After the Texans' first practice of mini-camp, head coach Gary Kubiak spoke to the media.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak
(on what he's looking for during minicamp)"Well, I just told these players we've got probably, I don't know, about five or six big decisions to make before we go to training camp as far as finalizing our 80 (80-man roster) and what we do. So we've got some situations with our team. We wanted to look at some new players; we've got seven new faces out here. We'll probably make a few cuts towards the end of the week, and set our roster and go. Trying to catch up these young guys more than anything, but also trying to make those last few decisions."
(on what the players can show him when they're out on the field amongst themselves) "We're very simple, so we go back and there shouldn't be any problem mentally. We're just really trying to look at their skill level and what they can do and how they practice. Those guys separate themselves when they practice against each other whether they're showing that they can do it or showing you that they can't. Just want three days of competition with just the young players."
(on how important it is for the rookies to get the one-on-one experience) "It's been very good. Like we extended our meetings today; we extended our meetings to two hours, and just went back and watched all of our OTA film. Those guys will ask more questions, like I noticed in meetings this morning a lot more input from players. When they're around those vets, they tend to clam up a little bit. Just trying to get them comfortable because the way they make the team is they've got to beat somebody out or prove to those guys that they can help them win. Just trying to get them as comfortable as we can before July."
(on if rookie RB Ben Tate is catching up) "Yeah, he's been better. He had those three days last week (and) looked really good, I thought, the first day. Conditioning-wise I thought he dropped off a little bit, but he needs this more than anybody and I think and he probably got as much work as anybody today."
(on what rookie DT Earl Mitchell brings to the team) "I think Earl, first off, he's an effort player. He's all about going to the ball and working hard. I think Earl is going to be part of our rotation if he continues what he's doing in pads and what he has done throughout these OTA's. For him to become part of our rotation is pushing somebody's job, so makes it very competitive with that group."
(on rookie WR Dorin Dickerson) "Dickerson, you know, I've liked what I've seen. His condition level is not good enough to play at our level right now. I don't think that's his fault. We're trying to catch him up. He's got to lose about nine, ten pounds and just get to where he can run all day. That's an adjustment for some of those guys coming into this heat. He has struggled with it and (DT) Earl (Mitchell) has struggled with it but I've seen some improvement in Earl. Dickerson is just going to have to improve from here until camp."
(on how rookie WR Dorin Dickerson got onto his radar screen) "Really, just athletically at the combine. I think he verticaled 43 and a half and he ran a 4.38, just athletic skill. I know some guys who've coached him up in college: I knew (former University of Pittsburgh offensive coordinator & current New York Jets quarterbacks coach) (Matt) Cavanaugh who had him a few years ago, (University of Pittsburgh defensive coordinator) Phil Bennett who's up there and of course (University of Pittsburgh head coach) (Dave) Wannstedt. They loved the kid, and were never able to find him a home there as far as where he played. There's a risk there but the athlete is not a risk, he's very athletic."
(on if WR Dorin Dickerson could contribute on special teams) "Well, I think that's what he has to do right now. He's got to prove that he can help us out there. If he was a fifth receiver on game day or a sixth, you can suit six guys if they're all playing special teams. I think that's his number one priority, doing it for (special teams coach) Joe (Marciano) right now."
(on if he tells WR Dorin Dickerson to do what WR Andre Johnson does) "I told him (Dickerson) to follow him (Johnson) around. He's got that big body like Andre. He's got a little stiffness that we've got to work through and I think that comes from just not playing that position for a long time. You know, it's been hard on the kid: linebacker, fullback, tight end, wide receiver. Hopefully we'll settle him down and now he's the best he can be."
(on if he can see Texas A&M and Texas not in the same NCAA conference) "I've been hit with that one the last few days. I'm going to continue to stay away from that one. I hope they play every year. I don't know what's going on. I know they'll do what's best for both schools. Boy, I sure hope Thanksgiving Day we can sit down and watch it for a long time to come."
(on the impact if Texas and Texas A&M went their separate ways) "I really don't know enough about it to give an opinion one way or the other. I'm sure it's really complex and it'll work itself out. But I hope we get to watch them."
(on any potential he sees in rookie G Shelley Smith) "Oh yeah, he's a very athletic young man. He's got all of the tools you're looking for. He's in a very competitive situation because of us going out and getting (G) Wade Smith, and (G Kasey) Studdard really coming on as a player, and (G Mike) Brisiel coming back. He's in the midst of a very, very tough battle. I know a lot about him, I know what he stands for, I know what I'm going to get and I think he's going to play in this league a long time."
(on G Shelley Smith staying mentally focused) "That's kind of what these three days are for. They kind of have a built-in excuse in OTAs, 'Golly, there's so much, coach.' But there's no excuse these three days, we're not doing much at all. It's very simple, and we just want to see some of their athletic ability to take over. So looking forward to getting in there and seeing how we did today."