Running back Ahman Green has moved past the preseason and is ready to challenge a Kansas City rushing defense.
Head coach Gary Kubiak and Texans players spoke to the media before and after Wednesday's practice as they count down to their home opener on Sunday, Sept. 9 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on if the he's ready for the game) "I'm looking forward to it. We had a good practice today. You can tell in this business when the price of poker goes up a little bit. There's a few nervous guys out her today. But that's why we do what we do. We had a good first day and we need to just continue to work through the week."
(on what's was going on when general manager Rick Smith was speaking to the team after practice) "I just think it's important that the football team gets to spend time with Rick. Rick talked to them about some of the things in our organization that our important. They have a good relationship with Rick, and that's extremely important. It's good for it to be that way across the board. So I think some quality with him and them is good for our team."
(on if general manager Rick Smith has spoken with the team after practice before) "We do it a little bit. We do it in the off season. Try to give him a couple of days, being opening week this week - just him touching base with those guys I think is very positive."
(on the team's confidence level going into this year's opener compared to last year's opener) "I don't know what their confidence level was last year. We felt good going into this week last year. We'd had a good preseason. But it's different. When it's time to go play in this league on opening day, it's a big deal. So it's different for every player and every coach. We feel good about our group. We'll go find out where we're at. We're playing a dang good football team."
(on the team captains) "Our captains were just voted on today and they were wide receiver Andre Johnson, linebacker DeMeco Ryans and kicker Kris Brown. And those guys are for the year. And we'll also have game captains."
(on who voted for the captains) "The team voted. Actually, before we started our preseason, I made those guys put them in that position anyway. So it tells me we had the right guys from the start. So their teammates voted them in this morning."
(on if the coaches pick game captains) "Yes. We'll have game captains on offense and defense and special teams each week. We'll get one guy at each spot. We'll make them a game captain. So we'll send out six guys every week."
(on what being captain says about those three guys) "I think it just tells you from the start, from the day we walked in here at camp that our team knows who their leaders are. They looked to those three guys. To me, Andre Johnson and DeMeco (Ryans) – they were (captains) last year in a lot of ways. Of course, DeMeco's a young guy. I think kicker Kris (Brown) has emerged as a captain on the special teams because of how well he's doing his job and how hard he's worked. We've got a young group of special teams players. So it tells you they think a lot of him."
(on how they are preparing wide receiver Jacoby Jones for the regular season) "When he walks out of the huddle this week, Ty Law will be staring at him. It's the real deal, but I know the kid's ready to go. I love his demeanor in meetings. He loves football and has a lot of fun here everyday. So I'm expecting him to keep making plays."
(on if he was impressed with linebacker Danny Clark clicking so quickly with the team) "Yes, I was. Danny's got a great personality. It was an easy fit wherever he would go. The thing I like about him is how he goes about his business, playing and preparing. He's very close to all those linebackers. It was obvious when he was given a chance to play, there was s difference on the field. I would expect him to only get better this season."
(on trying to contain Chiefs running back Larry Johnson after he ran for 200 yards the last time he played the Texans) "He can rush that many on a lot of people. I've seen him do it in Denver too. He's one of the top back in the game. He's a big guy. He wears you down. He's hard to tackle. And he's got a coach that's going to make sure he touches it quite a few times. We know that, and that's a big challenge for us. They're a veteran, playoff football team that's well-coached. We're going to have to be as good as we can be."
(on if he thought the Chiefs would limit running back Larry Johnson's touches) "Oh, no. I expect him to touch it just as many times as he normally does."
(on if he sensed linebacker Danny Clark would be a starter) "I can't say that we thought he would come in and start. We knew he would add depth and speed to out football team. That fact that he came this far that quickly was a big positive for out team. The guy that I knew, who played against me in Oakland, was a starter and a heck of a player. What we've seen is that guy return. So that's a big boost for our team, if he can handle that."
(on what concerns him about the Chiefs secondary) "They are playmakers. They've got Ty Law and then you've got (Patrick) Surtain on the other side. If you're wrong with the ball, they're going to make you pay. So it's a great challenge for Matt (Schaub). They have enough confidence to zero-blitz you, come get you, and let those guys lock up receivers. So they're a savvy veteran secondary. I know the coach who coaches the secondary very well. I've coached with him. They're just sound, a very sound football team. Gunter Cunningham has been doing this in this league for a long, long time."
(on Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson, who is from Texas) "He's a pretty good player. He's very big, very athletic, shoots a lot of gaps, great on cadence. He's a fine football player."
(on what he needs to see from Texans quarterback Matt Schaub) "I just want him to come out and play the way he's played in the preseason. He's been very composed and very smart with the ball. He's handled our guys very well. And there'll be a different demeanor on Sunday. I think the other 10 around him on Sunday will be a lot more geared up. So on Sunday, he's going to have to calm them down, and he calms them down with the way he plays. We just want him to continue to be his steady self."
(on the advantages of having quarterback Matt Schaub and running back Ahman Green come in the same year) "To take a guy like Ahman and ask him to be on the field in camp as much as we did - but we needed to for him to develop a relationship with Matt and with our offense. He's been a great worker. We rested him a little bit, but the fact that those guys have grown into this together along with wide receiver Jacoby (Jones) has been positive."
(on if the offense is as comfortable as he would like them to be) "I think so. It's our job as coaches not to put them in any uncomfortable situations, but running back Ahman (Green) knew this offense because of Sherm (offensive coordinator Mike Sherman) and Matt knew a lot of the terminology. So that helped them."
(on any new developments as far as health or rotations) "No. We're fine. Everybody's full go. (Bryan) Pittman was a little woozy after practice the other day. We're working him hard other than his snapping duties. We're ready to go."
(on the status of defensive end Anthony Weaver) "I expect him to start. I think he's ready to play. He could have played against Tampa. Unless there's a setback this week, we expect him to be ready to go."
Wide receiver Jacoby Jones
(on if he imagines a regular season game will be different) "I'm ready to see what it feels like. I take every game the same way. It's football to me."
(on how he's preparing himself this week) "Play football. Work hard every day in practice as usual. Get a routine going every day."
(on if he thinks the Chiefs will kick away from him) "I hope they don't kick away from me. I hope they give me a chance to return, because we've got a great scheme of punt returning. Our guys block real well."
(on when he'll get nervous about playing) "I don't think it'd be nervous, it'd just be anxious and ready to go, that's all. Antsy."
(on if he's looking forward to finally playing a game that counts) "I'm ready. Coach told me to bring my game up to 105 instead of 98, so I've got to step up some more."
(on if he'll be able to hear his mother's whistle) "Oh, yeah. I tried to get her the same seats so I could listen for her."
(on if he heard her whistle last game) "Oh, yeah. Loud and clear. I told you she's got that strong, tomboyish whistle, man. I can't even do that whistle."
(on if he's been talked to about his celebration) "Yeah, they asked me what I'm going to do this time. I think I'm going to keep the flip. I like the flip. They just said don't stick the ball any more. I won't do that again. That's about it, though."
Defensive end N.D. Kalu
(on what he thinks when he watches Chiefs running back Larry Johnson on tape) "Wow. Anytime you see him, it's like a highlight film. We thought the coaches put together a highlight film, and it was just one regular game that we were watching. He's one of the top three running backs in the league, and we've got all the respect in the world for him, and that's why we're going to try to gang-tackle him."
(on what separates Johnson from other running backs) "He just runs so hard and so durable. I mean, he got the ball 416 times last year, and I don't think he really got hurt. He's just durable. Runs hard, runs like he's angry. We respect that, and that's why we're going to try to put seven or eight hands on him."
(on what comes to mind when he thinks of Johnson) "For me, it's physical. He just seems so physical. He doesn't shy away from contact. He's big and he wants to hit you and he wants to run through you."
(on if Johnson scares him more than Chiefs quarterback Damon Huard) "Nobody scares me. But we respect him. 11 (Huard), he's been in the league 11 years, so he's doing something right. We all watched that "Hard Knocks." We know he's a leader of that team, so we respect him also. But any time you're playing a top-three guy at any position, which we feel Larry Johnson is as a running back, that's what you're going to focus on."
(on the reason for the different mindset in the Texans' locker room) "I can't really put my finger on it, because you don't want to get too excited about having a successful preseason, even though we were 2-2, it wasn't really successful. But guys that you haven't heard of, they really stepped up. Jacoby Jones, who knew what he was going to do what he did? That even surprised me, got me excited. Then you've got three first-rounders on the d-line, so we better do good on the d-line. So it's just one of those things where it seems like things are falling into place. And I think this first game will really tell people if we've really arrived like we think we have or if we have a lot more work to go."
Quarterback Matt Schaub
(on how it feels to be approaching the first game of his first starting season) "It feels good. Guys worked tremendously hard this preseason and in training camp. We're excited to get underway with the regular season and for this game week."
(on if there were any pleasant surprises during the preseason) "Oh, there are many pleasant surprises. I wouldn't say that they were surprises, but we expected some guys to come up and play well. You know, Jacoby Jones I think is one that jumps out immediately, for him to come out and make the impact that he has in the preseason, week in and week out. He showed a lot of good things."
(on if he was surprised by Jones' play) "Not necessarily surprised. I'm happy to see it. He demonstrated a tremendous amount of maturity to be able to do it week in and week out. He didn't just rest on his laurels from one week and take the next week off. He came back and worked hard to get better and made some good plays the next week, so that was exciting to see."
(on the Texans' tight ends) "We've got a tremendous group. They bring a lot of different skills to the table. Mark Bruener brings a lot of experience, he's very smart, an excellent blocker. And then we have Owen Daniels who's more of a pass catcher and then can also block as well, and then tight end Jeb (Putzier)'s more of a receiving type of tight end that you can split out wide. So they bring a lot of different skills that we can use in different personnel groups."
(on if his tight ends can produce as much as Atlanta tight end Alge Crumpler did) "I think so. I think as a whole, they can contribute just as much, if not more. They all can make plays and make people miss and make it hard to cover them."
(on his evaluation of the development of the run game during the preseason) "I think we improved from start to finish a lot. At first it was hard goings opening up holes and then knowing our adjustments on the run game. But guys really worked hard at it, and as this preseason went on, our run game really started to pick it up, and I don't see why that's going to falter at this point. I think we'll only get better."
(on if it was nice to come to the Texans at the same time as running back Ahman Green) "Oh, without a doubt, to come in with a guy like that who brings that much experience and big game experience. He's played well at this level for many years, so he's a guy that's going to continue to do that. And he probably would say is in the best shape of his life right now. So that's exciting to hear."
(on if he and Green expected to be so comfortable with the offense) "It's definitely what we expected. That's what we tried to do early on. We just wanted to dive into the offseason program, learn the offense as best as we could, get to know the guys so once this point in the year came, it just was second nature and we just were part of the system."
(on if it seems second nature right now) "It does. Definitely."
(on if the team is confident and expects to win on Sunday) "We definitely feel confident. We expect to win, we expect to go out and play well and put ourselves in position to win the game. That's what we want to do week in and week out."
(on the most important thing he has to do on Sunday for his team to be successful) "I think play consistent, move the football, not hurt ourselves with penalties or turnovers. If we just do that, keep moving the ball, running the ball and being efficient in the pass game, we'll be just fine."
(on his impression of the Kansas City defense) "They're very experienced. They're very fast. They flow very fast, and they've got an athletic group, especially their front seven. And their corners, they're two very veteran guys that've played a long time and have been very successful, so they're going to be a tough challenge for us."
(on if there's more pressure on the team with excitement built by the preseason) "I don't think there's any more added pressure that we feel from the outside. We put a tremendous amount of pressure on ourselves to play well and perform up to our standards that we have inside our locker room. If we just prepare and play to those standards that we have, we'll be more than pleased."
(on how he took command of the huddle when he arrived in Houston) "I think that process moved along very well. That's something you've just go to jump right in and take control and let guys know that you're here to lead them, and if they just follow you, that things will turn out good. It was a work in progress at first, learning the playbook was a slow process, but that's one thing that has worked out really well."
(on going into opening day as the starter for the first time in his career) "Well, hopefully it just comes second nature. I've been playing the game for a while now, so I prepared in Atlanta just as if I was going to play. The only difference now is I'll be out there the first play, so I just have to get myself prepared as best as I can this week, and come Sunday just let it come natural."
(on if he felt like he had to perform on the field before he could take charge in the huddle) "It was a little bit of both. You've got to pick and choose your spots when to do it in the huddle. At the beginning, you let your actions speak and you just demonstrate that you have knowledge of your position and what you have to do to execute a certain play. And then once you start making plays, then guys have a feel for you and you can assert that leadership a little bit more."
(on if he feels like the Texans are a playoff team) "I think so. We have a long way to go. We're going into week one here and there's a lot of football to be played before that point in time, but if we just take each step and each game one at a time and prepare and play well, we'll be successful."