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
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
"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
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
"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.