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Texans wrap up mini-camp with whirlwind Thursday


How busy was it at Reliant Stadium and the Methodist Training Center on Thursday? Let us count the ways:

1. The Texans signed first-round draft pick Whitney Mercilus in the morning.

2. The Texans had their final practice of mini-camp at the Methodist Training Center.

3. The Texans announced contract extensions for head coach Gary Kubiak and general manager/executive vice president Rick Smith, through 2014 for Kubiak and 2016 for Smith.

4. The Texans signed fullback Moran Norris and defensive end Kenneth Browner, two of four players to try out during mini-camp.

It was such a whirlwind day that the final practice of mini-camp, which was also the Texans' final practice until training camp in late July, was almost an afterthought.

Thursday's practice marked the end of three days of practice for young players and reserves, and 10 practices during organized team activities (OTAs) in the three previous weeks.

"I think it's been good," Kubiak said. "I was frustrated yesterday, y'all know. I had the young guys out here for the last three days, but I think we've made a lot of progress. The core of our football team and the veteran guys, I feel very good about.

"I think a big key to our season this year is do we find four or five more guys out of that group that just left the field that become big-time contributors to our team. That's going to be the key, so we have really got to demand that some of these young guys grow up very, very fast. So we're going to stay on them. We're going go to coach the heck out of them.

"I've always promised y'all this team will work hard and play hard, and (we have) big challenges ahead, but we're looking forward to having a good team."

Smith, who along with Kubiak is entering his seventh season with the Texans, said he was pleased with what he saw in OTAs and mini-camp.

"First of all, you see right away that our guys are far along in the systems and schemes," Smith said. "The other thing that just jumps out, and this has been pretty consistent over the last few years, is the effort. Guys are working hard. It's hot out here, and that's a part of what makes our football team because we are well-conditioned. I have seen the group of men that are working and coming together. I see a lot of belief in what they're doing and in each other and that's important, so I'm excited about the season."

Up next, players will be on vacation for six weeks until the start of training camp. Injured players like Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Darryl Sharpton and Brett Hartmann will continue to rehab at Reliant Stadium, but the team facility will otherwise be a veritable ghost town.

Kubiak was asked what concerns he has about the players being on their own.

"It's a self-motivation deal," he said. "That's all you can do is preach to them. I think last year is a great example. I think our guys really handled their business very well, and guys don't know what you've been doing until you show up on the 27th (of July). I think we've got the right guys and they'll continue to work, and we've got some players that have got ground to make up like Schaub and Johnson and people like that, so it's a very, very important time for them."

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