For the last time until Tuesday, the Texans practiced at the Methodist Training Center this morning. Head coach Gary Kubiak and the squad welcomed receiver Andre Johnson back to the field, and after every catch, the Pro Bowler drew cheers from the 4,112 in attendance. It was a happy day for Johnson and company, who won't practice this afternoon or tomorrow.
"I was just excited like a kid at a candy store," Johnson said. "I was happy to be out here running around. It felt good."
Johnson dislocated his left index finger on Tuesday and was forced to watch the proceedings from the sidelines the remainder of the week. Much to the delight of the crowd lining the east side of the practice field, he hauled in multiple passes and was on the field with the first-team offense. Johnson, participating in his ninth Texans training camp, was enthused by the competition between the offense and defense this morning.
"I think if you look at our practice today you can tell that it was very intense. Every practice has been very intense, guys are competing and guys are trying to make each other better. Guys are maybe talking a little trash to each other but it's nothing personal it's more motivational, you know, trying to get guys going and things like that," Johnson said.
Learning ProcessOn the seventh day of practice in the 3-4 defense, coordinator Wade Phillips likes what he sees from his unit, and thinks the carryover from the classroom to the field is going as smoothly as expected after missing almost five months due to the lockout.
"I think things are going surprisingly well in that the players have worked hard in the classroom," Phillips said on Sunday. "They're working hard on the field, but I think in the classroom, they've learned a lot of things quickly. I don't see any big mistakes, I don't see guys making a lot of mental mistakes, and that's what I'm looking for."
Kubiak agreed, and heaped praise upon Phillips' teaching skills.
"Defensively, Wade's had this football team for six days. That's unbelievable and they've done a hell of a job," Kubiak said.
Health CheckRunning back Ben Tate left practice with a "tight" hamstring, according to Kubiak. Fellow ball-carrier Arian Foster also sat out because of his own hamstring problem, but Derrick Ward returned to action on Sunday after missing time Saturday morning. Along with Steve Slaton and Chris Ogbonnaya, it was a three-man backfield this morning, and Kubiak was impressed with what he saw.
"It's fun to watch," Kubiak said. "Steve is having a great camp. Ogbonnaya is having a hell of a camp. It's just fun to watch right now because those guys are getting so much work. They're not sitting there or standing. It's funny, you can show up one day as the fifth guy and the next day you're the third guy."
Linebacker Brian Cushing (knee) did not practice.
Quotable"I'm more vocal now. I have to make calls. I have to understand what the offense is trying to do to let my corners know what's going on and let them know what to play. I'm in the box now sometimes as a safety. It's a little more responsibility but it's fun."
—Safety Glover Quin on playing in the 3-4.
"I'm watching him. He's mad at me today because he had a couple sacks and we let the ball get thrown. I let him know after practice I saw him."
—Kubiak, on Mario Williams' Sunday performance.