Head coach Gary Kubiak spoke to the media Wednesday about the Texans' 2007 training camp, which opens tomorrow when players report to Reliant Stadium.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak
(on his plans for using newly signed Texans wide receiver Bethel Johnson) "I see him as both (a receiver and a returner). I see him just like Jerome (Mathis). There are concerns about that leg that has given him problems that basically kept him from succeeding the past few years in this league. He has been working with our guys, he has been full time. We're not going to take this process slowly. If he is healthy, and he gets to the point where he was a few years ago, he can help this football team out, but we gotta find out. So we're going to throw him right there into the mix and see where he ends up."
(on wide receiver Keenan McCardell) "I haven't talked to Keenan. I know that Rick (Smith) has had contact with Keenan and with his agent. It looks like to me he is trying to make a very tough decision. I think he understands where we're at. He knows what we feel like we can do as an organization. There's a tremendous opportunity for him to come in here and compete with our group of receivers. I think he can help our football team, but that's a decision he has to make. We've been through it, and I would expect him to probably do something pretty quickly, because knowing him, he wants to be in a camp from the start. Our door is open, and he knows where we stand."
(on experimentation with Von Hutchins and Dexter McCleon at safety) "Well, the key for those two guys, is that they give us versatility. They're lining up at the safety position as we start Friday, but they will be playing some corner. We are going into camp with seven corners. We let the young kid go the other day, and the reason we did that is because Von and Dexter can go outside and play. They're versatility is what's going to give them the biggest opportunity to help this football team."
(on season's expectations) "We're trying to go from point A to point B. Where was point A? It's probably when we were here last year and I was talking to you getting ready to step on that field. And to me, point B is us competing to be a playoff football team. That's our goal. When we walked off the field last year against Cleveland, that's what I told our players. That's the way we'll operate from now on. We're trying to become a playoff football team. Do we have a long way to go to get there? We do. But that's the way we're going to think. That's the way we're going to operate. We went out and got our football team better on paper, but that doesn't count. It only counts when you do it on the field. So now its time for us to go back to work, and that will be our mindset."
(on whether his perception of being a head coach has changed in the past year) "Last year when I started, you think you know, but as the year went on, it is unbelievable the things you deal with on a daily basis, and the responsibilities you have. I feel much better now, much more comfortable going into camp, where we're at, how we're going to go about it with the coaching staff. I have confidence in them that we will do the right things. So, just from being more comfortable with my job on a daily basis, players, moves that we have to make, dealing with Rick (Smith) on a daily basis, I am much more comfortable."
(on what will change during training camp from last year) "I don't know that much will change. We will practice the same way, we will go about our daily business the same way. I think one of my biggest challenges this camp is that we have some veteran players that I know are going to play well for this football team, but I've got to be very, I don't want to use the word protective, but make sure I get them to open the day, so those will be some tough things to do along the way. So how we practice those guys, how we use some of those players will be a big challenge. But we have to get our work done."
(on player's injuries, specifically defensive end Anthony Weaver's) "Two guys come to mind right now. First, Anthony's bottom half is better than it's ever been. His legs are great, and his knee is fine. He's way ahead of the game from that standpoint. His upper half and his strength is a little behind because he hasn't been able to lift as much so he will be on the field twice a day, but will be out of contact periods and we're going to try to catch him up physically. I have spoken to Anthony and know what he's all about and he's getting ready to play, so I've got to be very smart about him, but I have no doubt in my mind that he's going to be fine. The one concern that was a big surprise to us as we are getting ready to go here has been Jameel Cook. He had a little minor knee cleanup toward the end of last year, and developed an infection a few weeks after the surgery, which was a big setback. We felt very good that he was going to be fine, ready to go, and one hundred percent, but that's not the case. He could be from a week to two weeks out from getting onto the field. That hurts us a little bit, I expected him to be out there. With that taken place, one of the things we have chosen to do over the last month is we're going to take the young kid (linebacker Jon Abbate) that we signed and we're going to try to make a fullback out of him. We'll see how that goes, but we're going to give him some repetitions. We're going to move Jon to fullback, and we've been working him in throughout this past month and catching him up. I liked how physical he was in camp, he's a smaller linebacker, and I like his hands. He's smart, and that's what we look for in a fullback. We went to him and said what do you think? We think we can give you an excellent chance to help our football team. We'll see where he stands. With Jameel (Cook) being out, going to give him an excellent chance. Jameel would be the other possibility (at fullback)."
(on possibility of a Mexican player joining the Texans) "That is true. We are working on that as we speak. We do expect to have a Spanish player in here. At this point we don't have the name but we can have that for you by this evening."
(on Mexican player not counting against roster) "Correct, he does not count against the roster. It's happening around the league. Everybody gets one player."
(on adding depth at the tackle position because of Charles Spencer's situation) "Well, we did work out a player yesterday. We worked out a tackle, Kevin Barry, yesterday. There are a couple of other teams working him out. He played for Mike (Sherman) in Green Bay. He was injured last year, he was out the whole time. We talked to him and nothing happened. He has moved on to his next work out so as of right now nothing is going to take place."
(on having all five quarterbacks at camp) "Yeah, everybody is here ready to go. Along with Sage (Rosenfels) and Matt (Schaub), we got Bradlee (Van Pelt), and of course "Q" (Quinton Porter) came back from the World League. Then (Jared) Zabransky got his ESPY so he is ready to go."
(on Charles Spencer talking about his injury at OTA's) "He got real down here over the past two weeks which is understandable. When we made the decision to go back in and scope him, they wanted to see exactly where the knee was and was it healing correctly. Process-wise, how is he doing? We actually went and got this specialized treadmill specifically for Charles that takes weight off his body so he can run on it, an idea we got from the Rockets. He was making great progress but stepping on that football field is another thing. The doctors had decided its time to slow down. They took a peak and its going right and he's back on the program again. But he's definitely not ready to get thrown out there, so we are just trying to do the right thing. By doing this we feel like we still have a chance this year. Had we done that we may have set him back so we are trying to be a little more cautious, but he is back to work. It's just the healing process and we knew it was going take some time but as far as the doctors say, everything is going to plan and its going to continue to take some more time.
(on having a one-on-one with defensive end Mario Williams about expectations for him this year) "Yeah, I've had a lot of talks with him going into this season. I haven't set down with him in the last couple of days but over the course of the offseason we've talked many times. Bringing Jethro Franklin and Frank Bush in here and I think they have done a great job with him. I think what has happened is all the folks get off of him, I think that that's all calmed down and he's just out there playing football. If I had to give you our 3 hardest workers in our offseason, the way they've been getting ready to play this year, he'd be one of those three. I mean, he's been exceptional and I expect that to carry over to the field but we just need to get back to work and he needs to become a better player. We can help him with the group that we've put together and with bringing in Amobi (Okoye)."