Texans head coach Gary Kubiak answered questions from the media at a Tuesday afternoon press conference in Reliant Stadium. The following is a transcript of his interview.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak(on the team's injury situation after Monday night's game) "(T Rashad) Butler's got a hamstring (injury), the same one that was bothering him early in camp that he came back from. He's on a day-to-day basis as of right now. We had two concussions in the game, both (RB) Derrick Ward and (ILB) Cheta (Ozougwu). Derrick is doing fine today. I think Derrick will be just fine. Cheta actually spent the evening in the hospital. I was over at Methodist with him this morning and his family. He's doing better, but obviously took a pretty good shot. Let's see, where do we go next? Who else? What are the other ones?"
(on G Antoine Caldwell and G Kasey Studdard) "We're still trying to evaluate them as of right now. Caldwell's is a sprain, typical high-ankle sprain that you never know exactly how long it's going to be. It's going to take some time. Studdard's is actually more than that and it's still being evaluated as we speak."
(on how the injury situation at running back will affect practice this week) "Well, obviously we're sitting there with (RB) Derrick Ward (injured), so that's probably going to be a struggle with this quick turnaround to get to New Orleans. (RB) Arian (Foster), I'm hoping Arian is on the field in the morning when we practice. That has been our plan all along. (RB Ben) Tate is moving very slowly. His progress coming back has been very slow, so I can't sit here and tell you that he's going to be ready to go. I sure hope he is. We were hoping that he would be ready to get back on the field. Obi's (RB Chris Ogbonnaya) fine. He's just beat up from last night's game and of course (RB Javarris) Williams is still here. (RB Steve) Slaton's going to miss some more time. Steve will probably not be ready for New Orleans, so we've got some issues at that position and at the offensive line position as we wake up tomorrow, probably more so than anything."
(on if he was worried about ILB Cheta Ozougwu's concussion) "When I watched the film, the opening kickoff (of the) second half I think is when it might've happened. He kept playing and took a couple more shots, and it really wasn't until late in the middle of the fourth quarter that he complained. I think he actually said something to (ILB Darryl) Sharpton. Sharpton came over and told the trainers, and we didn't like the way he was acting. We evaluated him after the game, didn't like what was going on and took him to the hospital. He spent the night at the hospital. He was dressing and doing fine when I went to see him and his family a while ago, but obviously took a pretty good shot. It's going to take some time."
(on adding players this week) "Well I think we're at the point right now, I can't speak for the addition part and stuff like that but I can say here, when you get to this point at training camp you've got to get creative when you start having problems like this because you're three weeks away from putting your team together. Yeah, I'd love to go get two or three running backs and a couple of offensive lineman; that sounds easy, but that's not the way, it's not as easy as it sounds. What we'll do is have to get creative in what we're doing going into the New Orleans game. We'll have to adjust practice, what we're doing in practice, how we're practicing, how many groups are practicing. When I get through with you guys that's what I have to start doing today."
(on who stood out on film) "On the offense, I think a couple of things stood out to me. (FB) James Casey stood out to me. Obviously, he's trying to replace a heck of a player in (former Texans FB) Vonta (Leach) and we really liked what he did. He not only played the fullback position, and played it well in our opinion, he played tight end also, so we were impressed with James. I was impressed with (WR) Lestar Jean. He's been making plays at camp, got a couple of chances to make plays and made them, so we're going to move him up. He's going to get more reps. Then, I thought the young quarterback - it was good to see (QB) Matt Leinart go in and get going. I thought he played pretty good. I know he can still play better, but that was good to get him going again. I thought (QB) T.J. (Yates) handled himself well. He's 6-for-12, had some bad plays, but didn't hurt the team with those plays. He threw the ball away, those type of things, kept his team going, and then made some big plays at the end. So, I was impressed with what he did.
"On defense, I could stay here for a while. I just liked our effort, our total effort on defense across the board. I thought it was exceptional. We got to the quarterback, we made plays on the front end, the back end, the linebackers. If I start pointing out guys, I could point out a lot of linebackers. (ILB Darryl) Sharpton, (ILB Xavier) Adibi played well; obviously (OLB Bryan) Braman, I think everybody's talking about him and his effort. The ability to rush the passer is exciting for all of us. (OLB) Jesse Nading played extremely well and (OLB) Brooks Reed didn't have the sacks, so to speak, but when you went back and watched the game, I was very encouraged by him. I thought he did a nice job. On the back end, (CB Sherrick) McManis continues to stand out. Guys that do it at camp keep doing it and he's been that way throughout camp. (CB Brandon) Harris, the young corner, did some good things in the game. (DE) Tim Jamison did some good things, but overall I think it was a very good defensive effort."
(on the return game) "Well, we were trying to be very simple when we were playing our young guys from the special teams standpoint. It wasn't important that we went out there and saw a bunch of (TE) Joel Dreessen and some of those guys that are key special teams players for us. (Special Teams Coordinator) Joe (Marciano) is trying to look at a lot of young guys. Obviously we needed to look at (SS Quintin) Demps. Demps' chances of making this team will hinge a lot on his ability to return, as will (WR Derrick) Townsel, so we wanted to look at them. It was not good enough in the game. It was kind of sloppy, especially the kickoff returns. We did have one nice punt return to end the game, but I think some of that has to do with all of the people we've played. There were some bright spots too. Watching (OLB) Brooks Reed cover kicks, that was a bright spot. (FB) James Casey did a good job once again in the few special teams plays that he had. (FS) Shiloh Keo showed up, just his effort and everything. He needs to tackle better, but the way he went downfield. (OLB Bryan) Braman showed up in special teams, too. That's what we're trying to do, just trying to get a feel of who we think has got the best chances to make this team."
(on how OLB Mario Williams played) "Well, I think he played 15 plays. Our 'ones' didn't really play much football, and the ball went away from him a great deal. The three or four passes that he was in the game on were three-step drop kind of stuff so it was quick game stuff. It's a learning process for Mario. I'm encouraged by what I saw; the coaches are still encouraged, and obviously he's going to play a lot more football this week. It is different playing linebacker; and watching him warm up with linebackers before the game was a little interesting. (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) and (Linebackers Coach) Reggie (Herring) are still encouraged and hopefully some of those sacks and some of those things that happened with the second group, we start to get with the first group as we play more football. I know Mario is excited with what we're doing. I talked to him at halftime coming out of the tunnel and he told me that one of the biggest factors in standing up in our stadium with noise and everything was getting off on cadence and coming off the ball quicker as compared to having your hand down and your ear a little closer to the football. I think you'll see him continue to improve."
(on how rookie DE J.J. Watt played in his debut) "He was good. He was very good. We only played him like we did the 'ones' because he's done such a good job in practice. He was very active; gets his hands up, and I think he's going to knock a lot of balls down. He had a chance for a sack that (NT) Earl (Mitchell) ended up getting, but he was a big factor on that play. He doesn't play like a rookie; he's a very mature young man, so we'll up his reps this week."
(on QBs Matt Leinart and T.J. Yates) "I thought Matt played good. I thought he could have played really good. He missed a few throws in the quick game with some things and he got dinged around a little bit, but I liked his composure and the way he handled his group. He had a bunch of young kids out there with him and he handled himself well. The one interception he had, the ball got tipped, and you've got to overcome that. I thought for the amount of time he's missed as a player - I mean, he has not played very much football - he is progressing very nicely. T.J., as I mentioned, I was impressed. He's struggled in practice the last few days as his reps went down, but when he went in the game, he acted like belonged. He bought himself some time until he had a chance to make a couple of big plays and that's what you have to do as a quarterback. He made sure he didn't make bad plays, and when he had a chance at the end he made a couple of big ones, so he did a good job."
(on the play of NTs Earl Mitchell and Shaun Cody) "Well, Shaun didn't play that much. I think Earl played more snaps. Earl and (OLB) Brooks (Reed) played more snaps than anybody in the game. Earl was very impressive. Earl played really good. Shaun played well, too; he only played 16 snaps. We've been very encouraged with Earl. Probably the biggest thing for us in Earl as compared to last year is Earl's conditioning. Earl looks like he can play a lot of plays right now; at this time last year that wasn't the case, so he's taken care of his business in the offseason."
(on how the players have handled the transition to a 3-4 defense) "I think they're excited. It's been that way in practice. They've been making a lot of plays in practice. They have been winning a lot of periods when we get competitive. We've been getting to the quarterback a lot in practice and we did it again last night. The encouraging thing was seeing how many people got there. It wasn't just one guy, and we probably had three or four more (sacks) that we could have had. I think that excites players, to see a scheme that gives them to a chance to make those kinds of plays and that makes them want to come back in this room tomorrow and say, 'What do we do next?' It's a great start by (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) and the defensive staff. They did a hell of a job."
(on WR Lestar Jean) "He's a big body. He's tough to handle when he gets in one-on-one situations, jump balls, those types of things; he tends to find a way to get to the ball. I've been impressed with just his body movements: the way he redirects his body, like on the last play of the game when he gets the P.I. (pass interference) but he still gets in position to make plays. He made a catch on Saturday or Sunday morning, I can't remember what practice it was, the ball was behind and he went back there with one hand. I've had DB's tell me consistently for the last week, 'Coach, this guy is tough to handle,' so it's continuing. I'm going to move him and give him a chance to prove that he'll keep going. We've just been impressed with him, and he's a sharp young man, too."
(on where he'll move WR Lestar Jean up to) "We're going to bump his reps up. He'll be competing right aside (WR Dorin) Dickerson when he wakes up in the morning."
(on the punting competition between Brett Hartmann and Brad Maynard) "They got a chance to punt a bunch last night, but I thought they both kind of did what we thought they would do. Maynard can directional punt and is a really good inside-the-20 kind of guy. Hartmann, the young man, has got a bigger leg, has hit some of the bomb-type punts, but he has been inconsistent and that kind of held true last night. That's kind of the way camp has been going. Kickoffs are huge for Hartmann. Can he kick the ball out of the end zone? Do we know, if he kicks off for us, that people are going to be starting off on the 20, or he is going to be inconsistent doing that? All of those things will factor in; and being (K) Neil's (Rackers) holder is important too. We have to make sure he feels good about who's holding for him on kicks."
(on K Neil Rackers) "He did good. Actually, (P Brad) Maynard held for both the long field goals."
(on the newly-signed LS Scott Albritton) "Yeah, he did a good job. We went to Baylor and we couldn't find one, so we went to CSU (Colorado State University). We picked him Saturday night at midnight and he came in and did a good job."
(on the consistency of K Neil Rackers) "He's been consistent. What was he last year - 37-of-40? I think the other three were maybe a yard or yard-and-a-half different to where he's 40-for-40. He's been very consistent. He's come back stronger this year. I don't know if y'all noticed, he worked really hard on himself this offseason and took care of himself physically."
(on the offense facing a high-pressure defense this week against New Orleans) "Yeah, the good thing for us is that they're (a) 4-3 (defense). One of the hardest things for our team this year, and for me as a coach, is that all of our teaching is kind of flipped. We used to get a lot of 4-3 work; we play in a 4-3 division, so we would have to go get our 3-4 work on cards or stuff like that, but now it's flipped. We get a ton of 3-4 work (in practice) so we have to do most of our 4-3 work on cards. We need to play a 4-3 team in preseason; Gregg's (New Orleans Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams) is as good as there is out there and presents a lot of problems for you, so it's a good week for us. We need to go against them."
(on what he wants to see this week that he didn't see against the New York Jets) "Just keep moving forward. Obviously, I'm going to play the 'ones' a lot more than I did last night with the quick turnaround, and it's a tough turnaround with the physical nature that we've got going on at some of the positions, but just keep moving forward. Can some of these guys that stepped up last night come back and do it again? Because it's a quick preseason."