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Just two days after being signed by the Houston Texans to a one-year deal, embattled quarterback Matt Leinart successfully completed his first practice Wednesday with his new team.
The Texans of course are hoping that starter Matt Schaub is able to perform at a high level and stay healthy all year. If he does, he’ll certainly be the Texans’ starting quarterback all season long. But if not, Leinart may be a better backup option in Houston than some realize. Only time will tell, but for now, an official welcome to Leinart for finishing his first real day of work with his new teammates and coaches.
Adam Schefter, via Twitter, is reporting that the Texans and Matt Leinart have reached agreement on a one-year contract.
No word yet on how this will affect the last spot on the practice squad, but Dan Orlovsky should watch himself. Of course, if he knew how to do that in the first place, maybe the Texans wouldn’t have had to pick up Leinart.
Leinart, the disgraced Cardinals QB, has been described by The Chronicle’s Lance Zierlein as being “afraid, pure and simple" and a “checkdown machine,” so think of him as David Carr without five years of NFL starts. This will probably be a bigger signing for the comedic possibilities of bloggers than for the actual Texans season.
According to Mark Berman of MyFOXHouston, the Texans have named their practice squad as follows:
The Texans have identified seven mem[b]ers of their eight-man practice squad.
They are: center Brett Helms, Offensive tackle Cole Pemberton, defensive tackle Malcom Sheppard, linebacker Isaiah Greenhouse, safety Torri Williams, receiver Bobby Williams and running back Chris Ogbonnaya.
All of these played with the Texans during training camp except for Ogbonnaya, the ex-Longhorn RB who was dumped by the Rams after a dreadful preseason. The last spot, along with Danny Clark’s roster spot, will be filled once the team figures out what to do with (sigh) Matt Leinart or John David Booty. Bobby Williams and Sheppard are probably the two best players in this group.
According to several reports, the Texans are looking into signing recently released Matt Leinart.
The Houston Chronicle and ESPN have also reported Houston’s interest in the Leinart. However, Oakland, Cincinnati, and Jacksonville have also reported interest in the 10th overall pick from the 2006 draft.
Chris Mortensen believes the Texans are leading the pack, tweeting:
Where does Leinart end up now? >.> Handicapping Texans as the favorites
If signed, Leinart would presumably take over the backup string.
Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting that former Buffalo Bills DE Aaron Schobel is interested in coming out of a brief retirement to play for the Houston Texans.
Former TCU defensive end and the recently “retired” Aaron Schobel of the Buffalo Bills has not ruled out playing this season for the Houston Texans.
[TCU people and friends of Schobel have] said the Texans have been rather persistent in their pursuit, and he has told them he would let them know on Monday if he will play again.
Schobel had recently announced his retirement from the NFL after considering a number of potential suitors.
Battle Red Blog has already heard the news and would love for Schobel to come to Houston.
This seems like a no brainer move to me if Schobel will sign. Bob McNair has already shown a willingness to spend some cash in the uncapped year when he resigned Andre Johnson to an extension two years into a five year contract. If worst case scenario is that he performs at a lesser level than who you already have than what did you really lose?
More on this as it becomes available. It would be nice to hear the same information repeated by more reliable source.
John McClain of The Houston Chronicle is reporting that the Texans have claimed Dallas CB Jamar Wall and Oakland LB David Nixon off waivers.
Wall, a sixth-round pick out of Texas Tech this year, appeared in no games for the Cowboys last year. He lacks pure speed, according to his NFL Draft 2010 profile, but is a good zone corner and can contribute on special teams.
Nixon, undrafted out of BYU in 2009, appeared in three games with the Raiders last season but had no tackles. He did retire as the Mountain West Conference’s all-time leading tackler, however. Any port in the storm, as the linebacker situation looks dire for the first couple of weeks. Dixon should also contribute on special teams.
MyFOXHouston’s Marc Berman scooped the cuts:
Also released Friday:
FB Jack Corcoran
WR Bobby Williams
WR Derrick Townsel
TE Derek Fine
OL Adam Stenavich
OL Steve Maneri
OL Cole Pemberton
C Brett Helms
C Chris White
DL Malcolm Sheppard
DL Mitch Unrein
DL DelJuan Robinson
LB Will Patterson
LB Isaiah Greenhouse
DB Mark Parson
DB Torri Williams
Safety Nicholas Polk, who wasn’t reported on these lists, is clearly acting like he has also been cut on Twitter.
John McClain adds that Anthony Hill will be sent to the PUP. Hill never got on the field during training camp.
That would leave the Texans with a roster of:
QB: Schaub, Orlovsky
RB: Foster, Slaton, Ward
WR: Johnson, Walter, Jones, Anderson, Dickerson
TE: Daniels, Dreessen, Graham, Casey
OT: Winston, Brown, Butler
OG: Caldwell, W.Smith, Brisiel, Studdard, S.Smith
DE: Williams, A.Smith, Barwin, Nading, Jamison
DT: Okoye, Cody, Mitchell, Okam
LB: Cushing*, Ryans, Diles, Clark, Bentley, Sharpton, Adibi
CB: Jackson, Quin, McCain, Molden, McManis
S: Pollard, Wilson, Barber, Nolan
*-roster exemption due to suspension
IR: Holliday, Tate, Davis, Bulman, Griffith, Stross, Bing (one of these last three will likely be released with an injury settlement, since you can only carry 6 players on the IR.)
Practice Squad Probables:
The Texans would seem to have two roster spots available, and Kubiak did hint in his presser that there could be more moves made today. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Weeks or one of Nading and Jamison also hit cuts. So stay tuned; this could be a busy day at the office.
The Houston Texans signed veteran running back Derrick Ward Friday as insurance in the backfield according to the NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora.
The 30-year-old has played six seasons in the NFL, most recently with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season.
Ward’s most productive season was in 2008 as a backup to Brandon Jacobs with the New York Giants when he gained 1,409 yards from scrimmage even though he started just three games.
Gary Kubiak’s presser was eight minutes of puzzles wrapped in enigmas wrapped in quasars, but here is what we know for sure:
- Jacques Reeves is a goner. So is Kris Brown.
- John David Booty was released, meaning that Dan Orlovsky is (sigh) your backup Texans quarterback. But Booty could still be resigned to the practice squad assuming he draws no interest on the open market. Kubiak also hinted that there could be a new quarterback coming in.
- He announced that five cornerbacks made the roster, and that, combined with Sherrick McManis’ agent tweeting that he has made the final roster, and Kubiak talking about Antwaun Molden’s injuries as a thing of the present, probably means those two along with Brice McCain, Glover Quin, and Kareem Jackson encompass the corners.
- Andre Davis is headed for injured reserve, and Kubiak strongly implied that the team was not worried about losing Dorin Dickerson, which probably means he is the fifth receiver.
- Because of the moves to keep just two quarterbacks and five cornerbacks, it sounds like good news is probably on the horizon for specialists like Jon Weeks.
The cuts lists are due tomorrow at three in the afternoon, and we’ll keep you updated on them as they trickle in.
FoxSports.com’s Ed Thompson reports that Texans corner back Jacques Reeves will be released, in our first real surprise of the cuts. Reeves had fallen out of favor with the club of late, so this wasn’t a total stunner, but it’s a bit surprising from the standpoint that he was the only cornerback with any real experience on the roster.
Personally, I’ve liked Reeves and thought he kind of got a raw deal here. There also may have been some incentive for the Texans to get rid of his long-term contract while the majority of the salary cap rules are relaxed in the uncapped year.
Gary Kubiak will have a press conference at 3:30, so we’ll probably be updating with more cuts and confirmations of cuts at that point.
FoxSports.com’s Adam Caplan reports that Texans running back Chris Henry has been told he will be waived. This shouldn’t come as a surprise after Henry proved he offered little in the running game in the preseason, and he had no practice squad eligibility left either.
Henry, one of the two Texans running backs to escape the preseason uninjured, will take his show on the road as the Texans look to find better patchwork solutions to their running back game while the toes of Steve Slaton and Jeremiah Johnson heal. Derrick Ward will visit today, as previously reported, but with cutdown day here, there should be a slew of other (hopefully younger) running backs who the Texans have their eyes on.
Neil Rackers, per John McClain’s Twitter, has won the kicking job for the Texans.
Brown was the last original Texan, and the team did all they could to help him win, but last night’s missed 56 yard field goal may have been the stake in the heart for his chances at the job. Brown had a pretty stellar Texans career, but this was the correct move by any empirical or psychological measure.
In other news, Adam Schefter has reported that the Texans are having released Buccaneers RB Derrick Ward in for a visit today. Jeremiah Johnson was hurt yesterday, and with Steve Slaton still recovering from a turf toe, the Texans suddenly have only two healthy running backs after entering training camp with five.
Buried in the Houston Chronicle’s notes yesterday night is an admission that shouldn’t shock anyone, but does answer a question posed over and over again in training camp.
Wade Smith, the Texans “big prize” of the offseason, has won the starting left guard job over Kasey Studdard.
“He’s really come on,” coach Gary Kubiak said about Smith. “He had an excellent camp.”
Chris Myers will start at center for the third consecutive season. Right guard is still unsettled with Mike Brisiel trying to get his old job back from Antoine Caldwell. Both will play against the Buccaneers.
It was sort of an unkept secret that Smith would be the starter somewhere on the line, and left guard was the biggest hole the Texans had last offseason, so it was logical to put two-and-two together from the moment he signed.
This Caldwell-Brisiel competition is silly. Caldwell has had the job well-wrapped up from the beginning, and a bad sack allowed in a preseason game probably shouldn’t change that. I would love to see Brisiel challenge Smith, but it seems like that isn’t in the cards. Tune in Thursday night to see who wins out.
As was mentioned here not long ago, tight end Owen Daniels was removed from the Physically Unable to Perform List and is scheduled to appear when the Houston Texans kickoff their regular season in less than two weeks time. Even though Daniels won’t play in the Texans’ final preseason game this coming Thursday, Daniels was cleared to practice with his teammates after passing a physical. His first day back at practice was a solid one according to head coach Gary Kubiak:
“He took about 15 plays in practice, got to push ground a little bit, looked good,” said Texans head coach Gary Kubiak. “That’s a first step, probably take a few more each day, but you won’t see him on Thursday night [in a preseason game against Tampa Bay]. But he looks good.”
Daniels, who suffered a torn ACL midway through last season, has hauled in 207 receptions for 2,501 yards and 15 touchdowns during his four-year career with the Texans. With all the injuries sustained by the team’s playmakers, it’s welcome news that Matt Schaub should have Daniels at his disposal once the lights go on for real during the regular season.
The Houston Texans activated TE Owen Daniels from the Physically Unable to Perform list after Daniels passed a physical. The Texans also placed rookies Trindon Holliday and Ben Tate on IR, thus ensuring that they will miss the entire season.
Daniels, who tore his ACL back on Nov. 1, will now be able to return to practice. He will likely start against the Indianapolis Colts in the Texans’ season opener.
It appears that the Houston Texans have finally had it with South Carolina cornerbacks. Dunta Robinson was the first to go, and now another has been sent packing.
The Texans have released once-promising CB Fred Bennett, along with DE Pannel Egboh and WR London Crawford, head coach Gary Kubiak announced Sunday. The releases will allow the Texans to meet the NFL's 75-man roster limit.
Bennett was a fourth-round pick in 2007. In 17 career games, he registered 123 tackles, five interceptions and four forced fumbles.
News and notes for those of you jonesing for some pre-game action:
- The Texans will be playing the starters for the majority of the game, probably around three quarters. This will be the most important game of the preseason in terms of evaluating how the Texans look, and the defense is (rightly) under fire after their performance in New Orleans. I’m a bit nervous about them after last weeks performance, particularly since Dallas is so good at misdirection on their draw plays. This will be a big test for the defense to prove that they can stay disciplined.
- Don’t look for a lot of the preseason battles to be put on display tonight. Kicker is one place where both sides will see equal time. Yesterday in his live chat, Nick Scurfield thinks that the difference between the kickers may be how they kickoff. Wade Smith will be your starting left guard over Kasey Studdard and Mike Brisiel. If you’re looking for a game to decide the backups and the few starting positions that are up for grabs, look no further than next Thursday against Tampa, which should be the Final Exam for the roster battles.
- A quick spin around the Texansphere for takes on this game:
Alan Burge says he’s looking at the pass rush, to see “if there is one”, ouch!
Texans Bull Blog is focusing on how the offensive line deals with Dallas’ 3-4. That should be a nice litmus test to see if we should buy extra strength bleach for the Jets and Ravens games.
Battle Red Blog has a quick take with Blogging The Boys on Dez Bryant and the offensive struggles in the pre-season. Dave Halprin is looking for the offensive line to show him something and for the Cowboys to pick up the run game.
- The first roster cuts take place between this game and the Buccaneers game, on Tuesday. The Texans will be tasked with cutting the roster down to 75. This shouldn’t be too hard of a task, however, because injuries have already done a lot of the dirty work for the Texans. Their current roster on houstontexans.com lists 80 players, but it hasn’t counted Trindon Holliday or Ben Tate as IR’ed yet. That means the Texans will be chopping a minimum of three players, so look for guys like Brett Helms, Nicholas Polk, Torri Williams, Jack Corcoran, Derrick Townsel, and London Crawford to have their heads on a swivel this week. If only to avoid having to stare at the red tag in their lockers.
According to Nick Scurfield and Drew Dougherty of HoustonTexans.com, who were on the ground for Kubiak’s post-practice presser, James Andrews has declared TE Owen Daniels fully recovered from his ACL surgery and has given his time-table the go-ahead.
Daniels will miss the entire preseason per his recovery schedule, but will be available for Week One in Indy barring any setbacks.
I’m a little nervous about the possibility of throwing Daniels out there against the Colts right away without an opportunity to knock the rust off, especially since the blocking of Joel Dreessen might make him a better play against the Colts considering how good their edge-rushers, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, are. That said, it’s hard to find much bad news here. Daniels is an important weapon in the Texans’ passing attack and was on his way to the best season, statistically, of his career before he was hurt in Buffalo.
- WIth Trindon Holliday probably out for the season after undergoing surgery on his thumb, the Texans will turn to some familiar faces to fill the kickoff roles. According to Gary Kubiak, Jacoby Jones will be returning punts and Steve Slaton will be given the initial chance to become the kickoff returns. Losing Holliday stings a little for those optimistic that he’d be a dominant return man, but in the end, you can’t miss what you never had. The increased roles for Slaton and Jones could open up more playing time on offense for guys like Jeremiah Johnson or Chris Henry, and possibly David Anderson as well.
- Darryl Sharpton has been classified as day-to-day with swelling in his knee. That was why the Texans had to cancel practice yesterday: they just didn’t have enough healthy linebackers to run it since it seems like everyone who tries to fill Brian Cushing’s shoes gets banged up. Maybe they should all take PED’s to hasten their recovery time…just kidding.
- Bernard Pollard says the Texans got beat up again. This time, in the film room:
Like I said, we took one Saturday from the Saints and then Monday he put us all in one room. We all watched every single play. I think that was enough. When you put up film like that and your teammates see how bad you played and you see how many mistakes were in one play and how many missed tackles there were in one play. I think we missed four tackles on one play. You can’t do that and coach (Gary) Kubiak let us know in a polite way that he don’t want that out of us and we don’t want that out of ourselves. We have to hold each other accountable and I think in order for us to do that we’ve got to show it on the field
I believe the 2008 Detroit Lions would like to register a complaint: you certainly can do that, Mr. Pollard. You just have to accept the consequences of being an awful defense if you do.
- DE James Wyche, who the Texans signed after Tim Bulman was placed on IR, was released today as the team made room for WR Derrick Townsel, who signed yesterday.
- TE Owen Daniels, who declared that a scan and MRI said that he was 100 percent to MyFoxHouston’s Mark Berman, will get his next big test on Wednesday as he flies to see Dr. James Andrews and hopefully get the OK to go ahead from one of the most well-renowned sports physicians in America.
Texans TE Owen Daniels’ recovery from a knee injury suffered last season is going as planned, according to Daniels himself. In a text he sent to MyFoxHouston’s Mark Berman, Daniels wrote, “scan and MRI say I’m 100%.”
Daniels added that he will see Dr. James Andrews Wednesday in Alabama. If Andrews deems Daniels fit to progress in his rehabilitation, things will be looking peachy indeed.
If you make your living in the trenches, you might be able to get by with a serious thumb injury. Not if you’re a skill position player though. The Houston Texans injury situation went from bad to worse on Thursday when it was announced that wide receiver and return man Trindon Holliday will need surgery on his injured thumb and will subsequently be out for the duration of the 2010 season.
The 5-5 Holliday, taken with Houston’s second pick in the sixth round in April, wasn’t known to have a problem until he muffed a punt that set up the Saints’ second touchdown and also dropped a kickoff in New Orleans Saturday night. After the game, Kubiak reported that the speedy LSU product had tried to play with a splint on his hand.
“It looks like he’s done,” Kubiak said. “He’s got a torn ligament and can’t get it under control, so it has to be fixed.”
According to a recent tweet by his agent Harold Bicknell, free agent rookie wide receiver Derrick Townsel has signed with the Houston Texans. Townsel was orginially signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this month, but was released last Tuesday when the Jaguars signed linebacker Rod Wilson. A shifty and elusive 5’9" speedster, Townsel hauled in 153 passes for 1,712 yards and 5 touchdowns during his four-year career at Murray State.
Following their beatdown on Saturday, the Texans cancelled practice Monday, leaving us with no news. Two a days are over, so the team probably just wanted to give the players a bit of a breather before the Dallas preparations begin.
- According to Adam Schefter, Jacoby Jones has hired Houston-based agent Kennard McGuire. McGuire has already stepped in twice this offseason for Texans stars DeMeco Ryans and Andre Johnson, and has completed an extension for both of them. This is good news if you’re a Jacoby fan, since he has only one year left on his current deal before he hits restricted free agency. Or at least thats how the scenario would normally play out under the regular CBA. Of course, with the league looking at a possible lockout and labor issues being debated contentiously, there isn’t much of a reason to speculate about what will actually happen.
- The Texans signed undrafted FA wide receiver Derek Townsel, who was cut by the Jaguars. He’d been in some workouts for the Texans in mini-camp, the Jaguars cut him after signing LB Rod Wilson.
- The Texans gave tryouts to both Charles Spencer and Ephraim Salaam. They signed neither of them, but it looks like, as Alan Burge speculated, Adam Stenavich may not be a fit in the mind of the front office if the Texans face an injury to one of their top two tackles.
- Chris Baldwin over at CultureMap crafts a compelling anti-Kubiak case based on his decision to leave Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson in longer than the Saints left their starters in. While I probably would’ve pulled them myself, it is worth noting that a) nobody would have brought this up had Johnson not taken a helmet in the knee from Tracy Porter and b) the Texans first-team offense, due to the muffs of Trindon Holliday, the three and out and the fumble by Arian Foster, did not really receive much in the way of snaps.
- Lance Zierlein had a fairly in-depth tape study of the game. I’m not sure I subscribe quite as much as he does to Earl Mitchell being better than Amobi Okoye, but the fact that it’s even a debate at this point (and that he and Frank Okam were getting snaps with the 1’s) is very telling. I haven’t finished my charting (it’s very extensive) to the point where I can question much else in the piece, but I do agree that Foster was a bright spot.
Texans coach Gary Kubiak, taking the stage after an ugly 38-20 loss, backed his his players while distancing himself from saying they played well.
“It wasn’t good. We got pushed around. You give up 300 yards in a half in a football game they control the ball for 40 minutes in the game and you only have it 20 (minutes). Some of the things that went on in that game, it wasn’t good,” Kubiak said in his day-after presser.
However, he was defiant on some things that just weren’t true on tape, like the Saints offense not being a key part of the demolition (“I don’t think it was anything they were doing. I just don’t thing we were doing what we do very good.”) and the play of free agent signee G Wade Smith, who was pushed back all night (“We continued to look for the consistency from him. He didn’t disappoint us at all. I think he continues to get better each week. He’s got a lot of physical ability.”), of course, what else is the coach going to say? You can’t single out anybody in the media, even if the defensive game plan and the offensive line play both deserved more discredit than he gave them.
Kubiak was also big on Earl Mitchell when Lance Zierlein fed him a question on the rookie tackle:
He’s playing at a speed, at a level, at an intensity, everything, that deserves more time on the football field. He has been given some of that time with the ones and we’ll just see how he continues to progress. He’s obviously earned more repetitions with the team.
Not that any of the Texans defensive tackles were particularly good last night, but Mitchell didn’t stand out on tape to me. I think this is more about how low in esteem the coaching staff holds the other tackles than about how well Earl is playing, because between the last two preseason games, he’s been pretty invisible on tape.
The silver lining is that the Texans seem to have escaped New Orleans without any serious injuries. LB Danny Clark, who had an interception, sprained his knee and Kubiak thinks he is questionable for next Saturday against the Cowboys. This will continue to put the open linebacker spot during Cushing’s suspension under the spotlight for the next week or so, especially since LB Xavier Adibi continues to be out as well. The only two healthy LB’s competing for the spot at this point are special teams ace Kevin Bentley and rookie Darryl Sharpton. Neither of them were particularly impressive last night, but after Sharpton’s first game, you’d have to think he’d have the edge in the locker room, perhaps with Zac Diles moving to the strong-side while he steps in on the weak-side. Next week will be a big decider for that competition, as most teams basically ignore the fourth preseason game.
Coach Kubiak also doled out some praise for first rounder Kareem Jackson:
I thought that (CB) Kareem (Jackson), for his first time out, was solid and did some good things; didn’t have a lot of balls come his way. I was impressed about the way he came his first time out. After that, it was a long day for a lot of folks."
I agree with Kubiak on this one. Jackson was one of the few bright spots in a chug-the-bleach first half. I still worry about his play when he gets turned inside on slants, but he looks like he can keep up with players deep, and the fact that the Saints didn’t throw at him much looks like a great sign to me.
Kubiak insinuated that the starters will go three quarters against Dallas next week. Both Texas teams will be looking to move past sluggish preseason starts, although I’m not sure I’d want to give the Cowboys that much film on the 1’s since the Texans play them in Week 3 of the regular season as well.
After last night though, any sign of life would be welcomed. Anything to make the fans forget this embarrassment.
- Ben Tate's injury was finally revealed: a fractured fibula and torn ligaments in his ankle. It's almost fortunate for the Texans that it happened now, because it won't threaten his training camp status for next year.
- Jerome Solomon pens an excellent piece on Steve Slaton's fumbleitis, with pertinent quotes from Texans management on how he runs higher when he's tired. I didn't think he looked all that bad in the Texans opening game in Arizona, at least considering how he came out of a lot of jumbo sets. But he still needs to improve his cutting to really be effective in the zone-blocking scheme.
- ESPN's AFC South Blogger Paul Kuharsky infiltrated the Texans-Saints scrimmages today, filing his own report on Slaton and also noting that the early practice was poorly attended, relatively short, and pretty uneventful. Sounds like every birthday I've had since I reached high school. On the flip side, WWTV's Bradley Handwerger kept very detailed tabs on the practices. I'm glad we've reached the point where it's appropriate to say "owned" in a headline. NOLA.com also had a pretty detailed recap.
- Owen Daniel's return is "on schedule". I really hope the Texans are able to get him into that last preseason game, because I'm pretty wary of throwing him out there in game action completely cold. Those of you who were around for last season may remember how poor Dunta Robinson looked after he took the same route in a little more haughty manner.
- David Anderson's weekly Chronicle piece takes a look at his past; namely, the first times he stepped onto the field. He then mentions how Jacoby Jones' mom will be going ham in the kitchen for him.
- The person who benefits the most from Ben Tate's injury? Jeremiah Johnson. He knows a thing or two about getting hurt, and is focused on making the most of his opportunity, according to John Oehser of Fanhouse.
- Amobi Okoye and Darryl Sharpton have impressed Gary Kubiak, and Sharpton could very well play himself into the teams starting lineup on the weak side. That's probably the best case scenario for the Texans considering Xavier Adibi's fragility and Danny Clark's one dimensional game. Arian Foster also got plenty of kudos from Kubiak at today's practice. Other good quotes included Jacoby Jones on feeding "Schaubie" gumbo and how that will affect the number of balls thrown his way, Kareem Jackson on how Drew Brees keeps them off-balance with the snap count, and Trindon Holliday getting many questions about his size.
- Neil Rackers one-upped Kris Brown in practice, going 8-8 while Brown was 7-8. I sure wish I had the feeling that this mattered, but the deeper we get into training camp, the more it seems like Brown has always been "the guy" for the coaching staff.
So much for the possibility of Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron Schobel playing for the Houston Texans in 2010. Schobel won’t be playing anywhere in fact this coming year, or presumably ever again, as he stated on Monday that he will in fact retire from the NFL like he originally planned.
“I was tired of going back and forth with everything, so on Friday I made up my mind that I was done with football,‘’ Schobel said. "I just don’t want to do it any more. I’m going to be 33 in a couple of weeks. It’s a young man’s game.’’
- Obviously, the biggest news of the day was that Ben Tate would be placed on injured reserve, ending his season. We still haven't gotten a full breakdown of what he injured, but Gary Kubiak called it a fractured ankle, and noted that there was some "other stuff" wrong too, which to me would probably indicate tendon damage. Tate's absence will probably hurt the Texans most down the stretch, when he could've spelled Arian Foster for eight to ten carries a game even if he somehow hadn't become the feature back at that point. Instead, the Texans will have to rely on Jeremiah Johnson or Chris Henry to eat carries should Steve Slaton not be effective between the tackles.
- Of course, you can't have a Battle Black Monday without other bad news, and the Texans placed another key depth player on IR today when Tim Bulman's shoulder forced their hand. Nobody was going to confuse Bulman for Mario Williams, but he was a solid rusher and was a good high motor reserve for the Texans the last few years. This, combined with Aaron Schobel informing John McClain that he would retire, forced the Texans to sign some veteran depth in James Wyche.
The silver lining is that with three solid defensive ends on the roster with Williams, Antonio Smith, and Connor Barwin, and running back being arguably the deepest position in camp, the Texans won't be at too much of a disadvantage. It could have been a lot worse.
Other slight bang-ups: Jack Corcoran out for a few days with a shoulder, Andre Davis out for a few days with a bruised tailbone, and Trindon Holliday may have a thumb issue.
- Plenty of good wrap-ups of the dustup in the desert on Saturday. I recommend Lance Zierlein's detailed eye on the situation, as well as Houston Diehards and Texans Bull Blog's look at the offensive line. And of course, we have to look at Battle Red Blog's checkup on the roster battles.
- The quotesheet is all about Kubiak and his reaction to Tate and Schobel. The bigger news is probably in his presser last Sunday, where he coachspeak complimented Dan Orlovsky, and gave some nods to some of the youngsters that helped keep the lead intact during the second and third quarters. No such compliments for Fred Bennett.
- The Texans will be heading to New Orleans to scrimmage against the Saints for a few days before they go at it on the field on Saturday. As such, there may be even less non-mothership media coverage out there. I may end up combining a few days together. We'll play it by ear.
I hesitated on reporting this earlier, because John McClain has had some problems with the facts in this story, but his earlier Chronicle report was confirmed earlier when Texans coach Gary Kubiak stated that Tate is “...gonna go on IR, guys,” to the press after the Texans afternoon practice.
Kubiak said that the injury was a fracture, and that there was “some other problems in there too.”
The Texans will carry on with Arian Foster and Steve Slaton as their running backs this year, with Chris Henry and Jeremiah Johnson looking to grab that third spot.
I’ll have a bigger wrap-up posted later this evening, where we’ll discuss matters like Aaron Schobel’s retirement.
As the mainstream media broke all over the internet that Ben Tate would likely be lost for the season with a broken ankle based on one speculative tweet by John McClain, a funny thing happened. It turns out speculation, believe it or not, is not always right! Who would have thought?
Ben Tate, on his own Facebook wall minutes ago:
Gary Kubiak, at a 3:30 PM press conference, noted that Tate’s injury was going to require surgery, and that it was a “very significant” injury, but that the team wasn’t prepared to diagnose the extent of the injury yet. Surgery is expected to be scheduled for Tuesday or Wednesday, but it is not yet known how long Tate will be out. Kubiak said the Texans would get back to the media on that tomorrow.
Andre Davis is also expected to miss a few weeks with a shoulder injury.
EDIT: Turns out I misheard Kubiak, Davis to miss a few DAYS with a TAILBONE injury. Thats what I get for trying type and listen at the same time.
The Texans’ gut punch of a pre-season loss took a turn for the worst Saturday evening when rookie running back Ben Tate got pulled down by Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington at the end of arguably his best run of the night. Tate, the Texans’ second round pick, is now widely expected to miss the 2010 season. The Chronicle’s John McClain has more:
Tate didn’t get up. He had to be helped off the field. Then he was carted into the dressing room for X-rays. It looks like he suffered a broken ankle and is out for the season.
Here’s hoping the injury is nowhere as near as serious as it looked during the broadcast and to observer’s like McClain. Regardless, here’s wishing the young tailback a speedy recovery.
The Texans finished all preparations for Arizona today and the team will be travelling tomorrow, so these tidbits will have to tide you over until they get back to Houston:
- Raheem Brock, who was one of three defensive ends the Texans brought in yesterday, signed with Tennessee instead. The Texans will make due in this game, since the first cuts haven't happened yet, but defensive end depth is obviously a priority because it looks like there's a chance Tim Bulman may need to go on IR. Mario Williams, battling a sore hip, will get 10-12 snaps in Arizona. This should only further stoke the Aaron Schobel fire.
- Peter King quotes a "Colt veteran" as saying:
"It's like the most important game in the history of their franchise, from what we're hearing out of there,'' said one Colt veteran. "They might be putting a little too much emphasis on it.''
Good bulletin board material, for sure. You know, there really aren't enough unnamed sources used in media nowadays. Bravo to Mr. King for allowing a coward to say what he feels behind the screen of anonymity.
- Four guys Gary Kubiak (and I) will be watching for the preseason game: Trindon Holliday, Earl Mitchell, Troy Nolan and Malcolm Sheppard. Chris Henry is on Kubiak's list as well but I really doubt he cracks the active roster. Instead, I suggest you look at Brice McCain, who will be starting while Kareem Jackson is at a funeral, and see what he can do on the outside.
- McCain officially changed his jersey number from 41 to 21. No actual idea on why, but Nick Scurfield speculates it has to do with his idolization of Deion Sanders.
- One thing that I missed earlier that I'd like to point out: Scurfield held a live chat on The Mothership and it had some pretty good insight on the center situation:
justin - houston, TX, US: how is the center battle going for the offensive line. I dont think the texans can improve with chris myers at the starting position
Nick Scurfield (1:28:43 PM): It's Myers' job to lose. He played through a high-ankle sprain, which isn't easy to do for a guy in the trenches, and started all 16 games last season. The coaches love his toughness and the mental part of his game. Wade Smith is competing with him in camp, and former starting right guard Mike Brisiel is in the mix there as well.
Bolded for emphasis. Unless we see an avalanche of sacks it looks like Wade Smith may be a guard after all.
- Today's quotes sheet has Kubiak, Kevin Bentley, James Casey, Neil Rackers, Steve Slaton, and Antonio Smith. The most revealing quote has to be Casey's on what it's like now versus what it's like as a rookie:
(on how confident he is this year) "I'm miles ahead from where I was last year. When I look back and kind of think about what I was doing last year-- you know, it helps being around Garrett Graham a lot because I see what he's doing. He's going through the exact same things that I was doing last year. It's tough that first year because you don't understand the offense as well as the veterans do. Now I understand a lot better, so I can play faster. I don't spend as much time studying the plays like I did last year. Now I can look over the script and not spend as much time studying hours at a time figuring out what plays I'm doing and what I'm doing. Now I can just look through it 15-30 minutes and understand what I'm doing."
Food for thought before you bury or praise the rookies too much. They really do (usually) have a long way to go.
- And finally, because he's not twittering lately, please check out Jacoby "Jakespeare" Jones and his use of the phrases "geronimo!" and "polo". It is only polo, baby.
- We start with Scurfield’s notes from the early practice, as they seem to consistently be the best source of news. Gary Kubiak has talked to Aaron Schobel, which is big news to me simply because that acknowledges actual interest by the Texans. However, Lance Zierlein cautions that it’s not looking good right now in a tweet.
Scurfield also mentions the kicker battle and how rookie long snapper Jon Weeks has to essentially be perfect to win the spot. Alan Burge used that as a jump-off point for a piece on Weeks. Personally, I’m not sure how they can take both Trindon Holliday and Weeks, and I’d take Holliday first.
- According to John McClain, Texans first-rounder Kareem Jackson will miss the first game of the preseason to attend his grandmother’s funeral. If you were planning on road tripping up there, and that would make you a more diehard Texan fan than I am if true, the tickets are officially sold out. So make sure you Stubhub.
- Because of a serious injury (to his shoulder, but the severity is unrevealed) to defensive end Tim Bulman, the Texans worked out defensive ends Raheem Brock and Dewayne White, as well as nose tackle Kendrick Clancy. All of these guys are standard “older” defenders coming off injuries or poor seasons that are looking for work. The Texans will probably judge them up against Jesse Nading and Tim Jamison. Really, the Texans would probably be better served going with Malcolm Sheppard if Schobel isn’t going to be in the fold.
Best of luck to Bulman on a quick recovery. He’s a high-effort, high-motor bench end. Battle Red Blog had a tremendous piece on him a few years back.
- David Anderson has his own weekly column at The Houston Chronicle for the next couple of months. Anderson is a hilarious guy, and I think his writing translates well. Do check him out, and also give him a Twitter follow. Tell him Rivers sent you! He’ll say “who?” and we can all laugh while I die a little inside.
- AP Reporter Chris Duncan files his latest, on Schaub and Greg Knapp, who was his offensive coordinator in Atlanta and is now the Texans’ quarterbacks coach.
- Glover Quin was called a “shutdown” quarterback by the Chronicle, which made sure to note that he had never allowed any touchdown catches last season as a regular cornerback. John McClain had a chat and the stat came up and helped everyone notice that McClain had failed sarcasm 101:
- The quotes sheet, which is a little small today, feature Bill Kollar’s lack of faith in Frank Okam, Trindon Holliday’s ability to create quotes that are as short as he is, and Gary Kubiak continued to talk up the consistency of the defense.
After Wednesday’s practice session, Texans head coach Gary Kubiak commented briefly on the organization’s conversations with free agent defensive lineman/linebacker Aaron Schoebel.
“Nothing has changed. We’re still in the informational process,” Kubiak told the Texans’ official Web site. "I talked to him the other day.
“It’s just a matter of every day, what does Aaron want to do? Where does he want to do it? We’ll stay part of that process.”
In non-Cushing-makes-sportswriters-pen-angsty-columns news…
- Nick Scurfield’s morning practice report is, as usual, full of good observations. Mario Williams won’t play too much in the opening preseason game but did practice for 30 minutes today. Dan Orlovsky will receive extensive time to prove his worth, and Gary Kubiak says Ben Tate can give the Texans a lot, but only if he “grows up.” Kubiak then totally ditched Tate and went to watch The Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants with his girlfriends to complain about it. Can you believe that Ben Tate? Always slacking around practice. He sure is cute though…
- Michael A. Lutz delivers, from what I have read, the first football column to ever start with the serenity prayer. It’s about DeMeco Ryans.
- Even if the Texans interest in Aaron Schobel may seem overblown to yours truly, it sure has the Seahawks GM biting hook, line, and sinker.
- Jordan Godwin pens a piece on prankster David Anderson. Godwin’s profiles have been consistently solid throughout camp, and this one is no exception. He’s also got one on CB Antwaun Molden, who is facing a lot of competition at corner this year.
- You know those systems where you text things to vote on a question or something at the stadium? Well the Texans have a new partner in that. I’ve never actually used those services, nor have I known anyone who has, but someone has to be doing it. Here is where your money goes to.
- Formers Texans offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan gets the rock star profile in the Washington Post. He says his “system” is “whatever the weakness of the defense is.” So in case you were wondering, the Jaguars defense is weak against halfback passes.
- The three biggest tells on the quote sheet:
(on what does he want to see QB Dan Orlovsky do more than anything) “Protect the ball. Protect the football. When he’s throwing it protect it. Protect the team by protecting the ball. We’ve got to get rid of that one bad play out of 10. So that’s what we’re trying to focus on.” – Gary Kubiak
Or find a new quarterback.
(on if he’ll allow K Neil Rackers to kick first in his return to Arizona) “I’ll have to ask (special teams) coach Joe (Marciano). No, I would imagine (K) Kris (Brown) would go first.” – Gary Kubiak
Anyone want to speculate on the importance of that? I sure don’t. Because it scares me. I don’t want to be in this world where Kris Brown is beating Neil Rackers.
(on how long the starters will play at Arizona) “We’re going to have a group of starters who will be playing longer than normal. Our guards are going to play the majority of the game. We’re going to rotate those guys, all four or five of them somehow, some way. Obviously, we’ve got some starters that are going to play 12-20 plays and then we’ve got some starters that will play two quarters. So we just got to sit down, make sure what we like and see who those guys are. We’ll be doing that over the next few days.” – Gary Kubiak
It sure looks like Kubiak is giving Studdard and Caldwell a vote of no confidence here. This continues to be the biggest situation to watch in camp.
- The Texans took the field
Brian Cushing on Monday after an evening off on Saturday and a full day off Sunday. The big training camp news revolved around Brian Cushing Mario Williams, who got a second opinion on his injury in Philadelphia and was given the go-ahead there. Gary Kubiak, channeling his inner Belichick, declined to mention specifics when asked.
- Chris over at Houston Diehards got himself a press pass, some pub, and some up close observations today. Do go on and check that out as it’s the last day of open practices to the media. Only 1,513 fans showed for the Monday practice on short notice. You’ll miss it when it’s gone. Alan Burge also came up with some clutch tweeting. Big Ron was busy with his real job today (pfft, who needs one of those? Someone please feed me) but wrote the first of his training camp recaps.
- Madden says the Texans are making the playoffs. This must mean that they edited in some more swagger for someone. But who?
- News 8 Austin caught up with former Longhorn Frank Okam, who talked about becoming a veteran. Once he figures it out, he says, the sky is the limit. I’ll take the under on that one. At least in a Texans uniform.
- Jordan Godwin has an indepth piece up about the Texans hazing. I’d love to hear some Ben Tate standup, but as I’m a media member that will never happen.
- And a nickname is born, via Danny Clark:
10. Who’s the funniest Texan?
“The funniest guy right now? Who do I laugh at? I’d say Darryl Sharpton. I call him, “Weird Al.” He’s a rookie and he’s funny because he doesn’t try. He’s funny about what he says and when he’s being serious. He has the craziest stories from college at the University of Miami. Of course he’s next to me. He’s a great kid and he’s fun to watch and fun to listen to."
Weird Al it is, Danny.
- Don’t end with something funny! End with something serious! Fine, fine.
Kubiak said he was disappointed in the “sloppy” play of the offensive line this morning. Left guard Kasey Studdard, right guard Antoine Caldwell and center Chris Myers have been competing to keep their starting jobs over the likes of Wade Smith, Mike Brisiel and Chris White. “I think our guard position is wide open,” Kubiak said. “I don’t think anybody has taken the job from the two that are starting, nor have they solidified their situation… There’s inconsistency in a lot of things that all of them are doing. We’re going to keep rotating them and see who’ll step up.”
That is not what I want to hear a week in to training camp.
-The big story of the last couple of days of training camp has been the release of the unofficial depth chart, sent out late Friday night. Of course, the depth chart really didn't give us much new information. In fact, it's almost a carbon copy of last year's Week 17 starters, minus Dunta Robinson and plus Kareem Jackson, so I wouldn't read too much into it. That said, there were a few notes of interest.
Trindon Holliday appears to be solidly out of the running to play at wide receiver, which jives with camp reports that he doesn't look very comfortable out there. Chris Henry has leaped Jeremiah Johnson on the depth chart, which is bad news for animals that could be skinned to create petls. The Texans do, apparently, view nose tackle as an actual position. Danny Clark is buried way down on the chart at MLB, and with Kubiak saying yesterday that Xavier Adibi's injury could force the team to move Zac Diles to SLB, this could mean that Darryl Sharpton has an opening on the weak-side. Or at least that this seems to be a "legitimate" option in the eyes of Texans brass. Finally, it appears that Troy Nolan's ball skills have impressed the Texans more than Dominique Barber's, as he is backing up the injury-prone Eugene Wilson while Barber is behind Bernard Pollard.
- John McClain got to work on convincing the public that the Texans are interested in Aaron Schobel again, here is the latest evidence of that: McClain titles his piece, "Texans owner acknowledges interest in Schobel," then proceeds to use the following quotes:
"(General manager) Rick (Smith) is talking with our coaches, and they're evaluating things and trying to determine exactly what role a player like Aaron would fill," McNair said. "We all respect him.
"He's a good player, and I've always admired the way he plays the game. He's certainly played hard every time he's played against us. He's got a great reputation around the league.
"I think anybody would be happy to have him."
Of course, nowhere in these quotes does McNair acknowledge a direct interest in Schobel. Look at the words he uses: evaluating, determine, anybody. You would have to have an agenda to misread these words as anything close to interest. He said Schobel was a good player, but he never said the Texans were in contact with him or that the Texans had interest in him. In fact, the phrasing "what kind of role a player like Aaron would fill," leads me to believe that the evaluation concluded that the Texans already had three solid defensive ends. Which is both true and a very big obstacle in the way of Schobel becoming a Texan. It might be a fairer question to ask if Aaron Schobel is a good fit for the Texans, and Paul Kuharsky both asks and answers that question in a way that I agree with.
- The Texans bent to the will of the fans and have let a seventh open practice be created this Monday. It hasn't sold out yet, and you can get your tickets here if you're willing to make it from 8-10 AM. I hypothesize that this will be the lowest attended practice, given it's Monday status as well as the extremely late notice. But, we'll see. I ordered myself a ticket but haven't decided whether I'll show up or not yet.
- Once again I'll refer you to some indie guys doing some really great work on the ground: Chris at Houston Diehards and Alan Burge at the Examiner. Chris has tried to focus more on an individual account, and you can find his theories on Antwaun Molden, Connor Barwin, and Dorin Dickerson here. Burge prefers to do accounts by the day, and his Thursday wrap-up is up.as well as his Saturday one. Also be sure you're following BigRon281 on Twitter, because he has been, in my estimation, the most dedicated tweeter out there at the open practices. Always full of insight, and looking forward to his blog entries. Texans Bullblog has also been putting up some solid camp pieces from the ground, like this one on the DB's at camp.
- A slew of solid one-on-ones with players have come out over the last couple of days. Jordan Godwin covered Bill Kollar's love of local guy Earl Mitchell, and McClain covered the pain and agony that Mike Brisiel is trying to push himself through to nab a starting job. Anna Megan-Raley looks at the bond between Jacoby Jones and his mother, and Steph Stradley has philosophy major and noted Pterodactyl Arian Foster's poetry.
"Kevin and Jacoby are going head to head. That's the bottom line. Kevin's the starter he's earned that right. We've got a heck of a player pushing to be a starter in this league. We're putting them right down the middle. It's very competitive. Our whole group is extremely competitive." - Gary Kubiak
It's looking good for Jacoby's chances to stay on the field more this year, which was one of the main things I banged on about this offseason as far as the offense maintaining it's flow.
(on being in the same system a few years in a row and its benefits) "It is a big difference. I guess I never really understood how much of a difference it was." - Dan Orlovsky
I'm starting to think you might be in the wrong system, Danno.
(on the timetable of LB Xavier Adibi's recovery) "It'll be a few weeks. The news was good we probably thought that it was better than it could've been. He's going to miss some time I would probably say a few weeks. A few weeks in training camp is a lot so we'll see. This team has counted on him a great deal. It's been unfortunate that he's been nick up a lot and see if can get him back to a hundred percent and keep him on the field." - Gary Kubiak
This, to me, reads like we can start counting him out of that group hoping to get a crack at the first four games. I've never read too much into the Texans promoting Kevin Bentley as an option, because he's such a special teams stalwart, but he's only a Danny Clark injury away from being a real part of the conversation now.
I came into practice sort of expecting a light jaunt by the Texans, as normally their evening practices have been rather reserved. This was not an exception. The players didn’t wear pads, or even helmets. So, as usual, take anything about a player’s performance on the field with a spoonful of salt and a pinch of paprika.
I made it a goal of mine to try and focus on Kareem Jackson, and while I admit that I didn’t have the best selection of plays and viewing area to judge him on, it sure seemed to me like he can keep up with anyone on the sidelines. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he doesn’t have NFL instincts when it comes to releasing someone inside. Will it be learned eventually? I have every faith in that. The Texans do a terrific scouting job and have hit home runs in the draft before. Will it happen in time to make this season great? That I’m more skeptical of.
The Texans ran a kickoff drill with the kicker at about the 50. Steve Slaton, David Anderson, and Jeremiah Johnson were the returners. Neil Rackers kicked all of them. For whatever that is worth. They had the kickers come out for field goals at the end of practice, I saw about four misses between them, but I think it was an even split. Needless to say, I did not agree with Nick Scurfield’s tweet that the kickers were on fire. Unless by on fire he meant “kicking like they had been set on fire,” but I find that people who are employed to write for a team frequently lack humor.
The goal line offense was what I had the best view of, and I have to say, I was pretty unimpressed. The play selection was uninspired, and the defense was getting penetration all over the line. One tidbit about the playcalling over the entire scope of the practice was that they still run a lot of motion, which was a Kyle Shanahan staple. I’m really interested to see how they look out there against Arizona and see if they’ve picked up any new packages, or if it’ll be more of the same.
We had sort of a blogger twitter summit, not just today, but also on Saturday when I went, and I think the overall consensus was defensive worries were the biggest concern. Alan Burge, who asked the question, later talked about Schaub going down as the key. After watching Dan Orlovsky tonight, I’m inclined to agree.
I know Kubiak has said things like “he’s up and down” and such, but that is just Kubiak-speak for “he’s been bad.” It’s a good thing Orlovsky can’t manage to find the handle on anything to Fred Bennett’s man, because I’m not sure if the universe would be able to handle one of them winning. Like The Dead Sea in Chrono Cross, the world would simply have to collapse on itself.
“The Flame has decided that it would rather destroy everything than allow Fred Bennett successfully defending a pass to occur here. Flee, Texans fans, before it is too late!”
Players signed afterwards for about a good 20-30 minutes, and not just one or five, pretty much the whole team was down on the sidelines autographing things for fans. I was talking to someone and he was on a tangent about how great these guys were about autographs, and I think that’s a terrific thing that the focus on characters has provided to fans here. There are a lot of athletes that are essentially bad apples, and I do think it’s pretty special that the Texans have managed to put together a group that connects with fans happily.
However, if that talent at creating a great fan experience could be used to find a better place for terrible 80’s songs than amps right in front of the bleachers, I wouldn’t complain. Pumping “Thriller” out three times a night isn’t winning any fans.
- The big story out of camp today was the quoting of Gary Kubiak on ex-Buffalo Bill Pro Bowler Aaron Schobel's free agency. Schobel, who the Bills said they would keep to try to trade earlier this week, was let go when Bills GM Buddy Nix scavenged the trade market and decided there was nothing he could realistically get for the 32-year-old defensive end.
John McClain continues to beat the drum for Schobel, quoting Kubiak and then applying a very misleading headline to his piece ("Texans, DE Schobel show interest in each other"). Of course, Kubiak's quote (i.e. the only evidence McClain offers up of the Texans' interest) was as follows:
"He's been a real good player in this league for a long time," coach Gary Kubiak said after practice. "We're going to evaluate him like we would any other player of his caliber, and we're going to see if we think he can help us."
In other words, the same thing in a different phasing of what Kubiak said about Larry Johnson when he was a free agent and McClain thought they were interested. I'm rooting for the Texans to sign Schobel, but it seems to me like the interest is one-sided, and if his agent is getting as many calls as he says he is in the article, I would think the odds are against him landing here. Nick Scurfield penned the much more appropriately titled "Texans To Evaluate Schobel".
- USA Today gave it's yearly preview of the Texans, noting that someone named "Brent Myers" is the center. Yikes. Well, they also have a much more interesting story on Bob McNair saying that he believes Brian Cushing did not do steroids. I guess that's not that interesting either, but at least he's on the record about it.
- The Texans preseason games, after years of complaining, will finally be broadcast in HD. It will be a joy to actually be able to figure out which third-string player actually got that tackle.
- Our quote sheet for the day is very Bernard Pollard-centric, as Kubiak, defensive backs coach David Gibbs, and Pollard himself took questions. Gibbs says that Pollard has actually toned his personality way down from where it was, meaning he somehow used to be even more fiery and loud.
- McClain pens a piece about Connor Barwin growing into his position. Of course, he had to tickle his ridiculous stat fancy along the way too, so lets look at that:
Coming off the bench and playing left end most of the time, Barwin recorded 4½ sacks - more than any rookie defensive lineman playing in a 4-3 scheme.
Never mind that he was doubled in sack total (or more) by Brian Orakpo and Clay Matthews. That doesn't count (for some reason) since they were in a 3-4 scheme. Look, it was plenty impressive that Barwin got 4.5 sacks as a bench player who was completely raw at defensive end, you don't need to spruce that up anymore by getting more obscure, General.
- Nick Scurfield's morning notes marked on how dinged up the Texans are in camp. They were down to just six linebackers at the afternoon practice.
- It was Kevin Walter's birthday, so he of course got pied in the face. Meanwhile, Trindon Holliday was given a little trike as a prank and he actually wound up riding it with a little help from Jacoby Jones.
Camp is open again tomorrow night, and I'll be out for that. Expect an afternoon post on the morning aspect of training camp, then I'll come back with details after that on Friday morning.
Undrafted free agent rookie Jack Corcoran, one of the few guys I thought stood a chance of making the big squad when he was originally signed, is back with the Texans today according to Nick Scurfield as Justin Griffith was placed on injured reserve due to a spinal cord concussion/contusion. Whatever that is, it sounds painful, so best of luck on the recovery to Mr. Griffith.
Griffith was brought on for a tryout during mini-camp as a veteran challenger to Vonta Leach, who wasn’t quite the same fullback we’ve become accustomed to the last few seasons in 2009. Corcoran, out of Rutgers, was widely considered to be one of the best blocking fullbacks in the draft before it went by without him being picked. Leach might not have an immediate challenger in camp now, unless Corcoran really shows the coaching staff something over the next couple of weeks.
The first roster cut-down is August 31st. A fuller update on today’s news out of camp is coming later tonight. This marks the second undrafted rookie free agent the Texans have brought back into camp due to injury in the first week, as Arkansas WR London Crawford was brought in for WR Glenn Martinez earlier. With Mario Williams, Owen Daniels, Xavier Adibi, and Zac Diles also missing a practice or more, the storyline of camp thus far has been injuries.
Will he have much of an impact on the trajectory of the Houston Texans’ 2010 season? No, not likely, even though tight end Owen Daniels is presently injured. But this is what training camp is all about – paying attention to the unheralded and unknown guys battling it out for the final few precious roster spots on an NFL team. For the Texans, one such guy is James Casey, a second-year player that’s competing at three different positions (tight end, fullback and long snapper).
Head coach Gary Kubiak explained why guys like Casey help their own causes to make the roster by their reliable work ethic and versatility:
“When you’re starting to put a roster together of people you count on, he’s the poster child of that,” Kubiak said. “He’s got a situation where he’s got a chance to prove that he could start in this league. There is a lot to expect from James, from a lot of people around here. And I know he realizes that, too.”
Good luck to the fifth-rounder out of Rice as he tries to make the squad and get his NFL career started in earnest in 2010.
- Today was the official day of kicker competition. It was pretty unsurprising that the Texans waited until they kicked the fans out of practice before they let them go at it, as animosity from last season's Kris Brown campaign angered quite a few. Gary Kubiak and the kickers remained stoic in the quote sheet on the question of who is winning the competition. Brown was soundly out-kicked at OTA's, and today Nick Scurfield notes that Rackers was perfect while Brown missed again. As much as I'm sure everyone wants Kris Brown around as a link to the original team, I think it's pretty clear that Rackers has an empirical lead on him. As long as he doesn't give the Texans a reason to doubt him, I think he'll be kicking off against the Colts. However, for the sake of keeping it close to the vest, special teams coach Joe Marciano says that it's dead-even.
- Drew Dougherty notes that Darryl Sharpton ran with the first-teamers on the weakside, and if you re-click that quotes link, you'll see that DeMeco has taken a liking to the young man. Here's one writer who is excited to see Sharpton in an actual game.
- Belated notes from the ground on Monday from Chris at Houston Diehards and Alan Burge. Chris is concerned about Dan Orlovsky, while Burge says that Kareem Jackson is drinking from a fire hose. Sadly, I don't think that was a UHF reference. Meanwhile, Steph Stradley explains the Swagger Wagon and rehashes the merits of Aaron Schobel
- Jacoby Jones on Andre Johnson: "I aggravate the mess out him."
- David Dulati at FS Houston has a piece up on the offensive line battles in the interior, and it's a killer. Very interesting to see the difference between Chris Myers' philosophy on starting ("The way I approach training camp is I come in every single year as if I have to earn my spot,") and Wade Smith's direct quote:
"I came here to be a starter," Smith said. "Whatever spot that's at...right now I'm competing at center."
I'd still be shocked if money didn't eventually talk in that battle. But we'll see. It's another closed session tomorrow, and they won't even let reporters tweet from the facility, so look for another short update tomorrow evening.
- I'll start with what I'd like to call "moving the goalposts". I wrote a feature about Amobi Okoye this offseason, and we talked about how much he weighed and how that would affect his overall game. John McClain, in his column about training camp competition, says that Okoye weighed in at 295 last season and has lost 13 pounds. Of course, Chronicle writer Jordan Godwin, in his piece about the defensive line losing weight, says Okoye lost 32 pounds. I dug into McClain's archives and found the following in a chat answer:
So, doing the math, Okoye weighed either 295, 305, or 315-ish last season, depending on what Okoye was when Goddard weighed him. Can somebody please calibrate the scales at Reliant? Or stop the double talk? I just want to know what we should be expecting from Okoye this season without getting training at my local carnival's "guess your weight" game.
- AP writer Chris Duncan continues his series on the Texans with a profile of James Casey, who is probably willing to figure out the Texans' budget if it gets him on the field. Meanwhile, Godwin gets an in-depth piece up about Antoine Caldwell, who offensive line coach John Benton showers with praise.
- Dorin Dickerson is the anti-Dez Bryant: he'll carry the pads AND the jersey!
- On the national level, NFL.com's Vic Carruci takes a very deep look at the Texans, while Paul Kuharsky looks at the baptism by fire that Kareem Jackson is undergoing by facing Andre Johnson in practice everyday.
- The mothership has a take on the Red Zone offense under new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison.
- Nick Scurfield's notes included a little jawing between Eric Winston and Bernard Pollard, another missed day for Mario Williams as the Texans play it safe with their big defensive end, and more people burning Fred Bennett deep.
- The quotes sheet had Kubiak on Jacoby Jones' maturity, Dominique Barber on his sickening dependence on the city of Dallas, and Earl Mitchell on not knowing Kasey Studdard's name yet.
- Tweeters on the ground included, again, @jharrisfootball, @StephStradley, @BigRon281, @HoustonDiehards, and @ajtexans. Special kudos to those last three, who you will only hear from again two more times on the ground since the Texans don't have an open camp. These fellas were on the ground spreading information and taking that heat on all day for nothing more than fame and love of the game. As someone who only went to one of the day camps, I've got the sunburn to backup how rough it is out there. These gentlemen deserve your applause.
- Camp will be closed to the public the next two days, Thursday evening will be open, as will Saturday morning. After that, we're all relying on those credentialed few for news and tidbits.
Late Edit: Texans WR Glenn Martinez hits the IR, undrafted rookie free agent WR London Crawford, who went to Arkansas and participated in the Texans mini-camps, will be brought in to camp to replace him.
I was able to attend about an hour of Monday morning’s full-pads practice. Here’s what stood out to me the most from the bleachers:
-LT Duane Brown impressed from the start. He pushed his opponent back on the line of scrimmage constantly, and in the first full scrimmage he opened up two mammoth holes that led to big runs by Steve Slaton and Arian Foster. Perhaps this is the year that Brown takes the next step towards becoming a renowned starter in the AFC.
-RB Chris Henry caught me off-guard in a good way. Dreads were flying around the interior line throughout the morning and it took me a while to figure out from my seat that Henry was the one initiating (and later breaking through) the contact. He’s an animal of a runner and has already received praise from most who have seen him at camp thus far. Though Ben Tate should easily grab the third running back slot on the roster, wouldn’t it be nice to have a proven bruiser in Henry to use in goal-line situations? He has certainly done plenty to earn consideration.
-Backup QB Dan Orlovsky seemed lost throughout most of the morning. In the early scrimmage, he came in with the second team in a goal-line situation, only to take a quick drop, miss an open receiver and then gently/inexplicably toss the ball to a covered receiver, which resulted in an interception. He never looked comfortable in the pocket and even ran the ball once, which you’d rather not see in these types of drills. I even heard some “we want Sage back” chatter in the stands – that should indicate plenty.
-Defensive line coach Bill Kollar is a very intense man. I’ll leave you with that.
Word out of Buffalo today is that the Bills will release defensive end Aaron Schobel so he can attempt to ply his trade on a team that matters. Schobel is a local product, as he was raised in Columbus and attended TCU. Put that, the Texans inability to finish sacks last year, and Schobel’s fondness for the 4-3 together, and major media outlets are already speculating that the Texans would be a good fit for Schobel.
It might not be a marriage fit entirely on need, given that Antonio Smith, Mario Williams, and Connor Barwin all have solid pass-rushing credentials, even if they didn’t have the seasons to back it up last year. Still, it’s hard to imagine Schobel as anything but an upgrade on Smith, and the Texans lined up Smith inside on passing downs enough that it isn’t entirely far-fetched that they could snatch up Schobel and put Smith in there full-time. Personally, I don’t consider it too likely because the Texans have shown time and time again that they don’t chase players over 30. It’s almost an organizational philosophy at this point after Ahman Green embarrassed the team’s front office with some poor injury-plagued years.
If it were me in charge, I’d sniff around Schobel in a heartbeat. Knowing the Texans…I’m just not sure they’ll go for it. Even if he was great last year, the Texans didn’t bother chasing many free agents this offseason. The ones that they did, Wade Smith and Leigh Bodden, hadn’t hit their 30’s yet. Schobel will be 33 when the season starts.
- Tight end Owen Daniels was placed on the camp PUP list, meaning he still counts against the team’s roster cap. While he remains optimistic about his return, the growing divide between Daniels’ “I feel really good,” and Gary Kubiak’s “We’ll be smart with him,” concerns me a bit. Or at least it would if I was someone who though the Texans needed Daniels healthy to win games. Reading between the lines on that one makes me think he’s not a terrific bet to be ready for Week One at Indy.
- The Texans will suit up in full pads for Monday’s practice. They’ll also switch from two-a-days to morning full-team practices and afternoon special teams practices.
- Stop me if you’ve heard this one before; John McClain says Xavier Adibi has been marked as the early sub for Brian Cushing. Of course, nothing the coaches are quoted as saying in his column, nor in today’s quotes sheet, indicates he has anything but an opportunity to jump in and outplay Danny Clark for the job. But hey, since when have you needed facts in this business?
- The quote sheet for today reveals some startling facts: Gary Kubiak thinks the Texans defense can be a Top 5 defense over the course of the season, Mario Williams will take an injection for his sore hip, and Kevin Bentley with praise for the “frustrating” Trindon Holliday.
- The Chronicle’s Jordan Godwin wrote his own ode to Steve Slaton’s comeback, while Paul Kuharsky says Holliday is struggling at wide receiver. It should be an interesting battle between Kubiak and special teams coach Joe Marciano for Holliday’s roster spot. You can tell Joe is sticking up for his guys a little more after the rough spots on special teams last year.
- If you guys need another voice in the Texans blogosphere, highly unlikely since you have me, right? Right? Please don’t walk away when I’m talking to you…
Anyway, we’ve got some new bloggers that showed up at camp today and I’d like to send them some traffic, so please go check out the Texans Bull Blog. They have their own notes of today’s festivities as well.
- The Giants signed former Texans safety/special teamer John Busing late Saturday night. No word yet on whether they'll force the rest of the secondary to wear special flame-retardant outfits for his snaps at safety, but it appears they didn't learn their mistake from having CC Brown haunt the secondary last season.
I got to the Texans practice facility right around the 8 am kickoff time and waded into the bleachers to watch some defensive back drills. They started with some backpedalling, then spin and catch a ball flung at them point blank. They did some coverage within the group, getting a jam and then moving back to catch a ball. I think the general consensus from bloggers I talked to and random watchers is that Fred Bennett is a goner, and he did nothing to disuade that notion in his one-on-one work. He was turned around by Dorin Dickerson, and looked out of sorts on a number of plays.
I was hoping I’d get to see the kickers go at it, but if they did kicking drills, they were far off in the distance. The punt team was in action, with both Jacoby Jones and sixth rounder Trindon Holliday returning. Hold on to your antacid pills, because they both had a fumble and both returned multiple ones through the lines. Granted, these weren’t exactly the first team special teams lines. But they both looked good when they weren’t putting it on the ground.
I saw some good things from third rounder Earl Mitchell in the pass rushing drills. He has a good burst and great technique with his feet to get low. He totally took Kasey Studdard off-guard and had the crowd cheering on his first rep. I was also impressed with the technique of Mitch Unrein, who showed a solid motor and a good initial hand punch. Shelley Smith did not look like he belonged with the rest of the offensive linemen.
Second rounder Ben Tate had a fairly good showing for himself in the scrimmages, he has a little more giddyup then I was expecting once he got past the first level. First rounder Kareem Jackson was torched a few times by Andre Johnson, but who wasn’t? Johnson was a machine out there today, running all sorts of routes and looking great during all of them. Jackson did show well against Kevin Walter in one-on-ones, earning a butt pat from the veteran. He’s very physical. Antwaun Molden, as Alan Burge pointed out to me, has problems within the first five yards, but probably has the best deep range of any cornerback on the roster. This would be another Texans CB who could convert to FS if the Texans actually admitted they had a problem there.
Overall, while I enjoyed myself and loved meeting some good bloggers that I’ve respected for awhile like Burge, BigRon and Chris of HoustonDiehards, I can’t really say I felt like I learned a lot from the experience. Part of that may be the Texans holding back play design for the open practices, but other than the rookies and who is playing with who on the depth charts, there isn’t a whole lot of new information out there.
I’ll be throwing together the wrap-ups in lieu of doing two of them today, so look for reactions from both practices later.
- The Texans will begin with pads on tomorrow for the first time since January. Several key players missed the afternoon practice as the artificial turf is known to be tough on joints.
- More good stuff from Alan Burge, who kept detailed notes on the morning practice.
- Speaking of notes from the Saturday early practice, Lance Zierlien has some of his own. He’s got some good quotes from off the record sources, including one to not read too much into who is starting where on the interior. He also speculates that not one, but two of Antwaun Molden, Fred Bennett, and Jacques Reeves could find themselves unemployed on opening day. I think the blogger assumption is that Bennett is a goner, but it’d be surprising if one of the others joined him.
- The level of play is going to go up tomorrow according to Bernard Pollard, who as you might guess, is excited to knock helmets with people.
- The quote wrap-up on The Mothership included Gary Kubiak talking about how the kickers will likely rotate during the pre-season games, a straight up quote from Kubiak that “Arian Foster is our starter,” and David Anderson on the theory that every route he has run, he’s been open during.
- Arian Foster might have gotten Kubiak’s early endorsement, but AFC South Blogger Paul Kuharsky still thinks he represents hope rather than a sure lock at the job. Meanwhile, AP reporter Chris Duncan catches up with Steve Slaton, who is looking for redemption after losing most of last season to injury.
- I’ve finalized plans to get out to the practice tomorrow morning. If you’d like to see my thoughts live, I’ll be tweeting them at @riversmccown. I’ll be writing up a report when I get home for SB Nation Houston as well.
- Amobi Okoye and Mario Williams took Bob McNair’s criticism the best they could, according to Jerome Solomon.
- Nick Scurfield’s afternoon notes from yesterday didn’t have a whole lot of information, but we did learn that Kareem Jackson is running with the first team. Scurfield also managed a podcast with Texans owner Bob McNair.
- Steph Stradley had a piece at AOL Fanhouse about camp.
- Be sure to check out Alan Burge’s detailed notes on the Friday morning practice, he’s going to deliver more of them from today’s as well.
- Tweeters on the ground today included: @MortReport (ESPN's Chris Mortensen, who tweeted that Matt Schaub gave him a map of Houston after missing it on his camp travels last year), @jharrisfootball, @ajtexans, @BigRon281, and @StephStradley.
- Another update coming later tonight with afternoon reactions and later blogs. I’ll try to be out at camp tomorrow so I can give my own report on things.
News And Notes, July 30th:
- According to Nick Scurfield, the attendance for the morning session of training camp was the highest in team history.
- Arian Foster got first-team running back reps and looked strong, according to just about anyone who was tweeting away out at camp.
- Undrafted rookie cornerback Pierre Singfield was given his walking papers as a corresponding move to Kareem Jackson’s signing. Jackson’s contract details also leaked out, and I updated them in the earlier threads. Still waiting for news on Ben Tate’s particulars.
- Some players who stood out according to Drew Dougherty were Glover Quin and Mark Parson, who picked off a pair of passes. Andre Johnson made an incredible catch that had observers ooh’ing and ah’ing.
- Nobody specifically asked Coach Gary Kubiak about who was in line to start on the strong side for the duration of Brian Cushing’s four-game suspension. Asked about the practice reps for the linebackers, Kubiak said that there would be plenty of them to go around up until the first preseason game.
- According to BigRon281, a passionate Texans fan who was at the practice, Antwuan Molden ran with the #1 CB’s while Jackson was getting his contract taken care of. Meanwhile Frank Okam and Earl Mitchell formed the tandem for the second string DT’s.
Raheel Ramzanali, live from training camp, reports via Twitter that Andre Johnson says he wants to be the highest paid receiver in the NFL and is confident a deal will get done soon. Johnson missed a few days of mini-camp this offseason in a dispute, but reported to training camp on time, despite John McClain thinking that he might not.
Texans.com writer Nick Scurfield tweets that owner Bob McNair wants Andre Johnson to finish his career as a Texan. Meanwhile, Steph Stradley reports that coach Gary Kubiak is saying that Owen Daniels’ rehab timeline will be more clear in about two or three weeks. If Daniels doesn’t see the field until the very end of training camp, this could potentially be an ugly scenario for the Texans, who may need to start Joel Dreesen early if Daniels is not in playing form.
John McClain, tweeting that the Texans had spent all night furiously working to get Kareem Jackson signed, now reports that the sides have agreed on a five year contract. He's missing some time during the first practice as he’s still getting the details confirmed, but he should be out there for the night session. Terms were not disclosed. The pick ahead of Jackson, Sean Weatherspoon, signed a five year deal that has a maximum value of $17.54 million, with $10.4 million of it guaranteed.
Jackson, 22, should be starting at cornerback for the Texans right away barring injuries. A three year starter at Alabama, Jackson won the national championship last year and compiled 159 tackles, 25 pass breakups, and five interceptions over the course of his college career.
Like usual, the Texans have done a very good job of getting most of their picks signed on time. Brian Cushing, who signed after a few days last year, is the longest rookie holdout they’ve had to date.
Edit: Contract details per Aaron Wilson at the National Football Post: $16.3 million maximum value, $10.35 million in guaranteed money.
Texans training camp will open Friday, July 30 as the team begins its ninth season of NFL football aiming for its first playoff birth. Here are some notable tidbits:
-The Texans don't have an open training camp, meaning you have to media credentials to attend besides the designated open dates. Fortunately, tomorrow is one of those days. You'll need a ticket to attend festivities, but they are free and can be picked up on The Mothership. The first four practices will all be open, as well as Thursday, Aug. 5 and Saturday, Aug. 7. You can get a better look at what goes on there for the fans here.
-These will be two-a-days. Judging by the times given on the open practices, I'd guess that 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. is the morning session. ABC-13 reports that the afternoon session starts at 3 p.m., though it is not available to the public.
-Here's a piece from Alan Burge at the Examiner about what to expect while you attend training camp practices.
CB Dunta Robinson (Atlanta)
G Chester Pitts (Good luck in Seattle, pal)
RB Ryan Moats (Vikings)
QB Rex Grossman (Redskins)
S Brian Russell (Chronic badness)
S John Busing (Giants)
T Ephraim Salaam (Oldness)
DT Jeff Zgonina (Oldness)
RB Chris Brown (Thank goodness)
G/C Wade Smith (4 years, $12 million, $6.25 million guaranteed)
K Neil Rackers (2 years, $4.1 million, $350,000 guaranteed)
LS Jon Weeks (undisclosed)
LB Danny Clark (undisclosed)
TE Derek Fine (undisclsed)
FB Justin Griffith (undisclosed)
CB Kareem Jackson (1st round-20th, 5 years, $16.3 million maximum, $10.35 million signing bonus)
RB Ben Tate (2nd-58th, signed, terms unavailable)
DT Earl Mitchell (3rd-81st, 4 years, $2.578 million; $788,500 signing bonus)
LB Darryl Sharpton (4th-102nd, 4 years, $2.324 million; $534,940 signing bonus)
TE Garrett Graham (4th-118th, 4 years, $2.27 million; $480,100 signing bonus)
CB Sherrick McManis (5th-144th, 4 years, $1.982 million; $192,000 signing bonus)
G Shelley Smith (6th-187th, 4 years, $1.894 million; $104,070 signing bonus)
WR/KR Trindon Holliday (6th-197th, 4 years, $1.886 million; $96,600 signing bonus)
WR Dorin Dickerson (7th-227th, 4 years, $1.843 million; $53,615 signing bonus)
LB Isiah Greenhouse (undrafted)
S Nick Polk (undrafted)
CB Pierre Singfield (undrafted)
DT Malcolm Sheppard (undrafted)
S Torri Williams (undrafted)
DE Mitch Unrein (undrafted)
T Cole Pemberton (undrafted)
T Steve Maneri (undrafted)
Thanks to Mac's Football Blog for compiling the master list of rookie signings.
NFL ROSTER CUTDOWN DAYS:
August 31: Cutdown to 75 players
September 4th: Cutdown to 53 players.
September 5th: Practice Squad players can be officially signed, maximum of 8 players.
Saturday, August 14th, @ Arizona, 8 p.m.
Saturday, August 21st, @ New Orleans, 8 p.m.
Saturday, August 28th, vs. Dallas, 8 p.m.
Thursday, September 2nd, vs. Tampa Bay, 8 p.m.
Stop by our Texans blog, Battle Red Blog, for daily updates on training camp and more.
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