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NFL Team Report - Houston Texans - INSIDE SLANT
Free safety Ed Reed and inside linebacker Tim Dobbins drew the most attention during the first day of the Texans' minicamp that will wrap up the offseason program.
Reed can't practice because he's recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his hip, but he met with the media for the first time since signing with the Texans on April 30.
Dobbins, a quality backup, was in the news because he was the only healthy veteran to miss OTAs.
Coach Gary Kubiak was happy to see both of them.
"It's good to have them back," Kubiak said. "With Ed, we're working the rehab process and continuing what he's been doing in Atlanta and setting our game plan from now until training camp.
"They (team doctors) tell me he's coming along fine. It's just a matter of continuing the rehab process, and, obviously, we've got a target date we're shooting for."
Because OTAs aren't mandatory like minicamps, Kubiak couldn't say anything about Dobbins not participating with his teammates.
"We had a lot of reps today, and he had a lot of catching up to do, but he was on top of his stuff," Kubiak said. "I was pleased with what he did at practice. We threw a lot at him, and he handled himself well."
Kubiak takes it easy on most of his veterans during minicamp. They stay in the stadium and do fitness work while the younger players and first-year players participate in the mandatory practices.
Reed came to the field after practice for his interview. Kubiak reiterated the Texans didn't know Reed needed surgery on his hip when they signed him.
"We did not expect him to (need) surgery," Kubiak said. "After he started to have some issues during his workout routine, we thought the best thing to do was to get it cleaned up like he did the previous time (surgery on his other hip in 2010). He's been through this process before, but once this started to bother him, obviously, we got aggressive in getting him ready to go for the season."
The big question in Houston is whether Reed will be ready for the regular-season opener at San Diego. After the surgery, the Texans said they hoped he'd be ready for the start of camp. Then they amended it to midway through camp. Now they're hoping he'll be ready for the Chargers.
"It's going well right now (but) there's really no timeline," Reed said. "We're going to keep on working and shooting for September. Once training camp comes, I'll have a better (idea) as far as my progress.
"Right now, it's going really well - no setbacks."
When Reed signed with the Texans, he wasn't thinking about surgery. But his hip worsened. Tests showed a slight tear in the labrum in his hip.
Reed has been criticized for not telling the Texans about his injured hip when he signed.
"I really didn't know," he said. "I knew there was something there, but it didn't seem major at all. Once I came here and started to run, it's like, 'Let's look at this again.' Honestly, it was a slight tear, and we did due diligence on both sides. We put our heads together to make the best decision."
Reed said he thought he suffered the injury in the AFC Championship Game victory at New England.
"If I go back to it, the only play I can look at is when I got kicked by (Tom Brady)," he said. "Even then, I played in the Super Bowl and you saw what happened there. I had two MCL sprains and played through that. So, if you've got any questions, I think that can answer your questions about my heart and how I play and how I work.
"This was a minor procedure. I definitely feel a lot different than I felt last time. Like I said, it's minor compared to the one I had in 2010, so the recovery is going a lot different. If you ask my doctor, they can't believe where I'm at right now. But it's still a process, and regardless, we're going to be smart and be ready when it really counts."
Reed has set a couple of goals.
"I know what my goal is, and I know what the team goal is," he said. "My goal was to be part of this organization that welcomed me, that wanted me, that respected what I did knowing what I've done on the field and what I'm capable of doing.
"Yeah, I'm older, but I'm still going to give everything to this sport and to this organization for what they've done for me, my family and how they've backed me. I've made promises that I intend to keep.
"If you really want to know, my goal is New York (Super Bowl). It's not San Diego. It's not Baltimore. It's not New England. It's not the Colts. It's New York, and I'm talking about Super Bowl. That's my goal. That's our goal."
NFL Team Report - Houston Texans - NOTES, QUOTES
--Texans left tackle Duane Brown could be sidelined until the start of training camp next month to recover from foot surgery performed Wednesday.
The durable Pro Bowl blocker is likely to be on the field with the starting offense when camp begins in July.
Brown had a bone spur removed from his ankle area. A former first-round draft pick who excels in Houston's swift-moving zone-blocking scheme, Brown has missed only five starts in five seasons.
Coach Gary Kubiak said, "Duane has a bone spur that's been bothering him somewhere on his ankle area. And (we) made a decision yesterday to go ahead and shave it, so he's having that done this morning. It's a minor procedure. He's fine. We just wanna make sure it's something that's not a problem when we go to camp."
--After an OTA workout Monday marred by botched snaps, bad routes and a general overall off day, Texans coach Gary Kubiak took the blame.
"Gave them a lot to handle today; that's on me," Kubiak told reporters. "So we had a lot of mistakes, but probably gave them a little bit too much.
"But we'll come back tomorrow. Got three more days this week to get these OTAs in and get a bunch of stuff taught and go into the minicamp (June 11-13) and decide how we're gonna go about that next week."
There are a lot of young or new players taking part in the workouts. Kubiak would not say the defense was ahead of the offense, but he did note that he wanted to see how the offense responds to the pressure.
"We're throwing a bunch at them every day, just see who can keep up and really trying to send a message to them of what they're going to have to handle when we come back," Kubiak said. "You expect some of these things. It's interesting because you see some of them handle it and you see some of them struggling right now. We'll sort it all out, try to get them in a position to compete in July."
--Texans rookie tight end Ryan Griffin is an NFL rarity. He's big, but even 6-6, 256 doesn't qualify as rare for NFL tight ends any more. It's that, if he makes the Texans' 53-man roster, Griffin will join San Diego Chargers defensive end Kendall Reyes as the only NFL players from New Hampshire.
The little state well known as the first to vote in the presidential primaries every four years, is beginning to make a statement in the NFL.
"Right now, it's just Kendall and me representing our state," said Griffin, a sixth-round pick from the University of Connecticut.
Griffin grew up in Londonderry, a town of 24,129. His home state has only 1.3 million residents, about half of Houston's population.
Going to Connecticut had a side benefit for Griffin, who was an outstanding basketball player in high school. He played pickup basketball games with players from the women's team that won the national championship.
"Well, it was when the women's team needed to run," he said. "They weren't organized practices, just pickup games in the gym. That was pretty cool to get to play with the best women players in college basketball. They were great players, and they were fundamentally sound. It was fun."
---Second-year receiver DeVier Posey, who underwent surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon in January, vows to participate in drills next week when the Texans have their three-day minicamp.
"I should be on the field," Posey said. "I can't sleep at night. I think about football all the time."
It's been less than five months since his surgery. He'll likely begin camp on the physically unable to perform list. He may have to begin the season on physically unable to perform, as well.
--Entering his fourth season, Earl Mitchell is starting at nose tackle for the first time. In his first three seasons, Mitchell backed up Shaun Cody, but the coaches rotated them. Last season, Mitchell played more than Cody, who wasn't invited back after his contract expired.
"Earl's doing really well," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "He's a starter now, and he acts like one. He's very confident in what he's doing. Usually, that's what you'll see when a guy gets that opportunity; they'll take it and run with it. Everything this offseason, not just OTAs, has indicated that Earl's ready for his turn. I'm proud of what he's done so far."
There's an issue with Mitchell's backup. Veterans Sunny Harris and Terrell McClain and rookie Chris Jones (sixth round) are candidates to play behind Mitchell.
--Veteran punter Shane Lechler has quietly gone about his business. He signed with the Texans after 13 seasons with the Oakland Raiders. During OTAs, he punts with the other specialists on a separate field, but has been impressive when called on for punting drills, as expected.
"He's got a big leg, and, obviously, he can directional punt really well," Kubiak said. "That's important. That's something we struggled with in the past.
"I really like the work he does inside the 20, but the biggest thing is he gives everybody (on) special teams confidence. When he talks, those guys listen because he has such respect from his years in the League."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm doing a little bit more talking than I've done in the past, but it all starts with my play. If I'm not playing well, nobody wants to follow me. I'm just trying to make sure I'm the best player I can be." -- Defensive end J.J. Watt, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year last season, on becoming a more vocal leader in his third season.
NFL Team Report - Houston Texans - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--LB Mister Alexander (not tendered as ERFA).
--C Antoine Caldwell (not tendered as UFA).
--DT Shaun Cody (not tendered as UFA).
--LB Keyaron Fox (not tendered as UFA).
--LB Bradie James (not tendered as UFA).
--LB Jesse Nading (not tendered as UFA).
--CB Stanford Routt (not tendered as UFA).
--LB Barrett Ruud (not tendered as UFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED
--LB Sam Montgomery (3/95): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--LB Trevardo Williams (4/124): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--T David Quessenberry (6/176): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR Alan Bonner (6/195): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--NT Chris Jones (6/198): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--TE Ryan Griffin (6/201): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--LB Tim Dobbins: UFA; terms unknown.
--T Andrew Gardner: Not tendered as RFA; $650,000/1 yr.
--T Ryan Harris: UFA; terms unknown.
--CB Brice McCain: UFA; $5.25M/3 yrs, $2.25M guaranteed.
--FB Greg Jones: UFA Jaguars; $1M/1 yr, $160,000 SB/$240,000 guaranteed.
--RB/KR Deji Karim: Not tendered as RFA by Colts; terms unknown.
--P Shane Lechler: UFA Raiders; $5.5M/3 yrs, $1M SB.
--QB Stephen McGee: FA; terms unknown.
--S Ed Reed: UFA Ravens; $15M/3 yrs, $5M guaranteed.
--CB Alan Ball: UFA Jaguars; terms unknown.
--LB Connor Barwin: UFA Eagles; $36M/6 yrs, $8M guaranteed.
--T Rashad Butler: UFA Bengals; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--FB/TE James Casey: UFA Eagles; $12M/3 yrs, $6M guaranteed.
--S Quintin Demps: UFA Chiefs; $715,000/1 yr.
--RB Justin Forsett: UFA Jaguars; terms unknown.
--K Shayne Graham: UFA Browns; $940,000/1 yr.
--P Donnie Jones: UFA Eagles; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--S Glover Quin: UFA Lions; $23.5M/5 yrs, $5.25M SB.
--WR Kevin Walter (released).