Texans players met with the media on Friday afternoon at Reliant Stadium as they reported for training camp, which begins on Saturday morning at the Methodist Training Center. Following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
OLB Connor Barwin
LT Duane Brown
RG Antoine Caldwell
TE Owen Daniels
WR Andre Johnson
C Chris Myers
SS Glover Quin
OLB Brooks Reed
QB Matt Schaub
DE Antonio Smith
DE J.J. Watt
OLB Connor Barwin
(on his hair) "I got my high and tight flat-top for training camp. This is the Gary Kubiak-inspired haircut, so I can't wait for him to see it. See what he has to say.
(on his lines on the side of his haircut) This is not a (Gary) Kubiak thing. Maybe I can talk him into putting a little bit of style into his flat top, but we'll see. I doubt it."
(on if he can fool any of the new players into thinking he is Coach Gary Kubiak) "I don't think so but they guy who was cutting my hair said I literally looked like a completely different person with the shave and the hair taken down. This haircut's only training camp."
(on DE Antonio Smith saying that he needed to repeat his performance a second year) "Yeah, I've been given some compliments, but there are a lot of guys in this league that came in and had 10-plus sacks in a season. There's a big difference when you get back-to-back 10- plus sacks compared to guys that have done it once in their career. So I obviously want to build on that and not be a guy that's just done it one year."
(on the difference between coming back this year, not worried about an injury ) "This camp's a big difference than last year, obviously. You were unsure about my ankle, how I would respond to playing full-speed football. I come in a lot more comfortable than I did last year. But obviously I've got the pressure with (OLB) Whitney (Mercilus) who's gonna try and rotate, so that's always there. And I just want to build on last year. Everyone knows we had a great defense, but we all still want to improve."
(on how much the front seven can actually improve) "We can get better. We need to start where we finished last year. I think we didn't catch our groove until about Week 7, Week 8 last year, so if we can start the way we finished last year, that would be a huge improvement. I know me and Antonio (Smith) on the right side can continue to improve on our stunts in games, and I know J.J. (Watt) and Brooks (Reed) just started hitting a couple of them toward the end of the year so they have a lot of room to still improve with that part of pass rush."
(on DE Antonio Smith's prediction of 8-10 sacks this season) "Thanks, Antonio (Smith). I hope he gets 8-10 sacks, too. But obviously my goal is just to build upon last year. Antonio has a huge role in that. I had three or four sacks that were due just because of him so hopefully he can get me to those 8-10 sacks again."
(on his outlook going into the last year of his deal) "I have no problem with going into this year without an extension. I don't think there will be any negotiating during the season. I'll obviously be focused on the season and they'll be focused on what they do, getting players and players get hurt, stuff like that. It's something that will work itself out with (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Rick (Smith) and my agent, and if after the year it doesn't, then we'll work it out then. I'm not concerned. I'm completely focused on football and I honestly believe that will work itself out."
(on people saying he's in better shape than everybody else) "I don't know what that is. I don't know if I'm in better shape than everybody, I can run pretty good as far as conditioning goes. Our front seven is very competitive and its competitive in the off season. Me, (OLB) Brooks (Reed), (DE) J.J. (Watt), (Brian) Cushing, everybody's running against each other. I'm usually up in the front. I think it comes from my basketball background when you've played basketball for 15 years in a row all summer long like I did, I just have the lungs for it that I can keep going. So I think it definitely comes from my background playing in college and high school and growing up."
(on the different personalities of the linebackers and their chemistry) "I think it definitely matters. I think we have a ton of interesting characters and everybody's so different. If you just look at Brooks (Reed) and J.J. (Watt), they are so different. Antonio (Smith) and Shaun Cody, both funny character guys, but completely different. Me and (Brian) Cushing obviously are completely different as well but everybody gets along together. It works out perfect."
(on DE J.J. Watt becoming a megastar) "I think J.J. Watt definitely has potential the last four weeks of the year and I think any of our coaches would say this; there wasn't a defensive tackle that was playing any better than him. So if he can play the way he did at end of last year the start of this year, then that's exactly what's probably gonna happen."
(on being a marshal of the Art Car Parade) "That was a ton of fun. It was something that fits right into my niche of what I like to do. It showed the support to ask two football players to be a part of that because it's kind of the eclectic art scene, and I think one of the coolest things that Houston does. I think there was over 300,000 people that showed up for that parade, I think it's one of the biggest parades in Houston so that was a huge honor to be a part of that and fun to do it with J.J. (Watt)."
(on headed into camp this year compared to last) "Well once you've had some success on the field it allows you to show who you really are a little more off the field and be yourself because you're a little bit more comfortable. Obviously, I've made Houston my home. I spent the entire offseason here, really got involved with the community. We have six months off, our offseason training is only nine or ten weeks and you can only lift weights and run so many hours in the day so it allowed me to go into the city, meet a lot of people, and do a lot of cool things. "
LT Duane Brown
(on training camp) "I'm excited. This is my fifth one. This is some of the most anticipation and excitement I've felt in this building and throughout the city. I'm just looking forward to it. "
(on how he is feeling physically) "I feel great. I've been working out pretty strong throughout the offseason. I've spent a lot of time in the heat preparing for it, so it'll be pretty good."
(on his weight compared to offseasons in the past) "I'm about 318, so around the same area. I expect to lose probably three to five pounds in the next week or two, which will put me to where I want to be for the season."
(on getting a contract extension before the season starts) "It's not a big concern of mine. I'll let the business handle itself. I'm just here to play. This is my biggest season coming up thus far and I'm just looking to perform."
(on improving personally) "I can improve a lot. There are a lot of factors that play into pass protection. I gave up some hurries. A lot had to do with the quarterback getting rid of the ball before my guy got there. So just technique, both in the pass and run game. You can never have enough technique at the left tackle position; and just having more fun. This is going to be a lot of fun for me this year. It's the most experience I've ever had and I'm coming off the best season I've ever had."
(on the offensive line changes) "I think we'll be fine. Both guys plugging in the right side have a lot of experience in the system and also game experience. Both have played together on the same side in practice a lot so they have some pretty good chemistry. Still got to take training camp to lock that in before the season starts, but I don't think we'll miss a beat."
(on RG Antoine Caldwell and RT Rashad Butler) "Rashad (Butler) has been here for six years so he probably knows the most outside of Chris (Myers). He knows the offense like the back of his hand. Also, he's been a great player who has been both right and left tackle for six years now. Antoine (Caldwell) is a guy who has a lot of game experience, who has rotated with Mike Brisiel in the past two years. A lot of people don't know that. He's played a lot of football since he's been here. So those guys aren't new and they're really looking to take advantage of this opportunity."
(on giving the quarterbacks credit for limiting the sack total) "Like I said, I think I played pretty well last year, but I can improve a lot by looking at my film from last year. There are a lot of factors that play into not giving up many sacks. It's not just me blocking my guy but the quarterbacks getting rid of the ball and the wide receivers getting open."
(on establishing a leadership role) "It feels pretty good. I'm going into year five but I'm still considered a vet, considering how many young guys we have. I think just my passion and the intensity I bring to the game; a lot of guys respect that. I take that leadership role and I cherish it. I'm looking forward to being able to lead both by example and a little more vocally this year."
(on importance of having QB Matt Schaub back) "Matt is a great player and one of the top quarterbacks in the league. He's played at a high level for a long time. He's led us to some great wins and when you give him time back there, he can pick defenses apart. I think he's really excited to get back healthy and get ready to get out there, and prove to people that he's ready to go and ready to lead us as far as we want to go."
(on his comfort level when he knows QB Matt Schaub is playing) "I feel comfortable with whoever is back there but Matt's (Schaub) been in the system for as long as I've been here, so I know what he's capable of and I know he can make some things happen."
(on being a Super Bowl contender) "We still got to go out there and play. I think that we have all the pieces to get there. You can't really speak ahead of yourself, but I think everyone knows where we went last year, and we're all trying to go further."
(on the team's high expectations) "I think we're no longer much of an underdog and we're on everyone's radar. A prime example of that is how many primetime games we have on television, and a lot of people looking forward to us playing this year and going pretty far."
(on the offense and how excited about it) "Very excited. I'm very excited to have Andre (Johnson) back to 100 percent. I know he's been pretty frustrated and not been able to play as much as he'd like. I was talking to him a little while ago and having him and Matt (Schaub) back and having Arian (Foster) healthy. It's going to be exciting. I think we're going to have a really explosive offense this year."
(reaction to hearing how quickly tickets sold this year) "Wow, I didn't know that. That's great. Having Reliant Stadium rocking is something that really gets us going. There are a few games I can think of from last year, the Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Cincinnati game and the playoffs. I've never experienced anything like it. Having that much excitement in the building really can propel us to play better football."
(on his wedding and honeymoon) "It was a great ceremony. I spent a few days in Thailand and it was a great experience."
(on marriage potentially changing football mindset) "I'm just focused. This is probably the most mature I've been. I have a wife who backs and supports me and it makes me more focused to play great football."
(on dealing with success) "It can be difficult (to maintain), but having people upstairs, like (Owner) Bob McNair, (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Rick Smith, Coach (Gary) Kubiak and the rest of the staff keeping us grounded and keeping us hungry. I think we'll do better this year. We're not satisfied with where we were last year. Being in the playoffs and making history for this franchise means a lot, but we have a bigger goal in mind. I've never seen so many people so excited to be back and ready to get back to work. We're not thinking we've accomplished much. We know what we can still do."
RG Antoine Caldwell
(on how he's approaching training camp) "How I approach every one of them; same preparation, same focus. I feel confident just like every season and just really looking forward to going back out there."
(on what it means to him to be in this position/ have opportunity) "It means everything. A lot of times opportunities don't come around like this for pros and I'm looking forward to it. Like I said, I prepared hard, I'm focused and ready to go. Right now I'm looking at it as an opportunity to be a starter on this football team. Nothing's set in stone, it's another opportunity for me to go out and prove I can be a starter out of the rest of the group and I'm looking forward to it."
(on what it means that the coaches have faith in him as a potential starter) "It means a lot and, like I said, I've been in this system for a while now. I'm confident in this system. Going into my fourth training camp now, it's kind of routine for me. So I feel like I need to go out there and put the work in with the rest of the guys, and I feel like the chemistry with the rest of the group is what's most important. The more work you put in, the more you prepare, you'll get that continuity with the guys, and I feel good about it."
(on critics' skepticism about the strength of the right side of the line) "I really don't listen to a lot of that. Me, (RT) Rashad (Butler) and the rest of the guys know we have a lot of work to do, it's back to the drawing board for us. Every year is a new year and that's the way the starting five or the whole group is gonna approach it. We gotta make an identity for this football team and this offensive line, and that's what we're looking forward to doing.
(on if there is pressure in moving to a starting position) "No, not at all. You have to prepare and get ready for a game, practice, season all the same way. You feel pressure if you haven't done what you're supposed to do to prepare for a season, and I feel like I'm ready to do that. So right now I don't feel like there's any added pressure to the situation.
(on what the coaches' confidence means to him) "I know this is a big boy league and if
they didn't have confidence in me they would have done something else, I guess. But that's out of my hands. Everything I can control is on that field and how I prepare and that's what I'm looking forward to going out there and doing, proving that I can be a starter on this football team."
(on feeling more ready to become a starter this year than previous years) "Not really. I approach it no different than I have any other season. With Mike (Brisiel) not being here; I learned a lot from Mike. Mike's a great football player. I talked to him the other day and he told me I gotta be ready to step up, step in and do your job and that's what I'm just ready to do."
(on what he talked about with Mike Brisiel) "Just how everything's going. How preparation's going. Me and Mike are real close and he's taught me a lot just being here. He's one of the most mentally tough guys we've had, and I'm just looking forward to stepping in and doing anything I can do to help this football team."
(on the biggest difference between starting and being a reserve) "I don't know that it is really different. It doesn't change the way you prepare or the way you try to be focused for practice or a game. The only thing different will be, I guess, I'll be running out when the first five come out there. Other than that, there's nothing too much different about it."
(on importance of playing time he has gotten in the past) "Oh it's huge, and I think there's nothing like game experience. You can practice all you want, you can prepare all you want, but until you're actually in that game and live bullets are flying, it's hard to really get acclimated to it. So I feel like being out there on the field with the guys for so long has helped me out a lot. But a lot of work still has to be done and the chemistry, the continuity on the offensive line has to be right, and I'm just looking forward to doing whatever I can do to help this football team."
TE Owen Daniels
(on the pressure of the upcoming season) "I think we're all on the same page. Getting to the playoffs last year was clearly a step in the right direction. Now that that's a realistic goal, and now getting a ring is a realistic goal. It's definitely a realistic goal for us. That's what we want to do. I don't think we're looking too far ahead. We can't get there until we play the preseason games and get through Week 1. The mind frame though is to do the right things all year long to put ourselves in a good position to get a ring."
(on the national expectations) "It's pretty cool. It's cool to hear because you go from never making the playoffs and then you're in that position for one year and people want to start talking about that you're a legitimate contender. We're going to be battling the best teams in the AFC to be in that position."
(on entering training camp healthy) "I feel good. Last year was one of the first healthier years I've had in a while. I always feel like I have my best seasons when I'm coming off a healthy season and then I can have a healthy offseason."
(on the offensive weapons) "It's exciting. We have as many weapons as we've ever had. We have playmakers in the run and pass game and just being able to keep the teams off balance and be able to be a threat in whatever we're doing is huge. When you have all your main guys healthy, defenses have to prepare for every little thing. The more we can get defenses to prepare week to week, the easier it's going to be for us."
WR Andre Johnson
(on how he's feeling) "Feeling pretty good. I've been out running routes with Matt (Schaub) for the past few weeks. I feel good, feel back to normal and just ready to go."
(on if his procedure was a concern) "Not really. You have injuries that happen that are out of your control. There's nothing you can really do about it. I didn't expect on having another knee scope or anything like that, but it happened. It's over with. I'm feeling fine and I'm ready to go."
(on if he's going to be limited at all in training camp) "No, I'll be full-go when we go out on the practice field."
(on if he had anything special done on his knee to get it ready that he wouldn't normally do) "No, I had nothing special done to it. Just the scope and just rehabbing it every day."
(on if he will practice in the afternoons in the Methodist Training Center) "No, they never make me practice on the turf, so I think that will continue to stay the same."
(on teammates saying the expectation is to win the Super Bowl) "I'm glad they feel that way. I've been saying that since we lost our playoff game to Baltimore. I feel like we have the pieces in place. I think just getting the experience of the playoffs last year for the first time, I think we all know what to expect and we know what it takes to get to the top of that mountain. After you experience something, you can't wait to get a chance to go at it again. This will be our next chance to get at it again. Everybody's healthy and excited about it, so we're going to give it a great run."
(on his excitement level for training camp) "I'm just pumped because I missed a lot of time last year. I've been hearing things about people saying I'm getting old and stuff like that. I know that I can still play at a high level. I know that I can still put up big numbers. Me and Matt (Schaub) were riding over to U of H (University of Houston) during the time that we couldn't be here, working out. We talked about a lot of things. He was my chauffeur. We had a lot of fun. We had a lot of good workouts and we talked about a lot of things. I think it was a great time for me and him to also bond."
(on if people saying he's getting old is motivation) "Yeah, it's definitely motivation. It's fun. I laugh at it."
(on if you're only as old as you feel) "No, I don't feel old at all. I think that's pretty true. It's a new season, new training camp. I'm healthy and I'm ready to go at it again."
(on if being injured while the team was winning was the worst part of his career) "It was probably the worst feeling. Even though you're on the team, when you're not playing, you kind of don't feel like you're a part of it. My teammates made me feel very comfortable. Every time they accomplished something, they always came back and said, 'You're the guy that deserves it the most' and things like that. It made me feel good from that standpoint, but at the same time, you still want to be out there on the field playing. I missed a lot of time and I feel like I have a lot to prove. I want to show people that I can still play at a high level."
(on if he played at a high level in the playoffs) "Yeah, somewhat. I mean, I couldn't really say that I felt like myself during the playoffs, but I was still able to go out and make plays. I feel back to normal now, so I'm just ready to go."
(on if having something to prove is what drives him) "Yeah, because I feel like the injury was a setback. Whenever I'm healthy and able to play, I can go out and put up big numbers. I think that I can do that as long as I'm healthy. Just hearing some of the things about me getting old and stuff like, that's just like a challenge. Like I said, I laugh at it and I'm excited about this upcoming season."
(on what it is about WR DeVier Posey that makes him want to help mentor him) "I didn't have that when I came here. You had Jabar (Gaffney) who was just a year in. You know, when you draft a guy that high, you expect him to come in and make an impact on the team. I've been here. This is going to be my 10th season, so why not show him the ropes. Eventually, the keys are going to get turned over to someone else anyways. You have to teach the guys, show them what's going on and I want him out on the field with me. I want him to be out there. I want him to go out and be able to have a big impact on this team. He has expectations to live up to and I don't want nobody writing bad about him."
(on he's capable of getting 100 receptions again) "Yeah, I think I can do it as long as I'm healthy. Like you said before, I was on pace to do it three times in a row, but I had to sit out because of injury. I think if I was healthy, it would have been accomplished."
(on if he weighs the same this year) "Yeah, I weigh the same. I've had a few people tell me I look like I've trimmed up a little bit, but I still weigh the same. This morning, I was 230."
(on if he's ever had conversations with older receivers on how to extend his career) "Yeah, I had a chance early in my career to talk to Jerry (Rice) when he was with Denver before he retired. I asked him what kept him going and things like that. He told me it's his love for the game. Even though he had accomplished so much and had all the records and things like that, he didn't mind a coach telling him what he was doing wrong and things like that. I think that's where some guys go wrong. They tend to burn bridges with coaches. They feel like they've been in the League 10 or 11 years and nobody can tell them what to do. That's not me. I don't have that problem. I don't mind. Even if DeVier or a rookie was to tell me 'Hey, you did this wrong on this play', I don't mind that because they're holding me accountable and those are the kind of guys you want to be around."
(on advice coming from Jerry Rice) "Yeah, you talk about the best to ever play the game, so anything he tells you, you're going to be open to listen to."
(on if he's friends with anyone on the Miami Heat) "I went to high school with Udonis Haslem. Me and James Jones went to elementary and middle school together. LeBron (James) and D-Wade (Dwyane Wade), me and D-Wade are on the Jordan brand together, so I see those guys from time to time when I'm back home. I had the chance to talk to LeBron after they won the championship. I saw him out one day. It was pretty exciting. I got a chance to go to the game when they closed it out, so it was a pretty exciting time in Miami."
(on what he talked about with LeBron James) "It was kind of crazy because when he first signed with the Heat, I saw him out and he was just like, 'Man, go handle your business on the football field and we're going to take care of our business down here.' It didn't happen last year when he said it. LeBron's my favorite basketball player. I'm just glad he got that monkey off his back so now he can go out and just relax and play the game the way he knows how to play it. I think he'll win a couple more rings."
(on if he wants to get the same monkey off his back) "Definitely, that's something I think about every day. That's my ultimate goal, winning the championship. At first, it was the playoffs. That was something that always haunted me. I've had a chance to play in the playoffs, so now the ultimate goal is winning the championship."
(on if he compares himself and the Texans to what the Miami Heat did) "You're talking about a different sport, but at the same time, everything that they did is going to be talked about. Everywhere they go is going to be packed. Everybody was real critical of them because of the big announcement and things like that. I don't think people watch us like that, so I don't think we'll have that type of pressure on us. I think if we go out and do what we're supposed to do, the goal is definitely within reach. Like you said, some of my teammates have been here already and talked about it. Like I said, I'm glad they feel that way. I'm glad we're all thinking the same thing. Hopefully, this is the year we'll get it done."
C Chris Myers
(on the right side of the offensive line) "I think it's just natural for everyone to be concerned about it, but from a standpoint playing center on the offensive line and being with the two guys that are plugged in there, Antoine Caldwell and Rashad Butler. They've been around here for a long time and they both have tremendous starting experience. Caldwell started pretty much half the season for the last three years in a row, so he's got all the game experience you need. Rashad, he started that one time during the suspension, so he's the first guy we're going to plug in there. Being able to plug these guys in there, we're already a step ahead."
(on the pressure of the upcoming season) "I think the pressure is something we've been waiting for and the city has been waiting for. This organization has been trying to get that type of pressure on us. It's not just try to win a division and get to the playoffs. It's Super Bowl or bust. And I think that's what every organization tries to get to in the NFL"
(on the pressure potentially becoming a burden) "I think that if you let them become a burden and drag u down, then you're not treating them the right way. Everyone knows what it took last year to get to the spot we were in. We had tremendous adversity the whole season with injuries. It was a lot of hard work from rookies, up to the older veterans. It just takes tremendous work and we know what it takes now, so it'll be fun to implement that and get a step above.
(on the new contract) "That was unbelievable but that's all in the past. But it's the offseason now and there's a focus…like the new guys stepping in and the roles we need to plug. And any way I can help will be great."
SS Glover Quin
(on the mindset going into this season compared to going into last year) "Coming into last year, we were coming off a bad season. We had no other alternative but to get better because we were last. We were in uncharted territories with a new coach, new system, but we knew we had a bunch of guys that could play. Coach Phillips (Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips) did a great job of putting us in position to make plays and we came out and made plays. We ended up being a pretty good defense. Going into this year, we have to be better than we were last year. The League's going to be ready for us and we have a lot of confidence. We've got a lot of starters coming back, most all of us. We're a very confident group. We're going to go out and work every day to be even better because last year we didn't have an offseason and so we were just kind of playing. This year, we've had an offseason and we've gotten a lot better already, so we're just going to be looking forward to getting better each and every day of camp."
(on if Wade Phillips will add new things to the defense this year) "Coach Phillips does a great job of allowing his players to play. He understands the players that he has on the team and their strengths and their weaknesses. He does a great job of seeing things that guys do well and coming up with ways to utilize that. I'm pretty sure after having a full season under his belt with us and an offseason, he'll know more about certain players and he may have some wrinkles for us. We'll just have to wait and see."
(on the pass rush improving this offseason) "As a DB, the front seven, those are your best friends, guys that can get after the quarterback and put pressure on him, cause him to be a little flustered and make some bad passes or errant throws. They did a great job in addressing that in the draft. Those guys are coming off last year playing with a lot of great confidence. Those guys are close and they work hard, high energy. I expect that pass rush to be even better this year, just being the second year in the system and like I said, guys just playing with a lot of confidence coming off last year. There's a whole bunch of confidence around here and I think that's what we're going to be good at."
(on the chemistry of the secondary) "We're a brotherhood. We're the same way. We do so many things together. We're together all the time, especially during camp, all our meetings, dinners, hanging out. We work out together as well. I think it's like that, especially on our team. The DBs are really, really close. The front seven are really, really close. Even on the offense, the O-line is really, really close. I just think you tend to get really, really close with the guys that you work with every day in meetings and things. You get really close with those guys and then it carries on throughout the team and you just have a close team and that carries over on the field."
(on how much the veteran defensive backs try to develop the young receivers) "We got to come out as veteran DBs and play to our standards every day. We got some young receivers, but we can't let that change the way we prepare. We have to make them play up to our level. It's going to be our job to go out each and every day and be high energy, full speed, competitive, making plays on the ball all the time and hopefully they'll adapt to the way we play. We were pretty good in pass defense last year. This year, we've got to be better. Hopefully we can start that in practice and our receivers, if they can compete against us and make plays on us, hopefully that will fare well against the competition in the League."
OLB Brooks Reed
(on the benefits of having a full year in the system ) "Obviously it's a year's worth of experience, along with the playoffs, and it's been quite an experience to come into the league your first year and be able to play in the playoffs. I felt I was playing my best towards the end of the season and I just tried to carry over through the summer with OTAs and now obviously camps. So hopefully the front seven can keep that going."
(on whether or not he surprised himself with his success last season) "I expected that. Playing 70 snaps a game, you're just gonna be a better player and I'm just looking to improve off that a lot more. My coaches have communicated to me that I have a lot more room for improvement, so that's what I'm looking to do."
(on expectations for himself and the team) Team-wise, as a defense we wanna keep playing consistently like we did last year and just be a dominant defense, and we have the right attitude to do that. Personally, getting lots of sacks doesn't hurt. And that's what they pay me to do, to get sacks. So as long as I'm getting those I think they'll be happy."
(on if he's feeling confident on weak and strong sides) "Yeah. Right now I'm primarily playing on the left side in our forward three package and in college I was always on the right side. So if they ever need me to go on the right for some reason, rotational-wise, I'll be fine with that."
(on being a veteran compared to rookie) "I'm a lot more comfortable. My eyes are in the right place, and I think that's what people mean when they say I'm a lot more comfortable in this system. Especially at my position, your eyes have to be at the right spot, and I think I'm at that point. I feel loose out there, and I know what I'm doing before the plays, so it definitely helps."
(on his mindset the first day of camp) "Those first few days are always the most intense I feel like. Even if you don't have pads, everyone is trying to impress. All the new guys, all the new faces and a lot of these guys you haven't seen. It'll be intense, and you're gonna hear the coaches yelling and screaming, almost for no reason, just because they like to do it. But it'll be funv just getting after it this year and watching the front seven make plays because we've b been working very hard this off-season, so we expect a lot."
(on whether or not he'll respond if someone calls out "rookie") "No, my eyes will be looking around. Technically I'm still a rookie until I think my third or second game. That's what the vets say."
(on going through camp for a second time) "Those first couple weeks is just full go, full throttle. It's gonna be the same this year. As we get closer to the week one game, they taper off and we'll start to see lower reps, get the other guys in, get more reps with the newer guys. That's one of the things I like in my second year. I kinda know what to expect now, there are no big surprises. It'll be nicer."
(on talking to OLB Whitney Mercilus in off-season) "The first year guys were on a different schedule than us so, other than a few times that we trained together, we've been pretty much separated. I practiced with him at OTA's but that's pretty much it."
(on advice he could give OLB Whitney Mercilus) "Just because he's (OLB Whitney Mercilus) a first-year guy, he's gonna get coached hard. It was a surprise to me last year when (Linebackers Coach) Reggie (Herring) and (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach) Bill (Kollar) were out there yelling at me for every little thing. I'd tell him not to take it too seriously. They're trying to get you to be a better player, it's not anything personal."
(on DE J.J. Watt's expectations to be a superstar this year) "I like that idea. I think he will and he's one of the hardest workers on this team. I've trained with him and he's stronger than I've ever seen him, and he's abnormally fast for a man that size. He's got unlimited ability so he's set himself up to have a great year."
(on whether DE J.J. Watt's can reach his potential) "Yeah, I think he can be a lot better than he was last year. We all expect that out of each other, and I think that's why this group is so special. We all expect a lot from each other, and I hope that it all comes together."
(on expectations for himself) "Stay what to ex healthy. If I stay healthy, the production will come. It's a long grind through the season and staying healthy is the most important thing."
(on things he's learned from Linebackers Coach Reggie Herring and Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach Bill Kollar) "There are two different kind of coaches. Reggie (Herring) is more of a technique guy, finesse. And Bill's (Kollar) just straight out effort. If you're not running the ball right, he's on you the whole practice if you offend him that one time. I know how they both coach so that's another thing about having another year under your belt. Knowing what to expect and how to practice is gonna help me this second year."
QB Matt Schaub
(on training camp) "Yeah we're here again, late July. We're excited to all get back and get to work so we're looking forward to tomorrow getting back on the practice field and getting after it."
(on team's high expectations) "With the pieces that we have in this locker room and the guys that we have, anything less (than a Super Bowl appearance) won't be getting the job done. Especially after coming off last season. We took the next step as a team and the only next step after that is to get to the Super Bowl and win it. So anything short of that will be a disappointment in our eyes. But we can't win it here in July and August, we gotta go out there and get our team in a position when the regular season starts to start stacking up wins."
(on having a healthy WR Andre Johnson) "I think it will mean a lot for him (Andre Johnson) to be healthy, it means a lot for me to be back out there personally. We've been talking about now for two months, working out together, throwing and everything. So we're as excited about camp as we were when we were rookies. We're anxious to get back out there."
(on working out this summer with WR Andre Johnson) "It's meant a lot for me, personally, not going through the OTAs and practice sessions and getting some of that fundamental work and technique work done with the coaches on the field. For me to do it on my own with Dre (Andre Johnson) and continue that timing aspect- just throwing and staying in football shape- has been a big thing for me. So that's what I've been focused on all summer."
(on putting the injuries behind and getting on the field with WR Andre Johnson) "Well, you really never know. There's only so much we can get out of those sessions on the field and what we were doing and the rehab. Until you get in a practice environment or a game environment, you really don't know how it's gonna be. But I have the utmost confidence in what I've been able to do with the trainers and on my own. It feels great and ready to go, and he (Andre Johnson) does, too."
(on if the team is ready for the pressure of high expectations) "Absolutely. I think we have the right frame of mind and the right leadership on this team to attack those type of environments and be put in that position. But to get to where we want to go, you have to go through those things. You have to go on the road in tough environments on Monday night and Sunday night and on Thanksgiving and win those types of games. There's a ton of good talent in this league, a ton of good teams. But to get to be the best you have to beat the best, and we feel we're up there, but we still have to go out there and do it."
(on his foot) "It feels good as it always has. I think about it (my injury) from time to time because to think of where u want to go you have to realize where you've been. There are constant reminders to me of where I've come from and what's happened the past eight, nine months, but it's all in the past, and I'm looking forward to what's right in the future."
(on playing with support on his foot) "No, it's business as usual. There's a little orthotic I have to wear, but a lot of guys wear that regardless just for extra support. It's nothing that will hinder anything that I do."
(on how WR Andre Johnson looked during workouts) "He looked like Andre (Johnson). I think we both would say that we look like ourselves, me throwing to him and him running his routes. It's like we have the last five, six years."
(on how nice it is to see WR Andre Johnson back out there ) "It's been great. Unfortunately he's there because he had a little procedure done, I'm there because I had my foot surgery, but at the same time, we're helping each other to get back, get better and be ready for this year."
(on his role with helping young receivers) "A large part of my job is bringing them along. Coaches can do so much and explain so much in meetings and on the field, but ultimately, we're the ones out there on the field between the lines, playing and in the huddle. To be on that same page, for me to convey to them where I expect them to be or how to run a route or to make sure their depth is here, where the ball's gonna be placed against certain defenses. That's all valuable to them. And for me, understanding their body movements and how they get in and out of breaks, what routes they run are their strengths. A lot of that work is done in the off-season, so we've been able to get a lot of good work this summer."
(on the team to beat in the AFC) "I think you go by last year right now. New England was in the Super Bowl representing the AFC so obviously it goes to them, but each year is different. You really don't know what you have until you get out there. You start formulating your team and assemble that bond, that leadership, that cohesiveness that you're gonna have that's gonna carry you to the playoffs. Those type of teams that make those runs. It's hard to say right now that we're the team to beat, I don't want to pronounce ourselves that, but I think we have a very high confidence level. What we have in this locker room and the pieces that we have, going forward, we're gonna be a team to be reckoned with. But we have to go out each game and prove it."
(on getting back to work with a new offensive line) "I'm excited about it. Those guys aren't new to the system, they aren't new to this place, we've all been around here for three, four years together. Between (Rashad) Butler and (Antoine) Caldwell and the young guys bringing them along, they had a good taste of what we do with OTAs and mini-camp. But those other guys have played in a ton of ballgames for us, so there's no lack of cohesion up there. They're gonna be asked to do more on a regular basis, be more consistent. I'm excited for what they bring to the table and what they can do. It's just about going out and getting it done."
(on his expectations on Duane Brown) "Duane (Brown) molded himself into, in my opinion, the best left tackle in the game. I'll say it for him. Watching him play and the way he prepares, the way he attacks his job, he's asked on a weekly basis to block the best player on the other team. If you look at who we played last year and who he had to block, there were a lot of those guys that didn't even get near touching the quarterback. To have that confidence that that side's taken care of between him and Wade Smith, that's a key factor in playing the quarterback position. I never have to worry about Duane and what he's doing and what he has on his plate because he's gonna get the job done."
DE Antonio Smith
(on expectations for the season) "I think everybody would agree with me on the team that expectations can be no lower than getting to the Super Bowl. Everybody should have that goal and if you don't have that goal, then it's like a defeatist mindset. We have some new pieces this year so it's going to be different. We have to figure out what we have and how the team is going to work. We've brought in a couple key guys and a couple key guys are gone, so they just have to fall in suit. I think the fun is going to kick right back up, just like it ended last year. We were having fun and the team was firing on all cylinders. I think we should get back to our form here pretty soon."
(on how the defense adjusts and learns Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips' style) "Wade made it so easy last year that I don't see (this year) being much different. Wade (Phillips) pretty much made it simple and let us just go out and play. I think that's the style of defense he's going to have. I think the one thing that we have on our side this year is that we have a better understanding of it. We can disguise things better and we're more comfortable and know what we have to do. The sky is the limit with this defense. If we do what we've got to do, we should be the number one defense in the league."
(on OLB Whitney Mercilus having an impact rookie season like DE J.J. Watt did last year) "The only thing that stops any rookie from coming in and doing that are themselves. So if he comes in with the right frame of mind, I think he can do exactly what J.J. (Watt) did. He's going to have the opportunity to do it so it's up to him."
(on the confidence level of the front seven) "We're pretty confident. We have so many characters on this team. All you can do is have fun and enjoy it. And when you have fun with football and enjoy it, you play your best football."
(on the team receiving extra media attention) "We're going to deal with it like we did last year and have fun with it. We're going to enjoy it as it comes. This team is good at doing that and still handling their business. We proved that last year. I don't think distractions were ever a factor in our season last year. We had a lot of distractions with injuries last year and we still kept trucking, so I don't think the media will mess that up."
(on his personal feelings of the pressure to make the Super Bowl) "Every coach preaches Super Bowl expectations and I believe in it. I think that if you don't set your sights for the Super Bowl at the beginning of the year, then you're setting yourself up to be second-, third- or fourth-best. I don't know if it was the same amount of pressure to get to the Super Bowl when I went before, but it was still a lot of pressure. That's how Whis (Ken Whisenhunt) started when he came in because he came from a team that had been to and won Super Bowls, so he installed that. I think Coach Kubiak is the exact same way."
(on expectations of DE J.J. Watt) "I expect J.J. (Watt) to become a mega star. But he can't fall off. I told him that this year people are going to be looking for you, you're not going to surprise them anymore, and they're going to get up to play because of your reputation. And it can only go two ways with that; either fall off or become a mega star. I believe in him and think that he has a tremendous upside and he's just beginning to scratch the surface of the player that he can be. And ya'll are going to see a lot from J.J. Watt."
(on expectations of OLB Connor Barwin) "Connor (Barwin) is on that year where he has to repeat what he did because he had a blowout year. He's just developing into one of the best ends in the league now, so he's just got to go and repeat that."
(on feeling more of a leadership responsibility) "The wisdom that I have acquired through the seasons, I always feel like I have to give that to my teammates. So if they vote me captain again, I'll be grateful. But either way, captain or not, I'm going to give them the knowledge and wisdom that I've learned over the years so that we can be a successful team."
(on hearing how quickly tickets sold this year) "It means that the city of Houston is buying in even more. When you talk about pressure, it's the pressure from the fans, not necessarily the media pressure. I felt like we had one of the loudest stadiums in the league. So the stadium is on fire, we're on fire, and we have a responsibility to keep the city on fire and make the fans of Houston happy."
DE J.J. Watt
(on Antonio Smith saying he expects Watt to become a megastar this year) "That's very nice of Antonio. If I play the way I'm capable of playing and the way I've worked hard, hopefully that's the case because that means I'm playing well. That means our team is winning because you can't become a star without your team winning. I hope that's the case. I hope our whole defense becomes megastars. We deserve it. We've been working hard for it. That's the goal."
(on what he knows about the NFL now that he didn't a year ago) "A whole heck of a lot. I know what it takes to win. I know how you can lose. I know how to pass rush way better than I knew last year. I know what it takes to prepare my body week in and week out. I know how to handle a longer season now. I just know the ins and outs of the daily life, which is just going to help me a lot. I can see the difference in guys and the guys that move on to greatness and the guys that fall to the wayside. Obviously, I'm trying to move towards that greatness platform and stay as far away from the wayside as I can."
(on his ability to help Whitney Mercilus adjust) "Most definitely. He's got a good head on his shoulders. He's a hard worker. I think he's going to be fine, but I'm always here for him. We've already talked a couple times about different things. I'm really excited about what he can do for us."
(on what are the keys for him to move on to greatness) "For me, it sounds like a broad term, but it's to dominate play in and play out. Last year, I think I had little spurts of it, but just my pass rushing and run stopping needs to be on point on every single play. I've studied the film and put in the work and I'm going to continue to put in the work and I know what I have to do to make that happen."
(on what he feels he needs to improve upon) "As the season went on, I started to figure out my pass rush style. I didn't really have a singular style. Now I've kind of honed in on one style and I'm going to work on that style and make sure I do that. In the run game, just continue to get stronger. I think I'm coming into this year bigger, faster and stronger than I was last year. I'm in some of the best shape of my life, so I'm excited to go out and use that."
(on being bigger) "Yeah, I came in probably seven or eight pounds heavier than last year. I work very hard on my body. Obviously, this is our tool. This is what you go to work with every day. I'm going to do everything I can to keep it this way."
(on his singular pass-rush style) "Last year, at the beginning of the year, I thought in the NFL you had to be super quick and super good with your hands, which is true but my personal style is power. I'm a big, physical defensive end. I want to use my power. At the end of the year I learned that if I used my power, I can work all the other things off of it. I can work speed and quickness off of it. I just need to attack. That's the thing I learned last year. I didn't realize that I was strong enough to do some of the things I did at the end of the year. Now I know that."
(on if he's stronger now than last year) "Yeah, I'm much stronger, much bigger, and much faster. It's going to be a good year."
(on Antonio Smith saying he fully expects him to be a superstar in this league) "That's the plan. That's what comes with the territory. When your team wins and you play well, people expect you to take the next step. I can't do it without him. I can't do it without my teammates. I think our whole defense has a chance to go from good to great, great to better. If it takes me to that level, it takes me there. I'm just working hard to go out there and win."
(on Wade Phillips saying there wasn't any tackle at the Pro Bowl better than him) "I appreciate that again. It's an honor for him to say that. I have thoughts on that that I'll keep to myself. I want to be there next year. I want to be the All-Pro defensive end. I want to be in Hawaii or wherever it may be. I want to be there. Actually, scratch that. I don't want to be there. It's the week before the Super Bowl so I don't want to be there. I forgot about that. I want my name to be on the list. I want them to send me the jersey and a nice check, but I want to be preparing for the Super Bowl. That's where I will be, so don't worry."
(on Connor Barwin's new look) "I walked in and laughed. That's Connor for you. That's awesome. He's going to provide that laugh. It's a good luck, it's funny. We need that. He's a light hearted guy and so it's going to be fun."
(on the Art Car Parade going from having Dan Aykroyd last year to him and Barwin as grand marshals this year) "I had a blast. I think they downgraded a little bit in terms of comedic performance but I had a lot of fun. It's cool to see that this city has embraced our team. The one thing you can tell this year, the city of Houston is ready. They're ready for a winner. They're ready for that championship run. They had fun last year and if you think about what they were like from the Falcons game on in our stands, that's the way they're going to start this season. Who knows what it's going to rise to? They better lock down that roof on Reliant because it might blow off with the intensity our fans are going to break."
(on if he feels like a Houstonian) "I don't know. I've been asked that a couple times. That's up to the Houston people. If they want to welcome me as a Houstonian, that's fine. I love it here. I plan to be here as long as they'll let me stay. The people have been unbelievable. Every time I go out, the people are great. I love the fans. I love our team. I love the city. Hopefully I'm here for a long time with many, many rings."
(on the tickets selling out so quickly) "They're the best fans. Our fans, it's like a college atmosphere with how crazy they are. Our training camps sold out. People are coming to watch our practices. That gets me excited. That gets us excited. We can't go out in front of those people and put it on for them. I hope they appreciate how hard we work for them."