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Novak, Fairbairn "very competitive" at K position

Nick Novak finished the 2015 season as the Texans kicker.

Now though, he has competition.

Rookie Ka'imi Fairbairn from UCLA signed with the team as an undrafted free agent and has been at the facilities working with the Texans. 

Head coach Bill O'Brien said Fairbairn and Novak will battle it out in training camp and the preseason.

"It's very competitive," O'Brien said on Wednesday. "It's a very competitive position and we'll see how that plays out during training camp."

Novak kicked in 13 games last season for the Texans, converting 18-of-21 field goal attempts and 29-of-31 point after tries. He drilled all 16 field goal attempts from 49 yards or less, and was 2-for-5 from 50 yards or longer. 

"Nick Novak has been around for a long time," O'Brien said of the 8-year veteran. "He's trying to improve his skill set as a kicker, kickoffs, obviously field goals, different types of kicks that we're going to ask these guys to make. He has really worked hard at it."

Fairbairn, meanwhile, was the 2015 Lou Groza Award winner and is the all-time leading scorer in Pac-12 history. He made 20-of-24 field goal attempts last season, and hit two of his three attempts from 50 yards or more. 

"He has got a nice, smooth motion," O'Brien said. "The key for young kickers like Fairbairn is how they do when the lights go on. When you put them in a game situation where there's 70,000 people out there in a preseason game. Maybe he has to make a game winning kick in a preseason game. How's he going to perform then? I think that's a key for any young kicker, any rookie kickers."

Novak, Fairbairn and the Texans wrap up minicamp on Thursday at the Houston Methodist Training Center. They'll reconvene at the end of July for the start of training camp.


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