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Kubiak addresses draft needs at combine


INDIANAPOLIS - Head coach Gary Kubiak spoke to the media at the combine on Friday, addressing the team's draft needs and defensive philosophy.

Head coach Gary Kubiak

(on the 2006 draft class) "It has been a tremendous draft when you think about that there has been three Pro Bowl players, if I'm right. You go with Mario (Williams), DeMeco (Ryans) and now Owen Daniels. Amongst that group, Eric Winston has been starting for us since maybe he was four or five games into his rookie year. We felt like we also had the other tackle (Charles Spencer), too, except for an injury. David Anderson has been a big contributor on our team. So that has been an exceptional draft for us, and, of course, Mario and DeMeco have led the way from that standpoint."

{QUOTE}(on moving DE Mario Williams or LB DeMeco Ryans and the direction of the defense under a new defensive coordinator) "I'll go back to the coordinator. Obviously, we decided to go in a new direction this offseason. We just felt like we weren't making the progress that we needed to be making from a year-to-year basis. Frank will take over from that standpoint. Our philosophy is not going to change much; we are still going to be a 4-3 football team from that standpoint. Hopefully, the direction and what we become on the defensive side of the ball will be more aggressive and naturally be better. As far as Mario and DeMeco go, naturally Mario is a player who has been on our right side a majority of the time. He can play both sides. As we look at free agency and the draft, I think we do have flexibility there because of the fact that Mario can play both spots. So we'll see. We are just going to try to get better upfront as a football team. As far as DeMeco, we never want to move him. I mean, he has been a great player inside for us, but at the same time we're not going to eliminate looking at various linebackers because he is a middle linebacker. We are going to try to get better athletically as a football team and then adjust from there."

(on if the Texans are looking to be a more aggressive pass-rushing team) "First off, we have to establish an identity, exactly what we want to be from a standpoint of our base defense, what we are going to play, the simplicity of what we are doing and doing that good. I think if you are simple from that standpoint, your players can naturally be more aggressive. So we have to establish that first. Whether we pressure more or not will have to do with how we are playing on the backend. We'll wait to see what happens here through free agency and the draft, but obviously we've got to get better on the defensive side of the ball."

(on how good DE Mario Williams can be) "Obviously, there is another step for him to take. In my opinion, he's taken steps forward as a player all three years. I thought he had a Pro Bowl year in year two, even though he didn't make it that year. Of course, he had a Pro Bowl year this season, but he can definitely get better. He still is very, very young. He wants to get better; he listens. The game has become easy for him from a preparation standpoint, and when that happens for a player, usually their talent starts to really take over. So I think you can see him continue to step forward."

(on getting Williams help on the opposite side) "That's obviously an important part of our football team. We feel like we've got to get him some help. We've got to get better pressuring the quarterback and we've got to get better as a defense as a whole. But Mario's career could improve drastically the more help we can get him upfront, so that is a point of emphasis for our football team."

(on what he gets out of evaluations at the combine) "Coming here is getting to know them; that's what is important to me. I enjoy the interview process, getting to sit down with a young man face-to-face and see what he is all about and how important football is to him, just talking to him a little bit about his family and life, getting to know him. But really when it all boils down, you are going to go back and evaluate him as a football player on tape. How fast they run, how high they jump, that becomes part of the equation, but it's still all about how they play the game."

(on what he gets from one-on-one interviews at the combine) "I think you get a great deal out of it. To me, that's the most important part of what we are doing here over the course of this week; I know that is for me. Just getting to know these young men before you bring them into your program, getting to know what they are all about and really just understanding how important a football career is to them and what they want out of the next eight to 10 years means a lot to me."

(on what he gets from first impressions with the prospects) "You are going to get the best a kid has to offer initially, but you are going to do your homework on him; your homework will back up what you see usually. But I think these kids are here to put their best foot forward and get themselves in position to be successful in this draft. I think it's our job to go back and do our homework."

(on Texas A&M QB Stephen McGee) "He was in the East-West game, which was right in our backyard, which gave me a chance to watch him practice every day. I think Stephen is a very athletic young man that had some problems this year injury-wise that held him back. But he has the athletic ability, the arm, the brain, the competitive nature to play in this league. A lot of times, you see guys who go through rough spots like that in college and all of a sudden they blossom when they get to our levels. It wouldn't surprise me if he was able to do that. He's a fine young man. I think he has a chance to be a very good player."

(on new strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright) "Ray has been with us for a long while and he's earned that opportunity that he's gotten. He's great with our players; he's very energetic with our football team on game day, or every day I should say. He's a young guy, but the player's respect him and the way he pushes them. I'm really looking forward to him leading downstairs. We are going to get him an assistant here very quickly. I think Ray adds a young fire to the group down there, and our football team is very young."

(on if there will be philosophical change in the strength and conditioning program) "I don't know if there is that much of a change. I mean, the job Dan (Riley) did throughout his career was second to none, and Ray was brought up under Dan. I think a lot of it is the same. Naturally, anytime you change, there's going to be somebody's input. Ray's got some great ideas as we move forward, and we'll put some of his things into the offseason program."

(on changing the NFL overtime rules) "I don't know. We'll have to wait and see. I am kind of old school; I like the way it is, believe it or not. But I will listen to everybody else. My biggest concern if we did go to a college type overtime is that we can end up on that field a long, long time on some given Sundays. Our game is very physical and very tough. If all of a sudden two football teams are out there four, four and a half hours on a Sunday, I think it could be very difficult. We'll see what everyone else thinks, but I kind of like the old way."

(on CB Dunta Robinson's reaction to getting tagged) "He's a competitive kid. Going through negotiations like that – I know Rick (Smith) working extremely hard to try to get the deal done, as did Dunta's agent. Obviously, you are running out of time because you are on a timeframe there. But I'm glad to have him be a part of our football team. That's part of football; that's part of the negotiating process. Hopefully, that's something that we do get done and keep him here for a long, long time. But I am counting on him doing a great job and being a leader on our football team."

(on Robinson threatening to miss training camp) "I think those are some comments coming out of the negotiating process, which is only natural through his competitive nature. I can only say that I am counting on him very much for our football team. I am counting on him being there. He and I will sit down and talk about that. I am expecting him to be a leader on our football team."

(on if the team will be looking to improve defensively through free agency) "Obviously, it's something Rick and I have been discussing over the course of the last few weeks. We definitely need to make our football team better in free agency, and I think there is an opportunity for us to do that, without specific names or positions. But we've done our homework; we are ready to go. Hopefully, we can improve our football team in a couple of spots, and then when we get through with that, we'll move on to the draft. I think there are some good football players out there."

(on climbing up in the AFC South) "It's a fine division; we all know that. One of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game is in our division. Tennessee is as good a football team I've ever been around last year. Jack (Del Rio) has had his team in that position as shortly as two years ago. It's a fine division; it's a difficult division to get out of. If you want to win in this league, if you want to be successful, you've got to be able to stand up and beat the best. It's fun for us to compete in this division, and we're trying to get this young team going to where we can get there with them."

(on if RB Ahman Green still has mileage left) "I think he does. Ahman is at the point where his body has had some injuries and he has had a hard time holding up over the course of the last few years. When he has been healthy, he's done some good things for us. But I wouldn't be surprised if he did come back and help somebody this next year. I know when I talked to him the other day, he clear expects to play more football."

(on the Broncos releasing coach Mike Shanahan) "I was surprised like everyone else. Mike has been great for this league. He's one of the most successful coaches this league has seen in a long, long time. I was very surprised, but I'm sure he'll be back at it very quickly."

(on if Shanahan will take a year off to play golf) "Take a year to play golf? Only he can answer that. I think it's wearing on him. I've talked to him a couple of times and I know he misses it. Like I said, it would be good for the game to get him back as quick as possible."

(on how much he learned from Shanahan about the draft) "A great deal. I got my start in San Francisco with George Seifert and the 49ers. Really, Mike took the same system to Denver, so obviously I've been doing a lot of those things in Houston. Preparing for the combine – it seems the combine is getting better and better each year. The kids are getting better and better and the competition is. It's a week that I look forward to, and more than anything it's a chance to meet the kids."

(on making a jump in the division) "We've obviously gotten better over the course of the last two years. We've still got a ways to go to catch some of the teams in our division because they have been so strong. I think the key for us is that we have to play better in our division. Naturally, those games, a lot of people say, count as two. You play them every year. We've been OK at home; we've been poor on the road. We've got to play our division better on the road. If you are going to be successful in this league, if you are going to be successful in our division or move out of our division, you are going to have to find a way to win amongst that group. We've got to get better from that standpoint."

(on if he thinks the offense is set for next season) "Our offense has made improvements all three years, more so this past year than any. I think Kyle (Shanahan) has done a great job. Getting Alex (Gibbs) to come with us has been a huge benefit to our offensive coaching staff and our offensive football team. We've made some strides there and we feel good about where we're at. Can we get better? You bet; we can definitely get better. I think landing the young back was huge for us last year; we are very fortunate there. I'm not going to say we're set there and we're going to move on. That's not the case. We're going to try to get better on offense, but obviously we've got to make some big time improvements on the defensive side of the ball."

(on how much stock he puts into games like the East-West Shrine game) "I put a lot – how they practice, how they handle themselves. I saw those kids just walking through the hallways through our stadium. When they would get dressed for practice, I would visit with them as they walked over to the field and then watch them compete in that environment. I went out to dinner one night and saw three or four of them out to dinner at a restaurant in Houston. It's funny because throughout the week, you really ran across a bunch of those young men. Then, you watch them play the game. We've gotten a couple of kids out of that game that have played very well for us. The evaluation process for us there we are fortunate to have in our backyard."

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