As usual, Gary Kubiak addressed the media after practice Friday, and the head coach made some revealing comments about the makeup of his team heading into the last few days before teams make their required roster cuts.
First off, Kubiak ended any speculation (if there was any) that roookie DeMeco Ryans will be the Texans' starting middle linebacker Sept. 10 when the Texans face the Philadelphia Eagles in the regular season opener.
Kubiak has been effusive in his praise of the second-round pick from Alabama, and says that the 2005 SEC Defensive Player of the Year has "earned" the starting job. Can't say I disagree. Ryans has taken control of the defensive huddle, and always has his nose around the ball. Like Kubiak always says, "nothing is too big" for Ryans, who is one of the team's most studious players.
In other news, Kubiak said he expects oft-injured tight end Bennie Joppru to play an important, and versatile, role on the Texans this season. That says a lot considering Joppru struggled at times during two-a-days. His body didn't seem used to the pounding. Now that he's had time to regain his strength, the former Michigan Wolverine is playing with a purpose. Everyone knew he had great hands, but it's his ability to line up in the backfield as a fullback that really has been impressive.
Not pleased with the kickoff returner situation, Kubiak reiterated that he wants to see how cornerback Phillip Buchanon does returning punts and kickoffs. Jerome Mathis won't be back for a while, and the Texans need a playmaker in the kicking game. Anyone that has seen P-Buch this preseason can tell that the more times he touches the ball, the better it is for the team.
I walked back from practice Thursday with Buchanon and we talked about the humidity. Even Kubiak, who never complains about the heat, said it was "ridiculously hot." Sweat was pouring from Buchanon's face as he carried his pads across the walkway over Kirby. I asked him whether he preferred the weather in Oakland, where he played previously, to Houston, and without a moment of hesitation, Buchanon said he didn't care what the weather was like as long as his team was winning. That showed me he has a one-track mind, which was great to hear. I'm sure P-Buch isn't the only player who feels that way.
Finally, Kubiak said injured cornerback Demarcus Faggins will have a spot on the 53-man roster, despite recovering from a broken foot. That makes me believe Faggins could be ready to contribute after the bye week, which is Week 5. Faggins, along with running back Domanick Davis (knee), linebacker Kailee Wong (knee) and Mathis (foot), will not travel to Denver this weekend in order to concentrate on their rehabilitation.