Postcards from camp: Texans
Training camp isn't much different from the regular season for the Texans. They are stationed in Houston across the street from Reliant Stadium at the same practice facilities they use all season. They practice on three full-size outdoor fields during morning workouts. In the afternoons, they typically practice inside their bubble, which boasts a full-size field covered in Field Turf.
With the heat index almost always topping 100 degrees even before the first practice ends at 10:30 a.m., players often long to move indoors. The large bubble sits right next to the outdoor fields, and players have said that it's like having a water fountain the middle of the field but you cannot drink from it.
The highlight for the players in camp is the eight practices open to fans. They had almost 5,000 fans at the first practice. And there were more than 3,000 there when
1. Super Mario II. When
It looks like Williams has gotten bigger and faster in the offseason. He seems to go at a different speed than the rest of his teammates. And he looks much more relaxed than in the past, helping him play more instinctively than he ever has. He's joking around with his teammates and is playing much looser on the field.
His maturity has been praised, and coach
2. Injury Watch. The Texans are doing all they can to try and avoid being among the league leaders with players on the injured reserve list for the third season in a row. They are having very few contact drills and the afternoon practices are almost always just walkthroughs.
The Texans led the league in 2006 with 17 players on IR. Last year, they had 17.
The Texans will likely to start cornerback
The Texans are hopeful when Johnson returns from his strained groin that he will be hard to keep off the field.
3. Roughest rookie course. Rookie left tackle
Gibbs became the assistant head coach/offensive coordinator and was put in charge of helping offensive line coach
The players have adapted well and are adjusting to using cut blocking more often. Gibbs hasn't talked to the media in Houston, but he is doing plenty of talking at the players.
"Playing for Alex is bittersweet," left guard
"He has unbelievable energy, but it's crazy because he doesn't drink a lot of coffee, and he doesn't drink Red Bull. He just wakes up in the morning, and he's like a firecracker.
"All he wants is for us to get better and be successful. What more do you want from your coach? I love the guy, but sometimes, I'm like, 'Alex, please, chill out. I'm tired. I can hardly breathe. Do you realize how big I am? I need my water. You better leave me alone.'"
A 9-7 record is a distinct possibility. But to accomplish that, the Texans will have to prove they can win in their own division. Last season, the Texans were swept by the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts. They notched just one victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. They must also overcome a tough stretch early in which three (Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Jacksonville) of their first four games are on the road. Four of their first five games are against teams that reached the playoffs last season.
Last season, they finished a franchise-best 8-8 despite losing 17 players to IR, including running back Green and cornerback Robinson. The Texans also were without Andre Johnson for seven games and Schaub for five games.
Texans rookies have it pretty easy. Very little hazing goes on. Basically, their biggest task is carrying the shoulder pads and helmets of their teammates after a long practice ends. One day, as rookie defensive tackle
When asked why Okam wasn't carrying his stuff, Okoye laughed and said he would only hand it over if someone offered. Since Okoye just turned 21 in June, it's a little awkward since the rookies are all older than him. Okoye said it'll take at least three years before he gets up the nerve to ask a "younger" player to carry his gear.
• Rookie running back
• Special teams coordinator
• The Texans only have four original Texans remaining on the roster -- Kris Brown, guard