Kicking competition heats up

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The Texans' kicking competition took a step forward on Tuesday morning, with Kris Brown and Neil Rackers competing in front of the team for the first time in training camp.

Brown, the incumbent and last remaining original Texan, and Rackers, the free agent addition from the Arizona Cardinals, had been kicking on a separate field with special teams coordinator Joe Marciano.

With all of their teammates and coaches watching Tuesday, they took turns attempting two field goals apiece from distances of 27, 37 and 43 yards. Brown finished 5-of-6, barely missing wide left on his second attempt from 43 yards. Rackers was a perfect 6-of-6.

"For me, I'm around new guys," said Rackers, who made 41-of-45 attempts in his last two seasons in Arizona. "I've got to prove to them that I can put the ball through the uprights. That's more pressure than a game to me. You're trying to impress your teammates and let them know that when they put you on the field, they're getting three points."

Both kickers struck the ball with authority on each kick, with a couple of their conversions hitting the top of the video lift behind the goal posts.

"I think most every one of my kicks, I hit really solidly," Brown said. "At this stage in the game as far as training camp goes, that's what you're looking for. You're looking for consistent contact on the ball. I'm certainly not pleased anytime you miss a kick, but when you do and you feel like you hit it well and you were focused and really into your target, there's really not a whole lot you can do about it."

Brown said that he has not changed his mechanics or kicking routine from last season, when he missed 11 field goals. Those same mechanics helped him make a career-high 87.9 percent of his attempts in 2008.

"I had to sit down in the offseason and evaluate what happened and figure out in my own mind what happened," he said. "I've moved past it, though. That's the great thing about this game. Last year is over and done with, and I'm just looking forward to this year and really just enjoying this training camp."

Brown, entering his 12th season, and Rackers, entering his 11th, have struck up an unlikely friendship. Brown is welcoming the first real competition that he's had as a Texan, while Rackers says that some of the best years of his career were ones in which he had competition in camp.

Texans coach Gary Kubiak called the kickers "dead even" on Tuesday and expects it to be a close race throughout camp and the preseason.

"It looked pretty good today," Kubiak said of the competition. "I think that's the way it's going to be. I think it's going to be nip-and-tuck the whole way and they'll both handle themselves well and kick well and make it tough on us to make a decision."

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