Texans release veteran Brown, make Rackers their kicker

HOUSTON -- Texans coach Gary Kubiak got his toughest cut out of the way first.

The team released kicker Kris Brown, the only player remaining from the inaugural 2002 season. Brown lost a training-camp competition with Neil Rackers, a free agent who signed with Houston during the offseason.

Kubiak said Brown was the first player he met with Friday, a sign of respect for the only player who has appeared in all 128 games in Texans history.

"It was miserable, I don't know how to put it any differently," said Kubiak, who's entering his fifth season. "Kris and I had a lot of conversations throughout my time here. We've had some great conversations, we've had some tough conversations on Sunday nights. But I respect him as a man. He's a great person. I respect his career, and I know he's going to have a good one."

Brown followed up his best season as a pro in 2008 with his worst last season, when he made just 21 of 32 field-goal attempts.

Rackers spent the previous seven seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. He made the Pro Bowl in 2005 after setting an NFL record for field goals in a season (40).

Kubiak said Rackers won the job more because of his deeper kickoffs than his field-goal accuracy. Neither kicker missed an attempt during the preseason until Brown came up short on a 56-yarder during Thursday night's 24-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rackers hit a 21-yarder later in the game.

"It was a tough, tough call," Kubiak said. "I have a lot of respect for Kris and what he's done here. But we made a decision to go in another direction, and we've got a lot of confidence in Neil."

Veteran cornerback Jacques Reeves also was cut after he was outplayed by younger, less-experienced players at training camp.

Kubiak was secretive about other players released Friday. He said the Texans are still mulling some decisions and would put out the full list of cuts Saturday, the deadline for teams to trim their rosters to 53 players.

Kubiak said he's sticking with Dan Orlovsky as the backup quarterback, despite his uneven performance in Thursday's preseason finale. Orlovsky completed his first eight passes before throwing two interceptions in the first half.

"I can't dismiss the great camp he's had," Kubiak said. "I'm not going to throw that away because he made two poor decisions. Now, do I like those decisions? Can we win with those decisions? No. But I can't but help but think of the good things he's done this camp, the progress he's made."

Kubiak said former USC quarterback John David Booty wouldn't make the final 53, but he might be placed on Houston's practice squad. Booty threw for 209 yards and two touchdown passes against Tampa Bay.

At least the Texans' toughest cut is out of the way. Brown's agent, Glenn Schwartzman, said he's confident his client will play somewhere this season.

"We're kind of going to just digest what just happened," Schwartzman said. "The first situation that makes sense to us, we'll definitely strongly consider that. But we're not in a rush to just take something, just to take something. We want to make sure it's a place where he and his family can be for a while."

Brown was 29 of 33 on field-goal attempts in 2008, the highest percentage of his 11-year career, before he missed 11 kicks last season. He also was active in Houston charities.

"It's been a great ride for him," Schwartzman said. "He loves the Texans' organization and the city. He did everything he could to put himself in a position to stay with the team. He had one of the best camps he's ever had. He competed really hard, but the team made the decision it made, and he's got to respect that and get ready for his next opportunity."

KRIV-TV and The Houston Chronicle first reported the Texans' decision to cut Brown.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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