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Practice quotes: Monday


Defensive tackle Frank Okam could be the big body the Texans need to stop the Steelers' runnning attack.

Running back Steve Slaton returned to the practice field after sitting out on Saturday with turf toe. The Texans' newest player, defensive end Stanley McClover, also worked out with the team.

Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on DE Mario Williams) "He has a lot of confidence in what he's doing. As I've said before, when you watch guys learn to love to play, that's when you know they're becoming great players. That's where he's at right now, but we have to get better as a group around him. That's going to be key to how successful he is this year. We have to be more consistent around him. But I think, no doubt in my mind, he's going to do his job."

(on if DE Mario Williams is more comfortable) "He doesn't come out here everyday grinding on what his assignments are, that's not a problem. He's more working on technique, who he's playing against, how do I beat that guy, how do I make this play, how do I cheat in these situations. He's taking his game to a new level, so to speak."

{QUOTE}(on his thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers) "Great football team. Great organization. Gotta go into their place and play, opening day. Probably as tough as it gets, but we are looking forward to it."

(on if he feels like the team is ready for the opening game) "We are going to find out. I think everybody has been working hard throughout camp and we've had a good camp. We are a better football team, but we've got some big tasks ahead of us and we just have to get our work done - get ready to go. We are going to have to play very good."

(on if he feels RB Chris Taylor is ready) "Well, I hope so. We are asking a lot of him. He can play tailback and fullback. We're asking a lot of special teams work out of him. So, his role is actually getting broader. Hopefully, that doesn't set him back. Hopefully, he rises to the challenge because we need him to play well."

(on if RB Chris Taylor and RB Steve Slaton are ready for the challenge) "I'm answering that question the same way. It's easy to sit here and say yes but bottom line, we'll find out. You get guys in position, they've had good camps. They are the ones that deserve to go get the chance to do it. So, we're going to see how they do, but I have a lot of confidence in them."

(on the status of RB Ahman Green) "He's fine. He's been practicing for two weeks. He's ready to go."

(on how he feels about the Texans) "Well, we've had a good camp. As I've said, we're a better football team right now as we get going than we were last year, but that doesn't guarantee you anything. So, we have a big task ahead of us. We understand what it's going to take for us to be successful, not only through the season but especially through this opening week. So we just have to focus on Pittsburgh."

(on if there's a timetable for his system) "We are just trying to get better. There's no choice. You either get better in this business or you're in trouble. It's just the way it works. Our team is getting better, our core group of guys that we've had in place here for a period of time are all better. But now we get to go out and find out just how far we've come. But we understand what we're facing and, like I said, we'll have to be as good as we've been, especially with this opening day."

(on if the team is beyond hoping for breaks and on to controlling what happens) "We'll take all the breaks we can get. That's part of this business. I think the difference in winning and losing, probably four or five times a year, is maybe one play or two plays. But you get those breaks when you work towards getting them. And as I've said before, we talked about our goals, but the bottom line (is) we've been willing to work to get better. We've worked really good, so we'll go see. Hopefully, we'll get a couple of them."

(on concerns on the defensive line) "Well, we've been searching for pressure. We've been searching for some more pressure for a couple of years. Probably a lot of teams in this league are doing the same. We did find some at the end of last year. We know where we are going to get it from one guy (Mario Williams). We're looking for a little help. We brought in this (Stanley) McClover kid, we'll see how he fits. But we'll have to play good as a group. This group (Pittsburgh Steelers) that we're playing this week is capable of lining up and running it right down your throat and not having to throw it very much, so we're facing a different type of task right there. So, just hoping to get better and play more consistently on the defensive side of the ball."

(on concerns on the offensive side of the ball) "We're trying to get better running the football to keep our defense off the field. When you play this team (Pittsburgh Steelers), they are as physical as it gets. You have to be willing to have some nasty one and two yard runs in there to keep your third downs manageable. So, (we are) playing a very physical group. They pride themselves on being very physical."

(on if he feels good about the running back situation) "Well, I wish that Ahman (Green) and (RB) Chris Brown had played the whole preseason and been totally healthy, but that's part of the business. Bottom line is we got Ahman back; he's ready to go to work. And (Steve) Slaton and (Chris) Taylor have had very good camps, and you know we got Darius (Walker) here if something were to go wrong. So, that's where we end up. We lost Chris (Brown), there's nothing we can do about that; we have to move forward."

(on the offensive line) "Yeah, they've been very good throughout the camp. They've all been in place except for Ephraim (Salaam) basically, and we're hoping maybe we have him back before we go into the game. It's a young group but it's an improved group and we have to help them as coaches and make sure we have them in good positions."

WR Andre Johnson(on if this is the best Texans team he has ever been on) "Yeah, I would think so. There's a lot of talent here, a lot of competition. And through camp, it was probably the most competition we've had since I've been here, so I'd probably say yeah."

(on how different the team is this year) "You can tell that the team is better by just looking at us in practice and just being around, and the previous teams that I have been on here, you can tell that this team is much better than the ones I have been on here."

(on if the team is a realistic playoff pushing team or one where you cross your fingers and hope for breaks) "I don't think you have to cross your fingers. I think if we just go out and do what we're supposed to do, we'll put ourselves in a good situation. So, we just have to take it one game at a time. If we do that and not play the crazy kind of football we've played in past years and we go and do what we're supposed to do, we'll be fine."

(on what tells him that the bad football is behind the team) "Because guys expect more from themselves. We don't want to be in those situations that we were in before. We're determined to get those things fixed and go out and become a winning team."

(on describing his hunger and anxiousness to play meaningful games and be a playoff team) "I'm very anxious, but I knew it wasn't going to be easy. I knew coming to this team that it wouldn't be easy. Did I think it would take this long? No, I didn't. But it's a process, and I'm willing to go through that process. So, we're just going to keep working and hopefully we'll reach that point."

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