Members of the team spoke to the media on Monday following the Texans' two practices. Following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak Texans assistant head coach/defensive line Bill Kollar Texans TE James Casey Texans LB Brian Cushing Texans WR Andre Johnson Texans DT Frank Okam Texans T Eric Winston
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak (morning practice)(on CB Glover Quin's health) "I don't know. He came in this morning with a bruise on his outer leg and said he was fine. He came out here to practice and got about a half hour into it and said it was bothering him real bad, so (we'll) just keep our fingers crossed."
(on RB Arian Foster's camp performance) "It's very early, but it's obvious – he's impressive. He's kind of what you look for. He's a downhill runner, no nonsense. He's got a big body. Reminds me of Chris Brown when he came out of college a few years ago. So we'll see, but I think we knew we were getting a talented young man. As long as we have everyone else in line and he's being a pro and taking care of his business, he's got an excellent chance to help the team."
(on FB Vonta Leach's situation) "Well, I don't know. I talked to Vonta and I think he's going to have to return for a funeral, either Wednesday or Thursday, but he will be here until then."
(on whether FB Vonta Leach was featured during the team portion today) "Nah, I think it just happened. I told him we added some periods to practice since he missed a couple of days, so I think everyone is mad at him now. That's not true."
(on G Kasey Studdard lining up with the starters in place of G Chester Pitts) "(What we're looking for) is consistency as a player, knowing that he can be there week in and week out as the starter. And with us giving Chester a break and getting his shoulder back to 100 percent, we're finding out a lot about Kasey, and Kasey's finding out a lot about himself. So it's an important year for him. I mean, he's what – year three, am I right? And at that time, it's time to prove that you can start in this league, and I think he's on his way to trying to get that done."
(on how he will handle G Chester Pitts during camp) "I'm going to be smart with him, but I think Chester has made his greatest strides as a player in the last year-and-a-half for us because I think he's worked at a level that's been, to me, more than he's worked in the past. So I think work is the key to Chester's success. I think he needs to get back out here, but we're going to be smart. We're going to get his shoulder feeling good."
(on if he wants to see what G Kasey Studdard can do in games) "Absolutely. Those are the guys who are the meat of the preseason; that's where their season is. They're starters during that part of the season, basically, with how much they play."
(on LB Brian Cushing's haircut) "I thought it was pretty impressive for him to grow that crop and let those guys do that to him last night. I know one thing—they know he's with them. I know that. It was pretty impressive."
(on LB Brian Cushing just wanting to be one of the guys) "No doubt. No doubt. No doubt."
(on competition getting heated between offensive and defensive linemen) "It's great competition over there, but they respect each other. I don't know what happened over there; I've gotten some stories today. They had a pretty good competition going on. They're teammates, but they're all trying to get better. It's just great work, and with (assistant head coach/defensive line) Bill (Kollar) and (offensive line coach) John (Benton) and (assistant head coach/offense) Alex (Gibbs) over there, that adds to the fire."
(on if there were any other updates from the morning's practice) "No, pretty normal. We work them pretty darn good, as you could see. We went a good two hours plus. The thing I like now is that our veteran groups are holding up really good. We've got some young guys trying to catch up with the NFL and what it takes on a daily basis to be out here, but the core of our football team is in great shape. I think (strength and conditioning coach) Ray (Wright) has done a great job with them."
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak (afternoon)(on special teams coach Joe Marciano) "Joe probably has as much experience in special teams as anyone in the game of football. He's just a hell of a coach, great teacher. He really gets after his guys and does a good job. He's a great person, too, so just really fortunate that he was here when I got here."
(on working in WR Darnell Jenkins) "Well, he's in direct competition with a guy like (WR) Jacoby (Jones), so they're going to share return duties throughout the preseason along with a few other guys, and they're out there battling as receivers. He'll get every opportunity. He's had a good offseason, and he'll have a good chance to make this team."
(on CB Glover Quin's health) "We don't know yet. I'm fixing to go talk to Dr. Lowe in a few minutes, so we'll find out. He was out here today watching the afternoon practice, but we don't know yet."
(on who has surprised him so far) "That's hard to say. There's been a lot of surprises, I should say. Young players, when you look at (RB Arian) Foster, he's been impressive throughout these past four or five days as a back. Us being unable to get a back in the draft, that's encouraging for us. (CB Glover) Quin has been very impressive as a young player getting a lot of reps. I think (CB) Brice McCain had an excellent morning this morning. Some young guys are starting to show up, and that's important."
(on whether it's hard to get overly optimistic) "It's not, really, because I've been doing it for so long and regardless of expectations, how high, whatever the case may be, what matters is how hard you work and how good you get this team. There's a lot of things that are going to happen between now and opening day that we're probably going to have to deal with. We'll probably have to deal with a few injuries, a few distractions, that sort of thing, where we're at as a football team in a month. We'll just take it day by day. What's it been now, four days, five days now, and (we're) relatively healthy, and hopefully we keep doing that and see how far we come."
(on his building confidence as a head coach due to his three years of experience) "Well, I've gotten more comfortable each year. Probably the biggest comforts for me are the coaches I've been around and had on this staff for years. On the offensive side of the ball with (offensive coordinator) Kyle (Shanahan), that's a big load off of my mind from the standpoint of teaching, running those meetings and doing all of those things that coordinators do, so I'm very comfortable with him and that's freed me up to do a lot of other things. I'm just trying to grow with this team like everybody else. It's almost like we all came into this together, the young players, myself, some of these young coaches, and we just all have to keep getting better."
(on the difficulty of making cuts) "Yes, it's very difficult. Kind of like today, without going into names. I met with a man today who I think is very, very talented, but I'm trying to figure out how important it is for him to make an NFL team. I sat down and told him, you can't imagine how many kids would like to have your ability, and if you can find the work ethic, you could make a great living. I think I enjoy that part of the job, dealing with those young men that I think have a chance to have pro careers and be successful, as much as I do anything else."
(on fewer reps for RB Steve Slaton) "No, he's getting his normal reps. Obviously, we're going to split those between (RBs) Chris (Brown), Arian (Foster) and Ryan (Moats). Those guys are going to get there reps also, but believe me, Steve is carrying his load."
(on if RB Steve Slaton's role this year is different from last) "It's really not, it's the same. Steve is a year two player that got a lot of respect last year and did a lot of good things. Our biggest step on offense, he may have as much to do with that as anybody. Does he become a better player in year two? Does he pick up the blitz better? Does he pre-diagnose runs better? Those type of things. Steve has to become much better just like everybody else."
(on WR Darnell Jenkins wanting to learn multiple routes) "It's very important. It's the difference in making it and not making in this league with your backup. Darnell is a very tough kid. He will hit and he'll play physical, so that means he can play special teams. Can he return? We'll see. He has done it in college. He's making a push to try to be on this team, and he's going to have a lot of avenues to try to do that."
(on experimenting to find what works) "We don't hold back with anything. We're putting our offense in, we're putting our defense in. We have nine days that we teach. Tonight we go into day five install. We throw the kitchen sick at them, then we start to separate it from there, but you can't hold back on them. You have to give them a little bit of everything, find out what they do best and go play."
Texans assistant head coach/defensive line Bill Kollar
(on the strengths of the defensive line) "Right now, I wouldn't sit here and say, 'Well, we're great at one thing or another,' or 'We're really that weak in one thing or another.' At this time, we've only had the fourth day on the practice field in pads or shells. We're just trying to improve everything. We need to improve in the run game, our techniques and stuff, and we need to end up improving in our pass rushing."
(on whether or not he considers himself an overly tough coach) "No, but like I tell the players, when I initially start, I'm going to do whatever I can to end up getting them to play as good as they can play. That's what it really comes down to as a coach. If you're not doing that, you're not doing your job. I've got to get the most out of those guys, and that's the way I feel is the best way to end up doing it."
(on his coaching techniques) "You've got to end up making sure they're running to the ball. We work on our techniques."
Texans TE James Casey(on adjusting to training camp) "Everybody is so big, strong and fast, and it's so physical out there just getting used to the grind every day. You get all these little wears and tears on your body. You just have to push through it; that's the toughest thing. Obviously, the play is hard and it's physical out there, but it's just getting used to the grind and keeping a good attitude about it."
(on being a pro now) "Yes, it is a little bit different. The biggest difference is I was a pro before playing baseball and it's a totally different sport, nothing like the physical nature of it, but the same kind of mindset. You're a professional, it's your job, so you go about it as a job. I've already done that before, so I kind of knew what to expect coming in. It changes levels when you go from college to professional. It's a job now, and you have to take care of your business."
(on his first impressions of practice) "My first impression is I think I'm doing pretty well. I'm trying to keep a good attitude about it and not complain. I feel blessed to be able to come out here every day. I treat every day like it's my last because it could be my last. They're going to be making cuts soon, and I'm trying to make this team."
(on what has surprised him the most about training camp) "I think the hardest part for me is trying to learn all the offense because every day, we install plays and you have to go home at night, we get up at six in the morning and we don't get to the house until 10 or 11 at night. Then we have a script we have to look over to find out what plays we're running for tomorrow to find out what's going on. Right when you get home, you have to get into the playbook and find out what you're doing for the next day, and you may only get five or six hours of sleep at night. It's just the grind of it along with trying to learn the playbook."
(on the different positions he covers) "That makes it a little more difficult. I can't just focus on one position. When I'm looking through plays, I have to look at the tight end, fullback and try to learn the whole offense because I know being a fifth-round draft pick, it's not secure that I'm going to be here. I have to show them that I can do different things and if people go down, I can play multiple positions."
(on comparing being an 'A' student at Rice to football) "It doesn't matter how smart you are, it's still a lot of memorization. There is a lot of stuff you have to remember, and you have to stay on top of it no matter who you are and how smart you are."
(on not knowing what to expect in training camp) "I pretty much came into it not knowing what to expect, but I'm prepared for anything. The biggest thing to me is keeping a good attitude about it because it is a grind, it's two-a-days, but also keeping in perspective that I'm an NFL player right now. There are a lot of fans out there that would love to be in my position. A lot of college players would love to be in my position. So I'm happy about it. I'm blessed to be out here."
Texans LB Brian Cushing
(on his haircut) "It's gone. I'm a lot cooler now at practice, so I'm happy about that."
(on how it went down) "Well, it's part of the rookie entertainment kind of thing. I went up there and sang a song, and the second part of it was getting my hair cut."
(on whether it hurt him to lose it) "It's about two years right there, off in about 30 seconds. It's a lot quicker to cut than to grow."
(on how it was cut) "I just sang a song and then the second part of the entertainment was cutting my hair on stage."
(on who cut his hair) "(LB) DeMeco (Ryans), (QB) Matt Schaub and (WR) David Anderson."
(on if he got some advance warning) "I had a pretty good feeling about what was going to go on."
Texans WR Andre Johnson
(on CB Jacques Reeves) "I think he's more comfortable in his place. I think last year, he was kind of here and there, probably thinking a lot more than just playing. I think he's definitely a much better player."
(on exchanging ideas with CB Jacques Reeves) "Well, we really don't talk about it in practice. Most of the time, the things that happen in practice, once we get in the locker room, we'll talk about plays here and there. That's mostly when we talk about football. It won't be when we're competing against one another. Also, when we go in from practice and see something on film, we may come back out and talk about what we watched. We just try to help each other out as much as possible."
(on what he likes about Twitter) "What do I like about it? It's just something I do when I'm bored. You know, you have a lot of friends that are on Twitter, and it's better than talking on the phone."
(on finding out news on Twitter) "No, I really don't get into that type if stuff. I really only use it for talking to friends and stuff like that."
Texans DT Frank Okam
(on entering his second season) "You're more competent in what you're doing. This year 'round, it's the second year 'round, you're more comfortable as a player and more confident as a player, especially in your ability just to be a serious NFL football player. I'm just more comfortable in the system we're doing."
(on what he is working on during training camp) "My main focus right now is just to be solid in the point of attack, be stout, hold the double teams up, let the linebackers behind me run free and make plays. That's what they're best at. And if a play comes my way, be ready to make it."
(on how the defensive line is working together) "You know, it's slowly coming together. We brought in (DT) Shaun Cody, we drafted (DE Connor) Barwin and we got some new free agents. But the majority of the guys that were there from last year are there, so we got a year of getting used to each other's personalities and gelling and understanding. When you say something, the other guy kind of knows what you mean, what you can do and knows what your abilities and your limitations are as a player, so it's easy to adjust."
(on training camp) "It's definitely a lot fun, but it's also pretty hot and humid out here. It's difficult to get used to this Houston humidity. I mean, right now, it's just the fourth day and guys are getting a little tired; you're starting to feel the fatigue. But this is the time you've really got to try to push through."
(on his expectations for this upcoming season) "You know, my expectations, my goals I set for myself are to become a solid NFL player, someone the team can count on, can depend on and be consistent. Obviously, being the biggest guy on the team, I want to be able to hold the point of attack and let the linebackers run free and make plays. Just being more comfortable in my abilities and more competent in my abilities."
Texans T Eric Winston
(on the competition during practice) "It's no more than usual. It's a typical competition. That's what it's all about. We're out here trying to compete, trying to earn our spots and trying to get better. Everyone's going to do that and everyone's gotta do their thing. I don't think anybody begrudges anybody else for that."
(on if he was getting frustrated going up against rookie DE Connor Barwin) "No. There's a time where you can go hard and when after the whistle, you stop. Everyone's learning how to practice out here, especially the new guys. We practice a certain way. It's kind of self-policing. If you step over the line, you're going to let them know about it. It's kind of like hockey in that way."
(on LB Brian Cushing's new hair style) "I like it. You should've seen it when he had a little "Schaubie" going on. I like it. I think he even looks meaner than before, too, so I think that's going to suit him well, especially in this heat."
(on if LB Brian Cushing cut it himself) "He put the Mohawk in himself."
(on if he was the one that did the actual cutting) "No, I wasn't the one that did the cutting, but we had a little fun, to say the least."
(on if he wasn't a fan of LB Brian Cushing's ponytail) "I liked it. Hey, you gotta go different sometimes. You gotta separate yourself from everybody else."
(on if it was a ponytail elimination or a rookie indoctrination) "I think it was a little bit of both. Hey, he's here. He was a good sport about it. I think he realized he's just one of the guys. I think he wants to be one of the guys, and that's important. I think when you're a rookie, you don't have to be the top dog. You don't have to be anybody that you're not. I think he's just that guy that likes to go out there and work and likes to get better. I think he's going to be a heck of an addition on our team."
(on if it is good preparation to go against the different looks from defensive ends) "Sure. Any time you can go against (DEs) Mario (Williams) and Connor (Barwin) – you know, he's got speed. You've got (DE Tim) Bulman with the power. (DE) Antonio (Smith) has got a little bit of both. That's good. You've got to be able to change your setups. You've gotta be able to change your way of thinking throughout practice and throughout a game."
(on what DE Antonio Smith is going to bring to the team) "I think he's going to be a good anchor against the run. I think in passing situations, obviously, we're going to move him around a little bit. He's going to be tough for a guard to block. When he's down there, he's just so much quicker than what guards are used to. Then on the ends, I think he's a little bit bigger than most ends, so he's going to be able to bring both. I think when he gets comfortable out there and knows what we're doing, he's going to be a load."
(on if DE Antonio Smith's Super Bowl experience will help everyone else) "He's been there. I think he knows what it's all about. I think it's good when you have guys that have been there and done it and know how to go about their business. He's definitely going to bring a certain confidence to that defense."
(on if LB Brian Cushing will lose his "football mojo" from getting the haircut) "I don't know. Sampson wouldn't let them cut his hair, but I think Cushing is going to be just fine without it.
(on if they'll find Cushing a wig if he does lose his "mojo") "Yeah, maybe we'll find something for him."