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Kubiak makes first round of cuts

Texans head coach Gary Kubiak talked to the media on Sunday about the players he released and those still competing to make the team.

Round of releases: A bleary-eyed Kubiak, who had been working since dawn, announced that the Texans had released eight players Sunday morning. The team will release two more players before Tuesday, trimming the roster down to 75 before the Texans leave for Tampa Bay.

The players saying goodbye to Reliant were: quarterbacks Quinton Porter and Bradlee Van Pelt, defensive tackles Thomas Johnson and Thomas Smith, tight end Ben Steele, wide receivers Charlie Adams and Harry Williams, and cornerback Derrick Roberson.

Releasing Adams, who grabbed a preseason touchdown reception, proved to be particularly difficult for Kubiak.

"I think the world of Charlie," Kubiak said. "He's played for me. He knows all our spots and does an excellent job. I think in all fairness to Charlie, letting a guy like that go this week probably gives him a better opportunity somewhere else."

Adams and the other released players met individually with Kubiak to discuss the situation.

"I've visited with every one of these kids," Kubiak said. "I haven't visited with Thomas Johnson yet and I'll probably be visiting with him briefly after we get through. We released eight. We still have a couple moves we have to make and we're going to hold off until Tuesday to make those moves."

Kubiak will strongly consider making a move with tackle Charles Spencer, who has been on the physically unable to perform list since late July. Spencer, the Texans' third-round draft pick in 2006, broke his leg in the second game of his career and still faces a long road to recovery.

Kubiak will issue the final round of releases on Friday, finalizing the Texans' 53-man roster.

The Tampa test: The Texans' preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday will serve as the deciding factor in many key position battles.

"The emphasis on the game is going to be to try to get the answer for some of the issues that we have; wide receiver, running back, offensive line, I could go though them all," Kubiak said. "We're going to play these guys and let them play it out on the field and make sure they get a ton of reps this week in practice, which is a very short week, as well as in the game."

The top-three receiver spots belong to Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones, in that order. Kubiak now wants to see what his young receivers have to offer, and if veteran Keeenan McCardell has enough juice left in his reserves.

The contest for punting duties also is coming to a head. Incumbent Chad Stanley, who pulled his groin during warmups before the Dallas game, is dueling against three-time Pro Bowl veteran Matt Turk.

"I would have loved to see Chad punting last night, that didn't happen," Kubiak said. "There's nothing he can do about that if he's injured. I think Turk did a good job. I think he's even capable of doing a better job than he did last night."

Kubiak would like to make several decisions on starting positions by Wednesday, namely at center, defensive tackle and linebacker.

"We'll make a decision on center Steve (McKinney)," Kubiak. "There are three situations that I'll let you guys know, probably Tuesday or Wednesday. That's regarding McKinney, regarding the linebacker position between linebacker Charlie (Anderson) and linebacker Danny Clark, and also the last one with defensive tackle Travis Johnson, between Travis and Anthony Maddox."

Moving down the line: Linebacker Shantee Orr moved into the nickel package against Dallas because he had impressed coaches with his ability to rush the passer. Orr could earn a spot as the seventh linebacker on the roster if he continues to prove his defensive versatility.

"If Shantee can rush the passer on third down and play great special teams, then maybe we have a place for seven guys," Kubiak said. "We liked some of the things he did. We'll take a hard look at him once again this week. He made a nice tackle on special teams. That's just another tough situation for our football team. But if that's something he can do, we can always keep one less defensive lineman and we're keeping one more linebacker."

Defensive end Mario Williams made a move to the left side, resulting in the best defensive moves of the preseason. The first overall draft pick was able to get to the open side and put pressure on the quarterback. And he played with fire.

"His energy level was very good," Kubiak said. "He chased the ball well, he finished to the quarterback. He could still get better, but he took a big step forward. I just like the enthusiasm and the energy he played with on the field."

In Schaub we trust: For the second consecutive week, quarterback Matt Schaub proved to be steady and savy as a signal-caller. Schaub did not let the notorious Wade Phillips blitz affect him. In fact, he rose to the occasion and then threw above it, finishing the game 12-of-16 for 109 yards and two touchdowns.

"We catch a blitz, a zero-out blitz where we can't pick it up," Kubiak said. "He has to eat the football and go down. He has no play to make. He doesn't get frustrated. He comes right back the next series, continues to make plays. You know, anything that happens that's not good for him doesn't affect him. He'll go back and play the next play, make the next play. If our team stumbles and we have a sack our some penalty or something, he'll come in and make the play to make it up. He's just very much in control of what he's doing and it'll be exciting to watch him grow as a starter."

Injury report: Safeties C.C. Brown and Jason Simmons both suffered bruised shoulders on Saturday and are touch-and-go this week. The safety spot took another hit when Brandon Harrison went down with a concussion. It's unlikely he'll see game action against the Bucs. Kicker Kris Brown's plant foot bothered him during the game, and coaches will limit his kicking. Defensive end Anthony Weaver's surgically repaired knee has shown signs of improvement.

"He started running again," Kubiak said of Weaver. "The knee felt good. Our mindset is to work him toward Kansas City and not play him against Tampa Bay. We'll work him toward opening day."

Fullback Jon Abbate and running back Patrick Pass will return to the field this week.

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