The Texans began training camp with a practice Saturday morning at the Methodist Training Center. After, head coach Gary Kubiak and some players answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakILB Brian CushingRB Arian FosterWR Andre JohnsonOLB Whitney MercilusQB Matt SchaubDE J.J. Watt
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on why QB Matt Schaub is the quarterback to take the Texans to the Super Bowl) "I think Matt's a natural leader. People follow him. He's been through the grind at this place. When he came in here, we weren't a very good football team and Matt's been a part of the building process. He's been a constant, even though there have been some times he's missed some plays on the field. But when he's been at the helm, this team's played good. Our guys believe in him, I believe in him and that's the most important thing."
(on RB Arian Foster becoming a vegan) "I'm going to refer to what my dad taught me, 'If you can't handle it, don't do it.' If that's the route Arian wants to go, he's got to handle it and keep playing great football like he's always done for our football team. Boy, he had a great offseason. He looks really good today. We've got people in place to help him, but the key is that you get out here and do your job and that's what we all expect him to do."
(on seeing WR Andre Johnson and QB Matt Schaub on the field together) "It was good. Early in practice, I thought they both looked very sharp. You got to remember, Matt hadn't been in the huddle in eight months. I was thinking about that today, so he's got a lot of work to do at this camp. Obviously those guys are big pieces of our puzzle and with some of the young offensive movement we've got going on here, those guys have to remind constant and they need to have a great camp."
(on what QB Matt Schaub needs to do during training camp) "It's just getting back to work. When you haven't been in the, I don't want to say huddle. Matt's been in the huddle all his life, but just getting back in the swing and people around your feet, those type of things, throwing the ball, timing. It's been eight months since he's been part of a team environment as far as practice, so we got to get him going. I'm going to keep him off the turf in the afternoon, so these morning practices will be used for him."
(on if he worries about the mental aspect of coming off an injury for QB Matt Schaub) "I can't speak for him on that, but I believe that he's telling you the truth because he's been banging on the door since OTAs to come practice. Matt feels very good. He's been working 100 percent. These last five weeks he's worked extremely hard on his own and got guys together. Matt's very confident that he's healthy and ready to go play. I know as great as it was last year for the team, it was very disappointing from him from a personal standpoint that he wasn't able to finish the deal. We're all rooting for him to stay healthy."
(on the health of ILB Darryl Sharpton and P Brett Hartmann) "Brett is probably a little ways away. Sharp looked really good this morning. We're going to ask him to show us one more time tomorrow and then he can be back on the field very quickly. He's real close."
(on being OLB Connor Barwin's inspiration for his hair cut) "I don't know, famous for a hair cut? I walked in the building yesterday and somebody said, 'You seen Connor, Coach?' I said, 'No, why?' They said, 'You got to see him.' I didn't see him until we went to the meeting last night, but oh well, I guess it's something to talk about for a couple days."
(on if OLB Connor Barwin is just scratching the surface of his potential) "No doubt, he was excellent last year, y'all know that. He has a lot of confidence in what he's doing. I was just telling (Offensive Coordinator) Rick (Dennison) this morning our outside linebackers are tough. They work on OD (Owen Daniels) and those guys every day. I'm expecting big things from him. I'm going to keep him off the turf too. We did that last year coming off the leg injury. I expect Connor to continue great things."
(on a couple specific areas he will evaluate during training camp) "I think right now my focus is getting us to two hours and 15 minutes on the field the right way in the heat, so we're going to stair-step it here the first few days. I'm really trying to pay attention to who came in here in great shape. I saw a few guys that I don't think were in the type of shape we need to be in, but we'll get them there. I told the players after practice, the new wears off real quick. We're here to be good for six months, not three to six days, so we just need to stay focused and get to work."
(on the right side of the offensive line) "Obviously, Gump (Antoine Caldwell) and (Rashad) Butler operate as starters right now, but (Derek) Newton's splitting reps kind of with Butler. Our young guard is getting a ton of reps. It's going to end up right down the middle. They're going to both work with the ones and the twos, but hopefully that's something we've got settled by Week 3 in the preseason and we'll feel good about the direction we're going."
(on all the new faces on special teams) "Since we went to a 3-4, we really got more athletic as a team. When you look at (Bryan) Braman on our team last year, (Tim) Dobbins came in here, if we can find a few more guys like that, we'll continue to get better there. The key in this League is being able to win three ways, not one or two. (Special Teams Coordinator) Joe (Marciano) does a great job and I think we'll be better."
(on the new specialists on special teams) "This kicking battle is going to be a huge battle. We're going to start kicking field goals a lot earlier in camp than we normally do because it's got to work itself out. Then obviously, Donnie's (Jones) a new face to us and we've got a punting battle going on. The key is that we're better coming out of it."
(on communicating in the headsets with ILBs Brian Cushing or Bradie James) "They can both do it. Brian did it a lot last year because Brian's a three-down player. DeMeco (Ryans) was on the field first, second down, so Brian did make a lot of calls. Those guys have to be interchangeable, but they'll both be able to make it."
(on if you have two headsets on defense) "No, you can only have one, one on the field at a time offensively and defensively. We'll have to make a decision, but Bradie (James) and Brian (Cushing) are going to be out there at the same time, so we'll have to lock in to one of them. We'll have to see how that goes."
(on the pressure going into this season compared to last year) "I don't look at it any different. Every year is a new year. We're doing everything we can to go out there and be successful. We got to get to work doing that, but I don't feel any different. I don't think the players feel any different. We didn't win a championship last year. We're still chasing. The New York Giants won the championship, so we got a chase to still pursue here, but we need to stay focused on our team, our camp. We had a great camp last year and that's what I told our guys, 'Don't forget that. Let's go have another one.'"
(on C Chris Myers saying the goal is to win the Super Bowl) "Well this organization's goal is to win a championship, no doubt about that, but we break it down a lot of ways. We can't do that unless we make the playoffs. We got to win our division or be a Wild Card team and we can't do that until we start winning some games. We got to get ready to beat Miami, so we got to be as good as we can be on September 9."
(on if he's talked to players in the last year of their contracts) "I don't worry about that. I coach the guys that are on the field. (Executive Vice President/General Manager) Rick (Smith) will handle that stuff. That's always going to be an issue with every team, but right now we're trying to put the group together, so that's our focus."
(on if he's talked to RB Arian Foster about becoming a vegan) "I texted him about three weeks ago and said, 'Hey Vegan, you in shape?' He texted me back and said, 'What the heck does that mean?' That's been our conversation, but he looks great. He looks good this morning. Like I said, I'm focused on the football, not on what he's eating right now."
(on if he accomplished everything he wanted to this morning) "Yeah, the one thing about the first day of camp is everyone is so excited. Guys are out there a half-hour before practice. Easily about 45 minutes into it, they really hit a wall, so we just need to settle down now, get in our routine, get to our meetings today, teach in the afternoons and just continue to get better. But everybody looked good. I thought as a group, as a football team, we look like we're in pretty good shape. A couple guys got to catch up and we'll get him there."
(on WR Keshawn Martin) "He's got a lot of talent. You guys can see that. He's going to push to help this team real quick and had a good morning this morning."
ILB Brian Cushing
(on getting back into practicing) "It's just a good feeling getting the first one done for now. Getting back on the field and playing football again and getting your legs under you, so it feels good to get one practice out of the way."
(on practice being a college-like atmosphere) "I know, we've got a lot of guys on the roster right now. We have a lot of depth for camp. We know how injuries and all other things play into it and on top of it, we just want to give a lot of guys opportunities and see who can play."
RB Arian Foster
(on getting back to training camp) "It's good to get back out there. It's real good just to get back in the flow of football."
(on having healthy weapons around him this year) "This offense can be as good as it wants to be. It's just the first day. We've got a lot of work to put in and I'm excited to get to work."
(on his health) "I'm feeling good."
(on all the talk about him becoming a vegan) "There's nothing to talk about in the offseason, that's why. I don't know why it got so much attention. There's other vegans in the NFL."
(on how becoming a vegan will affect him) "It will affect me in a positive way."
(on how difficult the vegan diet will be as a football player) "Not hard at all."
(on what the vegan diet entails) "Not eating meat or dairy. That's pretty much it."
(on if he is looking for new things in the offense) "Yeah, Kubs (Head Coach Gary Kubiak), I think he's an offensive guru, he really is. I love playing for him and I'm just very privileged to be a part of his offense. I'm trying to be the best player I can be for him."
(on if he hopes everyone will be healthy when the playoffs hit) "That's always the hope, but this is such a physical game. All you can do is prepare for the worst and go out there and play hard every play."
(on what it means to be a leader on the team) "I don't really look at it like that. I look at it like I'm still out here trying to earn a spot with my teammates and my coaches and prove to them I'm supposed to be here. That's how I look at it and that's how I have to approach the game."
(on the unicorn with him on the cover of ESPN The Magazine) "I don't know. That was their idea. I was just out there and they said, 'We've got an idea for you to be on the cover' and I was like 'Alright.' It's supposed to make fun of how I don't like fantasy."
(on how long he's been contemplating the diet change) "Yeah, since like high school."
(on if anyone in his family is a vegan) "No, not really."
(on if he's looking to improve his health and performance by becoming a vegan) "I think if you improve your health, you will improve your performance. That's what this is about."
(on how hard it was for him to switch to a vegan) "It's just like anything, you got to be disciplined."
(on how long he's been a vegan) "It's been about a month."
(on what Team Dietician Roberta Anding has said to him about becoming a vegan) "She encourages it. I think if you look at players' health after they get done playing and just look at what diet does to people, we are what we eat. I just choose not to eat meat or dairy."
(on what his favorite food is) "Nobody asked me what I ate last year. Why is everyone so concerned about what I'm eating? It's really not that interesting. It's not interesting at all, actually. It's just the flavor of the week. Y'all will forget about it in a month."
(on if he's lost any weight on his new diet) "I'm not losing any weight."
(on the right side of the offensive line) "Everybody up front aside from the rookie, (Brandon) Brooks, has played a significant amount of time. Rashad (Butler) has played and (Antoine) Caldwell has started here. Everybody has complete confidence, especially in that unit. That unit is so close. It's not my job to worry about them. They're going to be fine. We've got some of the best coaches in the League and we've got some of the best players in the League. I'm not worried about it."
(on handling the pressure this year compared to last) "Anytime you wear an NFL logo, there's pressure. There's pressure for your job. There's pressure from the organization, the fans. There's just nothing that has changed."
(on the expectation for the team being to win the Super Bowl) "Expectations don't matter. You got to go out and practice day two."
(on why QB Matt Schaub is the guy to take the team to the Super Bowl) "Because he's operated in this offense for so long. He's just calm under center. It's like, when you go in the huddle and see how calm he is and how he handles himself. Plus, he's accurate. He's just a good quarterback in this League. He's been a top passer in this League every time he's healthy."
(on how QB Matt Schaub being calm helps the team) "I think when you're in the huddle and motions are going and the crowd is going and you look into his eyes and he's calm, it just puts you at ease."
WR Andre Johnson
(on QB Matt Schaub) "I feel like he has all the qualities that a good quarterback needs to have to get his team to that point. He has great leadership. He makes plays when they need to be made. He's a great leader. He has the confidence of all of his teammates. We believe he's the guy."
(on what Schaub is like behind the scenes and if he's more animated) "Yeah, he is. He cracks a lot of jokes. He's human man. He's just like everybody else. He's a laid back guy that likes to have fun. When it's time to be serious, he's serious. When it's time to kick back and laugh, that's what he does. He's pretty normal to me."
(on starting camp with the bulls eye on their backs) "It's good to hear, but at the same time, we can't dwell off of what we did last year. It's a new season, new expectations, new goals. We're going to have some new faces and we're going to have to have everybody pick their game and step it up to another level if we plan on achieving that ultimate goal. You can't dwell off what you did last year. You have to come in and work and just try to get better in every aspect of the game and that's what we're trying to do here in training camp."
(on his person motivation for the season) "You're always going to have doubters. Just after everything that I went through last year with the injuries, the last two years really, I just want to go out and show people that I can still play and that I can still play at a high level and produce big numbers. That's pretty much it in a nutshell."
(on the best part of today) "Just being back out here. I haven't been out here in a while. Just being out here and being able to run around and catch a few balls. It even felt weird having my ankles taped. I haven't had my ankles taped since we last played against Baltimore. To be honest, I really couldn't sleep last night. I was just so antsy to get back out here and just be with my teammates. It was a lot of fun to be back out here."
(on his advice to the rookies) "After we finished practice and we all huddled up, I told them, 'You just go in and watch the film, correct your mistakes and just keep trying to get better.' That's the only way you can look at it. You're going to have a bunch of practices. It's going to be a fight, it's tough. Training camp stuff is not easy. It's different for them, but at the same time, all you do is try to get better every time you come out here on the field. If you approach it that way and try to improve your game every time you come out here, you'll be fine."
(on how his knee felt out on the field) "It felt fine. I didn't have any problems with it. It didn't bother me at all."
(on being out there with Schaub and having the fans cheer them on) "It felt good. Like I said, I was just really excited to be out here. I felt very anxious to get back out here. It was fun. I'm just working to get better every day. That's pretty much it."
(on if it was weird to be excited for training camp) "Yeah, but I guess when you haven't been on the football field much in your pads, you kind of want to get back out here. Maybe that's why I felt the way I felt. It was exciting to just be back out here in front of the fans. Driving up to the stadium this morning, you could see how many fans were out here. Everybody is anticipating the season and having big expectations, but we have to get the work done out here first."
(on the feeling of looking forward to training camp) "To be honest, most times, training camp is not something you look forward to. You're ready to hurry up and get it over with. I was really looking forward to this one just because of the previous things that I've been through."
(on if he's anticipated how he will feel tomorrow and how much preparation he'll need moving through camp) "I'm doing things differently. Even though, everything is feeling well, I'm staying on top of everything. I'm still going in the training room and doing little exercises here and there. Just staying on top of everything, making sure I'm warming up well before I get out to practice and stuff like that. I'm just trying to do everything I can and making sure I'm more on top of my body and make sure that it's warmed up properly before I actually start practicing."
(on if he feels he is forced to stay on top of those things or if it was a realization that there was more he could do) "To be honest, I never really looked that deep into it before. After you go through something, you look at things a little differently. So that's just the way I approach it."
(on what the past few months have been like for him) "It's been rough. There has been a lot of down days. At the same time, there's always a light at the end of the tunnel. It was a tough time. There were a lot of down moments where you have a lot of negative thoughts. There's always something that has kept me motivated and kept me wanting to get healthy so I could get back out there."
(on what has kept him going and kept him motivated) "Just my love for the game. People always ask me how long I plan on playing and this and that. I always tell them once I lose the love, that's when I'll stop. As long as I love this game, I'm going to keep coming out here and giving it everything I've got. My biggest thing was just making sure that I was out here for the first day of training camp. I was here. I felt well, felt fine and I'm going to keep improving."
(on if he felt like a spring chicken today) "I felt good. Like I said earlier, I was very anxious to get back out on the field. It was a lot of fun. I was a little rusty. I felt like I haven't been out there in a while. I was just excited to be back out there."
(on surprising a lot of people by making a diving catch in practice) "I can still play, you know? I've just been through a few injuries, but I can still makes plays. I'm pretty sure I probably caught a lot of people off guard to see me dive for a ball or whatever, but that's part of the game. I was just out there having fun and excited to be back out there and just playing football."
(on how important it is to have his first practice under his belt) "Yeah, it's fine. Like I said, I really don't think about the injuries that I've had. I just go with the flow. I don't think about it. I'm running full speed and trying to do what I need to get myself ready. The injuries, I don't really think about them. That's the last thing that's on my mind when I'm out there playing."
(on what RB Arian Foster means to this team) "He means a lot. He's a big part of the team. He carried the load a lot last year when me and Matt (Schaub) were out. He's a big component. In order for us to get where we want to go, we need him to be a part of it."
(on the calmness of Matt Schaub and how he is on the field) "There's no panic. There have been times and we've been in a lot of close games, late in the game, you see it where we've had some great comebacks. There has never been a time when anybody is panicked. Matt is able to keep everybody calm and with a level head and letting us know that we still have time left to get it done. He does a great job of it."
(on what this team learned last year in the playoffs) "I think we learned what we needed to learn as far as accomplishing our ultimate goal. I think last year just gave us a taste of what it's going to take to get to that point. I think after experiencing it, everyone knows what to expect. Everybody has that same focus now and we're all on the same page. We're going to work our butts off to try and get that accomplished."
OLB Whitney Mercilus
(on feeling less pressure coming in as a rookie) "Definitely. We have a young team. Everybody got their experience because they went through their first year and last year was a hard year for them. Because they didn't have OTAs, have mini camps, they just got thrown into the fire. But I got acclimated to the system since OTAs and mini camps. I know I'm a little more confident coming into the training camp because I know what to expect. I know what the heat is going to be like. I know what's going to be expected of me. So I'm just going in here day one and today wasn't a bad day and I just got to keep consistent with it."
(on Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips' defensive system) "Oh, it's phenomenal. It's just getting after the quarterback. You got to play hard, play fast, get to the ball. If the ball is thrown 20 yards down field, you got to chase after it. You just can't quit."
(on learning Phillips' system) "He keeps it pretty much simple for all the players coming into the system who are pretty new to it. It's not too hard to learn. I've already gone through OTAs and things like that, so it's not really that hard to learn."
(on simplicity of Phillips' system) "Basically, there's no thinking at all. Just go, react and ball out."
(on fitting into the camaraderie of the defensive front seven) "By just showing what you got out here. Training camp is just to earn the job. So you go in there and try to make the 53-man roster. That's what they tell us every day. Everybody's job is on the line. It's a try-out every single year for everybody. It doesn't matter who you are, whether you were a starter last year or a new guy this year. All the jobs are on the line. So if you got it, you got it. Right after the training camp, you just got to show what you got."
(on camp and if it's different than expected) "The heat is no different and the tempo in practice is no different than in OTAs. I'm pretty comfortable with knowing what to expect. I know what is expected of me tempo-wise, so it's just about going hard every play.
QB Matt Schaub
(on being back at training camp) "It was great to get back out. Everyone's excited and energized to get back out for the first day. There's a lot of excitement. Guys are flying around. It's great to be back in the huddle. It's been a while, but definitely glad to be back out there with my guys."
(on if he felt loose in his first practice) "Yeah, I did. Obviously there was some rust there that I've just got to shake off, not having been in live action since mid-November last year. There's just getting back in the groove with the receivers and just working against the defense, but I felt very comfortable."
(on completing passes to WR Andre Johnson) "It was like riding a bike because we've been doing it for so long together now and working all summer. It's what we've been doing. But yeah, it was good to get him the ball early and get his way and get everyone going. It was nice to be out there."
(on the pace of practice being there) "Yeah, the pace was there, everyone was geeked-up, ready to go, flying around from drill to drill and that's camp. We're in the grind now, so we've got to just keep pushing through working together, working in high tempo because that's how we play our best, especially offensively, in and out of the huddle with high tempo and pace. It was definitely there and we've just got to keep it there."
(on feeling any pain in his foot) "No, it feels great. Everything feels really good, really strong. I feel as good as I did before I had the injury."
(on if Coach Kubiak is going to be conservative on what he lets him do) "No, I mean I've told him not to be, but that's the coach's decision. I'm going to do whatever they ask me to do or need me to do and what my position calls for, but everything feels good. There's no restrictions. It feels great."
(on describing himself in the eyes of his teammates compared to how he portrays himself to the public) "That's their opinion. I try to be myself, I try to have a good feel for my teammates of when to joke around, when to mess around with them, when to get onto guys a little bit. You've just got to feel for the pulse of the team and your offense and what guys are doing, how they're performing and what motivates them and gets them going. But it's just different with everybody. You'd have to ask them how I'm different. I try to just be myself."
(on if his leadership brings out the best in his teammates) "I hope it does. We have a ton of talent on this team, especially offensively, that there's only so much that you have to do as a quarterback to motivate guys. If you're at this level, you better be self-motivated. I just try to have a good feel of how to handle certain guys and the group as a whole."
(on what he believes his strengths are) "I think making sure everyone's in the right spot, doing the right things, working at a certain pace and tempo, having a certain work ethic. Just demanding a lot, demanding the best out of each and every guy because that's how the whole group is going to be special is if everyone in their own right is special. So just trying to do that to everybody and making sure I'm handling my business. As a quarterback, everyone looks to you to set that example and be that guy that sets the tone, and you have to accept that responsibility, whether you like it or not."
(on whether or not he's concerned about his offensive line) "I'm not concerned about it. Those guys have been here for a few years now. They've been working hard. They've played in a lot of games in this League. They're not new to our system, so I have a ton of confidence in what Antoine (Caldwell) and Rashad (Butler) bring to the table. It's just about them getting the reps in there and just getting comfortable working with one another and with Chris (Myers) on a full-time basis, but I have no problem with them in there."
(on if he has confidence in the young receivers) "Yeah, absolutely. Obviously it's going to take time for them to get into everything and bring them along. That's why we have camp and that's why we have the offseason. But they're learning and growing with the system as we're learning them and getting used to how they run routes, their body movements, how they get in and out of breaks. But that's something that just comes with practice, and that's why we're here."
(on if it feels good to get through his first practice) "I wish we were still out here for another hour and a half, two hours. I wish we would have stayed outside so I could have done more, but it's just great to be out here, everyone's so excited. The anticipation of camp, the countdown started in May, for me, anyway. I was probably here at 6:30, taped and ready to go, looking in my locker wondering where everyone was. But yeah, it was exciting to get back out, get back in the huddle with my guys."
(on Andre Johnson diving on a sideline catch) "Yeah, I mean Andre is ready to go, just trying to give him a chance. Just a little wide with the throw but that's just 'Dre just trying to make a play for the team. 'Dre looked like himself. He ran great routes, been working hard all off-season, and I think he was as excited as I was to get back out here, get back after it and hungry to get back to where we were last year. He looked like himself."
(on his message to the younger guys about pacing themselves at camp) "To me, I don't know if it's quite 'pace myself'. You just got to jump right into it and just get after it. You got to understand your body and how to take care of it in between practices, how to be ready for the afternoon, how to get ready for the next morning because obviously our major workload is in the morning. So it's just about getting your rest and how to handle the grind of the long days and long nights. But as far as practice, you just got to come out and cut it loose and give it all up, just go as long as you can."
(on the public's expectations and predictions for the year) "We know what our goals are and where we want to be at the end of this thing, but up until this point, that's all we've been doing is talking. Right now we just have to put our head down and focus each day, each practice, each play on how do we perfect this practice, this play. Let's go out and just focus on the next thing in front of us and keep conquering that goal and conquering that goal. At the end of the day we'll like where we're at, but right now we just got to keep the blinders on and keep the focus on the next obstacle."
DE J.J. Watt
(on his offseason routine to raise and meet expectations) "I've worked extremely hard. I've gotten bigger. I'm about seven or eight pounds heavier of muscle. I've gotten faster and stronger. I've worked on my game and watched a lot of film. So I'm just doing the little things. I think it's the little things that are going to take my game from good to great."
(on the abundance of fans wearing No. 99 jerseys) "It's very cool. It's an honor. Especially after I got some boos at the draft party last year when I was drafted, so it's nice to see that we've won some of the fans over. But I also know that it can be taken away as quickly as it's given to you. So I'm embracing it, I'm honored, but I'm also going to work extremely hard to keep that and advance my status.
(on personal expectations) "I expect greatness and nothing less. I want to be the absolute best I can be, and I want to be one of the best defensive ends in the game. But I want to win a Super Bowl. That's it at the end of the day. I want to get better every single day I'm at camp and as long as I see constant improvement, I think everything else will take care of itself."
(on the different personalities on the defense) "Yeah, it's a lot of fun. We have a bunch of different characters and a lot of different personalities, but the way we mesh and come together in the locker room and on the field, it all works. We've got funny guys. We've got serious guys, crazy guys. We got every different type of guy and at the end of the day, we just have fun out there on the field together."
Quotes from Houston Texans' afternoon practice
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
Linebackers Coach Reggie Herring
ILB Brian Cushing
TE Owen Daniels
OLB Brooks Reed
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on the afternoon practice) "Well, we're teaching. You guys know that. It's our jog-through practice. I need to get all these young guys on the same page of what we're doing every day, but a lot of teaching is going on. We're holding (out) about seven or eight players when we're on the turf, so there were good reps for all the young guys."
(on who he is holding out of practice other than Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson) "I'm holding Connor (Barwin). I'm holding J. Joe (Johnathan Joseph), Owen (Daniels), Arian (Foster). I think there is a total of seven guys that we'll hold on turf. It just gives those other guys the chance to get some reps. Those guys can get all of theirs in the morning."
(on resting veterans like he did last season) "Well, some of these guys have been on that no-turf schedule for a while. We've got a lot of players. We've got what? 89 players, I think. With the way the rules are nowadays in the National Football League, you can't practice twice a day. So I think when you do give certain guys a break, then you're giving other guys a chance to practice more. We try to use it for the real teaching portion of practice. It seemed to benefit us last year and hopefully it will do the same this year."
(on the team's health situation) "We're fine. We're just waiting on (Darryl) Sharpton. (Brett) Hartmann is probably going to be a little bit longer than Sharpton. I'm hoping Sharp is out here in the next couple of days."
(on if he thinks Sharpton will be practicing again soon) "If he works the way he did this morning, I watched him work this morning. If he does that again, then we'll probably give him a rest day and then he's back. We knew he was close and he's proven that he's ready to go."
(on RG Brandon Brooks condition) "Well, he weighs 337 (pounds). He's a totally different animal. He looks good. He had a really good practice this morning. A guy like that needs to become a pro real quick for us to be as good as we can be. Today was a good start for him."
(on OLB Whitney Mercilus' first full-day of practice) "It was impressive. He's a very good athlete. On pass rush today, I thought he looked very, very good. We're resting Connor (Barwin) in the afternoons, so that means there is more stuff for him to do. How quick Whitney comes along, that's how deep our defense will be and how much production we get from those guys rushing the passer so it was a good start for some of those young guys. He came back in great shape."
(on what rookie has stood out that he is ready to compete) "I liked them all. I thought they came back in pretty good shape, real good shape as a matter of fact. They're going to get a bunch of reps in this camp. The young kid from Michigan State (Keshawn Martin) made some plays this morning. Whitney definitely stood out this morning. I think Posey has come a long way. I think Case (Keenum) has come a long way. The young running back we have from William & Mary (Jonathan Grimes) has been impressive since we've had him. It's one day, but we'll see. We had some surprises last year and I'm sure we'll have a few more this year."
(on if he has to remind the young players that they have many more practices to come) "That's what I told them this morning after practice. The band quits playing real quick and we have a lot of work to do. We need to have a good six months, not just a good three, four, five, six days. Things start to settle down here. They'll get in their routine. They've got some long days and we'll find out who can weather the storm."
(on the backup quarterback competition) "We've got a good group of guys. T.J. (Yates) has obviously earned that right. He has played good throughout the offseason. John (Beck) has played a lot of football, so he's pushing. Y'all know that I think Case (Keenum) has come a long way for a young man with his situation. It'll be a good battle and we'll sort that out when we play in the preseason."
(on if it was a challenge to have to stay within the practice guidelines of the new CBA) "No, because we did it last year, but we did it on the fly. Last year, we found out two days before we went to work. We understand and I think it's great. I told the players last night when I met with them that I think the way that things are structured are probably very conducive to them keeping their strength in two-a-days and not getting too worn down nowadays. I think that showed for us last year, but we've got to get our work done in that heat. We go to Jacksonville in Week 2 and we better be able to play in some hot weather. We're going to work in it."
(on if the new rules allows the team to be fresher later in the season) "We've kind of kept the same format. I think that you need the adjustment period the first four days. You don't just start off and go two hours and 15 minutes from day one. I think we've held up a little better earlier in camp. Hopefully, that holds true, keep our fingers crossed."
(on how much better prepared are the rookies with OTAs and minicamp compared to last year) "That's what was so impressive about last year. There was no offseason. Look at what J.J. (Watt) did. Look at what T.J (Yates) did for our team—players that really, really contributed, Brooks Reed (also). But these guys have had a lot of reps and they're a lot further ahead along than those guys from that standpoint. Now production-wise, if they end up just like those guys, that would be nice for this team."
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
(on what DE J.J. Watt needs to do to pick up where he left off at the end of last season) "Just pick up where he left off. The guy played better than everybody the last two games, I thought. I mean, he had (14) tackles, (four) tackles for loss and (three) and a half sacks in the last two games against two playoff teams and dominated the line of scrimmage. I think he will, because he's worked hard at it, I think he'll just continue to go from there."
(on if it's just a matter of hard work for DE J.J. Watt to take the next step) "Yeah, he knows what to do. I think as he went along, we got comfortable with him, knowing what he could do and we let him stunt a bit more. We didn't earlier but we let him stunt a little bit more and he started making more and more plays. That's what we're doing with him."
(on if he will be more comfortable with DE J.J. Watt now that he knows what he's capable of) "Yeah, sure. We found out last year, I think with him at the end of the year and so we just went from there and we'll continue that."
(on DE J.J. Watt as a person) "Well anybody that would walk on from a smaller school to a Big Ten school and think he could play and wanted to show everybody he could play, I mean that shows you the kind of person he is. Really took a lot of hard work and all those things. I think just to tell your family, 'Hey, I've got a scholarship here but I want to be something bigger, I want to be something better,' and he's certainly done that. He's started the same deal here. I think he wanted to better than just a rookie. He did that and I think he wants to be better than just a good player. He wants to be a great player."
(on if DE J.J. Watt could be a perennial Pro Bowler if he keeps progressing) "I said Howie Long and I really do compare him. I've seen a lot of guys but I compare him a lot with Howie in that his quickness on the line and beating the linemen quickly off the ball, he's got that kind of knack."
(on what part of J.J. Watt's personality and who he is contributes to his success in football) "Well, he's a smart guy that gets it. He knows it takes tremendously hard work to achieve whatever you want to achieve. He's done that, I'd say most of his career. That's why he was picked with the 11th pick and that's why he's getting better and better."
(on his expectations for CB Kareem Jackson entering his third season) "Kareem, like the rest of us, we want to try and get better this year. We're not going to give up any big plays; that's part of our defense and he's part of that and he's sold on that and he's done a great job so far. I mean, he's played well since we started. We've only been in two practices, but all the OTAs were the same way. We didn't get beat deep, we didn't give up any big plays, so I think that's his goal and our goal."
(on how he saw CB Kareem Jackson improve from his rookie season last season and what he wants him to work on for this season) "We try to utilize Kareem with the things he does well. He's got real good quickness, he's tough and he's a good, strong tackle, so that helped us on things we do with him. We try to get him in those situations."
(on if breaking on the ball is one of the things he wants CB Kareem Jackson to improve on) "Yeah, the fade route. Actually, there were about four or five fade routes that he was actually in the right position. He's just got to get the knack and we've worked on it in OTAs and we work on it now. With each specific player, we work on things they need to work on."
(on how important it was for DE J.J. Watt to realize his power in the NFL) "He's powerful but he's got a great feel. Some guys, and he's one of them, that have the knack when a guy over-reaches him and tries to block him and goes too far, he goes around behind them and makes the play in the backfield. And if they come out right at him, then he can use his power and control the guy and make the play down the line. So, he's got a real knack for being able to do that. The last half of last year, he was fantastic."
(on how many players have the knack for making plays like DE J.J. Watt) "Not many. A lot of them have statues that did it."
(on his expectations for OLB Connor Barwin) "Connor only had two sacks at SAM (linebacker) when we moved him after the fourth game, fifth game of the year when we moved him to WILL (linebacker) and he had nine and a half sacks and two other ones called back, so that's the position for him. He can rush the passer.
Linebackers Coach Reggie Herring
(on OLB Whitney Mercilus) "Whitney is very bright. He has excellent movement skills. He's got a great foundation and works hard. He's serious and approaches the game right, takes care of his body. That's a kid who has a chance to develop quicker than somebody who's been down in the three-point stance and isn't as good an athlete. You have to weigh all those things when you're trying to project somebody as a linebacker type."
(on ILB Bradie James' experience helping the defense) "All you have to do is hang out a day with Bradie and you would feel like you've known him all your life. It's his leadership skills, his experience and how long he's been in this League. He knows our package inside and out. He's doing things at the MIKE backer position right now that Cushing could not do coverage-wise. I'm not talking about ability. But the body position, the intelligence, knowing certain things when you see it and knowing where to be. That's a guy that doesn't have the ability of Cushing but has the know-how of a vet and knows his limitation and knows how to put his body in a position to make plays and be right in our defense. He's like a coach on the field. We're very excited. How much does he have left in his body? That remains to be seen. But as far as leadership, knowing this defense, getting 'em lined up, executing coverages and helping Cushing out with coverages, he's got it."
(on ILBs Brian Cushing and Bradie James) "Well Cushing runs faster than Bradie. Cushing is bigger than anybody else. He's big, fast and can run. To be honest, you'd like two Cushings inside, one at MIKE and one at MO. Having Bradie really gave us some glue in there where Cush could learn. He (Bradie) really brings calmness and is like a coach on the field."
ILB Brian Cushing
(on goals for the season) "We just have to keep it short term right now and work towards being the best we can every day. Our goal right now is to go 1-0 against Miami, and we're just in full preparation for that."
(on how last year's playoff experience contributed to this year) "Well it's just somewhere we've been before. Obviously we want to get back and we're going to work towards that. It doesn't matter if you take it one game at a time."
(on whether there was a particular thing he worked on in the offseason) "No, I think every year I just try to come back more prepared, healthier and in the best shape I possibly can."
(on his 'quiet' offseason) "I'm probably going into camp the healthiest I've been with a clear mind. I'm just excited for what the 2012 season is going to be all about."
(on his weight) "I'm about the same weight, about 250-251. I was a little heavier at one time, lost a little weight but I'm right about the same playing weight as I was last year."
(on switching sides) "From what (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) and (Linebackers Coach) Reggie (Herring) tell me, it's going to be a lot more productive, which I'm excited about. Obviously I have full trust in those guys, and wherever they put me they think I'm going to be the most productive, and that's where I want to be."
(on if he thinks he's going to make more stops this year) "Yeah, I do. I feel I'm playing a lot more space, I'm a lot freer in some situations. It's something that I like. Even from the first day and obviously from OTAs, it's been good so far."
(on whether switching positions is a big adjustment) "Not really, it's very similar to my position. Some things are a little different but for the most part, compared to where I was last year mentally in the defense, I'm just head and shoulders above it."
(on DE J.J. Watt's character ) "Tough kid, hard-working. Everything you can ask out of a player, he brings to the table. Someone that's going to work every single day as hard as he can."
(on if DE J.J. Watt is funny) "He tries to be funny. But he's not like Connor (Barwin). He's a good kid. He's tough. We love having him on the team. He's done a great job for us, we're just excited for what he's going to bring."
(on how good DE J.J. Watt can be) "Really good. We're just hoping that he keeps that momentum rolling. Obviously he can improve more. The sky's the limit for him, I believe."
(on how much having DEs J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith helps him in passing situations) "It does. I really think that anyone in the front seven is capable of blitzing, capable of getting sacks. We're very physical, very fast and just love attacking offenses."
(on if he would like to rush more) "I think I rush a good amount. I definitely think I will more this year, now being the MO and being the MIKE on third downs. So I'm excited for my opportunities of getting after the quarterback this year."
TE Owen Daniels
(on if he knew he would be utilized this much when he first joined the Texans) "I did some research coming in as a rookie. I knew Kubiak's offense used their tight ends a lot. They used them in a lot of different positions. That's kind of what it's been like since I've been here. You can find me anywhere on the field. I'll be on the line of scrimmage, in the backfield, in the slots, split out wide. We've got a good group of tight ends that the coaching staff trusts us to do all that stuff. It's fun playing tight end in this offense and it's a good time to be playing in this League, for sure."
(on if he was surprised at what Patriots TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were able to do last year) "Oh man, it was pretty impressive. You don't find too often a number one receiver and a tight end doing that too often. To find two tight ends doing that was crazy. Obviously they had a pretty good game plan week to week in getting those guys open and having that be a focal point of their offense. It was definitely impressive to see."
(on the first day of training camp) "It was good, good to be back out there playing football. It's back to what we like to do."
(on what the team learned from last year's playoff run) "I think just being in that position, having that experience, not getting it done when we thought we could and being able to go as far as we did with as many injuries as we had and news guys stepping up. That just adds to our depth. You're not going to find a team in this League that's not – you're not going to find a good team that doesn't have a lot of depth. That's been great for us. We got that taste of the playoffs in our mouths and now we know we can be successful and even more so."
(on how this year's offense is better than last year) "We'll see. It's different year to year and you always want it to be better than the year before. 'Dre's (Andre Johnson) healthy, Matt's (Schaub) healthy, Arian's (Foster) healthy. We just got to keep all these guys in that healthy position. We're obviously a big threat with Ben (Tate) and Arian in the backfield. We've always been able to throw the ball here. We complement each other really well obviously in the run game and the pass game. If we can be able to continue that and protect the ball, we can throw for a bunch of yards and we can run for a bunch of yards."
OLB Brooks Reed
(on what makes DE J.J. Watt so successful) "J.J.'s abnormally fast for how big he is. He has a unique set of skills. He's strong at the point of attack. He has good hands, great hand-eye coordination. Obviously, from the playoffs you saw him pick off that ball. He brings a unique quality to the defense."
(on how good Watt can be) "He was awesome his first year so that's a good indication of how he could be in the future. He's a good character guy. He's kind of become the spokesperson for the Texans and is heavily involved in the community and all that stuff. All the guys on defense like him."
(on if Watt will pick up where he left off last season) "Yeah, me and him ended the season pretty strong so we're just kind of looking to continue that through the preseason and into our first regular season game."
(on the feeling of being back out at practice) "It feels great to get back out there on the field with the guys and coaches and the fans out there. There's definitely an aura of excitement. There are a lot of good feelings so we're just going to work hard every day to make our goals come true."