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Rookie digest

Here are some thoughts on the rookies after two preseason games:

1. Duane Brown, left tackle: Practicing every day against Mario Williams has started to pay off. Brown held his own in pass protection against Denver's Elvis Dumervil and New Orleans' Will Smith. The left tackle doesn't get a lot of attention, but that's a good thing because it means he is doing his job and protecting the quarterback. Brown's biggest deficiency is his run blocking. He must get better at cut blocking and sealing off the backside pursuit for the run game to excel.

2. Steve Slaton, running back: No Texans rookie is generating more hype than Slaton. Head coach Gary Kubiak said he could feel Slaton's speed on the field, and everyone else saw it. Slaton has a knack for getting to the outside corners. He is starting to be effective with one-cut moves. Plus, he can return kicks and he can block. No wonder he is getting reps with the first team in practice and will see time with the starters against Dallas. Slaton is a playmaker and he's about to become a big part of Houston's offense.

3. Antwaun Molden, cornerback: Molden needs a lot more reps, but he's got raw ability. The corner out of Eastern Kentucky can keep up with receivers, but he needs more confidence in his technique and tackling ability. That will come – he showed so much when he picked off a pass against the Saints in practice.

4. Xavier Adibi, linebacker: Adibi showed during camp that he has speed and a nose for the ball. An Achilles problem has forced coaches to reduce his playing time in preseason games. Adibi needs to be 100 percent healthy for the Texans to know what they have.

5. Frank Okam, defensive tackle: Okam could be the biggest guy on the team, but he hasn't used that size to his advantage…yet. The Texans want him to come off the bench and stuff the run. He has the strength and agility; now, he needs the motor.

6. Dominique Barber, safety: Barber still is adjusting to the speed of the NFL. He is competing against second-year pro Brandon Harrison and 10th-year pro Nick Ferguson for a spot in the team. If the rookie wants to make it, he will have to start contributing on special teams.

7. Alex Brink, quarterback: Brink got his first chance to play on Saturday and started in a tough position – at Houston's third-yard line in the fourth quarter. The Washington State product was able to move the ball 24 yards and impressed Kubiak with his poise. Brink is locked into a tough battle with Shane Boyd, who has a rocket for an arm, for third-string honors.

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