OTAs Day 8: Studdard, Graham in focus


The Texans finished their second week of organized team activities (OTAs) with a Thursday morning practice at the Methodist Training Center. Players and coaches will now take a four-day break for Memorial Day weekend before reconvening on Tuesday.

Rookie running back Ben Tate still has yet to practice because of a hamstring injury, and it's unclear whether that will change any time soon.

"I would say he's probably iffy for Tuesday," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "We'll see, so it'll be day-to-day."

Kubiak noted a couple of injuries after Thursday's practice, though he didn't indicate that either was significant.

"Mark Parson had a hard spill yesterday and wasn't feeling good, so he missed," Kubiak said. "Mario's (Williams) ankle is bothering him a little bit, so I just pulled him out of the drills. Other than that, I think we're fine."

Studdard starting
For the first time since 2003, a player not named Chester Pitts will likely be the team's opening-day starter at left guard. If the season started today, that player would be Kasey Studdard.

"He's lining up as a starter," Kubiak said. "It's his [spot] until someone gets him out of there. Kasey's still a growing young player. He understands that he's right there on the fence and being pushed. He's competing and doing a good job."

Studdard is entering his fourth season out of the University of Texas. A sixth-round draft pick in 2007, he started 14 games last season after Pitts was injured in Week 2.

"We just want to continue to see growth," Kubiak said. "Kasey's biggest issues have probably been more a little bit mental than ever about his effort and what he does, getting the whole pro game down and all of the issues he deals with on a regular basis. He's improved in that area."

Rookie watch
On the second day of OTAs last week, Kubiak said that rookie tight end Garrett Graham reminded him a lot of Owen Daniels as a rookie in 2006. Graham, like Daniels, was a fourth-round draft pick out of Wisconsin.

That doesn't mean Graham's transition to the NFL has been completely smooth.

"I think I've hollered at him more than anybody else," Kubiak said Thursday. "He's got some potential, and he's a good young player. He's just got to understand what's expected of him."

It's hasn't been uncommon during OTAs to see Graham catch a pass from Matt Schaub as part of the first-team offense. Injuries have kept Daniels and backup Anthony Hill out of practice. Joel Dreessen has been limited during 11-on-11 drills. Tight end James Casey missed two days this week for the birth of his first son.

"He's getting a chance as a rookie that not many guys get," Kubiak said of Graham. "He's basically playing as a starter out here throughout the OTAs when we go two tights. He's got a ways to go, but we need him to hurry up. He could have to play real quick."

Guest visitor
Former Texans wide receiver Harry Williams, who suffered a career-ending neck injury in the 2008 preseason against Dallas, attended practice on Thursday.

Williams was briefly paralyzed after his injury, but he now walks around with no visible ill effects other than a scar from surgery on the back of his neck.

Check back with HoustonTexans.com this weekend for more on Williams, who won the team's Ed Block Courage Award in 2008.

That's what he said"I think he should be pushing Kevin (Walter) for a job. He's pushing Kevin and pushing David (Anderson) and pushing for more playing time on this football team. If the OTAs are any indication, he's doing a hell of a job."
- Texans coach Gary Kubiak, on his expectations for WR Jacoby Jones this season

Follow Nick Scurfield on Twitter at ****twitter.com/NickScurfield*** or find him on the "I'm A Texan Club" at ***imatexan.com/profiles/Nick_Scurf/***.*

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