Another overcast, breezy day welcomed the Texans to their third day of training camp and their first practice in pads. The team hit the field for the morning practice session in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts, and newly-signed linebacker Brian Cushing practiced wearing No. 56. Click here to read about Cushing's first day at practice.
The attendance at Sunday morning's practice was 3,496, making the total attendance for the first three open practices 10,201.
Barwin breaks out: Cushing wasn't the only rookie to draw attention Sunday. Defensive end Connor Barwin had an impressive workout in both individual and team phases of practice. During one-on-one pass rush drills, Barwin unleashed a lightning-quick spin move on tackle Cliff Washburn, easily blowing by him to reach the pocket.
Later, Barwin was a disruptive force on the main practice field during the team portion of practice, nearly coming down with an interception from his spot at left defensive end.
"He's an athlete," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "You guys saw the play he made today when we're trying to throw a jailbreak type screen and he goes up and he must have got off the ground pretty good…He's cat quick."
Although Barwin's athletic tools were easy to see at first glance, his relatively light frame for a defensive end (255 pounds) was a major knock on him during the draft evaluation process. Still, defensive line coach Bill Kollar doesn't see his weight as a major issue when you take into consideration his natural abilities and tenacity on the field.
"He's definitely not afraid, and what I mean by that is that he's a hitter," Kollar said. "You've got some guys who aren't really true hitters and stuff, but he'll hit it, it doesn't matter to him, and he weighs 255 pounds and he's going to get in there and scrap with all of them."
No beef between Smith, Kollar: After a heated verbal altercation at Saturday morning's open practice that was within view and earshot of fans and reported by a number of media outlets, defensive end Antonio Smith and defensive line coach Bill Kollar have buried their hatchets and reconciled their disagreement.
"Those are things that happen all the time in football," Smith said. "They're heat-of-the-moment type things where it gets out of hand. But a coach knows it, a player knows it, it happens with other players all the time, and then once it's over, it's over. You shake each other's hand and say, 'My bad, I was in the wrong, I was in the wrong.' You just apologize and the next day is brand new."
Kollar also said that Saturday's confrontation was now a non-issue. Although he probably wouldn't wish for the incident as it occurred to play out that way, he noted that his intense coaching style make some tough confrontations between player and coach inevitable and, in many cases, desirable.
"I'm the type of guy where I'm wanting to try to get the most out of every player," Kollar said. "So to me, you've got to end up staying on the guys and rib them and keep on them to keep working, so there's no doubt about it. I end up having little confrontations here and there all the time just for the simple fact that I'm trying to hit that live wire that's going to really end up getting them going. Again, it turns out to be really nothing to it at all, but I'm going to try my best to get every single player to play as good as he can play."
Even though both Kollar and Smith characterized the incident as inherent to the heated environments of NFL training camps, Smith was disappointed and apologetic that the incident occured in front of the fans.
"With what we're trying to do, and the image that we're trying to bring, that's not a good thing for the kids to see, especially with everyone out there," Smith said. "Just seeing a person lose their composure like that is not something that should be displayed out there on the field."
DeMeco's top-notch defense: Linebacker DeMeco Ryans was in Pro Bowl form Sunday morning as he made a number of big plays during the team portion of practice. On one of the first plays of the period, Ryans slipped into the backfield and wrapped up running back Steve Slaton in what would have been a loss of several yards on the play. A few plays later, Ryans made a quick read in coverage and snagged a Matt Schaub dump-off pass to Slaton for an interception.
"It felt good, you know, getting my hands on the ball," Ryans said. "I hadn't got one in practice yet, so that was the first one. It felt good to get my hands on the ball and lift the spirits of the team a little bit."
Notes: Cornerback A.J. Davis had an impressive interception of quarterback Rex Grossman on the left sideline, stepping in front of a receiver to make the grab just before running out of bounds….wide receiver Jacoby Jones had a tough practice, dropping a catchable deep bomb from Grossman late in the team phase of the workout. Jones had a few steps on his man, but the ball caromed off his chest and out of reach before he could grab it….XMSirius's NFL Radio made a stop at Texans training camp, with NFL.com's Vic Carucci and former Cowboys executive Gil Brandt broadcasting a live show from Reliant Stadium in between practice sessions (HoustonTexans.com will rebroadcast their interviews on Podcast Central over the next week)…defensive lineman Stanley McClover and offensive guard Chester Pitts did not participate in practice Sunday morning but did observe from the sidelines...tight end Clark Harris sat out the afternoon practice due to migranes.