The Texans resumed their organized team activities (OTAs) on Monday morning with a light practice at the Methodist Training Center.
Rookie running back Ben Tate remained out with a hamstring injury. The second-round draft pick out of Auburn has yet to practice during OTAs.
"(Tate) is way behind everybody right now, but we've got to be smart and get him well before he competes," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "I think he's still a ways away. Does that mean next week? I hope so."
Two players who were limited by injuries last week, linebackers DeMeco Ryans (hamstring) and Kevin Bentley (back spasms), were back to work with the team.
"It's good being in the same system now for going into our second year (under defense coordinator Frank Bush)," Ryans said. "It allows you to keep that swagger level high where you're not thinking as much. We're comfortable, so that lets you play faster, it lets you have that swagger to go out and talk a little noise to the offense and just have fun out here."
Learning from embarrassment
Kubiak said last week that Dan Orlovsky needed to show the team that he has improved from 2009, when he was a priority free agent signing but lost the backup quarterback job to Rex Grossman.
So far, so good.
"He's a better player right now than he was last year," Kubiak said on Monday. "This is a really big training camp coming up for him. Dan's had some chances in this league, and he's got all the tools that Matt (Schaub) has. The question is for him, does he continue to progress and get better? He's been a better player for five days here, and we need that to continue for the team."
Orlovsky, 26, was candid on Monday when he reflected on what it was like to spend last season as the Texans' third-string quarterback.
"It was definitely embarrassing for me," he said. "It's hard to walk into that locker room and people know you've come here for a reason and you weren't able to do that. So it's a humbling process, yeah, and I told Kubs that. It was an embarrassing process for me. But I just went and did what I know how to do, and that was to work.
"It was a crossroads for me, in essence, where I was either going to let that tear me down and that was going to be the end of my career, or I was going to use it for some type of benefit in a positive way and to challenge it. And I said this mid-last year, with Kubs, just being around him for a year… he's either going to make you good, or you're going to realize you're not good enough."
Kubiak told Orlovsky last year that he needed to raise the standard of how he practices and prepares on a daily basis.
"Dan could've done one of two things," Kubiak said. "He could've sulked; he didn't. He worked all year. He helped Matt, and he's a better player because of it. So I'm proud of the way he went about his business, and now it's time for him to take off."
At this time last year, Arian Foster was an undrafted rookie free agent trying to make it in the NFL.
Fast forward to 2010, and Foster, who ran for 226 yards and three touchdowns over the final two games last season, has been running with the Texans' first-team offense during OTAs.
"It's always good; that means the coaches think highly of you," he said. "I'm trying to come out here every day and work like it was just like last year: Just trying to just make the roster."
Foster (6-1, 229) said that he's physically more toned, quicker and faster this offseason. With a year under his belt, he also said the game is starting to slow down for him.
"Really, the sky's the limit, man," Foster said of his expectations for the upcoming season. "I've just got to keep my head down and go to work every day like it's my first day out here. That's the mindset I'm going to keep the entire year: If they give me an opportunity, I'm going to take advantage of it."
"You have to be a nasty player on defense. You have to hit people and love to hit people. That's our motto. We're going to knock them down and keep knocking them down. We're going to be relentless and run to the ball. That's our attitude."
- LB DeMeco Ryans, on the mentality of the Texans' defense
"Obviously, I know things a lot better and have a (higher) comfort level, but just an expectation level. And that's the thing that Kubs harped on about me last year, raising my expectation level when I come out every single day. My expectation is to come out here and practice like Matt does, and that's what my expectation is every day and it's not going to change."
- QB Dan Orlovsky, on what has changed about his preparation this year