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Kubiak talks training camp


Kubiak and the Texans went 3-1 in his first preseason in charge.

Spencer is first causality: Training camp doesn't begin in earnest until Friday, but the Texans already have their first casualty. Gary Kubiak revealed Wednesday at his first press conference of the 2007 season that offensive tackle Charles Spencer will be placed on the PUP (Players Unable to Perform) list by the end of the week.

That puts Spencer on the shelf for at least the first six weeks of the regular season.

"He's not close yet," Kubiak said of Spencer. "He's got a ways to go. So it only makes sense for us to take the same course of action we took with Kailee (Wong) a year ago."

The news isn't all that surprising. Some feared when Spencer was lost for the season in 2006 with a broken leg that his career would be in jeopardy. While he's not back healthy yet, it's just a matter of time.

"He is making progress," Kubiak said. "There is no doubt in our mind that Charles is going to play football again and it will be a big positive if he plays for us this year."

The decision is one Spencer is taking in stride.

"It's obviously a decision that coach has made for my benefit," Spencer said Wednesday. "I get a chance to rehab a little more. I'm upset about it, but what can you do, I'm just going to keep rehabbing."

It's been quite a while since Spencer has been on a football field and he's growing a little impatient. A decision was made a few weeks back to scope his leg to see how it was progressing. The news was good, but the minor surgery still made the road to recovery longer.

"After they scoped it, they cleaned some things out and said it looked good," Spencer said. "The cartilage had grown back so that's a huge plus and I was excited about that."

And Spencer will be ready to play once he gets the okay from the training staff.

"Once they give me the green light, I'm going," he said. "I'm not flushing this season down the drain."

Okoye update: First-round pick Amobi Okoye remains the only draft pick unsigned. During their brief history, the Texans have never had to endure a rookie holdout. Even with the first practice less than 48 hours away, it appears that won't change this season.

"(Texans general manager) Rick (Smith) can answer that better than me, but I know we feel good about getting it done," Kubiak said of Okoye's status. "We have plenty of time."

Depsite Okoye's well documented intellect, Kubiak doesn't want to waste any time and thinks his 20-year old defensive tackle needs to be in camp by Friday.

"You want him here," he said. "Everyone walks in here for meetings tomorrow night and you want him out on that field Friday with everybody so I think it's extremely important and the kid thinks so too so we'll get it done."

A surprise at center: Veterans Steve McKinney and Mike Flanagan will be battling each other for the starting center spot throughout training camp, but Kubiak said Wednesday that a player has emerged this offseason that could push both of them for playing time.

And that push could become a shove with McKinney and Flanagan practicing just once a day this preseason to stay fresh.

"There has been a player that emerged this offseason in Chris White who's had one of the better offseasons as anyone on our team so I think he's in that mix," Kubiak said. "I think Chris will give them a battle. He's going to get a lot of reps with each one of them sitting out one practice a day."

Questions and answers: Kubiak didn't hesitate Wednesday to mention some of the key questions that he has for his team heading into his second training camp in Houston.

"How good is our receiving group going to be? Everybody talks about who's going to be number two? Who's going to play opposite Andre (Johnson)? I'm concerned about how the group is as a whole.

"We've got a lot of young players out there battling for jobs. Jerome (Mathis) is back, he's had a good last six weeks so I have my fingers crossed there. But we've got to play well as a unit so can we do that?

And the questions were not just limited to his offense.

"Defensively, I look at it as a group," Kubiak said. "They really improved over the last 10 weeks of last season and to me this offseason, they were improved, so if that whole group takes a step like last year and keeps progressing, they can be pretty good, but how good?

McCardell update: Veteran receiver Keenan McCardell, a Houston native, was rumored to have signed with the team earlier this week. Those rumors turned out to be false, but since McCardell has yet to sign with any team he still could join the Texans.

"I haven't talked to Keenan," Kubiak said Wednesday. "I know that Rick has had contact with him, with his agent. Looks like to me that he's trying to make a very tough decision. I think he understands where we're at. He knows what we feel like we can do as an organization and I think there's a tremendous opportunity here."

If you're tired of waiting for McCardell's decision, even if he doesn't choose Houston, the wait should soon be over.

"I think you can expect to hear something soon because knowing him he'll want to be in a camp from the start," Kubiak said. "Our door is open and he knows where we stand."

Odds and ends: Anthony Weaver, who missed the end of the 2006 season with a shoulder injury appears to be on track for a full recovery, just not by Friday.

"Anthony's bottom half is fine," Kubiak said. "His legs and knee are better than they have ever been from that standpoint. His upper half isn't as far as long.

"He hasn't been able to lift much so what we'll do with him is that he'll be on the field twice a day, but we'll hold him out of contact and try to catch him up physically."

Kubiak said he feels good about Weaver being ready by the regular season. The same can't be said for Jameel Cook.

"One concern that was kind of a surprise was Jameel Cook," Kubiak said. "He had a little knee cleanup during the season and then he developed an infection a few weeks later which was a big set back , but we still felt like he would be fine, but that's not the case.

"He could be a week, 10 days, two weeks from being able to play."

Kubiak added that Cook may be a candidate for the PUP list as well. Due to Cook's injury and Cory Anderson's release earlier this week, rookie Jon Abbate has moved from linebacker to fullback.

"He's small for a linebacker," Kubiak said. "But I like his hands and I like his physicality. That's what you look for in a fullback.

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