Day 13 of training camp was firmly focused on preparations for Saturday's preseason opener against the Chiefs. The team's morning practice session featured primarily scout team exercises in which the offensive or defensive backups simulated some of the Chiefs' base plays. A brief afternoon session indoors also will be geared around game prep. The team will have a short morning practice on Friday before traveling to Kansas City that afternoon.
Starters for a quarter: As he had hinted earlier in the week, head coach Gary Kubiak announced Thursday that he expects his starters to play for 12-15 snaps during the first quarter of Saturday's game, his second-teamers to play the second and third quarters and his third third-teamers to play the game's final quarter.
He qualified that by saying that many of his younger players on the first team, such as linebackers Zac Diles and Xavier Adibi, could be expected to play in the range of 20-25 snaps in order to give them additional game experience.
"Guy(s) like Zac and Adibi, they need to play more than DeMeco (Ryans)," Kubiak said. "They're first group players, but they're very young, they need more time, so they will play a little bit."
McCain tabbed to start: With the recent injury to Jacques Reeves and the absence of Dunta Robinson leaving the Texans' depth at cornerback perilously thin, it was likely that one of the team's rookie cornerbacks would be elevated to start Saturday against the chiefs opposite Fred Bennett. No permanent starter has been established, but Kubiak and defensive backs coach David Gibbs have given the nod to sixth-round pick Brice McCain as the likely starter on Saturday.
Cornerback Glover Quin, who is still in the mix for serious playing time, will switch off with McCain throughout the first and second halves.
McCain has come on strong in the past few days and hasn't missed a substantial amount of practice, whereas Quin was slowed by a strained hamstring earlier in the week. McCain, described by wide receiver Andre Johnson as one of the fastest players on the team, showed his wheels and ball-hawking ability on Thursday at practice when he cut underneath wide receiver Jacoby Jones to snare an interception.
First game memories: It may have been a little more than 25 years ago, but Kubiak called on the memories of his own preseason debut when speaking to the team's rookies Wednesday evening, even sprinkling in a little bit of self-deprecating humor in the process.
"I told them that you will always remember the first time you stepped on a pro field, because I did," Kubiak said. "I was teasing with them and said, 'I was 2-for-2 (passing). I completed one to the Broncos and one to the Falcons.' They're going to remember it. They know it's important, and they know that it's important to me."
When recalling his first game in the NFL, which was also against the Chiefs back in 2006, linebacker DeMeco Ryans talked about the instant impact he made—proving to himself that he belonged in the pros.
"My first preseason game was against Kansas City and I remember making the first tackle of the game, and I think I made about seven tackles that game," Ryans said. "I will always remember that game. I thought, 'This can't be that hard.' Once I got out there and actually did it and got the first hit, I knew it would be easy."
Their season is the preseason: With no quarterback controversy to be found in Texans camp, the preseason will be the sole chance for backup quarterbacks Dan Orlovsky and Rex Grossman to prove to their coaches and teammates that they can step in and succeed if starter Matt Schaub is ever lost to injury.
"As a backup quarterback, this is your season," Kubiak said. "Dan's going to play half a football game coming up here on Saturday, probably pretty close to the same in Week 2, not as much in Week 3 then play a whole game in Week 4, so this is his season to prove to this team that if something happens to Matt, he's ready to go."
Grossman, who is expected to play for the entire fourth quarter Saturday, drew praises from Kubiak on how quickly he had progressed in adapting to the Texans' offensive schemes. Although the West Coast-style offense run by Kubiak is significantly different from the scheme he was used to in Chicago, Grossman feels that his exposure to both schemes will help him immensely come gameday.
"I've enjoyed it," Grossman said. "There's a lot of things we didn't do in Chicago that we do here that I think will help me as a quarterback, so I'm looking forward to going out and doing that on Saturday."
Injury report: Still bothered by a strained hamstring, running back Arian Foster is unlikely to play in Saturday's game. Outside of previously reported injuries, Kubiak said that everyone else is healthy and ready to play against the Chiefs....Kubiak said that defensive tackle DelJuan Robinson has been fighting through an elbow problem throughout camp, but that he would be expected to play Saturday as he competes with defensive tackle Frank Okam for an interior defensive line spot….defensive end Connor Barwin limped off the field during one play in the morning practice, but he suffered only a scraped knee and returned to action before the end of the workout.