HOUSTON – Houston coach Gary Kubiak got his toughest cut out of the way first.
The Texans released kicker Kris Brown, the only player remaining from the inaugural 2002 season. Brown lost a competition in training camp to Neil Rackers, a free agent who was signed in the offseason.
Kubiak said Brown was the first player he met with on Friday, a sign of respect for the only player who's 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 goals. Rackers spent the previous seven seasons in Arizona. 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 in the preseason until Brown came up short on a 56-yarder in Thursday's 24-17 loss to Tampa Bay. 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."
Cornerback Jacques Reeves was also 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 on 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 Southern Cal quarterback John David Booty would not make the final 53, but might be placed on Houston's practice squad. Booty threw for 209 yards and two touchdown passes against Tampa Bay.
The Texans worked out running backs Derrick Ward and Justin Fargas on Friday as they look to replenish depth at the position. Arian Foster has earned the starting role, but Steve Slaton and Jeremiah Johnson have sustained recent toe injuries.
"Obviously, we've got a running back issue on our football team right now, so we'll be talking to a bunch of people," Kubiak said. "We'll be looking at the waiver wire very, very closely. We've got some issues to try and get cleaned up."
At least the toughest one is out of the way. Brown's agent, Glenn Schwartzman, said he's confident Brown 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 missing 11 kicks last year. He was also 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."
The decision to cut Brown was first reported by KRIV-TV and the Houston Chronicle.