The position battle between punter Matt Turk (pictured) and incumbent Chad Stanley was just one topic discussed by coach Kubiak and Texans players after practice Friday.
Texans coaches and players spoke to the media Friday after another two-a-day workout at 2007 training camp.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak - morning practice (on the battle for the punter spot on the team) "It's a good battle between them two. We try to put them in some environments, some situations these past few days where they're competing today. A lot of the same, and will be more of the same as next week approaches. We got to get to the point where we can get them in 11-on-11 competitive environment with the rush and everything, but it's a heck of a battle."
(on the first week on training camp) "I think it's been good. We need to continue to become a consistent football team. That's probably our biggest hurdle. We can do some things very, very good and we can do some things very, very bad, but we've got to get consistent, and that's everybody, coaching plan, everybody within the group, and I think we're heading in that direction. I like the way we practiced last night. Gave them a little break this morning, and we'll come back this afternoon, work in shorts, and then we'll bang tomorrow."
(on who will be the kick returner for the team) "It's like every other position on our team. Last year we were searching for returners with Jerome's (Mathis) situation, and now all of the sudden we've got a good battle back there, so we've got three or four guys that can go in there in the preseason and touch the ball. Let's see what happens."
(on Texans running back Ahman Green) "He's special, I know that. He takes care of his body; he's very well conditioned. I know there's been question about his age and how many years he's been playing and those type of things, but you guys are seeing the same thing I'm seeing. This kid looks like he's got a lot of big plays left in him, and I know it's going to be important for us to get the ball in his hands. He's doing a heck of a job. I think the way we're practicing him is keeping him fresh. We'll see, but I'm very excited about him."
(on whether Green is a leader for this football team) "He doesn't talk much; he's not that type of guy. I think he brings respect. You look at how well conditioned he is. You see him even in the practices that he's not involved in. He's taking care of his body somehow some way off to the side. I think our players have a lot of respect for what he's accomplished, and then watching him get ready to do some more. He has a great deal of respect from the football team."
(on whether Green reminds coach Kubiak of anybody he had in Denver) "He reminds me of Terrell (Davis), when I watch the way he runs. He's a downhill runner; he's bigger than you think. He likes the physical part of football; he likes to bang around, and if he gets a big enough crack, he's capable of going the distance, so he reminds me of him quite a bit."
(on Texans defensive tackle Amobi Okoye) "I think he's doing fine. He's the typical guy with the most focus on him, the most expected of him, but he's a rookie too, just like everybody else. His body's beat up right now, but he continues to show you he can rush the passer. The thing he's going to have get better at is the rushing game. Everything we thought was there is there and we just gotta continue to push him."
(on the maturity of Okoye) "That's not a problem at all. He's such a sharp young man. I think he's very mature. I think it's just catching up with the NFL game. When you take a guy and just thrust him into a starter role right from the get-go, that's a lot of pressure. He's had his days where maybe he hasn't handled that as good as he can handle it, but that's part of the process, and we've just got to keep going."
(on how Okoye responds when things don't go his way) "I think there's so much focus on him. It's like Mario (Williams) last year. If you're not getting his best one day from a coaching staff and a football team, it becomes a very focal spot of practice, and we've got to get him caught up so to speak and ready to go and be a starter in this league. I think he's fine. I think he's responded to the work ethic and what we're asking of him. He's just got to continue to get better, and I think he will."
(on Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans practicing during special teams practice) "You notice he's out here during the walk through period. You're not going to see him out there when they're banging. That's the type of kid he is: he's out here finding out all the spots Joe's (Marciano) got him in in case something happens during the game and we lose a player. He's going to be running our defense. You're not going to see him running around there much on special teams."
(on the Hall of Fame induction this weekend) "I know Bruce (Matthews) personally. I know him very well. I respect him very much as a person. We played in the Hula Bowl together many, many years ago. That was a long, long time ago. What a great player and a wonderful young man. I've had a chance to send him a couple of notes along the way. That's a great day there. If you've never been there on that day, knowing a player, to see how that process happens, or even if you don't know somebody to go there and see that; that's a tremendous day in sports, I wish him all the best, him and his family."
(on whether there will be anybody like Hall of Fame inductee Bruce Matthews) "That was incredible. Play all of the spots and then hold up physically like he held up. His brother was the same type of player. It's an amazing family from that standpoint and what they accomplished in this league."
(on Hall of Fame inductee running back Thurman Thomas) "He's a tremendous player. My days with Thurman when I was a player; my last game as a pro, as a matter of fact, in the '91 AFC Championship Game in Buffalo, we lost to them. Elway got hurt, and I played the whole second half. He was a pretty good player that day, so he sent us home, but (I have) tremendous respect for him. I know it's going to be a great day for him and all those guys that he played with. Those are some great teams, and I look forward to turning the TV on tomorrow myself and watching it."
(on how valuable Matthews would be today) "I can't put a tag on that, I don't know. What he did, and how he played all those spots, and how he continued to do that at a high level until the day he walked away, tremendous respect."
(on how Texans defensive end Jason Babin will be used this year) "I don't think it will be that much different. We're going to rotate those guys. He plays behind Mario (Williams), but he does play a lot on the other side, when we rest N.D. (Kalu) in practice. I don't see it any different than what we did last year. I see him playing more."
(on the fact that Babin split time last year) "Yea we did. We tried that, and then we moved Anthony outside and did some different things. Right now, we'll see Anthony (Weaver), we've got to bring him along the right way, but Jason's going to be part of the mix, and he's having a good camp."
(on his relationship with Dave Studdard) "Studdard's a little older than I am. He was there when I got to Denver. We became very good friends naturally from the Texas connection. We're good buddies. I played with him. My ten years in the NFL, I think he was there eight of those years. We lived around the corner from each other. I babysat Kasey, my wife babysat Kasey. So I've known him for a long, long time, and that's our connection."
(on the likenesses of Texans guard Kasey Studdard to his father Dave) "I think Dave would be the first one to tell you, they're probably totally different. Dave was a multi-talented guy that they had to push his buttons all the time. He was a left tackle in this league, and you don't play that spot unless you're pretty dang athletic and good. His son is a worker. He's a grinder, worker. He makes his check, so-to-speak, on effort and tenacity. He's a little different than his dad in that respect."
(on Studdard's progression) "He's doing good. He has some struggles mentally. Last night when we walked off the field, I told him that's the difference in him playing ten or twelve years. When he figures out what we're doing, and that becomes easy for him, he's going to be a starting guard in this league, but he's got some work to do to get that done."
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak - afternoon practice (on how the team is looking after one week of practice) "It's been good. I really like our work. We're a little tired right now. We've gotten after it. It's been a very physical and demanding week. Tomorrow is going to be as demanding as we've had. We're going to finish this week the right way. We're a better football team right now at this point than we were last year, but we've got to stay focused in what we're doing and can't feel sorry for ourselves when our bodies are hurting. We've got to keep plugging."
(on where the improvement has stood out to him) "I think it's just the overall. First off, the competition tells you we're improving because we don't have a lot of guys missing a lot, and we've got guys playing through some nicks and stuff, because they have to if they want to make this team. That shows just the competition we have with both groups. The first group, second group, then we've got some good players that are able to continue to get some good quality practice when we're working with our threes, but I think competition has made it a good camp and that's why we're getting better."
(on Texans tackle Eric Winston) "I said this the other day, I thought when we got Eric last year, he was probably the guy that had the furthest to go of all the draft choices, and he has been probably the most improved player out of that group. He's turned into a fine player. The thing for him is he's got to play against some of the best on that side, but he's getting better everyday. The key to him becoming a big time tackle, in my opinion, is becoming more physical, and I think he's trying to do that."
(on whether Texans running back Ahman Green is getting more work in practice because of the injuries at his position) "No, we've really been fine. Actually, I've only worked him once a day, and then yesterday because of the night with the fans and stuff; I worked him twice, had him come out here. I think he's fine; actually, he's on me to come out here twice a day. He's a very well conditioned guy, but we're going to be smart with him and get him to opening day."
(on the belief that Texans cornerback Dunta Robinson has not been playing as well as he did his rookie season)"I think he played good football for us last year. I wasn't here those other years, but I will say this: I think he's got Pro-Bowl potential. If we're talking about him becoming a Pro-Bowl player, then he has to take another step this year and become that type of player for this football team. I was not disappointed at all with his effort last year. I think he played well, he played physical. He played, I thought, extremely well the last eight weeks, and we want that to continue."
(on Texans cornerback Fred Bennett) "When we came out of OTAs, we liked Fred's length; we liked some of the things he did. We had some questions, to be honest with you. Since we've come back, Fred's a better player. He's making a lot of plays on the ball. He's responded to the group, the veterans. Dunta (Robinson) helps him; of course he's familiar with him. He has shown as of right now that he's going to be able to help this team pretty quick, so we really liked his improvement."
(on whether the size of Bennett works for him or against him)"I think it works for you. If you can maintain all the footwork and all the things you've got to do to play that position, because when you get those big corners like that, and they're big and they're long, they're hard to get off of on the bump, so for us to have a player like that because most of our other guys are little guys, I think it should help us against a people like Indy, and people like that that we play."
(on Texans defensive end Mario Williams)"He came out and did a little individual. That was the plan, a little individual, and we'd go from there. (He's) still a little sore so we'll be smart with him. We'll make a decision in the morning. (We) may wait till Monday."
(on the battle for the punter spot on the team)"We didn't do much today. The other day, we had a little competition going with 15 punts out here. What we want to do now is get them in an environment next week where its 11-on-1l, they got a rush coming at them, evaluate them there. We'll just keep going, and hopefully we can keep it even in the preseason. Let the best man win, they make each other better."
(on Texans center Chris White)"He had excellent OTAs. He came back about ten pounds lighter than he left, and it's still a mystery to us of why. I think it hurt him early. He's put a little bit of the weight on since he's back, believe it or not in the work that we're going through, but Chris is a very active player, very smart player. He needs the reps and he's going to get plenty of them in preseason. We'll see. He's definitely a better player."
Texans defensive backs coach Jon Hoke (on him being nervous on game days) "I don't know if I get nervous as much as I, I definitely have a lot of competitiveness. I want everything to be perfect. I want every play to be perfect. So, that probably is a little bit of it that they say is nervousness; it's just me being emotional and being competitive as much as anything else."
(on the players not wanting to be around him on game days) "Yeah, I lose my temper quickly. I want to make sure everything is perfect, you know, that's the biggest thing."
(on his game day ritual) "I get here early. I usually go workout and run the fields, you know, try to get about 30 minutes of running in. Go shower, and just get ready for the game. Deliver notes, you know, make sure I see them in the locker room and give them any notes I have for them for the game; just little tips and reminders and those types of the things."
(on being hard on the rookies) "Well, yeah. They have to understand that this is not college football. It's a very big business and they have to understand that there is a sense of urgency in everything they do. So, I'm just here to make sure they understand that this thing has to happen now and they gotta be ready to go now."
Texans defensive end Jason Babin (on having a practice inside this morning) "I wouldn't really call it a practice; it's more of a walkthrough. This is more of a teaching time to just kinda weed out who can do it and who can't do it. So now he (Special Teams Coach Joe Marciano) wants to teach the important stuff to the people he thinks can do it."
(on how much he enjoys being on special teams) "It's a part of the game. I mean, people don't realize how big of a part of the game it really is. They don't really see touchdowns and sacks but it can field some change with 40 or 50 yards in one play so it's real important."
(on how well of a job Coach Marciano does coaching special teams) "Well, when you hear something once or twice your like, 'Oh, I believe it,' but when you hear everyone say the same thing, 'Joe Marciano is one of the best special teams coaches in the league,' you start to believe it. You hear it from other teams, other coaches, so, he's a good coach and he knows what he's doing. Our special teams are always getting it done."
(on running into Matt (Schaub) the other day in practice) "Yeah, that was his fault. I tried to run by him and he ran into me, but he didn't see me. So, things happen. It's football. I know he can handle it."
(on how things are different on the defensive line for him) "Now I know the defense. I understand the defensive line play and what's expected out of me. It's a lot easier and a lot smoother, you know, there's no one yelling at me because I know what I'm doing and I don't make mistakes."
(on there being more yelling last year) "Yeah, I think in generally just because everybody was younger. This year, they are really just yelling at a couple of young guys."
(on his mindset going into this year compared to other years) "Every year is important, but the older you get, you know, this is my fourth year, it's easier to see and understand the bigger picture and what's important. So, I think it's going to come together for me this year a lot better."
(on what its like to be one of four first round picks on the defensive line and what is expected out of them) "Well, that's kind of what I said before. I didn't understand it as much or see the big picture. Now, I think, collectively, we do see what's going on and what's expected out of us and what needs to be done. We are excited about it."
Texans wide receiver Jerome Mathis (on if he finds himself being a little more careful to prevent injury) "Not necessarily, it's always going to be in your head but it is just something you have to get over naturally. I feel like I put my time in during the off season. You're going to be sore and that's just something I'm going to have to deal with. So far so good, soreness is expected. No real problems."
(on his cutting and moving compared to last season) "Not exactly where I want to be, but you know I'm getting close to it. I'm feeling pretty confident going into this camp."
(on if he is changing anything mechanically to protect himself) "Just taking care of my body each and every day after practice. Stretching, massages, cold tub, making sure I warm up good."
(on if he think he could have helped prevent his injury last season) "I mean you try to prevent them but its part of the game as well. This time around I am doing everything I can to prevent it."
(on Coach Kubiak telling Mathis he needs to stay healthy this year) "It's the nature of the business. In order to be on this field and make an impact you have to be healthy number one, and in order to make an impact in the game you have to know what you're doing. So it is just something that comes along with your job."
(on how frustrating last year was after a break out season two years ago) "It was real frustrating, but I got over it and put it behind me and looking forward to making it through this camp. No frustration at all right now."
(on if football seized to be fun to him last year) "At times it did and at times it didn't due to the injury. But now it's all fun now. You get to come out here, no pressure, no stress. I don't have to worry about anything, just go out there and have fun."
(on if he sees a way that Jacoby can help him) "Well, we are out here to help each other but at the same time trying to help the team more importantly. Jacoby is a good player; he has a lot of potential, a lot of talent, so it's going to be really exciting. We all make each other better by coming out competing everyday. So it's just something that comes along with your job title again."
Texans linebacker Morlon Greenwood (on coach Johnny Holland and how he has impacted his game) "I think I was blessed to have Coach Johnny Holland as my coach because he is very calm, he's played the game before, and therefore he also has a good insight on the game."
(on his coaching style) "Johnny, he knows how to motivate his players without the yelling and the screaming and all that. And trust me, he's going to work you hard, but somehow he knows how to give you constructive motivation and constructive criticism. And he tries to help you feel good about yourself. In that sense he definitely does a good job."
Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans (on how Coach Kubiak helped him develop his rookie year)"He's a great coach and he's a great teacher. For a guy that has played the game and been through what we've been through, it really helps out a lot because he really truly understands what you're coming from. It's not just reading a book and coming out trying to coach linebackers. He's been through it and knows how to play it. You really look up to a guy that's been through it over the years, you really listen to what he has to say and pay attention to him."
(on Kubiak's coaching style) "He's cool. He's always calm and collected. Nothing shakes him one way or another. If we're not performing well or doing well he stays the same. He's not a fair-weather guy, you know, there's not too many ups and downs. That's good because he doesn't get all erratic and out of hand with us. You just respect him as a person."
(on what parts of his game Coach helped develop) "Just everything. I can't put a finger on just one thing. Just playing linebacker in the NFL, you know, there is a lot conflicting. You play coverages differently, you blitz differently. It's just everything that a linebacker has to do. I can't put a finger on just one thing."
(on what advice coach gave him dealing with his success his first season) "He just said to go out and continue to make plays. People's eyes are gonna be on you so you just have to go out and continue to make plays and not think about it. Just keep going out and continue to do what you've been doing. Just come out here everything and continue to get better and better."
(on how much more comfortable he is this year as opposed to last) "It's a lot more comfortable, especially with the playbook-wise. Coming in, at first, as a rookie you try and digest that playbook and then come out here and to get it right on the field; it's tough. Now going through it for a year, coming out here now, I'm just comfortable with it."
(on if he thinks it will be hard to top his performance last year) "I go in each season with all team goals. Getting to the playoffs, that's my goal. If I get 20 tackles or 200 tackles it doesn't matter if we are in the playoffs and contending."