Kubiak has tough decisions after preseason finale

Houston coach Gary Kubiak worried that he’d be cut before the

1983 regular season, when he was a rookie quarterback for the

Denver Broncos.

The eighth-round draft pick remembers throwing two passes in the

preseason – one of them intercepted – and dreading the day when the

team had to trim its roster. At the time a player is about to be

cut, a team assistant will usually summon him to meet with the

coach and general manager.

”He sat in the lunchroom, and when you came by, he would say,

‘Take your playbook up to the office,”’ Kubiak recalls. ”He was

sitting there, and I walked by and he didn’t say anything, so I

kept eating and kept going to meetings. I was lucky. I got a chance

to play. The game’s about opportunities, and I got fortunate with

an opportunity.”

Now Kubiak has the final say on who stays and goes, and he’s got

several tough decisions to make by Saturday, when teams must reduce

their rosters to 53 players.

The Texans wrap up their preseason against Tampa Bay on Thursday

night.

Kubiak says his hardest decision will be choosing between

kickers Kris Brown and Neil Rackers. Brown is the last original

Texan, but struggled last season, prompting Houston to bring in the

free agent Rackers to challenge for the job.

Neither has missed a field-goal try in the preseason, so the

final call may come down to Kubiak’s gut.

”I make it because I have to make it,” Kubiak said. ”I’ll

weigh every factor. I’m no kicking guru, but I’ve been watching the

kickers and what they do, I’m watching every kickoff in practice.

We’re trying to think of what fits best with our team, and that’s

who we’re going to go with.

”It’s no fun making that decision,” he said, ”but I’ve got to

make it.”

Brown acknowledged early in training camp that he initially

resented Rackers. But the two have become close friends, and Brown

said their competition has made a positive impact on both

players.

”I’ve enjoyed this experience more so than any camp that I was

a part of throughout my career,” Brown said. ”I’ve learned a lot

about myself as a player and a person. It’s been fun coming to work

every day.”

Kubiak will also closely watch running backs Chris Henry and

Jeremiah Johnson in Thursday’s game. The two are jockeying for

position on the depth chart after rookie Ben Tate was lost for the

season with a broken ankle.

Kubiak said Henry and Johnson both need to play well Thursday

night to ensure spots on the final roster. Henry, a second-round

draft pick by Tennessee in 2007, signed with the Texans in the

middle of last season. Johnson, an undrafted free agent, sat out

last season with a shoulder injury.

The Texans’ starting offensive line is set, except at right

guard, where Mike Brisiel and Antoine Caldwell will finish their

fight for the job in Thursday’s game. Brisiel missed most of last

season with a foot injury, and Caldwell played in 10 games with

three starts as a rookie in 2009.

”I see it as good competition,” Caldwell said. ”When we came

into this preseason, I knew what it was going to be. We were going

to be battling for a job. We have one more game left and it’s been

good so far. We’re just looking forward to it.”

Kubiak said he’ll rest most of his starters Thursday night. He

said tight end Owen Daniels, just back practicing after a long

recovery from knee surgery, will definitely not play against Tampa

Bay.

Backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky will take most of the snaps,

Kubiak said, and former Southern Cal star John David Booty will

likely see action.

Kubiak said he’ll make the final cuts on Friday morning.

”It’s a miserable day,” Kubiak said. ”You watched guys work

their tails for you, and then you’ve got to tell them, ‘No.’ It’s

part of the game, you just try to treat them with respect and try

to help them in any way you can, ’cause there’s a good chance you

may see some of them again the next year. They could be right back

in your camp, or you could be calling them again. It’s part of the

business.”