The Texans practiced at the Methodist Training Center on Monday afternoon, and head coach Gary Kubiak, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and some players answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakDefensive Coordinator Wade PhillipsRB Arian FosterILB DeMeco RyansDE Antonio Smith
Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on if he made any cuts today) "I need to go back in and make sure we're on the same page, so ya'll probably know more than I do right now. I know we have to let a few guys (go). We've had to put a few guys on IR, but I've got to go back and get with the situation right now, so I apologize. I don't want to speak out of turn."
(on RB Arian Foster recovering from his injury quicker than expected) "Like I said, it's a concern until he gets back out here and we go, but all indications are, through Kap (Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Geoff Kaplan), we know what we're dealing with is similar to what we dealt with at the beginning of camp, so we'll see."
(on ILB DeMeco Ryans' injury) "He's back to work today, working with the first group actually getting some extra work after practice. We'll put him through a good week of work, but obviously will not play Thursday."
(on if there are still a lot of players that can make the team) "Yeah, no doubt. That's the plan this week is to really try to answer some questions here in this last preseason game. We're going to play our young guys and be real simple, let them play. Hopefully they answer those questions for us. There's some tough choices to make."
(on what the toughest choices are going to be) "I think the secondary is a very difficult one for us because we're healthy back there, we've got a big group to begin with. That's obviously one. Wide receiver is obviously one. Backup offensive linemen right now with some of the things we've got going on. There's some good battles going on, but it's just important to give them all a chance to make this football team."
(on the pressure the defensive front is putting on) "It's been good. It's come from everybody. Pressure's a scheme; it's believing in a scheme. Obviously, (Defensive Coordinator) Wade's (Phillips) scheme has gotten there for many, many years, not just this preseason and our guys believe in it. We've got a lot of guys pitching in, so that's been very encouraging."
(on if the defense is where he wants it to be) "That's as good as it gets from an offensive standpoint in this League. Considering what we went through this offseason, not having our players and how much ground (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) and the defense has made up, I think has been excellent. Obviously, we got to get ready to go next week, but there's been a lot of progress made."
(on if he's worried about ILB DeMeco Ryans missing the entire preseason) "It concerns me. I think everybody has to play to be at their optimum level, so to speak, going into the regular season, but there's nothing you can do about it. We were bringing him along with the Achilles and of course we had the elbow. DeMeco's played a lot of football in this League, so I'm not worried about that, but it's just repetition. We'll have to do everything we can to get him as close to game reps as we can between now and Indianapolis."
(on if it's a testimony to the coaches or players on the way the defense is performing) "I think it's everybody. I think they've all bought into what we're doing and they've all worked extremely hard. I think (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) and his staff's done a good job of not giving them too much, saying let's get good at this and get good at some things before we move on, so I think the plan has been good all along."
(on FB James Casey) "He gives us flexibility as an offensive football team. He can do a lot of things, that's obvious, but he's still got to do the things that we need our fullback to do and that's iso. He struggled a little bit last week, got some penalties he's got to get away from, but he's had a good camp and looking forward to this season with him."
(on CB Johnathan Joseph) "The ball didn't come his way, but he looked good. He's looked good since he's been here. Obviously, we've been a little cautious with him in what we're doing and bringing him back. That's not his fault that we were only on the field that many plays last week. He's a pro. He's played a lot of football. He'll be ready to go."
(on if there is any chance RB Steve Slaton or WR Trindon Holliday will play on Thursday) "Well, I was hoping Steve would be out here today. He was not, made a decision, he was not out here. Trindon practiced today, I'm expecting him to play. Steve, I'll let you know more tomorrow."
(on the competition at the wide receiver position) "It's wide open. We know who our first three are. Historically you would say there are two spots left on this team to make the team at wide receiver. It's been kind of hit-or-miss. There's been guys that have looked good today and then they'll go away and somebody else will come back. Those young guys will play this whole game. What they do for (Special Teams Coordinator) Joe (Marciano) is very important. A couple of them have done some good things for Joe, so we'll see."
(on the offensive line) "Our first group has played good. They've played a lot of football together. Other than (Antoine) Caldwell, they've stayed healthy. We're fortunate to get through the preseason with all those guys healthy, but we've got some concerns after that, so we've got to find some depth."
(on if he's pleased where the team is) "Camp's been good. Considering we missed a whole offseason, I think it's been a good camp. There's still a lot of work to do this week. We've got a lot of questions to get answered. I think the way we've handled the heat, the condition that we're in right now as a football team has been pretty good."
(on RB Arian Foster) "Like I said, I'm concerned until he gets back out here, but all indications are that we're heading in the right direction. He didn't do anything any different than he did last time, so I'm encouraged. Hopefully everything will be okay."
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips(on if he's surprised how quickly the defense has come along so far) "I think a little bit, yeah. We still made mistakes and I think the players will tell you that. I think the effort is really, really good. I think we overcame some of our mistakes by really just getting after it good. I think that's the first thing we're trying to establish. Everybody says they play hard but there's another level and we're trying to get to that level with those guys and some of them showed that. Then I think that ability showed. We've got some guys with ability and you can tell they're not thinking about as much about what to do. They're letting it go, so that helps."
(on how he got the synergy between him and the players so quickly) "Unfortunately for coaches, sometimes somebody coming in new, that helps. They're looking for something. They're looking for something to help them. Last year, they didn't have a great year, so I think they're looking for something that can help them. We tried to help them that way."
(on if the players have bought in to the defense quicker than expected) "The good thing about a reputation is they believe things before you go in. When I was first coordinator, I had to convince everybody that I knew what I was doing. It does help. It helps that 'Hey, this guy knows what he's doing. If we'll get the things that he says right then it will work.' Now it's got to come through, which it's been doing pretty well for us, so I think that helps everybody buy in."
(on how far OLB Mario Williams is from feeling comfortable at his position) "Yeah, he's real close. I thought he had five rushes where he beat his guy clean last game. You're not going to have many more than that with 20 passes that they threw. I like the way he's playing. I don't know if you saw it during the game, but he jumped over a back. I mean, Ricky Jackson could do that, but I haven't had many, especially at 280 pounds, that has that kind of athletic ability. That fired me up as much as anything. He can do those things and if you can do those things, you can play."
(on how big it is that the defense played well without ILB DeMeco Ryans playing) "We've had a couple starters out. You could see (Johnathan) Joseph come in and play outstanding. We said he would do that, but I don't think Braylon Edwards caught a pass in the game. You'd like to have all your starters, but it's a team game. You got to play good with whoever you have."
(on going up against the Colts in Week 1) "Yeah, we're looking forward to that game. We're working on them some. We've got a whole group getting ready for Minnesota this week, but our other group is looking at the Colts and getting ready for them. I think we're raring to go. We pointed toward the third preseason game to get ready for the season and it looks like we're ready for the season. Now we got to finish up and get going."
(on seeing other defensive players fighting for a spot on the team on Thursday) "It's showing that you can play in the League, number one; number two, make our team and number three, contribute this year. So, they've got all those possibilities."
(on what he needs to see from FS Shiloh Keo) "I think the same as all of them. We want to see great effort. Shiloh (Keo) made a big play on the kickoff last week. He's got to make plays like that on defense and special teams, but it's all of those guys. All those guys have the opportunity. We told them all along, 'Hey be patient. You're going to have an opportunity to play. When you get your opportunity, be ready.' Now, they've worked the whole time just like the other guys have, so we'll see what they can do."
(on if the team has met or exceeded his expectations) "Well, coaches always expect a lot and coaches are never satisfied. I think we're in a good place. I think confidence-wise, we're in a real good place. Now, we've got to continue to work, which they will. I think they've worked hard. I look for us to do well this season and we're pointing towards that."
(on developing trust between the players) "I start with a premise that there's assignment and there's responsibility. You may have an assignment to be in a gap or you may have an assignment to cover a guy, but your responsibility is get that football. Because guys say, 'Hey, I did my assignment. I got my gap.' You've heard that all the time, 'I got my gap' and a guy runs for a touchdown. Well, your responsibility is still get to the football, so that's our motto."
RB Arian Foster(on if having experience with hamstring injuries will help him in dealing with his current hamstring issue) "Well, yeah. You know, it's never a good thing to have experience with hamstring problems, but unfortunately, with my track record, I do. So it was just a mild strain. So I'm already jogging, like I said, so it feels good."
(on if he can be sure he's ready to go on opening day against the Indianapolis Colts) "You never know, man. I may not wake up tomorrow. You never know."
(on if he feels like he'll be ready to play opening day against the Indianapolis Colts) "That's the plan. So we're just going to stick to the plan and try to execute it."
(on why he thinks his tweets from Sunday, August, 29 got so much attention) "I think that it's kind of sad that the one or two negative things that I say gets that much attention because I try to put so (many) positive things out there, in the digital world. But that's what sells. Negative news sells and that's the world we live in."
(on how comforting it is that he has bounced back so quickly from injury) "It gives you a little peace of mind for the time being, so it's nothing that's going to prevent me from playing long-term so it's a plus."
(on his tweet explaining his tweet about fantasy football players from Sunday, August 29, and what he feels about fantasy football players who are worried that they lost their number one pick when he got injured against San Francisco) "That's part of the game but my tweet—the fact that we're talking about Twitter is amazing to me; but my tweet got taken out of context. What I was saying was that people that value a digital game over a human being's health is just kind of weird to me. That's all that I meant by that. People took it as, oh, I don't care about fantasy football. I think it's good for the game; it gets people that don't really watch into it. I'm on my mother's fantasy football team, so you know, I got to do good. It got taken out of context. I love all my fans and if you've been following me on Twitter, you know kind of person and human being I am and if you know me, you know what kind of human being I am. I try to promote peace, man, because that's what I'm about."
(on if he's gotten his arms around about how he's blown up around the country as a professional athlete) "Not really, because I don't watch a lot of TV. I kind of enjoy Twitter because it's part of our generation, it's something that we created and I enjoy technology. But I don't really get into the who-is-saying-what-about-who. I see all the re-tweets, so obviously people are talking about it."
(on if he was worried his hamstring injury against San Francisco was worse than it really was because he was so upset on the sideline) "I play the game with passion and I've been told by guys that have played this game for a long time that's one of the reasons why they enjoy watching my game is because I play with so much passion and I love the game. The reason I was so upset after I strained it the second time is because I work hard at what I do and I put a lot into it and I got a lot invested into it, and it's frustrating when you do all the quote en quote 'right things' but you still come up with the short end of the stick as far as injuries are concerned. And I know that's part of the game, so you have to deal with it but it's frustrating. That's where that frustration came from."
(on if he had a hamstring problem before this training camp) "Yeah. No, I never had it in college. I had it coming out of college; I had it at the Senior Bowl and then one time here in training camp."
(on if he knows how to rehab his hamstring injury) "Yeah and I pretty much know what I've been doing wrong now."
(on what he's been doing wrong as far as rehabilitating his recent hamstring injuries) "I think a lot of it was my nutrition. I was cutting out a lot of carbs in my diet, trying to get lean. I'm am lean but I was trying to get leaner. Carbs are the first things that go in your muscles when you're burning energy. We've got a little plan together, so hopefully it works."
ILB DeMeco Ryans(on whether his elbow injury is a factor in head Coach Gary Kubiak saying he won't play the rest of the preseason) "It's not a factor. I feel like as long as I know what to do when we line up and all 11 guys are on the same page on defense, we'll be fine."
(on whether he's confident that he'll play in the season opener vs. Indianapolis on September 11) "I'm confident that I'll be out there."
(on the performance of the defense without him on the field) "It's been looking great. Guys have stepped in and played well. It's a pleasure to watch. It's fun to watch and see the guys go out and shut a team out. That was impressive and I was kind of jealous not to be a part of that."
(on whether he'll play Thursday night at Minnesota) "I don't think so."
(on whether the defense is where it needs to be) "I think we've made some strides and we're a lot better than we've been in the past, but still as a defense and as a team, we're still not satisfied. We still understand that we have a lot of things – small things – that we can improve on as far as technique and different things of that nature, but I am pleased with where we are now in the preseason."
(on how frustrating it has been for him to sit out the last two weeks) "Not frustrating at all. Things happen that you can't really control, so I don't let those things frustrate me, just let it run its course, and when it's time for me to get back out there and line up with my guys, I'm going to be out there."
(on the projected starting 11 defenders not being on the field together until the regular season opener vs. Indianapolis on September 11) "Everybody tune in and watch and see how we do. I think we have a good group of guys and it's going to be fun to see all 11 out there together, playing for the first time."
(on what is wrong with his elbow) "What's wrong with it? It's bruised. A bruised elbow. A deep bruise."
(on him being out of practice because of his elbow and now his Achilles tendon injury from last season) "Right."
(on how his Achilles tendon feels) "My Achilles is doing fine, much better. It's kind of been a blessing in disguise for me to have this time to do double rehab on my Achilles and also on the elbow."
(on how close he is to feeling full strength) "I'm ready to go."
(on if it surprises him that Indianapolis QB Peyton Manning was activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list) "Not surprising. We prepare for the best, so anytime we're playing the Colts, I don't ever expect Peyton to miss a game, so it's not like we're going to prepare for the backup. We're going to prepare for the best, and that's Peyton."
(on how much longer he'll be wearing his elbow brace) "I'm not sure. I'm not trying to wear it long. It's not something that I'm trying to get accustomed to. I'm trying to get out of it as soon as possible."
(on whether the elbow brace limits his mobility) "It limits me a little bit, but it's just that they don't want me to bang it up again, so it's all protective."
(on how he hurt his elbow) "I just took a hit on it and it was a bad bruise. I thought it was something small, minor. It ended up, once I went to the doctor and got it checked out, it was a little bit more of a major concern than I thought it was."
(on whether he hit his elbow on someone's helmet) "No, I hit it on the ground."
DE Antonio Smith(on if the younger guys are picking up the defense quicker than expected) "I think so. Most of the young guys are coming right in and contributing right now. It hasn't been a falloff or a slow step here or missed plays there. They're picking it up just as fast as we are."
(on how he approaches the talk that the Texans could win the AFC South Division) "That's what you come in the game for. You don't come in the game to be a loser. You're not in the division to make second place. What's on our mind as a defense is being the best defense in our division and in the AFC. If you're not shooting for that, you ain't shooting for nothing. As a team, it's the same thing. Offense has been pushing their way every year; every year top of the charts, top of the stats and I think it's our time to put our foot in the door and try to contribute, too."
(on taking a leadership role) "I wouldn't really say taking a leadership role. It's just my personality. It's who I am, it's what I do. I play for my teammates and I want them to be just as good as they can be. From a person who came from the bottom and made it where I'm at, anytime I see something I can help somebody with, that's just what I do."