The Texans practiced inside the Methodisti Training Center Thursday, and spoke with the media afterwards. The following is a transcript of head coach Gary Kubiak and his players' respective interviews.
Head coach Gary Kubiak Head athletic trainer Geoff Kaplan LB Brian Cushing RB Arian Foster WR Andre Johnson SS Bernard Pollard QB Matt Schaub WR Kevin Walter T Eric Winston
Head coach Gary Kubiak
(updates on his team) "(C) Chris Myers didn't practice today. He's real sore from the shot he took in the game and wasn't feeling good today, so we did not practice Chris. Other than that, everybody else was back out here."
(on what he likes about Foster) "He's got a long way to go. He did some good things the other day. He needs to practice better than he practiced today. He's a young player—a little inconsistent, but he's got a lot of talent. He's getting an opportunity here and he needs to understand how important this opportunity he's getting is. So I'm glad you asked about him. We'll see. He's going to play more this week than he did last week and we'll see how he handles it. He's got some ability. He's got the ability to play in this league for a long time if he handles his business the right way."
(on if Foster will be able to build upon what he did last week) "He's getting every opportunity to. It's up to him how hard he studies, how hard he works, the attention to detail that he goes into this game, we'll see. So consistency is something we're looking for in a player."
(on if he will start) "That depends on what we're doing. Y'all know I'm going to play them all, so it really depends on what we're doing. He's going to play. He'll play a lot more than he played last week."
(on what he thinks about the Rams cancelling practice) "I just heard about that. They had some guys sick or something. I just heard about that. I've come close. I came real close yesterday with some of the guys we had nicked up. We had one tight end and no fullback, but you try to get through it. That's tough. We were going through some of that earlier in the year. I think there are a lot of teams that have been through that this year."
(on if it worries about his team getting sick being there with other sick players) "You worry about what you can control and I can't control that. So we just have to deal with these situations as they come up."
(on Foster saying yesterday 'I have definitely not arrived') "Oh, he has not arrived. He is getting a chance to play and he's done some good things on special teams. He did some nice stuff last week when he played probably about 20 plays in the game. He's getting an opportunity because of the misfortune of (RB) Steve (Slaton) being out and us searching for a back to step up and take it upon their shoulders. We'll see how he does."
(on how his pass-blocking and protection has been) "He did okay last week. He handled that good. Today, I'll have to go back and look at practice. We gave him a lot today, so we'll see. He better protect No. 8. If he's going to play, he better protect our quarterback."
(on how he would handle not having a Thursday practice when they are so important) "I've been through it. I've seen that happen where you have to move it to a walk-through or just have meetings. I've seen that happen. We had a walk-through last week and played one of our better games. On Friday, I was scared to death on how we practiced that day. Teams respond in different ways."
(on how teams handle the death of a teammate) "I don't even know where to begin with that. That's just got to be the ultimate tough situation to handle for them as a football family. I just want them to know, as an organization, our prayers are with them and the young man's family. (Cincinnati head coach) Marvin (Lewis) will do a great job. Marvin is a great man and he will do a great job in that situation."
(on TE Joel Dreessen's status) "He was fine today. I wasn't going to let anybody touch him today, but he asked if they could please push him around. So we let them push him around. He was okay."
(on Dreessen helping be a leader for TE James Casey) "Yeah, Joel has done a good job. Joel has not only handled all the snapping, but plays special teams. Joel is a second time around player in this league. He's been let go. He's been told no and nothing is going to get him off the field now. He's a very hungry player and handling his business well."
(on how Foster has handled having success and if he's seen a difference in practice) "He can practice better than he did today, so I'm going to go in there and talk to him about that because this team is counting on him taking another step forward as a player this week."
(on if he has any other thoughts on K Kris Brown) "No, we believe in Kris. Kris has obviously got to kick better than he's been kicking. We're trying to help him from the standpoint of Pitt (LS Bryan Pittman) coming in here and help Joel also from a team standpoint. He's got to finish this season strong. He's got to come back and kick extremely well."
(on QB Matt Schaub) "He's been something. If you look statistically, this guy's had a big time year. It'll be interesting to see what his peers thing of him here in about two weeks but he's got himself in that echelon of quarterbacks and now he needs to get his team in that echelon of wins. That's what it's all about, being a big time player in this league. So we're very impressed. He's come a long way. Like we always said, if he stayed healthy, he'd put up some big numbers and he has."
(on if he thinks QB Matt Schaub should be in the Pro Bowl) "We'll see. He's obviously right there in the middle of them right now. It's not important what I think, it's important what the league thinks and the players think. Y'all know I think he's a fine player."
(on if QB Matt Schaub has proved a certain toughness) "I think his teammates have known all along he's a tough kid, but obviously he's stepped up in some situations this year and went above and beyond the call of duty, especially at Jacksonville. So there's never been a question with us and it's just been impressive what he's done this year."
(on QB Matt Schaub's leadership, especially with the running game being an issue) "There's no doubt because you look—he's less than 200 yards away from being a 4,000-yard thrower. I've had two in my career in this business and one of them is in the Hall of Fame. What he's doing this year is spectacular and the fact that we've struggled running the ball probably makes it even more impressive."
Head athletic trainer Geoff Kaplan
(on what they can do for their players playing against Rams players who may be contagious with swine flu) "The swine flu, or H1N1, is an airborne pathogen. The way it spreads is coughing on each other and sneezing on each other. It is very hard to prevent in a arena of football or other athletics. It's really hard to do anything during a game to prevent it."
(on how worrisome that is) "I'm not really worried about it much at all. Every other year, we've had issues with other types of flu and players play with flu. H1N1 is a very new deal going on here in the country and new to athletics. So everybody is just taking a little extra precaution."
(on if the team will receive antibiotics after the game) "Well antibiotics don't work for H1N1, or swine flu. Antiviral medicine does and if they start developing symptoms or having issues, we'll have them tested and given the proper medicine, which is Tamiflu, an antiviral medicine."
(on if players can take anything before the game) "No, you don't want to pre-treat people with antiviral medicine. There are some potentials side effects to it—headaches and things like that. We just hate to give out medicine if we don't need to."
LB Brian Cushing(on the Rams cancelling practice due to swine flu) "That's unfortunate but it's an understandable cause. Hopefully they can contain it and get back to practice."
(on if he's worried about contagious opposing players) "No. I don't think so. We're just focusing on ourselves. That's all that we're in control of. We're only worried about the players in here and trying to have the best game plan possible come Sunday."
(on if the death of Bengals WR Chris Henry serves as a wakeup call to players to be careful) "I think so. Guys have to know that to begin with—to be careful with everything and make better judgments. At the same time, freakish things can happen. You can't take things for granted as anything can happen at any given time and you just have to be more careful all the time and in every aspect."
RB Arian Foster(on if Coach Kubiak got on him at practice today) "Yeah. I had a couple of little mental errors. I've got overcome that."
(on if he realizes the opportunity he is being given this week) "I'm just going to try and do my job out there. I don't have anything else to do but my job so I'm going to try and do that."
WR Andre Johnson(on the death of Bengals WR Chris Henry) "You wake up this morning, you look at the TV and you hear that he's passed away, that's definitely sad. You hate to see something like that happen. I'll be giving (Bengals WR) Chad (Ochocinco) a little call a little later on today and just see what I can find out or just talk to him about it."
(on if he knew Bengals WR Chris Henry) "I didn't know him personally. I talked to him a few times after we played them or whatever. He was a very talented guy, a tough little guy. I liked the way he played the game of football. Like I said, it's just sad to see that something like this has happened."
(on the Rams cancelling practice because of swine flu) "That's just something that's been going around. Hopefully those guys are getting better and we'll be able to play a game on Sunday."
(on if he's worried about playing a game against players who might be sick with swine flu) "Not really. I think we'll be fine. I'm not really worried about that."
(on if it surprises him that the Rams cancelled an important Thursday practice) "It is important—Thursday is a big work day where you pretty much work on every phase of the game, so that's something you don't want to happen, where you have to just shut down your whole practice."
SS Bernard Pollard
(on the Rams cancelling practice today and how important Thursday practices are) "Thursdays are very important. That's typically you're hardest day of practice during the week and it's when it's time to go full speed with everything. I believe that a lot is being done that day. You've got to take the good with the bad. Things happen. That's something that has hit nation-wide and you can't take that lightly because it has killed people."
QB Matt Schaub
(on if he has ever heard of a team cancelling their Thursday practice) "I've never been a part of it personally. That's a decision that they made and all we can do is get ready for the game ourselves and prepare ourselves as best we can to go play well."
(on if he's worried about contagious opposing players) "No. We'll still play."
WR Kevin Walter(on the death of Bengals WR Chris Henry) "Sad as can be. Chris was a good guy. I was with Chris for a few years in Cincinnati and got to know him pretty well. It's tough. That's the worst thing you can possibly imagine, that happening. He was a good guy. He did everything right on the field. He was quiet, he didn't say much, similar to Dre (WR Andre Johnson), you know, at work. He got into some trouble off the field but that just wasn't him. I think he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, hanging with the wrong people. I know he got his life back on track. He was getting married. He had a lot to look forward to and then this happened."
(on if any certain memory of Bengals WR Chris Henry sticks out in his mind) "We always joked around. Especially when we had (Bengals WR) Chad (Ochocinco) in there, we always joked around as a group. We were a tight-knit group. Then he came to work and did his job. It's just unfortunate, the things that happened to him and I know for a fact he had another chance with Cincinnati, they gave him another chance and he was taking it real serious and he was getting his life on track. Obviously he went on IR and that was a disappointment but he was going to be ready for next year. And then this happening—it's tough. He's in a better place now but we definitely still want him here."
(on how the death of Bengals WR Chris Henry affects him) "It's tough because I was friends with him and I respect him because he was a great player and a good man. People don't know that he was a good man. Everyone hears that he's getting in trouble off the field, this and that, and that's not the case. I just think he was in the wrong place at the wrong time a lot of the time and he'll be missed. He has children—that's extremely tough. That's the toughest thing right there. God be with them."
(on if he's concerned about playing a St. Louis team that cancelled practice because of swine flu) "No, they'll be ready to roll. They're going to be fighting. They're going to give us their best shot. Their record's not as good as they'd like obviously, they've only won one game this year, but they've been playing a lot better than winning one game."
T Eric Winston
(on the Rams cancelling practice due to the swine flu) "At some point you got to look out for the whole team. I realize how fast that thing spreads and it's probably just a tough break for them in the season. They've probably had a lot of tough breaks this season."
(on the Rams cancelling an important Thursday practice) "That's the one you definitely want to get in. Thursday and Friday, you have to get those in. You just do so many situations on Thursday. Wednesday is kind of an introduction and if you miss that one you can definitely pick it up but Thursday, most teams that I've ever been on do third down and they do red zone and they do situations—third and short, a lot of that stuff. I'm assuming they're probably going to have a long day tomorrow."
(on RB Arian Foster) "I think he showed that he can play and that he deserves some more looks. As a rookie, that's step one. You've got to prove to people that you belong out there and that you need further evaluation and I think he showed that. I think he's probably going to get a bunch of looks this game, I hope he does. He seemed real confident in what he was doing, pass protection, the little things, checked on routes, everything he knew to do. So I'm hoping he gets the ball some and I hope he does well."