Pitts ready to roll for training camp

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Chester Pitts is the only Texan to start every game in team history. The guard, who was selected by Texans in the second round of their inaugural 2002 draft, has fought through sprains and strains to line up every Sunday for Houston.

But this offseason, seven seasons of pounding caught up with Pitts and he had to undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair his elbows and get him ready for his 113th consecutive start next season.

"I basically had small pieces of the bone that broke off and would float around in the joint," Pitts said. "They would get caught and jammed sometimes. So (head team physician) Dr. (Walt) Lowe went in and did a little scope, cleaned it out and made the surface smooth. Honestly, they are feeling good. I'm almost right up to my max strength where I have been and I will be ready for the season."

{QUOTE}Pitts sat out for most of OTAs this year, participating in select individual drills and focusing on strength training. He expects to be healthy and ready to strap on the pads when training camp begins on July 31.

"In OTAs, they kept me in the drills where I could control things, individual drills and the running and conditioning," Pitts said. "In the team drills, you don't know what the guy in front of you is going to do.

"I will be fine and I will be healthy. It's one of those deals where I would love another week or two of just strengthening or getting stronger, but I don't think they really are going to beat me up during training camp."

The Texans can't afford to wear down Pitts during training camp. They need him to anchor an offensive line that started all 16 games together last season and made huge strides in the team's zone blocking scheme.

"The thing about our system and with almost any offensive line, it's about continuity," Pitts said. "It's all about all five guys working as one unit. When you are going with the guys that you have been going with, it's almost second nature. If there is a call that requires three words being said, you don't have to say those anymore, you can just grunt. We have a lot of nonverbal cues or shorter verbal cues that we say to each other so that we always are on the same page."

The Texans' zone scheme is predicated on the offensive linemen moving in tandem to block players in their zone, instead of having a predetermined man to block. For the team's starting unit, that scheme has become second nature.

"All of us are taking the first couple of steps that are all lateral, and then you make the defense determine where they are going to go," Pitts said. "Then, you get up to your guy. It's cohesiveness; it's continuity."

While the Texans' starting o-linemen didn't suffer any injuries in 2008, the team knew they needed to upgrade their insurance policy. They did so by selecting third-round draft pick Antoine Caldwell, who can line up at center and guard.

"He's a center, but he's thick enough and strong enough to play some guard on both sides," Pitts said. "On Sundays in the beginning, we used to dress nine linemen. Then, they went to eight linemen. Our team pushes it now; we dress only seven offensive linemen. When you dress seven offensive linemen, you need one guy who can play the middle three (positions) and one guy who can play outside.

"He is going to fill that inside roll. And come this season, I think you are going to see some really good things from this offensive line."

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