HOUSTON -- Quarterback Drew Brees, who left training camp Sunday to attend his mother's funeral, missed both of the New Orleans Saints' practices against the Houston Texans on Wednesday.

Veteran Mark Brunell filled in for Brees in both of the 90-minute practices. Saints coach Sean Payton had expected Brees to attend the afternoon practice but said afterward that the quarterback was still traveling.

Drew Brees , QB
New Orleans Saints

2008 Statistics
Passing Yards: 5,069
TD/INT: 34/17
Passer Rating: 96.2

"He should be getting in in the next couple of hours," Payton said. "So he'll be here for (Thursday's) work.

Mina Brees, an attorney in Austin, died Aug. 7 in Colorado. Her memorial service was Monday night in Austin. Brees practiced Sunday morning, and Payton said he still expects the quarterback to start in Saturday night's preseason game against the Texans.

Players and coaches on both sides agreed that the joint practices, which conclude Thursday morning, are helpful for their teams.

"The main thing was we were getting a different look," Payton said. "Change is always good."

Payton was happy with his team's performance in the first practice, but Texans coach Gary Kubiak wasn't as impressed with his.

"I thought we were a bit sluggish," Kubiak said. "We need to pick up the tempo, but it's good to work against somebody else."

Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson believed the offense looked good, but he noted that it's difficult to judge because the team wasn't doing too much.

"It's always a work in progress," he said. "When you're practicing against a team for a few days, you don't want to show the players what you're going to run in a game. So you just kind of do some things over and over."

The practice was open to the public, and hundreds of Texans fans surrounded the practice fields in the morning practice, cheering big catches and long runs. Several Reggie Bush jerseys dotted the group.

Bush, who many hoped would be drafted by the Texans before they chose defensive end Mario Williams first in 2006, didn't shy away from talk of that draft. Bush was drafted second and immediately embraced by fans in New Orleans, but Williams was booed on draft day and dealt with near constant criticism as a rookie.

"I think it makes for a better story," Bush said of their link. "I think it's great, two young guys early in their career who are striving to be the best at their position. We'll see who wins. May the best man win."

Bush missed six games last season with injuries and finished with 404 rushing yards, while Williams had 12 sacks and forced four fumbles to make his first Pro Bowl.

The running back said it was a good change of pace to practice against someone other than teammates.

"Any time you have an opportunity to come out here and practice against another team, I think it's only going to help you get better," Bush said. "So I don't think we should shy away from work, and I don't think anyone on our team does. I think everybody embraces it and welcomes it, and we just use it to our advantage."

Saints rookie cornerback Malcolm Jenkins was the star of the afternoon practice, grabbing an interception on a pass by Texans quarterback Matt Schaub and running it back. Jenkins, drafted 14th overall, is still trying to catch up after missing the first 10 days of camp in a contract holdout.

"I want to come out and take every (repetition) and prove something to myself and to the coaches and just take advantage of every opportunity," he said.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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