Throughout the season, guards Brandon Brooks and Ben Jones met with the rest of the Texans' rookies each Monday at 9 a.m. as part of the team's 2012 Rookie Success Program. Speakers were brought in to share horror stories and prepare them for life off the field.

But there was no such meeting this week.

Instead, Brooks and Jones were cleaning out their lockers. No longer rookies, they hope to return next year stronger and wiser — on and off the field.

More importantly, they want to apply the lessons they learned as rookies to help the Texans next season.

"We came in together, and we've been friends since the first day we got here," said Jones, a fourth round-pick out of Georgia. "I think it's just one of the bonds you have as an offensive lineman. You're out there working hard every day, and we ended up competing for the same position.

"I think that made us closer. We didn't have anything against each other. We were just out there trying to get a win for the team."

Thrown into the fire

The Texans picked Brooks in the third round out of Miami (Ohio). The 6-3, 303-pound Jones, 23, played in every game. He started 10 times in the regular season and in both playoff games.

The 6-5, 340-pound Brooks, 23, didn't see any action until he came off the bench in the final six games of the season and in both playoff games. They readily admit to learning from the veterans on the left side of the offensive line. Combined with second-year right tackle Derek Newton, there was plenty of inexperience this season on the right side of the offensive line.

"With first-time starters on the right side coming into the year, you didn't know how it was going to be," center Chris Myers said. "There was uncertainty. But they played well for first-year guys coming in there. … There's tremendous upside for the future."