In the bubble:For the second time this training camp, the Texans practiced indoors in the morning. Normally, the team begins their day outdoors and finishes in the indoor field of the Methodist Practice Facility in the afternoon. Consistent with head coach Gary Kubiak's plan to focus on the game plan, the players were able to keep the heat off their heads and concentrate on drills.
The afternoon practice tested the player's awareness during game time situations. The purpose of the drill was for the player's to be ready to take the field when someone goes down with an injury. After the quick 20-minute session coach Joe Marciano and special teams went through a walk through on different plays concentrating especially on blocking.
Game plan: With 86 players on the roster Kubiak and staff have figured out a way to get a look at every individual on Saturday. Starters will play the first quarter and a select few will play the entire first half. Number two offense and defense will play throughout the second and third quarters, while the threes will take the field during the fourth quarter and possibly the end of the third.
Game-day talk has brought jitters to the young team, causing them to make mistakes. Surprisingly Kubiak sympathizes with them.
"I think there are a few young guys out her who made some mistakes, just some nerves of what we're trying to get done, and we're trying to get ready to play," Kubiak said. "Our (twos) got a ton of reps this morning, and this is what they do for a living. They're fighting for a job, and if I was one of them I'd be a little nervous too. I think that's a good thing, you root for players as a coach. You watch guys bust their tail for two weeks, and you just want good things to happen for them."
Cutting down:One of the unfortunate realities of NFL training camp is the need to cut the roster to 53. That means that 33 players on the roster right now will not be suiting up in Texans gear for the regular season opener on September 10 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
"You get really close to those kids, and when they pay the price to play, you want all of them to make it, some how, some way," Kubiak said. "I always tell them that the key is that you're trying to prove you can play in the NFL. If you do it here, we'll do everything we can to find a way for you to play for the Texans. When you're a player trying to make it in this league, and you step on the field Saturday and you make plays, the other 31 teams are going to notice. Just do your job, have fun and try and make plays."
Kubiak will go as far as allowed by the NFL deadline, September 2, with the personnel he has right now.
Starters: Earlier this week, Kubiak mentioned possible starters for a few positions. Thursday he pointed out guard Chester Pitts and tackle Seth Wand as starters.
"Chester (Pitts) is going to be fine; he should be able to get his quarter of work," Kubiak said. "We'll see how he comes out this morning; we'll see how he does overnight and make sure we're doing the right thing with him."
With rookie Charles Spencer challenging Wand's position throughout training camp, both were being assessed as starters. Kubiak has decided to leave Wand as the starting left tackle, however he and Spencer will rotate throughout the game for equal reps.
"Seth Wand will (start), he and Charles Spencer are basically going to play the football game for us," Kubiak said. "You're going to see them bouncing in and out periodically, but those two guys are in a battle. They're both neck-and-neck, and they'll go the whole game if they need to play."
The depleted cornerback unit will see Dunta Robinson and Lewis Sanders as starters. Both understand the importance of being ready to play.
"You have to understand your role on the team," Sanders said. "And understand that any play a player can go down, and you can be thrust into the starting lineup. You have to be ready; you have to go out there every snap, whether you are on third team or second team like you are one snap away. You have to go out there and perform."
Robinson is looking forward to having Sanders on the field with him.
"Lew's (Lewis Sanders) made a lot of good plays," Robinson said. "It's his seventh year, and this is my third year, so I should be asking him for the advice. Just go out and play the way you're capable of playing, don't try and do too much; just go out there, play comfortable and make plays."
Time is running: Less than two days remain until the Texans take on their first preseason opponent. Everyone is beginning to feel the anxiety, certainly Kubiak is excited for his debut as head coach.
"It's exciting for us as coaches," Kubiak said. "It's our first time together to go out there. It's exciting for our team to go back to work. It's going to be a long process, but we have to start somewhere. We're looking forward to Saturday night.
Injury report:Cornerback Lewis Sanders, the expected starter for Saturday's game, dislocated his left pinkie during the early practice. Fortunately it wasn't too serious and the training staff was able to pop it right back into place for him to get back on the field.
Center Mike Flanagan (right thumb and wrist) and tackle Zach Wiegert (right shoulder) remained sidelined Thursday morning. Although Flanagan and Wiegert remain day-to-day, both have been cleared to play Saturday. Guard Steve McKinney, however, will not take the field in the preseason opener.