Rashad Butler is locked in to a battle for the Texans' starting right tackle job with Derek Newton.
They have split first-team reps in practice. They have split reps in games. Butler started the Texans' preseason opener at Carolina. Newton started the second game against San Francisco.
Butler, a seventh-year veteran who has been with the Texans since 2007, embraces the competition.
"It's great," Butler said on Monday. "I love competition. Competition definitely lights a fire under my rear end, so to say."
When the Texans released Eric Winston, their starting right tackle since 2006, back in March, Butler was the heir apparent. He was the Texans' backup at left and right tackle for the last three seasons, and he started four games at left tackle for a suspended Duane Brown in 2010.
Newton is in the picture after playing well in limited action as a rookie last season. A seventh-round draft pick out of Arkansas State, he became the Texans' backup swing tackle after Butler suffered a season-ending triceps injury in September.
"I understand what they're doing because I missed damn near the whole entire season last year with a severe triceps tendon injury, so I know they wanted to see the things that I could do," Butler said. "I know if I was able to not get injured and if I was there throughout the whole entire season, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be having this battle that I'm having now, but I have no problems with the battle whatsoever, no issues."
Even though he's competing with Newton, Butler has not shied away from giving advice to the young tackle.
"You know, whatever is going to happen, happens," Butler said. "I don't ever want to be the type of guy that's going to sell the guy that I'm battling short, so I try to help him out as much I can, because if he does become the starter, I want him to help this team to try to win. I don't ever look at it as, 'Let me hold something back that can help make him better' and things of that nature. He asks me a lot of questions, too, so I'm all for helping him, and I'm all for competition."
The competition is on and will continue this week.