Due to various slight injuries that kept some of his fellow receivers ouf of action, rookie wideout Jacoby Jones benefited from additional reps during the morning practice session on Wednesday.
Bruised and battered: Entering their sixth day of camp, the Texans are "physically at a wall," according to coach Gary Kubiak. The team got a break from two straight days of full pads during the morning practice on Wednesday, wearing only their shoulder pads, helmets and shorts.
"I'm just saying I think it's that point in camp," Kubiak said. "This is our 10th practice today. We've been getting after it pretty dang good."
Minor injuries incurred Tuesday by wide receivers David Anderson and Keenan McCardell, in addition to a slight tweak that sidelined linebacker Shawn Barber, left the team shorthanded at multiple positions for practice Wednesday.
"We're short on bodies this morning," Kubiak said. "We came out here with seven wide receivers and six healthy linebackers. To really continue to go with our full load of work, it was tough, but we're pushing through it, and we're getting better."
Even with these injuries slowing progress during training camp, Kubiak does see a silver lining in that he can get a better look at players who are on the margins to make the roster, especially those at the wide receiver position.
"We're getting a lot of reps for some young kids because we got some guys nicked up," Kubiak said. "Like today, this Harry Williams kid has come out here and made some plays. And Jerome (Mathis) needs some reps, so he's getting a ton today. Bethel Johnson's got the talent to play in this league. He needs the reps. Though I like to have all 11 of them, when we come out here with seven of them, all those kids got better, so that's what's important."
After special teams practice in the afternoon, Kubiak provided a more complete injury report. All of the injuries he cited were minor, and affected players were expected to return soon. According to Kubiak, Barber's injury was only a knee sprain, making his status day-to-day, and precautionary x-rays on linebacker Trent Bray, who sat out the morning practice with a rib injury, were negative.
Abbate update: Even in the infancy of his switch from linebacker to fullback, Jon Abbate is adapting well, so well that Kubiak believes he has a serious future playing his new position in the NFL.
"It's been special, that's all I can say," Kubiak said of Abbate's switch. "You take a kid from defense and put that much pressure on him, and put him on the offensive side of the ball, you've got a short window to try to impress us. He can play in this league at fullback. At this point right now, he's got to be one of the surprise players in this camp."
Abbate, who was lauded by Kubiak for his hard-hitting style, said that he just focuses on getting through each individual practice and giving maximum effort as he continues to pick up on plays, tips and instruction.
"I can't get to tomorrow until I get through today," Abbate said. "I think the biggest thing is just looking at the install that I have for each day, learning it, coming out here, competing, playing fast and just hitting hard."
Fletch is happy to be here: With a secondary that allowed the second-highest opponent completion percentage in the league and recorded the third-lowest number of interceptions, Kubiak knew that the team needed to shore up its defensive backfield.
He feels that the team's addition of free agent corner Jamar Fletcher has done just that.
"It was extremely important, because we thought about in free agency, there were some other corners out there, and Fletch (Jamar Fletcher) was on our radar," Kubiak said. "We weren't sure if we had a chance with him. When we got him in here, he knew some of our players, and it ended up ticking for us, so we're very fortunate."
Entering his seventh year in the league and coming off a season where he notched three interceptions (including one returned for a touchdown) and 37 tackles for the Detroit Lions, Fletcher saw not only an opportunity with the Texans for his career to mature, but also for his team to do so.
"I just felt that Houston was overall the best fit, being that I saw growth," Fletcher said. "What they did bringing in guys, myself included, I just thought this was a perfect situation for Jamar Fletcher."
Rooks pay their dues: NFL rookies have long been picked on in training camp by veterans, and from making them sing their school alma mater in front of the team at dinner taping to them to goalposts, such traditions still continues today.
In Texans camp, rookies are obliged to carry veterans' shoulder pads back to the locker room, and today's practice yielded many comical examples. One unlucky victim was guard Kasey Studdard, who was seen leaving the morning practice Wednesday wearing at least four pairs of shoulderpads on his back, in addition to carrying one in each hand.
Fellow rookie Brandon Harrison, however, realizes that these chores are just part of the first year experience for new NFL players.
"It's kinda like being a freshman in college all over again," Harrison said. "You get all the grunt work and all the dirty work. You expect it, you come out and you're willing to do it. We gotta pay our dues."
Schaub OK: Although no-contact rules concerning quarterbacks were in effect, quarterback Matt Schaub got roughed up a bit during the team period of Wednesday morning's practice. Schaub was inadvertently knocked down by a teammate, but Kubiak said that his starting quarterback is not injured.
"It was an accident," Kubiak said, "We actually x-rayed him just to make sure, but he's fine."
Miscellaneous: Texas A&M head coach Dennis Franchione was in attendance during Wednesday afternoon's special teams practice…Coach Fran was in town to speak to the Touchdown Club of Houston about his preseason-ranked #23 Aggies and their upcoming season…The team ran through a simulated late game situational drill during Wednesday morning's practice. A portable scoreboard reading "Texans 10, Visitors 14" was set up behind the end zone, and the team was given three minutes and two timeouts to take the lead. The offense, however, was stopped short of a touchdown on two attempts at the drill, with a questionable third down no-call of pass interference on Andre Johnson aiding the defense during the second attempt….A group of about 20 youth from Precinct 1 County Commissioner El Franco Lee's Street Olympics program were in attendance for the morning practice session.