After defeating Arizona, Texans players regrouped Tuesday for their first practice of the week.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak and Texans players spoke to the media before and after Tuesday's practice.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak (on changing the regular season practice schedule) "We're starting our days earlier this year, bringing the players in early in the morning. We want to be on the field at the time we play. You know, 14 of our 16 games are at noon, so I want our clocks ticking at that time. It's a little adjustment for us, but I liked our work today."
(on the status of guard Chester Pitts) "He did more than he was supposed to do, so that tells me he's fine. I expect him to play quite a bit this week, but we've got to also be smart and know that he hasn't been on the field the last two weeks. But I'm excited about him coming back."
(on the status of defensive end Anthony Weaver) "He's been fine. Today, he was doing a little one-on-one – we've been progressing his work. And today in the one-on-one he got a little soreness down in his knee, and (Texans head athletic trainer) Kevin (Bastin) pulled him out. We're hoping that he plays a little bit this week. But as far as his schedule and where he was headed, we feel like he's going to be fine for opening day."
(on making changes to the defensive line) "We're not doing a whole lot. We've just got to get better. We need to look at some guys- we need to get guys like (linebackers) Shantee (Orr) and Charlie (Anderson) more involved in some third and nickel pass situations, because they show the ability to rush the passer and they've both been in a battle to make this team at linebacker. So it's been hard to move them around. Now that we've started to get ready for normal game situations, guys like that, you're going to see get more involved in nickel defenses."
(on plans for defensive linemen Earl Cochran and Travis Johnson) "I don't see them doing that much different – honestly, just getting more reps. They deserve an opportunity to get in there with some of the first group. During the season, you're going to rotate 18 linemen, so a guy like Earl (Cochran) is going to play with the first group at times and Travis (Johnson) with the first group at times. You know, we need to start that rotation this week is the bottom line."
(on guard Chester Pitts returning to the field) "Chester's played a lot of football. He'll be fine. He needs the reps to get ready to play. So I just expect him to get back in there and go this week."
*(on how impending roster cuts affect practice)"It's very difficult, because they're about six days away from us having to make some tough decisions. The players can sense that with how many any reps they're getting and what's going on. So it's really hard as a coach, because they've been giving you everything they have. But that's part of the business, and we all deal with it."
(on back-up quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt's relentless effort)"He's a scrappy guy. He's made it in this league. He's found ways to stick. I've seen him save his job in the last preseason game twice. He knows he's going to get a chance to play when we go to Tampa Bay. So we'll see what happens."
(on how wide receiver Andre' Davis factors into the depth chart)"He definitely factors in. You know, he didn't have balls come his way the other night, but he's had a fine camp. He missed some time there with a bruised knee, but he'll play this week. He'll get a ton of work against Tampa Bay. He's well on his way to making this football team. There's still a ways to go, but he's had a fine camp."
(on free agent receiver Robert Ferguson not signing with the Texans)"It makes you feel better about what you're doing because when he's been healthy, he's been a fine football player. And I think the question with him is: Is he his old self? Is he healthy and ready to go? He saw our situation, saw Minnesota's and he decided to go there. I respect that. A player's got to make those decisions."
(on if Ferguson's decision not to sign reflects the depth of the Texans at wide receiver)"It does. It says something about the depth of our group. It's nice, too, as a coach, to feel good about your group that somebody you pick up, that isn't just automatically on your football team. They've got to earn the right to be here. I've got guys who've been here busting their tail from day one and doing a good job. We've got a tough enough job figuring out how trying to decide between the guys we've got here."
(on defensive tackle Amobi Okoye's progress)"I think, like any rookie, this camp is probably the hardest thing he's ever been through. It's long. We haven't even started playing yet, and he probably already feels like he's been through a college season. You can sense that in young guys, but a couple weeks from now, when the red and white come in here, that fire will come back, that juice. So I think he's doing fine. We've just got to keep pushing him."
(on defensive end Mario Williams' play at practice)"He gives us everything he's got every day. And he's just got to continue to get better like everybody else."
(on how many tight ends will make the roster)"There's a very good chance we keep four, because Joel (Dreesen) and Ben Steele can play fullback. The fullback situation is the one that is very, very difficult because (Jon) Abbate's done some good things. Jameel's (Cook) not been out here. He will play this week if everything goes right here at practice. So that will probably be a very difficult decision."
(on the significance of playing Dallas for the Governor's Cup) "I understand it, being from here and how important it is. It's kind of nice because it's the third preseason game. It's one that you're trying to simulate your regular season, and this adds juice to the situation. It's awesome. I know the stadium will be pumped. I know all the fans will be ready to go, and that's the way it's going to be when we open on Sundays. So it's a great opportunity for our players."
Texans defensive end Jason Babin
(on whether the scrutiny defensive end Mario Williams receives from the media is unfair)"You know, life isn't fair. But the point is four of us, the four d-linemen, are out there during the game. We just try and rush the passer and need to get it done."
(on if he sees more of an opportunity to be involved this year than last) "Yeah, after visiting with the coaches and just understanding my role this year. It's going to be more of a passing down role, which I'm excited about. I like rushing the passer."
(on how much more comfortable he will be in his new role) "I already feel much more comfortable. (Defensive line coach) Jethro (Franklin) kind of understands my style of rushing the passer so that gels well. He can coach me, and I can take the coaching."
*(on if he thinks the defensive line's stats will improve) "I hope they do, because if not, we're all going to be out of a job."
Texans tackle Jordan Black
(on the quick improvement of the offensive line) "Yeah, that usually happens in the second preseason game, I mean an additional week for all the new faces, you kind of feel like more of a part of the team. Protection has also been something that we've emphasized this year in camp, so I expect the protection to get better and better every week."
(on if pass protection was emphasized to him upon his arrival in Houston) "Yeah, that was definitely something that I was told when I came in here. That's really something that we wanted to focus on and work on."
(on the running game)"I think we probably think as an offense that we still need to improve on the running game. I think there's a lot more potential there than what we've shown in the first two games. But (we have) two more preseason games to get it going, and once the regular season starts, the running game will just get better and better every week."
Texans linebacker Danny Clark (on if he will be starting his week) "I would think so. I think I'm starting this week. We're going into practice today and I just have to keep stepping these practices up and in the games as well."
(on how important it is to play well against the Cowboys) "It's going be a good reflection on our first group. We're going to treat it as a regular season game and we are going to prepare as such. I think the guys we have in our locker room are excited about competing against Dallas."
(on what he thinks of the defensive line) "Our group is talented. We're talented and we're very close. We're close to being where we need to be. We have two more games to hone in where we want to be for opening day. I think we're getting close to where we want be as far as being aggressive up front. We haven't shown up in the stat column, but at the end of the day, I think we'll show up."
(on what it will take to get to the quarterback and relieve the stress on the secondary) "It's an attitude. It's something we have to practice. It's something when we get out on the practice field, we are going to do a few more one-on-one drills as far as getting after the quarterback. I think as we starting practicing this a little more, it's going to show up on Sundays."
**Texans defensive lineman N.D. Kalu (on if people are looking at it the wrong way saying Mario Williams needs to be motivated)"Whatever motivates you, motivates you. It's just you have to produce. We can come up with a million reasons why we are not producing but what it comes down to do is you have to produce. We haven't done that yet."
(on what he's done to help Williams)"Because he's such a good kid and he's trying to do everything right, it takes away from his aggressiveness. I just try to tell him that he's 6-7, 300 pounds, and you have great explosiveness, just use it and hit somebody in the mouth. Don't sit here and count your steps and worry about your hand movement, which they want us to do, you just have to be a freak, because he's a freak of nature. Some things that a guy like myself, who's not as physically talented has to do, he doesn't have to do, and that's what I personally try to get across to him."
(on if it's hard to get Mario to cut loose and just play)"It's hard. I think it's easy to cut loose, but maybe it's been so easy for him to make plays, maybe he never had to. It's obviously not as easy as I thought."
(on if he thinks it's in Mario's head) "I don't know. I don't know what's going on in my head. I can't say what's going on in somebody else's. It's going to click. He works too hard for it not to."
Texans defensive tackle Amobi Okoye
(on if he's going to revert to his collegiate pass-rushing techniques)"Yeah, I think in college I came off more of a scheme of rushing the passer and reacting to the run, and I probably just in a sense was doing the opposite during training camp. So I'll probably go back to that and hopefully I'll fine tune the way I'm doing things."
*(on if he'll continue to improve as he becomes more comfortable) *"Yeah, definitely. I think if I can get into the comfort zone and build my confidence, I know that it's nothing new, it's something that I've always done and I can always do it again."
**(on what he's learned from the two preseason games)"I've definitely noticed what more of the NFL is about – the game-like attitude, the game-like preparation and all that stuff. I'm looking forward to our other preseason games before the real deal starts. I'm glad we have the preseason to help you start up before you have to go through the things that really count. It's really helping me out, and I just plan on using these preseason games to keep bettering myself."
(on if the defensive line talks about their performance with one another)"We definitely talk about it amongst each other because that's upon us and that's what we're here to do. We definitely are not happy with our performance. All we're planning on doing is just going out there to practice today and show people that we can respond when we're called."
(on if he's surprised by how much attention the defensive line gets in the NFL) "Not quite surprised, but, I don't want to say totally just blown out, but a little bit – just coming from college to the NFL. But I knew it was going to be all the time all along, so we've just got to step up. That's what we've got to do, is just step up."
Texans guard Chester Pitts
(on how he thinks the offensive line has played in his absence) "We've played fairly solid up front. Obviously, we want to run the ball better. Protection-wise, scheme-wise, they're really helping us. (Quarterback) Matt (Schaub) is doing a heck of a job getting rid of the ball. That makes it easy on us."
(on if there are lingering issues with his back) "I know it will hold up. I've been told this is what I've been built for. It has no choice."
(on not missing any games) "That's not what I do. No matter what it takes, I'll be out there. I'll be ready to go."
(on the test that Dallas will bring) "They are a very good football team. Let's just be honest, they are playing well. They're playing as good as you've seen a team play in the preseason. We definitely need to strap our helmets up and go to work with them. It's a great challenge, a great test. We are going to go out there and we're going to do what we're supposed to do."
(on the Texans/Cowboys rivalry) "This is serious business. I remember when I came in as a rookie, that first game. It's never been that loud in the stadium since then. It's a memorable moment. We really have to find a way to go out there and make the fans happy. Mr. McNair, he gets to talk crap to all his buddies, all the big money guys out there. It's a big game. It's important. We have to go out there and play well."
Texans punter Matt Turk
(on how he feels when his punts hit the roof of the Methodist Training Center) "Well, I know it's a good thing when I do hit the roof. It's a little frustrating because you want to see what the punt is going to do after it hits the roof, but considering you could hit a 5.1 and still clear the roof, any time you hit the roof it's a good thing, so I'll take it."
(on only getting to kick once in the Cardinals game and how that affected the competition between he and punter Chad Stanley) "Yeah, it's a little frustrating when you both come in and you want to get your reps in and work on a couple things and you only punt once. I suppose that's a good thing when we're not working, but when you want to get ready for a football season, it's not the most optimum thing."
(on if he's going to tell Schaub to start throwing incompletions during the preseason so that he can punt more) "I don't know if you want to practice that. I'll take one punt, that's fine. I'll get my work done in practice during the week."
Texans wide receiver Kevin Walter
(on how everybody is working together to protect the quarterbacks) "The offensive linemen have been doing a great job protecting them. Matt (Schaub) and Sage (Rosenfels) have been making great decisions and have been getting the ball out. They are doing their part to make sure they aren't getting sacked. They're doing a great job of doing that."
(on what the team is doing to stretch the field, making the defense defend the entire field) "You have to. You have to be explosive. One thing, we came in before training camp started, we wanted to have explosive plays on the field, whether that is explosive runs or explosive passes. As receivers, we're trying double moves, just trying to stretch the defense and that opens up a lot of things. It opens up the running game and vise versa. If you run the ball well, it opens up the passing game."
(on if the third preseason game is a little more meaningful) "It sure is.You find out where your offense is. You have been playing quite a bit. It's going to be hostile environment, especially with Dallas coming in here. It's going to be great. It's going to be exciting."
(on how important is it for the offense to work in more of a regular season situation) "We are going against a great defense. These guys are one of the best defenses in the NFC. It's going to be a great test for us. If we can move the ball like we did last week, we'll be just fine."
Texans defensive end Anthony Weaver (on if the team needs him back to shake things up on the defensive line) "I don't think we need to change much at all. The thing about it is this defensive line is working hard. And that being said, it is the second preseason game. I'm not trying to make excuses for anybody. But the stats'll come. You know, sometimes this game has to just come to you, and I think that's what we're waiting for. The plays will come, though, for us."
(on if he's talked to Williams) "I have, I have. That guy puts a tremendous amount of pressure on himself and I think the most important thing I told him, just like I told you guys, just go play the game. You're going to make plays, but don't put too much pressure on yourself where you're trying to do too much. Just do what you're asked and eventually those plays will come to you."
(on what Williams needs to do to settle in) "You know, I think Mario's still finding his fastball. He's experimenting with a lot of things, and that's what the preseason's for. But come game time, he's going to be there. I think you saw that at the end of last season. He turned the corner, and he was rushing the passer and getting to the quarterback, and now it's just a matter of waiting for the numbers."
(on if the media is overreacting to Williams' preseason performance) "I think it's an overreaction by everybody. I'm not going to sit here and blame you guys. The fact is that the guy hasn't even played a full game of football this preseason. He's played two quarters in one game and one quarter in another game. There's a lot of guys who play three quarters of football without getting a sack, so I'm not putting too much pressure on him just yet."
(on his injury status) "I feel good. I'd like to get out there and play this weekend and if all goes well that will be the plan. I've just got to go out there and show it on the practice field, and if the coaches give me the green light, then I'll be there."
Texans defensive back Dexter Wynn (on if he's looking over his shoulder as the final roster cut approaches) "You can't look over your shoulder because it's going to happen. They're going to make decisions upstairs and you've just got to try and play to the best of your abilities every time you're out there. You can run and hide, but they're going to find you one way or another. Like I said, you can't really play this game looking over your shoulder because you're not going to perform the way you should be. Just go out there, have fun and let them take care of everything else."
(on if roster cuts are just part of the business) "Oh, yeah. It's the NFL, man. There's not that many people in the league, it's like 1,800 (players). Like I said, you can be handling your business and then the next thing you know, you don't have the numbers, so you just go out there and handle your responsibilities and you'll get picked up."