The Texans practiced Friday at the Methodist Training Center, and after, head coach Gary Kubiak and some of the players answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakCB Brandon HarrisCB Kareem JacksonQB Matt LeinartDT Earl MitchellILB DeMeco RyansQB Matt SchaubDE Antonio SmithWR Kevin Walter
Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on practice today) "It was good. Obviously it's kind of a hump day for the guys that have been doing it for four days, but we needed to get those new guys going so we came out in shorts. I think we had some good work. All those guys that have been out looked pretty good, but we shut them down at a certain period of practice. It's a good step forward and we'll come out in the pads tomorrow."
(on having everyone practicing now) "We're going to push through Sunday morning and then give them a break, so these next two days are very important. I'm hoping that as we get past Sunday that we're pretty much all on the same page as a football team, physically, how we're feeling and those type of things. We went from 71 guys practicing to 85 today, so it just tells you how crazy this thing has been. I'm glad to see it. It's been good."
(on why TE Owen Daniels didn't practice today) "Sick. We got a bug going on with our team. We've had two or three guys a day. I think we had six today, so we've got some kind of little bug going on. He (Owen Daniels) tried to come out here and I sent him back in."
(on if TE Owen Daniels will just be out for one day) "I hope so. It has been with the other guys, so we'll see."
(on if WR Andre Johnson got sick too) "Yeah, he's not feeling well neither."
(on what's going on with the illnesses) "I have no idea. Actually a couple guys got sick on us, but were able to still push through in practice. The guys that were not feeling well this morning, I think three of them did practice and three of them didn't."
(on how TE Owen Daniels has looked in camp) "He's (Owen Daniels) looked great. He had a really good offseason. I know how hard he worked. I know how Owen thinks. The key to his success is a good training camp and all those things are important to him, so he's well on his way."
(on how the first five days of training camp have gone) "I think we're behind from a standpoint of what we normally would be doing right now, just from the fact that we haven't had them. Now, with the time we've had to work, I feel good about what we've done. I think defensively it's day-to-day. (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips), how much can we do? How much more are we going to put in? Offensively, we're missing some key pieces on our practice field, which concerns me. When Andre's (Johnson) not practicing, Owen's (Daniels) not practicing, Arian's (Foster) not practicing, that's tough. At the same time, it does give you a chance to get better because all those other guys are getting reps right now. We just got to stay focused on them and the other guys will be ready to go."
(on OLB Mario Williams) "I think he's (Mario Williams) looked really good. I think he's taken to what we're trying to do with him. I think his scope as far as football learning has broadened a little bit because now he's a linebacker. He's learning a lot about coverage and a lot of other things. He's been very attentive. To me this year, he's been more of a leader than probably his first few years. I like what he's doing."
(on RB Arian Foster's leaving practice) "He ran one time into the end zone about 35-40 minutes into practice and didn't feel good. I don't know, so I just said get out. He went 35-40 minutes and he looked great. I'm hoping he's right back. We'll see."
(on if he's worried about RB Arian Foster) "I'm not right now. I probably can answer this better in the afternoon, but it was me and I told him to get out."
(on how nice it is to have depth at running back) "It's a nice problem to have because we're going to end up with four dang good ones and may be in a situation where we can keep five. It depends. We're strong at that position right now, but you know how this works. You come out one day and play one preseason game and you go from having a bunch of them to something happening. Let's just keep our fingers crossed that they're all there at the end and we have a good group."
(on RB Arian Foster's injury) "No, he (Arian Foster) just tightened up. He told me his hamstring tightened up, so I told him to get out. You got to remember those guys haven't been doing anything, so that's why we had a clock on all of them this morning. Any sign of any one of them not quite being ready to go, we were pulling them. There are some other guys we pulled too. You just don't ask about them."
(on WR Kevin Walter) "I'm amazed at him (Kevin Walter). I think this is year nine for him and you watch this guy work every day. He's just a pro. Kevin has to work really hard to be successful. It's been that way his whole career. Kevin overcomes some shortcomings with his work habits, his study and all those things. He's a big cog on this football team because everybody knows he will be there every day, every play as hard as he can play and he'll do anything you ask him to do. You can't have enough of those guys."
(on WR Kevin Walter as a complete receiver and not just a possession receiver) "Tell him (Kevin Walter). Don't let it hurt his feelings because they're probably going to call him that his whole career. I bet he plays a long time, so that's a compliment in my opinion."
(on what attributes he looks for in young receivers) "Receivers are different. There are some guys that are big run guys, as far as their speed. There are some guys that are possession-type players, slot players. They all kind of have their expertise, so to speak, and why they're here. You're trying to see where they would fit on your football team, but it really boils down to what they end up doing for (Special Teams Coordinator) Joe (Marciano) on special teams. Young receivers make teams because they usually get in the special teams route, so that's a very big piece."
CB Brandon Harris(on working with WR Andre Johnson to prepare for camp) "My work with him prepared me a lot: self confidence, competing against one of the best receivers in the NFL - the best, in my opinion. Just being able to go out there and stand toe to toe with him as a rookie. He's a good teacher. He tells you what you're doing good, tells you what you need to work on. Just hearing it from a guy like him who's sincere and he's doing it year in and year out."
(on if a cornerback has to have a certain instinct) "I think it's a combination of them all. Obviously, talent is a big part of it, but at defensive back you also have to have confidence. It's just as much mental as it is physical, and with that confidence comes instinct. When you're confident with the ability to make plays, you go out there and you're not afraid to test what you see. If you see a guy breaking on a good route, you're not afraid to go for it and make that interception as opposed to being a little hesitant."
CB Kareem Jackson(on if the secondary is more physical and active) "I think that it was a little bit of the excitement and us not wanting to have that sour taste like last year. For having a year like that last year, no one wants to go through that, so everybody is committed to what we're doing so we're just coming out and working hard every day just trying to get it done."
(on CB Johnathan Joseph and S Danieal Manning) "It was good and exciting for those guys' first day. Those guys are playmakers and that's what the coaches brought them in for. I can already see that they're going to be a vocal presence out there as well as a physical one so it's going to be exciting."
(on if he's trying to pick up a few things from CB Johnathan Joseph) "Every day, all day with a guy like that, a veteran guy. We didn't' have a guy like that with experience in the DB (defensive backs) room last year until the end of the season with (CB) Jason Allen."
(on if he's on the right track to turn the corner from last year) "Definitely. Definitely. I had a couple of good first days so I'm just looking forward to keep working and learning from (Defensive Backs) Coach VJ (Vance Joseph) and getting better."
(on Defensive Backs Coach Vance Joseph) "He's big on technique and seeing things with your eyes. If you can be consistent with those two you can play in this league."
QB Matt Leinart(on training camp) "You know, I got a great mindset going into this camp. I'm going to work my butt off to know this offense and to be ready to play."
(on connecting with TE Joel Dreessen in practice) "Yeah, Joel (Dreessen) had a big day. OD (Owen Daniels) had a big day yesterday, Joel had a big day today. We got a great group of tight ends. They can all run and catch. They're extremely smart players. Anytime we get our matchups, we know our tight ends are going to win most of the time. That's a great luxury to have in this League. Obviously we have great receivers and running backs that can catch, but when you have great tight ends that can do everything, that makes it easier on us."
(on what made him want to return to the Texans this season) "I just think it was the experience here I had last year. I really grew as a quarterback and I felt like I can get just so much better as a quarterback, just the way I was coached last year and the way I was taught, and the attention to detail they expect us to have at the position. Kubes (Head Coach Gary Kubiak) played a big part in that, just to be back with him, to learn from him."
DT Earl Mitchell(on adjusting to the new 3-4 defense) "The adjustment hasn't been too much of a learning curve for me. I played a lot of nose tackle last year, so it's just a matter of working on technique again and it's pretty much like riding a bike. I'm just trying to get after it."
(on playing for his home team) "It's cool, you know. You've got a lot of people in your corner and they're wishing you well, so it motivates me to do well and I want to do a good job for the team. I want to represent my high school and all my peers."
(on the difference in the defense's attitude from last year) "On defense it's just that people are flying around, they're just trying to play on edge because we have a big chip on our shoulder. We just want to fly around and represent (Head) Coach (Gary) Kubiak and (Defensive Coordinator) Wade Phillips real well."
(on if he is in the mix for more playing time) "Oh, definitely. That's all I've been doing; just making sure that I can get on the team and if I get on the field I'm going to make sure I'm going to be productive for my football team."
ILB DeMeco Ryans(on if OLB Mario Williams is making him a better pass rusher) "Just working with Mario, working with (Defensive Line Coach Bill Kollar) and (DE) Antonio (Smith) just working on some things I've never done before. It takes some getting used to, but it's just a grind; it's just trying to get things down with the new techniques."
(on if he will take credit for OLB Mario Williams' first interception this season) "No, I can't credit that to me, but we're just working. I like our new defense. I like the scheme. (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) is great. It feels like it definitely gives us a chance to be successful."
(on the pressure on the defensive backfield) "It's no pressure. Each year brings on different challenges. We have a new team this year, new challenges, new guys back there in the back end, but I like the way those guys are playing here in training camp. Their confidence is high and I like how they're being aggressive and making plays on the ball."
QB Matt Schaub(on TE Owen Daniels' training camp) "He's had a great first few days, as opposed to last year when he was mainly working with the trainers, trying to still come back from his injury. It's just huge to have him out here with a full offseason under his belt. Working with him, on our own, you know he's ready to go."
(on if he had to make adjustments last year when TE Owen Daniels was coming back from injury) "Yeah. He wasn't quite the same, especially when he was in and out of the lineup. He was nicked up and he had a hamstring (injury). It was hard to get in a rhythm with him but we've worked enough now that it's second nature for us and all our other tight ends played huge for us and stepped up for us; Joel (Dreessen) and James (Casey) and Garrett Graham is playing well and looking good."
(on Houston's young wide receivers) "They're looking good. The young receivers are smart and talented. They're doing a lot of good things. Obviously, as we go here, we're putting more in, as far as the install and more and more stuff is building in their minds. They have to learn to keep that straight and just understand their job when they come out here. But they're performing well and they're not deer in the headlights, so to speak, so we need to keep them growing and progressing."
(on critics who call the Texans "soft") "We don't pay any attention to that. The people that are outside, they don't know how we play, how we work. I don't put any stock into it because they don't really know what they're talking about."
(on if a team can be soft if it runs the ball the way the Texans did last year) "I don't think so. I don't think we can run the football the way we did, protect the way we did, play the way we did and be considered that."
(on how much the team has talked about and gone over starting the game fast) "Absolutely. That's a focus of ours, both offensively and defensively. We got to start games better, not playing catch-up, obviously. It's a 60-minute game; it's where you finish that's most important. But we can help ourselves out a tremendous amount if we just start faster and put some points on the board early in the game, set the tempo, have the defense go three-and-out and we'll be in good shape."
(on why the team started games slow last year) "I really didn't (know). We talked about that all season and if I knew, it wouldn't have happened. From game-to-game, it was different things, whether it be penalties or just lack of concentration or just not executing."
(on how TE Owen Daniels has looked in training camp) "He's looked great. He's healthy and he's had a great offseason working together and he's back to the old Owen, before the injuries. We're just excited to have him out here with us to start camp."
(on the progression of QB Matt Leinart) "I think it's a slow progression. Obviously, he's been here for almost a year now; he missed all of camp with us last year and he didn't really, throughout the season, run our offense. So it's really his first chance to get in, missing the offseason this year, to get into camp and run our system. He's a smart guy and he's really learning. It's fun to work with him. He had a good practice out here today. It's just the little things in our offense that he's got to pick up on and the nuances. But he's doing well."
(on QB Matt Leinart saying it was a better opportunity to come back to Houston to learn under him and Head Coach Gary Kubiak than go elsewhere) "Well, it does (say a lot). We get along real well. It's a good room, it's a good fit for us. I can see why he felt like that about Coach (Gary) Kubiak, because he's a great guy to learn under and to grow from because he's been around so long and been around so many good offenses and good quarterbacks. He knows the position, so it was a good opportunity for Matt (Leinart)."
(on QB Matt Leinart saying he also came back to Houston to learn under him) "It was humbling to hear him say that from all his experiences and what he's been through. But we're all in this together and we're here to help each other."
(on having improved depth at the running back position) "It's great for us, especially coming off last year, how our run game performed and Arian (Foster) performed, our offensive line performed; all those guys (the running backs) aren't necessarily new. They've all been here. Obviously, Ben Tate was injured most of last season, all of last season. He's essentially like a rookie, but he's not, so there's no one back there who really needs to learn the whole offense. It's good for them just to get in the flow and just go."
(on if it changed things for him to have such a strong running game last year) "It really didn't change anything for me; it helped me out. It took a lot of pressure of the pass game in general. It allowed us to control the tempo a little bit more, keep our situations and our downs manageable, not have as many third-down-and-longs and stuff, and we were able to execute better in the red zone because the field is shorter. The defense doesn't have as far to defend in the pass game, so running the ball down there was of the utmost importance. It just helped us keep everything manageable. So it helped me out tremendously."
(on having on-field chemistry with WR Kevin Walter) "Well, it's just five years of working together and being good friends and just talking through things. I understand Kevin's (Walter) route-running and I've thrown enough balls to him, much like Andre (Johnson) and Owen (Daniels), all of our weapons; we've been together so long now that it's just second nature to us. We do it so much in the offseason and the summertime, so it is just second nature."
(on what he likes about QB Matt Leinart's game) "I like his poise and his accuracy. He's a smart guy, he's a thinker out there, which in our offense, you have to be. You have to have your head on at all times, especially in our offense. He's just a rhythm passer, much like myself, and that's what fits our scheme."
(on if QB Matt Leinart has a left-handed personality) "He does things backwards from time to time, so it makes it a little tougher. Plus we're both Matt's, so when coach says Matt, you're like who are you talking to? It's a unique situation from that standpoint."
(on playing against the new 3-4 defense) "It's a little different, especially some of the coverages they're putting in certain areas. After we've gone against the same defense for pretty much four years in training camp, seeing a different one day one, day two, is just different to go back and watch the film. It's good for film study because we get to go in and see what they're doing and how to attack, what coverages they're doing, leverage and what they're working on, so it's good experience for us to see different things."
(on if the 3-4 defense is confusing because they aren't preparing for it like a game) "If we were preparing for a game, it would be a different story. In essence, because we're going against them from day to day, we are kind of preparing for them. As they're learning our formations and our routes, progressions and everything, we're also going in there studying their coverages."
(on if there's any downside to playing against a new defense) "No, it's all good. It's all positive."
DE Antonio Smith(on ILB DeMeco Ryans wanting to challenge anyone who says the defense is soft) "That's how you have to do it. Put on the pads, Oklahoma drill, take it back to college, let them see how it feels a little bit. I don't believe in it, I don't see it, and you can rest assured if I thought somebody was soft on our defense, you would know it."
(on if he thinks they don't hit enough in practice) "No, not really. You have to put the pads on some time and then you also have to be smart because a lot of players get hurt messing around in training camp trying to blow your friend up and things like that. I've never been the type to say just because I don't hit, or when Coach took the pads off me it made me soft. It's my mindset. If you get it from me on that field you'll know. There's no softness coming here and everybody on the defense is saying, 'Wait, it doesn't matter if you put my pads on, you take my pads off.' If the situation calls for it, my mental mind state is nothing but hard. Hard, that's what I live by, the hard theory. Everybody who's a football player should think that way. If the pads are on, if the pads are off, I'm still the same man on the field."
(on if it's insulting that people say he's soft) "Yeah, that's insulting. Everybody knows that even if I wasn't a, you're not a football player and somebody calls you soft, it's going to hit you to the chest. You also have to be politically correct and stand in front of the camera and straighten up."
(on if he didn't have to be politically correct) "I would say, it's time to meet my katana. My ninja sword, katana, because you have dishonored me."
(on if it would matter more if the softness comments were coming from other players) "I'm going to hit you kind of deep with this one. Some men at heart are followers, so a coach can tell you anything in the meeting room and they're going to go believing, 'Oh this player's soft. This defense is soft,' but once you play, once you get on that field, that's when you find out who's soft or not. That's it. A coach can tell you a player's soft all day long. Their coaches can preach it to them, and the more you preach it to them the more you believe it. You believe, 'Man, this team's soft. They're soft. We're going to go in here and beat them.' If you think we're soft, come on. That's all I have to say. All we can do, talking time is over. It's camp time. We're going in the season, put on the pads, let's go."* *
WR Kevin Walter(on being the second or third option in the offense) "Sometimes running the backside routes and clearing coverage is just as important as the number one read. That's the way I approach it. You know clearing the safeties out for Dre (WR Andre Johnson) to get out and for (TE) Owen (Daniels) to get out. I'm going to do anything I can to win."
(on blocking for runners) "It's great, especially when you go out there and dig out the safeties, the safeties that are paid to make tackles and you go out there and you thump them hard and you see (RB) Arian (Foster) or any of the other running backs go out there and make big gains; I take pride in that. I probably take more pride in that than I do in catching the football."
(on what it means for the offense to be healthy) "It can mean a lot of yards and a lot of points. I think we're explosive. We all know our roles, we've been together for a while and we've been in this system for a while, so there's no reason that we can't go out there and put up big numbers and move the ball."
Head Coach Gary KubiakRunning Backs Coach Chick HarrisRB Ben Tate
Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on if there's any update on RB Arian Foster's injury) "He just tightened up this morning his hamstring. I didn't have him do anything this afternoon. We'll see. We'll see tomorrow. It's kind of one of those deals where hopefully we caught it before he did something that could have had him out for a while. We'll see. He'll be day-to-day."
(on if there's any update on the guys who got sick) "We sent them home, actually. They were feeling so bad, sent Andre (Johnson) home, sent OD (Owen Daniels) home and then the young man, (Steven) Friday, the rookie here. We've got them in bed and hopefully this thing doesn't keep occurring. It's been about three days in a row now, but hopefully they're back. Everybody that's had the problem has come right back the next day."
(on if he's concerned about RB Arian Foster's injury) "I'm really not. Hopefully we caught it before something happened that would be a problem. He's had this issue before. If you remember two years ago as a rookie, he had a little bit of this issue, so we'll be smart with him and get him back as quick as we can."
(on if RB Arian Foster might change the way he runs due to an injury) "He looked so dang good this morning. He practiced about 40 minutes this morning. He looked really good. I know he's had a good offseason. I know he worked really hard and I think Arian (Foster) will be fine. Hopefully it's just a strain and we're okay."
(on TE Owen Daniels' illness) "We sent him home. He and Andre (Johnson) are both sick and (Steven) Friday, the young free agent. We sent them all home."
(on if he's concerned about the sickness getting around to the team) "I know. You worry about it because it seems like we wake up every day and we got about four or five guys we start the day off with it. Hopefully we're done with it, but we'll see."
(on if there are any other health issues) "No, we're fine. Like I said, just Arian (Foster), but everybody else is out here this afternoon, so we're okay."
(on keeping the team concentrated tomorrow with the fans there) "It helps when the fans are here because it's a long hard hot day out there. We need to get everybody in pads tomorrow. We kind of took at look at the guys that hadn't been with us today and how they were out there physically and I thought they looked pretty good. We'll just come back and bang for a couple days, but keep an eye on those guys too. Are they ready to go as long as the other guys? I think we're still in that situation probably for a couple more days."
(on FB Lawrence Vickers) "He looked good. It's just one day. He's obviously a hundred-miles-an-hour type of guy. You can tell he's an emotional guy, plays hard. We didn't have pads on today so I think he'll show up tomorrow, so we'll watch him tomorrow."
(on RB Steve Slaton) "I'm impressed with him because let's think about it; he ran for 1,200 yards as a rookie and all of a sudden things don't work out. He's got some problems putting the ball on the ground. He goes through a serious surgery. A guy comes in for him and leads the league in rushing. He's had a lot of reasons to say, 'Oh, boy.' but he hasn't. He's worked hard, he's having a good camp and he's here every day busting his tail. I'm impressed. Steve can play in this league and he can be successful in this league. I think he's got his priorities in line. I think he'll be fine."
(on the difference in CB Kareem Jackson from last year to this year) "The scheme that we're running is the one that Kareem (Jackson) ran in college. Instantly, there's a comfort zone for him right there. He's taken to (Defensive Backs Coach) Vance (Joseph) and what we're doing. It's like I told you guys, good players go through rough years or rookie years and then they come right back, play with confidence and that's what I see going on right now early on."
(on CB Brandon Harris) "He's doing really good. He's kind of playing the nickel. When we drafted him, we thought he was ready to play inside in the slot in those situations right away. Bring him along outside, he's done a good job, very smart kid, good player. There's a lot of people back there right now, so we'll see how it pans out."
(on if CB Brandon Harris plays like a coach's son) "Yeah, he's a very sharp kid. He really is. We knew a lot about him. Andre (Johnson) obviously knew him. He played for his dad and all those things, but this kid plays very good football at Miami too."
(on what he has a chance to do with this team this year) "We'll see. It's very competitive back there. The nickel position in our business is really a starting position nowadays. That's just the way it is because you play so much nickel and dime defensively. I think that's probably where he's trying to fit right now and find his role, but special teams will be a big key."
(on if there's a difference with CB Johnathan Joseph and FS Danieal Manning) "I did. I could just tell two veterans are back in. GQ (Glover Quin) is very comfortable leading the way right now helping Danieal (Manning) get going with what we're doing, but you could sense the presence of two guys that have been doing it in this league and doing it well."
(on WR Andre Johnson's finger injury) "He came out and worked out today. I don't know if you saw him, but he was actually working out. He was feeling so bad so we stopped him, but he'll be fine. They just wanted to stay away from infection. He could probably practice in a couple days, but I'll make a decision. We'll see."
Running Backs Coach Chick Harris(on if it's worse for a running back to get a tweaked hamstring) "It's worse for any athlete to get a nick like that. It doesn't do you well. You've just got to go out, and just rehab, get it ready again and go. Our people will get (Arian Foster) ready, and he'll be ready because he's conscientious about work. He doesn't like to be out. He doesn't like to be out. That's one of the number one things about him. He wants to work. All last year he wouldn't go to the training room because he wanted to be on the field with the players, so that's all we're going to be doing. We're going to be looking at him taking his rehab, getting himself ready to go, and be ready to go again. That's all."
RB Ben Tate(on how he would assess the first week of camp) "I think it's gone well. I think this is probably the best I've ever felt going into camp just conditioning-wise, training wise, doing extra work and just knowing the game a lot more."
(on if he needs to have a great camp) "You need to have a great camp every day for everybody. Somebody can come and take your job so every day is a struggle."
(on the increasing reps he's had this week) "When I first got here, I had a lot of reps, second year had a lot of reps so every rep you have is a chance to get better. You have to look at it as you have to be perfect every play."
(on going against the 3-4 defense in practice) "Yeah, I mean I say for myself going against a 4-3 (defense) all the time, now having a 3-4 (defense) makes it a lot easier because you've been working against 4-3's every year but now 3-4 is every day. It's just a lot different. I think what (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) is doing and what everybody else is doing is a good look for us."