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Quotes: Training Camp Day 1

Posted Jul 26, 2013

Members of the Houston Texans spoke to the media following Day 1 of Texans Training Camp.

Members of the Houston Texans spoke to the media following Day 1 of Texans Training Camp.

Head Coach Gary Kubiak
ILB Brian Cushing
TE Owen Daniels
WR DeAndre Hopkins
WR Andre Johnson
SS Danieal Manning
S D.J. Swearinger

Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on how the first practice of training camp went) “Yeah, I thought it was good. I liked the conditioning. I like the way we came back, good sense of urgency. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of, well, for a first day out, we’ve got quite a few guys that are limited or have something going on. We’ve got to bring them along the right way, but I like the conditioning of the team, good start.”

(on the enthusiasm of the first practice) “Yeah, there really is. You’ve got to be real careful the first morning because there’s so much enthusiasm. They’re so gunned up. You have a tendency for guys to really gas themselves. (We) just try to get them into their routine. I like the personality of our group. We’ve got a few different faces that are going to be leaders on this team. We’ve got some young kids I think will really help this team, so it’ll be fun to watch it come together.”

(on having ILB Brian Cushing back and not overexerting him early) “Yeah, no doubt. Obviously, there’s a plan in place. I think he worked about 25 minutes today. We’ll keep heading that way. We’ll do the right thing. We’re trying to work him toward, obviously, thinking about grass in the preseason. So that starts to talk about preseason two or three, one of those, but we’ll stick with our plan.”

(on RB Arian Foster’s situation) “He’s doing really good. A little bit of a surprise to me because I thought he’d be ready to go, but Kap (Head Athletic Trainer Geoff Kaplan) and they just think he needs a few days with them to work into the routine. But he’s had a good summer; he’s been here every day. I expect him back pretty quickly.”

(on ILB Darryl Sharpton’s injury status) “Sharp’s a little bit of a surprise to us. (He) came back with a sore groin, so we didn’t really know where we were because obviously we haven’t seen him in a little while. (He) probably had as good of an offseason as anyone on our team, so it was a surprise and we’ll watch him here for a couple days and see where he’s at.”

(on OLB Sam Montgomery and making him active) “We didn’t like the condition he came back in, but he made up a lot of ground the last few days. He was ready to go back out (and) tweaked his ankle a little bit today, so Sam’s just got to stay in one piece, figure out what we’re doing and I think (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) and (LBs Coach) Reggie (Herring) will do a great job with him. We’ve just got to keep him healthy.”

(on TE Garrett Graham not practicing) “(He’s) sick. Actually, we didn’t even let him report yesterday. Very sick with some type of virus. Spent the day in the hospital yesterday. He is back home. Probably will not see him until Sunday. We’ll try to keep him away from everybody else.”

(on other players who weren’t initially active on the roster) “Let’s see. You’ll just have to start asking me. Other than that, we’re just trying to work some guys like (T Derek) Newton in slowly, (T Brennan) Williams in slowly, but they did practice today. We’ve got guys we have to keep off the turf. A few guys will probably see that as we go, but we’ve got a plan for all of them. Talked about all of them, but good to get started.”

(on if he’s changed the conditioning test) “No, I don’t have one. I’ve never had one. I just think that if you have a great offseason program, which I think we do and you let them know you trust them, I think their condition test is practice this morning (and) that they show up. Guys see that they haven’t been doing anything, I mean, they’ll find out real quick. I think we passed the test. Our guys have been good.”

(on if he was impressed with the catches the young receivers were making today) “Yeah, but I’ll tell you what, like (WR) Keshawn (Martin) did that all through the OTAs, did some good stuff. (WR) Jeff Maehl had a really good offseason. It’s a young group. It’s committed to youth. We need them to step up as quickly as they can.”

(on having LB Brian Cushing back) “It’s just good to have him back. He’s always been the emotional leader of this football team. He’s chomping at the bit to go for two hours, but we’re going to work him in the right way and make sure he’s ready to go.

(on how he would characterize the right tackle battle) “We’re very talented there, but we’ve got a lot of work to do because we missed a great deal of time. We’ve got to have some patience here as we get them both (T Derek Newton and T Brennan Williams) to full speed. We have a young player in (T David) Quessenberry who we think can go out and compete, but we don’t want to run him all over the place right now, so we’re starting him inside and we’ll see what happens. But we’ve got to get them both to where they’re 100 percent, competing every day and then see what happens.”

(on T Ryan Harris) “If we started today, Ryan would start at right tackle because Newton is not totally back and Williams is not totally back. So Ryan’s the guinea pig so to speak, he plays all over the place right now, but he’s had a good offseason and he’s 100 percent.”

(on FS Ed Reed’s status) “I’m impressed with where he’s at. He’s come a long way, watching him work with the guys today. They’ve got him on a program. We’ll work him out early in the mornings when the team’s doing individual stuff and try to have him available when we’re doing team, so he’s learning our system and those type of things. He knows what he has to do to get ready, but I’m impressed with how far he’s come.”

(on what he thinks about the new field in the Methodist Training Center) “I like it. It’s dark in here though isn’t it? We’ve got to figure out, bring a flashlight in here or something. No, I like it. I think our guys have more confidence in it right now with this new stuff. If we do have to come in here, I think they’re a little more confident with what we’re working on.”

(on if he’s more confident in the playing surface inside the Methodist Training Center) “It doesn’t matter what I (think). I’m not the one running on it. I think it’s nice/ it’s something that we play on every week and obviously the old one that we had was starting to wear out a little bit. I think it’s a good thing to have if we need it.”

(on WR Andre Johnson helping the younger receivers and also asking them to tell him if he’s doing something wrong and if that is part of what makes Johnson a good pro) “No doubt. Usually, you get guys at that age, they’re kind of set in their ways and stuff and this guy’s eager. I’ve told him before, ‘You don’t have to go to this meeting or that meeting,’ but he’s still there. He wants to learn and that’s why he’s going to play a long time. That’s why he keeps being successful.”

(on the decision to move OLB Brooks Reed back outside after he practice inside during OTAs) “First off, we thought if he’s going to get reps inside, let’s do it in the offseason. The second thing, I think, one of the biggest things is Sharp (ILB Darryl Sharpton) had such a great OTAs or spring, that it was easy for Brooks to go back. As you can see, you never know how that can change again, but, we know one thing, he’s going to be somewhere and he can play both spots.”

(on if he’s concerned about depth at inside linebacker with ILB Darryl Sharpton not practicing now) “I think the concern would be, we’ve got to bring Cush (ILB Brian Cushing) along the right way, so Cush’s pattern is not going to change. How much time is Sharp going to miss? All of a sudden, yeah, it could be a concern, but, as of today, we’re fine. We’ve got to work through it, but if it gets going for a while, it could be. Yes, it could.”

ILB Brian Cushing
(on what it’s like to be back practicing with the team) “It’s great. It’s been a long time but it just feels right. It feels right to be back.”

(on if being back on the football field is like riding a bicycle) “A little easier than that. It’s something I’ve done my entire life and like I said, it’s just feels right. There’s a certain feel about it and it’s great to be back.”

(on if he will be able to do anything he wants to once there is hitting or full pads involved) “Yeah. There will really be no restrictions. I’m going to ease myself back into it and we’ve got a pretty good plan about how to go about this and to be smart. It’s a long camp and the most important thing is really just to be 100 percent when we come out of it.”

(on if he was nervous or anxious this morning) “No, not really because anything I’ve done rehab-wise is a lot harder than practice. It’s been a grind. It’s been a really tough couple months. When you trust in your preparation so much, you come out here and this is almost easy. But at the same time, it’s an unbelievable feeling being back and this just feels great.”

(on if he has any reservations about going all-out because he doesn’t want to get hurt again) “No. Like I said, I trust my preparation and I’m very confident in my knee right now. I’m probably more confident in that knee than my other one right now just because of the amount of work I’ve put into it, the hours and the workload that’s just gone into preparing myself to come back out here. I’m full-go. There’s nothing holding me back mentally and when it’s time to go, I’ll be going.”

(on if he’s thinking about that first hit even though it may be a ways away) “A little bit. I try not to think too much about it because it’s just one hit. There will be a lot more after that. So it’s going to progress pretty quickly and it’s going to be one thing after another. The next thing you know, I’ll be playing a full game and be right back into it. It kind of feels like I just never missed a step.”

(on the excitement of finally being able to practice with the team) “That’s the thing, just being out here with the rest of the guys. I’ve been out here doing these kinds of drills for a while now, so it’s nothing different as far as what I’m doing physically. It’s just the fact that I’m out here with other teammates, which is pretty exciting, just to show where I am and show the work that I’ve put in this offseason.”

(on the goals for himself for this season) “Just if anything, it’s going to be short-term. I always try to keep things short-term because that’s all I can control right now. Just have the best practice I can tomorrow and that’s where I stand mentally right now.”

(on if he’s talked about participating in preseason games) “We’ve got a plan and a lot of it is based on how I feel. This is day one and I’ll go back in and we’ll talk about everything and how things are going and how I feel and kind of just play it by ear like that.”

(on if he saw a decline in the defense when he went out, like other people have said) “I don’t know. I definitely think I can help the defense and I want to be back. I think I add a lot to this team, personally. But, I’m not sure if it’s a direct correlation or what not, but all I know is I think we’ll be a better team when I’m back. That’s just the kind of confidence I have and I think that I can bring a lot to this team.”

(on the opportunity to coach up the rookie linebackers) “Now it’s my fifth year and I’ve been through a good amount of football and I’ve seen a lot of things in the NFL, even off the field there’s a lot of things I can help them with. As a rookie, you really don’t know much. You think you know everything but it’s a crazy process, it’s a crazy business. There are a lot of things you never would expect and they happen. There’s more to football that I can help these guys with and I’m more than willing to do.”

(on his status) “I feel great.”

(on what he can and can’t do) “Right now I’m doing individual. I’m taking it slow and doing individual and being smart. I’m just judging how I feel and everything. We’ve got a plan how to progress myself and to come along. There’s no rush right now. The biggest thing is that I feel great and I’m able to do everything, as far as cutting, running, jumping, planting, everything. That’s exactly what we want right now and it’s going as planned.”

(on what the plan is to have him back full-bore) “I’m not sure. I think we’re kind of going day-by-day with this and keeping things just short-term. That’s all we can control right now. It’s a serious injury to come back from but at the same time, you put in the right work, you can be better than ever. So that’s the goal. In order to reach that, we have to be smart about this.”

(on how tough it was to suffer a major injury after starting the 2012 season 5-0) “It was extremely frustrating. We were rolling as a team. We were doing great, 5-0. I just remember that plane ride back how frustrated I was. Just thinking, ‘I’m not going to play football for the rest of this year.’ It was a feeling I never had before. I never had a season-ending injury before. I never missed more than a game. To be really significantly hurt like that was a feeling that was kind of uncommon for me. But at the same time, I knew I’d be back eventually. I just worked to that day, to come back and eventually run out of the tunnel again and just be back with my teammates. It was all pointing toward coming back.”

(on if there was anything that helped him get through that time) “Yeah. Just being with my wife, my family, my son. I got a lot more to prove now. I’ve got a little boy that’s never seen me play football before. So obviously, I want to play for a lot of years and show him who his dad is. So there’s a lot of little motivating factors, obviously, and just come back, like I said, to run out of that tunnel again will be an unbelievable feeling.”

(on his son’s name) “Cayden.”

(on his son’s age) “Nine months. He was (born) a week after I tore my ACL.”

(on if there was a picture of his son in his head as he was rehabbing) “Oh yeah. Of course. Every single day. I think once you become a father it changes your mindset on a lot of different things. Pretty much everything you do is for him. It’s a pretty cool motivating factor.”

(on him being at the center of rule changes protecting defensive players) “I’m glad that the rule got changed. Obviously, I think it’s something that can be prevented and it will be in the future. So I think if it prevents injuries and saves guys and takes away a lot of injuries, I’m all for it.”

(on if his contractual situation is on his mind) “No because I know if I play football and come back and do what I do, it will take care of itself. That’s my agent’s job to get it done and that’s just the bottom line. I’ve got to take care of what I can do and that’s play football.”

(on if it matters to him about talking contracts during the season) “I don’t know. I won’t be discussing it anyway. Trust me, it won’t be me. Like I said, the biggest thing is just to be healthy, take care of football and believe it’ll take care of the rest.”

(on how much he is looking forward to playing with FS Ed Reed) “A lot. I think he’s an unbelievable football player. He’ll obviously be a Hall of Famer. He’s a guy I looked up to in this league for a while and watched through high school and college and now the chance that I have to play with him is just awesome. To have the ability to turn around and have Ed Reed playing behind you is something you can’t do every day but now I can. To have that opportunity is a blessing.”

(on if he’ll have to learn to block better for Ed Reed’s interception returns) “Watching him over the years, he might be the best that’s ever done it. The guy’s like a running back once he gets the ball. It’s going to be exciting. It adds another dimension to our defense and you’ve always got to stay on your toes for opportunities like that with him.”

(on what he thinks about the attention DE J.J. Watt has gotten) “I think it’s deserving so. He’s a tremendous football player and I think the most important thing is how young he is. I think a lot of people forget that because he was in his second year and the things that he’s done already. His opportunities are endless. I think he can be an extremely good football player. He’s on that path. He’s just got to keep working and he will.”

(on if his rehab was worse than he expected since he had no other reference point to coming back from major injuries) “It was tough. It was not fun. It’s just a very redundant process and there are a lot of the same exercises over and over and you have to work six days a week. It’s a pain but it’s something that’s extremely necessary if you want to come back and you want to be better than ever, you’ve got to put in the work.”

(on if his knee feels completely normal when he’s walking around) “Oh yeah. There’s nothing. No hitch or limp or any soreness. It’s gone a lot better than I ever imagined.”

(on if he’s been told that his football skills will come back as they were before his injury) “Yeah. If you put in the work and you get the rehab done, then yeah. I think it all depends on how you attack rehab and the process and what kind of player you want to be when you come back. I think you determine that all.”

(on if he has had any communication with the player that injured him) “No.”

(on how hard it was for him to watch the rest of last season from the sidelines) “It was really tough. It was something I obviously wish I could have been a part of and wish I could have contributed more. It was a pretty helpless feeling. Now I’m back. I’m just looking forward to the future and that’s the most important thing.”

(on how important it is to solidify who is next to him at inside linebacker) “It’s kind of been a rotating door for a couple years now, so I don’t think it’s really that important. I know whoever steps up next to me is going to do a great job and is going to be a good player whether it’s (Darryl) Sharpton or (Tim) Dobbins. Those are two very good football players and I know they’ll get the job done.”

(on if he’ll be back ready to go the first game of the season) “Yeah.”

(on if he’ll be back to normal) “Probably better.”

TE Owen Daniels
(on how the first day went) “It was good to be back out here. There is a little bit of rust to knock off and just get back in a rhythm and stuff, but it felt pretty good.”

(on being a longtime veteran) “I’m getting older and I feel it, but it’s exciting. It’s different every year. I’m getting the chance now to bring some young guys along. (TE) Garrett (Graham) and I are the only guys who have experience at the position at this point. We’ve got three young guys that are very capable and I’m going to try to teach them as much as I can and bring them along so they can help us out this year.”

(on having more weapons on the offense this year) “Definitely. It is always good to have a lot of options.”

WR DeAndre Hopkins
(on today’s practice) “It was a good day for me. I feel I came out and I knew my assignments pretty well. I feel like, the team and as a wide receiver corps, we had a good practice.”

(on if he was nervous at all playing with the first team) “No, not at all. I love the pressure. I don’t really look at it as pressure. I look at it as coming out and helping this team out and whether they need help out. I’ve been in my playbook, so I feel pretty comfortable coming out here and running with the first group.”

(on his response to grasping the playbook) “That was a key thing that I felt like I needed to focus on is getting in my playbook and I feel like I did a great job with that during the offseason.”

(on being involved with the community) “They’ve told me a lot. They don’t really have to tell you because you see it. You see guys like (DE) J.J. Watt and (WR) Andre (Johnson) and (RB) Arian (Foster) doing stuff in the community so it kind of spreads throughout. They lead by example.”

(on following suit in the community involvement) “Of course, yes.”

(on training camp practice) “Seeing the fans at practice. I feel like I did pretty good and seeing how excited everybody is about the Texans. It was a great day at practice. I feel like I did pretty good.”

(on having jitters  last night) “No not at all, I feel pretty confident coming out here and running with the guys.”

(on the amplification of speed in training camp) “Yeah, I felt that when I first came here. Just the atmosphere and the intensity of everybody plays with. “

(on hitting the stride of the work he put in at OTAs and minicamp) “I’m not close to where I want to be, but I feel like I’m on the way.”

(on the progress of him understanding of the playbook) “Pretty good. I still have a lot of stuff I need to master, but I’m a rookie so I’ll get that pretty soon.”

(on Gary Kubiak’s comment about players being amped up and overdoing it on the first day, and how he controlled his emotions) “Just being around guys like (WR) Andre Johnson, you see how they act and him being who he is and just watching him and just trying to do everything he does.”

(on what it is like working with a veteran like WR Andre Johnson) “It’s great. I couldn’t ask to be in a better situation to watch a guy like him go to work every day.”

(on what WR Andre Johnson has been talking to him about) “Everything. When I make a mistake, he’s on me. He’s right there just like Coach (Larry) Kirksey would be.”

(on his excitement on coming out to training camp) “I was more than excited to come out here. It was almost like the first day of school. You can’t sleep at night. I kept waking up. Is it that time yet? It felt great coming out here.”

(on toning down the nerves and excitement coming in) “You always do. When you’re around a group of guys like this they’re not a bunch of screaming guys out here. They come out here having a business like professionals”

(on what is the first thing he notices between college and pro) “Everything that you do, you have to be on point. There’s no room for any mistakes. The difference between a 10-yard route and an 11-yard route makes a big difference between these guys out here than in college.”

(on dealing with expectations from the team) “I’m just coming out and doing what I do best, and that’s playing football. I don’t really look at the stuff they say about me. I just come out here and do what I’m paid to do.”

(on his personal goals) “I don’t have any personal goals, just team goals right now.”

(on catching a ball one handed) “I feel like a lot of guys can do it. I haven’t played a game or a single snap in the NFL yet. I don’t want to rave too much about it until I get in the game and do it.”

(on if he wears 3XL gloves) “Yeah. Oh yeah.”

(on what it is like playing with WR Andre Johnson) “He’s told me everything that a veteran should tell a rookie. He’s a guy that’s on every single wide receiver out here, not just me. He’s not just focusing in on just DeAndre Hopkins. He’s paying attention to all the guys out here and helping all of us out. He’s giving all of us great things to work on and telling us what we need to do.”

(on WR Andre Johnson asking the young receivers to look for things that he can improve on and if that surprised him) “It didn’t surprise me at all because I know he’s that type of guy that he wants to get better every single day. People might think that he did everything he can do. But Andre is a hard worker and he comes out every day willing to get better.”

(on how today is different with it being the start of training camp) “It’s not different at all. I come out with the same mindset every day and that’s just to go to work. I don’t look at it in any other perspective but to come out here and do my job.”

(on how much he can help this team) “That’s what I expect of myself so hopefully that’s what I want them to expect. I just want to come out here and be able to help this team in any way that I can.”

(on the thing he did most between the break between OTAs and now) “It was mastering my playbook. I wanted to come out here and not think about my routs so much but just go out and do it so I can come out here and run my routs smoothly. So that was the main thing I would say. ”

(on his biggest feedback from coach Gary Kubiak) “None, yet. He’s always telling me a lot of stuff so nothing in particular.”

(on the excitement of coming out to practice) “It was great coming out here.  I’ve been anxious to come out here since OTAs and start practice with these guys and build chemistry.”

(on starting to catch balls on handed) “My coaches in college were telling me it’s a bad habit, which I agree, it is. It’s just something that sometimes I would do after practice.”

WR Andre Johnson
(on putting pads on for the first time this season) “It just lets you know that it’s here. It’s time to buckle down and get ready to accomplish that ultimate goal. That’s what it’s all about; that’s what all 32 teams are working towards. We all have one goal, everybody is 0-0. You just try to make sure you have the best 53 when the season opens and just play your best ball from there.”

(on spending entire career with Texans) “I told myself that once I signed here I wasn’t going to play for anybody else. I wanted to be a part of something special. I wanted to help this organization get to the playoffs and I wanted to help them win their first playoff game. It’s been a long process. I didn’t think it would take this long for this to happen, but like I said, it’s a process. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. We have accomplished some of the goals, but hopefully we can accomplish that ultimate goal.”

SS Danieal Manning
(on Defensive Coordinator Wade Philips) “You never know with Wade. He is always sitting back hocking up something and once he puts it out there it’s amazing how all that stuff works together. Like I said, I’m glad to be a part and play under Wade. He’s been doing it for a very long time and he knows exactly what he wants. He feels like we have been building this team defensively on one end to make that great push and I think that’s what we have.”

(on getting ILB Brian Cushing back healthy) “It’s going to make it a lot different. I mean, just his leadership, his playmaking skills that he has, and just what he imposes on the other team. That was important to us in the run at the end and we needed that.”

(on playing off ILB Brian Cushing) “It affects me just because if you play with someone like that you can always communicate certain things you can say to a guy who has those reps. He’s been familiar with the game for a long time and just the player that he is. You know what plays you can eliminate and what you can talk about with those types of players. You know what certain plays he is going to make and that just comes with reps. That’s why we are here and that’s why we need him. That’s why it’s important to get him on the practice field.”

(on S D.J. Swearinger’s impressive work ethic) “It does, but at the same time we are all professionals. We’re supposed to do that, but it says a lot about him. How important his job is and how much important it is for this team to have somebody like him and guys learn that early is big.”

(on S D.J. Swearinger looking up to him) “I don’t pay attention to that. It’s all love when we in the locker-room. He’s a good guy, he is one my friends. We talk all the time and, like I said, I’m happy for him. I know it’s going to be a tough run. We both compete for the each other and were both competing to be starters. That’s the way we look at it at camp.  We always look at it like that”

(on seeing FS Ed Reed on the sidelines helping out)  “It does. One thing I like about it, is that he’s on the sideline. He’s talking to us about certain things that he sees. Helping me play better in my game with things that I may not see. It’s good that you have him like that early. He may not be out there with us, but just his presence alone and talking to us on the sides is helping us make better plays.”

(on what excites him most about training camp) “I’m excited because it’s just a new year. All of the stuff we talked about last year and the year before, how this team made the playoff and about the opportunity we had the last two years. We’ve got this year, it’s a new season. Everybody is undefeated, each team and we are one of those teams so it’s good. That’s what I’m excited about, how this thing is going to fold out.”

(on DeAndre Hopkins’ first day of training camp) “He’s pretty good for the most part. I don’t really go against him as much as the corners but for the most part I think he is going to be a phenomenal player. I do.”

S D.J. Swearinger
(on his first NFL practice) “I felt comfortable with it. It wasn’t fast to me at all. I felt like with my confidence and my knowledge for the game I felt like I slowed everything down and I was able to play.”

(on the possibility of starting) “If called upon, I’m ready to start. I’m ready to do whatever the team wants me to do.”

(on how he feels after first day) “It felt good. It’s very humbling. I talked trash a little bit, so I felt like myself. That’s something I didn’t do a lot of in OTAs because I wasn’t comfortable yet, but I felt a lot more comfortable today.”

(on seeing FS Ed Reed and DE J.J. Watt) “It felt great to look down there and see Ed. Every time I come on the sideline, he is talking to me on things to look for, so that felt great.”

(on acting like a veteran) “Like I said earlier, the OTAs helped me out a whole lot and tremendously. Like I said, it felt easier than OTAs knowing that it’s camp. It felt easier because I got the mental aspect of it; I have been doing a lot of studying so I felt very comfortable out there today.”

(on his trash talk) “Like I said, I have been talking trash with football all my life since little league. Whenever I am taking trash that’s me having fun and me being myself.”

(on going from college to the pros) “It’s humbling, very humbling. It’s blessing and I’m thankful for the opportunity every day. I’m just taking it in and getting all the knowledge that I can to be the best I can.”

(on biggest thing he needs to learn) “Just understanding the playbook and learning what everybody is doing not just my position, but everybody around me. That’s going to make my game better when I know the entire defense.”

(on how much he talks with FS Ed Reed) “A lot. I talk to him a lot every day. He gives me pointers on a lot of stuff.”

(on biggest thing he has learned from FS Ed Reed) “Just learning his game. Like I said, just learning what everyone is doing around me. Once I learn what everybody is doing around me, I can slow the game down and just play football.”

(on playing in the dime package) “I think I can contribute anywhere. Free safety, dime, special teams, anywhere. Not just the dime, but anywhere. Anywhere they need me.”

(on what makes him a special player) “I think I am very instinctive on the field and I think I got a very high football I.Q. Combine those two and a lot of film study. I love to watch film and I love to study my playbook. Put all those together and I think I am a very good player.”

(on playing in the box) “It really doesn’t matter to me, but in the box I think I can create a lot of turnovers in the box. But I prefer playing anywhere.”

(on when he knew he was a special player) “I would say my sophomore year in high school. They moved me to free safety and I was always a linebacker. From little league, middle school, to ninth grade, I was a linebacker. When they moved me to free safety my sophomore year, I had six interceptions and that’s when I thought I could be a very good player. I thought I was very instinctive there.”

(on always being around the ball) “I actually caused that fumble today. That’s just something I always take pride in. You can’t make plays unless you’re around the ball. Unless you’re around the ball, you make those plays. You always see good players, not just myself, but (S) Ed Reed and the guys I look up to always surround the ball and they always find a way to get to the ball. That’s something I try to do.”

(on signing his rookie contract) “It felt great, man. It felt like a dream come true. It’s a blessing, truly I’m blessed. I thank God every day for that. I’m just ready to play football now.”

(on the city embracing him) “It feels great man. It’s a blessing. I know the fans are behind me and I love to give back. I appreciate the fans and I appreciate everybody supporting me, so it feels great and I’m going to do everything in my will to give 150 percent.”

Afternoon Practice

 

Head Coach Gary Kubiak
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
K Randy Bullock
OLB Whitney Mercilus
T Derek Newton
DE Antonio Smith

Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on the first day of practice) “I think it was good generally. I think I said this morning I like the way, the condition we came back in. I thought we held up pretty good. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of guys who were either out today, PUP, whatever, and some guys we’re bringing along slowly, but I thought for the most part it was pretty good.”

(on what it’s like having ILB Brian Cushing’s voice back out on the field making calls) “It’s real good. He’s the emotional leader of this team in a lot of ways. What he went through last year, having to watch us play for the next three months, it was very difficult on him. He’s got some ground to make up. He knows that. I’m looking forward to watching him doing it because I know he’s on a mission. He’s worked really hard.”

(on type of player WR DeAndre Hopkins is and if he’s the type of player you have to ride or let him go as is) “Well, I’ll tell you what, he impresses me. Like today, he comes out here, I don’t even know if he caught a ball this morning, but he really had a good practice. He’s a worker and he gets to sit next to number 80 (WR Andre Johnson) every day, so he’s learning from the right guy. He’s got all the ability and he’s being trusted or pushed in a very quick direction and that’s what we think is best for our team. We’re excited to watch him grow up here. Big challenge, but I know he can do it.”

(on if the team suffered any casualties or injuries this morning) “Casualties? (OLB) Brooks Reed had a sore foot, so we kind of held him out a little bit of just our jog through this afternoon. Who else? (T Nick) Mondek’s also got a sore foot coming out that didn’t do much this afternoon.”

(on if OLB Brooks Reed and T Nick Mondek were the only two who had injuries today) “Yeah, yeah.”

(on if he’s going to continue to split the morning practice between outdoors and indoors) “Yeah, we’ll acclimate. I think we go five days or we do that before we leave them out there for two hours at a time.”

(on if they’ll practice outside more every day) “Yeah, kind of. I think we were an hour-and-20 minutes outside. Tomorrow, we go an hour-and-a-half or an hour-and-40. We’ll eventually work our way up until we stay out there for two hours.”

(on the team splitting practice outdoors and indoors last year also) “Yeah, we’ve done that for the last couple of years. I think it’s been good.”

(on WR Andre Johnson saying he’s the ‘old guy’ now and if there’s a difference when a player becomes the ‘old guy’) “I don’t think he’s old. I remember I was around (WR) Jerry Rice. He played forever. (WR) Rod Smith played 13 years or something like that. I think Dre is getting better. The year he had last year and this offseason has been tremendous, just watching him move around today. I think you cherish, maybe appreciate the time you’re playing a little bit more the further you go along because it does go so fast. (I’m) just very proud of who he is and what he does. Like I said, he’s always stayed the course here. He’s a big leader on the team.”

(on how different the defense was last year after ILB Brian Cushing got hurt and if he’ll be able to jump right back in) “I think the biggest thing is (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) does a lot of different things with his inside people to help his outside people get to the quarterback and, when we lost Brian, we lost some of that. Then, obviously, when we go to nickel, Brian becomes a big part of how we get after people and how we pressure people. It was a big loss, but I thought we reacted to it very well as a football team and found a way to continue to play good defense.”

(on if ILB Brian Cushing is the kind of guy who makes everyone around him better) “Oh, no doubt. Yeah, no doubt. He’s just so tough inside. The position he plays, he gets isolated on backs and stuff and, when people have to do things to account for him inside, then obviously (OLB) Brooks (Reed) and (OLB) Whitney (Mercilus) are getting one-on-one’s outside. He’s a big part of what we do.”

(on if ILB Brian Cushing even helps DE J.J. Watt with the way he plays and if Watt can produce the same statistics as last year) “Oh, there’s no doubt. Hopefully, yeah, it would be nice to see that one again, hopefully. We missed Cush. There’s no doubt about that, but we’ve got to be smart too. We all want him out here today. We all want him full speed. We’ve got to make sure we do it the right. He had a good start this morning.”

(on if DE J.J. Watt can be a better player this season without having the same statistics as last year) “Oh, no doubt. That happens all the time. People look at numbers and sacks, you can play better and not have those same numbers, but I think one of the things that help players get better is when they get smarter in what they’re doing. J.J.’s got (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips)’s defense down to a T. So the more he understands what we’re doing, the more Wade can do with him.”

(on if there is an update for the timetable with FS Ed Reed) “I don’t. Like I told you all this morning, I’m impressed with where he’s at. We’re going to listen to him. He’s been through this before. I’m not concerned about him being ready for a preseason game. Right now, we’re trying to get him ready for our season, so we’re going to listen to him. He’s got great work habits. He knows what program he needs to be on to get there and he and Kap (Head Athletic Trainer Geoff Kaplan) are getting on the same page.”

(on if he’s confident FS Ed Reed will be ready for the season opener) “Yeah, I think we’ve always been confident from that standpoint, but I think we’ll have to take it a week at a time and see how much progress he makes. But watching him run now, I think he’s making a lot of progress.”

(on if there is a target date for RB Arian Foster to return to practice) “No, it’s day-to-day. They just didn’t think he’s ready to be thrown out here. They did a lot this morning. He was pulling ropes and a bunch of stuff like that. We’ll take it day-to-day. I’d like to think maybe by the end of the week he’s out here, but we’ll see. We’ll do the right thing with him.”

Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
(on ILB Brian Cushing’s health) “Yeah, no Cushing felt really good in practice today. We didn’t go the full time with him, I mean you can talk to him, but he said he didn’t have any. It wasn’t hurting anywhere. He feels just like he did before which is great.”

(on whether DE J.J. Watt can match last season) “You know, he is striving to get better all the time. J.J. is going to be a, I said it last year and kind of went overboard with it, but the guy is a really good football player. You don’t find many like him. I think he’s always trying to improve, so we will see how the stats come out but he is going to make plays. He made so many plays last year, it was phenomenal.”

(on DE J.J. Watt becoming a household name) “In the previous season, really in the last four games and the playoffs, he was playing at that same level, so he just carried it over to last year.”

(on how DE J.J. Watt compares to other players he has coached) “I got a guy going in to the Hall of Fame this year, Curly Culp; Elvin Bethea who also was in the Hall of Fame; Reggie White and Bruce Smith who are also in the Hall of Fame and Rickey Jackson, some other guys I coached. They were all great players, but they had the will to be better all the time and J.J. has that will, so I think he will have a great career.”

(on DE J.J. Watt last season) “Last year was the best season any defensive lineman, in my opinion, has ever had and the stats go with it. He had more tackles for loss or no gain, he had more hits on the quarterback, he had more sacks, he had more tipped balls, that combination was the best that anybody has ever played.”

(on ILB Brian Cushing’s injury last season) “Brian Cushing is a heck of a football player and we missed him when he was out. We did a satisfactory job without him, but anytime you lose a great player it’s going to hurt you some. We’re glad to have him back.”

(on FS Ed Reed coaching the secondary) “Ed Reed wants to be, and is, you can see he is a coach on the field. Right now, he’s a coach on the sideline, but every meeting, he asks the questions that nobody else would ask because they don’t know the things he knows already and it helps everybody.”

(on the impact of having ILB Brian Cushing healthy) “Just basically speaking, when Cush rushes which we try to rush him a lot from the inside, if they have to pick up a back on him they are in trouble. We got a big advantage, so they try and pick him up with a lineman. Well, if they do that then the outside guys get a chance to get a back or a better matchup, so that’s the simple way to say it I guess.”

K Randy Bullock
(on having K Shayne Graham helping him last year) “I learned a lot from Shayne Graham. He showed me a whole lot just from simple things: how to prepare in the weight room to training room and everything throughout the season seeing how he took care of his body throughout the course of the year, so those things are very important. He has had a long career and hopefully I can use some of those pointers and add a couple years onto my career as well.”

(on P Shane Lechler) “Shane is a great guy. I have really enjoyed my time with him so far being able to work with each other. He is really down to earth. We have a lot of the similarities, so it’s easy for us to communicate, get along, and work together.”

(on having two Aggies as part of the special teams unit) “It’s pretty cool. I won’t forget when he signed, I sent him a test message. A long time ago when I was looking at agents I actually texted him trying to get in touch with him and get his opinion on all that, so it’s pretty cool to have him in the same spot and work with him.”

(on staying healthy this offseason) “The biggest thing for me is staying on top of my rehab program. They have me do some exercises every couple days. Doing stuff like that in there with the trainers, (Head Athletic Trainer) Geoff Kaplan and his staff, so doing stuff like that when I’m not kicking. Doing what I need to do in the weight room as well as a lot of core work and flexibility stuff. I’m staying on top of everything and hopefully looking forward to an injury free season.”

(on being a guy the team will rely on every day) “That’s my goal. I definitely want to be a guy that they can count on. Not just this year, but for years to come so that’s definitely my goal. That’s what I have been working for and I’m excited to prove it.”

(on his health restrictions) “I did not. I got cleared towards the end of last season, so I have been healthy. I was able to prepare just like everyone else going through OTAs, minicamp, and all that so I feel great. I’m very excited about the opportunity to be back here again.”

(on how he feels going into the season) “I feel great. It’s kind of like I’m a rookie, but at the same time I have kind of been there, done that. Going through the actual training camp, preseason, all that. That will be a little different for me, but hopefully I can get all of it in and they will really monitor me see how everything’s going. I feel great; it’s more just precautionary than anything. I have no limitations, but we’re going to try and keep me healthy and that’s the biggest part.”

(on getting ready for the season) “I’m just really excited. It’s been a long wait. Last August, it was towards the end of August before the season started. It’s been a long wait for me to be able to suit back up and play for this team. My goal is to prepare and have a good year.”

(on the pressure of a kicker) “Nothing’s changed. I missed a year last year due to injury, but I feel like I can be just as ready as I was last year, so I feel stronger. I’ve seen how everything went last year by watching (former kicker) Shayne Graham. I tried to learn as much as possible and it’s been a good experience from that aspect. I was able to kind of pick up everything and move forward to try and make it to where I can put everything together and be successful this year.”

LB Whitney Mercilus
(on today’s training camp) “Good. I mean, it was the first day. I was a little hot out there. Some guys getting shakes and things like that but it’s expected. We’ve just been conditioned and not in football shape or anything like that, so it’s going well so far.”

(on the work he has put in on the offseason) “Basically everything, not just one single thing. It’s been pass rush, it’s been the run game, me overall as an athlete, just my movements and things like that.”

(on the conditioning shape of OLB Trevardo William and OLB Sam Montgomery) “Yeah, they’re looking good. Sam was put on some non-injury list or something like that but he’s off of it. He’s looking good and not too bad out there. He’s moving around just like a rookie.”

(on if the rookies have been looking to him for advice) “Yeah, of course. It’s my second year and it’s weird to think I’m a veteran and trying to teach the rookies so it’s kind of weird for me. They’ve been coming to me asking for advice. What to expect and what not to expect. Just simple things like that and helping them out along the way.”

(on how much different year two is) “A lot different. I’m more acclimated with the defense so I understand everything that’s going on, I know what’s to be expected and stuff like that so it’s not difficult at all. A little more confident than last year.”

(on the pressure being behind DE J.J. Watt) “It just means we just have got to work harder as a unit and be more consistent. Things like that and try to fine tune the little things right now in camp and go through pre-season and also get ready for the regular season.”

(on ILB Brian Cushing coming back and calling plays) “It’s good. He’s one of our better voices in linebacker, he’s definitely a big leader on our defense. It’s good to have him back.”

(on how the young guys look) “Pretty good, they’ve been looking good out there. Just getting acclimated with the heat. Were only out there for maybe 45 maybe 50 minutes or so then came into the bubble so they’re looking really good. Not too bad, still, they’re just still a little iffy on that but they’ll shake off the rust.”

(on FS Ed Reed watching over the defense while injured) “He’s talking to everybody, but that’s his room, DB room. Everybody in that room is picking his mind. Also, if you get to talk to him, he will teach you a couple of things along the way.”

(on being more comfortable this year than last year) “I’m much more comfortable than the last year, of course. It’s noticeable on the field because I was a rookie last year I didn’t know what to expect going through OTAs and minicamps and stuff like that. Also, training camp this year, its year two. I understand the defense a lot more. I know it like the back of my thumb. It’s not too hard so it’s just like second nature to me.”

(on what he thinks he needs to do to go to the next level) “Just work hard. Just fine tune a lot of things like my pass rush, my run defense, and things like that. Just being a complete player. That’s it.”
(on what it is like having big names on the team) “That’s the type of person I am. I’m not somebody who’s looking for attention or anything like that. I just like to go out there and just play ball. I love it, it’s a fantasy and not a lot of people get to do it. I just want to respect the game.”

(on embracing the community) “Of course, it’s always good for me. I love giving back to the community, helping out people and things like that. It’s always been with me ever since I was a little kid. I never really had anything like that and have pro players come to my school, or go to HEBs or grocery stores so it’s pretty awesome for me to do that and put a little joy and cheer into a lot of fans.”

(on waiting his turn and now having a chance to start) “Yeah, definitely. Just being a starter, coming out from my first year, and also you see these young guys coming up here of course. (WR) DeAndre (Hopkins), he has to be able to play big and step up into a larger role. We need him this year. It’s just goals across the board. Everybody has to step up and actually practice like you’re a starter no matter who you are and no matter what your role is.”

(on being more prepared this year than last year) “I’m much more confident and much more understanding of the defense. Last year I was thrown into a fire a little bit. I had a lot of things coming at me at 110 miles per hour. This year, everything is second nature to me. I know what to expect and I know what’s expected of me. I’m just trying to be accountable, responsible and dependable amongst my teammates and coaches.”

(on ILB Cushing coming back) “He looks good. Coming back, he’s well ahead of schedule which is a good thing. We need him back for the regular season and having him back is going to create a lot of diversity within our defense.”

T Derek Newton
(on how it feels being back on the field) “It’s great, being back with my teammates and just being able to be on the field with the team, it’s a great feeling.”

(on how his knee feels) “Yeah the knee is great. I’m 100%. I feel good, a little rusty the first day but other than that, I can work that out because there are a lot of things to work that out.”

(on competition for the starting position) “I feel like I’m always in a competition. We have four great tackles. So, nobody’s job is ever secure so you have to come out here every day and give it your all.”

DE Antonio Smith
(on teams double-teaming DE J.J. Watt and if that results in more open rushes for him to the quarterback) “Man, the ninja (DE Antonio Smith) has never been single-teamed. You’ve got to check the film. We’re going to be balling. I don’t know how they’re going to do it. Last year, they figured out a way with doubling me with the guard and the center and then doubling J.J. with the guard and the back. That was (Patriots Head Coach Bill) Belichick’s master plan and then everybody starting doing it, but I think we’ve got (NT) Earl (Mitchell) in there with us, our ends are that much better this year, so I don’t think they’re going to be able to double-team us. They’re going to have to pick and choose who they’re going to double-team.”

(on if him and DE J.J. Watt are Batman and Robin and which one is which) “I’m more like Batman’s teacher. What his name? Yeah, (Ra’s al Ghul). Batman turned on him at the end. That’s more like me, I’m like old sensei.”

(on how much it’s going to help to have a healthy defensive line this year) “I think it’s going to be probably one of the best starts if we can keep them healthy through camp that we’ll have because I think, for the past three years, somebody was missing a couple of games throughout the year. I think J.J. (Watt) got hurt last year in training camp. I think like the fourth practice in training camp and it took him a while to get back and get back into the groove. If we can get everybody healthy through training camp, I think we’ve got a pretty solid core, first, second and third string.”

(on how LB Brian Cushing looked today) “He hasn’t gone (hard) yet. I’m looking to see what he’s got because he’s looked like one of those medical miracles. He’s talking like it too, so I’m looking to see the Cush to get back. I think he brings a lot of personality and attitude to our defense.”

(on what he’s seen out of FS Ed Reed) “Now, if I’m like the old teacher, Ed Reed is like Yoda. He’s got a lot of wisdom from top to bottom. For me, he has some wisdom. It’s not just for the DB’s (defensive backs). I think that’s going to help out defense. It’s going to help our defense a lot. What he brings to the game, I think his experience and winning the big game is going to help us. We need as much of that as we can get. So yeah, I’m excited about it.” 

 

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