KAPOLEI, Hawaii – Cornerback Johnathan Joseph, center Chris Myers and defensive end Antonio Smith were in familiar company at the AFC's first Pro Bowl practice on Wednesday morning.
The Texans' three Pro Bowlers were joined on the field at Kapolei High School, about 30 minutes west of Honolulu, by Gary Kubiak and the entire Texans coaching staff, who are leading the AFC through the week. Members of the Texans' equipment, medical, video and support staff are also in Hawaii, adding a decidedly Texans feel to the all-star festivities.
"It's very nice," Kubiak said. "Obviously, it's a nice vacation for us and our families. Also, we as coaches get a chance to spend a lot of time together other than in football all the time. It's a great reward. It was a great season. We'd have loved to have been playing last weekend (in the AFC Championship Game) to see what would've happened, but we're enjoying ourselves out here."
Aside from the players involved and the tropical locale, Wednesday's practice had all the makings of a Texans practice at the Methodist Training Center in Houston.
Kubiak oversaw the action from deep in the defensive backfield, standing at various times by himself, with Texans defensive backs coach Vance Joseph and with director of equipment services Jay Brunetti.
During 7-on-7s, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and linebackers coach Reggie Herring shouted instructions from the line of scrimmage. Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp worked with quarterbacks Phillip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger and Andy Dalton and the rest of the offense.
Special teams coordinator Joe Marciano led Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski and company through field goals drills. Strength and conditioning coach Cedric Smith led the AFC all-stars through warm-up drills at the beginning of practice.
"Heck, I was nervous walking in the first meeting," Kubiak said, smiling. "You have such respect for these players, and (they're) such great players. But this is a reward for them, so we just want to have a good time and hopefully we know what we're doing by the time we get to Sunday. But it's really a joy for us as coaches to get to know all these guys and get to meet their families as well."
Joseph, Myers and Smith – all first-time Pro Bowlers – looked at home with the best of the AFC's best on Wednesday, smiling and laughing with their teammates as they went through a casual practice in T-shirts and shorts.
"Everybody that I've talked to talked about how great we played as a team overall," Joseph said. "A lot of guys were rooting for us, thought we had a chance to go all the way to the Super Bowl. They credited us for how hard we played throughout the whole game, so it's a tremendous (respect) for me and my teammates."
Myers, a sixth-round draft pick in 2005, said he was humbled and overwhelmed by his first trip to the Pro Bowl.
"It's a surreal experience," Myers said. "You always see it on TV and you hear from the buddies that you play with of how it's going to be, but you never know until you get here. Just trying to enjoy every moment of it and enjoy everyone's company. It's been a pretty cool experience so far, especially having the whole staff out there and a few of the guys from the team."
The Pro Bowl players and coaches had a luau scheduled for Wednesday night. Joseph also said he was excited to take on surfing at some point during the week – one of the many perks of being in Hawaii.
"It's all our first time being over here," Joseph said. "We just want to experience and live it up, and hopefully we can bring more (teammates) with us next time we're able to come back."