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Houston Texans

Healed veterans speak at Wednesday's OTA

Flanagan back in the fold: As mentioned before, one of the more intriguing position battles this offseason is at center where veterans Mike Flanagan and Steve McKinney are battling it out.

Flanagan missed the end of the 2006 season with broken bones in his rib cage. McKinney stepped in admirably, but now Flanagan is back at full strength.

"Yeah, some bones were broken, they healed and it's forgotten about," Flanagan told reporters Wednesday.

Flanagan appears to have regained his starting position and feels like he has something to prove.

"It's frustrating because you get paid to play," Flanagan said of his first year in Houston. "It's a game I've been playing forever and a game that I love to play, but injuries are part of the game, it's inevitable."

Mathis on the mend: It's been nice to see Jerome Mathis out at OTA's the past few days. Mathis was hampered with a foot injury for most of the 2006 season and played in just a handful of games.

His foot is healed but Mathis says he still has some obstacles to conquer before he's back to 100 percent.

"It will be a matter of time before I get back to full strength," Mathis said. "My foot is fine. I'm just working on a couple of hamstrings now, I'll say I'm 90, 95 percent."

Though an OTA in May is not necessarily crucial to team success, Gary Kubiak thinks that the next few weeks are pretty important to Mathis.

"It's critical because we're at a point at his career where he had a great rookie season, but last year he dressed for two games for us I think and he struggled physically," Kubiak said.

"He has been out here everyday, he's practiced everyday, he had some issues with tightness today, but our football team is very competitive right now and the good thing is that our football team is going to be tough to make and I think Jerome sees that going on and it's important that he's out here."

Taylor to fullback?: Don't expect to see it anytime soon, but Chris Taylor has seen time at fullback throughout OTA's.

Kubiak noted the depth at running back after Tuesday's workout and said Wednesday that Taylor could be a candidate to play fullback at some point in his career.

"I think Chris Taylor has the size that he can play that spot some, but I feel good about Vonta (Leach) and I feel good about Jameel (Cook) coming back and I like the way Joel Dreessen has been working there along with the young kid (Cory) Anderson so we have enough people there."

But considering that Taylor finds himself in a dog fight for position on the depth chart behind Ahman Green and Ron Dayne at running back, his perceived versatility may give him an edge when the 53-man roster is announced come August.

"When we do practice we do work Chris in there a bit at that position," Kubiak said.

Mr. Holland's opus: It's easy to spot the linebackers during OTA's. Not only is DeMeco Ryans worth watching, but many enjoy taking in linebackers coach Johnny Holland's pearls of wisdom.

Holland is quickly becoming one of the best in the business at what he does and he offers a simple philosophy on how he coaches his backers.

"You want to impart the mental part of the game," Holland said. "I always tell players that if you could coach first and then go play, you'd be a lot better of, but these guys are great athletes and they can run and move with a lot of physical ability.

"We try to teach our guys to play hard and leave everything on the field every snap and play smart."

Holland was a pretty good player too. After leading Texas A&M in tackles his final three seasons in College Station, Holland was drafted in the second round by the Green Bay Packers in 1987.

Following a fine seven year career, Holland entered the coaching ranks, but he still watches some of his old highlights from his playing days.

"I have a 13 year old son so he'll pull the tapes out now and then and say, 'Dad, you're a lot bigger then than you are now,'" Holland said. "Every once in a while you'll look at it because you're trying to teach these guys something so I'll want to go back and look to see if I did it."

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