Notes and quotes from the Texans' seventh day of 2012 Training Camp presented by XFINITY at the Methodist Training Center. The morning practice was open to the public, drawing 4,951 fans.
Keenum's chance coming: After a strong finish to OTAs (organized team activities) and mini-camp in May and June, rookie quarterback Case Keenum has been "up and down" at training camp, according to Texans coach Gary Kubiak. "He doesn't get a ton of reps a day, so it's like, boy, he's just bleeding for them to all be perfect," Kubiak said of the University of Houston product. "Like today, he had three or four chances to make some touchdown throws and just misses them. If he makes them, his day is great. If he misses them, he feels like it was bad. I'm just wanting him to keep progressing. I love his want-to. This kid wants to be good. He studies very, very hard. I'm going to give him a chance to play in the preseason a great deal. I'm excited about him because I like his passion for the game of football."
DL numbers down: The Texans were depleted on the defensive line on Friday morning. They started the day down two starters, with J.J. Watt out with a dislocated elbow and nose tackle Shaun Cody off on a scheduled day of rest. Rookie nose tackle Hebron Fangupo left practice early because of a death in the family, and nose tackle Earl Mitchell left practice briefly with a heat issue. "We had a hard morning because we had eight defensive linemen, then Earl missed some of practice," Kubiak said. "Lonnie (Fangupo) had to leave… We had to just practice. We worked with two groups today. We battled through." The Texans might sign another defensive lineman soon to bolster their depth.
Sonnie rising: On Wednesday, Kubiak mentioned Ra'Shon Harris (nicknamed "Sonnie") as a defensive player who stood out to him in practice. Harris' reps have since been elevated following Watt's injury on Thursday. A 6-5, 300-pound nose tackle who went undrafted out of Oregon in 2009, Harris lost 10-12 pounds this offseason. He has been playing at tackle and end in camp. "He came in good shape," Texans assistant head coach/defensive line Bill Kollar said. "He's moving better than he did last year. He's a strong player. He's got long arms. He's been really, right now, playing better than expected so far, which is really good, and hopefully he can keep coming, because I think he could be a pretty good player for us."
Jamison holds up: Kollar said defensive end Tim Jamison, who played an estimated 30-35 percent of the Texans' snaps last season, fared well in Watt's place as a starter on Friday. "When somebody goes down, somebody's got to step up," Jamison said. "I want to be that guy step up and have my coaches and teammates trust me." An undrafted free agent out of Michigan in 2009, Jamison seems to have already earned that trust. "He's a very consistent player," linebacker Brian Cushing said. "Every single year, everyone looks at Jamison as that guy who always plays hard and does nothing but consistency. You know what you'll get from him every single day; he'll play as hard as he can. We're not worried about him stepping in."
RBs aplenty: The Texans have five running backs on the roster, led by the NFL's top 2011 rushing tandem in Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Free agent acquisition Justin Forsett has had an excellent camp. Undrafted rookies Jonathan Grimes (William & Mary) and Davin Meggett (Maryland) are also vying for a spot on the roster. Kubiak said it's the best group of running backs he has had. "I said that in a meeting yesterday visiting with our scouts," he said. "It's the best set of running backs I've been around because of what they're doing on the field, not names or anything like that. Arian and Ben are going at it just tooth to nail, not only out here but in the locker room every day. And I like the Grimes kid. Forsett has played very well. So we've improved right there, and hopefully they're all in one piece when we get going."
Quotes of the Day
"When it happened, probably about an 8.5, and when he popped it back in, it probably bumped up to a 9. I'm feeling alright now." - Texans DE J.J. Watt, on how painful his dislocated elbow was on a scale of 1-10; "he" refers to head athletic trainer Geoff Kaplan, who popped Watt's elbow into place on the field after his injury
"It's exhilarating. Anytime you can get the crowd and the whole team into it, especially as a defense, everyone is looking for those big hits. That's the kind of thing you look for—changing a game and being a playmaker." – ILB Brian Cushing, on what it's like to make a big hit
"Boy, it's been excellent. He's been exceptional; he and Arian (Foster). They really push each other. They're on each other. They both have matured a great deal, and it's fun to watch." – Texans head coach Gary Kubiak, on the progress of RB Ben Tate