The Texans practiced at the Methodist Training Center on Saturday, and afterward, head coach Gary Kubiak and some of his players answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews from the morning and afternoon practices.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
ILB Brian Cushing
QB Matt Leinart
DE J.J. Watt
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on ILB DeMeco Ryans' health) Yeah, that really is one of the tougher injuries in all football but I think he's really done a good job of taking care of his business. Remember, it happened early last year so we've had our hands on him a great deal of time before the lockout. He has come back and come a long way, he's not where he needs to be yet but I don't have any doubt he'll get there by opening day."
(on why he watches practice behind the defensive backs) "Well I can see everybody. I can see everything that is going on, on the offensive side of the ball. I like being back there with DBs and DB coaches because I like explaining to them what we're trying to do to them. I try to give Vance (Joseph) 'Hey Vance, this is what we're working on you guys here' so he can watch his DB's. I just always like watching from that side of the ball, plus it gets me out of their hair and lets them (the coaches) coach so, coaches probably really like that."
(on the running back situation) "Looks like we're going to play with three guys, looks like we're going to play with (Derrick) Ward and (Chris) Ogbonnaya and (Javarris) Williams, the young man we just signed so, (Ben) Tate just hasn't come along like everybody thought he could, our trainers and our doctors, but he hasn't so, we'll listen to him. Arian (Foster), we've been shooting for next week with Arian the whole time."
(on the progress of DE J.J. Watt) "He's been exceptional. He's a very mature kid. He just handles his business very good, great conditioned young man; can practice all day. When your teammates call you a dog after about a week, that's a compliment so I'm looking forward to him. He's been very good in camp and we're excited, we feel good about him."
(on WR Lestar Jean making plays) "He's continuing to do that. He's a big body kid and I've had some of the DBs come over to me and say 'Hey coach, that guy is tough to handle.' So, he's got a lot of ability, he's got that big body, y'all saw that catch he made this morning so there's going to be two young receivers on this team so it'll be interesting to see who they are."
(on the effort of the secondary compared to August 12) "Our practice was just better today. We were just better-detailed today. We went like three good days in pads and banged on each other and then we took them off and we just didn't get the detail we needed to get yesterday but they came back today focused but that's training camp. Good teams put good days back-to-back-to-back and that's what we're trying to do now"
(on his expectations of QB Matt Leinart) "Just what I've been seeing in practice, he's handling practice really well. He needs to get the rush coming after him, speed things up so to speak. He's going to be running a very young group, normally he'd be out there with some guys that have played a lot of pro football but his group of receivers are going to be young so I just want to see him handle the group."
(on why QB Matt Leinart is special) "First off, I think he's a leader. He's got that 'It' factor that people seem to gravitate to. I know what he's going through as a quarterback. I've had some that have been through that process before. It's tough to be successful in this League but I watched his confidence come back last year and I watched how our team reacted when he would go in when Matt (Schaub) missed a little time or something, he would go and practice or do whatever; they never wavered and I see that going on in practice right now. It's fun, I hope he gets his career going again and plays 10 or 12 years and comes back as a starter. That's what we all want for him."
(on if CB Sherrick McManis is still practicing well) "Yeah, he has a really good camp going. He, (Chris) Ogbonnaya and a couple of young players have been doing well."
(on what CB Sherrick McManis is doing well) "He's making plays on that side of the ball. He's got his hands on a few interceptions and he loves to hit, so his big positives come out once we start playing. He's a guy that loves contact and loves to stick his nose in there."
(on if OLB Connor Barwin could break out this season) "Yeah, I thought he would've been last year, I really do. He's taking to what they are doing, very smart young man, strong and the leg is coming around better every day. Yeah, I think there could be many and hopefully he's one."
(on the fan support at camp) "It's been good. We haven't been able to give them their night practice because of some of the things we're doing schedule-wise and the new rules with the CBA so I appreciate them coming out here in the heat. It helps players get going, they wake up and know they have a long day ahead of them so I appreciate it."
(on the battle at right guard between Mike Brisiel and Antoine Caldwell) "They're going neck- and-neck. (Mike) Brisiel will start the game but they'll play equally."
(on whether both punters will play Monday against the New York Jets) "Yeah, yeah they'll rotate."
(on what he is looking for Monday night from the Texans) "Just watching young players play, to be honest with you. Our starters will probably play 10 or 12 plays but we're going to play a lot of young guys. Matt Leinart is going to play a lot of football, a lot of young defensive players. So just to see who's going to step to the plate and see who is going to be part of this team."
(on if P Brett Hartmann factors into the kickoff situation) "Yeah, no doubt. I'll tell you one of the things I'm concerned about, but you got to remember that Neil (Rackers) is going through a new holder this year so that's going to be a factor with those two punters too, so I want them to rotate that and we'll see what happens."
ILB Brian Cushing
(on how different it is now from his rookie year) "There's been a lot of similarities actually, with the new defense going in, and a lot of guys are familiar with the defense. I think just going in and learning and getting smarter and really adapting to what we can do. I have two years of experience in the NFL now and a lot more experience. I'm just looking forward to growing upon that."
(on if going to the 3-4 defense is a big adjustment for him personally) "It is. At the same time, it is football though and anytime there's football there's a lot of similarities between a 3-4 and a 4-3 defense. I think just going into this year we have to learn as much as we can and be as sharp and as crisp as possible."
QB Matt Leinart
(on why he came back to the Texans) "I got a taste of obviously the offense and what they expect of us at this position and the basic X's and O's, learning the offense, learning the concepts and what we like to do with it. So, coming in here this year it's been a really smooth transition for me. My goal is to just get better every day and keep growing in this offense so I just think I've been doing that and working hard. I like the offense. I think I fit well with it. It's an offense I really like to be a part of so I'm having a good time."
(on if there is any similarities between this offense and USC's or the Arizona Cardinals') "More so the USC (offense) but in Arizona we ran a lot of similar concepts. I mean there are only so many concepts you can run in the League, in football. Here it's just the way that we run them and the formations and the play-pass and the bootleg and stuff that we didn't do a whole lot of in Arizona. When Kurt (Warner) was there we were more spread out in four-wides or three-wides to get the ball out quick. Here it's more play-action, under center and a lot more stuff that fits my style like college. So for me, I just think that I like that, it's just my style more."
(on what he hopes to do in a game) "I hope to carry over what I've been doing in practice to the game, just move the ball and score some points and play confident. I want to get the guys in the right situations; I'll probably be with some young guys out there. (I) just want to have fun. I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing against another team. Last year my last action was preseason last year so I'm just excited to get out there and play."
(on his mechanics) "I was coached really hard last year on footwork, on footwork and progression. So this offseason, even though I wasn't really sure where I would be, I really focused on that and what Coach (Greg) Knapp taught me last year. Getting the ball out on time and trusting my throws and trusting that the receivers are going to be there. I threw a lot with a lot of guys out in California and I think it's helped me coming into camp, especially with the week that I wasn't allowed to practice so it's going to be a pretty easy transition."
DE J.J. Watt
(on getting into the game Monday to see what it's like)
"I'm excited. I'm excited to get out there in front of the fans and get in Reliant Stadium for the first time and just kind of get that adrenaline going, get back in that game format. It should be fun."
(on what he feels like he's shown in camp) "I feel like I'm just trying to get better every day. If I can just get my technique here and there and get better every day, that's all I'm trying to do. Just improve every category in my game and be ready for the season."
(on what technique he's trying to master) "I'm just trying to hone in on my footwork skills and my hand placement, stuff like that. Footwork's the biggest part. If I get my footwork down I'll be just fine."
(on if he feels like he can hold his own) "I feel like I can. Obviously, I want to play in this league for a long time so I better be able to hold my own. I feel like I've been working very, very hard to get to this point and I'm going to continue working hard to make sure I stay at the top of my size and strength combination."
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
WR Andre Johnson
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on if there's a specific area where he'll be watching the reserve players play more) "No, I wouldn't say there's one area. I really wouldn't. It's a little scary going into the game at the running back position, so that's a concern right now. I think the receiver position is something where we've got a lot of young players. I don't think we quite know who our (No.) four and five are going to be right now. We feel good about our first three, so I think that's a very competitive situation. I think our secondary is a very competitive situation. Those things play themselves out through preseason games, so that's what we're ready to go do."
(on his impressions on the defense) "I've been impressed. Damione Lewis has missed a couple days here. Obviously you're sitting there waiting on J.J. (Watt) to go in there and play like a starter that you drafted that early and he has. He's played that way. It's a different type of dynamic when you're talking about a 3-4. You're talking about three guys inside instead of four guys playing some little bit different positions than they played in the past. I feel good about our two noses right now. I think Shaun (Cody) and Earl (Mitchell) have had great camps. We'll see how it goes. Guys like Tim Bulman need to step up and help this team."
(on what he's looking for from the defense on Monday) "Defensively, I think (Defensive Coordinator) Wade is (Phillips) very basic in what we're fixing to go do Monday night. We just want to see guys play, make sure they're in the right spot. We've come a long way here in the first two weeks and we've got a grasp of the base stuff. That's what we're looking for."
(on if he's eager to see FB James Casey play) "Yeah, I am. I'm eager to see all three of them. I'm going to play all three of them. For James, it is different, but I think James has some great strengths as a football player that can make this team better, so it's time to start doing that Monday."
(on if FB James Casey will still play tight end) "Yeah, he's playing everywhere. You all see practice. He slides to tight end during practice. He plays the third wide receiver sometimes. James' strength is his versatility."
(on if he's excited about QB Matt Leinart) "Yeah, he's had a really good camp. He's going to have to play with a lot of young players, especially from the receiver position, but I'm anxious for Matt to get out there and get going. I think he's doing everything well. My biggest thing with him is trying to get him to do everything faster."
(on what other players he's excited to see play on Monday) "Easy answer to start with is (Chris) Ogbonnaya. When a young man has had the camp he's had for the last two weeks, I think we're all excited as a team and everybody to watch him go play this weekend because he's kind of been a big bright spot in camp. I think Sherrick McManis has been a bright spot in camp, so those two names jump at me right now. Hopefully there will be some more by the time we get through Monday."
(on if WR Andre Johnson will play Monday) "I don't know right now. We'll see. I'll probably make all those decisions tomorrow."
WR Andre Johnson
(on if he will get much playing time Monday night) "I'm not sure yet. I haven't heard anything. So I'll probably hear something maybe tonight or tomorrow and I'll figure it out from there."
(on how his finger feels) "The finger's good. I actually practiced today without my splint for the first time. Just trying to get back to catching the ball without having a splint on my hand and stuff like that. It's getting a lot better. The wound is closing up pretty good. I'm excited."
(on how much fun it is playing on Monday night) "It's a lot of fun. That's the biggest day for football when everybody's watching. To have our first preseason game on Monday night is pretty big. Everybody will be watching so you would like to go out and perform well."
(on the camp QB Matt Leinart has had so far) "I think that Matt (Leinart) has done a great job. I think that he's playing well. He's definitely a hard worker. I think he's having a great camp and I think he's feeling comfortable when he's out there playing. You can see that throughout practice. I'm anxious to get to see him play on Monday night."
(on if he thinks Matt Leinart is getting confidence back) "Yeah, I think he's very confident in what he's doing right now. Like I said, I think he's playing well right now and I get to see him in some game action on Monday."