The Texans beat the Vikings, 27-13, in the preseason opener at Minnesota. Head coach Gary Kubiak and some of the players spoke with the media afterwards. Here is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head coach Gary Kubiak
Q: What did you like and what didn't you like about tonight?
A: I think the biggest thing to work on the first time out is to protect the ball all the night. We didn't turn the ball over,we got some turnovers, so that's pretty encouraging. I thought we started off a little rusty but we got better as the game went. I think tonight shows what kind of camp we had. A lot of players getting a lot of time in training camp and our young players really showed up tonight with some good stuff.
Q: How about the job DeAndre Hopkins did tonight?
A: He's been doing that all camp, and if you give him a chance, he'll develop. He might have had a couple more if we gave him the ball. He might have made better plays, but that's why he's here. And it's just fun to watch all these young players do great things.
Q: How do you think your back up quarterbacks did?
A: I thought they did well. I'm trying to cut it right down the middle, and I want to throw the ball with both of them. I thought TJ did some really good things, Case [Keenum] did really great moving the football team the second half and putting the game away. You take away the competition and it makes them much better pros when it's all said and done.
Q: What's your thought on that 3rd back up running back spot?
A: We did not run the ball very well in the first half, not very much, but we got a little better the second half. I was impressed with some of the things Cierre [Wood] did, and Deji [Karim] coming in there at the end, and (Ray) Graham gets a few. There are some things we need to work on; I want to see Dennis (Johnson) a little bit more on our return games, but for the most part, it was a good start.
Q: How did Earl Mitchell play?
A: He's an improved player. We went into the game knowing Earl more, Brooks (Reed) more than the normal starters. So it was good for all of those guys to get more reps and take a good step forward.
Q: What about your work in the return game?
A: Yeah, there are some things. Special teams coverage was not very good the first half. Obviously on our return game, we were putting Keshawn (Martin) on anything we were doing tonight. That's got to pick up. We've put a lot of confidence in Danieal (Manning) but we're trying to look at some young players. We may look at EZ next week?
Q: What do you think about Randy Bullock's performance?
A: I think some good and some bad. Consistency is key in this business when you're that guy. I know he missed that one right before the half. I want some consistency on his kick-off. It was interesting when we took the 13 point lead – I told him I want this kick-off to be like a 0-0, and it was the worst one he did all night. I'm just trying to get him to be consistent with his approach and everything.
Q: Any health issues?
A: I think we are pretty good. They came out okay, which is pretty good because we came out here with 70 guys available tonight. We have a big week at training camp next week.
Q: Do you like what you saw from the quarterbacks?
A: Yeah, I did. I think they competed well. Obviously, there are always things you can do better, but they found ways to make plays and keep us on the football field and move the ball well once we got our third downs going. I thought Matt was very sharp in his brief appearance.
Q: What about Willie Jefferson?
A: Willie showed up, I can tell you that. I have to go back and look at the film, but he obviously showed up and did some things on special teams.
Q: What about Wood?
A: He has been doing some good things. He exceeded expectations. We have to get him on board with the team about running out of bounds. That one time we had to pull him out and remind him how we do things around here. He has talent and he has opportunity, and when those two things come together, good things happen.
Q: Did you say anything to Klint before the game?
A: I haven't really seen him. He gave me a wave. Hopefully, I will see him in the tunnel. I am proud, I am glad he is here. I am glad Leslie (Frazier) is giving him a chance.
Q: You have a lot of young receivers. How does Hopkins stand out so far compared to what you have seen from other guys?
A: It is very early, but he has had probably as good a camp as it can get for any young player, and it carried over tonight. It is good to see that as he gets more comfortable with what we are doing, the more plays he is going to make.
WIDE RECEIVER DEANDRE HOPKINS**
Q: How did it feel?
A: It felt great coming out here, you know, it felt even better getting the W.
Q: Tell me about the touchdown catch, you went up and grabbed it didn't you?
A: T.J. (Yates) put the ball where it needed to be. I have to give all of the thanks to my quarterback, he put it where it need to be and I came down with the play.
Q: Can you take us through the play as you saw it develop?
A: I knew it was man-to-man coverage so I kind of felt like I was going to get he ball and T.J. put the ball in the right place and I came down with it.
Q: You said several times during camp you felt that every ball was yours?
A: Yeah, that is how I feel and that's how wide receivers on this team are.
Q: What did it mean to you at that moment to come down with that play?
A: It felt great having my first preseason touchdown.
Q: Was your heart beating any faster knowing that this was your first NFL game?
A: Not at all, once I got out there heard the fans and the kickoff. It kind of set in and all of the jitters went away.
Quarterback Case Keenum
Q: Take us through the play where you were rolling left and hit Lestar (Jean) down to the three-yard line.
A: Just a little play-action bootleg with Lestar coming from underneath there. It wasn't a very good ball, but he made a good catch and got in the endzone to put us out front.
Q: On the touchdown pass to Lestar you showed some significant emotion there on middle of the field with a little high-stepping, what were you thinking?**
A: Yeah, it was fun. That was my first touchdown pass in the NFL. I know it's preseason, but it was a long time coming for me.
Q: What do you think of this battle between you and T.J. (Yates) right now?
A: I think it's good. I think we're pushing each other and making each other better. That's what football's about. What's great is that T.J. is a great guy and I've got a lot of respect for him (not only) as a player, but as a person as well. We bounce things off each other and learn from each other on and off the field. It's a good chemistry we've got going lately.
Q: Matt Schaub said earlier last week that it's night and day for you from last year to this year. Do feel that way when you're out there now?
A: I do. The preseason from last year to this year is completely different. You know, I feel like I am playing quarterback as opposed to trying not to get hit last year. Being able to go out there and complete passes and move the offense, it's a lot of fun. That's what I love.
Free-Safety Shiloh Keo
Q: Start off by telling us about your pick.
A: I had the deep middle third. They ran quick routes; I saw the quarterback throw the ball and I made a break for the ball. It bounced off the receiver's hands, and I was in the right place at the right time.
Q: What did you think of the defense when the ones were out there, and how you did?**
A: We did well, but I think there might have been one or two things we might have communicated wrong. For the most part we were on the same page, and we did a good job with the time we had and the reps we had out there. There is always room for improvement, but we need to go back and watch film and see what we did right, what needs to be fixed and work from there.
Q: How are you a better safety this year than from last year?
A: Each year you get better and better. You can ask anybody. As the years add up, they just feel more comfortable out there, which is how I feel. I have a better relationship with the guys. I hold myself to a higher amount of accountability now that I'm a veteran guy.
Q: Not thinking as much?
A: Exactly, no thinking just playing.
Nose Tackle Earl Mitchell
Q: What did you think of your production in the first quarter when you had three tackles for a loss?
A: It felt good to finally get out there playing football and making plays. I just wanted to step up for my team.
Q: What were your emotions when you got the quarterback sack?
A: I just felt good. I'm just trying to make plays any way that I can. They just left it open, and I just tried to take advantage of it.
Q: It looked like the nose tackles as a whole did pretty well tonight against the interior of the Vikings offensive line.
A: We're definitely trying to step up for this team, trying to just make sure that we're battling inside, making plays any way that we can. We have J.J. (Watt) and Antonio (Smith) making plays; we have to do our part as well.
Q: What was happening that you did that you took advantage of to be able to make plays?
A: I tried to take advantage of what they were giving me, playing a little more firm, a little more comfortable. It's my third year, so I'm just doing what I can.
Q: What was it like being that dominant in that stretch?
A: It felt good. They were definitely giving me some opportunities to make plays, and I capitalized on them. That was all I could do, so that's what I did.
Q: What have you done to improve going into this season?
A: Being more comfortable, being sure that I'm playing loose and understanding my position on the field. I'm trying to be more technical, understanding the down and distance, and know where I am at the time and finding my game.
RB Cierre Wood
Q: What type of impact do you feel you made with your performance today?
A: I felt I made a tremendous impact. That's just a little bit of what I can do. I really didn't take that long to get started. I just wanted to get out there and prove I could play this game with everybody else.
Q: What's that like for you, you got that moment, you were able to seize it and make something happen.
A: It was just like being in college except for everybody's bigger, faster, and stronger. My reads and everything had to be precise. There couldn't have been any hesitation.
Q: How good was the line tonight?
A: The line was great. They did everything they were supposed to be doing and more. It just shows this team has a lot of great things to come.
QB T.J. Yates
Q: When you threw that ball, you knew he could go get it. Was that on your mind?
A: Absolutely. He's shown to everybody all camp long that he will go up and get that ball for you. Luckily we got the right coverage, and I just threw it up and he made a heck of a play.
Q: Talk about this battle right now what you and Case, what you all are doing?
A: It's good. We are both playing some good football right now. The quarterback room as a whole today played really good. That's just what we are here for. We're all helping each other out, rooting for each other. Coach Karl is going to be happy tonight.
Q: When you walk across those lines onto the field are you, somewhere in the back of your mind, aware that you are being pushed hard?
A: Yeah, absolutely. That's how it is in this profession, especially at the backup quarterback position; you know there is going to be competition every year in that spot. We have one heck of a quarterback room, lot of good quarterbacks and there's always going to be really good competition.
Q: What was your thoughts when DeAndre came down with that catch?
A: I thought he jumped too early at first so I was like, "Ahhh," but then he hung up there for a really long time, made one heck of a catch in traffic, and used those big hands to his advantage right there.