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Kubiak speaks at combine


Texans head coach Gary Kubiak took the podium at the NFL combine media center Friday to discuss the future of the team and how he evaluates draft prospects. Below is a transcript of his press conference.

Head coach Gary Kubiak

(on if the promotion of Kyle Shanahan to offensive coordinator will change the team's offensive system) "I don't think our system will change very much. Of course, making Kyle the coordinator, (he is) very young. We brought Alex (Gibbs) in, of course, to join the offensive side of the ball. I think our scheme is going to stay pretty much the same. If anything, we may get a little simpler to be honest with you, settle down. We have to get our running game better, become a better football team. I don't see a lot of changes. Maybe a few subtle changes."

(on NFL teams hiring younger coordinators like Shanahan) "That does seem to be happening around the league. I tell you, of course, he came with me from day one when I went to Houston. I've known him for a long, long time. I'm just very impressed with the job he's done. The job he did with Sherm (Mike Sherman) last year, helping me on game days, calling games. I just think he's ready to do it. I think the thing that's helped me make that decision too is that I had an opportunity to get Alex (Gibbs) to come to our staff. I said this before, Alex in a lot of ways raised me as a young coordinator. (Denver Broncos coach) Mike (Shanahan) threw me in a room at a very early age with Alex peeking over my shoulder every day making sure I did things the right way. I think it's an opportunity for Kyle to grow up the same way. I think it's a combination of the two and the fact that he's mature beyond his years from a coaching standpoint. I'm looking forward to him."

(on Shanahan being just 28 years old) "I don't worry about the age. The thing that's important to me is that you see they can handle the veteran players. In this case, there are going to be a few players older than Kyle when he walks into a meeting room. But watching him handle players, the way they respect him, the way he goes about his job, there's no fear factor from him talking to a 32-year old guard, who has been in the league 10 years. All those guys want to get coached, and Kyle has that gift of, 'Hey, I'll coach them all.' So I think it's about respect and being able to handle the older players, and he's shown that he can do that from day one."

(on what he thinks about the quarterbacks at the combine) "I'm going to find out more as the weekend goes on, but there are some fine players within that group, starting with the young man from Boston College. He looks like a tremendous player. Of course, everybody is talking about him being a very high pick. And the kid from Delaware, there is a lot of potential. I think the kid out of Michigan, had he stayed healthy, he's right there with that group. We have to sort them all out. To stand here today and say this guy is going to go here and that guy is going to go there, I don't know. I can't tell. I know there is still a lot of work to be done."

{QUOTE}(on the rankings of the quarterbacks changing) "I think there could be a lot of lead changes throughout the group, so to speak. It all depends on the next two months and how these kids do, how they handle this weekend, how they handle their workouts. There's a lot of closely watched guys who could separate themselves one way or another."

(on what is the biggest change for quarterbacks going from college to the pros) "The first thing that jumps to mind is a lot of guys are playing in the shotgun in college football on a consistent basis, the spread offense -- and it's not that the NFL is not doing it. We don't do as much of that, but we try to protect those guys a little bit more. So you're looking at a little conversion when you study some of these players, so that may separate some of them. And it's just a jump in general. The game is different. There have been a lot of guys who are maybe not so highly rated, who have made a tremendous jump. And some guys who are highly rated have not been able to make that jump well. Us as coaches, GM's, personnel people are trying to sort that out, who can get that done. It's a difficult task."

(on which position is easiest to evaluate) "To evaluate - I think they are all tough. I think that this jump these kids are fixing to make from college to the pros is the ultimate jump. To sit here and say they all make it as linemen and don't as quarterbacks. I think it's difficult for all of them."

(on if it is harder to be a quarterback today than it was back when he played) "I think so. The game is very difficult from a scheme standpoint. The people who are coming out today are a lot more athletic, bigger, stronger, faster. There's so many things that go with playing that position. You're a coach on the field. You're the face of the organization. You take on a lot of responsibility. There's a lot of pressure. There are so many things that go with it as compared to other positions throughout the game."

(on why receivers have such a hard time succeeding in their first season) "I think probably the biggest thing to me, from a coverage standpoint, is that these kids come out of college and if a guy lines up in a deep third corner, he stays in a deep third. In our league, a guy lines up in a deep three zone and plays the heck out of you in man coverage. The athletes they go against on a consistent basis out there from a corner standpoint, they are the greatest there is to offer. So the competition level, being at your best week in and week out, nothing is given to you - that is probably what separates them in the long haul."

(on if the Indianapolis Colts are falling back at all) "I don't see them coming back at all. I think we're all going to have to go get them. They are a tremendous football team and organization. (Colts coach)Tony (Dungy) has done a great job. They have one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, and it doesn't look like he's going anywhere any time soon. So we're trying to catch those guys. And Tennessee had a tremendous football team this year, Jacksonville also. We're trying to gain some ground. It's a heck of a division, but I think it all starts with the Colts."

(on if it is difficult to gauge improvement because the AFC South is so strong) "I just worry about us. Gauging off those guys would be very difficult. I have to take that into account on a daily basis. I think we're making progress. We've got a lot of good young players and we obviously have a long way to go, but I like the direction we're headed. If we can keep having good drafts, good free agencies, and not make many mistakes, I think it gives us a chance."

(on what position surprised him in '07) "I think our wide receivers, because going into last year everybody wanted to know what we were going to do at wide receiver and who was going to be our No. 2. They thought it was a big problem with our football team and when all was said and done, it was probably our strength. (Kevin) Walter played extremely well for us. So did André Davis. Jacoby Jones, a kid we drafted, looks like he's going to be a fine player."

(on if the injury to wide receiver Andre Johnson helped develop the wide receivers) "It made all those guys grow up real fast, and you never know until those guys get an opportunity. We gave a young guy like Walter an opportunity to become a starter and he responded."

(on if tackle Charles Spencer will be healthy next season) "I'll put it this way, Charles is ready to go back to work. He's doing well. When we start the offseason program, he'll be right in there with the football team. When we get to OTA's, he will be cut loose to go play. I think time will tell when he goes out there, performs as a player, he's in drills, doing football stuff again as compared to doing just rehab. We'll see how it responds. I think the jury is still out, but he's getting close."

(on if Spencer will stay at left tackle) "I sure hope so. We'll see how he responds."

(on the interview process at the combine) "I think the interview process is as important as anything we do. We're going to see these kids work out, not just this weekend, but at their individual workouts. Watching them play, studying these guys, the time we spend with them, seeing how they fit with what we do and our people and our organization, what type of kids they are, how they handle themselves, that goes a long way with me. I can only speak for me, but I enjoy that part of the process as much as anyone."

(on how defensive end Mario Williams is doing this offseason) "I don't want to say he's changed, but he's become a big-time player. We've always known he had the ability to do that. I think Mario has found his niche with our football team. He expects a lot out of himself. The biggest thing I can tell you right now, Mario has been in on a daily basis and we've only been out six or seven weeks. Mario loves to play. We expect him to only get better. He's a key to our organization going forward and he's doing everything he can possibly do to make us better."

(on how much he looks at combine numbers) "I think everyone is human. We all look at how the kids perform. But when it's all said and done, you have to go back and look at film of them a player. So many kids are so much better prepared for this than they used to be. It's important, but I think there are so many other factors that go into it before the draft takes place."

(on how defensive tackle Amobi Okoye is progressing) "He's been around. He needs to make a big jump. As I tell you, great players usually make a big jump from year one to year two, as Mario did. Amobi has to make that same jump for us to have an opportunity to compete with somebody like the Colts and the people in our division."

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