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Training camp practice report - Day 18

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Defensive tackle Thomas Smith knocks down a tackling dummy during practice Thursday.

No rainouts indoors: On a wet, dreary day when much of the city dealt with heavy rain brought along by Tropical Storm Erin, many Texans players and coaches felt fortunate to move their midday practice Thursday indoors at the Methodist Training Center.

"Sure, I mean, it's a monsoon outside," Schaub said. "It would be tough to be out there right now sloshing around."

Texans coach Gary Kubiak realizes that the indoor facility allows his team to more closely simulate the conditions they will face in Arizona. University of Phoenix stadium has a retractable roof, and with a scheduled game time of 1:00 p.m. Arizona time in the middle of the summer, the stadium's top most likely will be closed.

"We are going to play inside this week," Kubiak said. "It was good work for us today."

Volume control: The Texans also attempted to simulate a hostile crowd environment at Thursday's practice by piping in crowd noise. A set of eight speakers set to full blast as the sound of fans cheering, banging on metal bleachers and even blowing horns and whistles filled the practice bubble. The noise made it hard to even speak to the person standing next to you – and that was the point.

"The focus was focus," Kubiak said. "Making it a little crazy in here, making it a little loud and seeing if guys can still do their job. The quarterbacks were handling the ball, handling the crowd noise. I don't think we jumped offsides one time today."

Kubiak feels that his team performed well in the adverse conditions and that even small success here is a harbinger for the future.

"They did really well," Kubiak said. "I think I said to you guys a few times, I see maturity in the football team. When it gets loud and you get inside and it gets a little crazy, that's something that's hard to adjust to, but they really were focused today and came out and did a good job.

"It's not game day, but it's definitely an improvement and that's something our team has got to be better at this year."

As for what he is looking for in his team against the Cardinals, Kubiak said he is most focused on observing a handful of players caught in key position battles.

"The first game we wanted to look at everybody," Kubiak said. "The second game, we've slotted a couple of guys. When you look at Danny Clark, for instance, we want to see him work with the ones. We're working Scott Jackson playing at our right tackle with the twos this week. We've slotted some players in some certain spots and basically the work picks up for everybody. We still need to see a lot of players, so we've got a lot of unanswered questions."

As for playing time Saturday, Kubiak reiterated his plan to provide starters with roughly 10 to 15 more snaps than they had in the Chicago game before giving way to his second-team and third-team players.

"We're going to put a play count on our ones," Kubiak said. "They're going to play anywhere from 20-30 plays, wherever that takes them, then they'll come out. Then the twos will play basically the remainder of the second quarter and the third (quarter). Then we'll play our threes in the fourth (quarter)."

Z headed back to AZ: Quarterback Jared Zabransky was an integral part of one of the most epic performances in the brief history of University of Phoenix Stadium, when he led his Boise State Broncos over a favored Oklahoma team in last January's Fiesta Bowl, an effort that won him two ESPY awards and helped him land the cover of EA Sports' NCAA Football 2007 video game.

In just two days, however, Zabransky will open his NFL career on the very field in Glendale where he ended his college career. Kubiak announced Thursday that Zabransky will see significant playing time in the second half of Saturday's game, and he couldn't help but notice the uniqueness of Zabransky's situation.

"That's interesting, where his last game was and his first pro game will be," Kubiak said. "I'm excited to see him get out there. He did some good things in practice yesterday and today. He'll be probably pretty nervous, but it's a good opportunity for us to take a look at him."

Miscellaneous: Although he has seen only limited opportunities to run the Texans offense during this training camp, quarterback Quinton Porter had an excellent day running the red zone offense Thursday. He consistently hit targets in the end zone, with his top play being a touchdown strike to a wide receiver Bethel Johnson…Zabransky continued to display reasons why the Texans signed him as an undrafted free agent by consistently splitting the zone and finding the open man during team drills. Zabransky's highlight play was a 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver David Anderson. Zabransky led Anderson perfectly on a corner route, placing the ball just in the reach of his receiver near the back right pylon…safety Dexter McCleon showed off his versatility by playing cornerback and recording an interception during team passing drills.

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