Texans general manager Rick Smith joined 'NFL AM' on the NFL Network, Wednesday morning. The following is a transcript of his interview.
On what the message to the team will be when the Texans start training camp: "Obviously that's on Gary [Kubiak] to determine that and deliver that, but I think overall as an organization I think we know that we're good enough. We have had some success over the last couple of years, but it's not the success that we're looking for. We're poised. I think we've grown over the last few years and we've gotten some critical experience. It takes mettle to win a championship and I think we've gone through some of the things that you need to go through as an organization and team to put yourself in a position to perform when you need to. That's what I think is important and we want to win a championship."
On if there is a way to prevent peaking too early during the season: "I think you have to go out each week and you have to play your best football. I think if you do that, you give yourself a chance in this league. It's tremendously competitive and so I don't know if you can control that; the football Gods have a little bit to do with that, injuries have something to do with that, so you just have to go out each week and play."
On if Ed Reed, Arian Foster and Brian Cushing will report to training camp healthy: "First of all, we have an outstanding sports medicine staff. Geoff Kaplan, our head athletic trainer, I can't sing his praises enough because he does a tremendous job with our guys. Roland Ramirez is our rehab guy and so they do a great job. They're smart with the way that they progress our players back and so what we know is that we want those guys to be ready when we suit up Week 1. So how we get to that point, they'll be smart about that."
On rookie wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins:* "I will say this: obviously he is a rookie, he's a young player and the wide receiver position is a difficult one to transition into in the NFL in year one. I think the reason why you continue to hear things about this young man is because it seemed like every day on the practice field he did something – a one-handed catch or just something that just showed you and reminded you why we thought that he could come in and really help us. He's going to go through his growing pains just like any young player, but we do expect him to help our team."
On if he sees DeAndre Hopkins stepping into the role as the number two or number three wide receiver: "I do. We put him out there in the huddle with the ones from the beginning and he looked like he belonged. So like I said, he will have some growing pains; we've got to coach him through that and work him through that. But we have some other young players that are talented as well, so that receiving corps, it's young but I think we have some talent."
On if there will be a way to get rookie safety D.J. Swearinger onto the field: "One of the things that I think you know is [defensive coordinator] Wade Phillips is a smart man and he knows football. He knows how to put players in positions to be successful. When you watch D.J. kind of operate on the field, he operates like he's been there before, like he's a veteran. He has savvy, he has presence, he has awareness and he did some nice things during our camp as well."
On if DeAndre Hopkins and D.J. Swearinger are still unsigned: "That's correct, and [Brennan] Williams one of our third-round picks as well. Chris Olsen, our VP of Football Administration, handles that and I don't have any doubts that we'll be able to get those guys done."
On what quarterback Matt Schaub needs to get better at: "First of all, this guy has been tremendously successful. He's thrown for a lot of yards, he's obviously been to the Pro Bowl a couple of times because he's been very productive. Quarterbacks are judged by championships and that's just a function of the position, that's just a reality and he understands that – he knows that – and he does have to play better in those situations for us to take our team to the next level."
On if he thinks Matt Schaub gets enough respect: "I don't think so. I just don't. Those numbers are very, very impressive and you don't see that very often. Matt is a tremendous leader, he's in the locker room and training room first, he's out last. Our team knows that he's our leader and I don't know that he worries about that. I don't think he does; he knows that his teammates respect him, I think that he knows his teammates have confidence in him and that's what's important."
On if defensive end J.J. Watt can be just as impactful this season as he was last season: "I think he can and I think he can be better, and I think that he believes that he can be better. It's because the guy works; he's a tremendous worker, he's very talented athletically. But what's rare about him is he has the physical attributes and he has the work ethic, but he's also so instinctive. That's the rare combination. He has it all and I see his career continuing to get better."