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Texans rookies excited for training camp


Linebacker Zac Diles is ready to get out on the field.

Normally, most players don't look forward to training camp – especially not in Houston. Not with grueling two-a-days in the sweltering heat, exhausting workouts and an enforced nightly curfew. But the Houston Texans rookies were brimming with excitement as they reported to the team hotel Thursday on the eve of training camp.

No, they're not delusional. And no, they're not just rookies who don't know any better. The stakes are simply too high for these players to be anything but excited.

For those players such as safety Brandon Mitchell, these two weeks represent the opportunity to make a lifelong dream come true by impressing coaches enough to secure an NFL roster spot.

"I'm ready," Mitchell said. "It's what you prepare your whole life for – getting to the NFL and trying to play in the NFL. So I think it's going to be fun and tough at the same time."

And for others with contracts in place, the start of training camp brings them that much closer to their first NFL season. The rookies are excited and ready to go.

"It feels real good (to be on the verge of starting camp)," said seventh-round pick Zac Diles, the linebacker out of Kansas State. "I'm really anxious to get out there and see what it's like – get out there with the teammates and be back to playing football again."

Offensive tackle Brandon Frye, the Texans' fifth-round selection from Virginia Tech, also is taking an eager approach to the coming weeks.

"I'm really excited about it," Frye said. "This is my first time through it, so I'm just going to kind of keep my eyes open, try to go in the direction everybody else is and just work as hard as I can."

Coach Gary Kubiak requires all rookies and first-year players to live together in the team hotel for the duration of camp. Veterans have the option of staying at their permanent residence, but many of them choose to spend camp in the hotel with their teammates instead.

{QUOTE}From a coach's standpoint, the advantages of the players living together are numerous: easy monitoring, fewer distractions, and increased unity. Cornerback Fred Bennett, the fourth-round pick from South Carolina, sees training camp as a time to use that growing closeness toward a distinct purpose.

"It gives us the opportunity to know one another, even help one another out," Bennett said. "When someone doesn't know anything, and the next man knows it, it gives us the chance to help each other out and talk a little bit. It gives us the opportunity to let each other know what we're doing wrong, what we can improve on. It's a real blessing."

Hoping to add some entertainment to all the learning, several rookies brought along their favorite video games to the hotel.

"I brought my Xbox 360 – got my HALO," said Frye. "I got that before camp started. But I probably won't be turning it on too much during camp."

And while adjusting to less Xbox is no easy task, it pales in comparison to perhaps the most daunting challenge facing the rookie players – overcoming the Houston heat. Bennett said he has been bracing himself for sky-high training camp temperatures since he first arrived in Texas three months ago.

"When I was in OTA's, it was so hot. The sun was beating on my back," he said. "Everybody just kept saying, 'This is nothing – wait 'til training camp, wait 'til training camp.' I'm thinking if it gets hotter than this, oh man, it's going to be bad. So they've just been telling me about the heat and how to hydrate myself and basically try to beat the heat. I mean you can't beat the heat, but there's a way you can try."

"The weather out here is really different than where I'm from," Diles said. "It's real different, it's a lot hotter and more humid."

Once they get used to the weather, Diles and his fellow rookies will be able to focus all of their excitement and energy on making the transition from college to the professional ranks. They feel adequately prepared to do so.

"There's more two-a-days here than I had in college, so that's going to be something I have to get used to," Diles said. "But other than that, we've all done it before, so we should be used to it."

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