It will take a collective effort Sunday for the Texans to beat the New York Jets in the regular season home opener.
Gary Kubiak and members of the Houston Texans spoke to the media on Thursday after the team's third day of practice leading up to the regular season home opener against the New York Jets.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
LB Zac Diles
WR Andre Johnson
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on any updates from today's practice) "No. Practice was just like it was yesterday from the standpoint of health wise. (WR) Kevin (Walter) and (FS) Eugene (Wilson) continued to work with Kap (head athletic trainer Geoff Kaplan). Kevin made the most progress today so he's better. (CB) Jacques (Reeves) practiced some more today. We're about where we were yesterday. We were more physical in practice today, so it was a good practice. We've got one more day to polish up and get ready to go."
(on how he views Kevin Walter's situation and how it relates to him playing Sunday) "I think it's going to be really close, whether or not he'll be ready to go. We'll probably work him out before the game. Kevin is a player that can play well without practicing. He knows what we're doing. He's a sharp guy. So we'll have to make a smart decision with him. But (WR) André (Davis) is ready to go. André will play well."
(on QB Matt Schaub's status) "Matt is much better today, so he's progressed each day and I feel very good about it. (on practice reps) He took everything he normally does and probably a little more."
(on how much of practice does he see) "You try to see it all. That's why you get away from it. You try to stand back so you can watch all eleven guys try to do their job. I wish I could tell you I saw every guy on every play but obviously you're looking at scripts as a coach, and you're focused on what's supposed to happen at the point of attack. You know something that we're trying to do to our players, some look we're trying to give our players. That's part of preparation as coaches and practice, being able to look at scripts and knowing exactly what you want to be seeing on that play. On tape you see a lot more. You miss a great deal, and so that's why you go in there and take a look at it right now. There are times as a coach, when you are at practice, and you don't think practice was good, and then go in and watch say, 'Well that's pretty good. I must've been in a bad mood today.' Some days you think it's bad and you're just the opposite, but the film never lies. So we sit there and look at it together the next morning. That's what gets us ready to play."
(on if it possible to know if the team is ready to play for Sunday) "I think there are some coaches that are excellent at that. I've been around (assistant head coach) Alex (Gibbs) all my career. I can't tell you how many times Alex has told me, 'We're ready to go,' and I had questions, and he was right. I think it changes all the time. I really worry about guys being mentally focused on their jobs. You know they're going to be amped up. It's opening day in the NFL. You know after a while, you want to make sure they know what the heck they're doing so you're putting them in the best position to go compete."
(on drawing any comparisons to last year) "Yeah, I think I can. We'll see. Yeah, I think I can tell, watching the majority of our guys. Who is really into what they're doing and who is lapsing on me maybe a day or something like that."
(on if he gets into a habit of asking Alex Gibbs if he thinks they're ready) "No. I try to stay away because I don't want to hear the other ones. He doesn't say much unless I ask him. I go to him for a lot of advice. He sees a lot of things. He's been around a lot of rodeos."
(on if he is a "speech" guy before games) "I don't know. I talk to them before the game. Whether I'm a big speech guy, I don't know. I think there are times they need to hear a lot and there are times they probably don't need to hear anything from you. My history in this league, the teams I've been with, when you don't feel like you have to give a lot speeches, you've got a pretty good football team. So hopefully I won't have to give too many."
(on the significance of FB Vonta Leach in his schemes) "He's a big part of what we do. He's a leader on the offensive side of the ball for our football team. He sets a physical tone for us as an offensive football team. So he's very, very important, on Special Teams also."
(on what the challenge is when facing this defense) "The biggest challenge is that you work all of camp, for six weeks, against your scheme. We're a 4-3 scheme. Now you open up against a guy who is a 3-4 and 4-3 scheme; he plays both. Regardless to whether you are playing them in week 6 or week—it doesn't matter. The bottom line: it's a change. So it's a total change. That's the tough part on the offensive side on the ball is just a change in scheme and a change in looks that you're used to seeing throughout camp."
(on trying to pick up all the defensive looks) "They're a very good defensive football team. They've proven that over ten years, not just last year. Their scheme is tough. They're very good, the way (Jets head coach) Rex (Ryan) puts that group together; they're going to play well. I think we know how big our challenge is on the offensive side of the ball. They're going to make some plays. If you turn the ball over against this group it's not going to be good. We found that out last year in one quarter, in the 4th quarter against Baltimore."
(on how well the offensive line played last season) "They were the rock of our team in a lot of ways. They played every snap. They were the leaders of our team. They got broken up a little bit during camp with (C) Chris (Myers) and (G) Chester (Pitts) missing a great deal of time, but I expect a great deal from them. They've got more football together than anybody else of our 53."
(on if he is amped up for the upcoming season) "I'm very excited about it. The game is a game. They're all the same. There is something special about the NFL opening weekend. Tonight, you get to turn on the TV, and I think everybody, obviously, will do that to start to get ready for the weekend. It's a great league. Every week, you've got to play great. There're no mismatches in this league. You have to play great to win and it's the greatest league to compete in, whether you're a player or a coach."
LB Zac Diles
(on how proud he is to be starting at the weakside linebacker position) "It's a good feeling. I've been through a lot here and I'm glad to still be in building. Going through the injury and everything like that, I was fortunate enough to have a clean break. Getting surgery and getting a rod put in there and being back on the field. I'm back on the field now. Being able to be a starter again, it's a good feeling. Being able to run out the tunnel on Sunday with the starters, you've just got to go out and maintain."
(on how it must be a thrill to have earned that weakside starting position) "It really is. When I got that call saying they were going to move me to Sam for the preseason, it was tough because I was competing at the Will position. But again, anything I can do to help the team out, it also helped me out in the aspect that I was able to be out there with the ones and show I can still play at a high level. You never want anybody to go down. You know with Cush (LB Brian Cushing), we're very happy to have him back, but that helped me out."
(on playing the other linebacker positions) "My rookie year, I played the Mike (middle linebacker) the whole year. I know what everybody is doing now. As far as, everybody's coming down as far as safeties and all of that, I know where the Mike is going to be doing his job. The Sam, what he's doing when he's up on the line of scrimmage and where he needs to be. Now playing the Will, I know where the Will has to go. It just helps you out, the more you can do."
(on Jets QB Mark Sanchez and his maturity level) "That's the thing. From watching tape, he shows a lot of poise. For being a rookie, he doesn't really get flushed too easily. I guess it's coming from USC; he's played a lot of big games in his career. That's one thing you notice from watching him on tape, his poise back there. Like I said, we've just got to go out there and get after him."
WR Andre Johnson
(on if there is a different about this season) "I don't think it really feels any different. This is my seventh season… I'm just excited about the season. I don't think it feels any different."
(on level of optimism for this team) "I think the sky is the limit for us. It's just up to us, like I said before, to go out and perform the way we know how to perform. If we go out and do that, we'll be fine. I don't look at anything negative. I don't feel negative about anything coming into this game or anything negative about preseason. I'm excited about it and it starts on Sunday."
(on if he feels different this year on their chances of making the playoffs) "To be honest, every year, I come into a new season, I feel like we have a chance of getting into the playoffs. Do I feel more confident? I feel like we really have the talent to get there now to get there. Of course. I think that we don't have any excuses. It's up to us now to go out and do it."
(on if there were times when he felt he'd never get to the playoffs) "I've thought about it before but it's not something I think about all the time. I have thought about it because it has happened to people playing this game. You know Zach Wiegert, when he was here, I talked to him before and he was like, 'Man, you know I never made it to the playoffs.' I think he played in the league for like 11 years. So it has happened. I just can't see that happening to me."
(on if he feels good about the people surrounding him now) "Of course. I feel really good about it. Like I said before, we don't have any excuses. I think the talent is in place and I'm excited about it. The games start on Sunday. We're working to prepare for that game right now. We're just going to go out and give it our best shot for these 16 games."
(on him speaking up last year) "There were times that I did stand up to the team and said things. If I felt like something needed to be said or I have something that is on my heart, on my chest, that I felt like I needed to tell them, I'll going to tell them. That's the way I've always been. I'm not a big ra-ra guy; like I'm not going to get up to say anything just to say it."
(on if his work ethic is the same now as when he started in the league) "I knew how to work when I first got here. I think the biggest thing is that you're grown man. You're living in a house by yourself. Don't really have a chaperone or anything like that. You've got a lot of money and you're just able to go out and do things that you want to do. A lot of times, when you're a rookie, that tends to stray you away from football. After going through it for one season, after just experiencing it my rookie year, I was so anxious to get back and play my second year."
(on if he has envisioned playing in front of a full stadium with a playoff spot on the line) "I envision it all the time. I envision if we won the Super Bowl. I envision a lot of things. I think it's not going to happen if you don't envision it. That's something I envision all the time. I just think about it. I think about how this city will be. I feel like this city has been waiting on a winner for a long time. Even when you're just out, like when I go to Rockets games and things like that, all the fans are just like, 'Hey man, if you guys can just get to the playoffs….' So I envision it a lot. I listen to the fans when I'm at games and things like that. I listen to what they say. You can tell the diehard Texan fans. You can hear it in their voice when they talk about it. It's definitely something I think about a lot."