Running back Ahman Green takes a handoff from quarterback Matt Schaub during Friday afternoon's practice. Coach Kubiak sees similarities between Green and Terrell Davis, who he coached in Denver.
Punter battle continues: The ongoing position battle between Matt Turk and Chad Stanley was the main attraction at Friday morning's special teams practice. Turk seemed to have a leg up on Stanley in both hang time and distance, but Kubiak didn't take too much stock out of the practice, preferring to see how the pair will perform in a more realistic scenario.
"We didn't do much today," Kubiak said. "What we want to do now is get them in an environment next week where it's 11-on-1l, they got a rush coming at them, evaluate them there. We'll just keep going, and hopefully we can keep it even in the preseason. Let the best man win."
One strange sight at the morning practice was that of DeMeco Ryans, who was participating in special teams walk-throughs. Although these practices usually offer opportunities for players further down the roster to impress the coaches in punt or kick coverage, Kubiak said that Ryans' presence was indicative of his commitment to the game and his team, and that he would not be a regular special teamer.
"That's the type of kid he is," Kubiak said. "He is out here finding out all the spots Joe's (Marciano) got him in in case something happens during the game and we lose a player. He's going to be running our defense. You're not going to see him running around there much on special teams."
Can Green do a sea level salute?: When he looks at running back Ahman Green, Kubiak said he is reminded of a certain championship-winning running back he coached in Denver.
"He reminds me of Terrell (Davis), when I watch the way he runs," Kubiak said. "He's a downhill runner. He's bigger than you think. He likes the physical part of football. He likes to bang around, and if he gets a big enough crack, he's capable of going the distance. He reminds me of him quite a bit."
Davis, who averaged 1,600 yards a season during his four full seasons with Kubiak as his offensive coordinator, was known for an ability to rip off huge gains on the ground. Kubiak believes that Green has the same sort big-play ability, and he can't wait to see his newest rushing weapon out on the field.
"I know there's been questions about his age and how many years he's been playing and those types of things, but you guys are seeing the same thing I'm seeing," Kubiak said. "This kid looks like he's got a lot of big plays left in him, and I know it's going to be important for us to get the ball in his hands. He's doing a heck of a job."
Coach reflects on HOF class: As an NFL player during the '80s and early '90s, Kubiak had encounters with a pair of this weekend's Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees that served as bookends for his playing career. Kubiak played alongside Oilers offensive lineman Bruce Matthews in the Hula Bowl when he came out of college, while Bills running back Thurman Thomas played a big role in drawing Kubiak's final season as a pro to a close.
"My last game as a pro, as a matter of fact, in the '91 AFC Championship Game in Buffalo, we lost to them," Kubiak said. "(John) Elway got hurt, and I played the whole second half. He was a pretty good player that day, so he sent us home, but (I have) tremendous respect for him. I know it's going to be a great day for him and all those guys that he played with."
Matthews, who could be the final Houston Oiler to be enshrined in Canton, wowed Kubiak with his incredible longevity and dominant performance at a variety of offensive line positions.
"What he did, and how he played all those spots, and how he continued to do that at a high level until the day he walked away, (I've got) tremendous respect," Kubiak said. "I can't put a tag on that."
Healthy Jerome: Coming off what Kubiak described as the best practice of the past two years, wide receiver Jerome Mathis knows full well that for success to continue, he must continue to take care of his body. Mathis was saddled all of last season with a variety of injuries, but he now understands that he must make fitness and conditioning a top priority.
"It's the nature of the business," Mathis said. "In order to be on this field and make an impact you have to be healthy number one, and in order to make an impact in the game you have to know what you're doing."
This offseason, Mathis has integrated a variety of therapeutic elements into his routine, including daily stretching, massages and dips into an ice-cold tub of water. Heading into his third professional season, Mathis feels ready to reach the same heights he did in 2005, when he made the Pro Bowl his rookie year.
"I feel like I put my time in during the offseason," Mathis said. "Now I'm looking forward to making it through this camp."
Miscellaneous: Receiver Charlie Adams had an impressive practice Friday afternoon as he jumped high in the air to grab a touchdown pass…Adams saw increased playing time due to the injuries of fellow receivers David Anderson, Keenan McCardell and Andre' Davis, all of whom were held out of practice. Kubiak believes that the players may be healthy enough to return to the field by Monday...after eight consecutive days of two-a-day practices, the team will hit the field only once on Saturday. The practice will be open to the public and will run from 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m…the team will get its first off day of camp on Sunday.