Head coach Gary Kubiak and various Texans players spoke with the media after Wednesday's practice
Head coach Gary Kubiak and some of his players spoke with the media after Wednesday's practice. Following is a transcript of their interviews.
Head coach Gary Kubiak S John Busing TE Owen Daniels WR Andre Johnson SS Bernard Pollard CB Dunta Robinson LB DeMeco Ryans QB Matt Schaub WR Kevin Walter
Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on today's practice) "We practiced a little different today. Trying to get a bunch of teaching, add some reps, we've got some new faces that we're trying to really get caught up. But it was good. We got a bunch of good reps in."
(on the new faces) "Obviously (S Bernard) Pollard, trying to get Pollard going. We'd like to have him be a contributor this weekend. You know, we'll see how far we can bring him. Obviously trying to get (CB Brice) McCain more reps, trying to get (CB) Jacques Reeves more reps but he got a finger hurt in warm-ups so we'll deal with that right now."
(on what aspect of the defense he's focusing on) "Well, I think the number one thing we got to do in this football game is we got to be simple, we got to find out where we're at, you know, from a standpoint of assignment football and, you know, come out of a football game without saying we gave up a hundred yards because of missed assignments. I mean, there's no reason for that to happen. That's on us as coaches because we've got to know what our players can do and what they can't do and give them a chance to go compete."
(on Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha) "He's the best I've seen in a while throughout this league. I mean he's exceptional. He's big, he's fast, they put him out there on an island the whole game, that's the way they play. He's an exceptional player and we got a pretty good wide out too so it'll be a pretty good battle between the two of them."
(on if he's most worried about the Texans safety position) "No, I can't pinpoint just that one spot. I mean obviously we're playing a few guys there. We've been rotating guys back there trying to find the right combination but a lot of that had to do with us losing (S) Eugene (Wilson) for a period of time so hopefully we'll settle down, someone will step to the forefront and want to be out there every week and we'll see."
(on how much S Bernard Pollard will play) "I really have to watch him practice. He took a great deal of the practice today, that's kind of one of the biggest reasons we added all these reps. So we'll go back and see how much progress he can make but I expect him to be a contributor on Sunday."
(on players saying the coaches have them in the right positions, they're just not executing) "Well, you can point fingers all over the place, you know, whether it's alignment, whether it's execution, whether it's tackling but the bottom line is it's just not good enough so we got to work out of the funk. Hey, I wish we could play every day till we get out of it but they only let us play on Sundays so we'll get another chance this Sunday to come back and do it better."
(on LB Brian Cushing) "He's been exceptional. All our linebackers have played well. All three of those guys have played very well. He's been an impact player, a tremendous effort player, to me he's not even close to what he's going to be before the season's over. He's in about the third week of camp. So we've got a good one for a long, long time. Very impressed with him."
(on if he's surprised at LB Brian Cushing's early success) "It doesn't surprise me the way he plays. Effort-wise and those type of things I guess it has surprised some of us about how sharp he's been and everything without having a camp to go off of but he's just a good football player, you know, it's not too big for him. He gets better on Sundays, and so he's got a bright future."
(on if anything with LB Brian Cushing stands out) "Effort. Effort, effort, effort. You know, most great players play with tremendous effort and he does it the whole game. From the first snap to the last one."
(on certain defensive players saying they need to step up) "Well that's good, I mean whether you're a coach or whether you're a player and things aren't going right, you should stand up and be accountable to your job. That's what we do for a living. Our guys are willing to do that. I see us playing hard, we're just not playing clean and we just need to keep our effort cleaner and hopefully get a few balls bouncing our way but we got to get better and it's everybody. It's not one person. But they're willing to do their part."
(on if he'll use some players from the practice squad) "I like the effort of some of our practice squad players. I talk about (DE Jesse) Nading and I talk about (DE Tim) Jamison. Now naturally to do something like that, to me, you got to know that they're going to come contribute for you. So we're watching them, we're working those guys this week. Like I said, these extra reps are for us to look at some of these guys that we think might be able to help us, whether one of those guys would be called up or not, I don't know. We'll see."
(on simplifying their play) "Don't get me wrong, we're not going to go out there and run one defense. We're going to compete. We're going to try to stop their offense and we've got to do some things but I think obviously when you're—you know, it's like I talked about offensively when you feel like maybe your players aren't grasping all the things you're doing, then you don't keep doing them. You find a way to say, 'Ok, this is what they're grasping now let's go see if they're good enough.' I think it's important this week that if by the end of the week we have to cut back some of our game plan or something, then we've got to do that to be fair to them. So hopefully we'll do a better job of that this week."
(on if he thinks the team just needs one big play or one good quarter to break out) "Well there's been some good—you know, you look at the Jets game, there was a good quarter and a half then we busted a coverage and it seems like we got in a funk and played poorly from then on. Tennessee, we played poorly first half then very good second half. Last week the first two series were excellent. So there have been spots. I think we get way too down when we give up a third down. I told them during the game, it looks like we stop them, stop them, then give up a play and there's too much dejection from one play. I mean, you got to keep playing and that's what I want to see them do and that comes with confidence."
(on if that confidence can come from one player) "No doubt. Somebody can go out there and play at a level that's just off the charts and everybody can see that happen. We need somebody to do that. We need (DE) Mario (Williams) to do that. I think (LB) DeMeco's (Ryans) been playing his tail off. (LB Brian) Cushing's been trying to do his part. We need somebody to come up with one of those games that's special and lead the way and I think we're trying to do that. It hasn't happened; we just got to keep at it, keep trying and if you keep working hard and you play hard then sooner or later something good'll happen to you. Hopefully this is it."
(on if the players being down after giving up a big play is a leadership issue) "No, what I'm saying is, it looks like to me we go out there sometimes and we'll stop somebody on first, second down, it's third and eight and we give up a play and it's so devastating that we don't go right back and start playing the next play. And I can understand that, that's part of the game. You're going to go through that. But a team will make some third downs on you. I mean, they're playing too. They're paid to play too. So you can't let one play lead to six bad ones, you know, and it was almost like—you look at the game last week, they made a big third down, I can't remember, it was second quarter somewhere and the next play they go sixty-one and we're not doing our assignment. It's like a lack of focus off of a mistake or something and you can't have it. That's our job as coaches to figure out why that happens and keep it from happening."
(on Oakland's running backs) "Obviously a big speed player, a big power player. Tom's an Alex guy. He came up with Alex, through Alex, and so they're basically going to see our running game and a total commitment to it anytime you've got a young quarterback that's usually what you're going to see. With what's been going on with us I'm sure we'll see a big dose."
(on if Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha [that's my guess, they never say a name]) is good enough to make the opposing team change they way they attack) "Well you better be aware of him because that's how good a player he is as far as what they can ask him to go do on a given Sunday. Does it change how you attack their defense or something? I never change a whole lot because he didn't match up against us. He stayed on his side. Some games he does match up so we'll see what happens."
(on Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha not always matching up or following WR Andre Johnson) "No, he didn't match up against us. He stayed on his side. Some games he does match up. So we'll see what happens. He did not follow him last year, he stayed on his side. He might have followed him a few snaps but for the most part they played left and right. The guy on the other side's pretty good too."
(on WR Andre Johnson struggling against Oakland) "Well we didn't throw the ball well against Oakland. I wouldn't say Andre struggled against Oakland last year. We got down there and we got down by, what, 13 in the second half. We didn't protect very well, didn't throw the ball very well out there in the rain. So it's not all Andre, it's everybody. But obviously when he does his part we're better."
(on WR Andre Johnson being up for the challenge) "No doubt. He knows he's going against the best. They see each other at the Pro Bowl all the time. They have a lot of respect for each other. So he'll be fresh and ready to go."
S John Busing
(on if he expects the Raiders to try to run the ball a lot because of the Texans' problems stopping the run) "Yeah, exactly. If you look at us the last couple of games, we haven't stopped the run very well, so I wouldn't be surprised if they come out and run the ball a lot."
(on how much it hurts to be ranked last in the NFL in defense) "Yeah, it stings. Obviously, you don't want to be in that position. We've just got to go forward now and correct those mistakes and get that problem fixed."
(on how much discussion there is among players about being last in defense) "It's not hidden. The numbers are there. They're staring at you in the face. So from that standpoint, we see that. We know our weaknesses, what we've got to correct."
TE Owen Daniels
(on this being a must-win game) "Absolutely. To get out of the first quarter of the season—all we can do now is be 2-2. That's what we got to do. We can't get out of this month 1-3. That's not what we expect out of ourselves and if we want to get to where we want to be, we can't start the season like that."
(on if he feels good about where the team is offensively) "You can't feel too good about yourself sitting at 1-2 no matter what we've done offensively. We can do some better things. We can improve in a lot of areas and we're going to need to do that to win some more games."
(on what the players have to do to reach consistency) "That's just what it takes in this league to be successful. We have to be on our assignments, we have to be focused. We have to do our job. Every person has to do their job and I think if we do that, we trust that all the other guys are going to do their job, we'll be alright. We just have to go out there and do that."
(on what stands out about Oakland) "They're just a physical group of people. Just big guys. Strong guys. Fast guys. They've got really good athletes. Back end up to their front line. So we've got our work cut out for us offensively. They've always been tough but I think we can move the ball on them if we do what we're supposed to do."
(on his having a big game against Oakland last year because the Raiders focused on WR Andre Johnson) "They play a lot of man coverage. A lot of times they'll put someone over Andre and that leaves myself and (WR) Kevin Walter open and available to make plays. We just got to get ourselves open and catch the ball."
(on it not matter who catches the ball as long as someone does) "As long as we're moving the ball down the field and getting points, getting in the end zone, we don't really care."
WR Andre Johnson
(on Oakland CB Nnamdi Asomugha) "Yeah, I asked him to borrow a million dollars when he signed his new deal, gave him a phone call. No, Nnamdi, I had a chance to spend some time with him at the Pro Bowl and got to know him a little bit. He's a real good guy and we exchanged numbers after that and, you know, he signed his new deal and I asked him to loan me some money (laughs). No, but he's a great person and he's a great player."
(on what makes Oakland CB Nnamdi Asomugha so good) "He's very technique-sound. I mean, when you watch him on film, he's always trying to stay on your up field shoulder. He just seems to be in the right spot at the right time. The thing about him is he's a big cornerback; he's about the same size as me, and that's very rare to have a guy that size playing corner, so, I mean, he's a great player."
(on Asomugha's long arms) "Yeah, he has a very long reach. Sometimes, you watch him and he'll just stick his hand out. He won't even move, he'll just stick his hand out and try to get his hands on you, so like I said, he's very technique-sound and it's going to be a good challenge for me."
(on if Asomugha frustrates him) "I wouldn't say he frustrates you. I think when you go against a guy like that, you always want to do well against them because of the caliber of player that he is. It's a big challenge for me and all the wide receivers, and just their defense as a whole, you look at their defense, talent-wise, and they have it. And then they add (DE) Richard Seymour with the trade, it just makes them even better, so they're a very good defense and it's going to be a big challenge for us."
(on his mindset when facing a great cornerback) "Well, you don't really put any extra pressure on yourself; you just approach it like any other game, but you just realize who you're going against. Like I said, he wants to win every play, I want to win every play, and I think that's what makes us both better, but at the same time, somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. You just hope you win more plays than he does."
(on last year's game at Oakland) "We just have to take advantage of the opportunities that we get. I think that's the biggest thing. When they had opportunities, their offense, they made plays, and they were even fortunate to make a play on special teams. So I think that's the biggest thing, just us as a whole team, when we have plays there to be made, we have to make them."
(on if Asomugha shadowed him in last year's game) "He didn't. You know, there are times – I think it probably depends on what defense they call or whatever."
(on Oakland's defense playing a lot of man-to-man coverage) "They're very good at what they do and they give you different looks. It's not always man-to-man, but they do play a lot of it and like I said, it's going to be a big test for us and we have to go out and try to beat it."
(on if he considers Asomugha to be the best cornerback in the NFL) "Yeah. If you look at him, you could say he's the best guy out there."
(on if Asomugha talks much on the field) "No, I've never been in a trash talking battle with him. He just goes out, he plays, and he's good at what he does."
(on if he prefers to play against cornerbacks who talk a lot) "It really doesn't matter to me. Whatever a guy has to do to get himself going, that's what they do. I don't have to trash talk to get myself playing. Some guys just have to do it to get themselves going."
(on what it'll be like playing against Asomugha now that they have a relationship) "You have to put all that aside. Even before this offseason, I had talked to him before, and when we're out on the field, you put all that aside and you just go out and play. You just try to make as many plays as you can against him, so I don't think that will have any effect on Sunday."
(on the Raiders' recent struggles compared to the franchise's previous history) "If you look at their football team as a whole, the talent is there. They have the pieces to the puzzle; it's just them putting it together. You look at their offense, they have three top-quality backs. I mean, they have it. The biggest thing for us is just not letting them get on a roll."
(on the two teams' familiarity with each other) "Yeah. We've played against them I think the past three years, so we've gotten to know each other pretty well, so it'll be a big test for us."
SS Bernard Pollard
(on how much he anticipates being able to play this weekend) "The playbook is pretty much like we had in Kansas City the first couple of years, and (defensive backs coach) Gibbs was my coach there, so I know the bulk of it, and so I feel like I can go out and help my teammates. We want to win. We really want to win. We saw a game slip by last week that should not have, but it's a new week, a new team, and we've got to go out there and we've got to play ball."
(on what he brings to the defense) "I'm an intense player. I love the intensity, I love the contact, I want to be able to go out and help this team in whatever way I can. I know my role. This is a good team, and there's no reason why we should be in a position like that for the rest of this year. We understand what we have; we understand the people that are on this team, the coaches are doing a great job as far as getting the game plans and everything else ready, so we've just got to go out and play ball."
(on if he's surprised that the Texans defense is ranked 32nd in the NFL) "The thing with me coming here, obviously, I've been on a team where we ranked last in a lot of categories in the last two years, winning six games in the last two years, but this team is really good. Me coming here and seeing the things that are being done, it's just mistakes. It's mistakes and we've got to come out here and like I said, we're going to play ball. We're ready, we know the job at hand, we know what's going on, and it's going to be fun going out there and strap up with some new teammates and go out there and hit people and pull down a win."
(on if his role is to be a physical presence) "If I have to be physical, I have to be physical. That's the nature of the beast right there and I want to do that with this team. I understand what I have to do, and I can't go out and try to do too much because that's when mistakes happen. I've got to let all the other 10 players play their positions and I've got to play mine and that'll pull down a win, because this offense is going to put up points."
CB Dunta Robinson(on what needs to change) "We've got to stop the run. That has to change. Three straight 100-yard rushers—one guy: two touchdowns. The other guy: three touchdowns. This past guy: three touchdowns. That hasn't been good so far. Oakland as a team, they're going to come in here and they're going to try and establish the run. Here is our chance to show people that we can play well against the run. Here's our chance to prove to ourselves that we can stop the run and get some momentum the rest of the way."
(on if their variety of running backs makes things more difficult) "It makes it difficult. They have one big fast guy. The other two backs are just big physical guys. It's going to be difficult but this is the challenge that you want, if you want to get some fixed. This is the perfect team. You're playing against a running football team. You know what you're going to get. So let's line up and let's take care of it."
(on JaMarcus Russell) "He took some hits last year. I remember last year when we were about to play this team and people were talking about how poorly he had been playing up until that point. Then we went to Oakland and he had his best day of the season. The guy has all the physical tools. Some things haven't been going right for him but we can't let our guard down because like last year, he came out and had the best day of his career. So, we know what he can do, we just have to make sure that doesn't happen."
(on if they are having let-ups after giving up 3rd down conversions) "One thing guys have to understand on this defense is that in this league, those guys on the other side of the ball get paid to make plays. It's going to happen. When it does happen, put it behind you, line up again and say, 'this play, I'm going to make it.' That's kind of the attitude that we've got to take into the rest of the season. When the ball comes your way, you've got to make a play. When the ball is run through your gap, you've got to make a play. We're all professionals so that shouldn't be hard to do."
(on how much of the corrections comes from coaches and players) "One-hundred percent of it comes from the players. We're on the field every snap. They call the play, we have to go out there and execute. Fifty percent of the time, they (coaches) are not going to call the perfect defense, so it's on us as players to go out there and make things work; that's what we get paid to do. That's what we get paid all this money to do: go out there and make plays. If there is a guy that's blaming a coach, saying it's not their fault on the defensive side, that's crazy. That's why we're at where we are right now."
(on defense lacking consistency) "Right now, it's not there. I can't really pinpoint it and tell you what's going on in that situation. Like I said, every guy knows coming in—myself, I know in certain coverages, I know what's going to be tough in this coverage, what is going to be easy in this coverage. Sometimes you've got to make those tough plays. Everybody has to think that way and I think once we get that done, we'll be fine on defense."
LB DeMeco Ryans(on what could be learned from the loss to Jacksonville that would apply to the game with the Raiders) "The only thing that stands out is accountability. Guys stepping up and being accountable. That's the only thing."
(on if a poor Oakland offense is the perfect remedy for getting better) "We still know that they have the players that can make the plays. They have a good team but they just haven't got it going yet. They have the guys to bust out the big plays. But we have to just be true to our system and do what we do."
(on if last year's loss to Oakland is in the back of his head) "We're not overlooking anything. This is a big game for us. We're trying hard to get a win. That's what we're working for this week is to get a win. We're definitely not overlooking Oakland. We respect them and understand they have a great team with great players that can make big plays."
(on if the Texans are just a couple plays away from winning more) "We just have to find a way to make those plays. We talk about being a couple plays away but we have to be in position and we have to step up and make the plays when our number is called."
(on if the defense is better than its current ranking of 32nd in the NFL) "We're a lot better than that. It's not the system. (Defensive coordinator) Frank (Bush) does a great job putting us in the right position, but we have to have the right players playing hard and dominating when we're out there."
(on the importance of a home win) "I'm looking for a win. It doesn't matter, home or away. We got to get a win this week."
(on dealing with disappointment) "You just keep playing. You understand that the other guys get paid too, and they're going to make plays on you. But you have to understand that you have to come back and play the next play."
(on if something will click soon) "There's nothing to be said. There's no rah-rah talk to be made. As players you have to have it within yourself to go out and play hard every down and put good stuff out there on the field. "
(on the most frustrating part of Sunday for the defense) "The most frustrating thing is that it was nothing that they did that won the game. Every time we made a mistake they capitalized on our mistake. That's the most disappointing thing. We're there. We're in position. But if one person makes a mistake here, one person makes a mistake there, they find us out. If everybody stays true to the system and true to the game, it won't happen."
QB Matt Schaub
(on the Oakland Raiders defense) "They're a very talented group. They challenge you athletically, physically, and they can make a lot of plays. You've got to be on top of your game and be able to execute because they're going to come after you."
(on if they will have to move the pocket around more) "They're a big group and athletic. They're good on the back end and up front so we just have to go out and execute our game."
(on DE Richard Seymour) "He's a great player. He has been for a number of years. Across the board, they're a good team."
(on if Seymour has lost a step) "I don't think so, no."
(on how important is it to get a win this weekend) "It's a big game for us and it's another chance to go out and prove ourselves and get us back to even at 2-2. We lost a tough one last week but we have to move on and get this one."
(on the danger of overlooking this Oakland team) "It's important to not overlook anyone in this league because everyone is good. They have a lot of talent. Everybody has talent in this league, but especially these guys. It's a team that we have to go out and play well to beat."
(on the loss to Oakland after beating Tennessee the week before last year) "It's a good group and any given day, you can get beat if you don't go out and play well."
(on trying to get their first home win) "It's another chance to go out in front of our home crowd and get back on the winning track. We haven't played well at home but we have another chance this week to go out there and do that."
(on what they saw on film from the Jacksonville game of what happened in the second half) "We've moved on past Jacksonville. We're on to Oakland now, so it's Wednesday and we're just getting ready for Oakland."
(on if CB Nnamdi Asomugha changes the way you run an offense) "He's an excellent player. He has great cover skills. He's an elite corner in this league. So yeah, he's one of those guys that you have to know where he is."
(on if he is always conscious of where Asomugha is on the field) "Definitely."
WR Kevin Walter
(on CB Nnamdi Asomugha) "He's the best corner in the league right now. He's the real deal. He's the guy that has been great for them. He's a leader and follows guys around. He's a shutdown corner if they're wanting him to be."
(on Asomugha giving WR Andre Johnson a hard time and the need for him and TE Owen Daniels to pick up some of the slack against them) "No doubt about it. Last year, they had a different plan. Normally they plan man coverage. Last year when we played them, they switched it up and didn't play as much man as we thought. This year, we haven't gotten to play against a lot of man coverages, which is a receiver's dream. You might go out there and have man coverage, the coverage you want, so you can beat one guy, make the guy miss and touchdown."
(on what's special about Asomugha) "What special about Nnamdi? His long arms. That's what it is. Getting off the press, that's what he's best at. He's good at getting his hands on you, and re-routing you and disturbing the timing."
(on if his reputation precedes him) "His reputation is that he works hard. He doesn't get a lot of ball thrown his way and not a lot of people test him, but we need to do that. I know we can do that and I know we can run routes against him and we know we can win, and we're going to do that."
(on how important it is to go at Asomugha) "It's important. It's real important. Dre (WR Andre Johnson) is going to go against him. We're all going to go against him. We don't know what their plan is exactly. They might follow Dre around the whole game. If so, Dre is the best receiver in the league. He's been going against the best corners in the league and I know Dre is going to win."
(on if he likes the challenge) "It's a big time challenge. It's not #21. There is more than #21. This defense is good. Their whole line, the linebackers, their whole defense back there; it's not just 21. These guys are athletes. They're strong, they're physical. They all have speed. They're definitely a good challenge."
(on if he is surprised by their record) "You're right. I'm not sure what it is that they've got going on. They need to fix it. They're 1-2, just like us. They're going to go out there fighting and we expect that big time."
(on if the Texans owe them one after being favored on the road last year and losing) "Oh we definitely owe them one and we're excited to get after them."
(on how good it felt to get back on the field last week) "It felt great. It was tough those first two weeks. I wanted to get out there, I wanted to fight and win with these guys. It's tough. It was tough those first two weeks, but getting back out there last week was awesome. It was a lot of fun. I felt great. My hamstring felt good. I just have got to keep improving."
(on the rhythm between him and QB Matt Schaub) "I thought it was pretty good. I felt it was pretty good. We always have good timing. We've been with each other the past three years, so we know each other. He knows where I'm going to be and I know where he expects me to be so this week, we have a big challenge ahead of us."