Defensive end Jason Babin tries to force his way to the backfield during a pass rush drill Wednesday.
Two-a-days…down to one: After a solid two-and-a-half weeks of dual session, two-a-day practices, Wednesday's open practice marked the end of the team's two-a-days for the 2007 training camp. 3,417 fans were in attendance during an evening session that saw plenty of big plays and impressive touchdown passes.
Although the grind of multiple daily practices can grow tiring as training camp drags on, head coach Gary Kubiak feels it is an integral part of the game and preparation for the season.
"I had a friend of mine out here yesterday who is out of football right now and not coaching," Kubiak said. "He came to me and he said, 'Coach, you know the only thing worse than camp?' I said, 'What's that?' He said, 'No camp. I'm out of ball right now and I miss it really bad.' It kind of becomes part of your life. The discipline of the two or three weeks of going double-days, the hours (spent), it kind of gets you ready for the season, coaching and playing."
After 17 days of practice and a preseason game, Kubiak feels that his team has taken strides in the right direction.
"I think we were able to do a lot more this training camp, a lot more football-wise," Kubiak said. "I think we're much further along from that standpoint as a team. We've still got a long, long way to go and a lot of things to do, but I like our group, our guys like each other. I think they're pretty dang close, and that's important in the long run."
Playing plans for Arizona: Kubiak said after practice Wednesday that with three preseason games left, he doesn't see a need to rush guard Chester Pitts back onto the field, and thus is not planning to play him Saturday against Arizona.
"I think Chester will be back and play next week and get his big work load against Dallas," Kubiak said. "I think if it were Kansas City, I think he'd make it back this week, but we're going to be smart with him and bring him along slowly for next week."
Kubiak plans to play offensive lineman Steve McKinney in Pitts' place. McKinney started at left guard for Pitts last Saturday against Chicago.
In terms of how long his starters are slated to play, Kubiak plans to bump up his starters from their play limit of approximately 15 snaps in the first preseason game to about 25 snaps, then adjusting the playing time of the reserves accordingly.
Kubiak also announced Wednesday that he plans to give fullback Patrick Pass a start on Saturday. Kubiak has been impressed by Pass' play on special teams and wants to see him in live game action as a fullback.
Jacoby joins the ones: Wide receiver Jacoby Jones has had quite a week, and his stellar performance in the preseason opener against Chicago was capped off today by Kubiak with the announcement that Jones has been moved to the number-one offensive unit in some play packages and may see a start at the second receiver spot Saturday against the Arizona Cardinals.
"He just continues to make plays," Kubiak said. "This kid just handles himself like he's been doing it a long, long time. We need to study him pretty hard and make sure we go get some more like that because he has made a lot of ground pretty quick."
Jones knows that he has advanced quickly up the depth chart, but he knows that he isn't close to proclaiming that he's "made it" in the NFL.
"I don't think it will ever just be a time where I've made it, because I'm still working to get better," Jones said. "I hope it's a long time from now, because I want to keep getting better and better and better."
Poole hopes to play: Sporting a number 41 practice jersey, newly signed cornerback Tyrone Poole was in attendance at practice Wednesday. Although he participated in just a handful of drills, he spent almost 30 minutes after practice working with defensive backs coach Jon Hoke. After his extra work ended, Poole ran sprints along the entire length of the sideline, despite uncomfortably hot and humid conditions.
Although he has spent only a few hours in camp learning the plays and coverages of his new team, Poole expressed optimism about hitting the field for his first game this Saturday in Arizona.
"There are only so many ways you can play Cover 2, Cover 1, or any zone defense," Poole said. "Basically, it's just learning the terminology, just learning what it is and what your responsibility is in the defense. But I want to play and hopefully I will play."
With more than a decade of NFL experience and two Super Bowl rings earned during his time with the New England Patriots, Poole knows that he can be just as valuable to his new team as a teaching resource.
"I told the young defensive backs, 'I'm like an open book to you. Whatever it is you need, I'm here for you,'" Poole said. "But also saying that, it's like books in a library. There are a lot of books in the library that aren't read because they aren't pulled off the shelf. But that's what I told the guys, 'You've got to pull me off the shelf. I'm not going to just tap you on the shoulder. But if you pull me off the shelf, I'm an open book to you."
Bad word ban: Defensive line coach Jethro Franklin is known as one of the more vocal coaches on the Texans staff, constantly exhorting his players to work harder, and not always in the kindest of terms. But when Franklin came out and told his linemen during pre-practice stretches that Wednesday was a "No Cursing Day," he intended to catch them off guard.
"I just try to change the flavor up a little bit, you know," Franklin said. "Guys will tune you out when you're out here ranting and raving all the time, but you've just got to change it up. Once they think I'll come out here and be more of a maniac than ever before, I come out and all of a sudden it's a 'No Cuss Day,' just to keep them on their toes a little bit."
Miscellaneous: Defensive end Mario Williams stayed on the practice field for an extra 25 minutes Wednesday morning, working on technique with Franklin and defensive lineman Anthony Weaver. Franklin said that the session worked on Mario's speed dip and power moves when coming around the corner on an offensive tackle…Kubiak celebrated his 46th birthday Wednesday, and offensive tackle Ephraim Salaam "honored" his coach by dousing him with a bucket of ice water as he addressed the team huddle after the morning practice…Fred Bennett had an impressive interception on a pass intended for Jerome Mathis late in the morning session, playing an underthrown ball perfectly and returning it 15 yards…SportsRadio 610 afternoon host Matt Jackson received a trophy after practice Wednesday for winning the celebrity contest of the 2006 Home Team Challenge fantasy football competition on HoustonTexans.com. You can win, too! Fan registration for the 2007 edition of the Home Team Challenge begins on August 21. To find out more about the great prizes available and how to register, click here.