The Texans got off to a bit of a slow start Tuesday to open Day 15 of training camp, but finished strong during a morning practice that consisted almost exclusively of full 11-on-11 team drills. Beginning tomorrow morning, the Texans will host the Saints for a set of three practices, two of which will be open to the public, with the teams facing off in preseason action Saturday.
Saints are marching in: After 15 days of practice against one another, the Texans will break up their training camp routine over the next two days as they welcome New Orleans for two days' worth of practices. The Texans are reciprocating hosting duties after the Saints opened their doors last season for a similar set of joint practices with Houston.
The teams will not practice in full pads but will wear shoulder pads and helmets Wednesday and Thursday mornings, with a lighter workout in shorts Wednesday evening. Still, head coach Gary Kubiak feels that the chance to get some contact drills in against a live opponent will be beneficial for everyone involved.
"I think it helps pick things up," Kubiak said. "Training camp gets a bit monotonous at this time of year. They're tired of each other, tired of beating on each other, so you get a new face, go cover a new guy, work against a new guy. I think it's just good for your skill level."
With an elevated level of competition and tensions likely running high between the two teams—who engaged in a brief scuffle at the end of a joint practice in 2008—Kubiak's primary goal will be to make sure that both teams stay healthy.
"Well, it's difficult because it's so competitive, but (Saints head coach) Sean (Payton) and I talk," Kubiak said. "We've got to send messages to our team of what we want. We'll get good work and keep them upright—that's the key."
Brink back: Working out at home in Oregon, quarterback Alex Brink was hopeful when NFL training camps opened that he'd get a second shot with some team. When the weeks passed by and the calls didn't come, he started to get concerned. But as is so often the case in the NFL, injuries open doors for others, and Brink was thrilled to get the call from the Texans over the weekend. Signed to replace the injured Rex Grossman in the team's quarterback lineup, Brink got into Houston about midnight on Monday and was excited to participate in Tuesday morning's practice.
"I'm ready to get back out here, and I feel good about it," Brink said. "I hope I can come in and be able to execute right away and make the transition as seamlessly as possible. (I) just (want to) step up and be able to execute and if I'm called upon to play, be ready to go in there and help out."
Brink's familiarity with the team's offense as a former Houston draft pick and member of the Texans' practice squad was a major factor in his reacquisition, and his 18 months of exposure to the Kubiak's offense meant that Brink had no trouble taking a few reps in his first practice out.
"I got out here and got a couple reps, felt real comfortable," Brink said. "It's the same guys that were here six weeks ago in OTAs and the same guys that you have to run through five weeks of practice with, so I feel very comfortable."
Kubiak said that he expects Brink to get a good amount of playing time this week both in the joint practices with the Saints and the game against New Orleans on Saturday.
Injury report: Guard Chester Pitts participated in Tuesday's practice but will not work during contact drills against the Saints.
Texans notes: With fullback Boomer Grigsby expected to be out for at least four to five weeks, the team signed fullback Jonathan Evans to provide additional depth. Evans signed with the Cowboys out of Baylor in 2005 and has bounced around the league with stints on various teams and practice squads. Evans most recently spent time on the Washington Redskins' roster….the addition of Evans will not change the playing time picture at fullback by tight end James Casey. Kubiak said that Casey will still take reps at fullback provided that he doesn't fall behind at his primary position of tight end.