The Texans practiced Thursday at the Methodist Training Center and after, 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 PhillipsOLB Connor BarwinILB Brian CushingSS Glover QuinDE Antonio SmithT Eric Winston
Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on practice today) "We practiced very good today. Of course, it's our big work day. Got off to a little slow start yesterday, but we came back and had very good detail in what we were doing."
(on RB Arian Foster's injury) "He was limited in practice today. He went the whole practice. There's a progression here going on and he's progressing very nicely. We'll see where he's at tomorrow. It is a day-to-day situation, but he took some limited reps today. He had a good workout yesterday. As I said, he can't go from zero to everything, so we're trying to keep this progression going."
(on if it's too early to worry about the lack of red zone efficiency so far) "Oh, hell no. I worry about it every time. The good news is we've been down there 11 times, hit a knee one time, so we've been down there as much as anybody in football. We usually play good in the red zone when we run the ball well and we didn't run the ball very well in the red zone last week. You bet, we could have had a lot more points. Nothing's ever okay, so obviously that's something we got to do better."
(on if running the ball in the red zone is a primary focus for him) "I think it's a key to us being good down there. If you're a good red zone team, you usually run the ball well. You can't sit there and throw the ball against some of these loaded coverages and stuff with no field back there to work with. You got to line up and knock people off the ball. We've done a better job of that down there in the past than we have these first two weeks."
(on WR Jacoby Jones) "He did work with the trainers today, so he took like a limited practice on his own, not with the team. All indications have been working toward tomorrow anyways, so we'll see where he's at tomorrow."
(on RB Derrick Ward) "Derrick (Ward), no. Derrick's probably definitely a no-go this week. He's going to take some more time with his ankle."
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips(on playing the Saints in the preseason and now in the regular season) "Well, different football team certainly, but these teams have worked against each other a lot. You can tell that and they're pretty familiar personnel-wise. That's the thing you get. You get familiar with the team's personnel, but other than that, it's still a regular season game that's really important for both teams."
(on the preseason game against the Saints this year) "We were in just the dormant stages of what we were doing and trying to get those things done. We played a lot of base defense and we were working on what we were working on and they worked on what they worked on, so that's what we did in the preseason."
(on QB Drew Brees) "Decision-maker. All the great quarterbacks are great decision-makers. He can make a play when nobody else can. He can move around in the pocket and find somebody that's barely off their man. He's a great guy to be around. He's a great leader. I can't say enough great things about Drew Brees because that's what he is."
(on the fact that there have already been 23 300-yard passing games in the NFL this season) "If you're throwing it 50 times a game, you're going to make some passing yardage. Teams are throwing it quite a bit. I think that's part of it. You can average five yards an attempt and be the best pass defense team in the League and they throw it 60 times and they throw for 300 yards. It just depends on how many times they throw and how many big plays you give up. It seems like there's a lot of big plays in the League and people have opened up."
(on ILB Brian Cushing) "I think he's played outstanding. He's a holy terror on the field. Every play, he's all out and he's getting better and better at his techniques and learning. He's still in the early stages of learning everything, but he works at it hard. He's a great football player now. I think he's got a chance to be something special this year."
(on if he was concerned that ILB Brian Cushing would fall behind after missing time with his injury) "Yeah, and he did. I think it's taken him a little time, but he's worked hard at it off the field, which he had to do when he was out. I think that's helped him. The mental part has helped him."
(on matching up with Saints TE Jimmy Graham) "Well, he's become a weapon for them. (Jeremy) Shockey's gone, but I think they've replaced him with that guy. That guy's a real talented player. I think they've gone to him a lot."
(on how he decides who to cover specific players) "We're going to double cover all the receivers. That's what you have to do in the NFL."
(on OLB Mario Williams) "I think Mario's shown he can play outside linebacker now. I think everybody knows that. He's a football player and we knew that all along. I just see great things for him this year because he works hard at it. He was excited about playing. He's a team player, everybody that knows him. He's going to do whatever it takes for the team to do well and he just followed with that."
(on going against the Saints wide receivers) "Yeah, the last three weeks, that's what we've done. The Colts had a really good receiving core. Miami, I thought was really outstanding. Now we're playing another one. It's a challenge every week."
(on if he has fond memories of coaching in New Orleans) "Yeah, I was five years in New Orleans, head coach for a little bit, got my picture on the front page of the paper one time. They were wearing the sacks over their heads when we came there. They had only won one game, so at least we got them out of that. It's a great franchise."
(on defensive coordinator Gregg Williams) "Yeah, I know Gregg (Williams) pretty well. He followed me to Buffalo."
(on if he respects defensive coordinator Gregg Williams) "Oh yeah, yeah certainly. Gregg's (Williams) done an outstanding job where ever he's been and New Orleans is no exception."
(on if there is any lingering feeling after losing against a team in the preseason and then playing them in the regular season) "No, I didn't really pay any attention to the score that much last year or this year's game. We were just working guys on techniques and how to play them. The game turned out one way one time and another way another time. You can look like you're playing bad in preseason, but it depends on who the players are and what techniques they're playing and so forth. The final score doesn't always tell what kind of players you have."
(on if he looks at the Saints two regular season games more than the preseason game) "Yeah, you still want to see the matchups though. You want to see what kind of matchups and whether you think hey when we game plan, we're going to take care of this or that or a bad matchup. Hey, this guy couldn't cover him or they were too strong or the right guard was too strong for our two-technique or whatever."
(on if he likes playing a team in the preseason and regular season) "No."
(on if he'd rather play different teams) "Yeah, I think so. It's not a big difference. You're going to play whoever you play, but I don't know. I'd rather play different teams, but that's the way it is."
(on ILB DeMeco Ryans trying to get back up to full speed) "Yeah, he's been out quite a bit and he's coming off a year where he's out. It's a slower process for him, but the mental process is no problem for him. That's what stands him out from other players is he knows what to do. Even in our system and the things we put in, he's way ahead of everybody on our team that way because he's a real smart guy."
(on the defense will play a lot of dime this week like they did last week) "It just depends. We played a lot of dime because we've been ahead in the games. Hopefully, we'd like to do that. The good teams we've had over the years, they played a lot more dime defense than they played base defense because they were ahead. He's (DeMeco Ryans) a special part of this team and a great leader and he's the captain of the defense."
(on if there's any concern ILB DeMeco Ryans will get back to where he was physically) "No, I think he's coming along. Like I said, he didn't lose anything mentally. It's a new defense, but he knows it probably better than I do."
OLB Connor Barwin(on if he's determined to have fun every snap this year after missing most of last season) "Yeah, I wouldn't relate it necessarily to my ankle injury last year. That was obviously very disappointing. Maybe I just had a lot more time to think about stuff when I was sitting around for six months. But no, man, I'm just trying to take advantage of the situation I have right now and definitely have as much fun as possible doing it."
(on the biggest challenge of QB Drew Brees and the Saints) "With Drew Brees, just the skill level he has and how quickly they get the ball out will definitely be the challenge for us as we try to get after them."
(on if QB Drew Brees is one of the toughest targets in the League) "Yeah, we like the guys that just sit there and can't move at all. He can definitely get out of the pocket and run with it and he tries to make plays with the ball when he gets out, so that makes it a little more challenging as well."
(on the best course of action for disrupting QB Drew Brees) "Just beat him clean, I guess. Just beat your guy as quick as possible and hope somebody else gets some pressure and can't let him get the ball off right away."
ILB Brian Cushing(on if he feels like he's playing like he did in his rookie season this year) "I think when I came in, I was healthy and I was able to play a good deal of effort. I'm trying to replicate the effort, if not surpass it with how I play. I think as far as mentally and just a grasp for the game, I'm way ahead of where I used to be."
(on if the way he's hitting people is reminiscent of his rookie season) "Well, I'm healthy. My knee's feeling a lot better, I can practice throughout the week and I'm able to go out there Sunday and really play full speed, which is a good feeling."
(on how much being able to practice on a regular basis has helped) "It has. There's no question about it to go out there and see the things you're going to see in the game and the reason I'm able to practice is because I'm healthy. The reason I'm able to play is because I'm healthy. It's kind of one of those things it just added up and has really helped my game this year."
(on how it is mentally to be healthy) "Mentally, I think the biggest thing is you can really look forward to things again. I really get excited for Sunday again and I'm really fired up for every opportunity we have and the challenges like going down to New Orleans and playing them. It's going to be awesome. To go into a game fully healthy and know you can give everything you have to the team towards winning is a great feeling."
(on how much of a factor his knee injury was last year) "It definitely was. It was one of those things that over time just progressively got worse and worse. Now the whole offseason with the lockout and everything, time to rehab and coming back, I haven't felt this good in a while. I feel healthy and hopefully I can stay that way. It's a tough physical game. Every time you wake up the next day, you remind yourself how really physical it is. As far as how I feel, it's way better than I did last year."
SS Glover Quin(on settling into the game plan for the Saints) "Oh yeah, we ready now. It's going to be another challenge for us and we feel like every week is going to be a challenge. We're coming in, we're getting a game plan and we're learning it and executing it every day in practice. Hopefully we take off with it Sunday."
(on going up against QB Drew Brees) "Well Drew Brees is a great quarterback. I remember my first two years going through training camp with him and practicing against him every day. He's a great quarterback. He's high-tempo guy. He throws the ball. He very rarely takes sacks. He always has a checkdown. If his read's not open, he's going to get rid of it to the checkdown and go to second down. He's a great quarterback, so we're going to have to try to do what we do to cover our guys and go out and battle. They're going to make some plays and we're going to make some plays."
(on how much it changes his mindset that QB Drew Brees can get space and move around) "Well, we don't really consider Drew Brees and scrambling quarterback. He's mobile in the pocket, but he wants to throw the ball. He has good pocket awareness. He can feel the pressure coming, step up, step back and step to the side, so we always have to stay on our coverage and know that hey, we trust that our D-line is going to get there and our job is to cover."
DE Antonio Smith(on the challenges of QB Drew Brees) "An up-tempo offense and he's a smart quarterback, likes to get the ball out fast. Sometimes it can frustrate a defensive lineman. You get your best rushes on the offensive linemen and he still gets the ball off. In my opinion, I think that's his best asset."
(on if QB Drew Brees is a difficult player to blitz) "Not a difficult guy to blitz in general. I think that some blitzes get to him. Watching Green Bay, I just think that he's a smart quarterback, so when he feels pressure coming or he sees it, he knows where to get the ball to right then and right there."
(on if it's advantageous that QB Drew Brees hasn't seen the Texans new defense) "I would think so, but he's a veteran quarterback. He's seen every kind of blitz that could come at you at the age and the amount of years he's been in the League, but we just have to find a way to beat one-on-one matchups. It's not really who's going to come free. It's the guys who's not free that's got to make that extra effort in getting to him."
(on how important it is to get pressure on QB Drew Brees) "I'm a defensive lineman. That's very important. If I don't get no pressure, I'm not happy at all."
(on if it means anything to be the number one defense in the league right now) "I didn't know that. It means something now. Any time you can sit here as the number one defense, it means something, but now it just means that we have to uphold it. We got another week and it's been a lot of 400-yard games getting put out there and even one 500, almost 600-yard game. Any given week it can happen to you, so you just have to stay on top of your game."
T Eric Winston(on losing T Rashad Butler to injury) "He's such a safety blanket for the whole offensive line and a guy that you can put in on goal line situations. Like I said, his overall knowledge of the offense has made it I think easy to know that if someone went down, he's going to come in and become the same player. Some young guys are going to have to step up and get experience quickly."
(on how he handles losing T Rashad Butler) "I mean obviously, I guess if we don't have any injuries, we'll be fine, but how many times does that ever happen? Like I said, the guys behind him, Derek Newton, (Andrew) Gardner, those guys are going to have to grow up quickly and keep working and get to where he was at. I think Rashad's a starter in this League. I've always believed that. I think he's a guy that can play and I think he's shown it when he's been in the game. Not having a guy like that as your sixth man, not having that safety blanket around hurts."
(on what it would mean to be 3-0 for the first time) "I guess it means we're one game closer. I don't know if it means a lot. I think just beating the Saints at home I think more than being 3-0 is a bigger testament to what this team's made of, so I'm excited. I'm excited about the challenge, getting the chance to go in the Superdome and beat a really good team. It's going to be a fun game and I'm looking forward to it."
(on the team not making a big deal about being undefeated) "I think when you're a younger team, you kind of get off on some of that stuff, as far as, 'Wow we're second in the League in total points or total yards.' When you do some of that stuff and you still don't win, I think you stop caring about it. I think the only thing this team cares about is the wins and the rest of the stats, someone else can have them as long as we're getting those wins. However we have to come by them, we'll take them."