Linebackers DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing spoke to the media following practice on Sunday morning.
Texans players and coaches spoke to the media following practice on Sunday, the third day of training camp. Following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head coach Gary Kubiak (morning practice)(on LB Brian Cushing's first day of camp) "He looked very good. Actually, we told (linebackers coach) Johnny (Holland) to give him half of the reps that he would normally get, so Johnny held to that. I caught him a couple times trying to cheat him in there, but he looked good. I think his conditioning level is good. So we'll go back and look at film but it's good to have them all out here."
(on how you control LB Brian Cushing from trying to do too much too early) "You know, with this young man, I think he's fine. This kid just loves the game. He's all about studying and football and taking care of himself. I think he'll be fine. He's one of those guys that will be a pro very quickly, and he showed that during the offseason."
(on if LB Brian Cushing will be allowed to hit teammates in practice) "I told the guys after practice today, 'We had some great hits out here today that we're going to all love on Sunday, when we're playing somebody else.' So we've got to make sure we're protecting each other, too. So we have to be smart."
(on if DE Connor Barwin is big enough to be play on the line) "He's an undersized end. We know that. He's an athlete. You guys saw the play he made today when we're trying to throw a jailbreak-type screen and he goes up, and he must've got off the ground pretty good. So that's up to us to put him in the right spots. He's going to be a 265-pound player, but he is strong, he's cat quick, and it looks like he's going to be able to hold his weight. He's been fine these first few days."
(on if he worries it will stunt DE Connor Barwin's athleticism if he puts on too much weight) "Yeah, I think so. To just say, 'Hey, we need you bigger,' we make him not the same player he is at 265, then we're making a mistake. So I think it's about us seeing if he can do a job at that weight. If he could put on a few pounds and still play at that level speed-wise and stuff, then that's a bonus. So we'll have to see."
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak (afternoon)
(on moving DE Tim Bulman inside today) "I think it was just to experiment a little bit. Amobi (Okoye) did more today. He actually did some one-on-ones and did some nine-on-seven, so he took a step forward in his progress, but Bill (Kollar) is doing a little experimenting with those guys, especially in nickel."
(on DE Antonio Smith's exchange with Bill Kollar from a head coach's perspective) "That's part of competition. The guys are competing, and one of the things we talk about as a football team all the time once camp gets started is operating in stressful environments, and we're in one. Nowadays, with the open practices and those types of things, unfortunately things sometimes are going to get heated up and fans may see something like that, but you just address it. We did, and it's over. It's part of competition. I know we've got two guys who are trying to be as good as we can be, and then we'll move on to the next day."
(on if it bothers him that fans saw the exchange) "Does it bother me? Well, that's part of the world we live in now, because we're trying to be very open to our fans and have them be a part of our team from that standpoint, watching practice. I think it's a great thing, but unfortunately those things are going to happen from time to time, so you just gotta make sure with the football team, you get them out of the way and move on to the next day. And we want to leave it that way. We want our fans to come out to our practice and be as close to it and as part of it as they can."
(on those interactions being part of the game) "Exactly, you're out there competing, you're getting coached hard, you're playing hard, and tempers flare from time to time. They go back in their meeting room an hour later and they're fine and they coach each other, and the player does his job and the coach does his, so it's part of our job."
(on team injuries) "(TE) Clark Harris missed this afternoon, had some migraines, so we sent him home to get some rest, but other than that we're OK."
(on positional changes today) "Nothing's going on. Probably the only guy that's running in a bunch of circles right now is (James) Casey, because Vonta (Leach) is not here. He's working as a tight end, working as a fullback. It's been very difficult on him, but in the long haul, it's going to be great for him."
Assistant head coach/defensive line Bill Kollar(on DE Antonio Smith's assessment that he might be the type of coach that players butt heads with but learn from) "What happens is that I'm the type guy where I'm wanting to try to get the most out of every player. Doesn't matter who it turns out to be. So to me, you've got to end up staying on the guys and rib them and keep on them to keep working, so there's no doubt about it. I end up having little confrontations here and there all the time just for the simple fact that I'm trying to hit that live wire that's going to really end up getting them going. Again, it turns out to be really nothing to it at all, but I'm going to try my best to get every single player to play as good as he can play."
(on DE Connor Barwin's practice) "Well, he had a couple of good pass rushes on the one-on-one and (was) pretty decent in the team on a few plays, but I mean he is definitely very athletic, runs real well and he plays real hard, so he's got a chance. He's got a long way to go, but especially after today, we finally got the pads on and he did a pretty good job for his first day in full pads."
(on his observations of DE Connor Barwin in pads) "He's definitely not afraid, and what I mean by that is that he's a hitter. You've got some guys who aren't really true hitters and stuff, but he'll hit it, it doesn't matter to him, and he weighs 255 pounds and he's going to get in there and scrap with all of them. He did a good job today, especially when you gotta remember that he only played one year at defensive end."
(on if it is a problem having two rookies, LB Brian Cushing and DE Connor Barwin, projected to play major snaps on defense) "I don't think at all. Really it depends on the players. When I was in St. Louis in 2001, the first year I got there and Lovie Smith and stuff were there, we had a bunch of rookies that ended up playing for us and we ended up getting to the Super Bowl, and unfortunately we lost it, but I don't think, with those guys, especially (it's a problem). Barwin and Cushing, those are two serious guys that are sharp, pick stuff up well. I don't think that's a problem at all."
(on working with DE Connor Barwin's switch from basketball to football) "Well, he's played basketball, but a lot of players have, so he's really a football player. The biggest thing is that he was a tight end instead of a defensive end until his last year, but I don't see a problem at all. He's very athletic, moves well and stuff, and did a good job today."
(on Barwin's size for attacking the play on the line of scrimmage) "It's going to take some time just like any rookie that comes in. You like him a bit more on the open side than, say, maybe compared to the tight end side, but I think he's got pretty decent strength. It's not like he's overly strong, but he's got decent strength and uses his hands well, so I think he'll be able to take care of himself."
Linebackers coach Johnny Holland
(on thoughts about LB Brian Cushing's arrival) "We're glad to have him back and we hate that he missed the first few days, but we'll get him caught up. Cushing is a good student of the game and very conscious of how he plays and what he does, so we're real excited about getting him through the reps and improving himself as a player."
(on LB Brian Cushing embracing the attention) "He went to USC, so he's used to the spotlight. And he played some big-time football so it's not too big for him, and that's one of the reasons we drafted him. He played in some big-time games and he's been on some national championship (contending) teams, and we're excited to see what he brings to the table for us."
(on LB Brian Cushing's performance dictating the defense's success) "Absolutely. During training camp, we're just trying to find out what he can bring to the defense, and we drafted him to come in and be an impact player. We feel like he has the athletic skills and the ability to be an impact player for us, so we're very excited to get him through training camp and start the preseason games and see what he can do."
(on allowing LB Brian Cushing to hit teammates during practice) "We don't want to hurt any of our guys, but if a pass is thrown and it's time to hit, we will hit. As a defensive player, you have to get used to hitting, so we'll get him hitting somebody."
(on maintaining high expectations for LB Brian Cushing) "We just have to let him realize that he is one of the 11 guys on the team and we're not bringing him in to carry the team. We have some good players on defense and we're not going to put a lot of pressure on him. We want him to be the player that we expect him to be and we want him to improve every day. We expect, when day one comes, for him to be an impact player for us. We're not putting all the pressure on him to come in and turn our defense around."
(on similar expectations for DE Connor Barwin) "We like what he brings. He's a speed guy and brings a lot of athletics to the D-line. Hopefully, he can put a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks."
(on expectations for physical linebackers this season) "We hope so. Our motto is we want to get more sacks and we want to get some pressure from all the groups, especially our linebacker group. We feel like we have some tools with some guys now that could bring some pressure on the quarterbacks. When we get a chance to blitz, we want to be able to get to the quarterback."
(on LB DeMeco Ryans getting an interception at practice) "DeMeco just had a man coverage and he was underneath and made a play, but we expect DeMeco to make big plays. It's going to be a big year for DeMeco. He's a great leader on our team. DeMeco expects to make big plays as well. We appreciate his leadership and what he brings to the table and his playmaking ability."
DE Connor Barwin(on high expectations for he and LB Brian Cushing as rookies) "Everybody keeps asking me that, and I think me and Cushing both, we wanted to come to a team that expected high things of us. That means they think you're a good player and they're going to put you in situations to be successful. So I think we both worked hard this summer here. We both feel prepared and we're going to do everything we can."
(on the differences between training camp and earlier camps) "Well, when I did minicamp, it's different because none of the starting offensive linemen were here. So that's probably the only difference. And today, we finally put the pads on. We didn't have them on at minicamp."
(on the intensity of training camp) "Yeah, it picks up. But I mean, minicamp, guys were playing fast, too. Guys were trying to earn spots at minicamp, and it's the same thing out here every day."
(on how far behind LB Brian Cushing might be) "He's not far behind. He just needs the reps. We've had reps already, and he hasn't had the reps. He's not far behind, just the more reps he gets, the better off he will be."
LB Brian Cushing(on the transition from college directly to the starting lineup in the NFL) "I don't think it's asking way too much. I played at a high-powered program and I'm ready to play in the NFL, so I just need to keep doing what I'm doing. I came from a great program where I've been trained and prepared to do this, so I'm ready."
(on the reception from his teammates as he comes in as a starter) "Absolutely. It's been a privilege coming in, there've been no hard feelings. Guys know why I'm here. It's been special so far."
(on not being able to be here for the start of camp) "I guess due to legal issues I really couldn't be here when I wasn't under contract."
(on if it's frustrating missing two days of practice) "Yeah, it is. I mean, any time your team's here and you're not there, it's something you don't want to have. You want to be here every possible second you can be, you know. But I'm here now, and that's what's important. We've got a lot more camp left."
(on the fans attending practice on his first day) "It's good. I wasn't expecting all that, but it was an open practice and I'm glad we could give back to the fans."
(on the transition from college to professional football) "It's a little bit faster, a little bit faster. Everything's just amped up a little bit more."
(on if he wants to have an impact on the defensive game) "Oh, I do. That's what I came here for. I always want to have an impact on whatever defense I play for."
(on if his college coaching will help him move into the pros) "Absolutely. I came from an All-Pro, maybe future Hall of Fame coach (USC linebackers coach Ken Norton, Jr.). That's just something I've been real happy about. He's given me the experience of himself playing, and that's just something I'm used to now."
(on signing his contract) "It's a relief. Money, whatever. It's just good to get done and come back to the team."
(on missing the first days of practice) "It drives me crazy. It's stressful. It's a part of the business to get the deal all worked out, and everything is stressful. You just want to get back out there on the field and get ready for the season, but I'm here now and that's what's important."
(on what he was thinking while working out) "Hopefully to just have my phone ring as soon as possible to get back on a plane and get back to Houston, that's what I was thinking about."
(on reporting being a rookie) "I came back. I was expecting to be able to work out but with the legal issues not being under contract, I can't really work out. I would be a liability until I got paid."
(on what he was told about workouts) "They appreciate me being here, but I really can't right now because of legal issues."
(on what he can offer to the defense) "I think I'll bring a hard-working attitude. I'm the kind of guy that comes in day in and day out and goes as hard as I possibly can. I'm here to work and I'm here to improve this deffense and this team."
(on advice given by LB DeMeco Ryans) "He was telling me to get through it. He was here as a rookie, he's an All-Pro linebacker. He helped me out, and we'll get through it day by day."
(on the importance of leaning on other linebackers' experience) "It's important to get advice from the guys that have been here before. That's what you have to do. Especially as a rookie coming in, I'm lucky enough to have those kind of guys around me to guide me through in order to get through camp."
LB DeMeco Ryans(on what LB Brian Cushing has to offer) "I think Cushing is going to be a physical player. He'll be a big-time playmaker, which will give us an opportunity to get off the ends and get after the quarterback."
(on head coach Gary Kubiak saying that the defensive success might be dictated by LB Brian Cushing's performance) "He doesn't deserve that. I think that's too much to put on him coming in as a rookie to say that the defense is going to dictated off of what he does. I wouldn't say that. He is an integral part of what we're doing."
(on both LBs Brian Cushing and DeMeco Ryans liking to hit) "Oh yeah, it's going to be a good combination, he, myself and whoever emerges as the starter from the other side. We're going to have three good linebackers."
(on the defense giving the offense fits in practice on Sunday) "I think we're getting used to what we're doing and we're being able to work a lot faster now. Everybody will have their day. Some days we will have our day, so today was our day."
(on his interception in practice) "It felt good getting my hands on the ball. I hadn't got one in practice yet, so that was the first one. It felt good to get my hands on the ball and lift the spirits of the team a little bit."
(on being able to make more plays with a more aggressive defense) "It should be, just to get my number called out more to blitz and try to make things happen in the backfield."
(on first impressions of LB Brian Cushing) "He's a good player. He took it slow today. Like I told him to do, just take it slow and don't try to do everything at once and it will just come to you. It's a lot on your plate. We've been installed for three days already, so it's a lot to come in and just get going right off the bat."
Texans DE Antonio Smith
(on the incident with defensive line coach Bill Kollar) "Those are things that happen all the time in football. They're heat-of-the-moment type things where it gets out of hand. But a coach knows it, a player knows it, it happens with other players all the time, and then once it's over, it's over. You shake each other's hand and say, 'My bad, I was in the wrong, I was in the wrong,' you just apologize and the next day is brand new. I don't think that anybody ever holds grudges. It never gets to be a big thing. It's just a little disagreement."
(on his disappointment that fans saw it) "I was real disappointed about that. I actually talked to Travis (Johnson) about that, saying that with what we're trying to do and the image that we're trying to bring, that that's not a good thing for the kids to see, especially with everyone out there. Just seeing a person lose their composure like that is not something that should be displayed out there on the field."
(on the specifics of the argument) "It was just a disagreement. I don't know exactly what it was, it was like an everything was good and then it just busted to a head. It was like the whole day. They were coaching hard, we were trying to perform hard. It just gets to a point sometimes where heads just butt and then you shake hands, you butt heads and then you go at it again."
(on his feelings about Coach Kollar) "I said yesterday, I think highly of him. If you watch what he's doing, listen to him, he's coached good players before. Until yesterday, everything had always been cool. I understood the way he coached, how he did it. It was just like a system overload, but we're back cool again. But he coaches in a style that I like."
(on how he and DE Mario Williams will work together on the defensive line) "We're just going to play our hardest. I know what he brings to the table, and hopefully I can show him what I bring to the table."
(on if he will play inside) "It looks like some inside, some outside. Wherever I'm needed, basically."
(on DE Connor Barwin's play today) "He's coming along. Each and every day, he's learning more and more. You gotta learn quick, especially in training camp. Coaches don't wait on you, players don't wait on you. You have to keep going, and I think that he's doing a great job. It's only his second day, and me and him are about the same. We're messing up on the same plays."
(on his speed off the edge) "Yeah, he's got a lot of speed off the edge. He just needs to be himself. Sometimes, you get in the NFL and you get to thinking big, and it's not really that. You just need to have confidence in what you're doing and be yourself."
(on comparisons to the Cardinals and the Texans) "I see a lot of comparisons. I've seen it since day one when I got here. It's the same taste I had in my mouth when we went 8-8 but knowing that we were like a 10-6 team or a 12-4 team. It's the same thing that I see here. Every day in the locker room, out there on the field when things go wrong, I see it. I see the exact same things that I saw and I felt in Arizona."
(on the things that sparked Arizona to go from 8-8 to the Super Bowl) "It was several different sparks. I think the season that we went 8-8, after, we realized that we could beat good teams. We beat Pittsburgh, a couple of other good teams, and once you realize and have confidence in yourself and your team, it turned something else on. So that next season, we came in knowing that we could compete with the best of them, and it got to the point where we had to figure out again – humble ourselves, as I might say, because we got big heads there for a minute – how to play as a team again. And I think that once you develop as one unit, as a team and everybody is on the same page, you can't be stopped."