After Thursday's practice at the Methodist Training Center, Texans head coach Gary Kubiak, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and some players answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakDefensive Coordinator Wade PhillipsRB Arian FosterFS Danieal ManningILB DeMeco RyansDE Antonio Smith
Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on RB Arian Foster's injury status) "I'm going to answer it the same way I did yesterday. I watched him again. Of course I'm watching from the practice field, but his workouts continue to get better, but he did not practice. Everything's still progressing the same way, but obviously we're getting close to game time. We'll see where he's at tomorrow, but he was unable to practice today."
(on if there's a temptation to let RB Arian Foster rest an extra week since this is the second hamstring injury he's had) "Like I said yesterday, we need to be at our best as a football team to win this game and he puts us at our best. But at the same time, if he can't go, if the trainers say that 'No, he can't go or it's not smart,' then we have to listen to them. Everything we're doing or have been doing has been working towards Sunday and it's Thursday. You keep your options open but obviously he wasn't able to practice today."
(on if it can be a game-time decision on RB Arian Foster) "I think it could if he shows where he's at tomorrow and we feel very good about that and end up working him pretty hard Saturday morning and making sure he took another step forward. That's something that can always take place in that last 48 hours, but we'll see where he's at tomorrow."
(on if he anticipates the Colts trying to run more on Sunday) "I think they're just going to play ball. They're going to do whatever they have to do to win the football game. They're a good football team, they always have been and they've controlled this division for a long time. They're missing a great, great player and usually when teams do that, they rally as a football team and I'm sure they're going to do that. If we're missing a great player on Sunday, we got to rally, so that's part of the game."
(on if this defense is the best he's ever had) "Yeah, we're further along right now. Our confidence is very good on that side of the ball with (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) coming in here and what we've done in the preseason. Going into the season, I think everybody, you have an idea of what you have, but you haven't played a full football game yet. You haven't played all those snaps, so we're going to go find out. I had a lot of confidence going into last year and we got off to a good start and I've got a lot of confidence in this football team right now, so we'll see how we play. We have made some great progress throughout the training camp with our defense."
(on who will be returning kickoffs and punts) "Danieal Manning will return kicks. Jacoby (Jones) will return punts and we'll go from there. Sherrick (McManis) is always capable of doing that. GQ (Glover Quin), Bryant Johnson, who we picked up, can return punts, but we'll start with those two."
(on how important it is for the defense to approach the season with confidence) "Hopefully we all approach it with confidence, not just the defense. You get confidence from playing well and things going your way. We've had some good things happen to us in the preseason, especially on that side of the ball and hopefully it continues this Sunday. I think it's a growth process and we need to keep moving forward."
(on if he's told the team that nothing will be given to them just because QB Peyton Manning is not playing) "I don't have to tell them that. This is the NFL. Everybody's got good players and everybody's capable of winning on Sunday. This team is a championship football team and I know they'll come in here and play well. I'm just worried about us."
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips(on how a team deals psychologically knowing that Colts QB Peyton Manning isn't playing) "I don't think it makes any difference the first ball game. I think you get ready to play; you're excited about playing football again. Obviously, he's a great player but they've got a guy there who can play and has won a lot of games. It's more about us getting ready to play."
(on if Colts QB Peyton Manning not playing changes anything tactically in how the defense prepares) "No, I don't think so. Like I said, the first ball game is enough. Maybe later in the season maybe some things change, but right now we're excited about playing this game. We want to put our defense together, play mistake-free and make some plays."
(on Texans DE Antonio Smith saying he thought Colts QB Kerry Collins may be less mobile than Peyton Manning) "I don't see much difference. He's an experienced quarterback that can play the game and he's won games. I think he scored 31 (against Houston) last year at Tennessee. He's more than capable. I've got great respect for him; a guy who's played a long time who knows how to play."
(on his feelings that his players are saying the same things he's saying; that they can't relax and aren't catching a break) "Because they believe that. I think that is the right thing to say because it is what's going on. This guy can play football. We know that. If we don't play our best, any game, we don't deserve to win. We got to go out and play our best every game."
(on ILB DeMeco Ryans) "DeMeco's (Ryans) fine. I think he's ready to go. He just hasn't practiced much. But he got some practice in this week, which I think is going to make a difference for him."
(on if he's concerned about the practice time ILB DeMeco Ryans has missed during camp) "Oh yeah. Any guy that hasn't practiced the whole camp, about a week, you worry about a little bit. We've worked (Darryl) Sharpton a lot. He's played a lot and worked a lot, so we'll just see how it goes. But I think his conditioning is good and he's sharp mentally, there's no doubt about that. DeMeco (Ryans) stays in it. Even though he was out, he knows all the calls. That's one of the great things about him."
RB Arian Foster(on how he's feeling) "It's still a day-to-day process. I'm going to go tomorrow, see how it feels and just keep working."
(on if there was progress made today) "Yeah, every day it feels that much better, so I'm just going to keep going."
(on if he has a better idea if he's going to play on Sunday) "No, still day-to-day, so that's how we're approaching the situation. I look forward to tomorrow every day."
(on if thinks he can come back in a shorter amount of recovery time since he's had the same injury before) "Like I said before, hammies are – you never know. They could creep up on you a month later, they could creep up on you two days after. There's no time contingency on it, really, it just is what it is. So you have to play each day like a new day, and that's what we're doing."
(on if he felt pain or discomfort on the field practicing) "Minimal. Very minimal. But like I said, with hamstrings it's not something you can push through. When you try to push through it's just going to re-occur. It's not like a knee. Like with my knee I could just push through it because you're not going to mess it up too much more. With a shoulder, you can just push through it. You can't just push through it. It's something that has to heal completely before you can come back completely."
(on how he will know when he's ready to play again) "I'm going to get an e-mail from the hamstring gods, and they're going to tell me when it's ready.
(on if he knows when that will be) "I refresh my e-mail every 20 minutes."
FS Danieal Manning(on not catching a break just because QB Peyton Manning won't play on Sunday) "No, this team is capable of doing a good job with Kerry (Collins) out there at quarterback. He's got great experience. They still have their core guys. The receivers are great, the offensive line is good. It's definitely a game. Every Sunday, anything can happen as we all believe."
(on what he thought of the Texans defense when he first got here compared to now) "Talk about last year, last year was last year. What we have now is a defense that's ready to play. I feel like guys are wanting to make plays and guys want to improve and again what we're hearing around the locker room all the time, we're just tired of being picked on. We have to make something for it."
(on not liking the reputation the defense has) "No, nobody would. When you've always been last on the totem pole all the time, you're tired of doing that. Right now, I'm trying to make a difference also in there. Definitely want to improve in that area."
ILB DeMeco Ryans(on not wanting to have a year like last year on his resume) "Definitely not, that's a bad year to have on your resume, but last year was last year and we're moving on. We have a new group this year, new coaching staff in, defensively. It's going to be a new look defense and definitely a better defense."
(on how significant Sunday's game is) "It means everything to us right now because it's the most important game. It's the first one, it's the next one and 1-0 is how you want to start, start the season off on a positive note. That's our motto for every week just to go 1-0."
(on how he's feeling) "Everything is feeling fine. I missed a lot more time than I expected, but it's good to be back out there practicing with the guys and just really looking forward to Sunday."
(on how excited he is to return to the field) "I'm very excited. It's been a long time coming. Watching a lot of games alone by myself last year, it was tough, very tough on me, so I'm really excited to step back out on the field and I know the fans are going to be electric the first game of the season. Everyone's going to be pumped up, so I'm looking forward to it."
(on how his mindset is different knowing that the Colts may run the ball more on Sunday) "It doesn't affect us. I think we're pretty prepared for the run plays that they have. I don't think that their run game will change, but of course we will be more aware of the run because naturally having Kerry (Collins) in there for the first time, I think they're going to try to get (Joseph) Addai going a little bit more."
DE Antonio Smith(on how last year fuels him to do better this year) "I think it's just like you said. Every year, if you get bullied on, me personally, that's something I probably would be getting bigger, getting stronger, getting as much confidence as I can to when that next school year comes to not get bullied on. On a football field or whatever, I think that's how you got to take it. If you don't, you're going to remain whatever you were the year before. If you don't try to better what you were the year before, you're going to be there. It ain't going to magically happen and just come in here in the locker room and 'Oh, I'm a better defense.' No, you got to work and I think that the work we put in, in this preseason and in training camp, it was a physical camp to me. It was a real physical camp, especially in 100-something plus every day banging. Kub (Head Coach Gary Kubiak) made it an emphasis that we're going to lay the level this training camp and I think it's paying off and building the confidence going against our offense, having the success in practice and then going into the preseason games and having success to getting us to feeling like a winning defense."
(on getting bullied last year being a lasting impression) "Oh yeah, it's always a lasting impression, even when we play a good year as a defense. This year, it's going to make us feel good about ourselves by playing good this year. You ain't going to forget that year you played bad. Whenever you play bad, it's a lasting impression and hopefully when you play good, you start doing it so long that you forget you even played good that year, like it was just another year. That's the type of defense I want to be a part of when you get so used to playing good that it's nothing. When you do have a bad year like we had last year, I don't think nobody ever wants to have a year like that on their resume and when you do, you're going to remember it forever. I ain't going to forget it."