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Schaub embraces new team


Schaub and Kubiak kicked-off thier first season together Wednesday.

If he wasn't a leader before, he certainly had to be one now. A crunch of hungry media types gathered frenetically around Matt Schaub on Wednesday moments after he had walked off the Houston Texans practice field.

And he handled them with much aplomb. It was like No. 8 had always been there.

It had been Schaub's first real Texans practice, this gathering of offseason players for something they call OTAs – organized team activities – on the practice fields around the Methodist Training Center. And Schaub had conducted himself like a seasoned pro both during and after the drills.

A pro who intends to lead this team to a much loftier status than it has experienced. Lead being the key word.

"Everybody leads in different ways, whether it's by example or vocally," Schaub said.

"You've got to find a happy medium. You want to take the reins but you've got to show guys you're out here to work and get better. You have to do it by example not just with your voice."

Leadership is a quality some have felt was lacking at times in the Texans past. When the going got tough, there haven't always been leaders to jerk the team by its collective collar. Schaub says you first have to get the players' respect.

"It takes a little bit of time," he said. "It doesn't happen in one day. But we come back and with the work in the weight room it picks up and hopefully each day we get to know each other a little bit better.

"A lot of it happens in the locker rooms and the meal room, off the field and when you get away from the facility. Going to dinner and golf tournaments and stuff like that. That's when you get to know the guys and you get to know their personalities. You get to know each other and joke around a little bit."

{QUOTE} Humility, you see, is part of the leading process in Schaub's mind. This is not the beginning of the Schaub Era. It's, well, the start of something else.

"I think it's the official beginning of the 2007 Texans," Schaub understated masterfully. "That's the way we're looking at it. There's a lot of new faces around here and we've just got to work on bringing the young guys up to speed and there are a lot of new guys like myself and Ahman Green and we just have to come out and work hard."

As the corny cliché goes, there's no I in this team.

"We're just another one of the guys on the team," Schaub said. "We're not just a leader of the offensive huddle. You've got to be a leader of the defense and the special teams guys and let them know you're just one of the guys out there working hard and trying to work toward one goal.

"I'm very excited. It's a great opportunity and great situation and it's up to myself and our team to take advantage of it and come out and work as hard as we can to our goals."

Of course, Schaub was excited to be anywhere they were playing football again. He played sparingly for the Atlanta Falcons the last three years, mostly mopping up after Michael Vick. The 6-5, 237-pounder from Virginia had only two starts in three seasons in Atlanta and had thrown for a total of only 1,033 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions in that span.

Now the No. 1 job is his to lose and he doesn't plan on doing that any time soon. Schaub stepped into the huddle with confidence Wednesday, guided rookies around like he was a long-time Texan and joked with veterans easily. Coach Gary Kubiak was impressed.

"What Matt is to me is just very composed," Kubiak said. "Watching him just operate with everybody, getting everybody lined up, you get here, you get there. Young guys get in the huddle with him and they don't panic. They can ask him things and he's got control of all 11 of them.

"That's what we knew he was. He's just got to get familiar with what we're doing."

He wasn't always familiar Wednesday, taking a minor misstep here or there. But Kubiak wasn't worried.

"I would imagine it was a pretty nerve-wracking day for him, to walk out here with all the attention he's getting and stuff," Kubiak said. "But he handles himself with a lot of poise and that's what we knew he was. I really like the way he handles his huddle.

"He makes some mistakes. We knew he was going to make some and we'll work on that. But I like what I see. I like his leadership skills."

Schaub knows that is important and he knows it won't all come overnight.

"It's been an on-going process since I got here," he said. "I'm just learning the guys, learning my way around the building, the weight program and the off-season conditioning as well as getting to learn the offense.

"It's a work in progress but you just try to take a little bit each day and absorb it, then just go from there each day."

And Schaub has no ghosts following him. He boldly wore No. 8 in his first practice – the number his predecessor, David Carr, wore – and it must have given some players a start to see that number taking snaps. But Schaub said he wore that number in Atlanta, so why not?

And he enjoyed himself as much as any No. 8 ever had in a Texans practice.

"It felt great to get out here and be with the guys and work toward getting better on what we've been talking about this whole off-season," Schaub said. "Just to come out and work on our skills and develop that cohesive mindset as a team, that collective mentality, is a lot of fun.

"I think it's getting there. Once you step in the huddle and actually go through the physical work of it, the mental gymnastics on your feet, it's a different story. It's good to get out here in the huddle, say the plays in a game environment and do it at that type of speed.

"There's always a little bit of rust when you first start step back on the field. That's why you don't install you whole offense. You work on the fundamentals of the game. But obviously there's some rust and you've got to shake that off as quick as possible and keep getting better."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Carley is a veteran Houston sportswriter who has covered the NFL for more than 25 years. He has worked for such newspapers as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Houston Post, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and the National Sports Daily covering such teams as the Dallas Cowboys, the Houston Oilers, the Los Angeles Rams and the Oakland Raiders.

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