Test drive #2

Camp doesn't officially break until Tuesday but two-a-days are over. Wednesday night's practice was the final public workout, and you could see on the faces of the players and their families that they are eager to get into a normal work week. It's fun seeing the players' families grow through the years. I brought the Voice Jr. (Luke, 6 months) to his first practice and he seemed to like it.

It's time for the first road trip. You may think that flying on a charter means no airport security. Wrong. There's the usual parade through metal detectors and, thanks to the recent foiled London terrorist plot, no toothpaste or other liquid toiletries allowed. We're going to overwhelm the Rams with bad breath. Actually, the hotel will provide those things.

The problem with the preseason road games is the waiting around. The games are at night, so the players will meet and do a ballroom walk-through the day of the game. They chomp at the bit to get out and do their thing, but there's a lot of hotel down time.

For the broadcast crew, a new stadium (we've never been to the Edward Jones Dome) is always a mystery. You hope and pray for a booth with good sight lines. Our producer, Buffalo Bill VanRysdam, just hopes for a roomy booth with plenty of refreshments nearby.

Sometimes you get shafted. At Fed Ex Field outside of Washignton D.C., the view is the worst I've had for a football game at any level including high school. Redskins owner Dan Snyder puts you in a corner so low there's no prayer of calling an accurate game when the team crosses the 50-yard line. We have to call it from the monitor. Pittsburgh is in a corner, too, but it's up high so at least you get perspective. The best view in the league is at Indianapolis. Right at the 50-yard line and the perfect mid-range height.

I hate to complain about booth location. Believe me, I am grateful for every chance to call a game in this league. It really is a blessing and something that I am thankful for every day.

Playing the Rams brings back horrible memories of last year's meltdown when the Texans were up 24-3 at the half and eventually lost in overtime. Between that game, Baltimore, Tennessee, San Francisco and possibly the visit to Jacksonville, the Texans left about five wins on the table. But enough about last year.

Let's take this thing for test drive #2.

Things we want to see against the Rams:

- Mario showing improvement

How about a big play like a sack or a tackle for a loss just to give him a boost and give ESPN a highlight.

**- Vernand Morency running well

**Wali Lundy did a great job against Kansas City, but let's see if Morency can chew up yardage in this system. That would really help soften the blow if Domanick Davis can't play.

**- David Carr making a big play to Andre Johnson

**You know this will happen in the regular season, but it would be a nice appetizer.

**- A win

**The Texans have never won back-to-back preseason games, or more than one in any preseason. Winning may not mean much this time of year, but to a young rebuilding team, it can't hurt.


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