After the Texans practiced Fridya at the Methodist Training Center, 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 KubiakRB Arian FosterRB Derrick WardDE J.J. WattOLB Mario Williams
Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on RB Arian Foster's injury status) "Good practice. It's a polish day for us on Friday. We've had a good week. Arian did not practice today, but went extremely hard in his rehab and took a big step forward. What I'm going to do is I'm going to work him out in the morning. He will be a game-time decision. With what we were doing on Friday, I don't think he missed much. He worked really hard with (Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Geoff Kaplan) Kap, so we'll see."
(on how difficult it is for RB Arian Foster to not go through any reps this week) "Well, we put him through reps in his own way. He's over there running plays with (Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Geoff Kaplan) Kap and we've got a regiment that he goes through. I'm not worried about Arian knowing what to do. He can line up and play. We'll be honest with ourselves as far as the assessment goes, and a lot of that will have to do with how he works for us tomorrow morning, but he worked very, very hard today."
(on his plan for using the other running backs if RB Arian Foster can't play on Sunday) "They could possibly all play. Obviously, (RB) Derrick (Ward) would be the starter and (RB Ben) Tate would play and (RB) Steve's (Slaton) prepared to play, too, so we could use them all three."
(on if there are any other injury issues) "No, we're good. We're fine. We had no problems. We're good."
(on if the team is where he wanted them to be at the start of the season) "I think we've got about all we could get out of the last seven weeks. I've said over and over again, we were concerned with what we were getting when it was time to go to camp. I think every coach was, but I've been impressed with how far we've come, defensively, just throughout camp; and offensively, we were nicked up majority of camp, but we started to get healthy toward the later half. We've had the same amount of time as everybody else and we've had a good camp. I don't think you ever know until you step out there for real, but we're looking forward to it."
(on finally starting the season) "It seems like it's actually come quicker than it has in the past years, to me, because of no offseason, so camp kind of flew by. A lot of big games this weekend and we've got ours to take care of, so we've got to be as good as we can be."
(on what September 11 means to this country) "It's special, and I know the league is doing a lot of great things to honor those that we lost on that day. I know exactly where I was that morning. We just through playing the New York Giants and I walked in my office. It brings back memories, so it will be nice for the game to honor those people this weekend."
(on being excited to play on Sunday) "It's a long week. Opening week is so difficult because you've got such a long time between your last preseason game and when you actually play. They're tired of practicing, so [we're] having to push them a little bit today. They work very, very hard to go out there 16 times and try to win a game. That's the difference in football and baseball and basketball. We play a lot of games, but really it's not a lot of games when you're talking about pro sports. They're excited to go out there and see where they're at, I can tell. Let's go see."
(on RBs Derrick Ward and Ben Tate) "Ward is very smart. He has excellent pass protection as far as the things you've got to pick up in this league to be a three-down back. He's a big guy, he's tough to tackle. He's always moving forward with the ball. I like guys like that with our scheme. Tate's more of a big-play person, [he's] got speed, those type of things, has the ability out in the open field to possibly have some big runs. That's probably where they're a little different from that standpoint."
(on how he determines which running backs to use on Sunday) "Well, I just believe you go in with the rotation, but if one of them is playing well, he plays. That's the way I believe. If I like the way a guy's playing and he's not tapping his head, he's going to stay out there for a while, so we'll see how that pans out."
(on who the captains are this season) "Offensively, no surprise, (QB) Matt (Schaub) and (WR) Andre (Johnson) are the offensive captains. Special teams-wise was (K) Neil (Rackers) and defensively it was (ILB) DeMeco (Ryans) and Scooby, (DE) Antonio Smith. Those are our five captains starting the season."
(on ILB DeMeco Ryans' health) "He's ready to go. We may keep an eye on him, numbers-wise, how many plays he plays, but he's assured me he's ready to go. In practice this week, it sure looks that way."
RB Arian Foster(on if he feels better today) "Yeah, I feel better than yesterday."
(on if he has a better idea on if he will play on Sunday) "It's going to be one of those game-time decisions on how it feels, so we're just going to have to wait and see."
(on if he was pushing his hamstring today) "Yeah, I opened up and it felt good with minimal pain or any kind of hindrance. It felt good. Like I said, we're just going to go and see how I feel tomorrow and same thing the next day."
(on if it's hard for him to convince the coaches that he's ready to play) "I think the coaches and I both know that if you rush this injury back – they've been coaching this game for 25 years and this isn't their first hamstring and it isn't going to be their last – if you rush back a hamstring, it's going to bite you again and it's going to keep biting you. It's just the nature of being a runner, so we've got to be smart with it, but as of now, it feels good."
RB Derrick Ward(on how he feels about playing on Sunday) "I feel good. I always practice like I'm going to play a lot, so it's no different from past years. I'll be ready to go on Sunday."
(on if he's at where he was last year) "Yeah, I think so. I think I am. I've had a great training camp. I feel fresh. I feel good. I have a better understanding of the offense, obviously being underneath it for a year now, and I'm just excited. Year eight for me going in and I'm just ready to go."
(on if he's helped RB Ben Tate and the other young running backs) "Ben, he's learned real fast. He had all last year off getting back from his injury, and this year, he's turned some heads out there in camp. He's still young. He's still raw and with a couple games underneath his belt, he'll be a good player in this league."
(on if he now knows what he means to this team) "Yeah, I have. It feels like home. Last year, coming in here a week before the first game – actually, this time last year I was just getting here – so this year I feel more comfortable. I know everybody by first names now and it's good to be part of an organization that wants to win and wants to compete and wants to make it to the next level."
(on the depth in the backfield compared to what he had when he was with the New York Giants) "It's almost exactly the same. When I was in New York, we had me, (RB) Brandon Jacobs, (RB) Ahmad Bradshaw, (RB) Reuben Droughns, proven guys that have played in this league. Here you have me, (RB) Arian (Foster), (RB) Steve (Slaton), all 1,000-yard rushers. Then you have the young guy, (RB) Ben Tate, coming in lighting up some things. It's going to be a fun year to see how they use us all."
DE J.J. Watt(on if he's anxious to see what it's like playing in the regular season) "I'm excited. I'm not nervous; I'm not anxious; I'm just excited. That's how I would describe it and I'm using those emotions to get me jacked up and ready to go. If I go out there nervous or scared, I'm not going to have any success and this team can't have me playing scared or nervous. I'm just going to go out there and do what I've been doing my whole life, play the game of football, fly around and have fun. I'm coming hard. I'm not going to let my first play be memorable for the wrong reasons. I'm going to try to make that one special."
(on if it takes away anything knowing that QB Peyton Manning won't play on Sunday) "Not one bit. A quarterback's a quarterback and it's an NFL quarterback. Kerry Collins is a great quarterback and I believe on the stat sheet, they still count it as a sack, whether it's Kerry Collins or Peyton Manning. I'm just excited about the opportunity to play in the NFL and to go out there and try and get after somebody."
(on where he's at comprehending the 3-4 defense) "I feel comfortable. They've done a great job presenting the information to us in a way that's easy for us to understand, easy to learn and I've done a lot of studying. The coaches have helped me out and all the players have helped me out. I feel very comfortable with where we're at and I can go out there and just fly around."
OLB Mario Williams(on going up against the Colts without QB Peyton Manning) "My biggest thing is just going out and playing ball, if it's Peyton or whoever. It doesn't matter to me. We're going to go out and play all we can and do everything we can to win, no matter who it is at quarterback."
(on where the defense is at in the scheme) "I think it's definitely progressing, so it's only going to get better. Pretty much, I'm just going to go out there and play the first game and get things moving."
(on if this is the best team he's been on since he's been with the Texans) "We thought that every year. We've got to go out there and prove it. I'm really not with the thinking game. I'm about just going out there and playing hard."
(on if he's excited play on Sunday) "Of course I'm excited. It's the first game. This is the first time we can get out here and play ball. I'm excited about it and every game it's the same way."