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Oiler-great McDowell lends a hand to Texans

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Ernest Jones (left) and Bubba McDowell are with the Texans as part of the NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship Program.

Bubba McDowell got his first taste of professional football in Houston when he was selected in the third round of the 1989 NFL Draft by the Oilers.

The safety quickly became a local favorite. He earned a starting position in training camp during his rookie campaign. McDowell put together his best season in 1992, when he recorded four interceptions, three fumble recoveries and a career-best 13 passes defensed.

In 1995, McDowell left the Oilers and spent his final pro year with the Carolina Panthers. But now he is working again with Houston's NFL team. This time around he's with the Texans.

McDowell is one of five coaches selected by the team to be a part of the NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship Program, which provides training camp coaching positions to deserving candidates.

{QUOTE}Last year, McDowell served as an assistant coach with the University of Houston and he has been working with the Texans defensive backs. Midway through camp, he will work with the offense so he can learn more about installing a zone scheme.

"Coach (Gary) Kubiak has been very good at letting the intern guys go to positions where they need to work on (their coaching)," McDowell said. "My coaching style is to always play hard and go 100 percent. At the professional level, there are some guys out there, young guys in particular, who still have to work on their skills. I just give them advice about some type of coverage that I've been successful with."

Alcorn State head coach Ernest Jones, Angelo State University assistant coach Brandon Lacy, Wayne State coach Keith McKenzie and Jackson State offensive coordinator James Woody join McDowell in participating in the fellowship program.

Running backs coach Chick Harris, who enters his 28th season in the NFL, coordinates the program for the Texans and selected each coach based on the promise they showed in succeeding at the next level.

"We look for great intelligence," Harris said. "We look for coaches who are on the go and rising in their profession. They are seeking more information so that they can take the next step, whether it's a head coaching position in college or whether it's an assistant as a professional."

Harris actually had met two of these coaches a long time ago. He overlapped with McDowell for a year in Carolina. When Harris was coaching with the Seattle Seahawks in 1983, McKenzie was the team's ball boy. McKenzie's experience that year inspired him to become a professional player, and he went on to play for four NFL teams in eight years.

"Out of this, the coaches will develop relationships with us and our staff," Harris said. "We are trying to get coaches the opportunity and exposure to go on and better themselves. When they see the way we do things at this level, I am sure they can take some of the things we do and our organizational skills and compare it with what they have already done. We think they will be able to take something back with them, and it will make them better coaches and help them move to the next level."

Jones said working with Kubiak already has shown him ways to improve his coaching from an organizational and procedural standpoint. Jones said he likes how the Texans coaches keep players fresh by putting them through two repetitions and then resting them, as opposed to making players go through six straight repetitions. He also has been impressed with the play of rookie cornerback Antwaun Molden.

"I like Molden, the rookie cornerback," Jones said. "I really like him. Once he gets it, he's really going to be dynamic."

But Jones still isn't used to the speed of the NFL.

"Even when we have some practices in the afternoon where they wear hats - he (Kubiak) calls it a hat practice - they are still playing as fast, as strong and as physical as if they had pads on," Jones said.

"The head football coach here is all over it. In meetings, he can tell you about every single thing that the team is doing. There is so much I can learn from the coaches here."

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