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Texans' Brown signs, takes part in first day of camp

HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans signed first-round draft pick Duane Brown, an offensive lineman from Virginia Tech who is expected to start this season.

Brown took the practice field nearly an hour after the rest of the team on the first day of camp. The left tackle was selected 26th overall in the April draft, the eighth offensive lineman chosen.

The deal was agreed on about 6 a.m. after a night of negotiating, general manager Rick Smith said. Brown couldn't take the field until the contract was signed so he waited in Smith's office for a couple of hours before joining the team at the first practice.

The team wouldn't release terms of the deal.

Brown warmed up for a few minutes on a separate field before joining the team for drills. He was glad he didn't miss much practice time.

"Every day is a learning experience for me and I feel like I need every day so I can get to prepare for the season," he said. "So being able to come out here and get some work done on the first day helped me out."

Smith said it was a relief to get Brown signed in time for the first practice.

"It's just a constant attempt to find common ground and that's what you do and that's what we did all night last night and this morning and thankfully we were able to come to an agreement," Smith said.

The Texans pride themselves on getting players to camp on time. Travis Johnson, their top pick in 2005, is the only player in team history to have missed time because of contract negotiations. But even he missed just one day before signing his contract.

"I don't know how other people look at it, but from our standpoint we just think it's critical that players get here on time," Texans owner Bob McNair said. "Because sometimes they get started off on the wrong foot and they never recover. They never become the player that they could have been because they missed out on training camp."

Brown practiced with the first team during offseason practices, taking the job of former starter and 11-year veteran Ephraim Salaam. Coach Gary Kubiak believes Salaam will push Brown to improve.

"Ephraim Salaam and Chester Pitts have helped me and I really appreciate those guys a lot," Brown said. "You know they don't have to do that but they felt obligated to help me. They reached out. They heard I was coming in and I guess they can relate and they took time out to help me out."

Notes: RB Chris Brown missed camp because of what Kubiak said was a "family situation," but is expected to practice Saturday.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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