Head coach Gary Kubiak, outsisde linebacker Whitney Mercilus and the Texans met with the media after Monday's practice, and answered their questions. The following is a transcript of those respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakQB John BeckTE Garrett GrahamK Shayne GrahamQB Case KeenumOLB Whitney MercilusRT Derek Newton
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on who was named as the starter for right tackle) "Yeah, I named (T Derek) Newton the starter this morning. Looking at the body of work, I think it was very, very close, as I told y'all all along. I think the thing that has moved this toward Newton is watching his progress, watching where he was the end of last year going to the offseason, going thru camp, watching him get better and better and better. Did a good job the other night. Young player that we think's ascending. We know that there's a lot of things he's got to clean up, but we think he's definitely committed to doing that, just like the way he's progressed. So we'll give him an opportunity to do it. Big responsibility but we think he's ready for it."
(on what it says about the program that a seventh round pick became a starter) "Well, I'll tell you what, it's (Offensive Line Coach) John Benton. Someone's got to look at John Benton and what he's done. He's taken, you go back to (Mike) Brisiel, free agent, we go get (C) Chris (Myers), he comes in here and Chris becomes a Pro Bowl center. (G) Wade (Smith) coming in here as a free agent. Some of the work that John has done since his stay here in Houston has been exceptional. Then, obviously, our big draft choice was (T) Duane (Brown). But to come that far, to have draft choices like that play for you and start for you, it just says a lot about our progress and how we're able to go about fitting players into our scheme. (T Derek) Newton's done a heck of a job; he's come a long way from Arkansas State to starting next week."
(on what kind of ceiling T Derek Newton might have) "I hope that we have no idea what his ceiling is. We watch him play each week and we just see things that give him a chance to be a great player, not just a good player. We got to get it consistent and those type of things, but if that was the case, he'd already been there. It just comes to a point where you say 'Hey, we're going to work him through this stuff and he's the best guy for us, and I really like his commitment to what we're doing.' I think he's ready to go do it. But he's got to hold his end of the bargain."
(on any health updates) "Today, (DE) J.J. (Watt) did practice, (NT) Shaun Cody did practice. Our practice was very light, but they were part of the practice. (ILB Brian) Cushing and (C) Chris Myers did not, (WR) Andre (Johnson) did not. So, we basically had a jog through."
(on if QB T.J. Yates will play on Thursday) "You know, I haven't decided yet. I may start T.J. and have him play a series or two, I may not even play him at all. I'm going to kind of see how things go tomorrow in practice and just look at the guys that I'm going to be putting out there. If he doesn't play then (QB) John (Beck) will start the game."
(on how ILB Brian Cushing and C Chris Myers are doing) "They're both doing good. They worked out with the trainers away from us. They worked harder than the guys at practice, I can tell you that. We just did a jog through. So they're doing fine. Whether or not they get any time with this short week, we really only have one day tomorrow that we're going to have a full-speed practice. I'm ok with them continuing to work with Kap (Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Geoff Kaplan). We just need to make sure they get some work in."
(on WR Andre Johnson's health) "Andre's doing good. He's feeling good, we just gave him a couple days. Pretty sore coming out of the game, but he was fine today."
(on NT Shaun Cody and DE J.J. Watt's recoveries) "If we were playing this week, they would be ready to go."
(on how he handled the situation of starting RT Derek Newton over long-time veteran RT Rashad Butler) "It's tough because he gives us everything he has. Got a lot of respect for Rashad; he's played some good football for us, and it was a good battle. I had a good talk with him, I actually talked with him before I talked to Newton this morning. He's a team player; he'll do whatever he has to do and, like I told him, he better be ready to go because you never know what's going to happen. We got a lot of confidence that if for some reason we think Newton needs to be spelled or something, we don't have any problem because Butler's played a lot of football for us. Tough conversation with him, but he handled it like a pro and moved forward."
(on if there's a plan to rotate RT Derek Newton and RT Rashad Butler at right tackle) "Not right now. I think we go on, we go with Newton, expect him to do it. My expectations for him are extremely high, and I don't want to start by saying 'Hey you're gonna play two series and Rashad's gonna…' I don't want to do that. I told him I believe in him, we believe in him, that's why we put him in there. So go to work."
(on when he started to realize that RT Derek Newton had a lot of talent) "I would say late last year. Our biggest concern with Derek was football knowledge of where he came from playing, to getting in our league, and what he sees front-wise and game plans and all that. Derek's a sharp young man, and he really struggled early in the season in training camp last year from just an assignment standpoint. Once that started to become clear to him, then his talents really started to take over. Last year he's playing both right and left in practice so that makes it even harder on him. He's battling (RT Rashad) Butler and we gave (LT) Duane (Brown) some breaks in practice in camp, so now he's got to go play the other side. Kind of through some tough conditions, he's really grown up."
(on signing RT Derek Newton from Arkansas State) "Yeah, I think you watch him offensively and what they did, you didn't necessarily see all the things you wanted to see for an NFL tackle. He had played a little bit everywhere there, too; probably small-school type of thing. The athleticism, you watched him work. The thing that sold us on Derek, we flew him in before the draft where we can bring the guys in and (Offensive Line Coach) John (Benton) spent some extra time with him and really jumped on the bandwagon and said 'Hey, late in the draft if this young man's still there, we need to take a chance."
(on if he was impressed by RT Derek Newton on his visit) "Oh no doubt, he was very impressive on his visit. When (Offensive Line Coach) John (Benton) sits down with a guy and he thinks he can handle it mentally. We know he has the ability, but John thought he could handle it, so it was obviously a nice decision."
(on if there's anything that has recently stood out to help him make his position decisions) "No, I can't sit here and specifically talk about one; I've got some really difficult decisions at some spots. I think safety, I think corner, quarterback, I got a tough decision to make there. We're finishing up the back end of our offensive line. There are a lot of questions that have to get answered on Thursday. We're going to give them a chance to play a ton of football. Hopefully we walk in here Friday morning, we're all standing, we're all in one piece then we go to work, put this team together."
(on CB Kareem Jackson's game against New Orleans) "Well, I think it's a great test for him because any time you play opposite of J-Joe (CB Johnathan Joseph), you're going to get some work, guys are going to come after you, the ball's going to come your way. So it doesn't matter if it's Kareem, (CB) Brice (McCain) or somebody else, that's part of it. They came after him with the ball a bunch and I think he responded some, he didn't respond all the time, but he was working. I thought he was aggressive, tackled well, got a tough call but I think Kareem's had a wonderful camp. He's a better player than he has been in the past couple years, and he understands (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips)'s scheme, and we expect him to play well. And that just goes with the territory when you play opposite a guy like J-Joe."
(on rotating QBs Case Keenum and John Beck in Thursday's game) "Yeah, I would think so. If (QB) T.J. (Yates) does not play, that's the way we'll go."
(on how he views the quarterback competition between Case Keenum and John Beck) "They've both done their job in camp. Two totally different guys; I'm talking about a veteran that's had some experience, some starting time, so do we go that direction or do we go with the young man that looks like he's got a bright future ahead of him? That's probably the toughest thing. But they both handle what we've done fine, and Case has come a long way. It'll probably have a lot to do with the rest of the makeup of the football team, to be honest."
(on his son saying that the Rice football game is his focus, not his dad's game) "It better be. They open Thursday against UCLA, and Leslie (Frazier)'s boy will be playing. Hopefully they're still playing when we get through so we get to figure out what happens at the end."
(on if K Shayne Graham is the kicker regardless) "Yeah, Shayne's earned, had a heck of a camp, so to sit here and say that Shayne might have won the job anyway, I don't know, we had another week to go, but they were both kicking extremely well. I've got a lot of confidence in him; I think he's earned his keep around here. As I tell all the players, putting a team together on Friday and Saturday in the National Football League, y'all know as well as I do, there are things that change and there's people that are out there and things that happen that make your roster change. The bottom line is by the time we get to Friday evening, we got to feel like we have the best 53 we can have. That's every position. I tell him 'Don't get comfortable, I don't want you to do that just because you're the lone guy standing, don't think you can still go out there and not play well, you better play well.'"
(on if this time of year is the toughest on a coach) "Absolutely. It's been rough yesterday, having to let some guys go and then you're sitting here trying to get these young guys ready to play and then you know Friday you got to turn around and do it again. You gain so much respect for them because you go five or six weeks and give you everything they have, yet you got to tell 36, 37 guys 'No, next time.' It's the difficult part."
(on if any starters will play on Thursday) "There may be a couple that play. Maybe a few but for the most part, no."
(on if T Derek Newton will start on Thursday) "I haven't made up my mind yet."
QB John Beck
(on Thursday's opportunity) "Yeah, just excited for the opportunity to play. This is why you play the game, to be able to play in the games. I've had a good opportunity here to be with this team through OTA's, through this camp. This is really going to be the last opportunity to play so especially for guys like me and Case were we know the role that we are in. So you want to play the game. That's when it's fun. You get to turn the lights on, go out and put the jersey on, the game jersey on and play."
(on if he feels any pressure) "No, I think I've played in a lot of preseason games. I've been doing this for a while. It's an opportunity to play. It's to take what you've worked on in practice and to go show it on the field on game day."
(on acknowledging what is at stake) "You can't think about what's at stake. You just got to go play ball. I've been in a lot of situations, and I just try to take that experience and go play ball. You just say whatever happens, happens. Hope for the best."
(on making progress since joining the team) "I feel like I had a great opportunity during OTAs to be here and get a lot of reps. Matt (Schaub) wasn't participating in the OTAs so I got to get a lot of reps. This training camp, Matt has obviously taken the majority of the reps, him being the number one, T.J. (Yates) being the number two, the third reps the majority of the time have been split between me and Case (Keenum). So I feel fortunate to get the reps I did in the summer. The reps in camp, you don't get a lot. You try to make the most of them with what you do get. But now it's an opportunity to go play. That's why I chose to play football, to play it not to practice it. I love practicing but games are a lot more fun."
(on if he had familiarity with the offense) "There was. There was some comfort level with a lot of the plays. Some of the plays are different. Some of the formation things, the run tech, stuff like that. There is just difference. It took some time to adjust to. There are a lot of things that this team with the personnel that they have do really, really well. It's a big part of what we do here. There's a little bit of adjustment because of where I came from, maybe personnel was a little bit different, some of things we focused on. I feel very grateful for the opportunity I've had to be with this team, to practice with this team. I just look forward to going out and playing football."
(on making most of opportunities) "Well I've been in this situation before earlier on in my career were because of circumstances, same situation, you're not getting a lot of reps in practice. But you're trying to make the most of the reps that you do get. You heard that adage 'Don't count your reps, make your reps count.' You just try to focus on that, do what you can, and then look forward to the opportunities that you do get because you will get some opportunities obviously playing in the game is that opportunity. You try to do the best you can."
(on if Thursday's game will decide the final quarterback roster spot) "I don't know. That's up to the coaches. I want to do the very best I can with every opportunity I get so I can make this football team. That's my goal right now is to be a Houston Texan. From the day that Coach (Gary) Kubiak called me and said, 'I would like you to come out and practice with us,' my goal has been to make this football team. So that's what I'm focused on is going out and playing the best that I can so they want to keep me around. They feel like I bring something to the table that can help this football team. Be it if it's just helping prepare the defense for the opponent they play that week or whatever it may be. I just want my talents to help this football team."
(on QB Case Keenum's growth as a quarterback) "Case is a rookie, but he's very bright. He's very football savvy. You can tell he has a lot of experience. He's thrown a lot of football. He has really good timing, a really good feel for the game. He soaks things in. I can tell because I'm that type of guy that is trying to put in extra effort and I will go to the film room sometimes and Case is in there. He's preparing. He's a hard working person, loves what he does. You can tell that he enjoys it. I stand by him on the sidelines during the games. Even when he's not playing, he's very into the game. He's very focused on what can he learn, what can he pick up from each situation. So although he has a lot of experience, he's very into learning. That's going to be as strength of his. Case is a good football player. He's been able to go out and make a lot of plays in practice. I'm sure he's amped as well for this opportunity play. He's prepared well, and I'm sure he'll play well."
TE Garrett Graham
(on the confidence that comes from having a game like he had against New Orleans) "It means a lot, just for my confidence personally and trying to prove myself to the coaches and my team. It was fun out there. I had a great time playing the other night."
(on removing any doubts about his ability to step in as the second tight end) "I'm just going to keep trying to do my thing. Whether they call on me to run routes or block on the line, do my role and go from there."
(on how he would describe his preseason) "I thought it went well. I didn't have my best game against the 49ers. There are still a lot of things to correct and a lot of things to get better on, but overall I was happy with it."
(on how much of the tight ends being open is a function of the offense) "We're working hard, but we definitely have a tight end friendly offense, that's for sure. Especially when we get three tight ends going in there. I don't know if you want to call it (Head Coach Gary) Kubiak's offense or us getting open and making plays, but whatever it is, it's working."
(on if he prefers the blocking side of the position or catching passes) "I like doing both. That's what a tight end does. I definitely like to block, but I don't mind running routes and getting some yards either."
(on playing with TE Owen Daniels) "It's great having two tight ends from Wisconsin out there. He's showed me a lot and I try and apply that on the field. It's great. He helps me out a ton, even when we're out on the field with calls and talking about stuff. It helps a lot."
(on if he and TE Owen Daniels have any Badger inside jokes when out on the field) "No, not on the field, but we have some different things going on."
K Shayne Graham
(on whether he felt a sense of relief knowing that the kicking job is his) "No, I don't find any sense of relief, especially when you're competing with someone. I feel like I've been doing well, but you never want to see something bad happen to someone else. I think (K) Randy (Bullock) and I became friends and became close during this time. I talked to him last night and tried to give him some advice to keep his head up and stay positive and not look at the small picture, but the long-term picture, and make himself right for when he is healthy. I certainly don't have any sense of relief right now, because I've still got to prove myself. I don't have anything handed to me; I've still got to earn everything I have here. There's another preseason game, and then every week during the regular season, you've still got to earn your job, so I don't feel like there's anything that I have necessarily won or established a perfect spot for myself, because my goal is long-term, and that's to help this team and to perform well for myself and do the best that I can. It's just something that happened, and at this point, I take the good with the bad, but yet I've got to continue to work hard and prove myself to my teammates and coaches and everyone else."
(on not allowing himself to become too comfortable) "There's never a time when you really just get comfortable. You're never really sitting still – you're either getting better or you're getting worse – so as soon as you feel like you've arrived, that's when you're going the other direction and you're taking the bus the other way. So I'm always looking to move forward and build. I'll take a little bit of momentum my direction, but yet I still have a lot of things that I want to achieve for myself and help this team achieve."
(on how he reacted when he found out about K Randy Bullock's injury) "You know, it's funny: I was around a couple of people when I first started hearing the news and they asked me why wasn't I more excited; and I really don't feel like there's anything to get excited about yet, because you make a lot of kicks, you miss a kick, you really try not to show your emotion because you've got one more kick ahead of you and I still feel like I've got to continue to make kicks and continue to do well. Finding out that you're the only guy in camp now, that wasn't my goal. My goal was to be successful in every kick I line up for. I wasn't competing against someone; I was competing to make kicks and excel on my own, and that's really what I'm looking to do. It's not really to be the winner of a camp competition, it was to perform my best."
(on playing for six teams since 2009) "It's hard sometimes to not sit still, and I hope to be able to do that, but you make your kicks and you find yourself kind of filling in for people and bouncing around. Maybe I've given a perception of myself as kind of a journeyman and all of that, and I kind of want to get rid of that and kind of settle down and be solid and be part of something that I can be proud of and teammates can be proud of and coaches can be proud of. Hopefully I'll do that with my chance here, but I've still got a lot to prove, I believe."
(on whether he feels like he still has a lot left in his career) "Oh, yeah. Physically, I feel as strong as I've ever been, and I don't really feel like there's any reason to feel like there's any end in sight."
(on what he learned from the way his career ended in Cincinnati) "I don't really feel that it ended in Cincinnati. I just feel that I had a bad game and I've moved on from it. From that point on, there was a stigma that I couldn't make kicks in playoff games; well, the year after that, I was 100 percent for New England, who I think was considered a contending team. We didn't lose any games while I was there and we were in the playoffs and we had a tight game with the (New York) Jets and I made two field goals in that game, so I don't think that's something that I need to even think about anymore. I just want to line up for kicks and look to make them."
(on whether it's humbling as a kicker to have a team not bring you back) "Well, it just goes to show what the reality is, and that anything can happen. There's no reason to ever get secure, whether you're told you're the rostered kicker or you sign a multimillion dollar deal, it doesn't matter; you can still be let go at any time. I don't feel that any of those guys (that he replaced or filled in for) got complacent. I don't know the numbers, the stats of what happened with their situations, but they're all great kickers. It's something you don't want to see, but yet you've got somebody else on the other side of that who's worked hard and is proud of themselves and they're getting an opportunity. So you've got to look at it from both ways: somebody else is proving themselves right now."
(on what, if anything, he has done to improve his leg strength) "I don't feel that my leg was ever not strong enough before. My misses from 50 (yards) and beyond in my career were never short; they were wide right, wide left; and I never felt like the strength of my field goals was ever an issue. It's just a matter of keeping focused and hitting the same, smooth ball, and that keeps your accuracy. So really, if anything, it's just keeping focused and not thinking about the outcome before you kick it and not thinking about the distance, but just hitting the same ball."
(on whether he's ever spoken to older kickers such as Morten Andersen to find out how they were successful late in their careers) "I keep up with (New Orleans K) John Kasay and (San Francisco K) David Akers, a lot of the guys that are a few years older than me, and I've just picked up things from them – how they exercise, how they take care of their body and how they look at the mental side of it – and we pick up things from each other. It's something that I've always used to my advantage and is something that I've even passed along to (K) Randy (Bullock) when I've had chances to talk to him."
(on whether his job is easier now that he's not competing for a roster spot) "No, there's no such thing as easy. It doesn't matter what kick you line up for, everything you have to focus, and you can always take everything for granted, so I don't believe in anything being easier, but treating it all the same."
QB Case Keenum
(on his opportunity to play more on Thursday against Minnesota) "I'm excited. I think it's a heck of an opportunity. There's a lot of guys out there that don't get something like this. I've jumped at every opportunity I've got, whether it's small or big. I think this is definitely one of the biggest one's I've had, so I'm really excited."
(on knowing that he's going to be getting a lot of playing time on Thursday) "I'm excited to about getting into a game and getting into a rhythm. A lot of those games, were kind of like the four-minute drives where we're handing the ball off, trying to run the time off, so hopefully we'll get in there and be able to get some rhythm with some of the receivers and tight ends and run and pass. So I'm excited to get into a rhythm with all those guys and really operate the offense for an extended period of time, not just short bursts here and there."
(on the feedback he's received on his progress thus far) "You get feedback every play. You get coached up every play. So as far as that goes, getting feedback as far as what to do on certain plays, whether good job or bad job, that's about as far as feedback goes, I guess."
(on how difficult it's been to show what he can do with limited reps in practice) "It is different than what I'm used to, but as far as it being difficult, I think if this job were easy, then a lot of people would be doing it. There's not a lot of people can do it. I take pride in being able to do things that aren't easy and try to go out every day, every play and I want to compete against the best. I want it to be hard. I want to be tough on myself. I want to be good. I know it is tough.
"It's limited but as you increase the level of play, coming from college to the pros, the window that you get is smaller. That goes for everything. That goes for the window of opportunity you get, the window of opportunity you get to complete a pass; the coverages are tighter. All through the whole thing, everything is tighter and everything is a little more tough."
(on what it's like playing in front of the home crowd in Houston ) "It's a blast. Like you said, I just got a little taste of it (against San Francisco). I think it made me hungry for a lot more. I'm excited to get in there and get in front of the home crowd again. That was really special for me, to be able to play at home again here in the city of Houston. But it's not enough. I definitely want some more, so I'm excited about that."
(on what he thinks he needs to show Head Coach Gary Kubiak) "Just operating the offense. Just playing quarterback well. I think playing quarterback well, I guess being successful means you're moving the offense. I just want to move the offense; do what I'm coached to do and move the offense and score points. That's what I'm going out there to do; just to do my job and try to move the offense and create first downs and first downs turn into touchdowns."
(on if there were times in camp where he's discouraged) "I think you get discouraged from time to time. I think that happens in all sports in all levels. You're putting yourself out there, you're taking a chance any time you step on a field. You win our you lose every time you go out there and play. Discouragement; it's kind of part of the game. It's how you bounce back and how you get back up after you get knocked down. I think it's more about what you do after some of those bad plays maybe more so than focusing on the bad plays."
(on if there is anyone he has gone to to get over moments of discouragement) "It's hard to say. It's nice being able to go home to my wife every night and having a support staff. That's kind of what I call her, my support team. It's just me and her now; no plans for any other additions to the team. It's nice having that. That's what you have when it comes down to it, is your family. You're going out there, trying to represent your family and where you come from. There's a lot of people I try to represent. That's a tough one though."
(on what he feels like he's improved in the most and how excited he is to put that into a game) "That's a tough one, too. I've grown a lot in a lot of different areas. One are in particular, it's hard to pinpoint. I'm just trying to grasp with both hands and take everything I can get. I would say the operation of just the offense. I think that that's more important than what I thought, initially. I knew my operation was really well at the college level but it's that much more important. Getting in and out of the huddle, calling the play, just how you do that; the pre-snap and then operating the offense during the pre-snap as well. I think operation is a huge deal. And then the decision-making kind of goes hand-in-hand with that."
(on the competition with QB John Beck) "I've tried not to look at it that way. Coach (Gary) Kubiak said something one time, and I've always said this, too, that any time you go out there on the field and strap it up and take a snap, that you're putting film together. You're putting your resume of yourself on film. That's what I'm trying to do. You're trying to make a team. All the guys that are trying to make the team. If it doesn't work out here, there's going to be spots available, whether the numbers game doesn't work or whatever it is. But just go out there and showing that we can play is just as important."
(on the type of resume he feels he has put together) "I think it's short. Hopefully short but sweet. I've still got a long way to go. It's hard to judge with just the few snaps we've had. I think one thing I have shown, is progression is getting better. From where I started, to just getting my playbook, to just kind of being in awe of how thick it was and then now turning it back in and not having all of it in my head; from going week-to-week and continuing to grow, I think that's been a huge plus."
OLB Whitney Mercilus
(on his progress throughout the preseason games) "I felt like I've been improving week to week. There are some ups and downs as expected going through first time through preseason. It's not like you prepare actually for it. You prepare for a game through each preseason, but it's not actually in the sense that you want to do it in the regular season. So it's kind of quick, something that I'm not really used to so it's just adjusting to that, trying to read up on the opponent that I'm going against."
(on if he feels comfortable at outside linebacker) "Yeah, I'm feeling better about it. Definitely having gone through OTAs, minicamp, definitely being in pads, and getting after it for about three or four weeks now, and just standing up, rushing, playing the run, it's pretty simple."
(on what he's learned playing in the three preseason games) "Something I couldn't really prepare myself for was probably the speed of the game. Last week against the Saints, that was a whole different entire speed, tempo that I was used to. So it was like the first two weeks, the tempo of the offenses weren't pretty fast. But Drew Brees and Chase Daniel, they run a pretty high-powered, high-tempo offense so that was something that I got thrown into the fire."
(on if he finds himself using techniques from college that don't succeed in the NFL) "Yeah some things, one play you might catch yourself not using your hands and then you're like 'Oh snap, I got to start using my hands.' I can't just get by on these guys because these guys were good at some point. They're still good is what I'm trying to stay."
(on if he has a sack celebration ready) "No, not really. I'm not a guy who works on celebrations or anything. It just happens in the moment."
(on when the game started to slow down) "Actually, it has slowed down. I want to say going through playing in the Saints game, it slowed down right then and there. I mean even at practice, it's been slowed down. We've taken reps going high speed, fast paced offense, things like that, defense going against them. That really kind of slowed the game down for me a little bit."
(on how the game is different when it's slowed down) "When it's slowed down it's different for me in the sense of being able to see a read, do my key reads a lot more clearer, being able to understand what's about to happen before the snap, getting a beat as to whether it's going to be run or whether it's going to be a pass."
(on if he finds himself asking OLB Connor Barwin and OLB Brooks Reed for advice) "Yeah I go to them a lot, especially the drops, still trying to get used to dropping into coverage and making reads from the second receiver to the first receiver. So I go to them a lot about how should I read, do this drop. What should I read on this? So they help me out a lot."
RT Derek Newton
(on how far he's come from being a seventh-round pick a year ago) "Just a grind, coming from Arkansas State to starting my second year in the League, it's a big thing. When Kubes (Head Coach Gary Kubiak) told me about it, I was excited; I could have jumped up for joy, but I just kept my composure and was happy that he told me. I'm just ready to help the team out."
(on having a big smile on his face) "Oh, yeah. This is a big opportunity for me, coming from a small school, two years of high school (football). Coming from a small town, not many people make it, but the grind, it was tough. I had a lot of friends (and) a lot of family support back home and they helped me get through it."
(on what kept him from going to a bigger school coming out of high school) "I really don't know. I know that once I was finished with my senior year, I heard from a lot of junior college teams, and a couple of SWAC schools were talking to me. I had only taken the ACT twice, so that really stopped me, so my coach was like, 'It's better for you to go to a junior college,' so I went there (Hinds Community College) and completed my two years and heard from a lot more schools; and I chose Arkansas State."
(on how much the lockout in 2011 slowed his development as a rookie) "It held me back a little bit, but as the season progressed, I was catching on to the playbook. And then this year with OTAs (Organized Team Activities), I got the whole playbook down and it was easier for me to come out and just complete each play."
(on if the complexity of the Texans' offense was the biggest difference between college and the NFL) "Not really. The scheme is a little bit different, but we kind of ran the same zone scheme at Arkansas State, so I caught on to it a little bit when I first came."
(on what was the most difficult part of his transition from Arkansas State to now) "Pretty much the grind and the focus, being able to come out every day and try and make each play good is hard. Me as a second-year player, a seventh-round pick, I've got a lot running through my mind like, 'OK, I've got to do good; what coach is thinking about me;' it's a lot running through my mind. I had a lot of guys come up to me and just tell me to just take it one play at a time, be calm and you'll be alright."
(on when he started to believe that he could be a starter) "My whole thing was just come out and play hard. You can't worry about messing up, because everybody messes up. You've just got to move on to the next play and do better on the next play."
(on what he learned from former Texans RT Eric Winston last season) "Oh, man. Winston was a great guy. Just the whole thing of watching him, watching (LT) Duane (Brown), watching (T) Rashad (Butler); Winston was a great guy. He knew how to block pretty much every situation, and watching him, the main thing he was like, 'You've got to be consistent. You've got to work hard on every play. Don't hold anything back; leave it all on the field.'"
(on what he's learned from T Rashad Butler while they were competing for the starting right tackle position) "Rashad was very helpful. Every day, we come in and watch film as a group (and) the little technique things he would tell me about how I could better myself or how I could better my blocking scheme or pass rush. He's just been helping me out every day."
(on what he learned from T Rashad Butler while competing with him) "Rashad was very helpful. Every day we would come in and watch film as a group. It was little technique things, he would tell me I can better my step, how I can better my blocking scheme against the pass rush. He's just been helping me out every day."
(on how much Offensive Line Coach John Benton has helped him) "Oh man, Coach has helped me a lot. Just him staying on me all along, that pushes you to work harder every day. Staying after practice and doing extra, he just pushes me a lot."
(on if there was anything that Offensive Line Coach John Benton has said to him to help with his development) "Pretty much, he told me, 'I see the potential in you. You just have to go out and work hard and show what you can do.'"
(on if he had a nasty disposition that coaches like in a lineman) "Yes sir. I can get nasty. Yes sir."
(on if he has had to get nasty at all so far in the preseason) "Yeah, there were a couple guys that came off the ball where I knew I had to step my game up. I had to come with it the next play."
(on if he and RT Rashad Butler have had a chance to talk since the team made the starting decision) "Yeah, we talked this morning. He told me good job and I thanked him. It was a good competition. I told him I was still going to come to him for pointers and he said that was cool. We're still a group at the end of the day and whichever one of us would've gotten the starting job, we would've been the same two people."
(on if it helped him getting some playing time last year on goal line situations) "Yeah, that helped me in getting the pace of the game and how fast it was and being out there blocking against a great group of guys every game. That helped me a lot."
(on what frustrates him the most right now) "Just being consistent; it's something I still have to work on every day, and I'm just going to keep doing that."
(on if it's a physical consistency or a mental consistency in being able to see things) "Yeah, seeing things. Technique things come into play too, so I just have to take it one day at a time and work hard at it in practice to better each thing. It's going to good."
(on LT Duane Brown) "Duane, he's very helpful. He talks to me and tells me how I can improve my technique and just hearing from him, being the best left tackle, it's great. He motivates me to work hard every day, never take practice for granted and just go out every day."
(on LT Duane Brown struggling early in his career) "I asked him last year and I asked him this year, how he went about getting over the hump. He told me when he messed up, go to the next play. You can't remember what you did on the last play. You have to keep moving forward. This year, during OTAs and throughout training camp, I took that and I ran with it and never looked back."