Darius Walker was back in action Monday.
Two new running backs were among the Texans who spoke to the media about practice Monday, and head coach Gary Kubiak shared his thoughts on the passing of football icon Bill Walsh.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak - morning practice (on training camp so far) "Guys have been responding. It's very, very competitive, and we're making some progress."
(on injuries during camp) "We're fine. Y'all know the guys that are out. We rested (Shawn) Barber today and Samkon Gado. They're just resting, nothing to do with injury. But, other than that, we're fine. (Brandon) Frye is the only kid that's been out here (with injury) for the last couple of days. So, our guys are holding up well."
(on players who may stand out to him) "There's a lot of guys that stood out today, because at practice (we were) bouncing around so much, it's so competitive. (Jamar) Fletcher stood out on the defensive side of the ball, had a couple of big interceptions today. Offensively, we had a couple of guys who stepped up at the end of practice today. Ahman Green, Vonta Leach continues to get better as a football player, and it's very impressive how he's working. It was just a good overall practice, just some good things going on on a very tough day. "
(on whether Texans wide receiver Terry Richardson left the team) "Yes, he just really came in there one morning and said 'I'm not really sure I want to do this.' He's a great kid, he's got some ability, and we had to make a move anyway with our running back situation. "
(on newly signed Texans running back Patrick Pass) "He did a little bit, not much. We're going to kind of work him into it. We don't think he's quite in football shape right now. So, we're just going to slowly work him in."
(on Texans rookie defensive tackle Amobi Okoye) "He's doing fine, he's a rookie though. Those rookies don't understand quite what training camp is about. They get here, and they hit a wall pretty dang quick, but he's got two guys in his tail every day. He'll get through it, but he's doing fine."
(on the heat affecting Okoye during practice) "It's getting to everybody, it's pretty hot out here, but he's working through it. His condition level will get to where it needs to be, but he's showing up and doing the things we knew he could do."
(on the re-acquisition of Texans running back Darius Walker) "It's interesting how things happen in this league. The kid had a tremendous career at Notre Dame, and last year he was one of the top backs in the country. He enters the draft, and doesn't get drafted. That can be devastating for guys. I think it was disturbing for him. We were fortunate enough to get him here, and when he came here in the offseason, I think that was still bothering him. He told me that a couple of times, and I understand that. But I also told him there's a time now you've got to let it go and bring yourself to play in this league. He struggled a little bit in our offseason. I think whatever he did from the time we let him go before training camp opened to the time we brought him back, some light went on and I think he understands what he's got to do. In the small window there is to become a pro football player, I see a kid that's back ready to do it the right way, and take advantage of the situation."
(on the competition for the starting punter spot on the team) "Well, they're both just beating it up every day, going head to head. One of the hard things in this league nowadays probably because of your numbers, it's hard to bring in two punters or two kickers because you need numbers at all these other spots. We think it's important to push Chad (Stanley) and Matt (Turk) has done a good job of doing that. Right now it's too early to tell."
(on Texans safety Brandon Harrison) "He's behind just on football, getting all the reps, and those types of things, but he knows what we're doing. He's picked that up well. (He's) in good condition, so, I just think he's a little bit behind. Because what happens as you go through camp, the football gets harder and harder, as we keep teaching more and more for the first eight days. He's bogged down a little bit there, but I think he'll be okay."
(on relying on running back Ahman Green for explosiveness at the running back position) "I think they're all capable of doing that if we get better offensively. But there is no doubt number 30, that's been a specialty of his. Y'all can see that here at practice every day. I told ya'll how much that I felt that Samkon (Gado) improved in the offseason. I think Ronnie is Ronnie (Dayne). We know what we're going to get from Ronnie. The guy who's really improved, is 33 (Texans running back) Wali Lundy. He went from being a starting back until opening day last year, to staring at a list of running backs to where it's going to be tough to make this football team. I think he's taken that personally, he's a better football player right now than he was a year ago."
(on Texans linebackers Danny Clark and Shawn Barber) "They're veterans; they've been on some good football teams. They bring versatility for Johnny (Holland). We can move our guys around. So it just adds some more veterans to that group."
(on the importance of having a veteran like running back Patrick Pass) "We're just getting to know him, but he's been on a winner. He's got three Super Bowl rings, he plays a lot of positions, and that can only help us. He's been an excellent special teams player in his day. I think his whole thing is catching up physically, and then we'll find out what he can do for us."
(on having a changed practice schedule incorporating shorter afternoon practices, and special teams only practices in the afternoon) "Once we get to today, we'll start going to special teams in the afternoon. There are two reasons for that. I think you need to devote more time to special teams, so it gives Joe (Marciano) his own practice. That's his practice, for that hour. It helps us get the big guys off the field, so they can stay in their room or lay around in the green room there and get more rest, so rest your big guys, devote time to special teams, and let your team know how important it is. We come back, we'll be in the bubble at 3:30 for 45 minutes. We'll get on that routine every other day."
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak - afternoon practice (on hearing of the news of the passing of legendary head coach Bill Walsh) "I had heard that he wasn't doing very well yesterday, and it's a very sad day for the National Football League. He's probably one of the most influential people in this business. When I think of him, I think of how many coaches he's influenced that are still coaching in this league today. I had a brief encounter with him. My last game (as a player) we played Buffalo in the AFC Championship in '91, I had made a decision a month before that I was getting out of football, and I was going into coaching. He was just named the Stanford head coach like three weeks earlier, and offered me my first job. Smart move, I didn't go with him. I came back down here to A&M, but I have tremendous respect for him and the lives and the players and the coaches that he's impacted along the way have been tremendous."
(on whether Kubiak was coaching in San Francisco when Bill Walsh was the head coach) "No, George Seifert was the head coach when I was there. He was around quite a bit, I don't remember if he was in a consultant role at that time, but we would see him quite a bit. Of course, I would see Bill at various games from time to time. Working for (Mike) Shanahan, Bill Walsh is going to show up somewhere because Mike and Bill were very, very close, so that's how I got to know him."
(on the influence of Bill Walsh on the game of football) "I'll tell you a great story. When I was hired in San Francisco, the way the 49ers would get their coaches going so to speak, and prepare their coaches, they run the same system, they run Bill's system, and when you came in there as a new coach, they didn't change things. (They said) 'Hey, we're going to run this system, now you go run this system,' and the way they taught me was they handed me tapes of Bill teaching the West Coast system, they handed me tapes of Mike Holmgren teaching the West Coast system, and then of course ultimately Mike Shanahan. I got to go in the room, that's the first guy I studied teaching me that West Coast book. Then I watched how he went about it, I watched how Mike Holmgren went about it, I watched how Shanahan went about it and it's amazing. It's held for so long. Today we're out here calling plays the same way he called them, with a lot of the same terminology, so his impact is tremendous, and it will continue to be."
(on the impact of Bill Walsh on the game of football) "There's so much change in this league with coaches and guys moving around here and there, but the one thing that has been rock solid is his system, his terminology. The way he goes about moving the football, the way he goes about practice, and a lot of ways to me he is the inventor of practicing without pads, and practicing fast, and keeping your guys fresh, and teaching people how to do that. I know that's where I learned it. There are just so many things and what he did for the minority coaching program is tremendous also."
(on whether Bill Walsh's influence has influenced Kubiak) "It has a great deal. In a lot of ways I wasn't so much with him, but when I went to San Francisco, my first professional head coaching job, everything that was happening in that organization was a direct reflection of him and it was just getting it from the next coach, which was Gorge Seifert."
(on Bill Walsh's influence on minority coaching program) "He really did. We had five guys this camp, two of them left us today, but that has opened the door for many, many coaches to get in the league."
(on the minority coaches who left today) "A couple of our coaches, Coach (James) Ward from Colorado State, and our Air Force defensive back coach, he left also, they have to go back to work, they report on Tuesday."
(on the influence of Bill Walsh's West Coast system on Coach Kubiak) "That's a really hard question to answer. I think the thing he did, is he really went about putting the game in players' hands, and saying 'you got to make plays. I may throw you a five yard slant, but I expect you to turn it into a 30-40 yard play,' and he knew how to get the ball in his players' hands. He was very innovative from the standpoint of personnel. He's one of the first guys to play the game with all various personnels from two wide to three wide to four wide to five wide, he could run his offense any way, and the way he taught is the way all of us still teach today. I'm implementing our offense in an eight-day installation process, I'm sure (Mike) Holmgren still does the same thing. I know (Mike) Shanahan does, and that's all Bill Walsh. That's all an influence from him. And another thing for me too, I got to be around a defensive guy who was very much influenced by Bill, Ray Rhodes. So Bill just didn't influence offensive coaches, he influenced a lot of defensive coaches also."
(on whether there is anybody who has had more influence on the offense in the NFL than Bill Walsh) "If there is, I can't think of it. I think he's influenced so many people, and those guys have become great offensive minds, and have great reputations now. But when you go back and take it all the way back, it just started with him."
Texans defensive backs coach Jon Hoke (on cornerback Fred Bennett) "He's made plays. He's made three or four interceptions; he's got his hands on the ball, obviously. He is still a young guy, he's got a long way to go but he has shown up and made plays for us."
(on what he wants to see from Bennett) "I wanted to see how hard he worked; I didn't know what his work ethic was like. You want to find out how smart of a football player he is, how quickly he absorbs the material and those types of things and he has done a pretty good job at that. How quickly he develops the techniques that we are trying to teach him and for the most part he has been able to do that. So, so far he is making progress everyday and getting better."
(on what kinds of things Bennett can do that address needs for him) "Well, he gives us one thing, he gives us size. We don't have a lot of tall guys where he is a long person; he is almost 6'1". When we played teams like Jacksonville that have all these tall receivers and we've been fine, but he does give us a little bit taller aspect to put out there."
(on Bennett's relationship with cornerback Dunta Robinson) "They are very close. They played together at South Carolina. They sit next to each other at meetings. Robinson will take notes; he is a very big note taker, so obviously Fred sees him taking notes, so he takes notes. It has been a good mentoring type of system for Fred from that standpoint."
Texans special teams coordinator Joe Marciano (on some of the positions he is looking to fill) "Well, all of them. You hit the nail in the head, you know. I think one thing we've done around here since the inception of the team is we have been solid on special team. We had a group of guys that were trained, now they are gone and we have to train a whole new group and that's what this session was about. We are basically in kindergarten going into first grade right now and by the time we play we will have been through college and graduate school. We start from the ground floor and work our way up."
(on the rookies who have no background in special teams and who played special teams in college) "Well, they played it a minimum role, very minimum. The best example was Jonathan Wells who was a stud, a tailback that ran the draw and caught some screens. He was raw, but he was willing. You know if a guy is tough and he can run and wants to play, I will work with them. Zac Diles is a good example, Jon Abbate, Brandon Harrison, these guys are athletic. They know they are not coming in here to start. If they do start, hey, God bless them. Special team roles will diminish. They've had a good attitude so far, and that is what I get paid for; to teach these guys how to play."
(on Matt Turk and Chad Stanley competing for the punting job) "It's going to be neck and neck but that will work itself out I think in four preseason games and the practices. We are doing a lot of charting, a lot of competition. The thing about Matt Turk is he had his best career last year. It was his best season and I watched his whole season. I never saw so many 5.0 (second) hang time punts in one season than I did with him. He sat out in 2005 because of an injury and became a workout-aholic. He is built like Brian Urlacher. He is slapped together, he is powerful and the thing is if he mishits a ball, he doesn't get all of it, it's a mishit punt, some of those are 43-44 yards and 4.7 hang."
Texans cornerback Fred Bennett (on his first few days of camp) "The first couple days I was just trying to come out here and just get better. I know the first day was kind of rough on me and I used that as motivation. I knew I had to come out here and get things going, and help my coach and teammate, and I was able to do that. I was able to make a couple of nice plays."
(on what degree the speed and complexity of the defense has affected him and if he has absorbed it yet) "I was able to absorb it real quick. I am a quick learner and I've got real football instincts and football smarts, but from my coaches and my teammates, I still need a little work on some things but they are right there beside me telling me this wrong and this right."
(on his relationship with cornerback Dunta Robinson) "I played with him my freshman year in college at University of South Carolina. I actually played behind him and he taught me some things there. I was a freshman and he was a senior, and now we are together and we are trying to get things rolling again. We've got that connection so it makes me real comfortable being here."
(on what Robinson has done to help him get started on the right foot during camp) "He talked to me and told me what to expect; he warned me about the heat but he also told me that when I'm tired, think mentally. That's when it is tough, when you are tired and your body is not working with your mind, you just have to be mentally tough."
(on making a quick impression) "I have to keep my confidence up high and continue to make plays. I think I'm kind of catching the coaches' eyes, which is a good thing, but at the same time, I'm humble about everything. I continue to get out there each day and continue to get better."
Texans linebacker Danny Clark (on what he thinks of the linebacking corps) "It's solid, it's solid. We have a guy in the middle who is special. He's beyond his years as I said earlier. He's mature and he knows how to conduct the whole unit, and the guys around us are getting better every day so I'm excited about it."
(on what he thinks the strength of the Texans linebackers are) "I think it's just being physical. Also, when you're playing linebacker, you're the quarterback of the defense. I'm a big fan of that. I played quarterback growing up, so I'm a big fan of being in control of that defense and keeping everybody on track."
(on if he thinks the linebackers are the guys who set the tone of the defense as opposed to the defensive line) "Well, we always feel like we have to put the burden on our shoulders, as far as carrying the team and getting the guys motivated. Sometimes you have days that people aren't going to be excited or morale is low, but at the end of the day it's the linebacker's job to get it done. We have to handle the guys up front, as well as the guys in the back."
(on if he thinks he is going to special teams as well) "I'm gonna have to do it all, man. You know, I wear my hard hat to work every day and I get out here and whatever they ask of me, I'll do."
Texans wide receiver Jerome Mathis (on how things are going during practice) "Everything is going good. You're dealing with some soreness right now but that is expected."
(on if his injury from last year is behind him) "The past is the past. I mean, I can only control what happens from here on out. Of course, it would be behind me. It's all about coming out here being prepared mentally and physically at the same time."
(on if he is looking forward to playing this year after his injury last year) "Definitely. You're always looking forward to being on the field whenever you get an opportunity to. Injury is part of the game and something you can't control. So, when that happens, you just have to deal with and wait and be patient and it's going to come back to you."
(on what goals he has set for himself this year)"Just to be healthy and do everything I can to prevent injury from happening, as far as my hamstring or whether it be something else; and doing whatever the team needs to try to be a winning team."
Texans running back Patrick Pass (on how he likes the weather) "It's wonderful. A little different than the East Coast weather, but it'll work out. I'll get used to it."
(on how his championship experience with New England can rub off on his teammates) "I think it's something I can share with the guys who've never been there. It's a once in a lifetime experience. It never gets old. It's one of the greatest games you can ever play when you get to the Super Bowl. I think there are a lot of guys on the team that are hungry to get there that I can kind of explain and show them the way."
(on how injuries have slowed him of late) "With me, it's like the more you can do, the better you are. I don't label myself as any position on the team, I just say I'm a football player because I can go out there and pretty much do a lot of the things they ask me to do, whether it's lining up at receiver or playing fullback or tailback, and of course a little special teams. I was a seventh round pick, and I just finished my seventh season with New England."
Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans (on his thoughts on the linebacking corps this year) "I think it's a good corps. We brought in a lot of veteran guys so they gave us a little bit of knowledge. It's always good when the older guys pass down knowledge to the younger guys. You just take that and use it out on the field to your advantage."
(on if he thinks the defense will have to lead the team this year) "Oh, definitely. On any team, the defense really has to step up and lead and not let the opposing offense score too many points. You have to be the backbone of the team and have to have that faith when you go out there on defense that you can stop anyone."
(on how much the defense has improved this year) "I think we will be a much better defense, because we have been in it for a year together now. Everybody is comfortable with the system; everybody knows each other, knows the system and knows how to play it. We are just looking forward to getting out there and putting it together and seeing how it works out."
(on what the strengths of the linebacking unit are) "I think we cover well as a line backing unit. I think overall we are solid tacklers and have good leaders out there on the field. So, I think all around, we are just a solid corp. group."
(on what he does this season as an encore to his rookie defensive MVP season) "Just go out and try to lead the team and become a better defense. Not so much, as far as personal accolades but more of team goals and getting the team to the playoffs and being a true competitor."
(on if he thinks teams will mold their game plans around him) "No, I don't think they are looking at me, so to speak. I look at it as a team game and they don't have to worry about just me. There are ten other guys out there that can give them trouble also."
(on the much better the front line will be this year) "They are going to be a good bunch up front. Those guys are quick athletic guys, you know, young guys that can move around; high energy. It brings a lot to the table when you have four good d-linemen in front of you. That makes everyone's jobs easier on the back end."
(on if he thinks this young defense will play together for a long time) "Oh, definitely. We are a young group and that's the exciting thing about it. We have so much to learn and so much to take in. We can go out there and exert a lot of energy on Sundays."
Texans tight end Ben Steele (on how camp is going) "It's going pretty well. I mean, I feel good about things. I keep working everyday and that's all I can do."
(on the Texans tight ends) "Yeah, we definitely got a great group of tight ends. We all feed off of each other and everyone is a hard worker and everyone is a smart player. We just keep battling and working and we'll see what happens in the end."
(on if he can see himself staying with the Texans) "I'd like to think that. Obviously, you need to focus on being around if you want to have a chance to compete and stick on a team. I think we have a great group of tight ends and things are looking good so I just have to keep working."
(on playing on special teams)"Yeah, special teams have always been huge for me ever since I was in Green Bay. The more you can do, the better opportunity you have to stick around. It's definitely a huge part of my game."
Texans running back Darius Walker (on Ahman Green) "He was definitely someone I kind of idolized growing up. When he was at Nebraska, I was a big fan, so I definitely look up to him and I can definitely learn a lot."
(on Kubiak's comments about how a light has come on for Walker) "I think he is definitely talking about my work ethic and going out there and just giving 100 percent. When you have a lot of success, it definitely becomes harder to keep working hard, and I think that that's just a human trait that everybody has to work through. So when you see a guy like Ahman Green, who has had that much success and still works at the level he does, it makes you work."
(on not making an NFL roster when he first went pro) "It was definitely tough. Football is something that I wanted to do ever since I was five years old, when I started playing at five, so I knew it was always going to be a part of my life, and when you get out of school and you're not drafted, it's like, 'Wow, there's a part of me that's been taken away.' That's why I'm trying to take full advantage of this opportunity with Houston."
(on how he got the call to come back to Houston) "I was excited. It was crazy because it happened at about 10:00 at night. I got a call from my agent, then I got a call from Rick Smith saying that they wanted to bring me back, and I said definitely. It was almost like a call from God, so to speak. They had me on the plane at 7:00 the next morning."
(on how he felt after his first stint with the Texans) "Once that was turned on me, and I didn't think I had another opportunity here at Houston, it was kind of bad timing, because all of the other teams were going into their camps and all you could look forward to is just a chance somewhere, so when Houston called me back, I was thrilled. I was like a kid at a candy store."