Kickers Brown, Rackers dueling at Texans camp

August 3, 2010 3:36:42 PM PDT
The last original Houston Texan is fighting for his job at training camp. Kicker Kris Brown is the only player who's appeared in all 128 franchise games. The Texans signed free agent Neil Rackers in the offseason to compete with Brown, who made only 65.6 percent of his field-goal tries last season, a career low.

Rackers made the Pro Bowl in 2005 and made 16 of 17 attempts for Arizona last season.

The two kicked during a full-squad workout for the first time on Tuesday. Rackers went 6-for-6, while Brown missed one 42-yarder in his six attempts.

Both 33, Brown and Rackers have developed a close relationship, though it didn't start off that way. The Texans acquired Rackers in April, and Brown admitted he treated Rackers rudely during offseason practices in May.

"I just went through a period where I was really upset and to be quite honest, I was probably kind of a jerk to him," Brown said. "I finally woke up and said, 'Kris, what are you doing?' My biggest obligation outside of this profession is what kind of an example I'm setting for my (three) children. I realized that if my sons were going through this right now, what would I tell them? How would I expect them to handle it?"

Brown apologized to Rackers and the two developed a mutual respect. Rackers said the veterans, both with more than 10 years of NFL experience, won't let the competition turn contentious again.

"That usually happens with younger guys," said Rackers. "With vets, you're both professional and you know how to do it. You've had competition before and you just go out and do your job."

Houston coach Gary Kubiak is a long way from choosing his kicker. He's eager to see how each performs under pressure in preseason games.

"We'll probably rotate them every kick," Kubiak said. "If one of them has a game-winner, we will make sure the next guy will get the other one. We are just going to be as fair as we can. They will kick enough during the course of the month. The competition will be more than fair."

Rackers said kicking in front of his new teammates is more stressful than any game situation will be.

"I'm around new guys and I've got to prove to them that I can put the ball through the uprights," he said. "That's more pressure than a game. You're trying to impress your teammates, and let them know that when they put you on the field, they're getting three points."

Brown and Rackers are both prepared for the inevitability that one of them won't make the final cut. The two are confident that whoever loses the competition at Texans camp will get signed by another team.

"If you're going to tell me that neither Kris Brown nor I are among the best 32 kickers in this league, I tell you you're crazy," Rackers said.

Last season, though, Brown ranked 28th in percentage and missed long, last-second attempts in consecutive 20-17 losses to division rivals Indianapolis and Tennessee. Houston finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs by one game.

Brown didn't change his mechanics or practice routine in the offseason, but concentrated more on rebuilding his self-confidence.

"I had to sit down and evaluate what happened and figure out in my own mind what happened," he said. "I moved past it, though. That's the great thing about this game. Last year is over and done with and I'm just looking forward to this year."

Brown is not going to get sentimental about leaving the franchise if Rackers beats him out. Brown played three seasons in Pittsburgh before the Texans signed him in 2002.

"I'm just focused on what I have to do every day, and whatever happens is going to happen, that's out of my control," Brown said. "I can't worry about the end destination. I'm really kind of looking at this as kind of enjoying the journey and trying to learn something every day. Eventually, it will play itself out and we'll go from there."

NOTES: LBs Zac Diles and Xavier Adibi sat out Tuesday morning's workout with groin injuries. ... The Texans signed free agent WR London Crawford and placed WR Glenn Martinez on injured reserve with a right hamstring injury.


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