Cornerback Jacques Reeves, signed from the Dallas Cowboys on March 1, has impressed coaches early on with his speed and aggressiveness.
The Texans' seven new veterans – center Chris Myers, cornerback Jacques Reeves, linebackers Kevin Bentley and Chaun Thompson, running back Chris Brown, quarterback Quinn Gray and safety Nick Ferguson – spent the month of April getting to know their new teammates at voluntary offseason workouts.
In just two days of mini-camp practices, their off-field chemistry already has carried over onto the football field.
"We know they're going to fit in," head coach Gary Kubiak said of the offseason acquisitions after practice on Saturday. "We've done our homework on them as people and those types of things, but you want them to fit in with the group from a work standpoint, and that's what this weekend is all about. They've done a good job."
Many of the new vets have previous ties to the Texans that have eased their respective transitions. Myers, the team's new starting center, and Ferguson, a veteran safety who will provide depth in the secondary, both played for Kubiak and general manager Rick Smith in Denver.
Not only is Myers best friends with Texans tackle Eric Winston, his former college teammate and fraternity pledge brother at Miami, he also ran Alex Gibbs' zone blocking scheme in three years with the Broncos. Instead of having to learn a new system with new players all around, Myers is stepping into a natural leadership role by teaching his teammates a system he already has down pat.
"He's making up a lot of ground very fast," Kubiak said of Myers. "He knows the system probably as well as we do because he just came from it, so it's easy for Alex for (Myers) to be the quarterback of our offensive line. He's made an easy transition."
Another player familiar with the zone scheme is Brown, the former Tennessee Titan, who excelled in the Texans' current system in college. Brown ran for 2,787 yards (5.7 avg.) and 35 touchdowns in just two seasons at the University of Colorado and, like Myers, quickly has become at ease at Texans practices.
"It's real comfortable. It just brings back the old memories," Brown said. "I know all of the terminology, the protections. It's not too hard to learn. It's not that big of a learning curve for me."
Bentley, signed this offseason from the Seahawks, and Thompson, from the Browns, are reuniting after playing together for two years in Cleveland in 2003-04. The two have wasted no time catching up, and are fast getting along well with their new teammates, too.
"The linebacker corps and defense as a team, we're all pretty tight," Thompson said. "The new guys come in, (the old players) bring them in them in as a family, and I really appreciate that."
Kubiak has been pleased with the work of both linebackers thus far. He has experimented with the younger Thompson at middle linebacker and as a pass rusher, while rotating the savvy Bentley at different linebacker spots in the first two days of mini-camp.
"It's getting my feet wet," Bentley said. "(It's) learning the defense and seeing what the offense does, those types of things, and just seeing how they do things in general around here, you know. Coming from Seattle, a little different program, a little different speed, stuff like that, so it's just been getting used to how we run things here."
Reeves, the Texans' first signing of the free agency period back on March 1, is expected to be a big contributor in Dunta Robinson's absence. Rick Smith has said that he sees the fourth-year ex-Cowboy as just nearing his potential, and Reeves could be a big help to a secondary that was riddled with injuries last season.
The thing Kubiak loves most about Reeves is his speed, a dimension the third-year head coach is always looking to upgrade on his team.
"He has a lot of speed, a great deal of speed," Kubiak said. "And he's fit in real good with our guys real fast. He's been here from day one. Any time you get a free agent that's here with your program from the first day of offseason program, that's important."
Though Reeves, Bentley and Thompson were signed to compete for starting jobs, the veterans on the team have welcomed them in with open arms.
"There's some places where you go and you're competing so guys aren't as friendly, aren't as open, but it hasn't been the case here," Bentley said. "We've all been tight-knit. We've gone to dinner together and stuff like that. It's a good mix."