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Studdard preparing for first start


OG Kasey Studdard filled in for the injured Chester Pitts last Sunday

Late Sunday in Nashville, the Texans' locker room was as joyous as it had been in quite some time. After battling back from a two-touchdown deficit and exchanging fourth quarter fisticuffs with the Titans, there was a definite euphoria in the hours after the victory.

The only dark cloud was the wrapped right knee of left guard Chester Pitts, who left during the game due to injury. The news about Pitts grew worse on Wednesday, when the Texans iron man's season ended as he was placed on injured reserve.

Into the breach now steps Kasey Studdard, who played the rest of the Titans game after Pitts exited in the second quarter.

And Studdard says he's nervous. But he nonchalantly adds that nervousness, with him, is a normal thing.

"I get nervous every week," Studdard said. "That's just football. It's a feeling I can't describe. It goes away after your first snap and I'll be good after that."

Head coach Gary Kubiak agrees with the "good" part of what Studdard said and believes there's little dropoff when Studdard steps into the rotation.

"He went in the other day and there was no flinching to anything we were doing," Kubiak said of Studdard's performance last Sunday. "He went in there and did his job, and he's going to play extremely hard."

Kubiak used the term "extremely hard," but his teammates smile and describe Studdard in other ways.

"More than anything, Kasey has passion, intensity and aggressiveness," left tackle Duane Brown said. "I incorporate that into my game, and playing beside him, it's going to be really fun over there."

Brown is disappointed that Pitts is gone, but knows that to his immediate right, there's a fighter in Studdard.

{QUOTE}"Backing down - that's something Kasey does not do at all," Brown said.

Center Chris Myers agrees with Brown. Myers says Studdard brings an added degree of toughness that you don't always see.

"He's a scrappy player," Myers said. "He's going to come in here and make it worthwhile."

Studdard's basic philosophy is a simple one, and that's blocking the defender across from him, no matter how.

"You can't just give up on a play if a guy gets ahead," Studdard said. "You've just got to keep going and get him down and somehow make your block. You can't stop. I guess I'm an old-school player and I like to play hard and finish all my blocks and just keep getting after it."

Dovetailing what Myers and Brown said, Kubiak likes the mental aspect Studdard brings to the line.

"He brings an attitude to the group," Kubiak said. "He's going to make a few mistakes because this will be his first start. I know one thing: He'll give us everything he's got."

The week of practice, Studdard said, has gone well thus far. The extra work as a starter that Studdard got while Pitts missed most of training camp helped the former Texas Longhorn as well.

"I felt good," Studdard said Wednesday, the first day since the season began that he practiced with the starters. "I'd been running with the ones all during camp and already knew that chemistry between all of us, so I felt fine getting in there."

Kubiak thought Studdard had a "great" training camp and "played like a starter" from late July through August.

For now, Kubiak is seeing the proverbial silver lining to the cloud that is Pitts' absence and Studdard's opportunity.

"It's interesting how things work," Kubiak said of the situation. "He's earned his keep."

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