Notes and quotes from the Texans' eighth day of 2012 Training Camp presented by XFINITY at the Methodist Training Center. The morning practice was open to the public, drawing 5,124 fans.
Week 1 done: After eight consecutive days of practice, including the last five in pads, the Texans are off on Saturday afternoon and Sunday. They will have meetings on Sunday evening and return to the field on Monday, at which point they will scale back practices and begin to prepare for their preseason opener at Carolina on Saturday, Aug. 11. "I just tell (the players) this is the hardest week you go through all year long," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "You push through that week and now we get a carrot at the end of each week; we get to go play a game. This week kind of tells you a lot about your guys and what they're made of. Those guys that are still standing at the end of the week, you know that you can count on them."
New addition: The Texans signed defensive end Jimmy Saddler-McQueen, a second-year pro from Texas A&M Kingsville. McQueen (6-3, 298) was signed by the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2010 and has had stints with the Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Rams. He played in one game with the Cowboys in 2010. His signing helps address the Texans' thinning depth on the defensive line. Defensive end J.J. Watt is out indefinitely with a dislocated left elbow, while rookie defensive end Jared Crick has missed the last couple days of practice with a neck issue.
Kickers neck and neck: Randy Bullock and Shayne Graham continued their kicking competition on Saturday with six field goal attempts apiece from 44-55 yards. Bullock, the rookie fifth-round draft pick from Texas A&M made 5-of-6, with his lone miss going wide right from 49 yards. Graham, a 12th-year veteran, went 4-of-6, missing off the right upright from 49 and wide left from 53. Bullock is now 23-of-28 (82.1) in training camp, while Graham is 13-of-17 (76.5). The two kickers entered Saturday in a dead-heat on field goals at 81.2 percent, with Graham having made 9-of-11 and Bullock 18-of-22. "It's a battle," Kubiak said. "I think Randy has had quite a few good days, had a couple misses the other day. I really like the way he works at his craft, and he has a strong leg. Shayne is a veteran guy, pretty automatic inside the 40 and those types of things. He's missed a day or so with some leg soreness and those types of things. They can both kick in this league. Which one is going to kick for us? We'll find out."
Graham improving: Tight end Garrett Graham is primed for more playing time this season now that Joel Dreessen, who had six touchdown catches in 2011, is with the Denver Broncos. A fourth-round draft pick from Wisconsin in 2010, Graham has just one career catch for 24 yards after battling shoulder and hamstring injuries in his first two seasons. "I think he's one of the more improved players on our team right now," Kubiak said. "He really has grown up from last year. He's healthy and performing well. He's got a big role on this team with Joel missing, and he's shown that he's going to be able to handle that. After a week, I've been impressed."
Big school, small school: The Texans also have two undrafted rookie tight ends on the roster in Logan Brock (TCU) and Phillip Supernaw (Ouachita Baptist). Kubiak was asked about Brock on Saturday. "He's a well-coached kid, comes from TCU," Kubiak said. "I think they do a great job with their players over there. He knows what he's doing. He's a little undersized tight end, he needs some weight. He's got a ways to go, but he's got some ability. Supernaw is the kid from the small program. Brock is the kid from the big program. They're trying to battle each other and they've both got ability, (so) we'll see. We'll see in the preseason."
FB competition: The Texans have an interesting competition shaping up at fullback. James Casey is the starter but will be used in a variety of roles, including tight end. Derrell Smith, a second-year pro who was a middle linebacker last season, and Moran Norris, a 12th-year veteran, have both been getting reps with the first-team offense so far in camp. "Moran and Derrell are different guys," Kubiak said. "One's young, very talented, very athletic and doesn't quite know everything he's doing right now because he's a defensive player. One's a little older, he's a banger and knows everything he's doing. So we'll see how it sorts itself out. Chances are we're keeping one fullback, and we'll see. Derrell's got a little ways to go as far as knowledge of offensive football."
Quotes of the Day
"Matt is playing with a bunch of young kids. He's been with Keshawn Martin for seven days. Watching that kind of come together and get better each day has been exciting for me."- Texans head coach Gary Kubiak, on QB Matt Schaub
"Going against a guy like J-Joe every play, it's definitely making me better." – Rookie WR Keshawn Martin, who has been practicing as a starter and lining up against Pro Bowl cornerback Johnathan Joseph