) laid out right tackle Eric Winston (6-7, 317) in the right flat on a screen pass. "That there was kind of tough," Kubiak said afterward. "We know he'll hit you. We saw him do it at Alabama. If you play for (defense backs coach) David (Gibbs) and you're a corner, then you're going to tackle." Jackson got burned by Andre Johnson early in practice on a route 20 yards downfield, but he rebounded to break up a pass from Dan Orlovsky to Jacoby Jones toward the end of practice.
• Johnson, whom coaches are lining up against Jackson every day, said he has been talking to the first-round draft pick to keep him in high spirits. "You can tell his mind is wandering a little bit when you see him walking around the locker room, so I always ask him if he's alright or if he has a question or anything," Johnson said. "I just let him know I'm going to work him every day, and I told him he's going to make me better. By us going at each other every day, it's going to make us both better. I'm going to try to do everything I can do to make sure he is ready and be his coach."
• Late in practice, second-year defensive end Connor Barwin dropped into coverage and picked off quarterback Matt Schaub on a rare mistake in an otherwise lights-out practice for Schaub. Barwin flashed his old tight end moves as he returned the ball 50 yards for a touchdown, capped off by a spirited dive into the end zone to get past wide receiver David Anderson. A walk-on basketball player at Cincinnati who's entering his third year playing defense, Barwin could be used to drop back into coverage more often this year, and that play showed why.
• Safety Torri Williiams, an undrafted rookie from Purdue, intercepted quarterback John David Booty twice in practice. The first came on a play-action pass that sailed over tight end Derek Fine's head. The second came on a pass from the end zone that Williams read perfectly and wound up running back for a touchdown. Read more about Williams in Saturday's "Rookie Watch" blog post.
• Kickers Kris Brown and Neil Rackers alternated field goal attempts from the following distances: 32, 37, 42, 47 and 52 yards. Brown was 4-of-6, missing wide right from 42 and 52. Rackers was 6-of-6. Kubiak has indicated that once the preseason begin, Brown and Rackers will alternate kicks in game situations.
Five Things Worth Quoting
"When I go out there, I'm going to try to beat him up every day. That's my approach and the way I approach every other defensive team. I give then everything I've got, and they're going to do the same for me. It only makes us all better as a football team."
- WR Andre Johnson, on helping rookie CB Kareem Jackson, the first-round draft pick out of Alabama
"It helps me out a whole lot. There's not too many receivers, if there are any receivers, like Andre Johnson in the NFL. Going against him, I'm learning different things that receivers do and just what to look for and stuff. It'll help me out a whole lot come game time."
- Jackson, on going up against Johnson
"We're trying to get the running game going. We're trying to be physical at the point of attack and things. Every time you look up and read something, it seems like running back is the weakest link on our offense, so we've got to come out and we've got something to prove."
- FB Vonta Leach, after leveling cornerback Antwaun Molden on a running play in practice, on his hopes to improve a Texans running game that ranked 30th in the NFL in 2009
"I think we're still trying to find exactly where we all fit in. It's a puzzle, you could say. Week by week, we'll find out more and more who fits where. "
- RB Chris Henry, on where he fits in with the Texans' running back packages
"I like the way our team (has) worked. I think it's very competitive. Our offense would win a period and then our defense would win a period. That's when you realize things are starting to get balanced."
- Texans coach Gary Kubiak, on the team's performance during training camp