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Houston Texans

Defense dominates Thursday's OTA


Richard Smith's defense dominated Thursday's workout.

A day for the defense: When football players don't wear pads at practice, typically, the offense has an advantage. That was not the case Thursday at the Texans OTA.

"We practiced very, very well on the defensive side of the ball, but pretty sloppy on the offensive side of the ball," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "Would have liked to end the week a little better than that, but we'll come back next week and try to correct those things. We're working on it."

As an offensive-minded coach, Kubiak was noticeably irritated, despite the strong effort from his defense, but he couldn't put his finger on what the exact problem with the offense was on Thursday.

"I don't know," Kubiak said. "We just didn't look like we were ready to practice. It's part of the game, you have to find a way to fight through it and have leaders step up and make sure you're practicing well every day. It's part of the game. We have to come back Monday and be better."

The Texans are off on Friday, but return to the Methodist Training Center Monday for their first and only mini-camp this offseason. The mini-camp runs Monday through Wednesday next week.

A defensive tackle for the ages: A player will see a lot in 15 years in the NFL. Perhaps that is why the Texans added Jeff Zgonina to their defensive line this offseason.

"He's a guy that has played in the league forever," Kubiak said of Zgonina. "He takes tremendous care of his body and he's a no nonsense human being when it comes to football. And as I've told you guys before, if we're going to bring in an older guy, that is what he's going to stand for."

Zgonina is an imposing physical specimen and has legs like tree trunks. He's intimidating even to other NFL players, probably another reason why he was brought into the fold in Houston.

"If you're going to get in a huddle with him you better do it the right way or he's going to send you to the sidelines," Kubiak said. "That's what he is as a player. We're just very excited to get him. He's going to help us tremendously as a player and he's going to help us even more as a leader."

Zgonina's influence on the younger players is evident and he thinks that Mario Williams is poised to have a big year in 2007.

"He's a gifted athlete that's for sure," Zgonina said of Williams. "He's getting better and better every day. I think being here for a whole year is going to help him. I think he'll be a lot better player this year."

While Zgonina marvels at Williams' size, Amobi Okoye's age might be the one thing that Zgonina has the toughest time understanding. He said he could never consider playing in the NFL at the age of 20 (Okoye is currently 19, but turns 20 prior to opening day).

"No, considering he was four when I started my NFL career," Zgonina said. "It's amazing. When you're 19, you're supposed to be going to college. We'll see. He's doing well, it's just a matter of when things go live and getting use to that hitting. That's true for everyone, it doesn't matter how young you are."

Hanks visit: Merton Hanks spoke to the Texans following Thursday's OTA. Hanks, a former star safety for the San Francisco 49ers, currently works for the league enforcing uniform issues so he spoke to the players about that as well as other hot topics in league circles.

"Players respect him, he's a former player in this league, and a great person, I was with him in San Francisco," Kubiak said. "When they make a mistake with their uniforms or they think they're going to go out there and make a statement on Sunday, they are going to get a nasty letter and a fine.

"Merton is just trying to tell them how it works and here is the process and this is the way it's going to be. It's just like every other message being sent to the guys right now. He was kind enough to come out here and do it personally."

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