Andre Johnson is pleased with the new group of receivers
Texans players, coaches and officials spoke to the media today after the first two-a-day practices of the Texans' 2007 training camp.Texans owner Robert C. McNair (on his expectations for this season)"I think the first thing we have to do is to be competitive with any team we step on the field with. We had a couple of games last year where we really let the game get away and we weren't competitive. I think that's the first thing; every time we are on the field we want to be in a position to win. You're not going to win them all but you want to be in a position to win. That means you have to keep it close enough so that you can do it."
(on how Gary Kubiak has grown with one year as head coach under his belt) "Well what I like about Gary, is that he is very humble. He is constantly wanting to learn. If he does something that he thinks was a mistake, he doesn't mind saying he made a mistake. That is how you learn. If you don't recognize that you made a mistake, you won't learn from it. He is maturing as a coach and I think he has a great way with the players and the players recognize that. He has a real feel for knowing when to push them harder and when to back off. That's just a sense that some people have and some people don't, and he has it, and the players recognize it."
(on cutting ties with David Carr)"Yeah, I think we gave David every chance. That's what we wanted to do. We wanted to make sure we weren't premature in our judgment. There have been players who have come along slowly where people were to quick to judge, and they go on to some place else and being a star. David is a tremendous athlete and he is a tremendous person. It just hadn't all come together the way we had hoped that it would so it was time to do something else. Coach felt like if we were going to play the way he wants us to play then we needed to upgrade at that position and of course, other positions too. It was something we thought long and hard about."
(on how the headlines over the past couple of weeks impact a professional sports owner)"Well, if you are referring to the Commissioner, I think the Commissioner is doing a superb job. He recognizes that we have people watching us and whether the people want to be a role model they are if they are in the public spotlight. I think he is saying to everyone that "You're accountable." He's saying to owners, coaches, players, trainers and anyone associated with the NFL. He's not going to put up with behavior that's unacceptable. I support that 100 percent."
(on what he senses in the fan base compared to previous years)"I think there is more excitement. We all want to win and we want to win every game. There is nothing unusual about that and we'll never change that. But I think we see that there is a better opportunity this year than we've ever had. So that makes it exciting and I'm excited about the season. These games are so close that you don't know how this year is going to end up. Hopefully we'll get off to a good start and get on a roll. I'm not saying where it could end."
(on the team's high level of competition across many positions)"Well, I think it's clear that we have more competition at a number of positions where we didn't have competition before. I see players now that are being pushed, and they are playing better. I see more effort and I think they are playing better."
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak
(on the Texans competition for the linebacker position)"We're going to rotate them all. They're going to all work. They all have a lot of athletic things that they do. Shantee (Orr) made a great play out here this morning, but we're just going to let him compete."
(on linebacker Shawn Barber's role as a nickel linebacker) "I think he's capable of doing that, and definitely he's doing some of that right now. I think he's a guy that can probably play all three spots. That's his strength. And he's played special teams throughout his career. I think he can do a little bit of anything."
(on 11-on-11 drills during practice)"We were pretty sloppy. We put the ball on the ground a couple times, but we're here to have a good month and get ready to play. We have to come back this afternoon and be better."
(on the difference in progression during training camp this year at the same point as last year)"We're much further along as far as what we do football wise and scheme wise and what we teach on a daily basis. We've moved on and progressed from that standpoint, how we operate with the coaches and the groups together and what we're trying to get out of practice. We actually finished practice probably about fifteen minutes early today just because of our tempo and not having to stop and do too much just getting in the right spots, so to speak. I think we've progressed well from that standpoint."
(on role of Texans wide receiver Keenan McCardell) "We'll see. He's in here to compete just like all of those guys to help our football team get better. He'll be on Kevin (Walter's) side working at the Z-position, but he's a successful player in this league. He's a class act. We'll just let him go to work and see how it fits."
(on the importance of having Texans defensive tackle Amobi Okoye in practice)"I think it's important. There was an amazing amount of work that Rick (Smith) and them have had to do over the last 24 hours to get that done. Really, it's a credit to the kid, too. To be able to get up this morning and get all these things signed that we need to get signed for him to get out here. We're just glad to have everybody. Keenan (McCardell) even made it. It's just good to have everybody for the start."
(on quarterback Matt Schaub's frustration when plays weren't going well)"That's football. That's practice. You're going to have some bad plays, and you have to come back and have some good plays."
(on Schaub's leadership skills)"He's fine. He's a very composed young man. He's got a lot on his plate right now. It's the first time he's ever stepped into a huddle and started two-a-days as a starter of a franchise. That's a lot on your plate. Now we're just settling down and keep working and getting better around him, but I think he's been fine."
(on how to calm down anxious rookies at training camp)"You don't. It's interesting every camp I've ever been a part of, the first day you come out we're going so dang fast out there; you really worry about losing a few players. But they'll settle down. They'll get pretty sore here in the day or two and things will settle down. The key to camp is that you have a good month. It's not about one day. It's not about one practice. It's a marathon, it's not a sprint. So you just have to come back out here at 3:30 and get better."
(on what McCardell brings to the team)"I think we're going to find out. Of course, I've never been around him, but I know a lot of people that have. I know what he stands for as a person, and the success that he's had as a player in this league. We have to fit him in with our football team. He'll get in there and compete with everybody else, and we'll see how it works out."
Texans fullback Jon Abbate (on whether he is getting to touch the ball at fullback)"Here and there. I like the move. It's definitely good for my career, and it's going well so far."
(on how he went about changing positions)"On the last day of mini-camp, Coach Kubiak called me in and was like, 'What do you think about fullback?' I just said, 'Coach, whatever it takes to make the team, to help the team out, to help the team win. The next day, I was out with our running backs coach, running some routes, and then the rest was history and I moved to fullback."
(on whether he had to be sold on the move)"Whatever it takes. It's definitely a change. I love defense. I've played defense my whole life, but really there are a lot of similarities. Instead of tackling, you're blocking. But I really like the change so far."
(on his time in high school as a ball carrier)"I carried the ball a lot in high school, and then got to college and tried to convince the coaches to let me carry some in college, but they never let me get that opportunity."
Texans running back Ahman Green (on first day of training camp) "Fast and furious as usual, because everybody's fresh and coaches are excited, that gets everybody else excited. (The) first day of mini-practice went well, and I just have to, like coach said, pace yourself. It's the long haul; this is a marathon, not a hundred yard dash."
(on differences between the Green Bay Packers and the Houston Texans)"The first day is same ol' same ol'. From the crispness, everything went real quick for the first day. When I looked at the schedule, we're going to be in pads, but not as much. That's going to be a big difference. When I think about it, that's a good thing. Come pre-season games and regular season games, you want to be fresh. During the week, that's where you get your work in. On Sundays and Mondays, that's when you have to turn it on, you want to be full tilt on those days."
(on the tempo of the practice) "(It was) real fast. Real fast. Probably more than coach wanted, and all of the older players would like it. I'm always fast, so I just have to tell myself to slow down some plays so I can get my reads right with the linemen and get my timing down right."
Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson (on wide receiver Keenan McCardell and wide receiver Kevin Walter as a compliment to him)"I think we have a great group of guys. Probably the best group we've had since I've been here. The competition is there. It's not just about me. It's about the receivers as a whole. One person can't do it by themselves. The guys are going to compete and the guys that we keep here will be the main crop of guys and we're going to go out and have to do it together."
(on starting fresh with quarterback Matt Schaub)"It's a new start. You have new guy as your leader, a new guy at the quarterback position. And then you also have a lot of new faces here. You get new guys and new teammates in, and anytime you can start with a new season, it's a fresh start. Everyone's 0-0 now and we're going to go out and try to win as many games as we can."
(on being able to learn from McCardell)"He's been in the league for a while and he's a great player. He's still going to go out and play. What more can you ask for then to have a guy that's been through it all? He's won a Super Bowl. What can you not learn from him?"
(on if there is enough in place to take the pressure off of him)"We have a great group of guys. If you look at the receiving corps right now, the guys that we have here at camp and you just look at the speed of the group. We have a lot of fast guys. Everybody can go out and make plays. I think there is a lot of competition at the position. And like I said, it's the best group we've had since I've been here."
Texans wide receiver Bethel Johnson (on how his leg felt in the first practice and if he is at full speed)"Were you here today? Were you out here today? Ok. Answered your question."
(on how competition at each position leads to depth)"It's like that in any system in the NFL, its always competitive, no matter where you go. You see it here, you see it in New England, but it's definitely here."
(on how his speed can change the game)"Speed is always part of the game. You play fast on this level. Everybody out here can run. It's an elite few that can really run, but speed makes a difference, regardless of what is going on."
(on trying to be labeled as more than just a "speed" guy)"I was a number two in New England, been a three. I've proven over the years that I can go in there, go across the middle and make plays across the middle. Coming here to a new system, a new coach, it makes you feel good about going out there and really competing when you have every guy out here really wanting it. It makes you feel good, makes you want to go out there and really compete and want it just as bad as they do."
(on playing in his home state)"It feels good to be back home. My family can come see me play, and my church is here. It really is a good feel right here, so far, so good."
Texans wide receiver Keenan McCardell (on if he thought he would end up playing in Houston)"Not really. I just really didn't know. I go the opportunity, so I took advantage of it."
(on if he sees himself younger than he really is)"I really don't see myself as 37. I really enjoy being out here. That's why I came into camp early. I enjoy being out here and this is where I gain the trust of my teammates and they can gain my trust. That's what I wanted to do. If I'm going to come in here and contribute, I have to win over the 63 guys in that locker room. This is when you win them over is right here, when they see you in the trenches with them and doing the things you are supposed to be doing with them. That's when you gain their trust."
(on if he is going to be a mentor for Andre Johnson)"I would love to. I always tell guys that you never stop learning. The day you stop learning in this game is the day you need to get out of it. You always can learn something and I hope to help Andre any way I can. All of the young guys, they can ask me anything. Even the coaches can come up and ask me things."
(on if he feels the change of quarterback makes this a more attractive situation)"It does. I think Matt is going to be great. But as receivers, we have to get open to make it easy for him. I think that's the mindset I would like to put in that room. Make it easy for him, and getting open all the time is how you make it easy for him."
Texans center Steve McKinney (on what Matt Schaub brings to the team)"I think he brings confidence. That's one thing that I think is important for the quarterback. You have to step in that huddle with confidence. That makes the guys around you believe in you. When guys believe in you, they follow you. I think that that's kind of the tone that's being set right now. It's just going to continue to get better and better. It's just the first day and we have a long ways to go and we have a lot of work to do to get better. I definitely like where we are heading and we are on the right track."
Texans defensive tackle Amobi Okoye
(on how he felt his first day of training camp)"It feels good. It was raining hard so we had to get in here in the bubble. The defense was running around creating turnovers and the offense was preventing turnovers. We were just trying to get back into a rhythm."
(on the expectations he has for himself this season)"There is a lot, but the most important one would be to get the defensive rookie of the year and keep it here in Houston."
(on how he feels to get signed and get into camp on time) "It feels good; it was what I was hoping for. I was actually hoping for it to happen last week but it came down to the wire. It's done so that's the good thing about it. I'm here with my teammates here on the first day and working hard to become a playoff team."
Texans cornerback Dunta Robinson (on whether he was prepared for the first day of practice)"Mentally, I think I was, but physically, no I wasn't. I feel fine, my wind feels fine, but I did a lot of falling, and I usually don't do that. First practice, got that out of the way, and I'll come out here this afternoon and try to do better than I did today."
(on the need to force more turnovers)"We gotta get more turnovers this season. It starts with the guys up front, and they got some pressure today and you see what happened as a result."
(on the differences between this year's practice and those of last year's training camp)"No, it's pretty much the same. With Kubiak, you pretty much know what to expect. Really didn't throw any added dimensions in, so it was kind of what we expected."
Texans quarterback Matt Schaub (on how he felt about the offense's performance in scrimmage)"It started off kind of shaky. We got our few good plays in there, but the defense did a good job of forcing some negative plays of the offence. But as a whole we had a good practice up until that point, and we'll just learn from it. We came back and had some good plays near the end, and we'll just keep getting better this afternoon."
(on whether the offense has more catching up to do at the start of camp than the defense)"Not really. Everyone is pretty much on an equal field. You're learning, there's a lot installed and put in, and a lot of adjustments, and a lot of players getting in the game to see what they can do, so it's just a matter of developing a cohesiveness on offense, because it takes all 11 guys to make a play successful. If you have one guy not doing the proper thing, then as you can see negative things happen."
(on his outlook on the team's offensive system)"We've got the guys. We got the guys and were going to be aggressive on the ground game, and with Ahman coming in, he's ran this offense before too in the running scheme, so we're going to run the ball well and that's going to open up our passing game."
(on his comfort level with Texans assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Mike Sherman)"I ran something similar in Atlanta for three years, so I'm very comfortable with it and the terminology, and as we go I'm learning more about what he is expecting and what Coach Kubiak is looking for offensively with certain plays and looks. That's just something that will develop in time and we're working on, but I'm very comfortable with him. [He is] a really good coach. He is another guy who has been to the top and been around good players and great teams, so I'm just trying to take all the advice I can from him."
(on Coach Sherman's sense of humor)"He does, and at the least expected time he'll throw a joke in on somebody. He's got a good, dry sense of humor where sometimes you're not really sure whether he's joking or serious, so it keeps guys on their feet and on their toes."
Texans quarterback Jared Zabransky (on carrying gear for other players as a part of rookie "hazing") "I guess I have to be a rookie and do my part."
(on how he thinks he will make the team)"Through my work ethic. I think I am willing to do whatever it takes to make the football team. My athleticism. I think once we get into a real situation, real scenario, I'll be able to make some plays that possibly other guys might not be able to make. There are a lot of football teams. I'm just going to go out here and work as hard as I can to make this football team, and if it so happens that I don't, someone else might be there to pick me up. You just have to play well when you have an opportunity and create some film. My goal is definitely to make this football team."
(on the prospect of possibly playing special teams) "I'll do whatever the coaches want me to do. I've kind of joked about that with coach (Joe) Marciano, but I'm really willing to run down and cover a kick or do whatever they want me to do."