The Houston Texans have their sights set on repeating a playoff berth. Last season, the boys in Deep Steel Blue and Battle Red made the post season for the first time in franchise history and many believe they are poised to reach the post season again.
Losses to key players (Mario Williams, Buffalo Bills; Demeco Ryans, Philadelphia Eagles; Eric Winston, Kansas City Chiefs) have the Texans turning to rookies to have an immediate impact for the defending AFC South Champions. When OTAs wrapped up last week, it looked as if head coach Gary Kubiak was pleased heading into mini-camp.
Tuesday after practice Kubiak had positive reviews for his newly acquired players, especially for undrafted Quarterback Case Keenum (Houston), who continues to impress his new coach. The former Cougar “jumped out” at Kubiak, who added “He’s not a rookie today anymore in a lot of ways”. Mike Sims-Walker also garnered praise from Kubiak, saying the veteran wide out “looked good”. Keenum is hoping to beat out free agent signee John Beck to fill the third QB spot behind Matt Schaub and TJ Yates, while Sims-Walker is hoping the opportunity to tryout in minicamp will at least land him on the 53-man roster.
But with the good comes the bad when talking about rookies and new additions, and no one seemed more disappointing Tuesday to Kubiak than this year’s third round pick in the NFL Draft, Brandon Brooks (OG – Miami, OH). Kubiak kept his comments simple and straightforward simply, “I did not like what I saw today. He’s overweight and he’s got to get down, but he has a chance to be a good player. Can you send that message to him?”
Come Wednesday, the bad outweighed the good.
When asked how the second day of practice went, the head coach told members of the media, “Not very good”. Kubiak acknowledged it was the hottest day of offseason practice to date with temperatures around 90 and high humidity, and that the one hour 35 minute practice reflected it. A couple players were bothered by the heat, but Kubiak made it clear that the young players had better get used to it. “I told them they’re going to have to go for two hours here in about a month, so it let them know where they’re at. We just got to keep pushing them. We just weren’t very sharp on both sides of the ball, and I tried to let them know what is going to be expected of them a month from now. We have to send a message and get it sent here quick. Today wasn’t good enough.”
“Not good enough” is not something you want to hear about a team with high expectations for the upcoming season.
As the Texans take the field at the Methodist Training Center Thursday for the final team practice until August training camp, most rookies will know how important hard work is to the Houston coaching staff. It will all come down to who can push through the heat and humidity; who will leave a positive impression on the coaches; who can live up to expectations.
It’s very apparent Gary Kubiak has the highest expectations of all. For veterans and rookies alike, that is a very good thing.
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