Head coach Gary Kubiak and other players spoke to the media Tuesday afternoon during open locker room and following practice.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak (on how practice went today) "Pretty good. You know, everything's a first for us. We put in the game plan and came out here. I'm sure it's new for all of these guys with our way of doing things as we get into a normal week. I thought we were sharp. I like the fact that we have an extra day. It gives us a chance to mentally lock into what we are doing. Hopefully we can back off for them at the end of the week and make sure they are fresh and ready to go. Practice was good. It's nice and cool out here today."
(on RB**Ron Dayne**and CB**Roc Alexander**) "Ron (Dayne) is just what I knew he was. He came out today and made no mistakes, knows exactly what we're doing. You can't ask anything better from that standpoint if you're going to pick up a player. It's easy for him to go in there and operate. How much he'll be asked to go in there this week, I don't know, we'll see. But he looked good. (CB) Roc (Alexander) looked good. They're excited to be here, and they're a little nervous (to be with) a new team. I just told them to hop in there and help these guys do their jobs. It's encouraging, and we just have to work a little extra hard to bring them along."
** "The first thing that jumps out at you on offense is that they have a Pro Bowl quarterback; what he has accomplished in his career and what he has done playing injured last year. I have tremendous respect for him and the way he plays. He's the catalyst for what they do on that side of the ball. (Head Coach) Andy (Reid) does a great job with the offense. On the defense Coach (Jim) Johnson is to me one of the most respected defensive coordinators in football. I think guys play hard, and they get after you. You had better have your chinstrap buckled when you play them, because they are a very physical football team. On special teams, they have been very explosive. (They had) the number one punt returner in football last year. They have been doing it in the preseason, so we have our work cut out for us. We know we're playing a great football team."
(on opening the season at home) "Well, it's nice to know you're at home and not going to have to battle a road crowd, but we're playing a great football team. It really doesn't matter where you play them; they are going to play well. They have had a great preseason. They are a very hungry football team to get back. You can just tell by the way they go about their business. We have our work cut out for us and we know that, but this game is about challenges. And we have one this week. The city of
has one. So let's rise to that challenge."
(on DT**Travis Johnson**switching to his friend DT Robaire Smith's number) "Well, it's tough anytime you let a player go that has been part of this thing here for so long. It's a combination of two things. It's a combination of how well (DT) Seth Payne has been playing, he's our starter going into the season, and of course, the contract that Robaire was working under. That's part of the business, making tough decisions. The players understand that; the coaches understand that. That's what we do everyday. We can't let it affect us. We have to keep going."
(on RB Ron Dayne's comments on having Coach Kubiak as a head coach)"It's business as usual. It's just another guy that I've had the opportunity to coach and be around. You gain relationships with players in this business. Every Sunday it's time to go do your job and play, that's what's most important."
(on restructuring Robaire Smith's contract) "I'd rather not get into that. It was not something that we talked about at the time. We had to make a move with our football team at that time. If that's something that could happen down the road, possibly. That could happen with any player, but at that particular time it was just a matter of us just making a touch decision for our team. First off, Robaire and I had a great visit. He understood. Did he like it? No. But he understood what goes on in this business. Could someday Robaire be a part of what we're doing again? I don't think you'd ever say never in this business. I'm sure there's a bunch of teams talking to him and we could be one of those again at some point. This week we had to make this decision."
(on DT**Alfred Malone**) "Alfred's progress is definitely a factor. Probably Seth's (Payne) training camp was the biggest factor. Because he played so well and we felt he was our starter going into this football game. Alfred's got to come along; (Attiyah Ellison) has got to come along. There are a lot of people who have to fulfill that role. But really, probably Seth's training camp was it."
(on playing eight defensive linemen) "No doubt. We're going to play eight. We're going to rotate guys. We're going to keep fresh guys on the field and they know that we've been doing that all camp."
(on offensive guards) "Well I told you all. I think we have three starters with
(on whether TE**Owen Daniels**will start) "Yes, he will."
(on kick return position being open) "One of the reasons we picked up (CB) Roc (Alexander) and (WR Edell) Shepherd is because they have the ability to return. That's a decision we'll have to make towards the end of the week. They're definitely in the mix. That's part of the reason we picked them up."
(on CB**Phillip Buchanon**as returner) "Could be, we'll see."
QB**David Carr **
(on whether he is ready to start the regular season) "Yes, definitely. I have been waiting for this for a long time, a couple years actually, to get out there and get going with this offense and the players. I'm just really excited about it. I think we'll do some good things."
(on the Eagles' defense) "They have a pretty salty defense. A lot of things can go into that. They had some injuries in some key guys that have been on the team, but they still have (DE) Jevon Kearse, they still have (S) Brain Dawkins, they still have guys that can make plays and they know what it takes to win football games. So we're going to have to be on our game, just be on our stuff and go out there and steal it from them."
TE Owen Daniels (on being part of a team starting so many rookies) "Offensively, I think it's different because it's a new offense. We're all coming in here learning from scratch, except (TE) Jeb (Putzier) and some guys from Denver that know a little more of what's going on. That's the plan. We're all starting fresh, and we're all learning, so we all have the ability to play since we made the team."
RB Ron Dayne (on coming to the Texans) "I'm excited about it. It's a young team, and we just have to win. Hopefully we'll get out here and have some fun."
(on what Coach Kubiak said would be his role) "He really didn't say too much, just going to work me in and see how I feel."
(on what is it like to be released and then picked up by a coach he knows) "Well, it's good. It's the best situation that I could have been in top come to a place where I knew the offense."
WR**Andre Johnson**(on starting a new season) "I'm excited about it. All the guys here are excited about it. It's a fresh start, new coaches, new system. We'll just go out there and try to prove a lot of people wrong."
(on the team starting so many rookies) "When I look back to my rookie year, the way I looked at it was, I have been playing football since I was 6 years old. Nothing has really changed. You're just going up another level, just like from little league to high school to college. Now they are up on another level. They played preseason, (and) now the real bullets are flying. These are the games that count. Just go out there and play hard, and don't worry about making mistakes, just go out there and play."
DE**N.D. Kalu**(on Eagles QB Donovan McNabb) "He's so talented, with his feet, he's a great leader, he can throw the ball. He's one of the harder quarterbacks to play, because when you play a guy like (QB Michael) Vick, you just worry about stopping him running or (QB) Peyton Manning, he's just a great passer, but someone like Donovan has a mix of those two, and that's what makes it so hard to defends him."
(on whether playing his first regular season game in his home town against his old team will mean more to him) "Like you said, it's huge. Even the preseason game for me were huge because ever since I left Rice I have always dreamed about coming back to the state of Texas, and to play in my home town, means that much more. It's going to be exciting this year, anytime I play."
LB**DeMeco Ryans**(on Eagles QB Donovan McNabb) "It's going to be a big challenge. He's a great quarterback, a five-time Pro Bowler. Then you have (RB Brian) Westbrook, also a great player. Those are two great guys and they have won a lot of games over the past few years. It's a big challenge for our team, and we're really looking forward to it."
(on whether he is surprised that he will be starting in the season opener of his rookie season) "It hasn't sunk in yet. I'm just going out and playing and having fun."