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Houston Texans

Nick's Notes: Competition remains tight at OL, K

Notes and quotes from the 10th day of Texans Training Camp presented by XFINITY at the Methodist Training Center:

Injury report: It was an uneventful morning for the Texans, which was a good thing after a litany of injury scares last week. Wide receiver Andre Johnson practiced again after returning on Monday from a groin injury. Defensive end J.J. Watt (dislocated elbow) is still out, but he is no longer wearing a sling on his left arm. Rookie defensive end Jared Crick (neck) and tight end Phillip Supernaw (undisclosed) also missed practice on Tuesday, and coach Gary Kubiak indicated that both players' status is questionable for the Texans' preseason opener on Saturday at Carolina.

Game plan waiting: Kubiak said he has not yet finalized his plans for playing time in Saturday's game. The seventh-year Texans head coach typically plays his starters for about one quarter in the preseason opener. "I'm going to talk to the coaches Thursday," Kubiak said. "It'll probably be pretty similar to what I normally do. Obviously, we got a couple players to talk about do they even play, that type of thing, Andre being one of those. And then we got some young players that expect to see them get some quality time with our first group… A lot of these young guys are going to play the majority of that football game, so I've got to get them freshened up here this Saturday, knowing what they're doing so they can go compete and try to make this team."

Too close to call:Right guard Antoine Caldwell and right tackle Rashad Butler are getting the first crack at starting jobs vacated by Mike Brisiel and Eric Winston, but they'll have to fend off younger players who are right on their heels. Rookie guard Brandon Brooks has been splitting first-team reps with Caldwell, while third-year guard Shelley Smith has entered the mix with a strong showing in training camp. Second-year tackle Derek Newton has been rotating with Butler on the first-team offense. "I think they're doing a good job, (but) I think they're being pushed really, really hard," Kubiak said of Caldwell and Butler, who both have starting experience with the Texans and have been with the team for at least three seasons. "Brooks and Shelley Smith are pushing Caldwell, in my opinion, and Newton's pushing the heck out of Butler. It's going to be a tough call. I couldn't make that call today, I'll tell you that. But I think they're all holding their own, and we'll see how they handle the bright lights when we start playing and how we do. But hopefully they're all healthy. It's a very, very tough decision if it is, and it's good for our team."

Kicking competition: In the Texans' ongoing competition at kicker, rookie fifth-round draft pick Randy Bullock and 12th-year veteran Shayne Graham will rotate kick-for-kick during preseason games. "We'll do everything we can to make it right down the middle," Kubiak said. "It's hard; you can't give them (separate) games because one may get more kicks than others, so we'll probably just rotate back and forth." Bullock did not kick on Tuesday because of groin soreness, but Kubiak did not seem overly concerned about his availability for Saturday.

Quote of the Day
"I've got a lot of expectations for them. They're going to have to play really good. As I said before, (DeVier) Posey and (Keshawn) Martin, they can't be rookies for this team to succeed. They've got to play like veterans. And they've had a good camp. They're going to both get very good opportunities. Lestar (Jean) gets thrown in that mix because in a lot of ways he's a first-year player. So those guys will have to grow up for us real quick. How they play in the preseason to me says a lot about how they're going to play for us once we get going, so it's very, very important for them and the team." - Head coach Gary Kubiak, on his expectations for the team's young wide receivers

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