Training camp practice report - Day 5

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Wideout Keenan McCardell goes into motion during a team portion of Tuesday morning's practice.

Make Mario mad: Coming off an up-and-down rookie season where he recorded 4.5 sacks, defensive end Mario Williams certainly is determined to improve on his first-year numbers. The 6-7 Williams has appeared to be in shape so far and has dropped 10 pounds from last year's playing weight of 291 pounds. But although Williams may be lean, he was not mean enough on Monday, according to coach Gary Kubiak.

"We need to get him mad more often, because he made some progress today," Kubiak said. "I know Jethro (Franklin) and them were disappointed with his practice yesterday, and they let him know that. He came out here this morning, and he was a different guy."

As for Franklin, the team's defensive line coach, he certainly knows that an angry Williams is one scary sight for opposing offenses.

"I wouldn't want to mess with him when he's on the field, that's for sure, and I get after him every day," Franklin said. "I wouldn't want to line up against him, and have him come off the ball at me and hit me in the mouth, that's for sure."

Wynn's-day: Cornerback Dexter Wynn has had a phenomenal two days of practice this week, as he intercepted a total of three passes between a pair of team workouts on Monday and Tuesday. Although most of his minutes last season came as a kick returner, Wynn's play in the defensive backfield has caught Kubiak's eye.

"A guy that stood out this morning, Dexter Wynn," Kubiak said. "(He) just stepped up and made a couple of great plays, couple big interceptions."

When asked whether it was a matter of the ball luckily coming to him or planned preparation that spurred his recent success, the Colorado State product split the difference.

"It's a little bit of both," Wynn said. "Just studying film, and just learning from mistakes."

And on a team where there will be intense competition for nearly each of the 53 active roster spots, Wynn's big day certainly elevated his profile in the eyes of the team's head coach.

"Now you got a bunch of guys battling for one or two more spots," Kubiak said. "The only way they're going to make it is to stand out and do something special. When you have a day like (Dexter) Wynn had today, as a football team, or as a coach, you can't help but notice."

Healthier Mathis: For 2005 Pro Bowl returner and receiver Jerome Mathis, who missed the first 11 games of last season with a foot injury, any significant time on the practice field is beneficial to his development. Luckily, Kubiak feels that the speedy wideout and return man is beginning to get back into gear as training camp rolls on.

"I think Jerome is heading in the right direction, and his conditioning level is much better than it has been in the past," Kubiak said. "Let's face it, this is as long as Jerome (Mathis) has been on the field with us over a period of time, and that's a positive."

As a result, Kubiak has seen improvement from Mathis, who is fighting for time at both the wide receiver and kick return positions.

"I think he's gotten better," Kubiak said. "At the last play in practice just now, Sherm (offensive coordinator Mike Sherman) called 'Double Go.' Our whole team is tired, and I watched him run his route specifically, and he gave them a chance over there to win at the end of a practice."

Turk talks: Punter Matt Turk, a 12-year veteran brought in to compete with incumbent punter Chad Stanley, knows what he has to do to put himself in the strongest position to win a starting job. Entering his 15th training camp, Turk has a good enough grasp of his physical routine to focus mainly on the mental aspects of punting.

"For me, my battle is with myself to try to not go out there and do too much ahead of schedule," Turk said. "I pretty much know where I should be in order to get to the point I need to be once the season starts."

Even though Turk is coming off what he described as a career year with the St. Louis Rams, when he had a 38.3 net punting average, there are some technical areas in his game that need improvement.

"I'm working on my finesse once I get inside the 20, and obviously I know how important hang time is to any punter," Turk said. "So if I hit a ball under five seconds, I'm not happy with it."

Amobi likes AC: Defensive tackle Amobi Okoye was smiling more than usual after this afternoon's workout in the Methodist Training Center. He made it clear that he prefers life under the bubble rather than outside of it, where the humidity has taken a toll on him.

"I don't think hot is the word to describe it," Okoye said of the weather. "It's blazing out there. So I'm glad we got that break."

Watching practice this afternoon were members of Okoye's family, including his older brother, Arinze.

Youth enjoy practice: A group of about 50 youngsters from the Community Family Centers of Houston were on hand for Tuesday morning's practice. When the team was dismissed, linebacker Antonio Castaneda came over to speak with the children, who were aged from seven to 12 years old.

Geoffrey Sockwell, clad in a red #90 Mario Williams jersey, was at his first Texans practice and said that he loved the chance to watch his favorite team play. He especially liked seeing big hits during team activity.

"I like how the players tackle and get physical," said Sockwell, a football player himself.

Miscellaneous: Wide receiver Keenan McCardell was seen receiving treatment on his left leg late in the morning practice and was later seen with an ice pack taped to the back of that leg. Kubiak said after the team's afternoon practice that McCardell had a "little groin strain" that may keep him out for a couple of days…Morlon Greenwood had a bone-jarring hit on running back Wali Lundy during a goal line drill during the morning session, causing Lundy to drop what would have been a touchdown pass…Linebacker Trent Bray also notched an impressive interception later during the same drill.

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