Four players have joined the Texans on a tryout basis this week for the team's three-day mini-camp at the Methodist Training Center.
Wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker, former Texans fullback Moran Norris and linebackers Prescott Burgess and Keith Browner all practiced with the team on Tuesday. Mini-camp continues on Wednesday and Thursday before the Texans go on break until late July for training camp.
"I thought they all kind of did something good," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "They're fresh today, so we'll see how they come back the next two. Three of them have played quite a bit of ball in this league. We'll see. If we think they can help us, we'll take them to camp."
The Texans have three roster spots available under the 90-man roster limit. They have zero receivers on the roster who have caught an NFL pass besides veterans Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter. Sims-Walker (6-2, 212) has 134 catches for 1,798 yards and 14 touchdowns in five seasons.
A third-round draft pick out of Central Florida in 2007, Sims-Walker had a breakout season with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2009 with 63 catches for 869 yards and seven touchdowns. The Jaguars did not re-sign him in 2011, and he signed with the St. Louis Rams only to be cut after four games and wind up back in Jacksonville. He played in two games before suffering a season-ending knee injury, his second in five NFL seasons.
"He looked good in practice today," Kubiak said. "We'll see how he holds up physically. He's got good size. He's played some good football in this league, so we'll see."
Norris, who turns 34 this week, is a Houston native who played for the Texans from 2002-05. He could provide a traditional lead-blocking fullback to compete with the versatile James Casey, converted linebacker Derrell Smith and undrafted rookie Jason Ford.
"He looks good," Kubiak said. "I remember Moran when I first came here. He's a banger in this league and he's done it for a long time. There may be a spot for someone to come in here and compete with our guys, so we'll see. It sure looks like he's been taking care of himself."
Burgess (6-3, 207), 28, had three stints with the Baltimore Ravens from 2007-11. He has played inside and outside linebacker and saw most of his action on special teams.
Browner (6-6, 250), 24, went undrafted in 2011 out of California. His father, Keith Browner, and uncles Ross, Joey, Willard and Jim Browner all played in the NFL.
Many of the Texans' veteran players are sitting out of mini-camp, so the four tryout players will get plenty of reps over the next two days as the coaching staff makes their evaluations.
"It's hard," Kubiak said. "Obviously, we've studied them when they've played. They've got a lot of snaps to go back and look at. Really, for a veteran like that, you look at his conditioning level and how he has been taking care of himself. You look at the bounce in his legs over three days because he's been playing a long time. Today was a good, quick look and the next few days, they'll try to do more.
"I think there are some spots where I think we need to try and improve ourselves going into camp if we can. There are some things that we're looking at and maybe those guys will fill a void. I don't know. We'll see."