Texans head coach Gary Kubiak answered questions from the media at his weekly press conference Monday afternoon in Reliant Stadium. The following is a trancsript of his interview.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on the injury to FS Danieal Manning) "Danieal's (Manning) the big concern today. He did have surgery today. They finished here not long ago. What will take place is we'll start the rehab process. We think there's an opportunity for him to come back this year. Time frame-wise, I can't give you an answer on something like that right now, but I think we're definitely talking about four weeks, somewhere four weeks and beyond, whatever that's going to be. We'd love to wait on Danieal. We'd love to get him back before this season's over, so we did the work today and then we'll see how the progression goes over the course of the next three weeks and see if that's going to be a possibility, but right now we think it is. That's good news."
(on what the doctors did to FS Danieal Manning's leg) "Fibula. I don't know exactly what they did, but I know that they felt like he had an opportunity to come back if they went in there and fixed it right away today, so that's the direction we went."
(on who will replace FS Danieal Manning) "Well, (Shiloh) Keo came in and played. First off, Troy (Nolan) becomes our starter. Troy played very well in the game, has been playing well for us. Keo played a lot. We do have a couple other options. Torri Williams has the ability to possibly come up, but right now, we really like what we see from Brandon Harris. He's a smart player. We think he can go play some safety, so those are the options that we have. We're going to see how things go this week, watch those guys work and decide where we move from there. Having a guy like Brandon up along with (Sherrick) McManis helps us in special teams too. We'll see. We'll see who can handle it the best, but Troy becomes a starter."
(on what he's seen from CB Brandon Harris) "Well, we've been crowded at corner all year long from that standpoint, so that's made it tough on him. He hasn't done nothing wrong. He's done some good things. He's played a little bit, played on special teams. He's kind of caught in a battle with Brice (McCain) every week when we suit guys up as far as special teams go. Bright player, understands schemes, understands what's going on and we think (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) and (Defensive Backs Coach) Vance (Joseph) think that we can catch him up real quick. We're going to take a look and give him an opportunity to do that and work with him over the course of this week."
(on what he likes about FS Troy Nolan) "Well, he's always had a knack for the ball, ya'll know that. When he's played, he's come up with interceptions and come up with big plays. He's played good for (Special Teams Coordinator) Joe (Marciano). The thing for Troy, getting comfortable with the mental part of the game to where that was easy for him so that his talents could go take over. That's been something that we've been looking for. He played upwards of 30 snaps yesterday without any mistakes and that's a very positive sign. I just think they've done a good job with him. (Defensive Backs Coach) Vance (Joseph) has done a great job with the whole back end and also Troy in particular. He's got a lot of confidence. He gives us a chance to make some plays back there. He does a good job of the ball seems to find Troy, so hopefully he'll get in there and get some turnovers."
(on the Texans being able to control their own destiny in the division) "I don't really look at that too much. We got so far to go. Obviously, we feel good coming out of yesterday. We played very well. We got another division game coming up right here, but I think we better just stay focused on what we're doing week to week right now. We get a chance to come back home now after a couple of tough road games, so we're looking forward to that. But I think it's way too early to start thinking that way. We just need to worry about how we play and yesterday we played well."
(on if the team approached the second half differently against Tennessee) "No, our focus was good yesterday. We went in at halftime. We're all business, but we have been. We've been that way. We just came out and made some plays. Defensively, they got a first down. I think in their first three plays, they converted a third-and-1. We stepped up, got off the field. We had poor field position offensively, but we stepped up, made some plays, ran the ball very well on that drive. It just gets down to execution and making plays and yesterday we kind of found a way to do it all day long instead of in spots. We just played well across the board."
(on if there's a possibility WR Andre Johnson and FB James Casey will play this week) "Yeah, I think there's definitely a possibility with both of them. James (Casey) should be back at practice on Wednesday if there's no setbacks here over the course of the next two days. The plan is for Andre (Johnson) to practice this week. That is the plan as of right now and we'll see how that goes, so they both have an opportunity this week. Andre had a really good day of work today, just me talking to the trainers, I wasn't out there, so we're expecting him to get back on the practice field with his teammates at some point this week."
(on if the Achilles or the elbow injury is bothering ILB DeMeco Ryans more) "Well, he'd come off the Achilles. The elbow bothered him. I think the elbow's doing much better, had a little hamstring issue. DeMeco's doing fine. I know I've seen some comments people wondering rep-wise what's going on. We played a team yesterday that had us in dime. Our defense was on the field for I think 58 plays and 40 of them were in dime playing against nickel and Cush (Brian Cushing) is the route we go. Cush is our guy and we go with DBs from there. That's just the way the game is panned out. I think he played 15, 16 snaps yesterday. That's because we were in a lot of nickel defense."
(on if there is a better linebacker in the AFC than ILB Brian Cushing) "I tell you, he's playing extremely well. I get to see a lot of players because I'm looking at the defensive side of the ball all the time. He's got to be up there with them. He's playing extremely well, playing with a lot of confidence. He's working very, very hard, had practiced well. He's on top of what he's doing right now. He's learned a great deal of football, in my opinion, from (Linebackers Coach) Reggie (Herring) and what we're doing. It just continues to show up in the way he's playing. He drew a tough assignment yesterday. In nickel, he's out there trying to cover Chris (Johnson) out of the backfield. Chris got him a couple times, but for the most part, Cush played extremely well once again."
(on why he didn't play QB Matt Leinart during the end of the game yesterday) "I was asked that after the game. I don't know. It's my belief as a coach. I think it was Bob (Allen) I talked to yesterday, but maybe one these days I'll change. He's our starter. He's our leader and I want him out there directing the traffic, getting everybody in the right spot. It's my job to protect him in those situations. I'm not going to take a lot of chances with him, but I hope he plays every snap for us this year and that's nothing against Matt (Leinart), my backup or anything like that. Matt's (Schaub) the leader of the football team and whoever's out there, I want him leading the group. It's just my beliefs as a coach, so maybe that'll change one day."
(on FB Lawrence Vickers and dividing the carries between RBs Arian Foster and Ben Tate) "It's a feel. We're going to let Arian (Foster) go. I try to watch him after he touches it a couple times and then I'll say something to (Running Backs Coach) Chick (Harris) like, 'Put Ben in.' Or Chick will say, 'Hey, that's four plays in a row.' So we try to just have a feel for it. Obviously it helps. When you come back with a fresh set of legs like Ben, Ben's got a lot of speed. What did he average yesterday, six yards a carry or something like that? It's a great situation for us as a football team. You don't want to take the ball out of Arian's hands. He seems to play better the more he touches it, but at the same time, I think it's been a progression getting Arian back to the top of his game and he's definitely heading that way right now. We'll need them both. It was good to see (Derrick) Ward get some carries yesterday. As far as (Lawrence) Vickers, what a big step from last week to this week not only for us offensively, but also for us special teams-wise. He's very physical. He's starting to grasp what we do and how we coach a fullback. I think you're going to see growth from him throughout the season, so that's what I'm really excited about. James (Casey) comes back, we'll use them both. There's a place for both of them in what we do."
(on how pleased he was with the offense yesterday) "We were good as a team. Offensively we got off to a slow start. We had two three-and-outs and we were facing I think a big third-and-10. Arian (Foster) made a great play and then from there, I don't think we got stopped all day. You're out there as a football team, you're always searching for perfection. That's why you practice. That's why you work. Hopefully you find it a couple times along the way during the season, but that's what you're out there battling for. We found some good stuff in all three phases yesterday."
(on if he's excited to get WR Andre Johnson and FB James Casey back, especially with how well the offense played yesterday) "Well, we moved the heck out of the ball two, three weeks ago against Oakland. We moved the heck out of the ball that day. We just did not score the points or make the keys plays that we made yesterday. There's been good ball movement, but are we excited to get those guys back? You bet because I think it does make us tougher to defend. We do have a lot of options and the versatility of James (Casey) in what we do and knowing how people play Andre, yeah you want those two guys back on the field. Hopefully they're back there this week."
(on what changed offensively last week) "I just think we did the little things. We had a big pow wow last week as a group. I don't think we were doing some of the little extra effort things, some of the little finishing things that turn 3- and four-yard runs into six and seven-yard runs, so we challenged our guys and we played very well up front. Our receivers were very unselfish in the game. Jacoby (Jones) blocking, Kevin (Walter) blocking, (Derrick) Mason blocking did a very nice job, so I think it was a group effort. Usually those type of things happen because you're having special effort on the football field from a lot of people, not just one group and that's kind of what took place yesterday. I just think it was a little bit of detail and staying committed to what we were doing."
(on RBs Arian Foster and Ben Tate being ranked in the top 10 in the AFC) "Yeah, that's a heck of a deal. It's ended up that way strictly because of our problems physically, but that's a nice problem to have. We got a lot of confidence in both of them and we try to keep a fresh one on the field. The thing I'm encouraged about, they're both doing a good job in pass protection. That was something that I was a little concerned about Ben going into the season. He's grown up from that standpoint. It was important that our quarterback didn't get beat up yesterday and he came out clean, so that was a big plus also."
(on if he was worried when K Neil Rackers made a tackle on special teams yesterday) "Yeah, I told (Special Teams Coordinator) Joe (Marciano) that. I don't want to take away his aggression. I love it, but he's got to be smart because we don't need to be looking for another kicker. We may have to put a leash on him or something. I don't know. Yeah, I did have that discussion with Joe this morning."
(on if he's thought about the fact that the Texans may have to win the division to make the playoffs) "I'm not trying to avoid it. I really don't look at that stuff right now. There's so far to go and in the National Football League, most of the schedules are back half loaded for division football games if I'm right. That's where all the movement takes place. When you play in division games, they almost count for two games when it's all said and done. We haven't even entered the back half of the season yet, so we'll see what happens. You never know, but I try not to get too focused on that. I'm just worried about how we play and try to build off yesterday and continue to move forward."
(on if he's thought about moving CB Kareem Jackson to safety) "No, that has not been a topic as of right now. Hopefully, we stay as healthy as we can as we try to get Danieal (Manning) back and then we'll take a look and see what happens with those guys I was talking about."
(on if he's thought about moving CB Jason Allen to safety) "The topic did come up. He's playing very well. He played yesterday I think 20-something plays. Boy, he made a great play on that one deep ball I think when the score was 10-0. Sometimes you can start moving too many people and create more problems. We've been playing good at corner. We need to stay there. Troy (Nolan) has been playing good at safety, so it's not like we're looking for a guy who has started games or we have a guy on our team that hasn't started games. Troy has started some games. He's played a lot, so we feel comfortable with the initial move. Now we need to work toward the depth, so we'll do it that way."
(on how much he needs the tight ends to be involved) "Well, it's very important. It all depends how we're getting played. Things can change. Yesterday, we made big plays with our tight ends. Joel (Dreessen) continues to play well. OD (Owen Daniels) has played well all year long. Those two guys play a lot of football too. I think OD was in the 60s yesterday. Joel was in the 40s. We were able to get them both loose in the passing game a little bit. When they're making big plays, we're usually running the ball well because we're getting people up in the box and our boot game is working and those type of things. OD made a great play on that one throw back we made to him, so they continue to do good things for us and the young kid (Garrett Graham) came in and played too yesterday. I think he played seven or eight plays."
(on how important the tight ends are) "Well, they're important to our running game, so they've become important in our throws. Most of the things we do throwing the ball come exactly off the same look that we may have just run a run off of. All of a sudden, they're releasing, so that's the way we're built. If we're running the ball good, usually those guys are making good plays."
(on QB Matt Schaub's performance) "Yeah, especially when you look at the fact, I'm sure you guys know this, but he started 0-for-3, so he was 18 for his next 20. Psychologically sometimes that's a little hard for guys to do when they start a game like that. He got through healthy. We were protecting him well. When Matt's throwing the ball 23, 24, 25 times in a game, we're usually playing good football and to me, that's what happened yesterday."
(on how he keeps the players focused on just the next game) "Just stay after them. I mentioned after the game, I thought probably the best thing last week, the coaches did a great job of keeping our guys very positive. We've seen some very good stuff from our players. Have we been finishing a few games? Maybe we need to make a few more plays in the past few weeks. Yes, we did, but we also see some great effort from them and detail in what they're doing. We stayed positive last week, let them know that just stay focused, keep working and we'll make those next two or three plays that'll be the difference. They've been very good, playing with a lot of energy. I thought we played with a lot of emotion yesterday as a football team and hey, let's go out there and see if we can do it again. We need to build off of it. Don't be afraid to come back the next week and have the same type of effort. We just got to build off of what we did yesterday and hopefully there's some more to come."