With the lockout over, many of the Texans returned to Reliant Stadium on Tuesday morning. Some met with the media, and the following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
OLB Connor BarwinTE James CaseyTE Joel Dreessen DT Earl MitchellC Chris MyersS Glover QuinK Neil RackersQB Matt SchaubDE J.J. WattLS Jon Weeks
OLB Connor Barwin(on the difference in his position at outside linebacker) "The biggest difference is that on first and second down, I'll be able to stand up. There's going to be some new terminology, some more coverage stuff that I'll have to learn, but essentially, I'm still playing on the edge. You still put your hand down on third down. It's probably not going to be as big a difference as people make it out to be. I'll still be on strong side, still playing on the end, so it won't be too much of a change, but there will definitely be aspects that are different."
(on how anxious he is to get back on the field) "You're definitely anxious because this time of the year, you just get excited about it because you're away from it the whole summer. Even more so this year, you're away from the guys, you're away from the building, so you definitely start to miss it and get ready to get out there and start hitting guys and playing football. Ask me again in about two weeks in the middle of training camp and I might not think the same thing, but definitely right now I'm pretty excited about getting after it."
(on how he's feeling physically) "Real good. It's going to be interesting to see how my ankle reacts to two-a-days and camp, but right now I feel good. I've been playing pickup basketball and doing all the running. Joel Dreessen's pretty much taken the whole offseason program that we would do here and taken it to Rice. We've done that whole thing all summer and through all of it, my ankle's done really well."
TE James Casey(on being back in the stadium) "I'm excited to see all the guys and the coaching staff and just getting in our facility to see all the new stuff they put in. We've got new carpet in our locker room, new couches and chairs, so it's just neat to come back in. It's like the first day of school being around guys. We're starting off slow and easing into it, which is good. We didn't know what to expect with conditioning, but it was fun getting out with the guys working out and running around a little bit."
(on what the message from the coaches was today) "Just get acclimated back to being at the facility; nothing really intense today. We were just talking to our coaches a little. We're not going into game plan stuff yet, but just getting with our coaches and our strength (and conditioning) coach, Cedric (Smith), to do some weight stuff and a little bit of running to get out on the field. Nothing too serious, it's more just easing us into Sunday when we really start with our physicals."
(on if the coaches told him anything about playing fullback or tight end) "They haven't really told me anything. I'm just ready to do whatever and try to get on the field whatever way I can, whether it be tight end or fullback. They haven't mentioned to me whether I'd be doing either or, but they said to know both of them. A lot of it's going to have to do with free agency and who we bring in here and whether we get Vonta (Leach) back or not. I'm open to whatever. I'm going to know fullback and know tight end. That first day of camp when we finally get out there, whether I do both or just one, I'm open to whatever and will work to hopefully get on the field more often."
(on how it feels to be back) "It feels great. All the uncertainty of the lockout is over and we know we're going to start on time and not miss any preseason games. It feels good to get that behind us now. Now we can really move forward, start focusing on the season, getting everybody in the building and acclimated to our new defense and the new wrinkles we're going to put in offensively. It's back to football now and getting ready for that Monday night preseason game. Should be a lot of fun against the Jets. Looking at the big picture, making the team and getting ready for the Colts first game of the season."
(on what he needs to do physically to prepare to play fullback compared to tight end) "It's a little different because you're coming downhill on linebackers a lot of times from the backfield, so you're not more online blocking. I think I've gotten bigger in the offseason and it will help out in being more durable because you're going to come downhill hitting linebackers a lot more and just get used to hitting linebackers and running my feet and keep moving. Tight end is a little different because you're on the line of scrimmage. I have been doing it the last two years. I haven't been doing it a ton, but I will in practice, training camp and when we get preseason games. I'm fairly familiar with doing it. Obviously you're always going to get better and the more work I get at it, the better I'm going to get."
TE Joel Dreessen(on how it feels to be back in the stadium) "It feels really good to come in the stadium as opposed to going to an alternative spot to work out. It felt really good today."
(on why it's important to get in early on the first day) "Well I think just to get back into the routine that you use as an athlete to get better. I know I like to get in here early and go through a routine as far as hot tub, cold tub and stretching beforehand. Now it's good to talk about football and playbooks as opposed to lawsuits and stuff like that, so it's very good."
(on how this shortened training camp will be different) "Obviously the new rules are unique in the sense that we won't have two true practices each day. One practice will be full go and the other one will be more of a walkthrough, so that will be a little bit different from what we've done in the past. We've got a lot of catching up to do as far as learning. Obviously, we've had the same offense for a while, but we make little changes each and every year so we've got to learn those and study those. The coaches have spent a lot time studying what we need to improve on so we need to get that communicated to us. Also, we have to learn a whole new defense as well, so we have to catch up mentally for sure."
(on the general message from the coaches this morning) "Basically as people, they're excited, they missed us. We were glad to see them too. It was good to catch up. There was a lot of talk about families and what's been going on in our lives. That was tough from a personal standpoint because we work with these guys but they're also our friends and colleagues and we know them. It's kind of weird when you're not allowed to speak to them. It was just a lot of catching up."
DT Earl Mitchell(on how it feels to get back to work) "It's good to be back. You get to be with your teammates and you get to see everybody and just get to work out again. It feels good."
(on the work he's been able to do on the new defense) "I've done a lot. I studied a lot of the Dallas Cowboys film and looked at what kind of things Wade Phillips was looking for in this defense. I think I got a pretty good head start on what he's looking for."
(on being excited about the look of the new defense) "There's no place to go but up. I'm just excited to just get out there and just do some productive stuff for our team."
(On how different it was trying to get prepared for the season) "I just learned the nature of the business and just understand that there's a lot of stuff that goes with being productive in your career. That's why I took little things like meeting Jay Ratliff, just talking to different guys throughout the lockout and tried to understand how the business goes. Also working out, as far as that stuff goes."
C Chris Myers(on being back) It's like the first day of school again. You get in there and this morning, the first thing everyone was in the locker room, and we hadn't been here in four months so it's kind of like you're reintroducing each other and the jokes start up again and it's like we didn't lose any time at all, we just start right back up. It's great to be back and finally getting on the road again with our season."
(on how this training camp is going to be different than others) "It may be a little compressed with the learning curve for some of the newer guys, but for the most part we're going to get down to business from day one. We came in here today and got some extra film in that we had been wanting to get in, but come day one it's going to be full-tilt. It's not going to be like we're toting back on what we've been used to. We're just going to throw it all in there and go from day one."
(on if the team will be well-rested come the season) "I wouldn't say we'll be anymore well-rested; the only thing we've missed out on is OTAs. For the most part, everyone has been staying in shape, especially down here in Houston; everyone has been working out together at Rice. For the most part we're ready to go; everyone is on all cylinders, ready to go from day one."
(on how tough it will be for new guys to make impression) "It's tough to make that impression right from the get-go when you're learning it right at the same time. Usually you have that three months or so after you come in from the draft to learn the offense or defense. Now you're coming in and getting the playbook the first day of practice so it's going to be tough but that's what it's about, it's your profession. If you're a quality player, they brought you in here for a reason. So it's up to you to go out there and play ball but it's definitely possible for some guys to have some mishaps with the playbooks, but hopefully everything works out for all the new guys."
(on what the team needs to do before camp) "For the most part, you're trying to come in here and just trying to talk to everyone and get to know the coaches and the new staff again. You're just coming here and trying to get a little bit more treatment for stuff. Usually the week before training camp you're kind of saving yourself, but for the most part we haven't seen anyone in four months so it's a little bit different. Other teams are going through it, though; it's not like we're the only ones. But to come in here and see everyone is nice."
S Glover Quin(on switching to the 3-4) "I'm super excited. Obviously coach knows what's best for our team and what's best for our defense so I'm all for it; I'm up for the challenge. I'm ready to learn it and make the transition to it and see what happens."
(on the transition to a new position) "I don't know how much of a challenge it will be because of this system, it's so different. I think the fact that I played corner will help me a lot and I feel like the angles will be different coming from the safety position or the middle of the field. But I used to do that when I was in the nickel, so I have two good years of run reading and pass reading but my years at corner are going to help me out."
(on if not having OTAs will make a difference) "Yes because anytime you can practice what you're doing and get better at it, things are going to be better but Coach Phillips has a simple system; so hopefully guys are coming in and taking advantage of the time before camp and learn the system, so that once we hit the ground running in camp, we'll be good to go. Hopefully we can pick it up fast and pick it up as a defense so that we can play fast".
(on offseason training) "I started training in February. So I went five days a week until, like April, when I started going four days a week. It gets tiring working out that hard every day so I had to pace myself because I was getting tired of working out. Things went pretty good, though. I feel like I'm in pretty good shape and I'm able to control my weight. It was kind of weird because I didn't know I was going to be a corner or a safety because the last time I talked to him, it was still either-or. So I guess they made the switch permanently but they couldn't let me know so I didn't know what to do with my weight because as a corner, I want to be smaller and as a safety I want to be a decent size."
K Neil Rackers(On how it feels to be back) "It feels great to get back to work. In my situation, I started driving my wife a little crazy so she was excited for me to get out of the house and go back to work. It's nice to be around the guys again. When you've been doing this for, including college, 17 years, you feel like mentally and physically, you're sitting there going, 'I should be doing something.' And you're not. So it's nice to get back to work."
(On missing the camaraderie of teammates) "I'm old now, so it's unique. I didn't get to live vicariously through the younger guys as much. Now I get to hear what they did during this offseason, kind of hear stories, hear what people did and get rolling. You miss it."
(On what it feels like for this to be his team now) "It feels nice. I've enjoyed it here. Things have gone well and now just as a team we need to get over that hump and make things happen this season."
(On his assessment of his season last year and what he needs to work on) "Consistency. We moved kickoffs up so obviously I need to get more touchbacks, which should be aided by the 35 yard-line. We banked two of them in off the uprights, so statistically it looks great but we may not have hit some balls as well as we needed to. For me the one that stuck with me all season was Baltimore, when I clubbed the ground on a 52 yarder and it fell a yard and a half short and we end up losing in overtime. It's one of those, if you make the kick you win the ballgame. It's just every kicker's battle, to be more and more consistent every year."
QB Matt Schaub(on if it felt like the first day of school) "It kind of did, walking in trying to figure out all the changes that might have happened and just re-acclimating ourselves to the locker room and going in and working out, but it was fun."
(on everyone being anxious to get back to football) "After missing all the time that we normally have in the offseason, obviously we were all working out elsewhere, but to be all back together in our environment at the stadium with the coaches, the equipment guys and the trainers. We were able to get back in a normal routine because as players, we're creatures of habit. We like a schedule and having that all thrown off the past five months to getting back into a normal schedule and getting word yesterday what the timings would be starting camp, it was just exciting."
(on how important it was to keep his teammates on a schedule at Rice during the offseason) "It was important to set a time like 'Hey, we're all going to be here at 9 a.m. Let's all run and get our conditioning in, throw and do our workouts.' It was important for us all to stay together and get our work in because we all know what it takes to get ourselves ready for camp, but it's just different having to do it on our own rather than having the oversight of the strength coaches."
(on how encouraged he was by how many guys showed up) "I was very encouraged. We had a great turnout, both in minicamps and our normal workouts. Guys worked hard and we followed our program and got a lot out of it. Hopefully it will pay off once we get to camp and will cut down on any type of injuries that will happen and be able to get right back in the swing."
(on how much the tough losses from last season ate away at him) "Every day. Every day I thought about them. In fact, not having the ability to come in to watch the films again and again just rehashed those thoughts. I sat and watched some of the copies I had from the television. I was just chomping at the bit to get back to work and get back over here, so I definitely thought about it a lot."
(on if the players are more anxious to get back because they have unfinished business) "That would be the same whether we were working out here or working out on our own at Rice. We still would have that anxiety to get back on the field and get that taste out of our mouth. It was good to end our season with a win against Jacksonville, but we have some unfinished business to get back from last season."
(on how much he will pay attention to free agency) "I think that's all we're going to hear about for the next week, so obviously it's going to be hard to not pay attention to it because you want to know who's going to come in and be your teammate, who's going to go to other teams and who's going to move. It's our way of life, so we're definitely going to pay attention to it."
(on how hopeful he is that FB Vonta Leach is back) "I'm very hopeful and for all the guys that have paid the dues and paid the price with you as a teammate. Vonta's a locker room mate of mine right next to me, so I definitely want to have him back."
(on if the Texans are on the cusp of being a really good team) "We're absolutely on the cusp. It's just a few little things, attention to detail and a consistency thing and we're right there."
(on the challenge throwing last season) "In the grand scheme of things, I don't know my attempt total, but I don't think it was far off from what we did the year before. There were certain games where I didn't have to throw as much. Obviously the first game throwing only 17 times was a difference, but we made it up against the Ravens, throwing 63 times or whatever it was and also against Washington in Week 2. I think it all evened out, but to have a running game is a quarterback's dream. To have Arian (Foster) burst on the scene and have the offensive line take control of some of those games, it was a huge relief."
(on restructuring his contract) "I'm open for whatever helps the team. No one's come to me in that manner. The whole cap stuff is way above my knowledge base, so I'll leave that to the guys upstairs and see what happens. Obviously we want to make our team as good as we can and if it means having to do something, I'm all for it."
(on having TE Owen Daniels back healthy) "It's huge. He's such a vital weapon for us. We saw when he was healthy last year coming off his knee injury and then after his hamstring how important he is working the middle of the field. To have him coming back and he's worked extremely hard this offseason and he looks like the new Owen Daniels from what we remember when he was 100 percent, but even more so because he's been working so hard. I'm excited to get him back out there at 100 percent."
(on what he missed about being here) "Having to do my own laundry as far as my workout clothes, that was kind of rough. Having my wife do that and myself added to the load. It's just a different feel than when you're out on your own."
DE J.J. Watt(on what it means to get the CBA done) "It's good to come in here and finally put on some Texans apparel and actually get to work out in Reliant Stadium. It feels great to be here and I just can't wait to keep rolling forward."
(on losing time to implement a new defense) "Obviously, myself being a rookie, I just need to get used to playing in the NFL. Our defense is a new defense this year and we're excited to get in here and get in the playbook with Coach Phillips and everybody. It's a good time."
(on whom he interacted with during the lockout) "I talked to a lot of guys on the team. DeMeco Ryans is one of the guys who is a great leader on our defense so I talked to him quite a bit. Obviously Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham helped me out because they're Badgers and you kind of protect your own, so it was nice to have those guys."
(on the patience level being less due to no OTA or mini-camps) "Obviously we would have had a jumpstart if there were OTAs and stuff, but we don't. Coming into camp, I think it's just going to be a little bit of a sped up pace. We're really only going to have two to three weeks here to get the defense in and myself ready to play football. Obviously I want to compete for that starting position so I'm going to have to learn the defense very quickly and get out there and perform."
LS Jon Weeks(on what he missed) "You're always doing something; you're doing something with your team and you're enjoying your family, teammates. It's fantastic being back with the team again, it's a feeling you can't explain. You've got a bunch of brothers on the team and you want to see everyone one of them as soon as you can when you get in the locker room.