After training camp broke on Tuesday, rookies and other players checked out of the team hotel and returned home for a day of rest on Wednesday. Today, the team begins its normal in-season practice schedule as it prepares for the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football.
Like they do every year, the Texans are approaching this third preseason game as if it were in the regular season. The starters will play for about three quarters on Monday, and the backups will finish out the game. Team meeting times and practice times are now the same as they'll be leading up Week 1, with meetings typically starting at 8 a.m. and practices at 11:35.
"We're going to do everything just like we're going to do against the Jets," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "It's basically a trial run for the coaches, for the players and everybody. We've got some new faces on our team, so they'll see how we do things."
The Texans know that the stakes are higher than usual for this preseason game. They'll have the Monday night stage, made bigger with the hoopla surrounding the recently un-retired Brett Favre. They'll be tested against the defending NFC North champs, whom Kubiak last week called one of the best all-around teams in the league.
There's added drama to the game in the form of Sage Rosenfels, the Texans' former backup QB making his first return to Reliant Stadium; defensive end Jared Allen, who had two illegal hits on quarterback Matt Schaub's knee last season; Adrian Peterson, arguably the top running back in the league; and the Vikings' run defense, which was No. 1 in the NFL last season.
And then there's the Vikings' rushing attack, which was top-five in the league in 2008 behind the legwork of Peterson and Chester Taylor. The matchup presents a shot at redemption to the Texans' defense after they got run over by the Saints last week.
"The guys know we have to step up to the call," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "The Saints running game was good, and we definitely have our hands full this week with Adrian Peterson coming in and they have a great offensive line and a great running scheme. We have to get better at stopping the run, and this is the time to do it."