Coach Gary Kubiak was the keynote speaker at the University of St. Thomas' Champions Club Benefit Luncheon on Friday. Afterward, he spoke about the Texans' 2009 outlook with organized team activities (OTAs) only days away.
Texans coach Gary Kubiak
(on how important OTA practices are and what the team is trying to get done in them) "Well, they're very important. First off, we're excited. I mean, it's fun to get going on football. We got through with the draft. It's a chance for us to see all these young players. The key for our team is that we just keep going and getting better. We know who our veteran players are; they need to take another step forward. We've got some young kids that are going to come in and push them, which should make us better. So it's time to go to work. I'm going to enjoy watching the Rockets this weekend, then we're going to get to work Monday."
(on where the team is with LB DeMeco Ryans' contract situation) "Well, I guess the best way I can answer that is to say that DeMeco is doing his part. I mean, he's come in, (and) he's working his tail off. He's been a fine, fine player for this organization. He's done everything we've ever asked him to do. Very proud of him, and he will continue to be a leader of this football team. I think all of those things will get themselves worked out, but DeMeco's right where he needs to be as a player, taking care of his business."
(on CB Dunta Robinson) "Well, you know, Dunta's chosen not to be there, and as I've told you all along, I understand the business. I've been through this before as an assistant coach. I believe in Dunta, and Dunta told me that I can count on him. He told his teammates that. We are doing that. I wish he was here, but that's something we've got to work through. Our attendance (at offseason workouts) has been tremendous. We've got to get these guys ready to go, and we'll get to work on that Monday."
(on if he has heard anything from general manager Rick Smith that would shed light on Robinson's situation) "No, that's Rick and (Texans owner) Bob (McNair) that have to deal with that. It's my job to get out there and coach them up. As I said, I'm planning on Dunta being there and being a big, big part of this football team."
(on if DT Amobi Okoye has a knee injury) "No, he's had a great offseason. He's gotten better. He struggled with it for about a week, but he's taken some steps forward. He's fine. He's in place to get to work."
(on how important OTAs are for the team learning the new defense under Frank Bush) "Well, you know, I don't think it's so much a new defense; it's just a new way. Frank's got his way of teaching. We're going to do base out of the same thing we've done in the past. Naturally, we're going to do some things different, but it's just time for a new leader to take this stage, and Frank'll do that starting Monday. We've also got (defensive backs coach) David Gibbs, we've got (defensive line coach) Bill Kollar, so I just think if anything, you're going to see the personality change a little bit."
(on how the competition will shape up at weakside linebacker with Zac Diles moving to that position) "Well, we'll see. I think our linebacker group is as deep as it has been since I've been here. We're going to play the best three guys, and our options are a lot better now than they have been in the past."
(on if he foresees any roster tweaking in the near future) "I would say that probably all depends on how we come out of OTAs. We go to work with what we've got right now. We've got a lot of new faces coming in. If after a week, we feel like we need to look at some more guys, we may do that. I'll make sure I keep you up to date."
(on DE Connor Barwin and RB Jeremiah Johnson not being able to show up for OTAs because of their late graduation dates) "It sets them back – they miss some reps – but there's nothing you can do. When we signed them, we understood the issue, but they're both very smart young men. They'll catch up. Just something you have to deal with in our league."
(on how he feels about the running back situation) "Well, obviously, if there's one player on our team – and I told Steve (Slaton) this – if he can take a big step forward as a player, we're going to be fine. Naturally, Chris (Brown) is back. He's been healthy. We're counting on Ryan (Moats), and we have a couple of free agent young men. The one from Tennessee (Arian Foster) will be here right away. So we feel like we're getting better up front and we feel like whoever goes back there and does what we need them to do running the football is going to be successful, so we'll get to work with those guys."