Special appearance:The Texans had special guests at both their practices on Tuesday. Houston Rockets stand-out Tracy McGrady showed up for the morning session (
"You guys think I'm out here just watching them practice, but I'm recruiting Mario Williams," McGrady said. "The kid is a big guy. I didn't really realize how big he was, and he's strong. I didn't realize how fast he was or how high he could jump. Maybe we can get a contract for him to come over and bang a little with us…If somebody fouls me hard, I see him going to pick me off the ground then he's going to handle the guy who fouled me. I could use him."
Former Houston Oilers head coach Bum Phillips made a surprise visit in the afternoon (
Click here to watch), and he made an impromptu speech to the team when Kubiak called him over.
"I talked to them about the importance of being a team, pulling together," Phillips said. "Special teams are really special and they deserve credit, just like offense and defense. But defense doesn't win football games, offense doesn't win football games and neither does the special teams. The team wins games. I enjoyed getting to go out and talk to them. I hadn't done that in 15 or 20 years."
Keeping pace: "The dog days of summer," as head coach Gary Kubiak put it, are in full swing as the Texans completed their fifth two-a-day practice of training camp Tuesday. Despite the fatigue setting in, Kubiak doesn't want the intensity to drop.
"That's the way it has to be if you want to win," Kubiak said. "You have to practice that way every day. It's the toughest week of training camp for any team, not just our football team. I like the way they're battling. We were a little slow this morning, a little sluggish, but at the end we had some life and we had some guys making plays, and that's what you have to do."
Another matter of concern with the intensity of training camp is injuries. Having players watching from the sidelines gives others the opportunity to step up to the challenge, especially in the secondary.
"When you have guys getting beat up, we can't waiver on trying to get better as a football team," Kubiak said. "We're going to work with those guys, get them healthy and ready to go. There are a lot of good, young players out here that want to play on this team very badly. We're going to keep working and nothing is going to stop us from the work we have to do. We just have to battle through this time where we're pretty beat up as a football team."
Kubiak's way: Texans owner Bob McNair was present at both practices on Tuesday. He seemed pleased with what he saw Kubiak doing on the field.
"He has tremendous confidence and it's a quiet confidence," McNair said. "I like that about him. He knows what he wants. He's constantly teaching the players the proper way to do it. If they do it right, he lets them know. If they don't, he lets them know. It doesn't matter what it is. That creates great morale when you treat everybody the same."
Kubiak did just that when approaching Vernand Morency's running style.
"When I came here, I told him, 'I don't like the way you run, you dance too much, spin around too much, and we're not going to do that. We're going to go north and south,'" Kubiak said. "He listened and he's trying to do it the way we want him to do it. I like his progress and I'm looking forward to seeing him in the preseason."
Tight competition:The race continues for the starting position at tight end. Today, Kubiak commented on Jeb Putzier's chances of becoming his leading man.
"Jeb (Putzier) can stretch the field," Kubiak said. "He's very athletic and when you match up linebackers and safeties (with him), you feel like you have an advantage right there. He's helped all our tight ends move along the offense with just his presence. He has got to get better on the line of scrimmage to be a down-in, down-out player, and he knows that. I've been telling him that for four years, probably 12."
Constructive criticism:Veteran quarterback David Carr has his starting position, but that does not mean the coaching staff is off his back.
"We are trying to get him to do a better job about throwing screens, and he has got to get better at that for our team in how he approaches that," Kubiak said. "We're working with him on that. He's a worker. He's in tremendous condition. He comes out with a smile on his face and works every day. That's all you can ask for."
Carr welcomes this new style of coaching.
"Whether you're good or bad, it's always nice to be coached hard," Carr said. "I enjoy that because as a player you come out and have a good practice. Then you go out and you can easily think you don't have much to prove anymore. But there's always something with this coaching staff, and that's what I love about them. They always keep me going."
Backing up Carr is Sage Rosenfels, whose job is not only to get better as an individual, but to make Carr better as well.
"Sage is a pro and he knows what he's doing," Kubiak said. "He comes out here every day and he makes David better every day. David's got a grab behind him right now, he's going to do things right. He moves this football team, but there's nothing like a little pressure, some peer pressure, to keep you on top of your toes as a player."
Mutual respect:With all the competition going on within positions, it would be easy to see Andre Johnson and Eric Moulds fighting for catches. Instead, they have developed a relationship based on respect and admiration.
"It's always a pleasure any time you've got a better receiver," Moulds said. "Andre told me before I got here that he looked up to me and that the reason he got number 80 was because of me. That guy is what made me want to come here and play. I had a chance to go to other places, but I didn't even take visits to those places because I knew I wanted to come here. He wanted to give me his number and I told him that it was his because he'd earned it. I just got another number because it's a fresh start. I want to play with a guy with that type of credibility."
Johnson does not think twice to commend his newfound mentor.
"He's been in the league 11 years," Johnson said. "He's seen everything and done everything. Any time I have a question, I can go to him. Even if I'm running a route and he sees something, he'll stop me and tell me 'Do it like this.' I always go out and try it. If it works, I use it. He's definitely helped me a whole lot."
Defense switch:Among the players getting used to playing in a 4-3 defense again is linebacker Shantee Orr, who had a team-high seven sacks last year as an outside linebacker. For him, it's a matter of relearning concepts that he studied long ago at the University of Michigan.
"It's not a big change for me," Orr said. "For a 4-3 defense you just have to get your personnel for it, while in a 3-4 you have three bigger front guys to fill the gaps. In a 4-3, you'll have guys that'll move a little bit better than the big guys. I think we've made the transition because of our young defense."
New additions:Tuesday morning the Texans added linebacker Saleem Rasheed and cornerback Kevin Garrett to their roster. Rasheed replaces Wali Rainer, who is out for the season with a fractured ankle. Rasheed has spent five years with the San Francisco 49ers since the 2002 draft. Garrett, a 2003 fifth-round pick by the St. Louis Rams, was most recently with the Kansas City Chiefs.
"Kevin Garrett has some experience," Kubiak said. "He has tremendous speed, so you have those tools to work with. It's going to take a little time to teach him our system and what we do. But we have to look at some of our veteran corners as we're going through this difficult time at training camp. It's nice to have him here."
Injury report:Domanick Davis was out of town today getting confirmation on his surgically repaired knee. He should be back at practice tomorrow morning, but there's no word whether he'll participate.*Cornerback *Chris McKenzie went down during the morning practice. His injury will be determined late Tuesday after x-rays.
Meanwhile, tight end Ben Steele suffered a fracture to his upper leg this morning and he will be out for the season. Given the injuries to the team, the coaching staff is taking precaution with Dunta Robinson's injured ankle by keeping him out of practice.
Other veterans also received the afternoon off to prevent injury and added soreness.