Matt Schaub was one of the Texans who spoke to the media after practice Tuesday.
Texans players and coaches spoke to the media on Tuesday after the fifth day of training camp practices.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak - morning practice (on anything that stood out for during morning's practice) "No, we had a good practice. A guy that stood up this morning, Dexter Wynn, just stepped up and made a couple of great plays, couple big interceptions. Once again, I'm being repetitive, but our competition is very, very good. We're just having good work."
(on whether Texans wide reciever Keenan McCardell tweaked his hamstring) "I really don't know. I haven't talked to (team trainer) Kevin (Bastin) about Keenan, but I know David Anderson did tweak a hamstring. We're tired right now, and everybody's got a few nicks, so it's things we're going to have to fight through. We have some nicks at wide receiver right now, but the great thing about that, we got some young kids that are battling for opportunities on this team, so we're going to take a hard look at them."
(on whether there are any great position battles for a starting spot on the team) "No, I can't really think of one specific one. I really can't. I think Charlie Anderson and Shantee Orr, that battle has been interesting to watch, but I just think it's an overall competitive situation right now, and not just so much one spot."
(on the Texans' defensive secondary) "When you look at our two corners, our two starting corners, they're fine players, both having a heck of a camp. We bring in Fletch (Jamar Fletcher), he's having a good camp and had a great day yesterday. You got Fred (Bennett), who we brought in here, who should be a part of this football team with his position. Now you got a bunch of guys battling for one or two more spots. The only way they're going to make it is to stand out and do something special. When you have a day like (Dexter) Wynn had today, as a football team, or as a coach, you can't help but notice."
(on wide receiver Jerome Mathis) "I think he's gotten better. His first day, he looked really good. He's bogged down a little bit for a couple of days in there as he got in a routine. Let's face it, this is as long as Jerome has been on the field with us over a period of time, and that's a positive. I think at the last play in practice just now, Sherm (offensive coordinator Mike Sherman) called 'Double Go,' our whole team is tired, and I watched him run his route specifically. He gave them a chance over there to win at the end of a practice, so I think Jerome is heading in the right direction, and his conditioning level is much better than it has been in the past."
(on whether wide receiver Kevin Walter is the second-string wide receiver on the Texans) "No doubt, Kevin has won that job throughout the offseason, and he's continued to do that each day right here. When I look at our group though, I will say this: We know we've got a Pro Bowl player in Andre (Johnson), and a very proven player. After that, to me, it's competitive all the way across the board. Kevin's got a job that he's got to fight to hang on to, and everybody's trying to get to him and get on the field. But the most important thing is that we have a good group of receivers. Not one, not two, but we gotta have a good group, and we're headed in that direction right now."
(on Texans defensive tackle Anthony Maddox) "He's become a good player. He's being pushed himself, very competitively by Travis (Johnson). Of course Travis is playing behind Amobi, but we're going to play our best two, however that works out. And of course Jeff (Zgonina) has come in and created a competition there, so Anthony's kind of like Kevin (Walter). He's a starter, he's earned that right, but he's got to fight like hell to hang on."
(on the position battle for the number three quarterback spot) "I think what you see is first off, you look at (Jared) Zabransky, and you see athletic ability, and here's a guy who's got practice squad eligibility. That always plays into the equation when you're putting a team together. Bradlee (Van Pelt) is at a point in his career where there's no more of that eligibility. He's got to make it as a solid two or a solid three or it's very, very difficult, and he understands that."
(on the entire Texans' defense playing well at the goal line) "Yeah, they really did that. They made some plays down there, and it's funny how camp goes. It's when you know you're making progress when each period is different. It gets very competitive. One side of the ball wins a period, the other side of the ball wins a period. One day one group has a bad practice, they come right back the next morning and have a real good one. That's what this game is about. It's about adjusting, competing and somehow getting to where you can do it consistently."
(on Texans defensive end Anthony Weaver) "We're going to be very smart with Anthony (Weaver). As I told you before, I think his bottom half, as far as running and all, is where it needs to be to go play. His top half is not ready yet because he's missed a lot of his weight training. He's in a very extensive program with Dan (Riley). We're getting him ready to play conditioning-wise. He's heading in the right direction."
(on what Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans will do for an encore this season, after being named 2006 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year) "I wouldn't be surprised if he did anything. It's amazing, all of the sudden you just got a player like that. Y'all watch him work every day. He can go all day, he loves the game. He is a leader, and I said this yesterday, I think he's the leader of our defense, and he's becoming the leader of our football team. That's great for this organization."
(on the progress of defensive end Mario Williams) "We need to get him mad more often, because he made some progress today. I know Jethro (Franklin) and them were disappointed with his practice yesterday, and they let him know that. He came out here this morning, and he was a different guy. That's part of it, and we gotta get him to a point where it's all the time."
(on the coaching tendencies of defensive line coach Jethro Franklin) "You gotta let guys coach the way they coach. I've seen guys who don't say a whole lot and they get the greatest results in the world. I've seen guys that are very animated and very loud and they get the same results. It's about respect from your players. When your players respect you and they know that you work your tail off for your players for them to be successful, then they're gonna give you what they got. They respect Jethro and Frank (Bush)."
(on whether Texans defensive end Mario Williams progressed mentally from last year) "Oh, I know he did. I think he's grown from that standpoint. He has spots at times where he lets you know he's still very, very young, and that's just becoming a pro. I think he's getting better at that. Those days where that doesn't happen, we gotta get 'em out of the way, and fight through it, so that's a good example of what's happened from yesterday to today."
(on Texans linebacker Morlon Greenwood) "He's a pro. Morlon's a pro. He's going to do everything right, he's going to be in the right place. He's going to give you everything he's got. He's one of those guys on your team you just know you're going to get an honest day's work from him. That hasn't changed. He did the same thing last year."
(on Texans defensive end Mario Williams' injured toe) "He's been fine. I haven't noticed any problem out there, so he's been fine, and they're just probably all pretty dang sore. They're all limping; I think I was limping after practice."
(on the competition for the spot as a punter on the Texans) "It's very competitive; they're making each other better. We've got a long way to go on that. It's really hard for me to comment right now, and we're going to put them in some more competitive situations here over the course of the next two weeks."
(on bringing punter Matt Turk in to compete for the punter job) "We gotta push Chad (Stanley). Chad's got to get better, and if he's going to be our punter, Matt will push him, and Matt's been successful in this league. It's good for both of them, its making them both better, and we'll see what happens."
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak - afternoon practice (on any new surprises during today's practice) "No, I didn't like the way we practiced this afternoon, to be honest with you. I thought we came out and had a good tempo early, and the last half of practice, we didn't get enough for us to win, so we gotta have the leaders on this football team step up and make sure we do it the right way all the time. We gave one back that last half hour today, we gotta be better than that."
(on whether there was a reason for the poor last half of practice) "I just think it's just people taking over practice and leading the football team, and it was good enough early, but you gotta keep your concentration for four quarters. If you play for two or you play for three, you're gonna get beat in this league, and that's kind of what we did today. We came out here and gave each other about a good three quarters, but we didn't finish, so we just gotta make up for it tomorrow."
(on Texans quarterback Matt Schaub) "Oh, I think he's getting better every day. As far as the leadership stuff, that's his strength. I don't think he has to work at that. That comes naturally to him. I think he's progressed as a player each and every day and he's like every other player, a little bit on overload with all the installation that we had, but I think he's getting better each time out."
(on injuries during practice) "A couple of hamstring issues. Well, actually David Anderson tweaked a hamstring this morning; it looks like he's going to miss a couple of days. Keenan McCardell, a little groin strain, he might miss a couple of days. Some of those things start to add up so, it's nothing significant, but we just had a few guys get a little nicked this morning."
(on the fact that defensive end Mario Williams was massaging his hamstring a little bit at the end of practice) "Everybody's hurting right now, and everybody's massaging everything. The thing we gotta do is we gotta get out here and practice, and we gotta work through it. So, we just gotta get in the training room and get well, and we need everybody out here to get better."
(on progress made during training camp) "We've made good progress. I was a little disappointed this afternoon, because I thought that we kind of gave each other about three quarters. We didn't finish practice the right way with the same tempo that we started the practice. That's something that leaders got to take over on this football team and make sure we do things right all the time."
(on Texans tight end Owen Daniels) "Real scare last year with his shoulder, but he's fine and back at it. Somebody asked me today 'Pick a player today that should have a great year on the offensive side of the ball,' and there are a lot of them that I could have probably talked about, but his name came to mind real fast, and I think we can use him a lot more ways than we used him last year. He's much smarter running routes and coverages and those types of things. With the group, with Jeb (Putzier), and the group that we have, I think we can keep him in one piece, and I think he can have a big year. I'm really excited about the possibilities of him taking another step."
(on if he was surprised about the success Daniels had last year) "I really wasn't. He's shown us from day one that he can do both on the line of scrimmage and in the passing game. I think like most rookies in the National Football League, if you start from day one, you're not used to that season, he kind of hit a wall about Week 10 or 11. I think he's more focused now, he understands what the pro seasons like, and I think he will be able to handle it a little better."
(on Texans tackle Eric Winston's transition from day one as a rookie) "Well, when we started last year, when we first got started, of all of our draft choices, Eric was probably the furthest behind in all honesty, but he's probably the guy that made the most progress as the season went on. He just got better each day. I think he started the last six games of the season and played extremely well, and is having an excellent camp right now. He's a player to me, you talk about guys being ready to take the next step, I think he can do that. When we first got him, he was really behind, just in general, but as time went on, he has probably made as much progress. I tell you one thing I like about that kid, he loves to play. You watch him on game days and he's a very exciting kid, he loves the game, a lot of energy on the football field."
Texans defensive line coach Jethro Franklin (on his biggest challenge) "There's a lot of different things. Situations dictate a lot of different things that could happen. The main thing is we just have to make sure we finish. We finish everything we do with a sense of urgency. If we're going to get that accomplished, that would be a huge step."
(on Texans defensive end Mario Williams getting better) "We're only as strong as our weakest link. Obviously, everyone knows Mario, but he has to have a great supporting cast as well. We're not just going to put it on him. Everyone around him has to improve. It's like I tell those guys, if Mario is humming and the other guy's not humming, the guy steps up and now Mario doesn't get there, so we're only as strong as our weakest link."
(on whether Texans defensive end Mario Williams has enough "football anger") "I wouldn't want to mess with him when he's on the field, that's for sure, and I get after him every day. I wouldn't want to line up against him, and have him come off the ball at me and hit me in the mouth, that's for sure. Yeah, he has all that."
(on his coaching style) "That's a secret. There's a method to my madness, no question about it. You just got to let these guys realize that we're out here to compete, and we're out here to get better. You have to give your best when you're out here, and every snap that you're out here practicing. There's different ways that you can get that done. Sometimes it's tough love, other times it's just love, other times it's just getting in your face, and sometimes you just gotta back off and let them play. You just gotta feel the moment, feel the situation and go from there."
Texans cornerback Jamar Fletcher (on what made him decide to join the Houston Texans) "Just from what I saw in the team, coming from seasons that they had previously, not doing that well, but then coming. Even though it's not what you want being the 6-10 team, I saw great strides being made just with the additions that they brought in. It seemed like it would be a perfect fit for me to come in and help the team."
(on what he plans on contributing to the defense) "A lot of play making ability and a lot of knowledge for the game. I've been in a lot of games, played in a lot of games, and I think coming over here as a fairly young secondary, I'm going to be able to help in that area."
(on thoughts on the competition) "Well, it's good. It's definitely going to be tough competition. So, that's always a good thing, but my job is to just come out here and get better, worry about what I can do to help this team."
(on practicing in the heat) "It's definitely a step up from where I've been, but you got to go through it. If anything, it's going to make us tougher. I have no complaints."
Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson (on if he likes what he has seen so far with Matt Schaub) "I think we have a great guy. Bringing him in, that was great. He's a leader. We are still learning, still in training camp. It's only been three or four days, and we are out just trying to make plays and get the timing down and trying to make plays."
(on how he feels) "I feel good. My body is feeling good, probably the best it's ever felt since I've been in training camp. We're just out here working and trying to get better as a team, as a whole."
(on coach Kubiak being a little more comfortable with the receivers this year) "You know, he doesn't treat anybody differently. He treats everybody the same. We are all grown men and we're just out here trying to do the right things to get better. That's what he expects, for us to come out here and do the right things and not make the crazy mistakes we were making last year when we were out on the field on Sundays. So, it's time for us to grow up and go out and win games."
Texans defensive tackle Anthony Maddox (on the differences between him now and last year) "The difference between today and the difference a year ago is I'm starting. Today, I've gained a lot of confidence in a lot of people; coaches, players. You know, it's just great, whatever it is, it's just great to be here."
Texans defensive tackle Amobi Okoye (on it being hot outside and practicing in the Methodist Training Center bubble)"I don't think hot is the word to describe it. It's blazing out there. So, I'm glad we got that break. Coach Kubiak definitely understands, as a player, what we are going through right now. Every chance he gets, he's trying to look out for us."
Texans cornerback Dunta Robinson (on how he feels with the defense) "You know, I feel good with the guys we brought in on defense, the plays that we are making out here. As we get training camp going, it's fun and guys are flying around. You know what the guys on the defensive side of the ball can do. We don't have anyone new, besides Amobi, we don't really have any brand new starters. He's not looked to dominate the game because I feel we have players on that side of the ball that can do that. So, it feels good going out there and lining up with DeMeco (Ryans) and C.C. Brown and Mario Williams; I think its going to be a lot of fun for us this season."
Texans tackle Ephraim Salaam (on how he is enjoying camp) "It's good, I mean it's camp. It's a grind you know, monotonous every day, practice twice a day, it's camp. I guess I'm enjoying it as much as any sane person could enjoy national football training camp. I wouldn't recommend everybody go out and start having training camp. It is awful, to tell you the truth, it is awful, it is a terrible, it's an awful thing. It is part of the system, it is what we have to do to get ready."
(on if they could play a preseason game right now) "Oh yeah, we could go right now. We play a game every day. Every practice in the morning we play a game – game speed, game tempo, everything. So, we are definitely ready."
(on how hard the hits are in practice) "Well, I don't know how to half hit. That is something I haven't mastered, I don't know how to half hit, so everything I do is game speed."
(on the offense as a whole) "You know what, given that we have a new quarterback and a new running back and some new receivers, I think the offense has surpassed the place where we were last year at this time. That's the offensive unit. I am excited; I'm excited to have our first preseason game. The offense is just clicking you know, it's clicking. Guys are studying, guys are doing everything they have to do off the field to be able to be ready on the field and that's a sign of a good offense this early on in camp."
(on an evaluation of the offensive and defensive line) "Amobi (Okoye) is doing good. He has to work against Chester Pitts, a strong left guard, and he is doing well. It is a good battle. And Mario is getting better, he is definitely getting better, and I'm speaking from personal experience because I play against him every play, every practice. He is getting better, he's getting stronger, he's transitioning from one move to the next, and he is rushing the passers, getting better. So, if we keep working at this pace, he is going to get a lot better by the season and so am I."
Texans quarterback Matt Schaub (on being given the starting quarterback job on the Texans) "I think anything in this game, the parity of the competition is so close that you earn everything you get, you just continue to work hard, and improve your game on a week to week, year to year basis, you'll get an opportunity and someone will take notice, and that's what I'm excited about."
(on being able to bond with wide receiver Andre Johnson immediately) "I think that's huge. Especially in the off season, that's when those things are formed, not only with him, but with the rest of the team. The other guys know that you're one of the guys that are the pieces to the puzzle to win a championship here. That's the time to do it, is when you come in in April, working hard in the weight room, and on the field. No one is here and no cameras are out here. That's when you really develop that."
(on his expectations for himself) "My expectations are to come out every day, understand my role and my responsibility, and help make plays for this offense, and this team. My goal each game is to put our team in position to win the game in the fourth quarter. If I do that, we keep working to get better as a unit; we're going to be in position to win a lot of games."
(on any struggles during training camp) "Anything you do in life, you're going to have setbacks, and it's going to be tough, and you're going to face some tough times. That's what this game's about, dealing with adversity. When you get knocked down, just getting back up, and putting that behind you and learning from it, and moving on to the next play. Know that it's a new set of downs, and you have a fresh opportunity, and that's what this game is about and life is about. You just have to focus on the next play, and not get too caught up in what you just had happen."
Texans running back Darius Walker (on what he did last week while he wasn't with the team) "I was at home still trying to keep in shape so working out, running. Doing all those things just in case."
(on what it was like after he was released by the Texans) "Well, I mean it was tough because I was kind of in a whirlwind, never really knowing where I was going to end up or what was gonna happen next. It was kind of bad timing because everybody was going into their training camps and things so to be let go at that time, wasn't really a good thing for anyone."
(on who his agent is)"Drew Rosenhaus."
Texans defensive end Mario Williams (on getting fired up and making plays at practice today) "You know, when you're out there with the guys, it's all about the team and just trying to be a part with them and the defense. We are just trying to pull everyone together and keep everyone motivated through the heat."
(on how the injury to his toe from last year is) "You know, it's still nagging me a little bit, but I'm fine. I'm good."
(on if he is taking a different approach to the season this year) "Basically, just because I've seen a lot and been through so much, I think that's helped out a lot, and I think that's a good thing."
(on the pressure last season to perform helping him grow) "Yeah, I mean, when you have adversity like that it helps you out. It only helps you become mentally tough and I'm thankful that it did happen, actually."
(on what he learned last year that he is taking into this season) "Well, basically just how to come out here and play and how to be a part of the team and know your role when you're out here with the defense. It's just not a one man game. The individuals make up the defense but it's not one person better than the other. We all have to be accountable and we all gotta take care of ourselves and help other teammates out."
(on if he thinks about how the fans want him to take over a game) "Yeah, not just for the fans but for each individual player out here, we want that to happen. We want to be able to go out there and know that the next person beside you is counting on you and know that the next person beside you is going to take over that game, so, that's where we are trying to head right now."
(on if he already sees a difference in Amobi Okoye) "Yeah, you know, I'm just trying to calm him down and trying to get his head straight. He's real young and then the heat itself is getting on him. I'm just trying keep him motivated and keep his head straight."
(on making four straight plays in a row in practice) "Like I was saying, the number one thing everyone knows, it's hot. So, when you come out here in this Texas heat, you just have to have this mindset that it's just hot, but it's still practice. No matter what, whether it's hot, cold or whatever, you just gotta come out here and play. That's all I try to keep in my mind, its practice. Let's just go, its practice."
(on if the coach changing is good) "Yeah, you know, it brings a different mentality to the game, as far as enthusiasm. So, it's good."