After watching from the sidelines for much of the season, rookie guard Kasey Studdard will be thrown into the fires beginning this week at Tampa Bay.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak addressed the media during his weekly Monday press conference, and several players fielded questions regarding the tough loss to Tennessee and the upcoming game against Tampa Bay at Reliant Stadium.
Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on G Kasey Studdard getting a chance to play) "He played, I think he played seven or eight snaps. And yes, before he had his injury issue, we had liked some of the things we'd seen in practice and would've liked to take a look at him. We're definitely in a situation right now where he's going to be in a very competitive environment to play for our football team. Not standing up here today saying he's our starting right guard – we're going to look at him and (G Mike) Brisiel and (T) Brandon Frye and we'll make a decision as time moves on, but there's definitely an opportunity for him to play a lot more snaps.
(on G Kasey Studdard's natural position) "He's played on the left for the most part. Yesterday he was pressed into duty on the right but he's got to be able to play both spots to be effective in this league, so he'll work exclusively on the right side now."
(on what he likes about G Kasey Studdard) "I like his toughness. He's an ornery kid, he gets after people. He loves to compete. I'm nervous about his experience and those type of things, the mental aspects; they go with playing that position at a very young age and especially against some of these groups that we're fixing to face. He's going to have to step to the plate like a lot of our young kids have had to, so he will be no different. But like I said, we're going to look at all of them."
(on if G Kasey Studdard is like his dad) "No, they were a little different. Different guys. His dad was a tackle, he was an outside player, a very athletic player. And their personalities were a little different."
(on an update on QB Matt Schaub) "All I can tell you guys right now is they're still evaluating. He took an MRI this morning. It sure looks like he's going to miss some time. Whether we're talking about the next four weeks or not, I don't think we're at that stage. I think it's very hopeful that he does come back and play some more this year, but it's going to be day to day and it's not very good today. He's in a sling, and we'll continue to evaluate his situation. I can probably let y'all know more Wednesday."
(on how to deal with all of these injuries) "Well, you've just got to deal with them. It's part of it. And today's been just a major day in trying to – (general manager) Rick (Smith) and I spent a ton of time trying to decide where we're going to go with this group, especially up front. You know, yesterday we not only lost our starting guard but we lost his backup and our backup center. So you're talking about when you think about what (C) Chris White was doing for you, you're talking about really three spots instead of one spot, and so we're going to really have to juggle our group. As I said, as John (McClain) asked me about (G) Kasey (Studdard) and what we're planning on doing there, we've got to take a look at maybe bringing in another center. We've really only got (C) Mike Flanagan right now. We've got one other guy who's snapped a football, and that's (G Mike) Brisiel, so we're thinking very seriously about activating Brisiel as quick as possible. But many, many issues to deal with right there along with our quarterback issue, trying to decide where we go this week if (QB) Matt (Schaub) is unable to go. So a lot of things, a lot of decisions that we've got to make real fast as we get ready to play Tampa Bay."
(on if QB Shane Boyd is ready) "Well, is he ready? I don't know if he's ready, but he's got to be. You know, we've got to as coaches sit down and decide what he does best and if he goes into the game as a backup to (QB) Sage (Rosenfels), I'm sure we'll be limited in what he can do and what we have to do with him, so that is a challenge."
(on the challenge posed by all of the injuries) "Well, you know, we've got quite a few guys on IR and it's disappointing, because just keeping the guys together for a period of time. But that's part of it, and you know, you can't sit around here and feel sorry for yourself. You've got to go right back to work, and we'll plug the guys in and we'll find some more players because of our issues. We'll come out of this thing, before the season's over, we're going to have a new starting right guard. Who's going to be that guy? Is (G Mike) Brisiel going to step up and play well? Is (G Kasey) Studdard going to step up and play well and take that over? Is (T) Brandon Frye going to do that? You know, somebody's going to step up and play. So there's opportunity for other players on the football team, and they'll have to step up and prove that they're capable of getting the job done."
(on QB Craig Nall signing with Green Bay) "Yes, that would've been a nice possibility to have because he has experience, he had been with us, but when (QB Brett) Favre got hurt Thursday, they signed him. I don't know when they signed him, over the weekend at some point. So that was our first option as you could well imagine but that's out the door right now, so thankfully we've got (QB) Shane (Boyd) here. We've had him around and he's been traveling with us and doing everything that a guy would do if he was active with our team, but it's up to us, (assistant head coach/offensive coordinator) Mike (Sherman) and I have got to sit down and decide what he would do best if he's forced into action this weekend."
(on the chances of QB Matt Schaub playing this week) "You know, I don't really want to say that today. I just know that if we went to play today, there's no chance. So I would say it's not good at this point and hopefully that changes, but it doesn't look good right now."
(on struggling in the third quarter, not scoring since Week 2) "Well, you're right. That's been puzzling. We have definitely struggled, and none bigger than yesterday. I mean, yesterday in the third quarter I think offensively we ran eight or nine plays and defensively we couldn't get on the field. We were on the field for 11 minutes, so it was very difficult. We took a look at that real hard last week and had a different mindset going into Tennessee. Obviously, that didn't change, didn't work out, but with all that aside, in the fourth quarter I like the position our football team was in. I mean, we're down 21-17 fixing to get the ball about the 40-yard line with a nice wind at our back for the rest of the football game, so you've got to feel good about that. But we made a mistake and they made us pay. But obviously we've got to play better in the third quarter."
(on QB Sage Rosenfels' interceptions this season) "Well, you know, it'd be hard for me to go back right now and talk about all of them. I just know yesterday, he has that one big one. We break down in protection. (G) Kasey (Studdard), I think Kasey's the one that got beat over the top and he's trying to throw a post route and can't step into the throw, ball gets away from him. He's trying to make a play right there where we've got plenty of time to get down there and get ourselves back in the game. I know he'd like to have the throw back. But he's been in some situations for our football team when he's been having to rally our football team, too, so trying to be very aggressive. I think he's done some very good things. I think he can play better and when he looked at the film today I'm sure he felt the same way, and he will have to play better for us to be successful against a group of teams that we're fixing to face. But I know he's very capable of that and our team has a lot of confidence in him."
(on making halftime adjustments) "Well, it's a very short time in pro ball; you've got 12 minutes. By the time you get in there, you're flipping around and coming right back out. But coaches leave the booth, they go down early, they prepare. By the time we get in there, I've been a part of doing it one way for a long, long time. We've tweaked it from time to time, but obviously we've got to look real hard at what we're doing and find a way to come out of the locker room better. But like I said, you've got to give them credit. Offensively we weren't on the field, and offensively they were on the field the entire time in the third quarter."
(on not scoring in the third quarter since Week 2) "Well, you're going to remind me twice. No, you're right. We haven't played good in the third quarter. I don't have an excuse for you. We're trying to find the answer."
(on holding the offensive line together) "I'll tell you what, since (G) Fred (Weary) is having his surgery today, I'll say this, there's not a guy – that guy means a lot to our team. Our guys really respect him. He's the first on the field, the last one to leave. Fred loves to play. He's played really well for us. We're going to really, really miss him. What holds the group together? I think they all hold the group together. I think that's the key to our offensive line. I think they've played pretty good. We're somewhere around seventh in the league this year, eighth in the league from a sacks standpoint. I think we have about 16 this year. We've made a tremendous improvement from that standpoint. I thought they played pretty good against a great group yesterday. Whoever steps in there will have to play well. The good news, whoever steps in there, right next to him we'll have (C) Mike Flanagan who's played in a ton of football games, he'll be able to help him out. Which ever one of the young kids that ends up being, they have a lot of experience sitting right next to them."
(on if he is disappointed in the performance of the defensive line, excluding DT Mario Williams) "Yes, I am. When you look at it as a group yesterday, it wasn't one of our better efforts. He particularly played really well, which you all know. He's got the numbers, he's got the sacks. He's playing extremely hard. He's playing both phases of the game and then there's still more for him to do. I thought as a group, it wasn't one of our better outings. Jethro (Franklin) and Frank (Bush) will tell you same thing. We played good in spots. I thought we played a heck of a first half of football. In the third quarter, we got beat up pretty good and they ran the ball extremely well on us. When that team starts running the ball well on you, you're in trouble. You have to find a way to stop the run. They're kind of a run by committee football team. If you go back and look at it, you put all three of those guys together and they were very effective running the ball. I think they were averaging 5.3 yards per carry or something."
(on the reason for not playing the run as well this season) "I think it's a combination. We're playing some teams that run the ball pretty well. Tennessee runs the ball fairly well. Yesterday, we did play it well in the first half. We just, we played very poorly in the third quarter and after the turnover, they stick it in the end zone in two plays. You're right, we haven't played the run as well as we did last year. There's no doubt about that."
(on if other teams are wearing the defense down) "I hope not. I'd like to think that's not the case. I just think that for some reason yesterday, I felt like we lost some energy in the third quarter. If you look at the third quarter, this has happened two weeks in a row. Cleveland got the ball first to start the third quarter. Tennessee got it first to start the third quarter. Both games, we went three-and-out and the defense gave us the ball right back. That's very positive. We didn't do anything with it and they go back on the field, and yesterday, they give up two big touchdowns. As far as them coming out of the locker room, doing their job, getting the ball back for us, they did that. Offensively, we didn't capitalize or keep them off the field. Those things go hand-in-hand. You have to scratch each others back from that standpoint. If we move the ball after the give it back to us, which we should have, we have eight plays, but I could sit here and talk through all eight of them and tell why they should have been better. But if we moved the ball there, maybe our defense plays better in the third quarter. It goes hand-in-hand. If we play good on offense, I bet we're playing better of defense in that quarter, too."
(on if he's concerned about the team staying together and finishing up strong) "Absolutely not. Our kids are playing extremely hard. I think we played as hard yesterday as we've played all year long. There was tremendous effort on everybody's part. As far as that turnover with (WR) Jacoby (Jones), I spent time with him today. He's a young kid. He's not getting a lot of touches right now because we've had some receivers play extremely well, so his time on the field and his opportunities are kind of limited. To be honest with you, I think it was him being aggressive, saying this may be the last time I touch the ball today, I'm going to go make a play. Looking at it, it wasn't very smart. He has to fair catch that ball and give it to the offense and let's go from there. You love his aggressiveness. You love his want to, but you have to understand how that hurt the football team."
(on if the team is capable of winning some games down the stretch) "I sure hope so. Yes, I think we are. We're capable a beating anybody if we play good football and protect the ball. We have some issues right now that you don't like having that we have to deal with, starting today. When we walk on the field on Wednesday, all those issues have to be answered. The kids have to know which direction we're going. The kids have to know who's going to get the opportunity to play right guard, who's going to get an opportunity to be our backup center. We have to get all those things taken care of and that's what we're going to work on tonight and get that finalized and get ready to go. If we play the way were capable of playing, if we protect the ball and don't help other football teams, I think we have an excellent chance to win every week."
(on the tight ends blocking better) "They've played well. We ran the ball pretty good yesterday. I thought (RB) Ronnie (Dayne) ran it pretty good. He's a little gimpy with his ankle today, that's a concern. Our tight ends have been a big part of that. I think (TE) Owen (Daniels), as you all know, has been a fine player for us all season long. I think that (TE Joel) Dreessen is turning into a fine player. I think we have a bright future with him. (TE Mark) Bruener is our guy that does all the dirty work for us, but as a group, I think they played well."
(on other injuries from the game) "(LB) Danny Clark will be day-to-day. We worked him out before the game yesterday. Our biggest hope for him was that maybe he could have been a backup yesterday. There was no chance. He was not close. It would not have been very smart to put him on the field. Today, he's not a lot better. He still has some problems. He'll be day-to-day and that's another issue we have to work through."
(on digging deep to find free agents) "It's tough out there right now. When people are picking off people's practice squad guys and you're tying to get create roster spots and your mind is starting to think about the various kids for next season, those type of things. There's a lot of other stuff going on and a lot of meetings go on Monday morning, much more so then what would happen earlier in the season. It's been a big day from that standpoint."
(on considering putting RB Ahman Green on injured reserve) "I think we're definitely at a week this week where the decision or the process needs to be sped up. I like what I saw last week. He practiced well on Friday taking the scout team. It was positive for us. He was in here today, did work out today. We're going to see where he's out Wednesday, but I think it's pretty important that he gets on the field this week. If not, then we're probably going to have to make a decision."
(on RB Ron Dayne's ankle injury) "Yes, he got it rolled up pretty good in the game. He's ok. You probably won't see him practice much on Wednesday. I'll expect him to be fine and ready to go. He's definitely added to the injury report."
DT Amobi Okoye
(on having what it takes to win but having so many turnovers) "It's real frustrating, but there's nothing much you can do about it after the fact that it's already been done other than just keep on going in there and looking at what exactly went wrong. What is it – was it not holding the ball right, was it not taking the right steps, was not my move violent enough to get there? It's just something that we've got to all find and we're all working – we're working to find that."
(on what it's like to see CB Fred Bennett do well) "Ah, man, it's lovely because each and every one of us rookies, we pull for each other. So when one person is doing great, we all feel like we're doing great."
(on if he wishes he could pull some of CB Fred Bennett's energy) "Oh, yeah, most definitely. He helps me out out there, too, like I help him out, so we try to feed off of each other."
QB Sage Rosenfels
(on how difficult it is to being so close to winning again) "Well, you know, I thought we played pretty good football. We made a few mistakes and those mistakes really cost us, and they made more plays than us to win the game."
(on the Texans' mindset in the final four games) "Well, we're not looking at the final four, we're looking at this week and that's somehow, some way trying to get a win and trying to get back on track. That's really what we're thinking about is just this week."
(on the injury to QB Matt Schaub) "You know, I don't know his situation. I haven't seen him today, I haven't talked to him – I know nothing about it. So as always, whether he's 100 percent healthy or injured as much or whatever he is, I'm going to be ready to play."
(on what he'll be able to provide if he takes over) "Well, you know, as I said, I'm looking to this week and if I play, I'm going to do the best I can to help this team win games and that's being smart with the football and making plays and running the offense and getting the ball in the playmakers' hands."
(on young offensive linemen needing to seize this opportunity) "Well, somebody's going to have to step it up for (G) Fred (Weary). And Fred was a class act on this team, one of the hardest working guys – always in the weight room, always out there doing stuff before and after practice, and he was the quiet heart and soul of our offensive line and somebody's going to really have to step it up. It's going to be impossible to fill his shoes but somebody's going to have to step it up, and the other four offensive linemen have to play great football to make up for that."
(on what he can do to help out the young linemen) "My job's not to help out the offensive linemen, I can tell you that (laughs), and their job's not to help out the quarterback. So we have guys that are going to come in and they're going to give it all they have, they're going to give great effort and play good football, and that's what we're going to have to do to win this week."
(on what he will offer the young linemen in terms of leadership) "I'm going to motivate them. (QB) Matt (Schaub) will, or whoever's playing. As I said, whoever comes in is going to have to play hard-nosed football, and at least they have a full week of practice to hopefully get in the flow of things a little bit."
(on if he has seen improvements from G Kasey Studdard and T Brandon Frye) "Well, definitely from day one when they got here obviously in the spring and all training camp, there's definitely been improvement. But you know, you just can't tell until you go out there and it's game time, and obviously having this full week of practice will help our coaches evaluate and help make their decisions and help whoever's playing in that position really get into the mix with our offensive linemen."
(on how this team is capable of closing out the season given the injuries) "As I said, I'm not looking to guess what's happening in the next four weeks, so all I can really think about is this week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are a good football team. And looks like they're in the hunt for the playoffs, looks like as of right now they'd be in the playoffs, so we've got our hands full. They've got a great defense, they've always had a great, great defense, so offensively we definitely have our hands full."
(on if he senses any give in this team) "Oh, no, not at all. We've got great character guys on this team and we're going to battle it out whatever the situation is. And we know we've got a good football team. We've lost the last two games, close ball games, to two good football teams and we were right with them to the end and they just made one or two more plays than us."
G Kasey Studdard
(on being ready to play) "I'm ready to play for this team and help do whatever I can do to help them win."
(on preparing for this moment) "You know, you always prepare yourself for this kind of moment, but it's hard to explain and I don't know what I'm feeling or anything, I don't know if I will be starting or not. I've just got to go out there and let them know they can trust me. That's the biggest thing."
(on if you can take anything away from watching on the sidelines) "You can. You can take it, but a lot of it is being in the game and feeling what's going on. That's the biggest thing, and I learned that this Sunday, yesterday, so I know a lot of things that I still need to improve on and things I can and cannot do."
(on his understanding of the offense) "I understand, I know what I've got to do. I know what the offense is doing."
(on if he has a good grip of the offense) "Oh yeah, oh yeah. Definitely. I definitely have a great grip of what's going on in this offense, but it's just when the live bullets are going, it's a lot faster, so I've got to go out there and play under poise and stuff."
(on if the team seems snake bit with something bad happening every game aside from injuries) "It is, but our team, we know that it's happened to us and it hurts us that it's happened to us. That's right here [gestures toward heart] in us, and we don't want that to ever happen again, so we're going to fight every week to eliminate those mistakes and (make) big plays and stuff like that and we're going to work on it every week and we're going to get better, and we'll bounce back quick."
(on how it feels to be thrown to the wolves) "(Laughs) Yes, pretty much. Yes, there it is. But got to go out there, and you've got to do it sometime, you know? Better now than never."