SportsRadio 610 AM host Marc Vandermeer sat down with Texans coach Gary Kubiak recently for an exclusive two-part interview for Texans TV. In this second part of the interview, Vandermeer asked Kubiak questions about the team's defense heading into the start of the 2009 season.
Vandermeer:Stopping the run has been an issue in this preseason. At tackle, you traded Travis Johnson, but you like the play of Shaun Cody at the nose.
Kubiak: Yeah, the deal with Travis, Marc, is we didn't have him. We didn't have him all offseason, we didn't have him in training camp, so we weren't going to go back and start all over. We're moving forward. We've got young players in Frank (Okam) and DelJuan (Robinson). We like what Shaun's brought to the team. We gave him a start against Minnesota, and I thought he responded and did some good things, so we'll go with those guys and we'll rotate them. They're going to have to grow as a group and as a defense and get it done. We believe in those guys and need them to step up.
Vandermeer:We're seeing some dividends paid in the pass rush. Mario (Williams) had a sack in the Monday night game, DeMeco (Ryans) had one, and Connor Barwin had sacks in each of the first two preseason games.
Kubiak:We've been very aggressive with what Frank's (Bush) calling, going after the quarterback. That's what we'd like to be. At the same time, that puts a lot of pressure on your back end, and we're very young back there, but we're going to have to create some plays and creating plays usually means having to step out and blitz or zone blitz and do some of those things I think we're capable of doing.
Vandermeer:DeMeco looks like he wants to launch the Pro Bowl campaign early this year.
Kubiak:Coming out of the Monday night game, I told the coaches, and I could be wrong, but I think that's the best football game I've ever seen him play. And that's saying something for a guy to do that in the preseason, but believe me: He's ready to go. He's done his work, he's had a great preseason, and this team can count on him.
Vandermeer:At cornerback, while you were waiting for Dunta Robinson to come in, you saw Brice McCain start and Glover Quin get plenty of playing time. Your young corners – how are they doing?
Kubiak:I think Brice has probably made the most progress of the young guys. He's really played like he belongs on that field full-time. So that's been impressive. Glover Quin, GQ I call him, he's made some progress for us, but we are young back there and that's the way it is. We'll have to see where (Robinson) is at, but we're going to have to have some young players step up for us to be successful.
Vandermeer:What about linebacker depth as a whole? We talked about DeMeco a bunch, but Brian Cushing has to see some action for you. You want to see more action on the practice field if nothing else before you get to the regular-season opener.
Kubiak:Once again, the word continuity is going to come up there because we have some good names, but they haven't been out there working together. With Brian missing the whole training camp, we're counting on him, and us having to move Zac (Diles) from one side to the other, that's been difficult. But DeMeco, like I said, is ready to go. I think Zac has more than held his own through the preseason and earned his way on the field. I think Xavier (Adibi) needs to step it up a notch with that group, but how Brian comes back and how quick he contributes and can stay on that field full-time probably is going to be the key to the group.
Vandermeer:In all your years of football, how much of an indicator does preseason play in how you're going to do in the regular season games?
Kubiak:I don't know, but I know one thing: When you come out of preseason, you want to feel good. After Weeks 2 and 3, there were a lot of things we were not feeling good about, but it hasn't been a lack of work. We've worked extremely hard, the camp has been good. We've battled some issues physically that made us adjust a lot. That takes you out of the comfort zone, so to speak, but I'm a believer that through the adversity and those type of things your team can get better. So, no excuses, we move forward trying to get ready to play the Jets, and we've got to get some guys back on the field.