Ten practices into organized team activities (OTAs), the Texans' kicking competition between Kris Brown and Neil Rackers finally began on Wednesday.
The competition had been put on hold because of a hamstring injury to Rackers, who was signed in April as a free agent from the Arizona Cardinals. Wednesday, both kickers were a perfect 8-for-8 on field goals in competitive situations in front of the entire team.
"They were both automatic… right down the middle," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "It's going to be a great competition, but you're talking about two very successful guys in the National Football League, so you wouldn't expect anything different."
Kubiak has indicated that the competition between the two veteran kickers will continue through training camp and the preseason. Call it a draw after Round 1.
James Casey and rookie Garrett Graham worked extensively with the first-team offense on Wednesday. They also worked with the second and third teams, as they were the only two tight ends available for practice.
"James and Graham did a hell of a job," Kubiak said. "For two tight ends to get through two hours like that, (it was) very impressive."
Casey, entering his second season out of Rice, has been making the most of increased repetitions as a result of injuries to Owen Daniels, Joel Dreessen and Anthony Hill.
"James has had probably as good an offseason as anybody," Kubiak said. "With our tight end situation, he's getting an excellent opportunity to prove he can start in this league. If he keeps going, he's got an opportunity to be a heck of player."
Kubiak said that he would like to give Casey some reps at fullback, but that it'd be an "injustice" to Casey and the team at this point.
"I think James' brain will always allow him to do more than the average guy, but we need him to be good at something and good at one thing, and right now tight end's more important than anything," Kubiak said.
Coaches off the field
The intensity was noticeably higher at practice Wednesday than on Tuesday, when the Texans came out a bit sluggish after the weekend. Much of Wednesday's practice was devoted to two-minute drills and other game-like scenarios.
"I thought we did better today than yesterday," Kubiak said. "We're trying to do a lot of team situational stuff, really trying to find these next four or five days just how far guys have come now that they're by themselves.
"Getting the coaches off of the field, they don't like that, but we find out about young players and where they're at. I was impressed with what we did today."
That's what he said
"I think the guys that get comfortable are the guys that end up leaving too soon. You talk to guys that play a long time, I don't think they're ever comfortable in whether they're going to make the team or not, whether they're going to be out here. Tomorrow's not promised."
- RT Eric Winston, who has started 55 consecutive games dating back to his rookie season, on the dangers of becoming complacement
"As I told y'all, the reason we're not moving him, at least not at this point unless we feel like we have to, is that I think he's on the verge of becoming a Pro Bowl WILL linebacker. I don't want to confuse him or have us get weak at two spots. We're going to leave Zac where he's at."
- Head coach Gary Kubiak, reiterating previous comments on his plan to keep LB Zac Diles on the weakside during Brian Cushing's four-game suspension to begin the 2010 season
"I think he's regaining his confidence every day that he's out here. He's obviously a little lighter. I think Rick (Dennison) has done a great job with him of getting him back in his mindset to exactly what we want... I just think you see a guy that struggled last year that's saying, 'I'm not going to struggle again; I'm going to get back to playing the way I'm capable been playing.' That's what's I'm seeing right now."
- Kubiak on RB Steve Slaton, who ran for only 437 yards last season after gaining a team-record 1,282 as a rookie in 2008