BEEN THERE, DONE THAT:As these coaching sessions enter their second week, it's still fairly obvious to Texans head coach Dom Capers that the incumbents have the advantage.
"This period gives us an idea of how much we can do efficiently," Capers said. "We've put a lot in and you tell the players that have been here a year have been through it before. They're more confident and clear in their communication."
But that doesn't mean some of the new guys haven't impressed thus far. Linebacker Charlie Clemons is picking up the nuances of the 3-4 defense. Fellow linebacker Patrick Chukwurah has played well in his bid to earn a backup spot. And the coaches have been impressed with running back Stacey Mack's attention to detail, which shouldn't come as a surprise considering Mack hasn't fumbled in his last 267 rushing attempts.
The rookies are putting in the necessary extra time as they try to absorb everything that's being tossed their way. Quarterback Dave Ragone stuck around after practice to throw balls to wide receiver Frank Murphy. Tight end Bennie Joppru worked on his blocking technique with position coach Greg Roman for at least 20 minutes after the final horn. Roman implored Joppru to work on his footwork at home.
"You've got Jason Taylor to face in the opener," Roman said, referring to Miami's Pro Bowl defensive end.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES:Aside from the hoopla surrounding the Texans' inaugural season, there is another big difference on the practice field from 2002 to 2003. Simply put, the Texans have better players, and Capers thinks that not only results in better competition, but more efficient workouts as well.
"The tougher your decisions start to get, you know you're getting better," Capers said. "We do have more talent this year than we did last year."
"One of the things that happens your first year is you spend a lot of time coaching guys that when it comes time to play, they aren't on the team. It's not as efficient as you'd like it to be. But we have a basis for a team this year and that's going to pay dividends."
SAY CHEESE:The Texans' draft class posed for a group shot after practice, a picture that wasn't nearly as crowded as last year's edition.
Since sixth-round pick Drew Henson is still swinging away for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers, Houston has just nine draft picks on the field, down from 12 in 2002.