Linebacker Xavier Adibi is competing for a starting spot on the weakside.
After the ninth day of the Texans' OTAs on Tuesday, members of the team spoke to the media.
Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on who besides LB DeMeco Ryans he'll put in on third down situations) "Well, obviously (LB Brian) Cushing has the ability to do that. All we did with him, initially he's worked with the first group in base and we start him with the second group at nickel just to kind of not throw too much at him too quick, but he's caught up. No doubt in my mind (LBs) Zac (Diles), Xavier (Adibi) can do it, Kevin (Bentley) can do it. In that situation, on third downs, you want your two best athletes out there being able to cover and possibly do some rushing of the passer, so we'll see what happens. Right now, we'll be working with DeMeco and Cushing, and Zac and X (Adibi) are doing it."
(on if he'd like to have one guy do third downs or have it be situational) "Well DeMeco is our leader. He's our leader, and you want him on the field every snap. So we'll see how that works out, but we have more options from the standpoint of guys that are athletic enough to stay out there and cover tight ends and good backs in this league in those type of situations."
(on if he's anxious to get DE Connor Barwin and RB Jeremiah Johnson in) "Yeah, I really am. You know, I spent this morning, while everyone was in meetings, that was just kind of my morning I spent thinking about those two guys and getting as much out of them when I do get them in here at the end of next week as I can before we take a break, because I think we know pretty much everybody now after our time we've spent with them, but we've got to find out a lot about those two players."
(on if they're allowed to have contact with Barwin and Johnson) "No, if they're in school, they're in school. So until they get out, you know, that's it. So I don't know the exact date that they get here; I want to say it's at the end of next week sometime."
(on the depth at linebacker) "Our team is going to be tough to make it at that spot. We have 10 guys out there right now, only go to camp with nine. We're one heavy right now because of Zac (Diles). We didn't want to wear Zac out in the OTAs, so we've got to make that decision as we get to camp. But it will be very competitive. You normally keep – I've seen people keep anywhere from five, six, to seven, and a lot of times that depends on how much special teams they play, and it looks like these guys are going to all play a lot. So that should bode well for the team."
(on if LB Cato June will play special teams) "Yeah, he's going to have to. I know he's a veteran, but we've told him that. We discussed that with him coming in here. It's something he's going to have to be a part of. Any time if you're not a starter, if he doesn't end up being a starter in the linebacking crew, you're going to have to play special teams on a football team. He understands that."
(on CB Fred Bennett) "It's been good. He's really adapted to (defensive backs coach) David's (Gibbs) teaching. He's getting a ton of reps and he's getting up against one of the best receivers in the game, so you can only get better that way. Fred's having a good offseason, and we just need to keep him going."
(on what Bennett's biggest issue last year was) "I don't know that there was an issue. He had some opportunities, of course (CB) Dunta (Robinson) being out, coming back. There was some movement from that standpoint. (CB) Jacques (Reeves) had a very solid year as a pro. So I don't know that there were issues that held him back, I just think maybe some of the juggling of the lineup, some of those things happen. I don't know how I want to say this—there's been no pouting from Fred. Fred's all business. He's trying to become the best pro he can and he's having the best offseason I've seen him have."
(on CB Glover Quin) "Well, he's made a lot of plays. He just gets his hands on the ball, so good things happen. Very smart young man; he's caught up with us very quickly. He's benefitted from his reps. So we'll see. And I hope he can return, too. That'd be important."
(on LB Zac Diles having a bad practice today) "Oh, he got chewed out for one play, but that's Zac: He expects a lot of himself. But he's doing fine. We just want him to be smart throughout these sessions that we're having to know that he's full-speed come July. But this team can count on Zac. He played well for them last year, as well as probably anybody we had on the defensive side of the ball during that span, and we expect him to do it again."
(on if Diles is back to where he was before the injury) "I think he's very close. I don't think he's totally back yet, but that's just a matter of reps and getting his confidence back, and that takes some time. But he's obviously ahead of schedule from where they thought he'd be."
(on DT DelJuan Robinson) "He's a great example of a guy who's earned a chance to play. And he got some opportunities last year. Played his biggest game against Tennessee, which says a lot about a player when they play their best in the big spotlight. He's been a starter since he walked on the field in OTAs and he's going to be tough to get out of there. He's earned the right, and players respect him and they count on him. I think that's what the game's all about. To me, that ultimately develops and says a lot about the character of your team when you have these kids like the (DE Tim) Bulmans and the DelJuans and the guys that come up the hard way and they earn their way. They earn respect of their teammates, they earn their way in the huddle, and you can't get them out."
LB Xavier Adibi
(on if he hears the praise head coach Gary Kubiak gives him) "No, I'm just out here just doing what I have to do, working on everything and just trying to do whatever I can do to help the team."
(on how he processes the possibility of starting) "I mean, I try not to pay attention to it, to be honest with you. I just try to take care of myself; I don't really try to pay attention to the outside things. I just try to take of myself and go out here and just have fun."
(on if that's easier said than done) "I mean, sometimes. For some people, it is. It all matters what kind of person that you are, but I'm not really a person that's an in-front-of-the-camera-type of person. I just like to go out there and work hard and just have fun."
(on what players have taken him under their wing) "Oh, man, a lot of people. I'd have to say (LB) DeMeco Ryans the most. He's really my mentor on the team. I go to him about a lot of stuff. (LB) Kevin Bentley as well (is always) helping me out. And (linebackers coach) Jonny (Holland), my coach, he's an excellent coach and an excellent person. They helped me out a lot last year. I learned a lot from them just by watching and listening to them, and it's paying off this year."
(on how he describes his play) "I'm not trying to make myself a one-dimensional person. That's why I'm out here practicing; I'm trying to make myself into a complete linebacker and I'm working on everything. I'm working on my tackling, I'm working on shedding, getting off of blocks, I'm working on my pass coverage. I have to work on everything in order to be a complete linebacker."
(on if knocking people over is the one thing he likes best) "Yeah, that would have to be it. That or getting an interception."
(on the competition at linebacker) "Oh yeah, there's competition. That's just something that comes with the territory of playing football. We're making the team better. We're making ourselves better and we're making the team better as well."
(on how he assesses the work he's done thus far) "I'm doing OK. I still have some technique errors here and there, maybe a mental error here and there, so I've just got to take care of myself. I'm going to take care of my responsibilities and just go out there and just play ball."
CB Glover Quin
(on the learning process) "You've got to pack up and go. You've got study, and it's fast. You've got to adjust to that tempo real quick."
(on at what point you realize you can do this) "I think once you get all of the installs in there. Because once you learn one thing and you get pretty good at it, then they put in something else. And so, going to OTAs as a rookie, they're putting new stuff on you every day. The speed of it kind of slows down but the mental part is still, you've got to stay real fast and that's where you've got to study a little bit harder."
(on if confidence breeds confidence) "I think so. I'm very confident, and going against some of the guys that are in the DB room that are confident, we can stop anybody. You've just got to know you can do it – get out there, and if all else fails, you've still got to play football. If you're doing something wrong, do it full speed and just try to make a play."
(on if getting his hands on the ball is an instinctive thing) "I think so. I like to try to be around the ball. Good things happen when you're around the ball. You get tipped balls, you get fumbles, fumble recoveries. You get interceptions. So I pride myself on trying to be in good enough shape to where I can run to where the ball is, and when I get opportunities, I try to make the best of them."