Sanders, Reed and Houston's young DBs

A few minutes after practice ended, a mostly silent huddle of Houston Texans defensive backs collected at one end of the practice field.

They made a half circle around two of the best defensive backs to play the game: Deion Sanders and Ed Reed. Some of the young Texans watched wide-eyed as the Sanders gave them advice.

Undrafted rookie A.J. Bouye, a standout player in camp so far, stepped forward.

"Let's say you go for a deep ball," Bouye said. "How do you play it?"

"That ball's meant for me," Sanders replied. "You're trying to break it up, I'm trying to get it, because it was really meant for me."

Sanders stressed communication while they're on the field, and told them to work together. He talked about hand placement on receivers. He said conditioning was key, especially when you're expected to play man coverage.

"I'm always taking information in, whenever I can get information," Texans starting corner Johnathan Joseph said. "Obviously coming from a guy like that, he's done it all, Hall of Fame guy, you never can have enough information. It's good for him to come out and take time out today to talk to us."

Sanders also encouraged them to listen to Reed. Unnecessary advice, given that most of the Texans' secondary takes that same reverent tone when speaking about their teammate. Though Reed remains on the physically unable to perform list as he recovers from hip surgery performed in late April, he's made a non-tangible impact for the Texans, helping players and coaches alike see things they might not have otherwise.

When I asked Reed last week what it's like to be idolized by so many of his teammates, he took off his hat to show his gray hairs and made a joke about being old (he turns 35 in September).

Then Reed grew sincere.

"It’s definitely humbling because you got to stay on your p's and q's to make sure you are doing what you need to do to show those guys the way and how to be professionals," he said. "You’re still human at the end of the day and you still make mistakes. That’s something you want to make sure that they know too, that you’re not perfect. You’re just like any person and you’re going to make mistakes as you grow, but just keep living."