Texans head coach Gary Kubiak answered questions from the media in a Monday afternoon press conference at Reliant Stadium. The following is a transcript of his interview.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on the injury update) "Johnathan Joseph, he's doing pretty good today. He did not jog with the team, so he's in a day-to-day process. (Sherrick) McManis, the same thing with his hamstring. (Mike) Brisiel was fine. Brisiel did all the postgame work that we do on Monday and Arian (Foster) did not run with the team today. That's where we're at, so we've got three of those guys will be day-to-day."
(on RB Arian Foster's injury) "Well, first off I think we took the step that we were kind of expecting to take. Arian's missed a lot of time. He's coming off the hamstring. We knew going into the game we weren't going to play Arian 40, 50 plays. I talked about that last week. We were hoping to get him 10 to 15 carries. He ended up getting 10. At halftime, he felt like he was tightening up a little bit. He had talked to (Running Backs Coach) Chick (Harris), so we made the decision to move forward with Ben (Tate) and with Steve (Slaton). He is a little sore today. We'll see where he's at Wednesday, but we're going to stay positive here. I think we took a step forward. I think it is going to be a process with Arian working himself back to full speed and carrying the full load, but we're going to keep a positive attitude moving forward and keep the process going. I think it was a step in the process and we'll see where we're at Wednesday."
(on RB Ben Tate) "Well, he's playing really well. As we work Arian (Foster) back into what we're doing and get him back to full speed, Ben's going to probably carry most of the load right now as we work forward with Arian. He responded very well. He's getting better every time out and yesterday the thing that was most encouraging, he played his best football with about 10 minutes left in the game. It was nice to see that, but he's coming along."
(on being number one in defense this season) "Well, it makes you feel real good. I think we're surprised at how quick the process has taken place with no offseason and really (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) just having those guys for seven or eight weeks. When you watch the work that's taking place every day, the energy that we're playing with, how hard we're playing, you know why you're getting much better results. It's very young. They'll have their biggest test of the year this weekend coming up with New Orleans, but I think the biggest thing is we've got a lot of people involved and we're playing extremely hard as a football team, as well as the defense and some good things are happening."
(on the biggest difference in ILB Brian Cushing this year) "I think it's just the work that he's put in to play. Last year, you go through camp and he's not going to play the first month of the season and he was nicked up a great deal. Brian's had a hard time staying on the practice field, not so much the field to playing games. I think Brian's practice habits have been very good. He has not missed any time throughout camp once we got him going and it's reflecting in his play. He's playing very hard. He's all over the field. He was our defensive player of the game and just very effective yesterday."
(on WR Kevin Walter's injury and WR Jacoby Jones performance as a starter yesterday) "Kevin was pretty close yesterday. He actually went out before the game and worked out, but our plan was to go without him as of Saturday morning. We just felt like it was the best thing to do. He did work with the team today, did the running, did everything. I think there's a good chance that Kevin will be back this week. I wouldn't sit here and tell you 100 percent until we know for sure, see how he works through it Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. But if anybody comes back a lot quicker than maybe we thought they could, it would be Kevin. Jacoby went in, he played well, made a couple plays for us, got another nice return also, played a lot of plays in the game and held up physically. It was a good opportunity for him. David (Anderson) played a little bit and then Bryant (Johnson) came in and made a play for us. We've had a few issues on offense with Arian and now with Kevin and we've had some guys step, so that's very important."
(on what he attributes the good running game to) "Well, that starts with the guys up front. I think we can run the ball better than we did yesterday. I thought we ran the ball very good in the fourth quarter when it mattered most, but we did not run the ball very good in the red zone and to me, that's the key to us being good in the red zone. I think it starts up front. Our guys up front play very hard and they're playing well together and we just kind of stayed after it yesterday. We never abandoned it. It was a close football game, 16-13, and then when we needed to line up, everyone knew we needed to run it, we ran it well. I think it's the commitment; it's the guys up front and Ben's (Tate) coming along. I just think he's getting better and better every time out."
(on why QB Matt Schaub was sacked a few times yesterday) "They got some pretty good players on the edge. We did not protect Matt the way we needed to protect him on a week-to-week basis. Not only did we give up three sacks, Matt probably saved us from about three or four more. We have to do a better job in that. Getting back to Matt, I think Matt played extremely well in the game. He managed the game very well, played well and when there was no play to be made, he made sure it didn't get worse. I thought Matt was our offensive player of the game, played extremely well."
(on if there's anything new with RB Derrick Ward's injury) "No, we left him back on the trip, so he stayed back here and rehabbed. We'll start to find out Wednesday, but it's still a day-to-day process."
(on the team's run defense) "Well we played a team yesterday that lined up and threw for 400 and something yards the week before, so you got to go take something away and that's what we did. They come out and threw for 150 yards. When people are spreading you out, you're playing a six-man box, so to speak, you may give up some yards rushing the ball, but we had a plan defensively that we wanted to execute. Obviously, we don't want somebody to average 5.3 or 5.5, whatever it was, a carry, so we've got to improve there, but at the same time, you got to execute your plan to win. We'll get tested this week. This team ran the ball against us pretty darn well in the preseason, so it will be a big test."
(on how he prepares for New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams and the Saints defense) "Yeah, the preseason game was pretty vanilla from that standpoint. I had a chance to watch him against Chicago yesterday on film this morning already. They're very aggressive coming after the quarterback. They can find a way to bring one more than you have. For us, I think the biggest, quickest answer I could give you without getting into where we head during the week is we got to stay on schedule, so that means for us, running the ball. We get second-and-10, third-and-eight, third-and-10, we're in trouble with this group, so it'll be very important that we find a way to have a lot of third-and-three, third-and-four, so hopefully we're unpredictable in what we're doing."
(on if he's worried about RB Ben Tate going up against the Saints defense) "Yeah, but he's improving. In the game yesterday, he had a couple of protection issues that he's got to get better at, but yet there were many that he was excellent at, so I tell Ben, I make the comment to him all the time, I got to get the film to look the same throughout the whole game and then he's on his way, so to speak. He has made improvement in pass protection and yes, we do trust him back there. The only way you're going to get better at that is to be on the field in crunch time, blitz time, those types of things. As of right now, he's going to be out there a great deal."
(on if CB Johnathan Joseph inspired the defense by coming back in the game after getting injured) "Yeah, I think he really did. He got nicked. He was very productive in the game, had the pick, had three pass breakups, four tackles, just a lot of production when he was on the field. For him to go out and then come back in the fourth quarter when we really took control of the game offensively and defensively, I think says a lot about him. I think teams in general look for players to do that type of stuff. (Mike) Brisiel played out there nicked up. The only guy that really didn't contribute in the game yesterday was Matt Leinart. Other than that, we had 45 guys play and have some factor in the football game. It was very hot and I thought we held up pretty good and held up really well, especially the last 10 minutes."
(on ILB DeMeco Ryans being credited with only one tackle) "Well, he was off the field. Some of the things they were doing offensively, spreading the field and you got Reggie (Bush) out there and some of those things, he was coming off the field in some of our substitution packages type of thing, but he played well when we was out there. I think he's getting better and better every week. He's playing with that big elbow brace that he's trying to get accustomed to, trying to come back from the Achilles. I think DeMeco just continue to move forward. He was better this week than he was last week and I think it'll continue to get better each and every week."
(on if it feels different this year to be 2-0 than it did last year) "I think every team's different. That's something we talked about yesterday after the game and we've been here. I just think we've got a lot more poise. Nobody's in here jumping around, high-fiving each other today. We're just in here business as usual trying to correct our mistakes, trying to understand what we're going to have to do better to win in New Orleans. So, from that standpoint, I think it's a little bit more mature group than we've had in the past."
(on what has led to the improvement in special teams this year) "We're more athletic on special teams with the 3-4 defense. The way our team is built, we have more speed, more team speed, a lot of linebackers and then we've got two dang good returners. What Danieal (Manning) did yesterday really sparked the team. He brought that ball out from probably eight yards deep, but it sparked the football team. Jacoby had another nice return, so I just think (Special Teams Coordinator) Joe's (Marciano) got a better group to work with and hopefully we stay healthy. Last year, we were pretty beat up in that area, so off to a good start."