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Texans cancel practice, prepare for hurricane

HOUSTON (Sept. 21, 2005) -- The Houston Texans canceled their Sept. 22 practice and asked all players to leave town immediately as Hurricane Rita barreled toward the Texas coast with 165-mph winds.

Coach Dom Capers said the team, which has a bye this week, was looking at alternatives that include practicing next week in Cincinnati before the Texans' game on Oct. 2 against the Bengals.

Between 2 a.m. and 4 p.m., the hurricane went from a 115-mph Category 2 to a 165-mph Category 5. The storm is expected to reach the Gulf Coast early Sept. 24.

Texans players were planning to secure their homes and then scatter, from California to Florida.

Andre Johnson has dealt with a hurricane before. In 1992, he watched Hurricane Andrew plow by from his grandmother's screened-in porch.

"It was crazy to see things flying around like that," he said. "I'm not doing that again. I'm getting out this time."

At the Texans' practice facility, workers took down the goal posts on the practice field and moved all other items indoors.

Team officials walked through the locker room yelling at players to "pack your bag like you're going to a game."

Texans offensive lineman Steve McKinney said he was going to board up his home and ride out the storm in the small town of Centerville, two hours north of Houston.

"If not for Katrina, people wouldn't be as panicked as they are about Rita," he said. "But I've never been through a full-blown hurricane, so I don't know and I'm not going to experience this one, either."

Currently, the Texans are scheduled to return to Houston for a morning meeting Sept. 26, but Capers said that could change depending on damage from the storm.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2005, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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