The Texans practiced Thursday at the Methodist Training Center for their third OTA, and after, chairman/CEO Bob McNair, head coach Gary Kubiak and some players answered questions from the media.
Owner, Chairman and CEO Bob McNairHead Coach Gary KubiakILB Bradie JamesDE Antonio SmithWR Kevin Walter
Owner, Chairman & CEO Bob McNair
(on the City of Houston announcing its desire to host a Super Bowl in 2017) "That's fine. I think the city should, and it's really a city effort, and it's a big effort, so I'm glad there's some people jumping in there and getting something started."
(on the Super Bowl bid process being a difficult one) "It is, and it requires a lot of effort on a lot of people; and it should be the city taking the lead on that, rather than the Texans, so I'm glad to see that they're doing that."
(on if the Texans being one of the more valuable teams in the League works against Houston in the Super Bowl bid process) "Well I don't plan to change positions, but part of it is Houston's not viewed as a destination city. When people start thinking about, 'Where am I going to go on vacation this year?' they don't typically think about Houston, and we need to change that image. That's part of it."
(on how Houston can change its image and become more of a vacation destination) "Well, the (Greater Houston) Partnership has been working on that and we've contributed to that effort and we'll continue to do that, but I think that it's a combination of things. We don't have the beaches that Miami's got, and we don't have the mountains, and we don't have the Bay that San Francisco's got."
(on New Orleans' Bourbon Street) "Well, I suspect that that's portable. Or at least for some people, it's portable!"
(on whether he sees the divide between high-revenue clubs and low-revenue clubs narrowing) "I do, because with this new contract, really it eliminates some of the issues that have been troublesome before. So revenue sharing, as an example, is not nearly the issue that it used to be, and that eliminates some of the tension."
(on the study released Wednesday regarding Reliant Park and the future of the Astrodome) "I think it's very preliminary at this point. Certainly, something needs to be done with the Astrodome; it's just going downhill. That's fine, I'm glad that the Commissioners will be looking at it, and if they deem that the right thing to do and they want to submit something to the voters for them to make a determination, that's fine."
(on whether he has a personal preference regarding what should be done with the Astrodome) "Well, our first concern is Reliant Stadium, and we want to make sure we've got adequate funds there for repairs and replacement and improvements, and right now we don't have adequate funds, so I'd like to see that taken care of first."
(on how to go about getting the 'adequate funds' he alluded to) "I think the Commissioners' Court is going to address that. They've been very supportive, and I think it's just being brought to their attention."
(on whether funding for Reliant Stadium maintenance was part of the original contract between the Texans and Harris County) "Well, the county is obligated to do it, but with the recession and the difference in tax receipts between what was anticipated and what was received, the recession has had an impact on that, so there hasn't been as much money available for repair and replacement funds."
(on whether the Texans have paid for repairs if the necessary funds from Harris County weren't available) "We have helped, and the Rodeo has helped, and we'll continue to do that, but it's something that needs to be addressed long-term; and compared to the other issues that we're looking at, this is a drop in the bucket, but it needs to be addressed first, I think."
(on whether there is a specific amount of money that is needed to address the shortfall) "It's not that much. We put, I think, $2.5 million a year in the repair and replacement fund, and it probably needs to be about $8 or 9 million a year instead of the $2.5. It's not the end of the world trying to figure out how you're going to do that, but it's just something that needs to be addressed."
(on the Texans being considered by many to be among the favorites in the AFC heading into the 2012 season) "I think we are a contender, so that's no surprise to me. I guess they got tired of losing money out there, putting our over-and-under too low, so they're getting more realistic. A lot of things have to happen and you have to have some luck along the way and you can't predict anything, but as far as being a contender, no question. Yes we're a contender."
(on the rules changes that came out of this week's NFL Owners' Meetings) "Well, in terms of trading, as you saw with the change in the rookie pay, there was more trading of positions in the draft, because it's easier to deal with those top picks because it's not a penalty. Before, it was almost a penalty if you had a top-10 pick because it was going to cost you so much. You'd be paying more for a rookie than for a Pro Bowler at that position, so that's changed and that makes all the sense in the world. Then in terms of players going on injured reserve, I think that the rule does address the need to allow at least one to come back after they've been on injured reserve. (Former Texans OLB) Mario last year, Williams, was in that situation and he could have come back and played in the playoffs, but he couldn't do it once he went on injured reserve, so I like the rule change."
(on if the NFL Players' Union has a legitimate complaint regarding the proposed rule change requiring players to wear thigh and knee pads beginning in 2013) "No, I don't think there's a legitimate complaint. I mean, we're for player safety, and I thought that's what the Union was for, so I don't know why they're complaining."
(on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's comment that he'd been told that NBA players wear more leg padding than NFL players) "Well, I don't know about that, but what's happened is that from a technology standpoint, we have padding now that's very light, very thin, and is more protective than what we've had in the past and I don't think it'll have much impact on a player's performance. And if everybody is having to wear the same equipment, then it's equal, so I don't see that as being bad at all."
(on whether he thinks Houston's chance at hosting another Super Bowl is 50-50 or better) "For a Super Bowl in the future? Oh, I think we'll get another Super Bowl in the future; and frankly, I think the performance of our team enhances our ability to do that because it heightens the public awareness of Houston and the Texans, so I think the better we do, the more favorably people will look upon Houston."
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on if there is anything new with the team) "No, not that I know of. Just another day. I thought we were better today than we were Tuesday. It's a good three days. Really worked our young guys today, kept them out a little bit longer and kind of get the coaches out of the way and let them go compete out there. Trying to find out who's going to be able to help us. Three days into it and we've got a long weekend. So you guys go enjoy your weekend. We're going to enjoy our and we'll be back into it Tuesday."
(on how ILB Bradie James is doing) "He's doing great. He's just what (linebackers coach) Reggie (Herring) and (defensive coordinator) Wade (Phillips) said he was. He's a leader, a very sharp guy, knows our defense inside out, very good movement skills, fit in with the group right away, which is what they said he would do. That's what we knew we were getting. So, (I'm) very pleased."
(on rookie K Randy Bullock) "I don't see him very much. We'll get him out here in front of these guys before it's all said and done and let him kick a little bit. But right now I'm going looking for him because kickers took it in before I broke them, so I'm fixing to go find him here real quick."
(on if he's looking to find or fine K Randy Bullock) "I can only find him right now."
(on what he's seen from his young wide receivers) "Flashes. They're all what we thought they were. Getting a little fatigued right now. That bothers me. You've got to be able to run all day. (DeVier) Posey is out here pretty tired today. We've got to get those guys, condition-wise, to where they can do it all day long. But talent-wise, it's exactly what we thought we were going to get."
(on if he's seen improvement in rookie QB Case Keenum) "Yeah. It's interesting because for him to go play under center, he'd never done it, that hasn't been a problem at all. Now it's just kind of getting use to playing under there from a standpoint off seeing things and verbiage. There's a lot of verbiage in our offense and I don't think there was much at (the University of ) Houston, if I'm right. So he's having to adjust to that. He's very smart. He's a diligent worker and that's all you can ask for."
(on how rookie QB Case Keenum is adjusting to height of players in the pro game) "You know, he and I were talking the other day and he said 'Well, these windows are small to throw in this league,' he said. 'Dang, coach.' But you learn. You learn to throw through windows. I saw one of the greatest small quarterbacks in (Doug) Flutie do it for years. Once you learn what you're doing, you'll find a way to do it. He's well on his way to learning what he's doing. So I'm very pleased. I'm excited to work with him. I think he's got a future. We just got to take it a day at a time."
(on what he's seen from rookie OLB Whitney Mercilus) "He's looked very good. (Linebackers coach) Reggie (Herring) catches guys up very quick. He's a hell of a coach. (Whitney Mercilus) is moving around very good and he's going to be a great addition to our team."
(on what part of rookie OLB Whitney Mercilus' game the coaches are working on) "Playing outside, obviously. So you're coming most of the time. Special teams-wise with (special teams coordinator) Joe (Marciano), he's getting a lot of work. Very bright young man. We knew that when we got him. Remember, just really one big, big year of college football. So watching him make this transition is pretty impressive."
(on OTAs being an introduction to rookies on how things are done with the team) "Well, we've got great examples. Our veterans are really excellent examples. But you're right. We're trying to take these 10 days and say, 'Okay, this is how we do it. This is what we're gonna do.' And when they come back in the summer, hopefully they're somewhat on a level playing field with all these other guys. As they compete right now, they're not on a level playing field. They don't know what's going on. They don't know all the techniques and the nuances, so to speak. But hopefully we get them there over the course of the next three weeks."
(on what will change in OTAs next week) "We just push more at them. More information. Next week is probably the biggest week of information they'll get and just kind of see who can keep up and then go sort it out and then come back. We've got three days next week and then four the last week. Just keep pushing information."
(on what he does if he has to slow down giving players information) "This time of year, I wouldn't say we slow down. I'd say we push and then it's our job to get up there this summer and say, 'This is what they can handle. Let's go do this and let's not overload them.' So that's our jobs as coaches."
(on if he likes the current system of OTAs) "I think it's very good, but I also think we learned something last year about veteran players and bringing them along the right way. You can see we're resting some guys this offseason that we're not taking any chances with and I think we'll probably proceed that way and catch these young guys up."
ILB Bradie James
(on his first few days with the Texans) "It's been good. This is a very hard-working group, a young group and they get after it. I'm just trying to fit in and do my part and make sure I help eliminate more chaos but come in and be productive and help everybody out."
(on what he likes about defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' defense) "It's efficient, simple, everybody should know what they're doing and they should know how to do it."
(on what he thinks the Texans' defense can do in its second year under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips) "Well, each year is different in the NFL. The job is to come out and build on what you've done last year. This group is very confident and I'm very happy to be a part of that. Just continue to be tenacious and go out and dominate, that's where this defense is trying to get to."
(on if it's a natural fit for him to be in this defense) "I've played this defense for a couple years, I'm very familiar with it, so it was a no-brainer for me to come here and just come out and play. So I'm looking forward to just getting out here with these guys and trying to be the top defense in the League.
"The way Wade (Phillips) does it is he puts his best players out (there) and he knows how to utilize his players. I'm just looking forward to seeing how everybody can come out the second year and be a little bit more comfortable. That just means they'll fly around faster to the ball."
DE Antonio Smith
(on being one of the hunted teams this year) "I welcome it. I would think that my brothers welcome it, too. I think that's a lot more fun, because now you get to defend the things that you worked hard for to earn. That's even harder than gaining it. It's harder to gain their respect than defend it."
(on Jared Crick) "He's quick and he's powerful from what I've seen. I'll see more as OTAs progress and once we put pads on during training camp. All the rookies that we got are athletic and powerful. One thing I do like about them is they have their own little swag and confidence and cheer each other on. They're loud. They aren't just looking around quiet, just trying to see what everyone thinks about them. They have their own personality."
WR Kevin Walter
(on if it hurts with all the questions regarding the receivers) "No it doesn't hurt, by any means. People are going to say what they want to say. I'm going to continue to play my game, do my job and work as hard as I can and that's all I can control."
(on if he thinks some of what he does goes unnoticed) "Oh, absolutely. There's more to playing wide receiver than just catching passes. You look at the stats, my stats last year weren't as great as they have been but you know what, there's a lot of things other than catching the ball and making plays out there that do help us in the running game. We need 11 players to do what Arian (Foster) did last year, and what Ben (Tate) did. We're all a tight-knit group."
(on if it's an insult to him to be labeled a possession receiver) "No, it's not that. There are a lot of things that fuel my fire and that's definitely not one of them, a possession receiver. There are a lot of guys that have made a strong living in this league at one time being a possession receiver. I can only control what I do and what I do is work hard and do the right things."
(on if he feels he needs to prove himself out on the field) "I'm always trying to prove myself to my coaches, to my teammates, and that's on a daily basis. That's just not for training camp and games, every day I try to come out here and get better and show my coaches and teammates that I belong out here."