Dunta Robinson speaks to the media after reporting to training camp
The Texans reported to training
Thursday, and following are quotes from players on the eve of the club's first 2007 training camp practice Friday morning.
Texans guard Kasey Studdard *
*(on his thoughts entering training camp) "It's a great feeling to have another opportunity to put my helmet on again, so that's the biggest thing. It's a little nerve-wracking, because you've got all these veterans around you here, but the season is starting, so that's the biggest thing."
(on what he is looking forward to with the start of camp) "Just getting out there being able to hit someone again. Just taking anger out, something like that. Just learning the plays, getting to know the guys better."
(on whether he has gotten a chance to connect with some of his teammates)"Yeah, you get to know them through practices, stuff like that. You don't really get to bond as much as you would like to, but that's what camp is for, right?"
(on how he feels about competing for an offensive line position) "I just gotta go out there every day and do what I do, go out there an play football and do whatever I can to help this team win, and that's my biggest thing, so whatever I can do, that's what I'm going to do."
(on whether reality struck when he signed his contract) "Yeah, its time to go now. It's crazy. It's a little fun to know you get paid to play actually, not like in college, but football is football, you just gotta go out there and do your thing."
(on what he has seen from the offensive line so far) "It is a faster pace, but the offense, there is a lot more to learn. There are a lot more calls and stuff. That's the biggest thing, just getting your plays, then you can play the way you play, so that's the biggest thing, just knowing what to do on every play, knowing who you have to go to. Once you get that down, then the playing starts."
(on the size of his playbook) "Big. It was bigger than a dictionary. I don't know what I could compare it to."
(on the number of plays in the playbook) "Oh, I couldn't even count them all. There are so many different plays, formations, stuff like that. A lot."
**(on whether growing up in
Texas )** "I never could have dreamt it. It's just crazy. It's reality now, to go out there and do what I have to do."
(on advice he is getting from family members) "They say that the biggest thing is to go out there and enjoy football. Football is football. You've played this sport your whole life, so the biggest thing is getting the playbook, and make sure that you know what you need to do on every play so you better your chances."
* Texans center Steve McKinney *
(on the difference between this training camp and past ones) "I'll tell you what. The last couple of years, at least, it's almost like walking into a new team every year because the faces change. This year especially, because we have a new quarterback, a new running back. There are a lot of changes, but good changes. Changes that get you excited about showing up for training camp and just trying to see what this team can really be."
(on what is it like to be in a position battle for the center position) "I'm excited about it. Last year, when they moved me to right guard, and obviously when they asked me to move, that's what I'm going to do. Center was where I wanted to be, so to have a chance to come back and be able to compete for that job, I'm excited about it. I feel like it's my best position, I felt like I played real well there at the end of the season last year, and I just hope to carry that over into training camp this year."
(on his early impressions of Texans quarterback Matt Schaub) "I think he's a very poised quarterback. He seems to sit in the pocket real well and feel the rush and make quick decisions, so I think that the true test will be when we line up against an opponent, but so far from what I've seen has been very positive. I feel good about the way he has looked and the way the offense has looked with him at quarterback."
(on whether there he had any moment or story about Schaub that shows the type of person he is) "I definitely have seen him try to step up into the leadership role on the team, and that's tough. He's not a real veteran player, I mean this is only his third year, and for him to step into a new team, a new organization here as a full-time starter, and be willing to step up into that leadership role, I think that it says a lot about the guy, because that's not really an easy thing to do."
(on entering his 10th NFL training camp) "It's old hat. I've been doing this for so long that I just show up for training camp. It's like going to work. I don't really dread it, I just look forward to it a little bit. Yeah, it's tough, its long hours, it's hard, but man, it all pays off when those Sundays roll around. That's what makes it worthwhile."
(on how competition on the offensive line helps out as camp begins)"I think that it's good. I think that, especially for me, the older you get the more complacent you can get, so I think it's always good to have competition and depth. I think it just pushes everyone to be better. Whenever you have somebody that's right behind you, practicing as good as you are, or even better, it pushes you to strive for things you might not without that competition. I think it's good. That's what every team strives for, to have competition at every position. When I first got here, the first three or four years, you look around at every position and there wasn't a whole lot of competition. There were a whole lot of starting jobs just being handed out just because they had a heartbeat. Now, you've got some competition and some guys competing, and I think this is going to make our team better."
(on how much change a new quarterback brings to the offense) "I think that changing quarterbacks can change a lot of things. When I was in
Indianapolis led the league in sacks. Pretty much the same line, maybe not even as good of a line, with me starting as a rookie, gave up the fewest number of sacks in the league. And the only thing that really changed was the quarterback, Jim Harbaugh to Peyton Manning, and a different coaching staff as well. The results were a lot different, so even small changes like that can have a big effect."
* Texans tackle Eric Winston *
(on his readiness for training camp) "Yeah. It's exciting, getting back, and seeing everybody. Everybody's got that kind of smile on their face, knowing that it's about that time. I think that everybody is ready to go. I certainly am. It's staring to feel like that time of the year again."
(on whether training camp is fun or grueling) "It's a little of both. I think that it's just a matter of your mindset and how you carry yourself. You gotta do it, so you might as well go out there and have as much fun and get the work in and just do what you need to do to get ready for the season. I think that as you get older - I know going through last year is going to help me a lot more this training camp, knowing what to expect and the kind of things to know what to look for and how to go about it as a veteran. You know, just keep looking towards the veterans, seeing what they're doing, going about how they do it and just improve your game and get ready for the season."
(on his biggest goal for the season) "I think for me personally, just solidifying myself on the offensive line as a starter, and giving all the other guy the confidence to look at me and know that I'll be that guy to hold up and be that anchor that I hope everybody is looking at me for, and that I want to be. I think that's the big thing for me getting into these two-a-days, just to solidify myself in that kind of a role and just to start trying to be a leader and help out any way I can."
(on the possibility of playing the left tackle position) "We haven't had a lot of talk about it, but sometimes I'm the last person to know, so it's one of those things where I just go out there, and if they tell me to go on the left side, I'm going to get on the left side and play as hard as I can and the best that I can. I've played there my whole college career, and I had some reps there in some game situations when I was playing left, so if they put me over at left I think it'll be a quick transition. If they don't, that's fine by me, too."
(on the team impact of new Texans quarterback Matt Schaub) "I think he's already had an impact. I think if you go out there, our mini-camps were like night and day from last year. I think we're a lot more of an efficient unit with him out there, I think we're in and out of the huddle. I think his leadership role has already been asserted on the offense, and everyone has taken to him really well. He's a great guy. I'm excited about the possibilities in the passing game, in the way he gets rid of the ball, how he sight adjusts, and things like that. Add the combo with Ahman and all those guys in there and it's exciting. It's a big deal."
(on how young he feels as an offensive lineman, in consideration of his injury history and how he has changed positions frequently) "I think that I'm still learning the nuances, but as far as having the mindset of being on the offensive line and being that kind of a grinder, I feel like I've been that for a while. So the mindset is there and everything, it's just now learning the techniques at the pro level, and just trying to continue your learning process. You never want to go into a season or into a practice thinking you've got everything down, that you know everything you need to know. So, the big thing is just keep getting better at the things I know and try to pick up the little things that are going to make me even a better player down the road."
(on his thoughts about sixth-round draft pick guard Kasey Studdard) "He's done real well. He came in and he really felt like he belonged here, and I think that's a big thing for a guy that is a free agent or a late round draft pick. You've got to come in here with a certain amount of confidence knowing that you can make the team and that you can make a difference, and I think he did. I think that playing at
Texas helped a lot with that. He is going to be a good player. He really came in, and I can't wait to see him with pads on. I think he understands what's wanted of him, and what he needs to do."
(on whether he bugs Winston for going out of state for college) "Well, he's not even from
Texas, so what can he say?"
(on what it is like blocking for an experienced backfield) "Just to have that combination of bruisers back there. You heard a lot of different things. I hadn't seen Ahman play that much growing up or in college, and I heard a lot of different reports about him, about how he's kind of over the hill, or how he doesn't quite have what he's had, but going out there in those OTAs, it looked like he was a second or third year guy. He's in unbelievable shape, he's a young-looking guy, and he goes out there and practices really hard, gives it everything he has, and he has that explosion through the hole that is going to be a lot of fun to block for. You don't need to block guys for five seconds to get 10 yards. He's one of those guys you open up a crease and he can take it all the way. So, it's exciting. And then you add the combo in with Ron and whoever else is going to be back there and we can really wear some teams down. That's exciting, being an offensive lineman and knowing that we can really wear on teams and by the end of the third, going into the fourth quarter, they're dragging over there. That's when you can really hit some big plays."
(on the difference of fullback Vonta Leach) "Everything. He really came in with an attitude that really helped, and he came in and just started laying his hat on people. Ronnie brought that hard nose when he was in there every week, and that hard-nosed attitude. I think that really helped us turn it on. He opened up some play-action pass and stuff like that, but he's definitely got that fullback body, and that mentality, and the whole neck. The guy's neck is already that short, it's not going to get any shorter. But he's a character back there. He's exactly what you want from a fullback back there, and I think he's going to have a lot of added value playing all 16 games this year for us."
* Texans safety Brandon Harrison *
(on if he is glad to be here) "Yeah, glad to finally be here. I'm excited. I just can't wait to get started."
(on how difficult it was to miss OTA's and mini-camps)"It's tough. Especially trying to get into that playbook and catch up with the stuff that some of the other players got a chance to get in there and learn. I think I'm caught up pretty well but I know it's going to be a whole different piece trying to do it at practice and in live fire."
(on how eager he is to show the coaches what he can do) "I think that's what drives anybody once you come to play at this level. Not being the first-round pick guy, you want to show everyone that you can play and show them that you belong at this level. I think that's something that has pushed me my whole life."
(on what coaches he has talked to) "I've been meeting with Coach Jon Hoke. When I was out here working out, running and lifting weights and stuff, we had three or four meetings where we sat down and watched film, go over the calls, and going over the playbook, just to try to get caught up with that stuff that I missed."
(on what position he has played and what he wants to play) "In college mostly strong safety, I think here maybe a little free safety. Honestly, whatever will get me on the field."
(on how much he knows about this team and defense) "Coming in, not a whole lot. Like I said, I think I'm pretty well caught up with the scheme and the x's and o's on paper right about now. I'm pretty much an open book just trying to learn and fit in where I can and try to help the team."
(on what he knows about personnel and team history) "Not a whole lot to be honest with you. I haven't seen one OTA or one practice or mini-camp so I don't know too much of that sort of thing. I'm just trying to catch up and meet the guys, but I feel like I'm part of the team now so that's good."
(on what it was like to sign his contract) "I think that's what finally made me realized it was real. Coming up to the office and finally putting my name on the dotted line, it kind of hits you that you've been playing football forever and now people are paying me to play. It's a good feeling."
(on if he thinks the rule about the graduating class should be changed) "Yeah, definitely. I tried to skirt my way around the rule. I didn't know it. I thought that if I didn't take class I could come out, but it doesn't even matter. Your class has to graduate. I think it makes it kind of tough on some of the guys out there on the West coast in that quarter system. So, I would definitely be a guy in favor of doing away with that."
(on if he took any classes this semester) "Well, we have quarters so I took class up until March. After that I just worked out and got ready to come out here."
* Texans cornerback Dunta Robinson *
(on his feelings about training camp) "Hey, it's training camp. Another step closer to the first game of the season. We have to come in here and work hard and try to keep everybody healthy. I think, as well as most of the guys, if we keep everyone healthy we have a good chance of being good."
(on Gary Kubiak saying he really likes the team on paper and hopes it will transfer over to the games) "Well, we have a lot of new guys and we are together for the first time. Like I said, it all looks good on paper, but it all comes down to what you do on Sundays. We have to keep everyone healthy during camp. We still have to fly around and play physical and make plays, but I believe if everyone stays healthy then we have a pretty good chance."
(on team chemistry and learning to play with all the new players being one of this year's biggest challenges) "That's it because we don't just have three or four new players; we have 10 or 15 with us that are going to be on the field. This is going to do a lot for us. Training camp is going to do a lot for us because we are practicing together everyday like in mini-camp and we are going to get more comfortable playing with each other, and that will translate onto the field on Sundays."
(on the front line getting better to help out the secondary) "We know things are going to get better for us. We have three first-round picks on that front end, a lot of young guys, but they have matured a lot. Mario did a great job in OTAs so I think things will get a lot better for us on the back end. If we don't get the pressure then we have to cover a little bit longer and not put all the pressure on those guys up front. I think things are going to work out for us."
(on his expectations for this season) "Just to win. Win as many games as we lose for the first time. That's the main goal is to win football games and to give this city something they haven't had in a long time and that's a winning football season. With winning that means you play well so I'm really not worried about the play, my main focus is just to win."
(on there being a different feeling this year in camp) "I mean, it feels a lot better just because you have a lot of veteran guys that have won at other places. I'm excited to see Ahman Green run the ball in a Texans uniform. Shawn Barber, Danny Clark – I'm excited to have all those guys that have been to the playoffs and that have been on winning football teams. They can come in here and show us how to win football games."
(on how the team can bond at training camp) "First of all, you walk in here and see these beds and you know you aren't going anywhere for a long time, so you have get that sick feeling out of your stomach real quick. Just like I said, just having the guys around each other morning to night, we are going to eat together, we are going to sleep together. Not in the same bed, but separately. We are going to be around each other a lot and you're going to laugh and talk and learn about guys you don't really know about. It's going to be a lot of fun. As much as you're going to hate going outside and practicing in 100 degree temperature, it's going to be fun when you get off the field because you get to laugh and talk and learn about the new guys that have been brought on this team. I think most of the time camp starts off slow because you have to get into routine, but once we get into a routine it will become habit and second nature."
(on how frustrating it has been to not be on a winning team) "It has been very frustrating. Nobody wants to lose and nobody likes losing. My first three years here have been tough, but I think this year we have a chance to turn things around. I'm very optimistic about the players we've brought in and the coaches. Just the whole system and what I have seen through OTAs and through guys showing up for workouts. It gives you a good feeling and I'm just excited. That's the main thing coming into the locker room and to this stadium and getting ready for training camp and seeing all the new faces and names makes you feel even better. I think things are really going to change this year."
* Texans defensive end Mario Williams *
(on his thoughts entering his second training camp) "As far as the team aspect, just basically coming out strong, and being a unit from the get-go. Just getting things done. That's all I'm worried about."
(on if last year seems like a long time ago) "No, it doesn't. It wasn't that long ago. It came around pretty fast. It's here, and now it's time to work."
(on whether he feels different with a year under his belt) "Yeah, just being out there and just being able to see things happen, just getting a feel for it. It's just like anything, once you get repetitions, the more repetitions the better, so it's helping out a lot."
(on what he has seen from Amobi Okoye so far this year) "From being a young guy, his work ethic is phenomenal. Number one thing is that I wish him the best, and just to continue to work hard and get better. For him, just working as hard as he works, the sky is the limit."
(on the importance of Okoye showing up on time to camp) "For me to say, I'd want to be here as soon a possible. But whatever he has to do is what he has to do, so I can't make a decision for him."
(on the team's defensive line meeting expectations) "Yeah, you don't want to go backwards. The number one thing that me and the whole defense needs to do is take it to the next level."
(on his biggest lesson from last year) "I probably would just say how to really play the game. How to go out there and know how to play instead of going out there and just doing everything known to man. Basically, just knowing your role and knowing what to do."
(on how he has finally settled into a single position on the defensive line) "It's really nice, because now I can just sit here and focus on playing right defensive end and just getting things done at that position, getting repetitions at that side."
(on the addition of new coaches Frank Bush and Jethro Franklin) "A lot of enthusiasm. Those guys are out here every day, every minute, to keep you motivated, so it's a new aspect to the game, because they're really energetic. It's a good thing to have."
(on how being further from the spotlight of a #1 pick will help) "I guess so, as long as you guys stop talking about it. It's still the same thing to me. I'm just out here, expectations are high not just for me but for the team. Whatever happens happens. It's going to be the same. Were still going to work hard and still trying to get that."
(on what the biggest thing he hopes to accomplish at camp is) "Basically, just getting more comfortable with the position I'm at right now, right defensive end. It means I'm staying there. Basically, like I said just hunker down in that position and get it done."
(on the team's expectation for the upcoming season) "To win. That's the number one thing. Everything else doesn't matter. We just gotta win games. That's what we expect to do, and that's what we're trying to do."
(on what he did this offseason to be one of Coach Kubiak's three hardest offseason workers) "I know that no matter what happens, whether it's good or bad during the year, at the end of the year it's always going to be better. So just going out there and doing more than I was doing before and know that when I'm doing that, to work harder at whatever I'm doing. Whether it's running, or doing pass rush drills, or whatever, just doing it harder than I was doing before."
(on whether he has lost weight) "I'm about 280 right now. I've kind of slimmed down a bit."
(on whether slimming down was a goal for this offseason) "No. It just came along with doing more stuff, just being more active."
(on if he is going to put on more weight) "No. I'm not gonna try to do anything, just let it happen. If the coaches want me to do something as far as that is concerned, yeah. But I'm just gonna let it go where it goes."
(on if he feels a little more normal than this time last year) "Yeah, those things kind of weigh you down, especially in the position I was put in. It's helping out a lot right that I'm not having to worry about that, so it's a big relief right now."
(on having a goal for having a certain number of sacks this year) "No, the goal is going out there and performing at the highest possibility that my body will allow. Get it done and help my team out, that's all I'm worried about right now. If I'm out there working hard and getting the team better and putting us in position to win, then I'll have more sacks and I'll have more tackles."
* Texans quarterback Matt Schaub *
(on his teammates' belief of his leadership giving him confidence)"It does. We've gotten to know each other really well since I got here in April. We've had some good work in the OTAs and the mini camps and workouts. The offseason is a time to get to know the team and your teammates and establish that leadership role and get to know the guys and let them get to know you so when you get to training camp it just clicks. That's what we have been working and it's been going really well so we are definitely excited to start up tomorrow."
(on how he avoids not looking like he's trying to be a leader) "Playing the game for so many years and playing sports, you learn how to do it. It's an innate ability. You try not to force it, you just let it happen. You try to take care of your business. There is different ways to lead, whether it be vocally or by example and just let your actions do the talking. Sometimes you do have to step up and just take the bull by the horns and let people know that they are accountable and so are you for what you do on the field and what you represent for the team."
(on if he sees potential for a solid number two receiver on the team) "I see a lot of potential for a two, a three, multiple receivers. We have got guys that can make plays on this team. They are just young and haven't gotten the experience or amount of opportunities that a guy like Andre Johnson has gotten. So between Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones, and signing Andre Davis this year and Bethel Johnson, we've got some speed and some experience. We are definitely excited to see how that turns out and make a lot of plays with all those guys. It will eventually take some of the coverages that we see on Andre away from him."
(on whether having depth at receiver will make it more fun to prove that they belong in this league) "Definitely. As competitors and being in athletics, that's what we thrive on, proving someone wrong and just go out and handle your business and play to the best of your ability and good things will happen to you. Up until this point people have doubted whether we could do it, but we've gotten to know each other and we know what we can do. As long as we believe in one another and have a collective mindset as a team, the sky is the limit as to what we can do."
(on what the team needs to do to win) "I think be consistent. The three phases of the game, if we can be consistent week in and week out and execute our game plan we will be alright and win a lot of games and be successful."
(on his thoughts of the Michael Vick situation) "I haven't talked with him; he's got a lot going on. It's an unfortunate situation but it's not one I've been able to think about a whole lot because of what I've got going on here in
Houston and my responsibilities for this team and what we are trying to achieve this season. It's definitely an unfortunate situation."
(on his feelings about finally being a starting quarterback) "I feel good about it but at the same time its time to get to work and time to get into training camp and assume that role and get ready for the season. Much like I have in the past years, its just getting myself prepared to play, its just knowing that I'm going to be playing day one rather than waiting my turn and staying ready."
(on how his relationship with Gary Kubiak has developed since he played golf with him) "It's definitely been developing since that point. It's gone really well. Knowing that he has played the position and been at this level both as a coach and as a player, and the type of guys he has been around and coached, that already gives credit to his name. It's been exciting to work with him and I'm looking forward to getting into training camp and working through the season."
(on how confident he is with the offensive line) "I'm 100 percent confident. Those guys are healthy, hungry and ready to go to work. Whoever is up there, they are ready to go. Whether they are younger or older, they know their responsibilities and we are all on the same page on how we are going to protect and run the ball and get everything done. We are excited about it."
(on how it's been the last couple weeks studying the playbook) "It has been going on for more than two weeks. It's been going on since April when I got here. It's been going great; it's a smooth transition because it's similar to stuff I ran in
Atlanta and in college. The reads and everything are similar so it's just getting some of the terminology and verbiage down so it flows off your tongue when we get in the huddle in the heat of the battle. It's going well."
Texans tight end Owen Daniels *
*(on people knowing who he is this year and not sneaking up on anyone) "Well fortunately, I was able to have a decent year last year. Hopefully I can be a little more consistent this year and put some more W's on the board."
(on if he thinks defenses will pay more attention to him now that they know he can produce) "Probably, I think I had a little taste of that the second half of the season last year. I was pretty productive the first half and I think it caught up to me that second half. That's just part of the game but hopefully I got a little better this offseason and I can transfer it to the season."
(on what the second half of last season taught him) "That it's a long year. A little longer than I'm used to but I think I have it down now and I'm looking forward to keeping it going."
(on not being used to the length of the NFL season) "Yeah, that's part of it. Just the length and going from the end of July all the way through January without a break. It's tough and a little different than the college season. I think I'm used to it now and hopefully I can use my experience from last year and help me out this year."
(on the injury to his shoulder last season) "Not an issue. I got that all taken care of and I'm healthy now and ready to go."
(on whether he is going to have a big bust-out year) "Hopefully. Obviously, you guys know tight ends are a big part of this offense and I think having a big year would be a positive thing for the team."
(on his progression with knowing the plays and quarterback) "I've got to know Matt (Schaub) as well as you can in the short time he's been here. The difference between last offseason and this offseason is huge. I feel much more comfortable in being around and knowing my place around here, my knowledge of the playbook and just feeling comfortable. It's just a huge difference and I have a lot of confidence."
(on the effect Matt Schaub will have on this offense) "I think he's a really good leader and that's what you need in a quarterback. That's what we were lacking in the past and he's ready to go. It's his first time being in this position, as a starter, but we are all very excited about him and what he brings to the table."
(on what he meant by the offense lacking leadership) "Well I think the one person that needs to be out there on top of his game and be a leader and a guy we look up to is the quarterback. I have some experience with that because I played quarterback in high school and college and that's just something the quarterback needs is to be the field general out there. I think that's the type of person Matt is and I think we can look to him for that."
(on how Matt Schaub's leadership has manifested itself) "Just being vocal on the field and he knows what's going on and he's in his playbook and watching film. We all see that and can see it on the field during practice. He's just a great guy to be around whether you're on the field or off the field."
(on whether Matt Schaub gets him the ball) "Absolutely, he gets everyone the ball."
(on what the forecast is for the first day of training camp) "Rain, so maybe it can hold off in the morning. We'll be in the bubble regardless in the afternoon."
* Texans defensive end Anthony Weaver *
(on his medical status) "Right now the shoulder feels good. It's just a matter of getting my complete strength back. I plan on going out there and doing an individual (workout) and as soon as they clear me for the team, I'll do that. Hopefully, it's not too long."
(on whether he has concerns for the start of the season) "Not at all. I'll be there come first game of the season."
(on the comparison between his upper and lower body strength) "I had the knee surgery too, but that healed pretty good. I've been working on my knees and legs, and I feel pretty strong. My shoulder took a little bit longer than expected, but now I'm full go as far as strength and conditioning goes. It's just a matter of getting back to where it used to be."
(on the comparison between the Texans last year and this year) "I think we're leaps and bounds ahead of where we were last year, just because of the experience a lot of the young guys that we had coming in last year got last year. So I expect great things from a guy like DeMeco Ryans who already played well, Mario Williams and a guy like Amobi Okoye I expect to come in here and play well."
(on Texans 2007 first-round pick defensive tackle Amobi Okoye) "Amobi is a smart kid. The thing that's not going to happen to him is, he's not going to be overwhelmed by the game. He's going to go out there and do what he's done throughout college, and that's go out there and listen to his coaches, accept the coaching, and play well."
(on whether he notices a difference in Amobi Okoye because of Okoye's young age) "Not at all. And that's the thing about him, I guess he's 20 now, but he doesn't act like it. You feel like you're talking to someone my own age, or I wanted to say Mark Bruener, he's pretty old, but he (Amobi) is mature beyond his years."
(on how important it is for the defensive line that Amobi Okoye is at training camp the first day) "I think it does matter. The sooner he gets in here, the sooner he can go and learn what Jethro (Franklin) wants throughout the season. It's a different coach, so it's his job to come in here. I know he's had mini-camps, but once the season starts, it's a whole new animal. We need him in here as soon as we can get him in here."
(on the expectation level this year) "I think it's high, just from the way we finished the season last year. We had a rough patch when we started, but we finished strong, and we want to carry that into this season and hopefully build off that."
(on the change in quarterback) "I think it's an entire change in attitude. I love David (Carr), and he's a great guy, but sometimes maybe that wasn't his deal. So to have Matt Schaub back there, maybe it will bring an attitude to the offense, and give them that kick they didn't have last year."
(on whether it's different to have a younger player in linebacker DeMeco Ryans in a leadership role on the team) "I don't think so, because older guys are just as good. It doesn't matter who you are, you respect each other's play. And DeMeco (Ryans) is one of those guys who doesn't say much, but he just goes out there and plays with a bunch of heart. Guys want to follow that and be a part of that. I don't think it's strange at all."
* Texans tackle Ephraim Salaam *
(on the possibility of starting at left tackle)"Well, I've started at left tackle before, so it's just the same as work. I'm here to work, that's it. I enjoy work, it's a good job. I like it."
(on Texans quarterback Matt Schaub and what he brings to the offense) "Well, my hopes for the offense is to at least be in the top five in offense for the entire season. I think Matt (Schaub) definitely takes us in a different direction than David (Carr). I personally think it was time for in order for David to maximize his potential, and take it to the next level, it was time for us to go our separate ways. I wish all the best to David. He was a good friend and a good quarterback. I'm excited about Matt because he hasn't been proven in a lot of NFL games, but just what we've seen of him in mini-camp and OTAs, I'm excited. He's just a leader in the huddle, gets the guys together. It's still a learning process for him because it's a brand new offense for him. He definitely handles it well and handles the guys, he's a demonstrative person. But with the guys, like I said, he likes to have a good time, but on the other hand, he likes to compete as well."
(on Matt Schaub's personality) "He has a great personality. Probably not as good as mine, but what are you going to do. No, he has a great personality and he's a competitor, and that's all I can ask."
(on the expectation that he will get the most repetitions playing left tackle) "I've done it before. It's the same ol' same ol'. I feel younger, stronger than I've ever felt. So it's no big deal to me. It's not a surprise. In my mind I've always been a starter, from day one when I came into the league a seventh-round draft pick. I've been starting ever since. Two years ago, my last year in
Jacksonville , was the only year I haven't started ten games in a season. So I go about it the same way I do every year. I'm going to work hard, and I worked hard last year. They needed me in the backup capacity last year and I still came to work. I worked at right, and left tackle. I ended up starting, and that's just what we do as football players. We just work."
(on whether the offensive line is a sore spot for the team) "It wasn't a sore spot last year. I believe we cut sacks down twenty-five from the year prior to that. It's my job to protect the backside of the quarterback, and go out there and help us gel this offensive line, so we don't have to talk about that anymore. As an offensive lineman myself, I take pride in my job and what I do. To keep hearing that even when we had the best year in terms of giving up sacks last year, people still bring up 'well, he's been sacked.' Basically, as an offensive lineman, and as a left tackle, I'm just tired of hearing that. We work hard just like everybody else. We worked hard this off-season, and in mini-camp. We'll get well. We're bonding as a group. I think we've got a lot of depth at offensive line right now."
(on how Texans quarterback Matt Schaub will help keeping the sack total down) "Well, he has a quick release, and gets rid of the ball. Once he gets a real hang of the offense, and he'll be able to read defenses I think with this offense, you shouldn't have a lot of sacks. There are a lot of bootlegs and a lot of play actions and stuff like that, so that definitely helps out the quarterback and the offensive line. Plus, Ahman Green is in the backfield picking up blitzes. Over his career, he played with Brett Favre, and Brett Favre never missed a game, so that itself lets you know the type of blocker Ahman Green is."
(on whether fans understand that the offensive line is not the sole reason for quarterback sacks) "No, I don't think so, because the media doesn't portray that. When you guys broadcast sacks and all that, the next line is usually: 'the offensive line has to get better.' We could go a game and have two sacks, and the offensive line not give up any, but nobody would know that. A running back could have missed a block or it could have been a hot read, or the quarterback had to get rid of the ball, but you never know that, because giving up a sack is synonymous with the offensive line. As a group, we don't let it bother us. We take pride in it, and we try to get better every day in practice. It's been like that since the beginning of football, so it's no big shock. It's definitely more than just the offensive line in terms of quarterbacks getting sacked."
(on whether a quarterback can influence the number of sacks) "Oh yeah, of course. Getting rid of the ball, you look at somebody like Payton Manning, who rarely gets sacked and it's not because he has a fantastic offensive line. I don't want to take anything away from the guys up front. I've seen film where a guy gets beat right off the line, but he's so precise and so intelligent he gets rid of the ball right when he's supposed to, and when we're playing against him its like 'what do you have to do to get a sack against him?' He gets rid of the ball and knows exactly what's going on, so it has a lot to do with more the offense, and running the routes and the running backs out of the backfield."
* Texans tight end Mark Bruener *
(on new Texans quarterback Matt Schaub) "Matt (Schaub) was a great off-season move that we did. We made a lot of other good off-season moves. Every year there's change with players and with coaches. The players that have come in here have shown that they are everything that they have been touted to be. We're all excited, we had a great spring, but now its time to get it all geared up and get ready to go for the season. All those players that we have been counting on in the spring are now going to step up and show what they've shown in the spring and hopefully lead us to some victories."
(on the difference between Texans quarterback Matt Schaub and David Carr) "I think Matt (Schaub) is a great quarterback. He throws a very catchable ball. He makes good decisions on the field. He is very commanding in the huddle. He definitely has studied his nose off to understand this complicated playbook and complicated offense that we have, and he's really picked up everything that we've asked him to do extremely well. You didn't see any jitters, you didn't see any apprehension by him, and I think that really shows what kind of a guy and how much he's been prepared to lead us this year."
(on how to prove that the Texans as a team got better) "It starts with tomorrow morning at 8:30, working hard. We worked extremely hard this spring and I really think that that hard work that we've done is going to help lead us into this training camp. And the key to success during the season is to have a good training camp and to have your key players continually getting better day in and day out, and develop an identity as a team."
(on the strategy behind making big plays) "Protecting better. Executing better. Finding ways to make the big plays when you're needed to. If it's our defense stopping the other team when it's third and twelve, and not giving up 13 yards or if the offense goes out there and has some explosive plays where we put up 28 points on the board in a game. Every game is going to be different as far as who's going to step up and play."
* Texans defensive end N.D. Kalu *
(on training camp) "(I have) mixed feelings. You love being around the guys, but training camp is so hard, you almost can't wait for it to be over with. It's one of those things you need to do, and I look forward to going out there and playing with my teammates."
(on the defense at the end of the 2006 season) "It better carry over. We need to start the season like we ended it. I think it just took time for us to gel, and to get used to coach (Richard) Smith and his system and how crazy he is. Now we know what to expect, and hopefully we'll start off where we ended. If we can do that I think we will be a top ten defense."
(on the general team feeling) "
Houston needs a winner. You see what our 'Stros are doing and the Rockets let us down in the playoffs, but at least they got there. It's time for us to step up and be that team that
Houston can rally around. It's been long enough. We're not a new organization anymore, so the fans deserve a winner, and hopefully we can give it to them this year."
(on offseason changes) "There weren't that many changes. One big one, and I really think that guy (David Carr) is a great player and a great athlete. I wish him all the luck in
Carolina, but outside of that, I think they did a lot of under-the-radar football moves that the average fan might not really notice. But when the season starts you're going to really realize why Ahman Green is here, why Shawn Barber is here. Those are great moves that didn't make a big splash, but I think it's really going to help us during the season. You always need veteran leadership. Those are some solid guys. Mr. McNair wanted to bring in good people off the field also, and I think that's what he did. Hopefully we can prove that you can win with some good guys that carry themselves with class."
(on the future of Texans defensive tackle Amobi Okoye and defensive end Mario Williams) "I can't wait to sit back and watch them one day when I'm retired and fat, drinking a beer. I really think they will be a force playing together for a long time. It's going to be exciting."