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Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Texans line battle requires camp practices

By Paul Kuharsky

Some battles for open jobs around the league may start to sort themselves out during OTAs and minicamps.

That’s not going to happen on the right side of the Texans offensive line, where the team will be replacing guard Mike Brisiel and tackle Eric Winston.

“Those things don’t normally sort themselves out until you put the pads on,” coach Gary Kubiak told Houston reporters Tuesday. “Right now it’s more finesse and positioning-type stuff.”

Antoine Caldwell (nickname: Gump) is at right guard and Rashard Butler is at right tackle now, and Kubiak said things look “about normal” like that.

“Time will tell,” Kubiak said. “Gump’s gotta stay healthy, stay on the field. Butler’s kind of been the same way. They will get pushed. I think (Derek) Newton is way ahead of where he was last year and this young guard (Brandon Brooks) has got a chance to be a heck of a player. It’s going to be a very good competition.

“I want to see (Caldwell and Butler) just compete. I want to see them hold up. That’s been the thing with both of them. They’ve had good spurts in their career but you’re looking for 16 weeks. One thing about our offensive line, all our guys play and stay on the field for a long time and these two guys need to be able to prove they can do that, too.”

The offensive line was a huge piece of why the Texans won the division and a playoff game last season. Replacing two-fifths of it is a big mission.

Running back Arian Foster said he’s confident the guys stepping in will step up.

“They have to,” Foster said. “That’s what this game is about. We proved that last year with that whole ‘next man up’ thing.”