Notes from the Texans' practice and locker room on Thursday at Reliant Stadium:
Veteran QB input
With just five career starts in the NFL, all of which came over the last month, quarterback T.J. Yates lacks for experience. But he's blessed with an ample supply of quarterback consultants in the form of Matt Schaub, Matt Leinart, Jake Delhomme and Jeff Garcia, as well as coaches Greg Knapp and Gary Kubiak. Yates appreciates the input, and described Thursday how Schaub has helped him.
"Every day, every practice, every film session, every time we're doing something, they're always helping me out with all the little stuff," Yates said. "Matt Schaub has been in this offense for a very long time and has a lot of information that even some of the coaches don't have because he's been through it all. He's run these plays before many, many times, so often referring back to him on just little tidbits he has on certain plays and just trying to pick his brain as much as possible because he's got so much information up there that's so helpful. He helps me out a lot."
Between Delhomme and Garcia, the two have combined to play in 14 career playoff games, and have explained to Yates the difference between those contests and regular season ones.
"It's faster," Yates said. "Everything's amped up. It's kind of like the transition from preseason to regular season. The level of play keeps stepping up. Everything's faster. Everything's quicker. Everybody's going at that next level and you got to step up as well."
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is steadily recuperating after being on medical leave for a pair of games. He talked about his health today with reporters, and described what sidelined him.
"I did have my gallbladder taken out," Phillips said. "It was more than we thought it was originally, but it's still done, and everything's positive."
Phillips wishes he felt more energetic, but knows that being tired is part of the healing process. It's going to take some time, but he said he's well on his way.
"My energy level isn't where I want it to be," Phillips said. "I feel good going out there, and the last couple of days have been better, going the whole practice, that kind of thing. I feel good, and then my energy's kind of dropped, but health-wise I'm fine."
Phillips also said that after a doctor's visit yesterday, he was told that "they didn't need to see me anymore, that I'm fine."
With a team-best 11.5 sacks, outside linebacker Connor Barwin has flourished in Phillips' 3-4 scheme. He was excited to switch from defensive end after Phillips was hired last January, and his coaches have been excited at the way he's played.
"He's been exceptional," Kubiak said. "Think about how far he's come. He's a rookie in a lot of ways after the injury he went through last year and to play the way he's played I think he's played at a Pro Bowl level. Connor has got a brilliant future ahead of him, I mean, with how far he's come, he's been a big, big leader on our football team and we're all very proud of him."
Phillips saw the possibilities with Barwin, and said the move from defensive end to outside linebacker was a natural transition. With Barwin and Mario Williams in that spot, the Texans defense has made life difficult for opposing quarterbacks.
"You know, 11.5 sacks, he probably had one or two called back, but he had 11.5 sacks and Mario had five, that's 16.5 at that position," Phillips said. "So, he helped that position remain dominant for us and that's what you need in a 3-4."
"Brian Cushing's the best linebacker at least in the AFC that I've seen this year. He reminds me a little bit of Chris Spielman except he's a lot faster. I had Spielman at the end of his career in Buffalo, and he had great instinct. He makes more outstanding plays sideline to sideline than any guys I see."—Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips on Cushing.
"Everybody is on their P's and Q's this week."—Quarterback T.J. Yates on whether or not the players' have had a higher degree of accountability this week.