Young corners will have a chance step up with cornerback Jacques Reeves sidelined for 6-8 weeks.
Each week, HoustonTexans.com's Nick Scurfield will answer your questions about the Texans in his new Fan Mailbag feature. [Click here](mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=Fan Mailbag question) to send in a question or comment, and check back next Tuesday for another installment of the mailbag.
Sunshine (Kentucky):dang.. reeves a broken leg? who are they bringing in for his roster spot?
Nick Scurfield:Well, first off, Jacques Reeves' injury is not going to open up a roster spot. He's out 6-8 weeks with a fractured fibula, and if he sticks to that timeline, he'd be back between Week 2 and Week 4 of the regular season. So he won't be going on the PUP list and certainly not on IR. But who will replace Reeves in the lineup? Dunta Robinson still isn't in camp, so it's going to have to be one of the Texans' young corners.
Rookie Glover Quin was the nickel corner before developing a serious bruise on his leg. When he resumes practicing, which should be soon, he should have a chance to take starters' reps opposite Fred Bennett. Antwaun Molden is still recovering from the foot injury that ended his rookie season in Week 15 against the Titans. Young players like Brice McCain, Matterral Richardson, A.J. Davis and Mark Parson are all late-round picks or undrafted free agents - players who live for this kind of opportunity. And don't forget about David Pittman, whom the Texans signed near the end of last season. He was a third-round pick by the Ravens in 2006 and picked off two passes for Baltimore in 2007.
Eric (Houston): Nick, do the same rules apply to Owen Daniels (a Restricted Free Agent) in contract negotiations, that apply to Dunta who received the franchise tag? The Texans cannot enter into further talks of a long term contract with Dunta, until the season is over. Do they have to wait until the season is over to resume contract talks with OD? Thanks in advance!
Nick Scurfield: Eric- No, the same rules do not apply. The Texans could (and did) negotiate with Daniels before he signed his RFA tender in June, and they can still negotiate with him. They can negotiate with Daniels throughout the entire season, too, if they so choose.
Roger Britz (Houston): How many players are allowed to be on the practice squad?
Nick Scurfield: Eight. Teams can have less, but not more. The only exception is through the NFL's international player program, which allows for a ninth practice squad player whose citizenship and principal place of residence is outside of the US. The league agrees upon which teams will be allowed the international exception each year; last year, it was the teams from the AFC North, AFC West, NFC South and NFC West. The Texans had a player through this program in 2007, Mexican linebacker Eduardo Castaneda.
John Olthoff (Houston): Do Texans look at 1st four games as most important, as we have seen slow starts before?
Nick Scurfield: Absolutely. The day before training camp, Texans coach Gary Kubiak said he was changing the camp schedule to make the afternoon practices lighter in the hopes of helping the team get off to a better start. The Texans were 8-4 in the final 12 games last season, including 5-1 in the final six. The coaches and players all know that in order to have a shot at the postseason, they can't start 0-4 again and dig themselves into a hole. Quarterback Matt Schaub talks about that mentality some in this article, which was written the day before camp started.
Brett (Austin): Everybody is talking about Chris Brown and Arian Foster, but I haven't heard much about Scuba Steve. How is my boy Slaton doing in camp? Is he going to go over 1,200 yards again this season?
Nick Scurfield: I asked Gil Brandt, the Cowboys' long-time talent evaluator, that same question when he was in Houston on Sunday for SIRIUS NFL Radio. I'll have Brandt's full comments up later today, but he resoundingly said that he thinks Steve Slaton can do even better this season. Slaton has bulked up to about 215 pounds this offseason, and Kubiak thinks that will be important to his ability to become a more physical player and hold up over the long haul of his career. Kubiak wants Slaton to take another step by getting better at picking up blitzes and pre-diagnosing runs, and the team also wants Slaton to improve in the red zone. But coaches love his maturity and think that having a year in the system under his belt will help him to improve in 2009.
John (Bellaire, Texas): Nick-I didn't make it to any Practices yet. Are there any more that we can go to? I heard we might be Practicing against the Saints before that game??
Nick Scurfield:Yes and yes. There are three more open practices that fans can attend for free, but all practices require a ticket. The first is a night practice tomorrow (Thursday) at 7:15 p.m., and it's going to be tough to get your hands on a ticket for that one if you haven't already. But there are plenty of tickets available for the Texans' two open practices against the Saints on Aug. 19 and 20. Both practices will go from 8:30 a.m.-10:40 a.m., and you can click here to download your free tickets now.