Texans head coach Gary Kubiak answered questions from the media on Sunday at Reliant Stadium. The following is a transcript from his interview.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak(on the injury situation) "We came out pretty good. Lestar Jean banged his shoulder up; we're evaluating him as we speak, so he's day-to-day. Earl Mitchell got a knee bruise, he's being evaluated also. Other than that, we're okay, we came out pretty good. Richard (Scooter) Berry banged his knee, Sharpton banged his hand a little bit but we really needed to come out of that game pretty healthy and for the most part we did. I think the biggest questions going into this week will be Jean and Mitchell."
(on G Antoine Caldwell) "You know he's going to take some time. He's going to be fine. I'm expecting him hopefully to be ready to play against Minnesota but he got a good high ankle (sprain) and those things usually take a few weeks so you're not going to see him in the next couple of days."
(on if there are concerns on stopping the run) "Yeah, they (New Orleans Saints) did. They ran weakside iso. They were very committed to it in the game and did it quite a bit. We stopped it in the second half and got some things corrected but that's a concern. They moved the ball, like I said last night, they moved the ball especially in that first drive and in that first half but we found a way to make big plays. I thought we got better and saw some encouraging things on defense. I thought Mario (Williams) really took a big step forward playing Outside (Linebacker) and I thought he played really good when I went back and looked at it. Antonio (Smith) made some big plays. I thought Kareem Jackson played well in the game. There was a lot of good things going on but a lot of things that we got to get corrected also."
(on the touchdown pass from Chase Daniels to Josh Morgan) "Yeah, that was a busted coverage, bottom line. It should've been in halves but one guy was playing in quarters so that's what happens when you're not on the same page, really. Great play on their part but just a busted coverage on our part."
(on OLB Mario Williams) "If you go back and look at the game of course he doesn't have two or three sacks so that makes it easy to say that he wasn't very good but if you watch he was very disruptive in the pocket. They tried to keep a tight end on him a couple of times and he did a good job of just throwing him back in to (Drew) Brees' hip, so to speak and pushing the pocket and he played better in space and just assignment-wise, everything, he's doing better. Reggie (Herring) and Wade (Phillips) are trying to get him settled down on everything he's doing. It was just a big step forward. I think he's really taking to what they're trying to teach him, it is something totally different but you see him get better each day."
(on the cornerback situation between Kareem Jackson and Jason Allen) "Jason (Allen) is pushing to be one of our twos, there's no doubt about that but, like I said all along I think Kareem (Jackson) is holding his own. He's playing well right now and last night was a step forward for him but it's a good thing because when you have guys behind you playing well like that it makes you better."
(on how Kareem Jackson and Jason Allen's play affects his decision on the nickel defense) "Well that could be totally different. We are going to play the guy inside that we think plays the best inside. There are some guys that are strictly outside players and some guys that play the nickel really well. We've got some options and one of our options continues to be Glover (Quin) because he playing the safety position but he's played a lot of corner. He's a tackler, he can play in the slot, he can cover and he tackles well. We have some options there but we'll see how it pans out."
(on trying to improve kickoff returns) "There are some interesting things going on to me because obviously everybody coach their guys to bring the ball out of the end zone if it's five or six yards deep, so all the blocking is taking place at a different spot on the field. It's a totally new teaching thing for special teams coaches and for all of us to evaluate every week. Obviously we have been poor in the return game. Last night I could've sit here and told you it would've been different if we made a block or two but that's usually the case. I do like what I saw from Shiloh (Keo) I just like the way he hit up in there. We've got to make some vast improvements in there and just settle down. We'll really settle down this week with the people that we use in the aspect of that game. The game has changed, the game has changed from a kickoff return standpoint and we've got to adapt to it and do a good job."
(on ILB Brian Cushing) "He did a good job, he moved around very well. I thought his conditioning level held up. He played 20 or 22 plays, something like that. I said last night but it was good for him to get out there and get his work in. For him, Arian (Foster) and (Ben) Tate you know guys that have been nicked up and miss a lot of time in camp, to come out and play and play well and come out clean that was important so we're really lucky with all three of those guys."
(on RB Ben Tate) "Just leaving the meeting right now, that was the thing I told the coaches I was very encouraged with because when you play back there you want to be a three-down player in this league. You got to be able to protect the quarterback and he got his chances and stepped up and knew what he was doing. He was physical at the point so I was very encouraged by his whole game; not just his running, obviously that was good but he did handle himself well in protection too."
(on whether RB Derrick Ward will be back this week) "Yeah, he'll be back on the field tomorrow. We'll have a little light workout tomorrow and he'll be back and hopefully cleared by the end of the week and ready to go."
(on if OLB Brooks Reed could see more playing time) "No doubt, probably the one player right now showing the most vast improvement from day-to-day, practice-to-practice and game-to-game. I've talked about how he's changing position, but just watching that when you coach this guy the next day it's fixed so it's really impressive right now. He was very impressive in the football game and continues to not only be defensively but also very impressive for Joe (Marciano) I think he has the chance to be an excellent special teams player. He was a big bright spot on the defensive side of the ball last night and he played very well."
(on the depth at running back) "It's a nice problem to have. It'll work itself out. They're all different (Derrick) Ward is a bigger banger type of guy and (Ben) Tate's got the speed. Like I said, I liked his protection last night so I'm just hoping two week from now we have that problem and they're all healthy and ready to go and that we find the right way to use them. I was very encouraged last night after all we've been through the first two weeks."
(on if the depth on defense is a concern for him) "Yeah, I think it's a concern until you get going, see how it pans out. As you watch Brooks (Reed) come along, that's encouraging. (Darryl) Sharpton's very encouraging. Right now, he's playing really well for us. (Xavier) Adibi's doing some good things. On the back end, Brice McCain I've mentioned a couple times is playing well for us. So there's some good stuff going on back there. Troy Nolan is doing some good things. The further those young players come, the deeper we are as a team and it pushes those guys that are starters to get better. We've got a lot of confidence right now that we can throw a few guys out there and keep doing a good job, so that's important."
(on how much of the offense's performance falls on QB Matt Schaub) "Well, he was definitely sharp, but it sure helps when you run the football like that. That's what makes our offense go. That's what makes our play action go, all those things. The thing I was excited about offensively last night is we played well up front. Our five guys played really well and of course getting those two backs back helped. I think Matt's had a good camp. I thought the first game against the Jets, he missed his two throws or he's 4-for-5 and you're feeling good about everything. That's part of playing that position, but he was very sharp last night."
(on the blocking last night) "Well the thing we ask our guys to do is cut and that's usually the difference in whether we have some 15, 20-yard runs and not just five and 6-yard runs. We were cutting good last night. We're working hard on the backside. Owen's (Daniels) come back to me as a better line-of-scrimmage guy than he's been in the past. Joel (Dreessen) did a good job last night too. James (Casey) continues to progress as a fullback and we asked him to do a lot of things last night. Just as a group, I thought we played faster and played sharper last night."
(on the competition for the fourth and fifth spots at the wide receiver position) "I'm concerned, to be honest with you. It's so young. You usually keep five guys. To sit here and tell you who four and five are right now, I think it's a big toss-up. I think special teams have a lot to do with it. I was very excited about what Lestar (Jean) had done. I don't know if he's going to miss some time now. I won't know here for a couple days. I think it's wide open. I would just say this: whoever's going to be four, whoever's going to be five, they need to earn the spot. We're not just going to give them away. It'll be very competitive here the next two weeks."
(on QB Matt Leinart) "Matt didn't play the way he's capable of playing and I talked to him late in the game and talked to him after the game. Just didn't seem as comfortable as he did the first week. I went back and looked at what I had him doing. Was I maybe asking him to do too much? He started very sharply, hit his first two passes and then they pressured him about three times in a row in the two minute drill. He didn't really go with the ball where I'd like him to go with it. I know he knows he can play better. Like I said, he'll get to play a lot of football. He'll play some this week, play a great deal against Minnesota, but he's got to be ready to be sharp if something happens to Matt (Schaub). I think he's very capable of doing that, so we've got to go improve off last night."
(on FB James Casey) "He's coming along. We're asking him to do a lot. He gives us versatility. He's gung-ho about doing his job as a blocker. He can get his body in much better position and get more square. There's a lot of things he can do better that he's not used to playing that position. The effort, the want-to, everything is there with James (Casey). He's a real pro. You don't have any problem with him assignment-wise, what he's doing, how hard he's going to do it and I think you're only going to see him get better."
(on trying to defend the New Orleans Saints' guards up the middle) "Yeah, they do a lot of gap schemes and those type of things. For our defense, you have to understand this, we're a zone team. Zone, zone, zone. So that's what they practice against. All of a sudden we play a gap team that runs what we call power. They double-down, kick out. It's a little bit different scheme, so it's something that we have to give our defense a look with at practice. We have to script it, we have to card it, so that they're not always just getting zone football teams running at them."
(on how much percentage-wise defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will do on defense in the season opener) "I don't know percentage-wise, but I would say this; there's a progression to what we're trying to do teaching-wise defensively and we're just trying not to overload them, make sure we're good at something before we move to the next thing. The game was pretty vanilla from a standpoint with both football teams last night. I know we've got a lot of other things defensively we're going to do, but like Wade (Phillips) just told me, he's told me over and over again, until we get this right, there's no use in moving on. We did do some things better. There are some things to build on even though there was some ball movement last night. The biggest thing is encouraging the big plays we're making defensively."
(on if a decision has been made on G Kasey Studdard) "No, it will probably be made tomorrow. He had the surgery. I told you all that. He had the surgery on Friday. Doctors are trying to give us an estimate on how long they think it would take for him to get back, so then obviously we have to make a decision off that."
(on if he's closer to making a decision on the punter) "Well he (Brett Hartmann) kicked the first one up in the stands. That's what you're looking for. He's been inconsistent both in his kickoffs and his punts. I think we keep letting him battle, but we're getting down. I think we've got to cut maybe 10 guys next week and then the big cut is what, four days later, so a lot of maneuvering of the football team in the next 10, 12 days."