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Training camp practice report: Day 17


The Texans and Saints convened for their final joint practice this week before their preseason game on Saturday at Reliant Stadium. Tempers flared in a physical practice marred by several fights between the two teams. The Texans ended the day with a light walkthrough in the afternoon.

Rumble at the MTC:Wednesday's joint practices were relatively peaceful, but that wasn't the case on Thursday. At least four fights erupted between the Texans and Saints during their 90-minute morning practice, much to the delight of the 3,702 fans at the Methodist Training Center.

At the center of the biggest skirmish were Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans and Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey, who traded swings at the end a pass play directed to Shockey. Linebacker Xavier Adibi jumped into the fray and slammed Shockey to the ground.

"(Shockey) just got to pushing and shoving, and I told my defensive guys that we're not going to just let them come into our house and think they can take over when they come to Houston," Ryans said. "This is our house, and we had to let them know that, and we get a chance to do that again on Saturday."

{QUOTE}Earlier, fullback Vonta Leach stormed his way into a swell of players after a Saints defender made an aggressive play on Texans running back Ryan Moats.

"I thought they took a cheap shot," Leach said. "A guy came off the Ryan Moats block and started swinging.

"We got even. We are not going to be pushed around or bullied. Our offense is not going to be pushed around and our team is not going to be pushed around. Stuff like that is a part of my job, so I take it and run with it."

Saints fullback Troy Evans, a former Texan, inicited another fracas earlier in practice. At one point, Texans linebacker Kevin Bentley was near the middle of a group of tussling players when it appeared that a Saints offensive player chucked a football at a Texans defender.

"It's part of football," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "You've got to be there for each other, it makes your team strong, but at the same time, you've got to keep some composure and play."

June breaks forearm: Linebacker Cato June broke his forearm this morning at practice. Kubiak said that June could be out 6-8 weeks after having surgery this afternoon.

"Obviously, it hurts Cato," Kubiak said. "He's battling to make this football team, a very experienced player that has been a big help to young guys and he brings winning to our team, so we're going to miss that. He's going to miss a great deal of time. I just feel bad that he's not going to be able to be a part of it right now."

June, a Pro Bowler and Super Bowl winner during a four-year stint with the Indianapolis Colts, joined the Texans this offseason from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"Tough day today," June said on his Twitter page. "A setback is a setup to comeback."

Brees back:The Texans' defense faced off against Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees for the first time on Thursday morning. Brees, who threw for 5,069 yards and 34 touchdowns while directing the league's top-ranked offense last season, had been in Austin mourning the unexpected death of his mother, Mina. He had not practiced with the Saints since Sunday.

Brees arrived in Houston last night and watched film of the Texans. Getting his mind back to football, he said that he wasn't surprised at the number of fights that broke out on Thursday morning.

"I know the style of football we play, and certainly the way we've been practicing here over the last two weeks, it's been extremely physical with us," he said. "We have fights in our own camp. I think that's just the competitors going at it. That stuff is going to happen."

Making his college coach proud:The entire Rice University and University of Houston football teams were on the sidelines on Thursday morning to watch practice. Rice head coach David Bailiff said he wanted his team to learn from the way the Texans compete on every snap.

Bailiff also got to see his former star player, Texans rookie tight end James Casey, in action. When the fifth-round draft pick reconnected with many of his former teammates after practice, he was the lone white jersey in a sea of gray T-shirts being worn by the Rice players.

"From watching the media, he's really doing a special job," Bailiff said. "If you look now, he's got a hundred Rice Owls (surrounding him) – he's the hero of the day for us."

More reps for starters:Kubiak said that the Texans' starters will play for about 25 snaps on Saturday. The first team was limited to 10-15 snaps last week at Kansas City.

"We'll up the ones," Kubiak said. "They'll basically play about a quarter-and-a-half of the game, then the twos will play about a quarter-and-a-half and then the threes will finish the game."

Afternoon walkthrough: Camp won't break until next week, but the Texans are effectively done with two-a-days. They had a 30-minute walkthrough on the Reliant Stadium field on Thursday afternoon.

Kubiak said that the team will have only one practice a day on Monday and Tuesday, followed by a day off next Wednesday. The next day, the Texans will begin their in-season weekly schedule.

"It's been a good camp, very productive," Kubiak said. "The last couple of days have been excellent, speaking from my perspective. I think it's been great for our football team. New Orleans is a good team, (and will be a) good test Saturday night."

Injury report:Rookie running back Arian Foster practiced fully on Thursday. He missed the Texans' first game with a hamstring injury, but Kubiak said that Foster will probably play this weekend if he comes out of today with no problems…linebacker Chaun Thompson is "iffy" for Saturday's game, according to Kubiak...there is "no doubt" that rookie linebacker Brian Cushing will be ready for the season opener against the Jets, Kubiak said on Thursday afternoon. But Kubiak does not expect his first-round draft pick to play against the Vikings on Aug. 31...defensive tackle Travis Johnson has been working with defensive line coach Bill Kollar after practice this week. Kubiak said that Johnson could very well return to the field next week…rookie wide receiver Mike Jones had an issue with the heat at practice, but it did not appear to be serious. The heat index at practice was well above 100 degrees.

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