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OTAs practice report: Day 2


The Texans closed the books on their second day of OTAs on Tuesday, but there were three notable players not wearing helmets. Guard Chester Pitts, defensive end Antonio Smith and defensive tackle Travis Johnson sat out of practice due to injuries.

D-line down two: Smith, the free agent the Texans signed to start opposite Mario Williams, has been relegated to watching OTAs because of a tweaked hamstring. Smith has been at defensive line coach Bill Kollar's side, absorbing his coaching and learning the playbook installs. After practice, he has been conditioning with the team's training staff.

"He's had a hamstring issue for about the last two weeks," coach Gary Kubiak said. "Instead of pushing him through this - we thought he might do something yesterday, but watching him work, to me, it didn't look like he was doing a lot."

The issue at defensive tackle remains less clear, and Kubiak seemed less than pleased with the siutation. Johnson missed time during training camp last season with several nagging injuries, and he will have competition from defensive tackles Shaun Cody and DelJaun Robinson this offseason.

"It's not good," Kubiak said. "He needs to be out there. He needs to be out there helping the football team and he's got a long, long way to go as a player. But he's got issues, so we'll get the issues solved and then we'll let him get out there and compete."

{QUOTE}All eyes on Amobi: It seems like everyone is keeping a close eye on defensive tackle Amobi Okoye. During the offseason, Kubiak and general manager Rick Smith said that Okoye needs to take a big step forward as a pass-rushing defensive tackle for the defense to be successful this season.

"It's very important," Kubiak said. "He's a guy who was brought in here to be an uphill player, rush the passer. He's had his flashes as a player; we're looking for a consistency in the long haul. Hopefully, Bill (Kollar) can do the work to get him there."

In his second season last year, Okoye recorded only one sack after notching 5.5 as a rookie. He had his knee examined this offseason and members of the media have said that Okoye claims he doesn't feel 100 percent healthy going into OTAs. Kubiak said that Okoye hasn't made any complaints and is, by all indications, playing at full speed.

"He's been fine," Kubiak said. "He was good yesterday. He has a quad problem actually that has given his knee some soreness, and we feel like we're on top of that. He's had a good offseason, so unless he's telling you something he doesn't tell me, I think he's OK."

Brown and Moats complement well: The Texans are auditioning for running backs to complement Steve Slaton. Veteran Chris Brown (6-3, 235) certainly looks the part because he's a bigger back who is fast enough to excel in the team's one-cut scheme. Brown has been held back by injuries for most of his career and spent last season on injured reserve because of a back injury. Now, he's trying to prove he can stay healthy and compete to be the No. 2 guy.

"He's been fine," Kubiak said of Brown. "He hasn't had any health issues throughout the offseason. We tried to monitor some of the things he's doing in the offseason. He won't let us. He says, 'No, I'm all in. I feel like I'll be able to do it all.' He's held up well."

Brown has been splitting backup duties with Ryan Moats, who backed up Slaton last season.

"Yeah, I think they're all battling," Kubiak said. "I think Ryan and (Chris) would be 2a and 2b, however you want to list them. But the bottom line is Steve's the starter and I think everybody else is out there battling for a job to help the football team."

At 5-8, 210 pounds, Moats is much smaller than Brown, but Kubiak isn't going to let size alone determine who plays.

"Brown's obviously something that we're looking for in our offense, but we're going to play the best guys," Kubiak said. "I don't care if they're small or big. We're going to play the best ones."
Pitts waiting for training camp: Pitts had both of his elbows scoped during the offseason and will wait until training camp to play with the team. Pitts is the only Texan to start every game since the inaugural season in 2002, and the team wants to ensure that he is completely healthy and ready to go when the players begin contact drills this summer.

"Chester had his elbows cleaned out," Kubiak said. "He had one elbow one week and the other elbow the following week, so we are using precaution. He probably will not work much at all in the OTAs, if any there at the end."

Quotable: "Fred's (Bennett) a starter right now. This league is about opportunity, and through Dunta's situation, Fred's a starting corner on this team right now. We'll see how he does with it. He's really taken to David's (Gibbs) attention and he's worked very, very hard." - Gary Kubiak

Transactions: On Tuesday, the Texans signed two free agents: running back Clifton Dawson guard Brandon Walker.

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