Kubiak noted the difficulty of the first five games of the season, but embraced the challenge facing his team.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak addressed the media on Tuesday afternoon following the release of the Texans' 2008 schedule.
Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on the 2008 Texans' schedule) "I think the thing that stands out right away is that four of our first five are against playoff football teams and three of those are on the road. So it's a difficult beginning, but you know it's going to be that way when you are playing in a division that six games are going to be played against playoff football teams to start with. Then we are adding these other divisions, so that adds to it. It's very, very challenging, but we know what we are looking at now and we can focus on Pittsburgh as we go through training camp. I'm very excited about it. I'm very excited about the Houston Texans getting a Monday night football game. That's a credit to this football team, to the players and the way they handled a chance last year to be on a prime-time game and to our city and the direction that we are heading. I know everybody is really excited about that. I know our players feel good about that because they feel like they earned the right to play in one of those games this year. They were bouncing around today when they saw they were going to have a chance to do that."
(on if he ever has spent an entire month at home) "No, but we'll need it after those first four. That will be nice to come home and spend the whole month of October here at home with the bye. I like having a bye somewhere in the middle of the season. I think it's good. You never know when it's going to be most effective for the team, depending on your health. I think a little break there about the halfway point is usually pretty good."
(on playing several cold-weather games) "It looks like we get a couple, one in Cleveland and at Green Bay. It's some very good chances right there to play in some cold weather. The other thing that I was looking at, too, when I was looking at the early schedule, we've got a chance to play in some heat, too, with Pittsburgh and Tennessee and Jacksonville all on the road early. Of course, if we were at home, you close the roof and you're fine. But being on the road, we'll need a lot of work in the heat at training camp, which we get. Hopefully, that will be something we'll be prepared for."
(on gauging the chances of trading down in the NFL Draft) "That's a better question for (general manager) Rick (Smith) to answer. My history of going through the drafts of course in Denver and the short period of time here in Houston, you can talk about those things – they are good topics – but you better be prepared to make your picks as they fall. If you are counting on something like that happening or tying to make it happen, then you are probably not preparing the way you should for the draft. So we are going to prepare to make these picks that we've got and do a good job with those."
(on having the Monday Night Football game at home) "I think that will be pretty special, and it's against a rival, of course. Monday night, if you talk to players, that means something to them. They know all of a sudden when they are the only game or two in town at that time – or that's going to be on TV that night – and all their peers are going to be watching. And I think the NFL makes you earn those games, in all honesty. If you are not playing very well or if you've been in some poor seasons, they're not going to give them to you. They've kind of rewarded our kids for making some progress last year and, hopefully, we'll be ready to play at that time."
(on Texans star players never having played on Monday night before) "Yeah, there are some kids from certain teams that get a couple a year. Like I said, I think that goes back to organizations and teams earning the opportunity to do that. I think our kids have to feel good about getting that chance."
(on if the Texans franchise's misfortunes at left tackle surprise him) "Well, I'm not sure it surprises me. I think that those things happen in football. I mean, you make mistakes, whether it's the draft, free agency or whatever, and you pay for them for a long time. I think the thing about left tackle is that that is a must position in this league. You've got to protect your quarterback; you've got to protect your franchise, so to speak. And those guys are hard, hard to find. I mean, they don't fall off of trees. You don't make one. They're a special breed. And so with this draft coming up this year, there are some very good tackles out there but at the same time, if you as an organization go and reach on a kid because you need that position, you can make a big mistake, so we've got to prepare for this draft for every position, just like we always have."
(on the health of injured players) "(RB) Ahman (Green)'s doing great, working with the team, no limitations whatsoever. (CB) Dunta (Robinson) has been amazing. It's amazing what he's doing at this point. Very driven to make it back quicker than people think that he can make it back, (and) that's a great thing for our team. We'll be smart with him, but he's working extremely hard. (T) Charles Spencer has made a lot of progress. He's still not full speed with the football team but he's a lot closer to being on the football field as a player, so we'll see how that works out. (C) Chris White, limited basis. (G) Fred (Weary), it looks like Fred's going to make it back for training camp, so he's doing well. And then our young running back, Chris Taylor, Chris is doing well and he's working with the team, so, so far, so good for all of those guys. Nobody's moving backwards for any reason."
(on if those injuries will affect how the team drafts) "No, I don't' think so. I mean, we're counting on all those players to be ready to go and being fine. From our evaluation of our football team when we finished last year to this draft, nothing's changed, so we're proceeding forward. We're not disappointed in any player that was hurt that's not going to make it back or we don't think is going to make it back that's changed our mind in any way whatsoever. We feel like those guys will all be back and ready to go."
(on G Fred Weary still being unsigned) "Well, our number one objective is to get him healthy right now, and then along the way we sure hope that Fred will be a part of our football team. So, hopefully we'll get that worked out. He's doing everything he can do. I mean, that was a serious, serious injury, and Fred's a hard worker, so hopefully we get both things taken care of here at some point."
(on if T Ephraim Salaam wants to start at left tackle again) "Oh, yeah. Ephraim plans on playing a lot more football. He was missing for a while there in the offseason, but he showed up day one of the program. You know, of course he had a lot of TV stuff going on, him and (G) Chester (Pitts), so hopefully they've calmed that down a little bit, but Ephraim's here. He was mad I didn't have his picture in the weight room, so he's in full force. He's the same Ephraim."
(on whose picture goes up in the weight room) "I thought everybody kind of had a little piece of it in there, but he didn't think so, so we'll see if we can get one of him up in there."
(on the beginning part of the schedule) "Of course, you naturally, if you look, four out of the first five are against playoff football teams, you know, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, and three of those are on the road, so that's about as difficult as it gets. But that's part of the business. Right now, our challenge is we've got to go on the road and play one of the best organizations in the game, but it's there sitting in front of us and we've just got to keep working. We'll stay focused on it. It gives us a tremendous challenge to open the season."
(on the difficulty of determining which games will be tough) "You can't get caught up in that; you've got to worry about your team. Our focus will be to get better. If we take another step forward and we get better as a football team in all three phases and get better as coaches and we find a way to find two or three more, then we're going to be right there where we want to be, so our focus is going to be on getting better. We won't beat any of these teams if we don't play good football, and so we're going to prepare our self to play good ball."
(on having the seventh-toughest schedule in league, based on last year's winning percentages) "You know, I don't know how that all works out, but I do know this: For us to get to where we want to go, we've got to start at challenges like this and go meet them head on and become a better team, a better organization, a better football team. So, like I said, our goal's to become a playoff football team, and we're going to have to be able to step to the plate against teams like this week in and week out and play good football if we expect to do that."