Texans players began filing into Reliant Stadium Thursday afternoon for their first team meeting of the season. Following are excerpts from players as they checked in for 2006 training camp.
(on staying at home during training camp)"Just to be able to go home, sleep in my own bed and see my kids, it'll be a nice change of pace."
(on being in camp) "I'm just really excited. It's football time, it's football season, and it's ready to get underway. I feel really good about the work we've done in the off-season. We just need to carry it forward into training camp and the preseason."
(on the team's attitude) "I just think the attitude around this place is a lot different than what it was when we ended the season, which certainly it needs to be. It's refreshing to come in here and know that if we continue to do the things that we were doing at the end of coaching sessions and mini-camp, we're excited about where this team can go."
(on his offseason work) "This offseason I really tried to get in and kick as much as I could, particularly between the break from mini-camp to training camp."
(on his summer vacation) "I went on a couple of trips and spent some time with my family, but that was really about it. You guys can notice that there's a definite attitude, it's just a different excitement."
**Tight end Mark Bruener
(on training camp)** "This is where we build the chemistry of the team. This is where we build the foundation of our season."
(on building camaraderie) "On the team I was with before, you had nothing else but football. With our schedule here, we still have nothing else but football. Although we are in the heart of the city, the opportunity to get outside and do things other than football is not going to be all that frequent. So it would be very easy and I think it will be easy to develop camaraderie here at Reliant Stadium within the organization with our schedule."
**Quarterback David Carr
(on being excited for the season)** "I'm excited. I've been kind of pumped up for the last couple weeks to get back out here. Usually I'm lying around the house looking at the clock and making sure it doesn't come too fast. I've wanted to get out here for a while. It's a little different feeling for me this year."
(on why he's excited) "It felt like when we left in the spring, we had some good things going and we actually felt like a football team for the first time in a while. It was kind of depressing to leave it and I kind of wanted to get back into it. Let's see if we can keep it going."
(on being on the same page) "Even this being a new offensive system and a new scheme and everything, it just feels like we're so much closer than we were in the first couple years. I don't know if it's guys buying into a new system or what it is, but I know I feel more confident. So if it's rubbing off on guys and guys are catching more balls or whatever in the spring and it makes them feel better, then I'm all for it."
(on him feeling like it's his team) "I do now, and I think that kind of rubs off on guys and they see me excited about the season and see me excited about how I can play and that kind of rubs off on them a little bit."
(on why he believes in himself now) "It works when we go out there and we run plays and there are answers for everything and they are moving guys around. Andre (Johnson) is in a different position, Jeb (Putzier) is in different positions. I find myself, even being in the offense for a couple months, losing where guys are. And if I'm losing guys under center, I know the defense is losing track of them and who is supposed to be guarding them. It's a good system and I think it's going to be good for us."
(on the first preseason game and playing with the first unit) "I don't know how it's going to work. I've never been through preseason with Gary (Kubiak), but I want to get some confidence out there. I know in their system they are big into game-planning, so when that starts in the regular season and maybe the last couple preseason games, that is going to be big. I think the first couple preseason games I'll get out there and throw some balls around and feel like a football team again. There are definitely some things in talking to Gary (Kubiak) and (offensive coordinator) Troy (Calhoun) that are going to change during the regular season because they try and create a lot of mismatches with teams. Denver has done a great job of that in the past and we're going to do the same thing."
(on going into this year as a veteran) "Even though we only won two games last year, I still feel like we can compete for something, the playoffs, compete to go to the Super Bowl. I think that is something that is really tangible for this team. I think it's tangible for almost every team these days. With so many things changing from year to year, with so many different guys coming in during the offseason, it seems like we have 40 new players. I'm having a hard time recognizing some of the faces in the locker room right now, but at the same time we got some good players out of that, too. I think there is a strong chance that we can go out there and prove something this year. I'm excited about it."
(on last season motivating him this season) "Yes it does, until you realize that this team is totally different from that team. Just in the couple months that we have spent together with the new coaching staff and new players on this field, it feels like that was six years ago, honestly. The feeling that we have now compared to how it felt before that last game in San Francisco is a world of difference."
(on if he feels he has something to prove this season) "I think there are a lot of guys in the locker room with a chip on their shoulder. I think some of it is letting it get to that point. There are some guys with some pride in the locker room who have played football for a long time—myself included—that are not used to playing at a level like that, not used to losing games. We have all played at a high level at some point in our career, and we'd like to get back to that."
**Running back Domanick Davis
(on his health and how much he'll practice on his knee)** "I think I'm going to be a one-a-day guy and just slowly get into it and take my time. I'm just focusing on getting myself together and to be ready when it's time."
(on zone blocking) "This is the real zone blocking. We started last year and we kind of got away from it. We were trying other things that other teams were doing at that time. It's a big difference. Guys like it because they're all on the same page now and it's looking really good. I can't wait to be out there running behind it."
(on where he'll be staying during training camp) "I'm going to be home. I have a new baby girl, so I want to see her every night, I don't want to miss anything."
(on his knee) "It's not 100 percent, but it's close."
(on his playing time during the preseason) "I'm not sure. I'm just taking it one day at a time. I'm going to get out there and practice tomorrow. Like I said, I'm going to be a one-a-day guy and just do what it allows me to do."
**Wide receiver Andre Johnson
(on another six months of football)** "Me and Dunta (Robinson) were sitting down talking about it a couple of hours ago. You know time is flying. I remember just like yesterday we were getting ready for our offseason workout. Now the season's here. But we're all excited about it."
(on the addition of wide receiver Eric Moulds) "I think he is another weapon. I think by adding Jeb (Putzier) too, it helps out a whole lot. I'm just anxious. I can't wait. Tomorrow starts off and we are going to be ready."
**Wide receiver Eric Moulds
(on the first of many meetings)** "It's the first of a lot of meetings and a lot of blood sweat and tears. But it is always exciting. It's just like your first training camp. For me it's a blessing being here 11 years and 11 training camps, so for me it's still fun."
(on the Texans' offensive system) "It is a great system to be in. I think that it is a receiver-friendly system. I think that we have some players. Our tight ends. We are going to use a lot of guys."
**Guard Steve McKinney
(on how it feels to be back)** "Well, you know, it's nice. Obviously, I haven't quite got to see the (training camp) schedule yet, but looking around at my surroundings, I can tell that we are going to be spending a lot of time here at the stadium. It should be exciting."
(on head coach Gary Kubiak allowing guys to go home) "As long as guys are responsible and don't take advantage of it, I think it's a great thing. You know, we are all grown men, and have families and stuff. You know guys that want to go back and see their families. I think it's great. Just be responsible and show up on time for meetings, and it'll be good."
(on the rare opportunity of going home during camp) "Yeah, I know, it is rare, and not everybody is taking advantage of it. A lot of guys are choosing to stay in the (hotel) because they will be able to stay more focused, and not have to drive back and forth from home."
(on where he is going to stay during training camp) "I'm torn. I haven't quite decided yet. I just drove up from Friendswood, and it took me about 30 minutes. So I'm trying to decide if I want to do that twice a day or not. But judging from this room (with all the air mattresses), I'm leaning towards driving back and forth."
(on the importance of being on the same page for blocking) "I agree, especially the running game and offense in general, you have to have continuity. Last year we changed our scheme a couple times during the season, fired our offensive coordinator, and changed O-line coaches, so it was some different things… So any time you have that type of stuff going on in your offensive line, or with your offense in general, it's going to make it a little bit tough. I'm not using that as an excuse, but I really feel that with the new scheme, and as long as we can keep some continuity up front, I think that will make the difference."
**Defensive tackle Seth Payne
(on if he prefers the new defensive scheme)** "We'll see. If we're the number-one defense in the league, then I'll like it. It's going to be more aggressive. It's going to be more fun for the fans, I think. It's going to be a different style of defense. Especially with the defensive line, you got a guy like Mario Williams, you got to use him. I'm really excited to see how Mario Williams does and develops this year."
(on the addition of Mario Williams) "I'm glad to have him on board. If we're relying on him to turn everything around, then we're not going to be very good. He's a piece of the puzzle. One guy on a defense can make a huge difference, but he's not going to make all the difference."
(on if there are enough parts to turn the defense around) "I think so. If you look at two years ago, I think going into last year we had enough parts. I think we're way better off talent-wise going into this year than going into last year. I'm really excited about this season."
**Guard Chester Pitts
(on the sense of anticipation)** "It's new, it's fresh and I'm just ready to go. I'm ready to play well and ready to win games. We had the worst record in the league. It can only go up from here. I'm expecting it to go up."
(on the importance of having a winning season) "It would be huge. Think about a guy like me who's been here since day one and I haven't had a winning season. It's a taste I'd love to taste."
**Linebacker Shantee Orr
(on the air mattresses for taking naps in training camp)** "I wonder who thought of this? This might be a good deal right here. I might have to use this little sleeping arrangement. Give me a place to sleep and be ready for practice. I won't have to drive from the hotel or anything."
(on his thoughts on training camp) "Oh yeah, it's a fresh start. Everybody has to come out and prove themselves all over again. Basically, redefine yourself as a person. It's that time of year. Nobody can say, 'Hey we're still champions,' because it's a new champion now."
(on proving himself in training camp) "That's every year. I would say that would be anywhere. No matter who you are, from say Joey Porter, Junior Seau anybody, you still have to prove yourself every year, because there is always someone out there trying to get your job."
**Linebacker Wali Rainer
(on how he feels about the start of training camp)** "Yeah, I'm just glad to be back. I'm hungry as usual, getting back and I'm ready to get at it."
(on his comfort zone) "I never put myself in a comfort zone. I'm always hungry. That's the way it is."
(on his expectations for camp) "Just to go out and prove myself, fit well in this team and hopefully go out and help this team have a good preseason."
**Cornerback Dunta Robinson
(on being a leader)** "It's a compliment for me. For guys who've been in the league five, six, seven, eight, nine and 10 years, to call a guy going into his third year a leader, it's a role that I want. It's a role that I will accept. I'm just going to go out there and leave it out there on the field. I won't do a lot of talking. I'll try to lead by example."
(on the team needing vocal leaders) "I think we have vocal leaders. It's just all about following those guys. We didn't do that last year. I don't know what was being said or they just didn't believe in the task at hand. We have guys that are very vocal. Wali Rainer is going to be one of those new guys that's very vocal, so it's good to have one of those guys on the defensive side of the ball. It's all about coming together as a team collectively."
Defensive end Mario Williams
(on going full speed during camp) "I feel like you should go full-speed and make mistakes. Everybody is going to make mistakes, so just go full speed and correct the mistakes as you go."
(on his motivation for camp) "Well, everybody says that since I'm the No.1 pick I got to have a lot of pressure, but I'm not worried about it. I'm just going to go out and play ball for the Texans. That's the motivation I have."
(on signing the contract before the draft) "It's already out of the way. I've been kind of ahead of the game ever since the draft. I feel really good that I don't have to worry about it and I can just focus on football."