For only the second time during training camp, the Texans came out in full pads and pants for their morning practice on Day 11. The last time the team dressed in full gear, on Day 5, cornerback Jacques Reeves and center Chris Myers both suffered significant injuries, but the team appeared to be injury free on Tuesday after a sharp and thorough morning session.
Barber Strong at Safety: Safety Dominique Barber saw reps with the first team defense on Tuesday, supplanting Nick Ferguson at strong safety on the Texans' top unit. Although Kubiak said that the move is by no means permanent and was designed to reward Barber's strong play so far in camp.
"When we call the first group out here, we have 22 guys who step out on the field but all 22 of them have to prove that they belong there everyday," Kubiak said. "Dominique is pushing Nick right now, but Nick will respond. Nick's a pro, so it'll be a heck of a battle. I'm just impressed with how much progress Dominique has made."
Barber's natural talents and speed have impressed Kubiak, but additional reps and experience out on the field should only serve to improve Barber's coverage abilities.
"Guys that really know what's going on, smart to schemes, smart to routes, those are the guys who cover the most ground," Kubiak said. "Nick has seen routes for many many years, Dominique not so many, so I think he's going to only get better."
A 6th round pick out of Minnesota in 2008, Barber has solid football bloodlines. His older brother is Cowboys' running back Marion Barber III, while his father Marion Barber Jr. played in 7 NFL seasons with the New York Jets.
Prepping for Chiefs: With only three full days of practice ahead of the Texans' preseason opener at Kansas City, preparations continued for Saturday night's game against the Chiefs. For the second straight day, portable speakers were placed along both sidelines and crowd noise was simulated during team drills, adding a wrinkle to practice that could prove helpful Saturday, as Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium is regarded as one of the loudest in the league.
"I just think it's important that we keep putting them through tough situations, the noise, no coaches in their hip pocket," Kubiak said. "You find out where players are quicker that way, and that's what we're fixing to go find out Saturday. We need to go get a head start on it now."
Kubiak said that although no firm decisions had been made regarding how long his starters would play, he said that his plan would likely remain close to what he has done in prior preseason openers. His early projection was that starters would play at least a quarter, but that a rigid play count would probably be settled on when he meets with his coaches in a pregame planning meeting on Wednesday evening.
Ageless Wonder: After 16 NFL training camps, it's easy to think that defensive tackle Jeff Zgonina would be ready to take a breather from the relentless two-a-days and long meetings of a preseason that most players don't care for. But the 39-year old Zgonina feels quite differently about the training camp routine that most players hate. In fact, he can't get enough of it.
"Yeah, he's a little sick that way, but he loves the game," Kubiak said of Zgonina's affinity for training camp. "He loves the game, and he still thinks he can contribute, and I'm not sure he can't. We'll see what happens."
Zgonina is in the midst of a deep competition for minutes on the interior of the defensive line, but his durability and impressive conditioning level has kept him more than in the running for playing time. A former college roommate of Texans general manager Rick Smith at Purdue, Zgonina has not yet missed a practice, and his fitness level allows him to participate in both morning and afternoon practices, unlike other Texans veterans who sit out the afternoon walkthroughs.
"I used him as an example to the team the other day," Kubiak said. "I told those guys we were out looking for another defensive lineman two weeks ago. To think that a 17-year vet's name would come up, when we're talking about two practices a day and what we're going through right now, you'd think it would be impossible. But the reason he keeps getting opportunities is because he can go all day. He's in tremendous condition."
Texans Notes: Cornerback Glover Quin had a nice series of plays Tuesday morning, stripping wide receiver André Davis after a reception to force a fumble before nearly intercepting a Matt Schaub pass to Owen Daniels…Fox Sports national football writer Jay Glazer was in attendance at Texans practice as he tours different NFL camps during the preseason.