Williams looks good at first practice of Texans camp

Updated: July 28, 2006, 9:21 PM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Beads of sweat poured off Mario Williams' head and a small blade of grass sat perched just below his left eye as he mentioned the Houston heat not once or twice -- but about seven times.

Mario Williams
Dave Einsel / AP PhotoHouston's Mario Williams lived up to his billing as the top pick ... at least for the first day.

The Houston Texans No. 1 draft pick got rave reviews after his first practice of training camp on Friday, but he knows that the tempo and climate of practice will take some getting used to.

"It's hot," he said of the 90 degree temperature mixed with stifling humidity. "But it's probably not as hot as it's going to be. Just being out here and getting a taste of it and just trying to get your body back in football shape is pretty tough."

Williams, a defensive end who starred at N.C. State, said college two-a-days don't even compare to the difficulty of Friday's session.

"The tempo is very high and the coaches keep it high," he said. "If it's down they get on us constantly. In college it wasn't that hard. This is a different level with the tempo and the enthusiasm and intensity."

Williams fit in well with his teammates and didn't seem to be the victim of much rookie hazing. Veteran Robaire Smith handed him his shoulder pads to lug back to the locker room after practice, but a Texans staff member carried them away as Williams met with reporters.

New Texans coach Gary Kubiak was impressed with Williams on Friday and loves his attitude. Williams made his way into the backfield a couple of times in the short time the team ran full-squad drills.

"I know one thing, if you run that ball his way there's a lot of havoc going on over there -- there's a lot of guys going backward," Kubiak said. "And that's what he's here for. He's a tremendous young talent, and it's going to be about consistency with him as a pro."

Williams is aware of the expectations that will follow him because he was chosen first in the draft, but isn't too concerned about that. For now he's just worried about how to compete against his teammates in practice.

"This is different. You're playing against people who have been in the league for 10 years," he said. "They know little stuff so they don't even have to really exert themselves to their full potential, but their technique is so good you've got to really be on your 'Ps' and 'Qs' out here."

Williams missed the last few offseason practices after having the toenails on both of his big toes removed in early June when they were stepped on and became infected. He didn't appear to have any lingering problems from the procedure Friday.

"They're fine for now. I just don't want anyone to step on them," he said with a laugh.

Houston continues camp on Saturday with two practices.

The Texans traded a conditional seventh-round pick in 2007 for San Francisco 49ers backup QB Cody Pickett. Pickett, a seventh-round pick in 2004, will likely be the third-string quarterback in Houston. Kubiak said Pickett first caught his eye last season and that the Texans have been trying to get him for some time but that the 49ers finally agreed to the deal Thursday. "We got a very good athlete, a very tough young man," Kubiak said. "That gives us somebody with a little bit of experience." Houston released QB Matt Baker to make room for Pickett on the roster. ... WR Eric Moulds left about halfway through Friday's practice because of trouble with the heat. Kubiak said he was OK and that he probably just overexerted himself. ... Texans offensive line coach John Benton missed Friday's morning practice to be with his wife, who went into labor. ... Houston placed LB Kailee Wong and KR Jerome Mathis on the physically unable to perform list on Friday. Wong is recovering from knee surgery and Mathis is out with a fracture in his foot.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press