The Texans began the second phase of their voluntary offseason workout program this week at Reliant Stadium as they prepare for the start of organized team activities (OTAs) on May 21.
Phase One started Monday, April 16, and lasted two weeks. Players worked strictly with strength and conditioning coach Cedric Smith and his staff, lifting weights at Reliant and running as a team across Kirby Drive at the Methodist Training Center.
Phase Two began Monday. In addition to working with Smith, players can now do limited work with head coach Gary Kubiak and his assistants on the field and in the film room.
"They finish with Cedric, and we come on the field with them for a little bit and just do some teaching and those type of things and go in the classroom," Kubiak said Tuesday on "Texans All Access" on SportsRadio 610. "We finish up the day in the classroom for about 45 minutes. We're just getting some work in right now kind of reviewing our season and getting ready to go for next season."
The Texans will have 10 OTAs: May 21-22, May 24, May 29-31 and June 4-7. Their mandatory three-day mini-camp will be June 12-14.
Rookies, including eight draft picks and a reported 21 undrafted free agents, will report to Reliant on May 13.
"We'll spend that whole net week with them preparing them for OTAs, so we'll get a good five days in," Kubiak said. "What I do at the back end of the OTAs with our mini-camp is I like to kind of dedicate that to our younger players, now that they know what we're doing. They're up to speed offensively and defensively, and our scouts and everybody in the organization can get a better feel of evaluating who can come help us come fall time."
Kubiak said the first thing the Texans do with rookies is dissect how far along they are physically.
"All players are different," Kubiak said. "There are some guys way ahead, and some guys need to really start from scratch. That's our job as coaches right now, to figure that out as they come in. You've got to make sure that you don't just throw those guys right in with your vets. I mean, our guys work, boy. I tell you, Cedric works the heck out of 'em, and we've got a team that's really impressive out there right now, in great physical condition.
"So it'll be a rude awakening for 'em, but I think that's what that first week is for. They kind of figure it out. We get 'em in the locker room, they get to go sit down next to Brian Cushing, J.J. Watt, Matt Schaub and get all that stage fright out of the way and kind of start to fit in, and then we get into OTAs where they can relax a little bit and start to figure out what's going on so that they're ready to compete once training camp comes."
Kubiak is excited about how first-round draft pick Whitney Mercilus, the 26th overall pick from Illinois, will fit in with outside linebackers Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed and the rest of the Texans' front seven.
"I'm sitting there watching Brooks and Connor work, and what an impressive group it is, along with Cushing and bringing Bradie [James] in here," Kubiak said. "To be able to add this young man to 'em, you really kind of use three outside guys as starters throughout the course of a game and a season because you play so much nickel and those type of things, so he's going to fit right in with our group. He's about the same size, maybe just a little smaller than Connor, but built the same way athletically, kind of long and lean type of kid. I just think he'll fit with the group real well, and they're excited to have him become part of the group."