DeMeco Ryans will lead the defense in 2007.
Members of the Houston Texans spoke to the media Sunday after a hot third day of training camp practice.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak - morning practice (on first practice with full pads) "It was good, it was a grind. It was our hottest day. It was training camp in true form, but our guys worked hard through it, and I thought we practiced good. If we can have a lot of days like that, we're going to be fine."
(on Texans running back Chris Taylor) "He's in surgery, so I'm thinking hopefully at noon, we're going to have the answer to whether we can expect Chris back at some point this year, or is it a season-ending (injury). So we should be able to let you know this afternoon."
(on the disappointment of Taylor getting hurt) "It's extremely disappointing because the kid has made so much progress. We gave him a chance at the end of the year last year, and he plays extremely well especially against Cleveland. These guys on this football team really respect him, and the path he's taken to become a pro football player. It's disappointing, but there's no doubt that Chris will be back. Chris will play in this league a long time. So we're just going to get him well, and support him. He's a great kid and his teammates will miss him."
(on whether he likes the team's running back corps) "Yeah, I really do. As I told y'all yesterday, it probably was our deepest group, but it can get real thin pretty quick. So, we had three guys out here this morning, we gave Ronnie (Dayne) a little break. We have some relief coming in this afternoon with (Darius) Walker coming back, and we may sign another one before this afternoon's practice, so we gotta get some guys out here to make sure we get these other guys some training camp."
(on tandem of running backs Ahman Green and Ron Dayne) "That's a great combination right there. I tell you, Samkon's (Gado) really had an excellent offseason and training camp, and Wali (Lundy) had kind of been put in a very competitive situation going into this camp, and he's taken advantage of his reps. I see him getting better. So, however that 1-2 or 1-2-3 punch ends up, we're going to have some good players to go along with Ahman."
(on the first hot day of practice) "We work through it. We're mentally tougher right now than we were last year. No doubt about that. It's a grind, and it's hot, and it's a long day, but the one thing you saw, is you just saw them keep going, and even end pretty good. The first offense ended the day pretty good on the field making some plays. The first defense got off the field at the end of the day, and then our third defense made a great play here at the end of practice, so even though you're tired and sluggish, the football was still good."
(on Texans wide receiver Andre' Davis) "It's a new opportunity for him. We know that he has had some good times in his career early. Last couple of years have been rough, so it's a chance for him to kind of resurrect that thing, and get it going again. He's taken advantage of his opportunity. It's a good group, our receivers are very competitive."
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak - afternoon practice (on injured Texans running back Chris Taylor and defensive back Roc Alexander) "Let me give you an update on both of them. Chris (Taylor) had his surgery; it was exactly what we thought. He will be out for the year. He's got (a) three to six month recovery process. (It is) very unfortunate, but Chris is going to be back, he'll play in this league a long time in my opinion. We're just going to support him and get him healthy. But, surgery went fine, and it's exactly what they thought. Ok, Roc Alexander. This is very unfortunate. Ya'll know he had the major knee surgery last year with the ACL. He hurt the same knee this morning. The surgery that he had held up fine. He did not re-injure the knee in any shape or form from that standpoint. Basically, he cracked his kneecap on the same knee, so he will be done for the year. Those two players are going to go on IR. It's very unfortunate for both of them. This afternoon, we brought (Darius) Walker back; we signed Walker back as ya'll saw. We signed Patrick Pass probably about ten minutes before practice. The player has played in this league. (He's) been a fullback, been a halfback, (he will) give us a little versatility there. We're bringing back (Derrick) Roberson, the corner that we had in the off season from Rutgers. He will come right back and replace Roc at corner."
(on running back Quentin Griffin) "He worked out fine. It's really a matter of kind of what we need right now. I know if we signed Quentin, we're signing strictly a halfback. This other kid, we would like to look at him in both roles. We need Jameel (Cook) to get back on the field, but the more time he misses is a concern to us. We're working, of course, the body there and stuff, but we'd like to bring in another guy who has played that position as well."
(on which injury made more of an impact on the team) "I think both those kids had an excellent chance of being on the football team. Ya'll know the progress that Chris (Taylor) has made. Chris was going to battle for playing time at the running back position as well as a special teams player. Ya'll don't know Roc (Alexander) very well because he got hurt early last year, but he's an excellent special teams player. A very physical corner, I think he would have played well in our scheme, and I think he would have pushed for a spot on our team. That's part of the game, you hate losing guys, but there's two good kids right there that I think will make it back."
(on whether there have been any surprises thus far in training camp) "No, I like our practice. This morning we got after 'em. It was hot out there, ya'll were there, and we wore them to the nub so to speak this morning. Then they walked in here today and got right after it for good for an hour and a half. I like the way this football team is working. I think we're mentally tougher right now in our approach and everything we're doing, and that's important to our team getting better."
(on coaches Jethro Franklin and Frank Bush) "It's been tremendous, because what you've got there is you got two very successful coaches in this league. First off, this doesn't happen very often, where you have two guys coaching at one position but their very good friends, so they work very well together, and they're sitting there working with a very young group that really respects them. Our D-Line is having a good camp so far. The thing I like is I think their work ethic has picked up and it had to, but these young players are really responding to them. We've got a long way to go, but they're doing a good job."
(on Texans wide receiver Jacoby Jones) "I think what y'all see is confidence. When ya'll watch him practice when he's returning punts or something, he loves the little flies. He's got a lot of confidence in what he can do, what he thinks he can do, but he's got to do it at this level. The thing that's been disappointing with him is he's not clean catching the ball all the time, and we've got to clean that up. There's no doubt that there's a player that that can help our team as a returner and a receiver, and we sat Andre (Johnson) this afternoon, and we're going to do that time to time because we want to look more at players like himself."
(on Texans wide receiver Bethel Johnson) "(He has) tremendous speed. We were concerned about his injury coming in here, the stress fracture that he had, but he looks like he's over that, so that's a positive sign. Bethel's ability belongs in this league, playing on Sundays. We got to get all the things corrected, the mental issues and stuff, learning our offense, and if we do that, he can help us."
(on Texans safety Brandon Harrison ability to learn the defense after not being able to report for OTA's and mini-camp) "That hasn't been an issue, he's a very smart young man, but he is behind some of our other players as far as all the reps and stuff that he got in the off season, but he's doing a good job mentally. He has got to catch up with everybody else physically; I think he's a little behind."
(on Texans fullback Jon Abbate switching to that position from linebacker) "The thing that we thought we knew would happen, and he proved us right, he'll hit you in the mouth. He's a low-built-to-the-ground guy. As a fullback, that's what we're looking for. He's got good hands, he's smart. He's lost right now, to go from defense to offense and throw a whole playbook at you, you can tell that, but you have to understand we're dealing with a player that eventually will have practice squad eligibility if he doesn't make the team, so there's time for us to groom him as a player and the fact that he's so gung-ho about it has helped the transition."
Texans cornerback Fred Bennett (on his size at cornerback as an advantage)"Me being a bigger corner, that's a major advantage. I can be a lot more physical, but it's also a little disadvantage because of my long, lanky legs. But my coach has been working with me to get my steps and my backpedaling down. I have a tendency to take a false step in my movements. He's been working me real well."
(on the heat at practice today)"They've been telling me since OTA's and minicamp that, 'Oh, it's going to get hot, it's going to get hotter.' I saw it today, it got hotter. I've got to stay hydrated. I kind of cramped up on my interception in my calves, but it's alright now."
(on how making big plays has the potential to get noticed by coaches)"It's a chance for the coaches to notice me a little bit, but I'm not concerned about that at all. Wherever I fall; we've got two great corners that I have the utmost respect for. I've got respect for my coaches. I just go out there and do my job. Wherever I fall, if I fall third, second, first, whatever, it doesn't matter. As long as I can help this team win, I'm willing to do that."
Texans running back Samkon Gado (on his offseason and studying for the MCAT) "It was pretty tough actually, trying to juggle both conditioning and studying for that test. It's a very difficult test, it doesn't really matter how much you prepare for it. They are very good at throwing stuff at you that kind of makes you think. I'm glad that's over with. I took the test and actually, I think I did as well as I could of. So that part is done and now it's on to doing what I love to do. So, let's just get ready for the season and concentrate on this training camp."
(on if his test scores have come back) "No, scores have not come back yet. I'm still waiting on those, and then I'll just go from there."
(on being in the mix of the Texans running backs) "Of course. There are countless stories who have been seventh or eighth on the depth chart coming back and starting the rest of the season and doing very well. I think regardless of the circumstance and where you are on the depth chart, you always have to prepare for that because guys drop like flies. We're a little banged up right now and we are just trying to help each other out. We are all just one player from being that guy so the best thing to do is to prepare as if you are that guy."
(on his NFL career and where his future will take him) "I think they compliment each other so well because I don't think I can say that this is one part of my life and this is another part of my life. Medicine and football are both passions and interests of mine. I think they help each other. Being out here motivates me to be a better doctor. Motivates myself to play well enough to put myself in a good situation to be a doctor. Doing this motivates me or kind of trains me for that time when it's going to be tough. Football, I was talking to a teammate yesterday, I don't know if there is any other sport that better prepares you for life than football. Especially in this time, I think they piggy back off of each other in many, many ways. I'm just trying to reap the benefits of both."
(on missing workouts for his studying) "Well, Coach knew. My understanding with Coach was just because I wasn't going to be here didn't mean that I wasn't going to be working out. Quite frankly, I think I trained harder because I wasn't here because I knew that if I didn't come in shape then I wouldn't be ready to go. I came back, I lost about ten pounds, which felt great. I came back in great shape. Of course, it doesn't matter how hard you work, regardless of what you're doing, football condition is a whole different kind. So, these next couple of days is just trying to get used to the pads and the hitting, and just the intensity of the heat, and everything else that is training camp."
Texans running back Ahman Green (on players getting their degrees) "I kind of just left college as a, you know, why bother type thing. But now, you know, guys like myself and Samkon (Gado) they are definitely putting the effort because they know, and I know, and guys that are playing now around the league know that there is life after football, and sometimes there has got to be life after football."
(on NFL players getting degrees over the offseason not receiving enough attention) "Yeah. You know, a lot of good things, especially that, that's one thing the average fan needs to know. We aren't just out here being jocks and banging each other around. We guys, that are educated, you know, well educated; in terms of Sam (Gado) Going and getting his doctor's degree and things like that. He wants to help people by doing that. My hat's off to Sam because getting a doctor's degree takes a while. It's not something you can take in three or four years. It's a five to six year commitment. For some areas of being a doctor, for others it's longer. I definitely give my hat off to him because he's been doing it since his rookie year. The only thing that's really changed about Sam is he is hitting the holes and seeing the holes a lot crisper out here. In Green Bay, he was a rookie working through the hard stuff trying to learn his way through the offensive line running the ball. Now, seeing him in his third or fourth year, he's looking real good."
(on the Texans having signed so many Green Bay players) "It's good. It's not a complete, not knowing anyone type area. I know a few guys here and they keep bringing guys in from Green Bay and Denver. It's good. It's a good feeling seeing Sam (Gado). We just signed Kevin Barry and Ben Steele, you know, Vonta (Leach) and all them guys out here makes the transition a lot more comfortable."
(on how the first day of full pads was) "The first day was good. I didn't expect to be out here getting it. It's just a work day trying to get banged around a little bit."
(on if he got hit a little today) "Oh, yeah. That's what I like. I'm that type of runner. The more I get hit, the better I get adjusted to the speed of the game. I picked up my first blitz today so I hadn't done that at all. So that felt good. I'm trying to get my feet right and my hands in the right spot. We will do more attacking than catching."
Texans wide receiver Jacoby Jones (on how camp is going and the transition from college) "It is a totally different step. Two-a-days everyday right now, just getting used to putting those pads back on right now. The practices are much smoother and faster so it is pretty different."
(on what his biggest challenge has been so far) "The playbook, but I'm starting to get comfortable with the concepts so I'm alright."
(on confidence and if he takes pride in it) "Oh yeah, and the people that give me the confidence are the veterans on the team like Andre Johnson, Keenan (McCardell), Charlie Adams, and Kevin Walter, all those guys."
(on if the older guys have taken him in under their wing) "Oh yes, especially when Keenan first walked in the door, sat next to me and said, 'I'm taking care of you.'"
(on what McCardell has done for him so far) "He teaches me little things, like the game is more mental. A guy his age you can tell it's mind over matter."
(on what the most exciting thing about being in the NFL is for him)"I'm still playing football."
(on being able to buy his own house) "Yeah, I'm 23 with my own house now. I woke up nauseous the first two nights though, nervous, you know."
(on if his family is excited about everything) "Yeah, if I'm blessed they are bringing a bus down for the Saints game. Yes, a bus. They might need two buses."
(on what he is trying to work on in camp) "Staying consistent and making the big plays when I come out and am given an opportunity too."
(on his expectations for this year) "Be a role player. Whatever I got to do to help the team win and be a team player. I'm willing to do whatever."
Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans (on his thoughts about practice) "It went well. It's a good take for everybody to come out here today. It's pretty warm out here today, so we just have to get used to the pads. It's good to put them on in the morning come out and get used to the heat."
(on not holding back at practice with pads on) "Oh yeah, once you get the pads on everybody is geared up and ready, go attack. Especially on defense, we were looking forward to laying a hit on somebody. Had not done it in a while so, it is good to loosen the pads up."
(on comparing this season to last) "It is definitely more comfortable, especially with the playbook. Because it's really about understanding the defense and I have been going through all the plays and I understand it now so I don't have to do too much. It's a matter of coming out here and trying to perfect the technique."
(on being a defensive leader) "I don't think about it, it's just something that naturally comes along. Me being the lead of the defense, I look forward to it and I hope the guys will just get on my back and follow me.
(on if being a leader comes with playing the middle linebacker position) "Oh yeah, as a middle linebacker you have to step up in there and make all the calls and checks. The entire defense is counting on you to make the correct calls. So it's a position where you definitely have to be a leader."
Texans quarterback Matt Schaub (on how things are going in training camp) "Really good. We've had a great three days of practice. Guys are working hard, enthusiastic. We are pushing through as a team and getting better. That's all we can ask for this time of year, just keep improving with each practice."
(on how excited he is to be the starter) "Oh, I'm excited. It's a great opportunity for me and one that I have to take advantage of and come out each day and focus on my job and my responsibility to lead this football team and let the rest happen. We are doing well and it's an exciting time."
(on practicing against the starting defense) "I think when you are going against your team's starting defense, you get to see a good look of what you're going to see on Sundays. The number one defense for our team is improving and getting better. It's a really good group of guys and a lot of speed on that side of the ball. So, it's a good time to go against them and great work for us."
(on how important it is to get a feel of all the guys during training camp) "It's huge. We had a great OTA session in mini camp back in the summer but now adding all the young guys and a couple of new guys at wide receiver with Bethel (Johnson) and Keenan McCardell. It's a great time to get a lot of reps each day to work on our timing and getting our report down, as far as route running."
(on if he feels the changes in coach Kubiak's second year) "I do. I feel that the second year you're going to improve drastically on what you learn. You can never put in an entire playbook your first year with a ball club and everyone just grasp it and absorb it. From what I hear from some of the guys that were here last year, we are doing a lot more and a lot of new things that they are familiar with but they didn't do in the past and it's helping out what we can do on Sundays."
(on how it feels to have Eric Winston blocking for him) "Oh, he's great. He's a young guy who's hungry and willing to put in the extra effort. He's huge, he's a mammoth of a guy and he's working really hard and he's doing a great job over at right tackle for us."