HOUSTON (AP) -David Anderson strutted, swung his arms and high-fived every teammate in sight after catching a touchdown pass in the Houston Texans' preseason opener.
Sure, the game didn't count. But Anderson doesn't know when he'll get the chance to celebrate like that again.
The 5-foot-10, 194-pound receiver is fifth on the Texans' depth chart, behind All-Pro Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, Andre Davis and Jacoby Jones.
Anderson has stayed on coach Gary Kubiak's radar mostly with pure effort and Kubiak admits that with every practice, Anderson makes a stronger case for more playing time.
``He's become a fine player,'' Kubiak said. ``He's just smart, he understands the game, and has got a lot of confidence. He's an undersized guy so he works well in the slot. Our players just believe in him. He's tough as hell and that helps.
``I don't know how we can keep him off the field right now to be honest with you.''
The Texans drafted Anderson out of Colorado State in the seventh round in 2006. He spent the first part of that season on the practice squad, but ended up playing in nine games. He made his first NFL catch and only reception of the season against New England on Dec. 17.
Anderson was left off the final roster before last season, but was recalled three weeks later, after Johnson injured his knee. Anderson caught 12 passes in seven games, including a touchdown. When Johnson came back, Anderson was deactivated for the last five games.
The 25-year-old Anderson spent the offseason studying the Texans' offense and working on his techniques. As a result, he arrived at training camp more optimistic that he would make the final cut this time.
``I had a better grasp of the offense. I had a better grasp of what I could do better,'' he said. ``It was just a matter of coming out, letting it happen, letting loose on the field.
``If you play scared or uncomfortable, you kind of get exposed in the NFL,'' he said. ``If you're on top of everything you do and play your best, a lot of times you shine.''
Anderson caught six passes for 67 yards, including the touchdown, in Houston's preseason opener, a 19-16 win over Denver on Aug. 9. He had three more catches for 61 yards in Saturday's 31-27 win in New Orleans.
Anderson hopes he's already done enough to make the team, but he sets out to prove something to Kubiak every day anyway.
``You've got to make sure you don't mess up any routes,'' he said. ``You've got to make plays when the ball is thrown in your direction and that you know all your assignments in the running game.
``Some receivers are talented enough, that they get away with barely having to block. The rest of us have to make sure we're on top of all our assignments.''
Starting quarterback Matt Schaub said Anderson has worked to become one of his most reliable receivers.
``He understands his routes, understands what his strengths are,'' Schaub said. ``When you have a guy who you always know where he's going to be and always know he's going to be in the right spot it allows you to just let the ball go and trust what he's going to do. And he always catches it, he rarely has a drop.''
Anderson has no lofty statistical goals in mind for the season. He just wants to make the roster and is motivated every day by last year's snub.
``I'm 0-for-2,'' he said. ``I guess that's the first step, making that opening-day roster, the first and foremost goal. Then, I'm just going from there.''
Kubiak said he'll use Anderson in three-receiver sets and also watch him return punts before the end of training camp.
``He's played extremely well,'' Kubiak said. ``It's easy to sit there and say, 'Well, where does he fit in if Andre's back healthy, you've got Andre Davis and Kevin (Walter). Where's David fit in?'
``It's our job as coaches to have him in position to help us win.''

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