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OTAs practice report: Day 7


The Texans made a few defensive adjustments as they finished their second week of OTAs. Strong safety Dominique Barber took reps with the first team and defensive tackle DelJuan Robinson got more comfortable as a starter while Travis Johnson continued to rehab a hamstring injury.

Barber gets first-team reps: Strong safety Dominique Barber got his first taste of starting duties this week, taking reps with the first team in place of Nick Ferguson.

As a rookie last year, Barber played mostly on special teams but stepped up on defense in the final two games, recording three tackles, a pass defensed and his first-career sack. Barber has been presumed by many to emerge as the starter opposite free safety Eugene Wilson this year.

Barber (6-0, 218) has the size to be a big hitter who can man the middle of the field. He even played linebacker in certain nickel situations last year. The team's coaches have been impressed with his understanding of the game and are high on his second-year development.

"Yeah, I've noticed a difference," head coach Gary Kubiak said of Barber. "I think he's more comfortable in what he's doing. (Defensive backs coach) David (Gibbs) yesterday flipped him, told Nick, 'Hey, I'm going to work Dominique with the first group, see how he responds.' So he got some reps with the first group. You know, it's a great opportunity for him."

Moats on the rise: At 5-8, 210 pounds, Ryan Moats doesn't look the part of a pounding running back. But he's been playing like the perfect complement to starter Steve Slaton.

"You can say what you want to say about a person's size," Moats said. "But when you're on the field, you're on the field and it doesn't matter anymore. So that's kind of how I've approached it my whole career."

Moats has been getting it done on the field while rotating with Chris Brown behind Slaton. Kubiak has called Moats and Brown his "2a and 2b" backups, giving the edge to Moats because he played last season and he has shown tremendous speed during OTAs.

Moats realizes his doesn't fit the big-back prototype the Texans have wanted in short-yardage situations, but he believes he can get the job done with his running style.

" You look at a big back being a physical guy to wear the defense down, but at the same time, a guy my size can wear the defense down, too," Moats said. "It depends on how you run. Your mental way of running, if you run hard and you're a hard-nosed runner, you're a hard-nosed runner – no matter what size you are."

{QUOTE}Kollar revving things up: Defensive line coach Bill Kollar has made it clear that he wants the defensive line, shooting the gaps, getting upfield and disrupting the offense. He's made that loud and clear.

"Well, he's loud," Kubiak said of Kollar. "I'm sure y'all can hear him. No, Bill's been doing it a long time. When I think of Bill, of course he's been in St. Louis and Atlanta, but I was always impressed with some of these guys that he would take out of college and not many people knew who they were and then all of a sudden, he's a Pro Bowl football player. He's all about pursuit, hustle. The way he coaches, the way he teaches is all about effort, and that's really showing out here with our group."

Before coming to Houston this offseason, Kollar spent the three years coaching the defensive line in Buffalo and has 20 years of experience coaching in the NFL.

Prior to his stint with Buffalo, Kollar coached the defensive line in St. Louis from 2001-05 where he helped defensive end Leonard Little emerge as a premier sack artist, with 57 sacks in five seasons. Kollar also helped the Rams earn a trip to the Super Bowl in 2001, so when he talks, the Texans listen.

"We've got a big-time player in Mario (Williams)," Kubiak said. "After that, we've got a lot of guys with talent that get the most out of their talent with effort, and that's what Bill's trying to get from all of them and we brought Antonio (Smith) to help them. So you'll be successful if you listen to him, I can tell you that."

Quotable: "He's made a lot of improvement, and I'm hoping that next week, he's on the football field. But it's a matter of getting him healthy before we can turn him loose."
- Coach Gary Kubiak on defensive tackle Travis Johnson

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