Texans fans look on from the bleachers during one of the five open practices during training camp.
The bleachers were full and the sidelines were packed during the festive open practices of Texans Training Camp presented by Wachovia, which recently concluded as the most highly-attended camp in franchise history. 17,509 fans attended the Texans' six open practices over the past three weeks, and 3,654 watched the Texans' evening practice on Aug. 2, both team records.
"Training camp is a great opportunity for the fans to get up close and personal with the team that they love so dearly," Texans president Jamey Rootes said. "It was very nice to see this year the fans coming out in greater numbers than ever. It was really a special opportunity to see them regenerate their incredible passion for the Houston Texans and for football."
The Texans' marketing department worked hard to ensure that the practices were exciting for fans beyond the action on the football field. As fans pined for their first glimpses of new players such as quarterback Matt Schaub, running back Ahman Green and defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, they were catered to in typical Texans fashion. Fun and games for children in attendance included interactive inflatable football games located just outside of the bleacher area, and a zydeco band performing from behind the south end zone livened up the evening practices.
Guest appearances with the fans were made by TORO, the Houston Texans Cheerleaders and Texans Ambassadors such as Haywood Jeffires and Bubba McDowell. Houston coaching legend Bum Phillips also paid a special visit to one of the practices. Each practice ended with a player autograph session, and head coach Gary Kubiak gave the fans a special treat after the last open practice by having all of his players sign autographs for several minutes for eager fans waiting alongside the practice field fence.
Texans players welcomed the support and electric atmosphere provided by the fans.
"It's kind of nice to come out here like this," Schaub said after an evening open practice. "It's good for the fans, and it's kind of a distraction for us. It's fun when the lights get turned on and we get to come out and play ball. It's an exciting time. We just wanted to get some of the fans excited."
"It's good to have the fans out here, you know, showcasing for the fans running around a little bit," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "It's a lot of fun out here."