Cornerback Tyrone Poole, signed by the team to shore up an injury-riddled secondary, suited up for his first practice Wednesday.
Texans general manager Rick Smith (on the longevity of defensive tackle Jeff Zgonina and running back Ahman Green) "Well, you watch both of them and it becomes pretty apparent, fast, why they have lasted as long as they have. They take such good care of their bodies. You watch Ahman out here in practice, if it's a special teams period or a rest period, he's stretching or doing some Pilates or something to keep his body moving. That's why both of those guys have lasted as long as they have."
(what Zgonina was like as a college player) "Pretty much like he is now. He's a tough Chicago kid who has an extremely hard work ethic and pain tolerance. You need that in the defensive line."
(on if Zgonina being able to deep snap will help him make the team) "Well, we've got a pretty good long snapper right now, but it's always good to have guys that play other positions that are capable of doing it in case something happens to Brian (Pittman)."
(on if he ever foresaw that he would be a general manager of one of his former teammates) "You know what, I have. Obviously with Jeff (Zgonina) playing as long as he has, we've talked for a number of years, you know, 'I'm gonna come and get you at some point.' So, it was nice this offseason, to finally be able to do that and be able to get a deal done. He's adding to that run. He's a quality guy, he works hard. It's great to have an example like that for our young players to see what it looks like, and that's what he's doing."
(on how he maintains the friendship with a player as a general manager) "It was more difficult for me my first year as a graduate assistant because I went from being a teammate to being a strength coach and making them run and lift and all those things that they don't necessarily want to do. So, that was a little bit more difficult than this is."
(on Texans wide receiver Jacoby Jones) "The thing that impressed us most about him is the fact that the stage is never to big for him. I suspect that this kid is going to keep getting better. The bigger the stage, the more he's going to continue and evolve and develop."
(on how Jones is humble and confident at the same time) "That's the real good combination. He's a kid that understands that he's got to work and got to continue to grow and develop, but he also has enough confidence in his own abilities that he knows he's capable of doing it. You've got a guy who knows that he's good enough but he also knows that he's not good enough and he's got the work ethic to get it done. You've got a pretty good combination."
(on what Jones does off the field) "It's early for that kind of stuff but obviously when you see him function out here on the field then you obviously know that he is in his books and he knows what his plays are and his responsibilities are so that part of it we've been pleased with as well."
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak - morning practice (on Texans guard Chester Pitts) "I think Chester will be back and play next week and get his big work load against Dallas and probably he's a player that we may look at to get some work against Tampa Bay. I think if it was Kansas City, I think he'd make it back this week, but we're going to be smart with him and bring him along slowly for next week."
(on whether Texans offensive lineman Steve McKinney will start in Pitts' position) "That's the plan right now. We'll talk about it as coaches, but that's our top five guys, and they're going to go on the field and work their combination of plays together."
(on Texans wide receiver Jacoby Jones) "He did some really good stuff and today he's running with the ones in our zebra pair. He just continues to make plays. Like I told you guys, he feels like he belongs and he operates that way every day. To come into a professional training camp, he has not missed a practice and he can go all day; he's been impressive."
(on training camp) "I had a friend of mine out here yesterday who is out of football right now and not coaching. He came to me and he said 'Coach, you know the only thing worse than camp?' I said 'what's that?" He says 'No camp. I'm out of ball right now and I miss it really bad.' It kind of becomes part of your life. The discipline of the two or three weeks of going double-days, the hours and it kind of gets you ready for the season, coaching and playing. We've had a good one and we'll finish our last double day tonight."
(on how he feels the Texans have progressed in training camp) "I think we have. I think we were able to do a lot more this training camp; a lot more football wise, extended football stuff. I think we're much further along from that standpoint as a team. We've still got a long, long way to go and a lot of things to do but I like our group, our guys like each other, I think they're pretty dang close, and that's important in the long run."
(on who will play in the game Saturday against the Cardinals) "I'm going to put a play count on the ones. They'll probably play anywhere from 25-35 plays depending on how far that takes them but we're going to make sure we get at least that many plays out of them so that could be a quarter and a half maybe at the most. Then our twos will go from there, and our threes are expected to play the fourth quarter."
(on whether he thinks Texans cornerback Tyrone Poole will be caught up on the defense by Saturday's game) "We'll see. Physically, he's fine, he's in great condition. Whether he knows enough of what we're doing to get out there and play some nickel; if he plays it will probably just be in nickel."
(on whether Jones' confidence has helped him emerge as a great rookie wide receiver) "I don't know. You can get out there and scout players, and judge a lot of things, but you can't judge that. This kid just handles himself like he's been doing it a long, long time, so I don't know. We need to study him pretty hard and make sure we go get some more like that because he has made a lot of ground pretty quick."
(on whether Texans linebacker Danny Clark will start Saturday) "Yes he will. He definitely will. He will start at Charlie's (Anderson) spot. Like I said yesterday it's nothing against Charlie, we just feel like Danny has earned the right to get on the field with the ones and see how far he's come."
(on whether he is surprised by the progress made by Jones) "I think we have been. Coming from a small school, wondering how much information he could take and put in to use was the biggest question and that's been pretty easy for him. Other than the few occasional drops which if he gets over those, the sky is the limit. He surprised us all. He was a tremendous draft choice and we're very fortunate to get him."
(on Texans defensive end Jason Babin) "I said this many of times. We've had a lot of conversations about Travis (Johnson) and Jerome (Mathis) at this camp, but Jason needs to get into that conversation because he's really dedicated himself to our program, to Dan (Riley), to what Jethro (Franklin) and Frank (Bush) are trying to do and it shows. He stood out last week as much as any guy we had up front so I'm looking forward to Jason having a good year."
(on whether he is starting to see the same out of Babin that the Texans hoped they would see when they drafted him) "I remember him coming out. I know in Denver how much we liked him as an undersized (defensive) end that could rush the passer. I think he's found his role in our defense, he understand what's expected of him. He's really better physically to me. Today, he's battling a calf (injury) and we gave him yesterday (off) and he was touch-and-go this morning. At about a quarter to eight Kevin (Bastin) called me and said 'Jason says he's going, he's fine, he's going to work through it.' He's making a lot of progress from that standpoint."
(on Texans quarterback Jared Zabransky playing in his first NFL game the stadium in which he played his last college game) "I tell you what, it will probably seem as big to the kid. That's interesting, where his last game was and his first pro game will be. I'm excited to see him get out there. He did some good things in practice yesterday, and today. He'll be probably pretty nervous but it's a good opportunity for us to take a look at him."
(on whether the ability to play special teams will influence who earns the right to be the third running back on the Texans) "There's absolutely no doubt about that. I was disappointed the other night the way some of our third backs ran. I thought there was more room on the field than we were getting and I told them that. Between Samkon (Gado), Wali (Lundy) and Darius (Walker), somebody has to step up and do something special. Putting the ball on the ground today in practice doesn't help your cause. They've got to get better."
(on Texans fullback Patrick Pass) "Patrick is going to play fullback this week, we'll start there. When you look at a guy like that that he can go back there if something happens in your backfield, but his opportunity to make this team is as a fullback and as a special teams player."
(on which of the three third string running backs he wants to see play Saturday) "Would I like to see them all play? Yes. Is it hard to do? It's probably hard to do, so if we don't get to one of them this week, we'll try to make that up at the end of the game next week."
(on Texans running back Ron Dayne and running back Ahman Green) "I think they both need to get some more reps. Ahman, we've got to work him toward opening day and so we'll probably put a number on his carries this week. Ronnie (Dayne) definitely needs more work and then we'll go from there."
(on how the team compares to last year's team) "Starting with the football, it's a lot further along football wise as far as what we're doing, what we're teaching, the complexity of what we're doing. I think we're a lot further along right now than what we were last year. I think the football team functions a lot calmer with a lot more poise. We're pretty consistent in how we work and how we do things. We don't have any big swings in practices. They're pretty even-keeled. We get after each other and one side wins then the other side wins. I think we've grown up from that standpoint as a football team and I think one of the places we've really grown is just our football team being a close group. If your football team isn't close, if they don't care about each other when they walk out of this stadium as they care about each other when they walk on this field, then we're probably not going to make much progress, and I've seen some things throughout this camp that tells me this is a very close group."
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak - evening practice (on he spent his birthday) "Doing the same thing I always do: working. Just a couple of practices, and they were pretty good. It's kind of nice to come out here like this. It's good for the fans, and it is kind of a distraction for us. You've got a lot of things going on and they've got to concentrate on what they're doing. You see some young guys making some mistakes tonight that they don't normally make, so it's kind of good to have this practice especially with us going on the road this week."
(on how efficient the Texans have been) "We came back in practice Monday. Monday we had an excellent practice; probably one of our better practices of the camp. I told the team afterwards 'this team knows when it's time to go back to work, and that's a good sign.' There were some good things that happened the other night, and the end result was disappointing. It was disappointing but it wasn't discouraging with some of the things that were happening on the football field. They knew it was time to go back to work, and they did; they got after each other Monday. I think our week has been good. We need to finish up working on some noise here in the next couple of days. As I told them tonight, one of the things that we did not do well at all last year was go into a hostile environment and play with poise. If you cant do that in this league, then you don't have a chance, so we start learning how to do that this Saturday night."
(on whether the load of work during practice will go up with the end of two-a-days) "No, we will start to reel them in so to speak. They're as beat up and as tired as they're going to get all year right now. That's part of camp and you know that, but right now you start to reel them back in, they get into a one-a-day schedule, their bodies start to get fresher and you're ultimately working towards Kansas City, so you have to keep that focus."
(on Bum Phillips returning to the Houston football organization) "When I was a kid and I worked for him, I saw him and Gif over there talking to each other. When I was out in the field chasing balls, he was always up in that cherry-picker. What a wonderful man. What he did for this city and this football team will forever be remembered and it's just nice to have a good friend like that."
(on Phillips being able to bring together a football team) "He talked to the team last year, and we had a lot of young kids. Some of them probably didn't know about his legacy here. The things he talked about were so simple and all he talked basically about was team and about caring for each other, and praying for each other and you can have all the players you want, but if they don't feel that way about each other and play for each other on Sunday, you're probably not going to make much progress, and I think we have made a lot of progress in that department."
(on whether the Texans have their own personality) "I think we have more personality than we had last year. I think there are more guys involved in the leadership and what we're doing. It's only going to continue to develop. This is a young football team with a lot of young players that are playing and I think you'll see new guys emerge week to week."
Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson (on having only so many years left in the NFL and if he is where he wants to be) "You know what? All I want to do is win. Is it frustrating, yeah. But I'm willing to keep working at it. I always said that I'm kind of glad that I came to this situation where it is a new franchise and you can be apart of something special, rather than going somewhere where you're going to win the Super Bowl the first year, and that's fine, everybody wants to win the Super Bowl, but I wanted to be a part of something you could build, and you have to struggle a little bit. I think our time is coming and I think we will surprise a lot of people this year."
(on if after four years of playing he still has a fresh and positive attitude) "Oh yeah, during the season, and as it goes on bad, it gets frustrating. But now is a new start, changes have been made, new running back, new quarterback and things like that, you cant be nothing but be excited. It is a new start for us."
(on if him and quarterback Matt Schaub have developed some kind of magic between them) "Yeah, we talk a lot. We try to be on the same page with each other and try to see what each other are thinking. We haven't been together long, so we still have a lot of work to do, but right now, I think things are going real well."
(on if he has a preference between Schaub and David Carr) "No, I really don't. He throws the ball well. I don't have a problem with the way he throws the ball; I think he throws it well. He can fit the ball at you in tight places. Sometimes you may not be as open as you want to be and he can fit the ball in there where the defense can't get to it, so he can make a lot of good throws."
Texans guard Chester Pitts (on Chester's injury status) "Everything is getting better. It's feeling better and moving better. It's not ready yet, but as soon as it is I'll be out here with my boys."
(on if he'd play if it were a regular season game) "How many regular season games have I ever missed? Zero."
Texans cornerback Tyrone Poole (on the hot weather) "Well, it's no different in Atlanta, so just another city, another heat wave."
(on his reaction to getting the call to workout) "I've been around Coach Kubiak and GM Rick Smith, so they know about me, and I just thank God that there is another opportunity for me to continue my career and help the Houston Texans achieve a goal that every team sets out for at the beginning of the season, which is to have a successful season, win your division and win your conference, go to the Super Bowl and win the Super Bowl."
(on his position) "No, I'm not a safety. I'm a corner, so there are no ifs, ands or buts about that. Red is red, blue is blue."
(on how he has kept himself young) "I just thank the graces of God, through Jesus Christ. I had the work ethic, I've been around a lot of smart people, and I've played with a lot of smart people. Just like I tell the younger guys: You listen to what people tell you, and you remember it, but you only apply what you need at that particular time. If you're building a house made of sand, you don't use brick. But you do know how to build a brick house. So, when it's your time to use whatever technique or information that was given to you, then you use it at that time, so you just store it."
(on returning to site of Super Bowl XXXVIII) "That was the first thing that crossed my mind. The last time I was here, I told the younger guys that I should have brought some of my super bowl rings, to let them see why we play the game. It's a tremendous feeling, to know that no matter how old you get, that your children will be able to see it when they get older, meaning the super bowl highlights. As long as God sees fit to keep this universe intact, they're always going to have super bowl highlights, no matter what super bowl it is. So they'll have to go through Super Bowl XXXVIII and XXXIX highlights. If I'm in a wheelchair, I can tell my kids to wheel me up, turn the TV on so you can see what Daddy used to do.
(on whether he can play Saturday) "Well, we'll see. I told them that there are only so many ways you can play Cover 2, Cover 1, or any zone defense. So basically, it's just learning the terminology, just learning what it is and what your responsibility is in the defense, but I want to play and hopefully I will play."
(on the curve to adjust to Houston) "Its not a real big curve, not at all. I think the curve comes in when you don't apply the time to make it work, that's when the curve comes in. Basically, the curve is just that you're having problems in your learning. If you can set aside the time, and put yourself in your books, there is no learning curve. It's just a matter of getting in and getting used to your teammates."
(on what impresses him of the Texans organization) "Well, the first thing I see is the atmosphere, starting with the owner. The facility that he built for the players is a wonderful facility. The guys have a lot of equipment to get them prepared for games, and as far as the coaches, you got coaches that have come from winning organizations, and they know what it takes.
(on teaching younger players) I told the young defensive backs, 'I'm like an open book to you. Whatever it is you need, I'm here for you.' But also saying that, it's like books in a library. There are a lot of books in the library that aren't read because they aren't pulled off the shelf. But that's what I told the guys, 'You've got to pull me off the shelf. I'm not going to just tap you on the shoulder. But if you pull me off the shelf, I'm an open book to you."
Texans tackle Ephraim Salaam (on how much better this year is) "It is much better. Anytime you come into a situation when you got new guys coming in, a new coaching staff, it always takes at least a year to get acclimated and for everybody to feel comfortable. I think the offensive line is doing well, especially the first unit working together and dealing with different adversities that come up from different defenses."
(on if he is nervous about being on the left side) "No, I've been left side for a long time in this league and I'm not worried about that. (Bad things happening to him on the left side) Just trying to be the best left tackle in team history. So my goal is real high, that's why I work hard everyday and try to get myself ready to where when the season starts I will be a dominant left tackle."
(on this year being his best off season) "Oh yeah, by far. I've really rededicated myself, and hit the weights hard. I got stronger, got faster, and it's just like a second wind for me. It's my 10th year in the league but I feel like it is my second. I'm just having fun. I'm around a great bunch of guys, coaching staff, and the city; I mean it is just a perfect situation for me."
Texans wide receiver Kevin Walter (on how his camp has gone so far since being listed as a starter) "I think this has been one of my best camps of my career so far, to tell you the truth. You know, I come out here, it's my second year in the system. I feel comfortable, I feel good, and I feel like I'm making plays out here. You just gotta carry that over to the games. The only hard part about it is the practice. If you can do it in practice, you can do it in a game. That's what I'm trying to do."
(on if what has changed since being named a starter) "You know, you always gotta be right. You always gotta be making plays. I'm not gonna put more pressure on myself than I have in the past four years. I'm just gonna go out there and continue to do what I do and watch Andre (Johnson) everyday and nit-pick from him and get things out of his game and put them in mine. That's about it; come out here and be consistent."
(on what his strengths are) "I'm physical. I think I can bring toughness to this offense as far as coming in there and digging out safeties, running routes, catching the ball real well. You know, obviously in that game, the first preseason game, I wish I had that one back. (But) that's water under the bridge and I have an opportunity to play this Saturday and show my stuff."
Texans defensive end Anthony Weaver (on if he knows what's going on at practice) "I think we are leaps and bounds of where we were at this point last year. Guys know the defense and know their assignments and they are playing hard and playing fast. I think the biggest thing we have right now is consistency issues. You know, we show flashes out there where we can be dominate, but the thing now is doing that every day and every play."
(on if he still going to be a third down inside guy) "I think so. I think that's the plan right now. On nickel, to go in there and play tackle and get our speed guys at the end. That's fine by me. That's what I have done my whole career."
(on where he is physically right now) "I feel pretty good. I hate to give you a percentage, but I'm just waiting for the goal and I feel pretty good."
(on what has been the toughest thing about getting back in shape) "I think the shoulder. The shoulder is one of those things that has been hindering me. It's been hurting me in my strength and condition aspect, but I'm getting to where I need to be."
Texans tackle Eric Winston (on how the zone blocking scheme is going) "It's doing well. I don't think we are fully over there. I like to think of our offense as a hybrid right now. We are doing a lot of different things. You know, a lot of teams are either power teams or zone teams and I think we got enough skill on this offensive line and we got the right combination of guys where I think we are getting to be a hybrid of both. I think that is going to pose a lot of problems for defenses and it's exciting for us playing for it."
(on it this scheme not being one or another) That's what I'm saying. We can do both. Usually for power teams you have big, strong guys and for zone teams you have smaller, quicker guys. So, with guys like Chester Pitts and Ephraim (Salaam) that have been in the zone blocking scheme before; in college we did both. We got a lot of guys that can do a lot. Fred Weary is a real strong guy but at the same time he can move. It takes those kind of guys to be able to do both. I think we are fortunate to have those kind of guys to where we can do both."
(on the second year in the system being more comfortable) "Absolutely. I mean, you're more comfortable with the terminology, what the coaches are expecting, what they're looking for, what they want to see. That just makes everyone a little bit better. You know what they want and you know what you need to go out there and do to get better and be a starter on this team. So, it's just a matter of carrying it forward day by day."