Brian Cushing, Texans

It was back to work for the Houston Texans on Saturday as the team got through day two of training camp.

While the public has yet to get their first look at the defending AFC South champs, we have been given an all-access pass.

A NEW MINDSET

The team looks different so far, and we don't mean personnel. It's more like an attitude change. Last year, there was more of a fun atmosphere, but this year -- so far -- not so much.

We're not saying they aren't having fun, but it's clear they are not satisfied just winning the AFC South and one playoff game. This year, it appears to be about business.

"You know, we've been to the second round of playoffs. We're coming out here trying to get to a championship level as quickly as we can, and that's the approach we are taking," OT Duane Brown said.

The Texans know the work at training camp doesn't guarantee success in January, but the new mindset could make a big difference.

MENTORING THE ROOKIES

Texans veterans are doing what they can to help out the team's young guns.

The Texans had had a great draft, and they have huge expectations for them. But in order for rookies to shine, the vets need to set the tone for the coming season as far as practice habits, mentality and more.

TE Owen Daniels is one of those vets. Amazingly, this is already his seventh year in this league and -- as always  he's still one of QB Matt Schaub's favorite weapons.

Daniels is excited about the team's chances as one of the grizzled veterans

"I'm getting older and I feel it, but it's exciting," he said. "It's different every year. I'm getting the chance now to bring some young guys along. [TE] Garrett [Graham] and I are the only guys who have experience at the position at this point. We've got three young guys that are very capable and I'm going to try to teach them as much as I can and bring them along so they can help us out this year."

It's going to be interesting to see how Schaub divvies up his targets. Along with Daniels and Andre Johnson, he really has a lot of good options.

A NEW STARTER

One young Texan is having his chance to start this year.

LB Whitney Mercilus is making strides. He is just in his second year and will be a starter this season.

Connor Barwin leaving for the Philadelphia Eagles was tough, but the way Mercilus played last year made it easier. Now, Mercilus expects to take a big step, and he needs help from young players on defense and offense.

"Yeah, definitely. Just being a starter, coming out from my first year, and also you see these young guys coming up here of course. [WR] DeAndre [Hopkins] -- he has to be able to play big and step up into a larger role. We need him this year," Mercilus said. "It's just goals across the board. Everybody has to step up and actually practice like you're a starter, no matter who you are and no matter what your role is."

One thing Mercilus does well is attack the QB -- something the Texans were lacking last year, except for JJ Watt, of course.

WHO ISN"T WORKING OUT?

One player is not taking part in the workouts -- newly acquired free agent Ed Reed.

When training camp kicked off Friday, everyone wanted to talk to Reed at the first practice. He may be the biggest free agent signed ever in Texans history.

But, he went on the injured list: no interviews.

Reed was placed on the pup list -- the "Physically Unable to Perform" list -- but he was there for the first day of camp and was there again Saturday.

Reed is battling a hip injury, but most expect him to be ready by week one.

Head Coach Gary Kubiak is happy with his progress.

"I'm impressed with where he's at. He's come a long way, watching him work with the guys today," he said. "They've got him on a program. We'll work him out early in the mornings when the team's doing individual stuff and try to have him available when we're doing team, so he's learning our system and those type of things. He knows what he has to do to get ready, but I'm impressed with how far he's come."

RB Arian Foster is also on the injured list as he continues to nurse his sore calf back to full strength. There is no time table on his return, but Kubiak said he expects him to be back practicing in the next few days.

TRAINING DURING RAMADAN

Pay attention to the battle at right tackle during camp. Both Derrick Newton and Ryan Harris are competing for the starting spot, and Harris is giving it his all while observing Ramadan.

OL Harris has been in the NFL for a long time. He's a veteran making his return to the Texans this year in hopes of starting at the right tackle spot. And as he battles other for the position, he is observing the holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast.

"I am Muslim so it's a time where Muslims do a lot of self-reflection and fasting during the daylight hours," Harris explained. "I can't fast during the heat out here, but there are other things you do, too. Just take the time to be self-reflective, and no better time than to focus in on the things that are important, and I am blessed that I have that opportunity through my faith."

Harris is committed to his faith, but health obviously comes to mind when thinking of the grueling demands of the summer and training camp. So he came up with an alternative plan.

"You kind of make sure you are not going in excess," he said. "It's kind of the entire point of the month, so I make sure I take what I need. Also, again, I do a lot of self-reflection and bettering myself in ways that permeates through the rest of my life."

One of the greatest athletes in this city's history, Hakeem Olajuwon, would often fast during the season, and he said it made him a better player. Harris agrees.

"It really does make you feel like you are at your best when you are at the best as a person; the way you do anything, and when you are focused, in your spirituality and in your faith, it makes you focused in other things in your life. So you set priorities," Harris said. "I definitely feel I am at my best, and there is no better time than at training camp, getting ready to start the season."

Kubiak seemed impressed by Harris when we spoke to him.

"He is a very disciplined person," Kubiak said. "I would just say this: he looks really good. We are going to play our best two tackles, and we know who our left tackle is, and Ryan [Harris] knows he is in the mix."

TEXANS CHEERLEADER CALENDARS

While Texans players were getting ready for the new season, their cheerleaders were launching their new swimsuit calendar. Twelve cheerleaders met with fans and signed autographs Saturday in The Heights. The cheerleaders also gave away tickets to some Texans games.

The seventh annual calendar costs $10 and all the proceeds benefit the Houston Texans Foundation.

Click here to see behind-the-scenes photos from the calendar photo shoot in Galveston.

BULLS ON FIRE

Get ready for the upcoming Texans season with our sports special, "Bulls on Fire." Eyewitness Sports director Greg Bailey and the rest of the Eyewitness Sports crew will get you fired up with a preview of the season and tell you what the team needs to do to reach the Super Bowl.

The special is on ABC13 Sunday, August 4 at 10:35pm. Then, the Texans open preseason play against the Minnesota Vikings on Friday, August 9. The game is in Minneapolis, so if you can't make it to see the game in person, you can watch it live on ABC13. Kickoff is at 7pm.

Take ABC13 with you!
Download our free apps for iPhone, iPad and Android devices

(Copyright ©2014 KTRK-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

Get more Sports »


Tags:
sports, david nuno
blog comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement