Running back Steve Slaton is playing with an increased sense of confidence as he prepares for his second season.
The Texans returned to the practice field on Tuesday for the start of the second week of organized team acitivites. After practice, members of the team spoke to the media.
Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on CB Antwaun Molden) "You know, his progress has been really good. We're hoping that – I want to say he'll be ready for training camp, (but) I think it's going to be a slow process once training camp gets going. But he is doing very, very well. There was at one point a thought about going in with the scope and cleaning something up, but they decided that he's doing so well they're not even going to do that, so I would say he's on course."
(on if the injury to CB Antwaun Molden was to his foot or ankle) "Well, it was a combination, as far as I know. (Head athletic trainer) Kap (Geoff Kaplan) can answer that better."
(on what's wrong with WR Jacoby Jones) "He fell somewhere yesterday in his house and has a tailbone bruise, so he missed today. Your guess is as good as mine. He's moving around very slow."
(on if WR Jacoby Jones fell at his house) "He claims – he called his coach right when he fell."
(on if they have high expectations for RB Chris Brown) "We do. We think he's a fine football player. We got in a situation last year where his back gave him problems in camp and of course he doesn't play. Chris is a fine player. If he can stay in one piece and stay healthy, he can help this team. He's exactly what we need as a complement as far as size and those type of things and experience, so he's here and we're definitely counting on him to help this football team. The good news for him, we were going to modify our program for him a little bit this offseason; he won't let us. He's done everything everybody else has done and he's holding up well. So that's a good sign."
(on what RB Chris Brown can bring when he's healthy) "He's showed in this league he can have some big games and also he should be a good short-yardage player for us. But like I said, Chris, when he has been healthy and been out on the field in this league, he's been successful. The question is keeping him healthy. And if we can work him with (RB) Steve (Slaton), we should be able to do that."
(on DE Antonio Smith) "He worked today normal with everybody else. We'll take a look at how he worked when I go in today and decide how much of the team work he'll do tomorrow."
(on the importance of DE Antonio Smith) "He's very important. He's the big, strong, powerful guy opposite of (DE) Mario (Williams) is what he is. So he helps us with the tight end and those types of things, not letting them off the line of scrimmage. He can go inside and rush the passer, which I saw him do throughout the playoffs very effectively. So he's a key, and that's why we brought him here."
(on expecting DE Antonio Smith to help DE Mario Williams) "Oh, no doubt. No doubt. You take him and (DT) Amobi (Okoye), those guys getting on the field, we get (DE) Connor (Barwin) here, we could start to be a lot more balanced than we have been in the past."
(on defensive backs coach David Gibbs brings to the staff) "He does a great job of teaching. He's done a really good job with these young players. He really stood up for these two kids in the draft that we ended up drafting. He liked them a great deal. He and (defensive coordinator) Frank (Bush) have worked together, so that was an easy transition as far as them and what they expect of each other, how they teach. And he brings the same fire his dad (assistant head coach/offense Alex Gibbs) has. He's a lot like him. So we're just excited about him working with those guys."
(on if Gibbs is a new coach who brings a toughness that the team had been missing) "I think they all bring that. I mean, they're all good coaches from that standpoint. I think just the presence of some of these people that we've added to our team should make a more physical defensive football team, with (LB) Brian (Cushing) and, of course, with (DE) Antonio (Smith). But we're in a division that, you know, we've got one team in Indy who throws the ball a great deal, so we've got to find a way to match up with them, and then we've got two other teams that are going to line up and beat the heck out of you and if you don't swing back, you're going to be in trouble. So getting more physical as a team is very important in our division."
(on the basic things he was looking for in a defensive coordinator before he hired Frank Bush) "Well, I think teaching is of the utmost importance, especially nowadays (when) the players change so much through free agency and those type of things. I know Frank's a hell of a teacher, and we've just got to get everybody on the same page. And by the way this staff was put together with David (Gibbs) and Frank, I said they've worked together, so that was easy for them to get there, and then you add the experience of (senior defensive assistant) Ray (Rhodes) and (defensive line coach) Bill (Kollar), who've been doing this longer than anybody, that helps Frank as a first-time coordinator. So I just like the make-up of the group."
(on how the defense will change in simple terms) "I think we need to be more aggressive as a defensive football team. But you can be more aggressive and it doesn't mean you have to blitz more, just in the way you play the game – the way you work, the way you play the game, the way you run to the ball, the way you hit when you get there – and Frank brings a lot of energy. He played the game. He's great relating to these young players, or all these players, I should say. And I just like the way he teaches. I mean, we're flying around better than we have in a long time. Hopefully, we'll keep it going."
(on Frank Bush as a person) "Well, he's a great person. Very loyal, I know that. He's going to be loyal to his players as well as to this organization. Those guys will play hard for him just because of the way he goes about his business, the way he stands up for his players. I see his passion relating to his players, as well."
(on what he's looking for in RB Chris Brown) "Well, he's the perfect guy that we're looking for to complement Steve (Slaton) from a size standpoint and being physical. But his problem has been staying on the field, so we're just going to keep our fingers crossed that he gets through camp and everything and is ready to play because he could definitely be that guy for us. And the fact that we did not get a guy in the draft makes it even more important, so we're counting on him a great deal."
(on what he'll have to get from the cornerbacks to allow the defense to be more aggressive) "Well, I think we have to allow them to be aggressive – go ahead and let them take some chances, take some opportunities to jump some routes and those type of things. To coach that way and to get those things done, as a coach, you've got to let them know if the other happens, you're going to take the credit for that; you're not going to put it all on them. So we're going to try to get them to be more aggressive. We're really limited in what we're doing coverage-wise, and hopefully technique-wise, we just make more plays."
(on the technique that David Gibbs is teaching the cornerbacks) "Well, the technique that David's teaching, they all kind of blend with all the coverages. Whether we're playing two-deep, three-deep or man free, what David teaches with the corners, it all kind of goes together. So they've made a lot of progress these first five days, but hopefully we come out of camp and everything a much more aggressive football team."
(on what they want from RB Steve Slaton) "You know, I think I told y'all the other day, I think he may be – I've mentioned a few guys – he's as important as any guy on this team that he takes a big step forward. Because if he's an even better player for us next year, offensively, we're going to have a chance to be much better on the offensive side. So he had a great year, he had a great rookie year. Is he going to become a great player in this league? Is he going to be a Pro Bowl guy? We're fixing to find out. But he's had a good five days, and we really like the young man, what he stands for."
(on if it's harder to make a jump after such a good rookie season) "It's harder. Yeah, it's much harder. But that's what we expect of him. I tell you, the ultimate compliment to him is that his teammates expect that of him. They think a lot of him and what he did last year. So we're all counting on him to get even better."
(on RB Ryan Moats) "Yeah, as a matter of fact, standing in the back (of practice) today with (general manager) Rick (Smith), one of the first things I told Rick, a guy that's impressed me has been Moats. He's come back a better player. He has a running style that we're trying to get to adjust to what we want, and I think he's trying to do that. He helps Joe (Marciano) on special teams. So don't be surprised if he's much better this year, too."
LB Zac Diles
(on putting aside his bad break from last year and moving on) "Yeah. It happens. It happens to the best of us; it's just unfortunate that it happened out here at practice. But it's over, it's done with and I've just got to move on. I was having a pretty good season last year. I mean, I hate how I ended it at the end against the Vikings on that bad touchdown play. That's still in my head. It's unfortunate, but you've just got to keep moving."
(on when his leg should be 100 percent) "Right now, I'm probably about 90 percent. I have all my motion in it, I can do all my cuts and everything, it's just getting it to the point where it's not fatigued all the time. A day like today, we get 10, 12, 15 reps in and I'm fine, I'm perfect. So that's a good sign. It's a good sign that it's not getting fatigued, and I'll be able to move on from there."
(on if he feels he has something to prove this year) "Definitely, because they have that question mark on you now, you know, 'Is he going to be able to do how he performed last year?' So, like I said, you want to come out here and show them in practice and when preseason comes around and training camp, you just want to keep getting better and better and show them that, 'I'm back; I can do what I was doing; I'm running well; I can do all of what you guys are asking me.' So it's good to be back out here."
(on how the linebackers will fit into defensive coordinator Frank Bush's scheme) "I think we're going to fit in well because, like I said, the years I've here, Frank's been here. So we know what he's about, we know what he brings. He's got that good energy and, like I said earlier in an interview, when Frank talks, you listen, because he just has that aura about him like you just want to listen to what he's saying. He's going to come in here and bring a new energy, that attacking (style), and we're going to go out there and feed off of that."
(on LB Brian Cushing) "I mean, he's small, right? (laughs). Man, he's a very large individual. He got in my car the other day and his head was in the roof. He made me feel like a little punk. I'm like, 'Man! I don't even want him no more.' No, but he's a good dude. I've hung out with him a couple of times here and there. We went out and watched the game last week at a restaurant. But he's definitely going to add a dimension to our defense. He's big, he can come off the edge, he can cover, he can do it all. So it's going to be fun to be out there with him."
(on if the new additions to the team will make them better at pressuring the quarterback) "Oh, definitely. We're glad to have (DE) Mario (Williams) out there getting 14 sacks a year, but we've got to have somebody else out there to take a little pressure off of him. Because he's going to keep doing his thing, but it's going to be fun to be out there celebrating with another dude, chest-bumping somebody else, you know what I mean? So it's going to be fun to watch."
(on if he's 100 percent) "I'm about 90 right now. I'm still out here just trying to get, you know—I feel 100 percent, but I know that it's about 90 because that's what the doctors told me and the X-rays and everything. But like I said, I feel fine out here running. It's not holding me back any right now, so they're just easing me into practice."
(on what exactly happened) "I broke my left tibia. Snapped it in half, unfortunately. But now I'm rodded up, screwed up, so it's in there and I should be stable."
(on if he still has screws in his leg) "Yeah, it's all in there. I got one screw removed up here on the top, but other than that, it's going to be in there for life."
(on what LB Brian Cushing's attacking style will bring to the defense) "I love it, because he's going to make it that much more fun out there. All the competing, we're going to come out and say, 'I'm going to get there before you do!' It's going to be a lot of fun out there, and like I said, he's going to add another dimension to our defense. They're going to have to know where 56 (Cushing) is along with 59 (LB DeMeco Ryans) and 90 (DE Mario Williams), all them guys, they're going to have to know where everybody's at. It's going to be fun moving around out there."
RB Steve Slaton
(on how much more comfortable he is with the offense now) "A lot more comfortable. To have a year under my belt, I knew I would need to grow into it, but I'm definitely 100 percent more confident than last year."
(on how much it would help to have a big guy like RB Chris Brown in the rotation) "It would help out a lot. It would give the defense something to work with. They won't be able to handle it."
(on defenses not handling him very well as it is) "(laughs) I'm trying to keep it that way."
(on how it feels to be the unquestioned starter and knowing that the team is searching for a back to help him) "Well, I still think of it as helping the team. I'm part of the team, and I know whoever comes in is going to be helping the team and myself. So I'm happy with however is going to step up."
(on the other running backs competing to "get a piece of his pie") "Well, I don't think it's a piece of my pie. I think it's just to help. I think whoever comes in, he's going to help me be better and I'm going to help them be better."
(on if he has any personal goals for the season) "I'd definitely want to have more yards and more carries, but as long as I can improve on last year, I don't stay the same, I'll be happy."