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OTAs practice report: Day 6


The Texans moved their practice indoors to the Methodist Training Center on Wednesday to avoid impending bad weather. Coach Gary Kubiak sidelined Andre Johnson and Zac Diles after the team went inside to save their legs from the turf. Defensive end Antonio Smith was not limited for the second consecutive day and began to get a feel for how he will fit into the team's scheme.

Smith doing it all on the D-line: In his second practice with the Texans, Antonio Smith got a better feel for how the team will use him next season. The defensive end was signed during free agency to line up as a pass rusher opposite of Mario Williams, but the coaches plan to get creative with how they use Smith in their packages.

"Basically, I'm a renaissance man," Smith said. "I'm going to do a little bit of everything – a little bit of inside, nickel and some dropping into coverage.

"I'm starting to get a feel for it in practice. You can see it in the meeting rooms as much as you want, but once you practice it, you see how they want you to do things."

Smith is no stranger to playing a variety of positions on the D-line. During his five years in Arizona, he lined up at end, dropped into coverage, held blockers as a nose tackle and perfected his three technique.

"I've never really done just one thing my whole career," Smith said. "It's like second nature to me. Once I learn the technique they want me to use, I think I'll be fine."

Last year, 6-foot-4, 285-pound Smith recorded 41 tackles and 3.5 sacks. He had eight tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the postseason to help the Cardinals reach the Super Bowl. Smith thinks his play will take double teams away from Williams and give Williams easier access to the quarterback.

"What the coaches want for me and Mario to do is for me to just play my game and for Mario to play his game," Smith said. "I think what they did is they went into the office and saw my best attributes and saw his and put us in the right positions."

Johnson still sidelined: Defensive tackle Travis Johnson continues to sit on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, among other issues. He has been going through conditioning drills with the team's trainers, but Johnson has not practiced with the team during OTAs.

{QUOTE}Head coach Gary Kubiak said that doctors discovered discoloration in Johnson's hamstring on Tuesday and that he probably will miss the rest of the week. Johnson missed practice time last offseason with a pelvic injury and was able to get in shape for the season, but it remains to be seen if he can bounce back quickly again.

"This is a new year," Kubiak said. "I guess it's the same situation but a new year. So we'll see. But it's got to be important for him to get back and get out here."

DelJuan Robinson has been starting in Johnson's place, and Frank Okam has been getting increased reps with the second team.

"It's not going to hold the team back," Kubiak said. "We've got to go. We've got to get better and move on. It's opportunity for DelJuan and Frank. And we've been counting on them, anyway, so it's just lost time, time that he's going to have to catch up with the rest of the players. But you can only do what you can do, too. So if you can't go, you can't go."

Caldwell pushing the line: Antoine Caldwell was drafted by the Texans in the third round to provide depth at center and guard. He's already making the offensive line better by pushing the starters.

"We're working him at center right now, but in drill work he's doing both guards and the center position," Kubiak said. "It's been a concern for us the last year. As I've said, all five of our guys played every game, every snap. That's unheard of in this league.

"We've been lucky with our gameday as far as suiting guys up. If we suit seven, we've got to have a versatile player. To me, he's going to give us that opportunity. But I also think he's going to push our guys to be on the field very quickly, so that's going to make us better."

Quotable: "I was like a chicken running around with my head cut off, young and just playing, just happy to be on the field. But now I understand the game."
- Wide receiver Jacoby Jones, on the difference between him as a rookie and as a third-year pro

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