Under an overcast sky in breezy conditions, the Texans opened their second day of training camp with a practice outdoors at the Methodist Training Center in front of a large crowd of 3,678. The team moved inside for a walk-through practice inside the indoor facility at the Methodist Training Center, for the Texans' last practice before donning pads for the first time Sunday morning.
Cushing to see first action Sunday: Linebacker Brian Cushing, the team's first-round draft pick, agreed to terms on a contract early Saturday morning and was scheduled to be in attendance for the afternoon session, but a travel snafu prevented the former USC linebacker from practicing. Cushing's flight from Los Angeles did not arrive to Bush Intercontinental Airport until 2:40 p.m., making it impossible to get from the airport, take a physical and sign a contract in time for the 3:30 p.m. afternoon practice. However, Cushing was present in the team's complex by the end of practice and was expected to participate in evening team meetings and Monday morning's practice.
"He hasn't missed anything he hasn't done before, so that's a good thing," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "And he wanted to be here while we were working out on the contract, but he just couldn't, so that's a good sign. But I know he's chomping at the bit to get going."
McNair speaks on contracts: Texans owner Bob McNair weighed in on a number of topics after the morning practice session, including the team's agreement to contract terms with Cushing.
"You're dealing with a lot of different people and lot of things beyond your control," McNair said. "They've (general manager Rick Smith and director of football administration Chris Olsen) been down here late in the evening, early in the morning, working on it. So I'm real pleased that we're going to have him in here."
McNair also shared his thoughts on the status of long-term contract negotiations with top players such as tight end Owen Daniels and linebacker DeMeco Ryans. On Friday, Daniels expressed his disappointment that an agreement on a contract extension couldn't be reached in advance of training camp, while Ryans said that not being able to sign team veterans sent a bad message to the team.
"I think people understand the situation and know that we have made an effort," McNair said. "We've gone beyond what's reasonable to try and get guys signed up. Sometimes they don't want to accept the offer and that's their decision. But we've certainly reached out to them. They're great players and they're under contract and we're going to keep them here. It'll work out."
Shanahan's calling the shots: Gary Kubiak has more than a decade of experience as an offensive coordinator by virtue of his 11 seasons leading the Denver Broncos' offense. But he's got no problem handing over the reigns of his offense to the youngest offensive coordinator in the NFL, the 29-year old Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan is now entering his second season leading the team's offence, which finished 2008 ranked third overall in the league.
"It's a great feeling knowing that you prepare for a game, you prepare to call a game, you're going to go onto a game and Kyle is going to call it," Kubiak said. "I may have some different ideas in certain situations, but it's a comfort zone for me as we prepare for games to know that he's ready to go do it."
Despite his relative youth, Shanahan sees his age as much more of an asset than a liability.
"I always wanted to get into this position while I still was young," Shanahan said. "You are going to be able to relate to players a little better...If you know what you're talking about, you can get through to them, but if you're young and you don't know what you're talking about, I can't think of a worse position to be in. They'll see that right away. They'll walk all over you.
"But we've got a good group of guys and I think they all respect me and it's really easy to coach," Shanahan said.
Texans notes: Fullback Vonta Leach left camp Friday evening in order to attend to a death in his family. Leach was not in attendance Saturday and likely will miss a few more practices in the coming days, according to Kubiak. In his place, fullback Boomer Grigsby and rookie tight end James Casey picked up some additional reps…. receiver Jacoby Jones had one of the most impressive plays of the morning training session, catching a perfect deep bomb along the left sideline from quarterback Rex Grossman and drawing loud cheers from fans in attendance…defensive tackle Jeff Zgonina practiced with the team this morning, inspiring a humorous interaction between offensive tackle Eric Winston and former Texans defensive end N.D. Kalu, who was watching practice as a member of the media. As the linemen went over to a side field to run through pass rush drills, Winston jokingly motioned over to Kalu to join them, yelling out "If Jeff can do it, you can!"