The heat is on

Texans strength and conditioning coach Dan Riley is the model of efficiency.

He and other coaches needed just over 20 minutes Friday afternoon to see who had been naughty and nice over the team's six-week vacation.

After some stretching under an overcast sky, 91 players toed the line in six different groups. Each group ran 14, 40-yard sprints followed by a 40-yard jog.

With two-a-day practices starting Saturday these Texans will never have a second chance to make a first impression.

"I don't think there's one player on this team that wants to come out here and embarrass himself in front of his peer group," head coach Dom Capers said. "All these guys want to come out and do well because it's the start of your identity. This is an evaluation business. Every guy is going to be evaluated in everything that he does."

Electronic timers gage players as they sprint, then run, then glide, then cruise over the line, each pass a fraction slower than the last.

The rest of the test is simple. Coaches make notes on clipboards with an understood rule that big guys can run slower than little guys.

Linemen are given the most time to complete the sprint, but receivers and defensive backs are held to a much higher standard.

Gone are the days when players reported to training camp to get in shape.

"Overall it appears to me that our team is in good shape to start training camp," Capers said. "These test are really the first step in our evaluation process. It's been a little over six weeks since we were together here for mini camp and it tells me how much work guys have done over that period of time. It appears to me the guys have worked hard. I think for the most part everybody made their test."

Some players were obviously more ready for the test than others. But the entire squad made it through the drill without visible injury.

It would be nice if the hard part was over. But it's not.

"For us to develop into a good team there has to be a sense of belief and trust …" Capers said. "In this day and age in the NFL you can't ever come in and think you're going to try and play yourself into shape during training camp. What ends up happening is you end up having an injury, you end up on the sideline and we can't get better if our good players are on the sideline. I was encouraged by what I saw out there."

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