Wide receiver Andre Johnson said that he is focused on being consistent and building on his 2008 success in the upcoming season.
The Texans spoke to the media after the second day of training camp practices. Following is a transcript of their interviews.
Texans owner Bob McNair(on LB Brian Cushing signing) "You're dealing with a lot of different people and a lot of things beyond your control. They've been down here late in the evening, early in the morning working on it. So I'm real pleased that we're going to have him in here."
(on how he feels about LB DeMeco Ryans' comments yesterday saying that it sent a bad message that the Texans aren't signing their veterans) "I think people understand the situation and know that we have made an effort. We've gone beyond what's reasonable to try and get guys signed up. Sometimes, they don't want to accept the offer, and that's their decision. But we've certainly reached out to them. They're great players and they're under contract and we're going to keep them here. So, it'll work out."
(on if he expects CB Dunta Robinson to return before the season starts) "I would think so, but in this game, you never know. So we'll wait and see. We'll play with the guys we've got."
(on what it means to sign LB Brian Cushing after the cat-and-mouse game played by agents) "It's important. Agents have their reasons for doing things. Players have their reasons and they take care of themselves. We're the only guys that take care of the team. So if we don't take care of the team, nobody else will. So we try to be fair to everybody and work with them and be reasonable. Then just keep working hard and they're going to be here, and I think the result speaks for itself."
(on FB Vonta Leach's "Playoffs or Bust" comment) "Well I'm glad they feel that way. I don't feel that it's playoffs or bust. I think it's time for the playoffs. It's not going to be the end of the world, we're not going to go away and disband if we don't make it. We're going to keep working harder every day and try and get better, and I know we are a better team. I think we'll win more games, and as long as we keep doing that, the results will take care of themselves. I think we are a playoff team, and hopefully that is where we'll wind up. But of course, you never know."
(on perception that head coach Gary Kubiak is under a lot of pressure to make the playoffs) "Gary has done a great job. We always evaluate things at the end of the year and they'll be based upon circumstances during this past year. But I'm quite pleased with him, and I think everybody's very confident about the way he's coaching this team."
(on Kubiak's job security being tied to wins/losses this season) "I don't think it is. It'll be based on what kind of job he has done under the circumstances. Some of those circumstances very well may be beyond his control. The question is, how does he react? How does he manage it? So far, he's done a great job, and I think he'll continue to do that."
(on what he would say to CB Dunta Robinson if he could talk to him) "I'd say it's in your best interest to be here. You oughta come on in here. I mean, the only person you're hurting is yourself. Come on in here. Get with the team."
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak (morning practice)(on the signing of LB Brian Cushing) "They got the deal done. He's on his way, and I think he was in L.A., I'm not positive. But he's on his way, and he's signed, sealed and delivered to the afternoon practice, so that's a good thing."
(on importance of him getting into camp as soon as possible) "It's important. Like I said yesterday, it's not like he's missed anything he wasn't doing during the course of the summer, but his teammates are two practices ahead of him and a long, long day ahead of him. He needs to be here and be a part of it and catch up."
(on WR Jacoby Jones' maturation) "Well, it's like I said yesterday. I think when you're watching Jacoby, growing up is the key. He's got to grow up as a player, but he's got to grow up in his accountability to the team and everybody else off the field, in the classroom, those sorts of things. And he's doing it. But it's a long process. It's like I told him, it's not about doing it in spurts, it's about doing it on a daily basis. So let's just keep our fingers crossed and hope he keeps heading in that direction."
(on WR Jacoby Jones staying in the team hotel) "The guys have a choice, if you're a veteran you can stay at home or in the hotel, but he's one veteran who didn't have much of a choice, so he's at the hotel."
(on FB Vonta Leach's absence from practice) "Vonta had a death in his family the night before we opened camp yesterday, so he's going back. He's got a lot of things to take care of, he does a great job with his family there, so we'll hear from him sometime today and he could be going back and forth for the next couple of days or he could be gone for a few days. I'll let you know."
(on if RB Clifton Dawson blew out his knee yesterday) "No, he has a Grade-2 MCL, I think. Kap (Texans head athletic trainer Geoff Kaplan) can probably tell you more, but no, it's not as bad as it could have been."
(on his excitement to have LB Brian Cushing and all of the draft picks in camp) "Well, it's very important, and it just seems like for some reason to me, this year more than ever, it seems like there are more deals getting done later, especially in the first round. So for (general manager) Rick (Smith) and them, I know they were up there until three in the morning still up there hammering out the deal, so he and (director of football operations) Chris (Olsen) have done a good job, so we've got them all in and we need to get them ready to play."
(on how good it will be to have LB Brian Cushing in camp) "He's gotta be here, and he knows that. It was hard on him, he wanted to be in the building working out while we were doing the deal, but you can't do that. So it was hard for him for us to tell him that he couldn't be here at this time, so they got him in position to keep working out, they worked on getting it done and he'll be fine. We'll catch them up."
(on what LB Brian Cushing brings to the team) "Well, first off, what we want to do defensively, what we're trying to do with our front, I think he's a big part of that puzzle. He can play on the line of scrimmage very effectively, he can also play off, but that's one of the reasons we drafted him. Very physical young man, can go get the passer if he needs to. We expect him to bring a physical presence to our defense, so we're counting on him big-time."
(on how offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan calling plays changes his camp routine) "It really doesn't. I did training camp the same way whether it was Troy (Troy Calhoun) or Sherm (Mike Sherman). I let them go and let them do their thing, getting ready to call plays and those sort of things. Nothing really changes."
(on whether he misses calling plays) "No, I really welcome it. It's a great feeling knowing that you prepare for a game, you prepare to call a game, you're going to go into a game and (offensive coordinator) Kyle (Shanahan) is going to call it. You're sitting there, we've worked together, we've been over this together and yet, I may have some different ideas in certain situations, but it's a comfort zone for me as we prepare for games to know that he's ready to go do it. If I've got to help, I help."
(on using TE James Casey at fullback) "Well, in this league it's about opportunity knocking for a player. All of a sudden, (FB) Vonta (Leach) has a problem, he's not here, he's with his family, so somebody has to go in there and get some reps. James is getting some reps at fullback. We'll see. His versatility will probably be a big key to him helping this team early, so we'll see what happens."
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak (afternoon)
(on the practice format with a low-contact walkthrough in the afternoons) "I think that you can still get a lot of things to teach off on film but yet not have the tax of two-a-days on their body. It's just a little different format we're trying. We did it a little bit at the middle of camp last year, and I thought we'd do it from the get-go (this year). As long as we get this kind of attention, we'll do alright."
(on how he evaluates walk-through type practices) "Well, you're just seeing who is into what they're doing. It's easy to come out here in the afternoon when you're having jog-troughs and stuff and just kind of go to sleep on the group. That's what we're trying to avoid. We're trying to see who is paying attention, who is prepared for practice. All the reps we're giving them in the afternoon are difficult reps, things that are tough. They'll get exposed if they're not ready to go."
(on if he was expecting LB Brian Cushing to be present in the afternoon) "Yeah, I really was, and I think I told all of y'all that this morning. My understanding was that he would make it in time, but as we got going during the middle of the day, I think his plane landed at 2:40, so to land at 2:40 at Bush (Intercontinental Airport) and try to get here, get a physical and sign a contract isn't possible. So hopefully he's in the meeting here in a couple of hours."
(on how important it is for Cushing to get into camp) "Oh, its important. He's two days behind now. They're not reps that he hasn't had, he's had these reps, but still he's two days behind his teammates. They're fixing to put the pads on in the morning, so it's important, but I'm glad its over and he'll get in to work."
(on what he sees in Cushing) "With drafting him, it's where we're going with our defense, what want to do. That's why we drafted the young man. We like his presence on the ball, playing on the tight end, so that's what we're going to be asking him to do a great deal. But he's very athletic, he can rush the passer. Just like Duane (Brown), we brought him in here for a reason, and we're going to put him to work real fast."
(on the importance of G Chester Pitts to the Texans' offensive line) "He's very important. He's been a guy that's played, I think, every snap of Texans football, so that tells you how committed he is to the cause here, and he's done a great job since I've been here. Really, I think he took a great step as a player last year, got some Pro Bowl respect from some voters. I think he's headed in the right direction, so he's very important."
(on C Antoine Caldwell's versatility to play both interior offensive line spots) "Well, that's why we brought him in here. He's got some swing in him as far as what he can do up front. That's important on game day. He'll battle, to me, for a guard spot on this team, but we need to teach him the center position first because that is so important. That's probably the toughest position to learn up front, so he's fine. He missed a little time, but hopefully he'll be OK."
(on getting LB Brian Cushing signed) "Yeah, it was very important. Rick (Smith) and Chris (Olsen) were up here until three in the morning last time we talked, and they thought like they were fixing to get it done, so it's been a long process for us. They've done a good job. Brian and his agents have done a good job. There seems to be a lot of guys missing some time that are first rounders, so I'm glad ours is done."
(on Cushing's participation in summer workouts) "Yeah, he hasn't missed anything he hasn't done before, so that's a good thing. And he wanted to be here while we were working out on the contract, but he just couldn't, so that's a good sign. But I know he's chomping at the bit to get going."
Texans defensive coordinator Frank Bush(on competition between LBs Xavier Adibi and Zac Diles) "It's healthy competition right now. Both guys are doing an excellent job at taking care of their assignment and hustling for the ball and making plays on the ball. Right now, we just want to see which guy comes out of this thing on top. We're giving them both ample opportunities to be with the first group. So right now the competition is stiff, so we'll just have to wait and see."
(on the demands for the position) "When you're looking at this position, we're looking for a guy that's fast, who can be a thumper, who can cover back, who can play the tight end, as well as looking at his passing and blitzing abilities. But most of all, we're looking for a playmaker, a guy that will scrape and run to the football, and when he gets there, arrive with an attitude and try to create fumbles."
(on LB Cato June) "Well, he's a veteran 'backer and he has played in different positions and he has played in this defensive scheme before, so he can help us out in a lot of areas. He can help us mentor the younger kids; at the same time, he's a viable option in case something else happens with those other kids."
Texans offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan(on his relationship with QB Matt Schaub) "Yeah, it's good. I get to talk to Matt. We talk after every single play. We're in every meeting together. I'm with him really more than anyone. I know how he thinks and he knows how I think. It's not whether he's right or wrong. He knows before he does it. He knows our rules and he knows what we want. Now, it's just us watching more of the team and trying to see the game together. So if he sees something I don't see, he can tell me, and I trust him that he knows what he's talking about so we can get after it."
(on being a young offensive coordinator) "Yeah, I think it helps me a lot. I always wanted to get into this position while I still was young. I feel if you know what you're doing and you're young, then it's an advantage because you are going to be able to relate to players a little better. You are closer in age and you listen to some of the same music, do some of the same things. At least you can communicate with them in that aspect. If you know what you're talking about, you can get through to them. But if you're young and you don't know what you're talking about, I can't think of a worse position to be in. They'll see that right away. They'll walk all over you. But we've got a good group of guys and I think they all respect me, and it's really easy to coach."
(on last season's game versus the Chicago Bears) "No, we just started off so poorly in that game. I hadn't started to call plays yet, we were still in the first 15 and we just got down so fast. I didn't think I was going to get to call plays because it was looking bad quick. If I was the head coach, being an offensive coach, it would be hard to let a guy take it over when we're in a hole. But Kub (head coach Gary Kubiak) stuck with me and he let me finish the game out, and that shows that he has some trust in me."
(on if he feels pressure being the offensive coordinator) "No, not really. I honestly, I felt my responsibilities were the exact same last year as they are this year. I think going on my second year into it, those responsibilities, I'll get to use them a little more. They won't be taken back. Guys know what to expect from me now. They know really what I want to get done. That's why I like coaching. We like the pressure. It's motivation to get up as early as we do and stay as late as we do. If the pressure wasn't there, it would be too much of a grind. It's what we enjoy and it's why I do it."
(on the difference from last season and what he's learned) "I was just telling another guy I was talking to that this is my first time coaching that I'm actually coaching the same thing for a second year. I've changed positions every year of my career. I'm just excited to go into a second year where I get to repeat last year. I'm more comfortable now and I know what to expect. Our schedules are pretty much the same, so it's very similar. But now I'm just more comfortable in my role. So, I can take it to another level and use a little more of my own personality and just get better at it."
(on the backup quarterback decision) "We really didn't bring them in to... we have our backup quarterback, right now it's Dan (Orlovsky). Orlovsky is our number two, Rex (Grossman) is our number three. We brought him in because we wanted him to push him and we expect him to make Dan better. If he outplayed Dan, obviously it's just like any other position, we'll make that change. Dan's taken the two, Rex's taken the three. Rex is trying to show that he's worth us keeping three quarterbacks. We've only had two every year we've been here. We'd like to be able to keep three. So we're just trying to get a look at him."
(on being the only Shanahan employed in the NFL now) "It is a little different. It's fun to give him (former Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan, his father) some crap. It's the first time I'm the only one in the family working, so I finally have that over him. I don't know. I'm a Bronco fan and I always have been. Every time my game's over, that's the first thing I get home to go watch. It will be a little different. We'll wait and see how it feels. But I've still got a lot of people over there I'm close to, a lot of players I'm close to. I'll probably always be a Bronco fan."
(on his father) "He's doing real good, actually he's the best I've ever seen him. He's rested and he's enjoying football. He's kind of gotten away from it. So he's really studying the ball like he's a young coach now. He has time where he doesn't have to do so much administrative stuff, and he's going to some camps and stuff, just seeing other aspects and what other people do, and he reminds me of how I was about five years ago. He's just trying to learn everything he can and enjoying his off time."
(on if he has goals to work with his father) "My dad and I are close. I made it a point not to go with him early on. I wanted to try to pay my dues and earn some respect, but some day, I'd definitely like to coach with him. Maybe I'll have to give him a job next year, hire him as my assistant."
(on the running back situation) "We really like (RB) Chris Brown as a player. We liked him last year. We know we have to keep him healthy, so we know we can't give him all the reps on the backup stuff. So we're mixing (RB) Ryan Moats in there, who did a good job for us at the end of last year. Then we have two young guys who are undrafted free agents who are coming in who at least have a chance to push our third guy and be that third guy and possibly be a practice squad guy. So usually, they become valuable half-way through the year."
Texans TE James Casey
(on the opportunity to play) "I'm so excited to get started. I can't complain. They're allowing me to come out here to play football and try to make a living doing it. It's fun every day I get to get out here because I understand, I keep it in perspective that so many people would like to be doing this. Every day, I just try to give everything I've got and just as long as they keep letting me come back here everyday, I'm going to be pretty happy."
(on the first days of training camp) "It's been pretty crazy, these first couple of days, because we had all of the fans out here these first days; it's been open practices. And I've been doing a lot of different stuff. I'm just getting used to the playbook, getting used to being out there and kind of NFL situations. It's been fun. We put the shoulder pads on tomorrow, so it's going to change the ballgame up a little bit, and I'm excited for that also."
(on playing at fullback) "They kind of tell me they understand that I'm not going to know everything right away going out there as far as changing to fullback and doing different things like that. If I don't know what's going on, (they told me) just to ask questions and don't pretend like I know everything. I'm just trying to pick up as much as I can as I go. As we get closer to preseason games, we'll start getting everything down and feel really confident with everything."
(on compliments from WR Andre Johnson) "That's definitely an honor if Andre says anything good about me, just how hard he works and everybody knows what kind of player he is. If he even just had my name come out of his mouth, it's definitely an honor."
(on how he approaches being a rookie) "That's exactly how I go about it. I just keep my mouth shut and don't say anything. I'm a rookie, so I'm kind of the bottom of the totem pole. I just do what they tell me and try to show them I can help the team win. If I can keep going throughout camp and show them I can help them win, maybe I'll start getting more respect from everybody and then maybe be more outspoken. But now it's kind of just be a rookie and do what they tell me to and try to show them I can help them win."
(on the comparison of the open practice crowds with Rice University practices) "Not at practices, no. It's just being new to the whole training camp situation and my first time out there and going out there and having all the fans out there and just being excited and a little nervous anyway, so it's almost like a game situation."
(on open practices being easier) "It makes it a lot easier. When you have the music going out there and all the fans out there and everyone yelling and being excited about it, it makes it so much easier. Being used to college and nobody out there, it can get mundane, of course, just going through the motions everyday. Being out here with fans and this is my job, so it's definitely exciting every day. I'm just glad to be out there."
(on his approach coming into camp) "There is little room for error, but I can't think about that too much because then I will start messing up, I'll start pressing. My approach is go out and give it everything I've got every play because, I've said it a couple of times, every day could be my last day, and it really could, because I'm a fifth rounder and I don't have the luxury of having a lot of security of making sure I'm on the team. So I've got to go out and try to make this team. Every day could be my last, so I try to make sure I leave everything on the field every practice."
(on not being treated like a rookie just yet) "Not yet, but I think we've got some rookie hazing coming up pretty soon. It's part of the business, I guess, part of the job."
(on whether he's excited about rookie hazing) "I'm not looking forward to it but, I mean, I'm in the NFL right now, so whatever they can do to me, I can't complain too much about it."
(on special teams) "It's everything to me right now. I'm smart enough to realize I'm not going to go out there and be the starting the tight end, you know. Obviously, I want to be starting tight end one day but right now, to make this team, I've got to them show I can be versatile and play special teams and help them on that side of the ball, playing the special teams stuff. So I'm trying to really go out there and impress them at that part of the game."
Texans WR Andre Johnson(on meeting a young fan named Brant) "I think today me and Brant put it all in perspective about how important it is, because like I said, you never know. I didn't know who Brant was until today and I'm glad that happened today. It definitely keeps me on my Ps and Qs. I'm pretty sure I'm going to get some stuff and send it to Brant. I can appreciate him, following me and looking up to me as his role model."
(on anything less than the playoffs being a disappointment) "Yeah, I think everyone feels that way, but I'm just not going to talk about it. We just have to go out and win games. We're just out here working out, trying to get ready for the games."
(on his career) "I think the biggest thing is trying to be consistent as a football player. Every offseason, I look at what I did the season before and I just try to add something different to my game and be a much better player. Everyone's asking me how can I top the season I had last year, but all I can do is come out here and continue working at this, trying to get better."
(on being compared to other top receivers) "It's a great feeling, but it really doesn't matter if you can't do it year in and year out. You do it one year and then come back the next year, and they'll say you're a fluke. The biggest thing on my part is to be consistent."
Texans LB DeMeco Ryans(on if LB Brian Cushing is behind after arriving to camp late) "He's not behind because we went through the same things in OTAs, so he has an understanding of the concept and the plays that we're running, so he won't be behind at all."
(on how excited he is to having LB Brian Cushing on the team) "I'm very excited. I think he is going to be a big-time playmaker for us, a good addition to our team. It's good to have him back out there."
(on how LB Brian Cushing can help him out) "Just being there and making some plays, like I said, just being a playmaker. I think he has an ability to do that. He has the ability to get after the passer and I just look forward to being out there and playing with him."
(on what he can teach LB Brian Cushing) "I can teach him about being a pro. He knows how to play football. The game of football doesn't change. It picks up a little bit, but he's fast enough to get with the program, but I can just teach him how to be a pro."
Texans QB Matt Schaub(on the differences between head coach Gary Kubiak and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan ) "They both have an aggressive mindset. Kube is an aggressive play caller. It's chop chop, and it's there. He doesn't wait to call them. Kyle is the same way. He wants us to be aggressive in our passing game and take what's there when it's there. They have the same mindset as far as that, but Kyle, he has a real level head about him. He doesn't get too high or too low, he maintains a steady composure about it and he really has a calm presence."
(on gaining confidence in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan) "Two years ago when I first came here, it was a different adjustment coming in having a quarterback coach that was the same age as me or maybe a little older, but since we have been in the meetings for two years. He has such a high I.Q .for football, offensively and defensively, knowing the passing game and since he has been the coordinator, learning the run game and all the calls there. His knowledge far exceeds his age. He has definitely proven himself worthy of the position. It's a great working relationship because you can relate well to one another both on and off the field."
(on difference in treatment from offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan because of age) "Kyle understands us as quarterbacks. Myself, (QBs) Rex (Grossman) and Dan (Orlovsky) have been in this game long enough that we know when we mess up. We know what we did wrong. He'll tell us about it and let us know but he knows he doesn't need to holler at us. That's not going to help anybody in the long run. We know we did something wrong. We talk about it. We work through it and then get better and learn from it. We have a good understanding about that."
(on what kind of success the team can have if healthy the entire season) "We've had flashes of that. We showed them last year by winning five of six. When everyone's healthy and going, the sky is the limit for this offense. As long as we play consistently good football, play smart and take care of the football, we can do a lot of good things."
(on advancing toward the playoffs) "We're definitely moving in the right direction. We've shown that for the past two years. It's just about starting off the way we finished last year, starting off fast and maintaining that high level of play consistently throughout the year. We gotta make the playoffs this year. This is our year to do it, and it's time to go out and do it."
(on relationship with T Eric Winston) "It's great. Ever since we got here, we developed a good friendship. All those guys – Eric Winston, (C) Chris Myers, (G) Mike Brisiel. All the offensive linemen are such good guys. We get along real well."
Texans DT Jeff Zgonina
(on how it feels to re-sign with the Texans) "It feels great. I've always liked training camp, for some reason. It's just great to be back to work."
(on if he feels like he's picked up where he left off) "Yeah, it's easier to come back to somewhere you've been. You know everybody. You know how it runs, especially at this time of year. When I've gone to other places, I've always gone earlier, so I was able to mesh in earlier. But it seems like old times."
(on how he feels physically) "I went through one practice and I feel great. We'll see in three days. I think I should be alright. I did work out, so I shouldn't be that bad."
(on his goals for training camp) "I just want to get back in football shape and just show that I can still play and hopefully make the team."
(on if he feels like the Texans can make the playoffs this year) "Number one, we have to make the playoffs no matter what. This team should make the playoffs with the talent we have and the coaching staff we have. If we don't make the playoffs, it's our fault because we're set up to make that run this year. Of course, the easiest way to get there is to win the division, so that's what we're looking at."