Taylor rushed for 99 yards with a touchdown last New Year's Eve against the Browns, but is likely to miss all of the '07 season.
Open to the public: The Texans came out for their first public training camp practice Saturday morning wearing just helmets, jerseys and shorts, before adding shoulderpads for their afternoon practice. The morning session was also the first of training camp to be held outdoors, as rain drove the team indoors for both workouts Friday. A late thunderstorm also drove the afternoon practice session on Saturday into the indoor field at the Methodist Training Facility after over an hour of outdoor practice. Despite high humidity, cloud cover during much of the day provided players and the 5,181 fans in attendance refuge from the sun as the team conducted a variety of individual drills, 7-on-7 work and special teams reps.
Taylor sidelined: Chris Taylor received unfortunate news today as the second-year running discovered he likely will miss the entire season with a torn meniscus in his left knee, according to general manager Rick Smith. Surgery will be performed tomorrow to "suture the tear," but in the interim the team will look to add another running back to the camp squad.
Darius Walker, a Texans undrafted free agent that was cut on July 23, was mentioned by Smith as a possible replacement, as well as former Oklahoma running back Quentin Griffin, who participated most recently with the Hamburg Sea Devils in NFL Europa.
Sage, wideouts wow fans: Fans reacted favorably to a number of great plays in the passing game during team drills on the main field of the Methodist Training Center. Backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels shined during his repetitions in the morning. Early in one drill, he connected with wide receiver Andre' Davis, who made a spectacular, twisting catch along the near sideline.
On the next play, Rosenfels found wide receiver Jerome Mathis, who made an impressive over-the-shoulder catch, for another big gain. Mathis appeared to tweak his hamstring on the play, but continued to practice after receiving treatment.
With an open competition for the second and third receiver positions, Texans coach Gary Kubiak said he is glad to have a number of vertical threats at receiver that can keep defenses honest.
"You look at André Davis, you look at wide receiver Bethel Johnson, you look at wide receiver Jerome (Mathis) who's been on the field these first three practices," Kubiak said. "We've got some guys that can stretch the field, and I think that's important to our offense."
DeMeco hopes to deliver: Like many rookies, linebacker DeMeco Ryans had a difficult time learning plays and defensive reads, but when the young player was shuffled around from the inside and outside linebacker positions last season, the confusion only multiplied. With a year under his belt and a secure position as a middle linebacker, Ryans is feeling more at home during the start of his second training camp.
"I'm feeling a lot more comfortable in year two," Ryans said. "In year one, my head was spinning coming in, trying to learn a lot. A lot was on my plate, and it was a lot tougher last year. But now that I know the defense and I'm familiar with it, it's a lot easier."
On top of simple mental preparation, Ryans' commitment to physical training is another crucial factor to his success.
"He's a gym rat," Kubiak said. "He comes out here and goes all day and he loves being around this complex. You can't substitute that."
Ahman amongst boys: Running back Ahman Green and his teammates trained so hard this offseason that they were able to avoid an oft-hated tradition at many NFL training camps.
"This is the first offseason where I didn't have to do a run test," Green said. "We didn't have to because we worked out four days out of the week, sometimes five on Fridays. Running in this humidity and heat gets you ready. No matter what, you'll be ready."
And if Green is ready, the team's head coach will be ready to use him. Coach Kubiak is excited by the playmaking ability of his new running back.
"He can be a huge difference maker," Kubiak said. "All of the sudden, when you're right and you call the perfect play or you block the perfect scheme, all of the sudden it can be a home run and not a 10 or 12 yard gain. It makes those guys up front there know if they can hold on to it just a second, there's a guy that can make them look really, really good."
Barry signs, practices: Newly signed offensive tackle Kevin Barry was in Texans camp for the first time, fresh off signing a one-year contract with the team. The addition of the 6-4 offensive lineman should add significant depth to the Texans' offensive line. Barry played in 59 games for the Green Bay Packers from 2002 to 2005 under current Texans offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, and Barry specifically cited Sherman as a factor in his decision to come to Houston.
"I really didn't talk to him that much after he left," Barry said. "As soon as Green Bay released me, then I heard from him."
Barry said that he is excited to be reunited with not only his old coach, but also his old running back. Green played for the Packers during each of Barry's four seasons with the team.
"He's a great running back and good guy," Barry said. "I'm happy I get to come back and play with him. I was mad that he got released from Green Bay, but now I get a chance to come down here and block for him. It's a great thing."
Davie at practice: Current ESPN/ABC football analyst and former Texas A&M defensive coordinator Bob Davie was in attendance during the afternoon practice on Saturday. Davie was visiting Kubiak and assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, both of whom worked with the former Notre Dame head coach during his stint with the Aggies.
And Davie's prediction for the college football National Title winner in 2008? The USC Trojans.