Rookie wide receiver Jacoby Jones had some impressive catches and punt returns Monday, but the young wideout was later slowed by hot weather.
Slow start: Off of their first day's rest since the beginning of training camp, the Texans were not as sharp as their head coach would have liked Monday morning. Execution on offense was spotty, with several misfires on deep balls and short passes, and at times the team seemed to have trouble getting into a rhythm on either side of the ball.
"I think we had a hard time getting going today," Kubiak said. "We had a day off, and we were sluggish, but we found a way to fight through it."
With the heat index edging over 100 degrees Monday, exhaustion was another issue that troubled some players. Wide receiver Jacoby Jones pulled up late during practice and had to sit out a few plays with what Kubiak described as heat-related fatigue, while wide receiver Bethel Johnson also struggled handling the hot conditions.
These losses hit a wide receiving corps that already was missing Keenan McCardell and Andre' Davis, who both did not participate in practice due to lingering injuries. Davis did, however, participate in the afternoon practice, which was an abbreviated session held indoors.
As the team begins to get into a more routine schedule with games on weekends, Kubiak said that afternoon practices will become shorter and focus on fine-tuning the team's execution rather than out-and-out scrimmages.
"The afternoons will get shorter and shorter," Kubiak said. "As we get closer to playing, I want to teach in the afternoon. I want to get in here where it's cool. We had some very important things to cover. Looking on paper, it's almost like it would be hard to come practice this afternoon, but the guys did a great job and we got something out of it."
'Backer buddies: Linebacker Charlie Anderson, identified by Kubiak on Saturday as his number one strongside linebacker, knows that his resurgence this training camp came not only from his hard work, but also from the assistance of his fellow teammates.
"Shantee has always been big, Shawn Barber, Danny Clark, even DeMeco (Ryans), (Morlon) Greenwood," Anderson said. "I mean everybody. All the linebackers support me. We all are in this together trying to get this defense to where we want it to be."
Still, Anderson's current elevation to the first team spot has come at the cost of his best friend Shantee Orr's starting status. Orr has missed much of camp nursing an injury sustained in the first weekend of training camp, when he fell awkwardly on his back after leaping up to intercept a pass.
"If I see him doing something good, then I'm going to want to do something good," Anderson said. "It's like, since I'm just out here by myself and he's not practicing, it's kind of like a let down because he's not here with me."
Although Kubiak said on Saturday that it was imperative for Orr to return soon in order to compete for a roster spot, Anderson strongly believes that his buddy will be with him by the time final training camp cuts are made.
"I do not see Shantee not making this team," Anderson said.
Injuries are the Pitts: Team trainers were busy at the Methodist Training Center on Monday, as a handful of Texans suffered injuries, including starting left guard Chester Pitts. Pitts experienced back spasms during the morning practice and was carted off the field by the athletic trainers. Pitts underwent an MRI shortly after noon on Monday, but his future status still was unknown by the end of the afternoon practice.
Entering his sixth year in the NFL, Pitts has started in each of the Texans' games since the team's inaugural season in 2002.
"It's very difficult," Kubiak said. "I've been doing this for a long time, and you're going to have players get nicked up and things happen. That gives other guys an opportunity. You don't want to lose players as a coach, but I know one thing: You've got to work to get better. Usually with the hard work, some things happen that you've got to fight through."
Offensive linemen Drew Hodgdon, Mike Brisiel and Kasey Studdard all were mentioned by Kubiak as potential replacements at left guard if Pitts is to be out for an extended period of time.
Other injuries from Monday morning's session included back spasms that struck defensive lineman Tim Bulman, a groin strain that caused linebacker Zac Diles to miss part of practice and a rolled ankle that sidelined guard Fred Weary.
Linebacker DeMeco Ryans was held out of the afternoon practice due to a slight ankle sprain, but Kubiak indicated that Ryans should be fine to practice Tuesday.
QB coach for a day: Kubiak spent a portion of practice working with the team's quarterbacks during unit drills Monday morning. Kubiak was filling in for quarterbacks coach Kyle Shanahan, who was absent from practice due to the expected birth of his first child.
Kubiak said that he expects the baby to be born either this evening or tomorrow, meaning that he may again step into his assistant's role during a future practice. A nine-year NFL veteran at quarterback, Kubiak coached quarterbacks for the San Francisco 49ers in 1994 and for the Denver Broncos from 1995 to 2002. He mentioned after practice that he didn't mind returning to the job.
"I enjoyed it," Kubiak said. "I missed it."
Miscellaneous: Defensive end Mario Williams had an extraordinary play Monday, stuffing a Wali Lundy run in the backfield. Lundy barely had taken a step after receiving the handoff before Williams smothered him for a big loss…Sage Rosenfels seemed to borrow from fellow quarterback, and Boise State trick-play star, Jared Zabransky when he executed a nifty fake handoff. Rosenfels hid the ball behind his back and jogged toward the end zone for a few steps before revealing the ball and dashing into the end zone…wide receiver Jacoby Jones was comfortable operating in the back of the end zone, snagging a touchdown pass while carefully dragging both of his toes to ensure that his catch would count. Indoors, Jones stood out amongst a group of potential punt returners during the special teams portion of practice. The former Lane College track star looked fast and fluid and wasted no time returning the ball straight upfield.