Read what the Texans said after Tuesday's practice
The Texans practiced outside Tuesday at the Methodist Training Center. Afterward, they answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Texans owner Bob McNair Head coach Gary Kubiak LB Brian Cushing WR Andre Johnson LB DeMeco Ryans RB Steve Slaton T Eric Winston
Texans owner Bob McNair
(on his thoughts on RB Larry Johnson) "First of all, he has to clear waivers. It will be the same situation that we would employ with any prospect. We'll look at him first of all, as to whether we think they would help our team. Secondly, we'll look at their background and make a determination as to whether the type of player that we think will fit in the locker room and not be a distraction."
(on how much RB Larry Johnson's background concerns him) "I've read what you've read. I haven't really studied it to see, but that'll be an issue for us. It will be something that we'll look at very seriously. What it will come down to is, clearly, he doesn't have as clean a record as the rest of our guys and what we're looking for. The questions would be is this someone that might be a disruptive force in our locker room? Or is it someone that with the proper supervision and being around good guys is manageable? That will be a decision, if we reach the point where we say number one, 'We want him as a player,' then it would reach that point of will there be other issues there that would be too important for us to overlook."
(on his assessment of the Texans at the bye week) "I'm pleased with the way we're playing. I just think we're a very good team. As I've commented, we're not an elite team. There are few elite teams in the league and we've got to eliminate some mental errors before we become an elite team. Clearly, once we do that, we will be not just a good team; we'll be an elite team. I'm pleased with that. We just have to keep making progress. That was a tough environment up there. You get ten penalties against four for the other team, that's a big disadvantage and we had some bad breaks up there. In spite of that, it came down to hooking the kick just a little bit. Frankly, I thought it had gone through from where I was sitting. I thought we had gone to overtime. That's the closest that we've played them other than when we beat them. We didn't fall apart at the end. We were right there. As I've said, I thought (Colts QB) Peyton Manning, in that first drive that he had, was absolute perfection. Then the last drive that we had with (QB) Matt Schaub was absolutely perfection. It was every bit as good as what Peyton did on that first drive. That's something I was very proud of."
(on if the Tennessee game is a big one for the franchise) "Oh absolutely. Look, we have to win them all. Our attitude is we've got to win them all and each one is important. Each one is critical for us and Tennessee has a good ball club. They got started off badly, but they're the same team they had last year except for (DT Albert) Haynesworth. So they've got one player that wasn't here and they had some defensive backs that were out and that hurt them. Now they're back, so they're strong. They've got a great running game and a strong defense. That's the way we've always looked at them. They're not going to throw the ball that much. They can sure run the ball and run it well. They can be very effective on defense. It will be a challenge just like every one of these games."
(on if he thinks the referee blew the call on RB Ryan Moat's fumble) "Well, the league will have to look at that. That's history now. It's history, but I won't say anything else."
Head coach Gary Kubiak(on going into the bye week) "That looks like a group that's fixing to get a break. No, they need it. Everybody's been working really hard and got some things done today with some of our young players but we just need to get these guys fresh mentally and physically and we've got a big seven weeks coming up."
(on if he has anything further on the team's considering RB Larry Johnson) "No, I mean nothing as of yet. Me answering (the) question at the press conference yesterday—nothing. I'm sure he's being evaluated by (general manager) Rick (Smith) and his staff. I've been dealing with some other things right now with the players. So nothing new."
(on what he told the players going into the bye week) "Basically told them that everything that we're trying to accomplish is in front of us. We've got a big, big task ahead of us and we'll have a big stage when we come back with the Monday night game. But I just want them to come back fresh, get their mind right, you know it's basically a 49-day push for our football team and I just want everybody locked into what we're doing."
(on how self-evaluations went) "It went good. Obviously you see some things that—first off you see some people that probably need to be more involved in what you're doing and then you see some things that you need to eliminate as coaches. Just want to make sure you're doing the things these last seven weeks that our players do best. So it was very valuable, some good meetings."
(on if he's worried about QB Matt Schaub's four recent turnovers, even though they're not all his fault) "Yeah, I'm concerned about the turnovers. But you're right, I kind of think of all four of them—I know one of them the other day is totally not his fault; we've got to pick up that blitz. But as I've said before, the difference in being a dang good quarterback and being a great quarterback is continuing to do what you do but protecting the ball for your team. So obviously he hasn't protected it the way he needs to the last two weeks but he's had a pretty good nine weeks as a pro and he's going to have to be that and even more in these last seven."
(on if he likes that QB Matt Schaub is throwing more than any quarterback in the league) "No, I don't but I think it's given us the best chance to move the ball in some of the scenarios that we've been in as a team and hopefully we continue to find some more balance there in the back half."
(on if he considers activating RB Chris Henry) "Yeah, we're watching Chris and watching (RB) Arian (Foster) every day, it's a topic that comes up and obviously we can activate one of those players at any time but yeah, it's something. We're discussing a lot of issues as we move forward."
(on if they've looked at any running backs besides Larry Johnson) "They look at all of them, anybody who's free."
(on if he's decided how he'll handle the running game against Tennessee) "I think we'll get started again on Monday. We'll have an extra couple of days because of the Monday night game so we'll put our pads on Monday and get back to work. I know y'all are tired of hearing it but I'll need them all and I'll watch them practice. I want to see how (RB) Steve (Slaton) responds and comes back from this break. I want to see how (RB) Ryan (Moats) responds and (RB) Chris (Brown) being as fresh as he can be. So it'll be a day to day deal for me."
(on if he'll take a couple of days off) "I hope so. My wife hopes so. We'll see."
(on if he still has confidence in RB Chris Brown) "Yeah we do. To me it's hard for three guys to get involved when you're running the ball as much as we've been running the ball, so that's been difficult. But yeah, I Chris—we'll get everything Chris has here over the course of these last seven weeks and obviously he'll be as fresh as he's been coming out of training camp so we'll see."
(on Tennessee starting to play better football) "Well you knew it was coming. They're the same team that won all those games last year. They're missing one player. They're getting healthy, their back end's getting healthy it looks like to me and they're going to be coming in here hot with the quarterback just playing extremely well and running the football, which had given us fits early in the season. So we knew this was coming. We expect to play this football team. No surprises, we know they'll play well."
LB Brian Cushing(on if the bye weeks comes at a good time) "It does. The biggest thing is just mentally to get away for a little bit. This is the kind of half way point of the season. Come back and get rolling and get the second half going and make that playoff run."
(on how disappointing the Colts game was) "It was. You can't play any harder than that. The effort was out there, just a little bit of things here and there. We know that the result could be different. The biggest thing is just getting the victory next time."
(on if he has reflected on what he has been able to accomplish already) "You try not to because if you do get caught up in it, you'll get caught off-guard and have that game or stretch of games that you don't want to have. The biggest thing is just finding a way you can get better. Instead of thinking what you're doing good, find out what you did bad and try to improve upon that."
WR Andre Johnson(on still being in the playoff hunt nine games into the season) "I think it's good to be in this situation. Now it's up to us to come back and try to win all these games that we have left."
(on if the three straight division games will be key to how they finish) "I think it's very key. We have a big game when we come back on Monday night, against Tennessee. They're playing real well right now. They won their last two games. We're going to have to enjoy this time off. I think the bye came at the right time, right in the middle of the season and guys can get their legs and their bodies back feeling well, because when we come back on Monday night, it's going to be a dog fight."
(on what they are doing offensively the first nine games of the season) "I think we're able to move the ball. The biggest thing that sticks out is that we're still turning the ball over. If you look at the two games that came down to the goal line, we're on the one yard line and we weren't able to punch it in to win those games. I think those probably are the two to three biggest things that stick out as far as the first half of the season."
(on the importance of not turning over the ball the rest of the season) "Yeah, it has to be fixed in order for us to get where we want to go. It's kind of crazy. We are turning the ball over, but we are still putting ourselves in situations to win games. The thing about it is that if we don't turn the ball over, we wouldn't have to fight at the end to try and win them. We can just go ahead and win them. That's something we just have to learn how to do the second half of the season."
(on if he agrees that they are a very good team but not an elite team right now) "I think we're a good football team. I wouldn't consider us elite until we're a playoff contender every year and we're eventually competing for Super Bowls. I agree with that. We're a good football team and we're working to become elite."
(on being past moral victories) "I said that after the game, too. There are no moral victories. Are we getting better? I think we are. The biggest thing is just winning. You can get better all you want, but if you're not winning, it really doesn't matter. You look at football or any sport, that's all that matters, getting W's. We just have to find a way to win more games. "
(on what he most wants to see from the offense other than fewer turnovers) "Just going out and playing a full game, not playing badly in the first half and then playing crazy in the second half. Just playing a full sixty minutes. I think that's the biggest thing that I would like to see."
(on if he knows why they've started slow in some games) "I think that the biggest thing for our offense is just getting in a rhythm. Normally, we come out in the first fifteen plays and normally get in a pretty good rhythm. In the Colts game, that didn't happen. We would go three and out and then have a turnover. When we get in a rhythm at the beginning of the game, we seem to play pretty well."
LB DeMeco Ryans(on if he agrees that they are a very good team but not an elite team right now) "That's a true statement right now. We're right there. You've got to win games to prove it."
(on if this is a playoff team) "I don't know. We have to win games. We have to go win the next one. The playoffs are not here right now, so I'm not worried about that right now."
(on how good it feels to still be in the hunt nine games in) "It's good. We're happy with where we are but we know that we could definitely be a lot better than we've been, so it's encouraging. Now we get some time off and to come back and see if we can put together a good second half."
(on if he is proud of the progress the defense has made) "I'm very proud of the way our guys have stepped up. We were challenged a lot and guys stepped up. We responded to the challenge, stopping the run and playing a lot better on defense. We still have room for improvement and we can be as good as any defense out there."
(on the development of LB Brian Cushing) "He's coming along fine. He's coming along good. He's making big plays for us. We still, him along with myself, we all still have little things to improve on."
RB Steve Slaton
(on his thoughts heading into the break and for the rest of the season) "I think that at this point you really just have to look on the highs and reflect on that and reflect on our record right now. We're in a good spot and I think it's a perfect time for a break and just relax and get ready for this tough stretch."
(on what he is most frustrated about the first part of the season) "Not winning the games you're supposed to win. I think that's the toughest, just losing at the end is definitely tough and doing it as many times as we've done, it just comes down to one more play to win the game."
(on what he is most proud of through nine games) "The way we've fought back when we're down. I think in the second half, we've really come out and proved ourselves. I think that's what we'll have to work out next week and the next few weeks, just coming out hot from the beginning."
(on talks about bringing in RB Larry Johnson and how that affects him) "My job is to be a competitor. Whoever is in here now, it doesn't matter. I'm just going to go out there and compete. That's it."
(on if he feels he made progress in the Colts game) "Yeah, I hope so. It's just going to take time and when we play the next few weeks, in games, you have to play all sixty minutes and hold on to it for all sixty minutes."
T Eric Winston
(on the attitude of the team) "I like the way our attitude is. I like our thought process. I think everyone is getting better. I think guys are improving and making big jumps. We just have to keep going. We can't let it fall back at all."
(on what they need to improve for the second half) "I think it's just the little things. I think it's up-front, the offensive line just winning play side, getting the guys six inches moved more—being precise on routes, being precise on landmarks, just fool stuff. I think we're good on what we're doing. I think everyone is playing extremely hard. To be an elite team, you have to get the little things and that's what we've got to do."