HOUSTON -- Some quick early impressions after watching the Texans in an organized team activities session that got pushed into their practice bubble by some serious rain.
As a group the running backs look good –- which they are supposed to. Steve Slaton is in a red shirt to discourage any contact as he gets back from a neck injury. He’s lighter. Further down the depth chart, Chris Henry has bulked up. Ben Tate is still catching up after missing early time. Arian Foster is still at the head of the line and could put me in a spot where I have to give him a bit more credit, though I am weary of banking on much from him off a few good games at the end of 2009. Ryan Moats is the old man of the group and he’s just 27. One OTA practice should tell me little, but I can’t help but feel a little better about their depth.
This was just the second day of the kicker competition, and after a draw in round one, Kris Brown was a bit better than Neil Rackers. Brown hit five of five from 38 yards, Rackers four or five with a couple narrowly inside the right upright. I love a kicker competition -- because I don’t need a lot of help to see who’s doing better. This should be a good one, but it’s hard to replicate the sort of pressure the Texans need to be sure they can handle in a way Brown didn’t last year. Gary Kubiak is certain the guy who’s not kicking for him will be kicking for another team.
Brian Cushing is working as the starter. Kubiak said he won’t mess with the lineup through the remainder of the offseason since Cushing is going to be around for 12 games. In camp the coach will start to juggle, and he forecasts a three-way battle to sub for Cushing between Xavier Adibi, Kevin Bentley and Danny Clark for a four-game starting stint on the strongside.
I don’t know what becomes of young long snapper Ryan Weeks or undrafted tackle Steve Maneri. But I feel sure that they will be telling their children and grandchildren about moments like today, when each had one-on-one coaching from Hall of Fame lineman Bruce Matthews. Matthews, a quality snapper, helped Weeks early and stayed late to work with Maneri on pass-protection drops.
Matt Schaub looked crisp and confident, and I saw way more of that from backup Dan Orlovsky than I did this time last year. The visual matched up with what I’d read about Orlovsky, who was third behind Schaub and since-departed Rex Grossman the previous year, appears more equipped to play if needed.
Kubiak said he wanted to bring some chaos to practice, and since the team was inside, he used crowd noise for the first time this offseason. It was loud and ran pre-snap to a second after a receiver caught a pass or a running back was to the second or third level. It left me with a headache. I’m tough and will shake it off as soon as a Diet Coke finds me.