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Training camp practice report: Day 18


Defensive tackle Travis Johnson participated in individual periods in Monday's practice.

The Texans practiced in helmets and shorts outside in the early afternoon on Monday. The team has one more practice before closing training camp Tuesday afternoon. The team will begin its regular season schedule on Wednesday in anticipation of the next preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings.

A nice return: The Texans welcomed back defensive tackle Travis Johnson and guard Chester Pitts today. Johnson, recovering from a sports hernia injury, went through stretching and drills with the rest of the defensive linemen at the start, but did not participate in team drills.

"We're slowly working him into that, so we'll see how he does tomorrow," head coach Gary Kubiak said of Johnson after practice. "We need to get him back out there to get him a chance to compete for a spot on this team."

Kubiak is unsure whether or not Johnson will play against Minnesota.

Pitts, meanwhile, was able to participate and didn't show many signs of rust.

"He worked the whole practice, so that's encouraging," Kubiak said of Pitts, who missed time because of a shoulder injury. "We brought him back to do everything. It was good and toasty out here today, but he seemed to hold up."

Pitts said he was anxious to get back to work with his teammates.

{QUOTE}"It feels good to be back with the fellas; I missed them," the eight-year veteran said. "So it's back to work and ready for another big challenge in Minnesota. It's Monday Night Football, baby!"

Pitts admitted to being a "bit behind" in terms of conditioning, but said he's been treated the same as always by his teammates.

"They give me a hard time every day that I don't practice," he said. "They call it a vet move and say 'Look at your body: There's no way you get hurt.' They give me crap all the time, but what are you going to do?"

Captain 'Meco:Middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans can be counted among the many who were displeased with Saturday night's performance.

"This is my defense," Ryans said. "No ifs, ands, or buts about it. This is my defense and it reflects my leadership and, obviously, it (Saturday night) wasn't good enough."

Despite Ryans' displeasure, Kubiak liked what he saw from Captain 'Meco.

"He was doing his part, he was a bright spot," Kubiak said of Ryans, who led the way for the Texans' defense with six combined tackles. "He's talking. Somehow when things aren't going good, you've got to stop the bleeding, whether it's offense, defense, special teams…somebody's got to make a play to stop things, and we just never got it stopped."

Favre watch:A buzz developed around Reliant Stadium last week as soon as Brett Favre made his decision to return to the NFL and sign with the Minnesota Vikings. Although the Texans' Monday Night Football game against the Vikings was more than a week away, players' eyes were glued to the televisions in the team cafeteria as details emerged about Favre's latest comeback.

Certainly, there will be added electricity to the Aug. 31 matchup at Reliant Stadium with Favre and former Texans quarterback Sage Rosenfels in uniform and the ESPN Monday Night Football crew in attendance. But that won't change the Texans' focus.

"We just want to get better as a team," quarterback Matt Schaub said. "We want to play consistently throughout the game, from the first snap through the last whistle, and just play our game and not worry about what they're doing. Just go out and cut it loose."

As for Favre, Schaub looks forward to facing one of the all-time greats at his position, though he admitted that his two favorites growing up were John Elway and Joe Montana.

"The guy (Favre) has played for so long and he's one of the best players to ever play the game, so I think he's earned the right to decide when he wants to hang it up," Schaub said. "If he changes his mind, then he's entitled to that and it's just a crazy situation the way it's turned out."

That's a wrap: The final training camp practice is Tuesday morning. It should be quick because the annual TEAM Luncheon, presented by Amegy Bank, at Hotel ZaZa begins at noon. Even though Saturday night didn't go the way the team would've liked, Kubiak and the squad are looking to finish on a strong note.

"When you watch the film, it's hard to be in a good mood because it was so disappointing," Kubiak said. "But we're out here in the middle of the day and it's pretty hot and we got some things we're trying to get a head start on for the season. We'll work a little bit against ourselves tomorrow and we'll start going through a normal week. We'll approach Minnesota like it's a normal game."

Tickets still remain for the matchup. Click **here** for details.

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