Quarterback Matt Schaub and fullback Vonta Leach spoke to the media about upcoming training camp and the 2009 season on Thursday.
Several Texans players met with the media at Reliant Stadium on Thursday, speaking candidly about their high expectations for the 2009 season on the day before training camp begins. Below is a transcript of each of their entire interviews with the press.
Texans FB Vonta Leach
(on if he figures the offense will be even better after the success of last year) "Well, last year was last year. We've got to focus on this year. We've got a lot of improvements we can make and I hope we can build on what we did last year. If we work on our turnovers, work on some of our red zone opportunities and stuff like that, we'll be pretty good."
(on if the turnovers are the biggest focus) "That's the biggest focus, the turnovers and some of our red zone offense. We weren't that efficient in the red zone last year."
(on his expectations of the team) "I think the expectations are to go to the playoffs. I think that's the biggest expectation that we have. The fans, the players, that's all they've been talking about. So, we're just ready to go in and get it started."
(on if it's playoffs or bust) "Playoffs or bust. Oh yeah."
(on if he has been able to lose weight since OTAs) "Yes I dropped down. Oh yeah. I dropped down to the weight they wanted me to be at."
(on how he feels at his new weight) "I feel good. This is my normal playing weight. In the offseason I have a tendency to get a little heavy. So, it's just my normal playing weight – 255."
(on if this will be his biggest year) "I'm just looking forward to doing whatever I can do to help the Texans make the playoffs. It's not about me. It's not about individual awards and stuff like that. I just want to help make it to the playoffs and let everything else happen on its own."
Texans QB Dan Orlovsky(on coming to a new team and having high expectations) "It's a totally different feeling. It's encouraging. It's tough when you're in a situation that I was in the past, you go into training camp and it's almost, I don't want to say a drag, but you know it's going to be a tough experience to get yourself through. Training camp is difficult to begin with so when you know you're in are building year you don't have high expectations to begin. No matter what you tell yourself it's difficult to get through rather than coming into this training camp. We know we have high expectations as a team and that's encouraging because it's nice to go out there and start competing against each other, and getting ready because now it matters. So it's a totally different feeling but it's encouraging and exciting, and I'm happy to be a part of it."
(on if he's where he wants to be as far as the shape of the team) "Yeah I think so, I think I know I did everything I could to prepare for these moments and just getting to know the guys. My main thing was just trying to get here every day for work outs and letting them know what I was about. Letting them know what type of player I was on and off the field, and letting them know how I studied. So that was important to me coming into a new environment, so I think so. But I'll continue to be myself, continue to work the way I work. I'm not going to be anyone I'm not I'm just going to be who I am.
(on if offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is tough on everyone) "Well I think it's one of those things. I know that Kyle is tough on everybody, and everywhere I've been you treat your quarterbacks differently. My mindset was just to go out, compete and listen and not take anything he or (head) coach (Gary) Kubiak said to heart and just learn from it. I wasn't going to take any of it personal, that's the way I learn best. That's one of the things I told coach Kubiak and Kyle when I was down here for my visit. I want to be coached, I respond best when a coach jumps me. It almost forces me to focus. So I'm excited about how that's going to transpire through training camp. But I can only go into with what they have told me and what they expect out of me. I know I'm harder on myself than anybody so I'm excited about how they're going to coach me. I have a pretty good idea about how they're going to coach me. I want their expectations to be high for me, and I want them to coach me like that.
(on if he is fired up for the preseason) "Absolutely, the receivers who I will be working with the most, we've been out on the field throwing a lot trying to get a feel for how they like the ball, how they're going to come out of their cuts and where they're really strong. Learn what aren't their best attributes. The preseason is always fun just because you when you're the backup you will get the opportunity to play a lot. So I'm looking forward to it, it will be my first time running this system against competition other than my own in practice. That will be exciting and challenging for me, so I know I will enjoy the preseason. I'll play a lot. My mindset is to go into this year as if I have to take all 16 starts in the regular season. That's how I've prepared this off-season. It would be injustice to my teammates if I didn't. I've said before we all know the best situation is for (QB) Matt (Schaub) to go out and be our starter for every single game and I'm going to be a fan of that. But also it's not like I'm not going to be prepared and ready to play."
(on his advice to new Detroit QB Matthew Stafford if he starts) "Throw the ball to (Detroit WR) Calvin (Johnson). That would be my biggest piece of advice, get the ball to Calvin as much as possible. From what I've heard from guys up there that I still have relationships with, he's a really good guy. He has his head on straight; he's a worker, so I'm sure he has all the tools to be successful. It's going to be a tough situation for him to go up there and turn that place around. Someone has to get it done eventually. Hopefully he's that guy. A couple of people have asked me, my friends and family members have asked me. I hope he goes out there and goes to the Pro Bowl this year, I truly do, because I know that place wants a winner. He's going to have he's struggles and his games when he absolutely stinks. That's what this league does to you but he has to have a short memory, and just go let his skills take over. It's a react game. Let that what he has naturally, take over."
(on bad habits he had to break between Detroit and Houston) "Sure, I don't want to say it's a bad habit but I was under Mike Martz for two years. Mike's a very much 'get back to your back foot and just let it go.' His motto is, 'You throw the ball to where I tell you to throw it and if the receiver isn't there, I will get someone there who will be there.' You can get into a habit of, 'OK, I have cover two, I'm throwing the ball here,' instead of going out and saying, 'I have cover two so this is where I'm going to read.' You get into a habit of what I don't want to call being too greedy or aggressive, but trusting yourself with the ball more than you should. I've realized that this league is about getting completions, running an offense and moving the chains. Not the fireworks and everything that goes along with that. That will be something I try to focus on during camp, training camp and the preseason. Just making sure I get rid of those old habits that I don't want to call bad, but habits that aren't going to allow me to be successful in this system."
Texans DT DelJuan Robinson
(on his position heading into the season) "It's another year. I'm just happy to be here and fight for a job. It's just temp work; nothing is guaranteed."
(on the difference between this year and last year) "I just come in knowing that I still have to fight for a job and I can't relax. I also know that I have an opportunity to play a little more."
(on the physical and mental differences between this year and last year) "Nothing too much. Just work a little harder. I have a little more to expect out of me this year than last year."
(on expectations compared to personal expectations) "I'm just here to help the team get better, but I know what I can do. I can stop the run and pass rush, but whatever the team needs me to do, I will try my best to do it and I feel like I can help this team. I just hope they give me an opportunity to do that."
(on the meaning behind his statement about having "more at stake") "I have a couple more bills now and a little more riding on me this year, that's all."
(on DT Travis Johnson being out) "Yeah, I've just got to grow up and be prepared to help this team. You know, be prepared to step right in and just help the team, help stop the run and do whatever they need me to do."
(on taking advantage of DT Travis Johnson being out) "Yeah, as far as rep-wise, yes. Take advantage of getting reps. That means getting ready to play. If that means one play, two plays, or fifty plays. Just take advantage of the practice time."
(on getting more respect in locker room than last year) "Yeah, but, I mean, last year is last year. I've got to prove myself this year, not only to my teammates, but to the coaching staff. They'll bring another guy here, you know, if I'm not producing so I'm just ready to show them I can play again."
(on the Texans drafting unknown defensive lineman that keep impressing everybody) "No, I don't know why that is. I'm just happy for the opportunity. Me coming in undrafted, I knew I had to show them I could play and show them I could play in here because I was an undrafted guy. That's it on that. They draft other guys and I just came in as an undrafted guy trying to fight for a job."
(on a more aggressive defense this season) "Yeah, anytime you can let a defensive linemen get up there and penetrate it makes good things happen. Slow down the run and also help with the pass rush when you're up the field a lot more."
Texans QB Matt Schaub(on his excitement for the start of the season) "Really excited. I think the whole team has been anxious all off season to get in the weight room, get working out, get through OTAs and get to this point to be ready for training camp, because that means the season is not too far off. We're all very anxious and excited to get going, and I'm sure that'll wear off in a few days once we get into two-a-days and we're just trying to grind through the heat of training camp. We're just excited to get back to work and get going for the 2009 season."
(on high expectations for this season) "I don't think they're higher any other place than with us in the locker room. We expect a lot of ourselves, and it's about going out and getting the job done. The one think we have to do as a football team is to keep our blinders on and just look ahead at the next step in front of us, and that's getting prepared to go out there week 1 against the New York Jets. We can't look past them, but obviously our goal is to become a playoff team."
(on what he can do to stay healthy) "Just keep playing. I don't know what else I can do more than what I've done in the past. I'm just going to continue to go out there and be there for my team, try to avoid those situations at all costs, but when you're in the heat of the battle playing, there are some things you just can't avoid. But I'm going to keep playing and keep moving forward."
(on the importance of getting off to a good start) "That's key. You look at what we did last season, and starting 0-4 and we had a rough September, then we came back and finished 8-4 in our last 12. It was a great way to turn things around for us. Basically, with the way things started and how we were playing, we were playing catch-up. We were playing from behind. But this year, having three of our first four at home, the schedule sets up better for us than going on the road for the first four weeks. So, having a good start and playing consistently throughout the year is going to be key for us."
(on RB Steve Slaton starting year as the starter at RB) "When Steve came in last year, people forget that at the start of training camp, he was third or fourth on our depth chart because we had a healthy backfield with (RBs) Ahman Green and Chris Brown. But it came to Week 1 and he was out there all the time. It was like, 'Here you go.' He's a young kid at a position as a rookie that's tough to play, and the fact that he was able to produce in the run game and the pass game like he did, that just gives him so much confidence this year that he can do it and clean up some of the things that he didn't do so well. He knows what those things are, and he's been working really hard at it, so we're expecting some big things from him."
(on changes in head coach Gary Kubiak's approach to training camp over the past few seasons) "A few. He's a players' coach. He played in the league for a number of years, so he knows what it's like to be in our position. He relates well to us, and he's willing to work with us as far as practices go, meetings and schedules and so forth. So it's been an ongoing process, but he takes cares of us, and he has a good feel for the team, when he needs to let off the reigns a little or when he needs to pull them in tight. He's getting really good at feeling out the team.
(on how head coach Gary Kubiak's style compares to other coaches he's played for) "Well he's only my second coach, so I don't have much to go on, but he's more vocal as to how he coaches the quarterbacks because he played the position and he knows what it takes to be successful. He's definitely a more vocal coach when it comes to the offensive side of the ball, and especially with the quarterbacks."
(on what it means to have everyone from the NFL's 3rd ranked offense back) "It's huge, and everyone is healthy and is at the top of their game. It just spells good things for us, that if we can play consistently well, take care of the football and do well in the red zone, we can put up some big numbers and points, and hopefully that accumulates into wins."
(on whether offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will continue to call offensive plays) "We'll see how it goes. Hopefully he will because that means we're doing good things, and we'd just turn him loose and let him call the plays, and that means we're doing stuff that's successful and that works. I think that Kyle and I have a good relationship and a good rapport, and we understand each other, so it's a good relationship that we have going, and I think Kubes (Kubiak), he has his ideas, so we'll put our heads together and go from there."
(on what he can do to take the next step to an elite NFL QB) "Well I think you said it earlier, just be out there 16 weeks, avoid the injuries and just be out there for a full 16 weeks, have our offense stay healthy and just go out there each week and play consistently good football."
(on improvements in red zone offense near the end of last year) "It's about doing what you do best. You get down in that red zone, and the field is so much smaller. The defense doesn't have as much field to defend, so I think it puts an added emphasis on running the football, and I think we did that fairly well in the later part of last year. Just doing the best things that you do in the field and do those down in the red zone. Don't try to get too complicated and too complex with your schemes, and just execute at a high level.
(on whether he's talked to TE Owen Daniels) "I've talked to him a few times since we've been done with OTAs."
(on whether he has any idea of what will happen with TE Owen Daniels' contract situation) "It's his decision, and it's between him and the people upstairs and his agent, but we want to have him out there. He's a big part of our offense and what we do. He was in the Pro Bowl last year, and with what he does and brings to our pass game and our run game and to our locker room, we need him, so we're hoping that he'll be out there with us."
(on Michael Vick's reinstatement) "I'm excited for him. It's a great opportunity for him to get back with a football team and get around guys, his peers, and get a chance to resume his life and get back to normalcy, I guess is what you'd call it. But it's an exciting time for him to get a chance to come out and get in the locker room, so I'm excited for him.
(on whether he thinks a team will sign Vick) "I hope so. I think they will, and I think they should. Whoever that might be, they're going to get a heck of an athlete and a guy who can help their football team."
(on QB Rex Grossman) "It's hard to, he's had so many ups and downs, but I mean he's a guy who played in the Super Bowl, and nobody can take that away from him. He's gotten his team there, and he's been successful, so we're fortunate to have him come aboard and share his experiences and knowledge, not only with our quarterbacks but with our team, so we're excited to have him aboard."
Texans RB Steve Slaton
(on the difference in camp last year to this year) "A lot is different. Being a year in the system is definitely helpful, and I definitely know my place. I know the little things I have to work on and not really trying to grasp everything. I can work on a few things to help me get better and the team get better."
(on worries about having the same hunger in year two) "No, I don't think so. What makes me a good team player is being competitive and always wanting to compete and I'm always hungry."
(on being considered a legitimate NFL running back) "It means a lot, it's always been a dream to be at this position and play the game that I love and have the success that I had so early. It's everything that I want."
(on where he imagines he'll be in 12 months) "I don't think anybody can say they know they are going to be that guy or what's going to happen with them. You just have to take it one step at a time."
(on the goal of playoffs or bust) "It's more about the just right now, that's going to come in time. Hopefully we start off right and build on the success we had at the end of the season and we might get there."
(on what he needs to advance/improve during offseason) "Really just runs. I think we can always improve, there's always room for improvement in anything you do. And pass protection. I think that's going to be the number one thing throughout my whole career to work on day in and day out."
(on doubts about your health through a season bringing concern) "No, it doesn't bother me, that comes with anything. You can walk outside and trip on a curb and hurt yourself. This is a rough game. Any position that you have to prove yourself in and keep your body in good shape to maintain the difficulty of the season."
(on concerns about personal health to endure a full season) "You always want to but it's in God's hands, if you will or will not but you just have to take precautions to your body."
(on what accomplishment from last year surprised him) "Getting on the field so early. I thought it would take me a while because not a lot of guys get past the first round to see a lot of time their first year."
(on how head coach Gary Kubiak runs training camp) "He's definitely a players' coach. He has played the game, he knows what guys need. I'm definitely lucky to be here and have him understand what the season's tolls take."
(on how experience can improve an offense) "Yes, I definitely think anytime you have a certain system you are going to get better and hopefully the coaches trust me a little more to put more on my plate."
(on the importance of your positions consistency) "Yes, I understand, you hear it all the time, I have been here for a year and hopefully for my whole career if I'm here I can stay consistent."
(on his impressions of the team's UFA running backs) "I haven't seen too much of (RB) Jeremiah (Johnson), because he wasn't here for OTAs and I didn't do too much in minicamps, but (RB) Arian (Foster), he looks the part, and he's out there working. He's definitely hungry. If he's here, hopefully he can help this team get better."
(on being one of the main weapons of the offense) "It's humbling. To be with those guys who have been doing this for years, and this just being my first year going on my second, and being able to be mentioned with them, it definitely gives me a lot to work for."
(on his goal for this season, after last year's success) "I'm always looking for more. Hopefully I can lead the sophomore class (in yardage) again."
(on whether he is looking forward to two-a-days) "I don't think any football player looks forward to two-a-days, but once we get this over with the season starts up, so I'm looking forward to getting it started and getting it over with.
(on his expectations for the team this year) "Our team expectation is to get better. You always want to be better than you were last year, and I think that's a goal we're working with. I think we're gelling well. We've got some new guys on defense, some new guys on offense that's going to help the team."
(on Chris Brown as his backup RB) "I love the combo. Any guy who is playing running back I know is going to work well — Ryan Moats, Jeremiah, Arian. If they get the chance, they're going to do the job."
(on importance of getting off to a better start) "It's very important. Once you start well, on things you need to work on, you're not searching for it or hunting for it. Once you get that one out of the way, you know what it takes and what the team has and then you can build on that success.
(on when he determined last year that he could contribute during the regular season) "I think during the preseason games last year, I moved up a little bit up the depth chart, got in a little earlier. The coaches trusted me a little bit more, and when the coaches have confidence in you, you have confidence in yourself too."
(on injuries from last year) "I think the injuries I had this year didn't stop me at all. I think I'll be ok."
(on fan expectations) "I think the fans expect wins, just like the team."