Tackle Charles Spencer, one of several injured Texans making a steady recovery, ran outdoors for the first time since his 2006 injury on Thursday.
After the Texans' open Thursday workout session, the team spoke with the media about several topics, including the preseason schedule, players recovering from injury and a new NFL rule.
Robinson running: Cornerback Dunta Robinson drew plenty of media attention on Thursday, as reporters pined to see how he is faring in recovery from reconstructive surgery on his knee and hamstring.
While his teammates participated in drills, Robinson worked hard on a stationary exercise bike and ran under the supervision of head athletic trainer Kevin Bastin on an adjacent practice field.
That drew the attention of Texans head coach Gary Kubiak as well.
"That amazed me; that's the first thing I noticed when I came out," Kubiak said. "I knew he was making great progress; I talked to his doctor before I went to the league meetings. But to actually see him out here running a little bit… he's very determined, and I think he's very determined to get there quicker than people think he can. But that's what he's all about."
Robinson remains confident that he will return for the 2008 season, though he could not give a specific timetable due to the complexity of his injury. The fiery corner dismissed a reporter's suggestion that he might come back a step slower when he does get back on the field.
"If I come back, it's going to be probably a little bit better," he said. "I'm not worried about losing a step. I think guys lose steps when they don't take their injuries serious. If you come out here and attack these things, then you can come back better than you were before, and that's my plan.
"I'm not going to hurt my team by coming out there and losing a step – even though I think me being 85 percent, I feel that I'm better than half the corners in this game – but if I come back, it's going to be 100 percent. Losing a step, that's all mental. That won't be a part of my game."
Others on the mend: Running with Robinson were center Chris White and tackle Charles Spencer, both recovering from knee injuries of their own. There's no word yet on White's status, but Kubiak said Spencer will return to the field soon.
"With Spence right now, we're hoping that when we get to the OTA's he's actually doing some football stuff," Kubiak said. "The question all along has been how it's going to react to getting back to work, so we'll see here probably pretty quickly."
Though Kubiak jokingly poked fun at Spencer to the media, noting that the big tackle looked awkward while running, Spencer said he had not run outdoors in quite some time. It was a big step forward for Spencer, who has been rehabbing for more than 18 months.
"I'm excited, every day I come to work," he said. "I was dealing with a lot, but I never second-guessed myself, never doubted myself throughout the whole process. I look forward to contributing to this team."
Running back Ahman Green and quarterback Matt Schaub fully participated in team drills. Though Schaub's shoulder is not yet 100 percent, he threw the ball without a hitch in passing drills. Both he and Green are expected to be fully healthy by the start of mini-camp.
Reeves impressed: Though the Texans continue to look to upgrade their secondary, the team's newest defensive back is impressed with the personnel already in place. Cornerback Jacques Reeves, signed as a free agent from the Cowboys this offseason, gave a glowing review of his new teammates.
"I've been out here with these guys for a couple days, and we have a good secondary here," he said. "I've never seen a group work so hard, and it's only day two. I'm really impressed with the guys they have around us, around me, really."
The speedy Reeves looks forward to playing more man-to-man coverage in Houston, as opposed to the zone schemes favored by the Cowboys.
"I like to get in the receivers' faces," he said. "Because of the zone concepts (in Dallas), a lot of zone blitzes, we weren't able to get up in the receivers' faces simply because we had to read two receivers most of the time."
DeMeco, do you read me: A rule change passed at the NFL owners' meetings this week in Florida allows one defensive player on each team to have a radio in his helmet during games, just like the quarterback does on offense. Kubiak strongly supports the new rule.
"I think it's very good," he said. "It's great to be able to talk to a quarterback during the game. You've got somebody out there who's your quarterback of your defense, so why shouldn't you be able to talk to him, also? It's going to eliminate a lot of signals and stuff like that, which people worry about from various standpoints."
As expected, Kubiak said that Pro Bowl middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans would likely wear the radio and directly communicate with defensive coordinator Richard Smith, rather than rely exclusively on hand signals as players were forced to in the past.
"It'll be unique, something different," Ryans said. "I think we're now all on the same playing field with the offense, so they don't have the advantage on us any more.
"It gives us a chance for (Smith) to alert us on certain things that he may think are coming, like if there's a screen or a draw that he thinks is coming. It gives us a chance to get that information a lot quicker than doing hand signals. It's going to be a lot easier for us."
Notes: Kubiak said that general manager Rick Smith remains in contact with free agent cornerback Andre Dyson, who visited the Texans last week…every Texans player under contract was in attendance except for new linebacker Kevin Bentley, whom Kubiak had excused for personal reasons.