The Texans practiced at the Methodist Training Center Thursday and after, head coach Gary Kubiak and some of the players answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakOLB Connor BarwinCB Kareem JacksonWR Jacoby JonesWR Derrick MasonOLB Brooks ReedDE Antonio Smith
Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on QB Matt Schaub) "He took probably a little bit less than his normal Thursday because we got (Matt) Leinart some reps too, but he looked good. In fact, he's going to be okay."
(on the seven deflected passes last week) "You just go back and you study them and you study them with him (Matt Schaub). They tend to happen for various reasons. It can be a guy's eyes sometimes. Sometimes it's just a hand in the right place. You got to study it and look at it. It is part of the game. You can't let it go drive you crazy. You just got to 'Hey let's look at this, see what we could have did better. Maybe we wouldn't have got them knocked down.' The hard thing about it in that game was that the ones that were knocked down had chances for big plays. It took away from what we had a chance to do."
(on if the number of deflected passes was unusual) "No, I think sometimes it happens more often than other times in games. It's come up before. I've been doing this a long time. I've had days where guys get balls knocked down. Hopefully it doesn't happen on a regular basis, but all you can do is look at it, let him see it and try to get better from it."
(on how WR Derrick Mason looked today) "He did fine. I'm comfortable with him playing. He has some head start terminology-wise because of some of the people I know he's been around. I think he'll be fine and our guys will help him too. Matt (Schaub) can help him out there, so he should be up."
(on if it's unfair for WR Jacoby Jones to get so much grief this week) "It's part of football. We all get a little grief every now and then. Like I told you, he ran some damn good routes where if the ball didn't get tipped or hit, he would've came away from the game with five or six catches for another 70, 80 yards. He beat a guy on a double move slant route that had a chance for an 80-yard touchdown. Nobody knows, the ball got tipped, but that's part of football. There were times he could've run better routes too, but I got a lot of confidence in him and I need him to come back this week and play big."
(on if he talked to WR Jacoby Jones this week to build his confidence) "Oh, I talk to him all the time. He doesn't have a problem with confidence, no, not Jacoby. He'll be alright. He's just got to come back and play."
(on why he thinks WR Trindon Holliday can return punts and kicks) "It's not etched in stone right now, but we brought him back here to return because of what's going on with our football team. Our punt returner is playing 70 plays a game. Our kickoff returner is playing 60-something plays a game. We got to be smart as a team too. We could wear those guys down to the point where we lose one of those guys and we would be sick. He's got a chance to help us. We'll see how our numbers add up going into Sunday."
(on any injuries) "Really we're fine. Andre (Johnson) did more today. He's getting better and better each day. Who else? (Tim) Dobbins practiced today. He was fine. (Mike) Brisiel practiced. We should be okay. We backed off a little bit yesterday and taught more yesterday and we were sharp today, so we should be okay."
(on if he has a better feel on WR Andre Johnson) "Well I can just say this: I'm very pleased with what I'm watching over there. It's put a smile on a lot of people's face the last couple days. Obviously he's got still some time to go, but with what's going on, you feel so positive about what's got a chance to happen here down the road. We know we're going to get him back. We just got to make sure we do it the right way."
(on if RB Ben Tate will backup RB Arian Foster) "Derrick's (Ward) fine, but Ben (Tate) will back up Arian (Foster), but Derrick will play, too. I see all of three of them getting touches in this game somehow, some way."
(on how nice it is to have running backs Arian Foster, Ben Tate and Derrick Ward all healthy) "We've had problems there all year long, so hopefully we settle down there and stay healthy and Arian (Foster) starts to move into midseason form type-of-thing. We'll keep our fingers crossed to stay healthy."
(on OLB Mario Williams being out at practice) "Yeah, I made that comment to a couple guys today. It's kind of sad. Boy, he was playing so well. I said this before, I know it's killing him because he's just so excited about what he was doing and what we were doing as a defensive football team, but Mario's going to have a great career and he's going to be fine. He will have the surgery tomorrow. It's been very difficult on him. Mario's always been a team guy, a class act."
(on OLB Mario Williams being in the huddle at practice and staying after practice) "It means a lot and I told him that too. It means a lot to the guys for him to be around and he needs to continue to grow in (Defensive Coordinator) Wade's (Phillips) defense even though he's out. He needs to study every week like he was playing, so when Mario does come back, his growth is still taking place from a mental standpoint."
(on how soon OLB Mario Williams can play after having surgery) "I don't know. They tell me it's like a three-and-half, four-month process. I know my kid had it done and it takes a while before you can start doing some things. But Mario's a heck of a worker, so I'm sure he'll be out here hopefully within a week or two to be out here and be a part of it."
(on if CB Kareem Jackson is fully healthy) "Yeah, he's practiced good this week and we'll see who starts. Like I tell you guys all the time, I think of both of them (Kareem Jackson and Jason Allen) as starters. We'll see what happens, but he's practiced well this week."
(on if WR Derrick Mason will be more of a slot guy) "No, he'll play all over the place. He'll play all over the place. He's got a pretty good knowledge of what's going on and we got some good guys out there to help him too, so I feel good about it. He practiced good today."
OLB Connor Barwin(on if he feels pressure to make more plays with OLB Mario Williams out) "No, I don't think I feel any more pressure, but I think everybody's going to have to elevate their game. I think I am going to have to play better, but I don't think you really look at it like it's more pressure. You just have to elevate your play."
(on if the mindset is different with OLB Mario Williams out) "No, I don't think I'm going to look too much into it. I think you have to prepare every game and do everything you can. I did that last week and this week with Mario out, I'm still going to do that. You still know in the back of your head that you're maybe going to have to elevate your game a little bit."
(on DE Antonio Smith saying he's close to having four or five sacks) "Yeah, I wish I would have four or five sacks, but hopefully I get those, make those plays this week. I've been close a couple times, but close doesn't count, so hopefully this week I'll get them done."
(on the adjustment of dropping from his position and covering) "Yeah, I feel it's been a progression since training camp. I'm really comfortable with the formations now, which is training camp, my head was turning, looking all over it. But with time and playing that position now and not moving around, I've really gotten comfortable with it."
CB Kareem Jackson(on how tough it's been to not play the last couple weeks) "It's been tough to watch, but at the same time, those guys' biggest cheerleader is on the sideline and they've been doing their job. It's always tough to have to watch, but at the same time, those guys are out there doing their job and like I said, I'm rooting them on."
(on if it's helped to watch the game from the sidelines) "Certain situations, but for the most part, no. You're obviously getting a different view of the game, so I just kind of look back at some different formations that were happening the last two games and just try to think to myself 'Okay, what's coming?' But for the most part, no."
(on if he will play this week) "Oh yeah, I've been getting some reps this week in practice, so I'm definitely looking forward to playing."
(on what challenges there are after not playing for a couple weeks) "It wasn't really a challenge. I only missed two weeks, but within those weeks, I had a couple days where I did practice, so it was really nothing to get back out there."
WR Jacoby Jones(on focusing more on receiving than returning) "Well, whatever's best for the team, I'm with it. If that's the way we're going to do it, that's the way we're going to do it. Houston Texans football."
(on if he thinks he's playing too many snaps) "No, it is what it is, so whatever they want me to do, I'm going to do it."
(on the addition of WR Derrick Mason) "That's good. I can learn from him. That's a vet coming in. That's somebody I can learn from and he can help us out."
(on if he knew WR Derrick Mason before he got here) "Yeah, we played in some celebrity basketball games together. He can hoop a little bit."
(on if WR Derrick Mason will set an example for everybody in the locker room) "Yeah, like I said, any time you got a guy who's got great experience like that, he can help us out no matter what."
(on how he views things right now) "I view it the same as you always do. You get better every day. You come watch film and come to practice and you get better."
(on what he can learn from WR Derrick Mason) "Of course route running, the mental part of the game and things like that."
(on if he will return punts this week) "As of right now, like I said, whatever they need me to do, I'm ready to get back there to field them. All I know is be ready to go."
WR Derrick Mason(on how his first day of practice went) "It felt good. I'm picking up on the offense pretty well. My legs are not quite up under me yet; I've taken three planes in two days, so I was a little bit tired out there, but as far as the verbiage and picking up on the offense, I did pretty well. (Wide Receivers) Coach Larry (Kirksey), we stayed in the meeting rooms all day yesterday and he got me up to speed, so I did fairly well for the first day being out there."
(on if it helps that he is familiar with the terminology used in the Texans offense) "Yeah, it does. I ran it back in the day, my early years in Tennessee under the late coach (former Tennessee Titans Offensive Coordinator Mike) Heimerdinger, and we had a lot of success under it, and to come back full circle and be in the offense again is a good thing. It'll still take a little time because I've been through three or four other systems, but for the first day or two, I think I've scored pretty high if you're on a grading system."
(on the toll that the trade has taken on him, physically) "I'm over it, physically. Like I said, it was more so the plane rides that got me than anything. To me, New York is a distant memory. I had fun while I was down there, but in order to succeed moving forward, I had to put that behind me quickly, and that's what I have been able to do."
(on if having 15 years of experience makes it easier to handle being traded during the season) "Yeah, it is. I've never experienced it, being in one place for a while and then being traded early in the season. I've never experienced it, but I've been in the league long enough to be able to adapt very quickly, so I've never been through it, but I'm going to be fine. I'm going to be alright."
(on what it was like working with QB Matt Schaub in practice) "Great. Great. He knows what he's doing. He's a veteran quarterback. He's had a lot of success in this league, so it's always good to be with a veteran quarterback who understands personnel and what's going on."
(on how difficult it is to win at Baltimore) "It's very hard. The crowd is always into it, coupled with they've got a very good defense, so it makes it equally as hard to go out there and have some success against them, but if we stay focused and get over the crowd noise and stay on our attack, I think we'll be alright."
(on the challenge of playing against the Baltimore defense and FS Ed Reed) "It's always a challenge. Like I've always said, Ed is, to me, he is the best safety in the league. He might end up being the best safety ever to play the game. His knack for finding the ball, his ability to play both sides of the field is uncanny. I've never seen it in my 15 years of playing football. The guy is arguably, probably the most important defensive player in the league."
(on what role he expects to have in the offense) "However they need me. I'm just here to have fun and enjoy it, and whenever my number is called, just make the play. If it's inside or outside, it doesn't matter to me, but as I continue to pick up on the playbook, I know that my role will expand some, and then once Dre (WR Andre Johnson) comes back, we'll kind of see how it goes from there. But if he (Head Coach Gary Kubiak) needs me inside, I'll play inside; if he needs me outside, I'll play outside."
(on if he ever thought about how long he wanted to play in the NFL) "No. No, I haven't. When you come in as a rookie you just want to go five years, four or five years. And then once you get past that threshold, you say, 'Well, if I can make it 10 years, I'm good.' After 10, you just say, 'Man, whatever else comes next, it's just like icing on the cake.'"
(on if he sees himself playing 20 years like WR Jerry Rice) "No, no, no, no. My children won't let me play 20 years. I've got to get back to them and enjoy them."
(on whether he kept a souvenir Oilers helmet from his early days in the NFL) "I've got an Oilers helmet. I do."
(on his career coming full circle back to where he started with the Oilers) "My first year here, we were here for two weeks when I got here, so I had training camp here. I had the old Oiler helmet, I had number 82 when I came into the league, so I kind of came full-circle. So it's a good thing. Everything happens for a reason, and you try to find some good in a situation that could have possibly been bad. You make the best out of it and you move on."
(on whether he realized that he is the last remaining player who wore an Oilers helmet) "Am I? That's a good thing. That shows you that I've been truly blessed to play this game for a long period of time."
(on if he feels like he'll know enough of the playbook to be able to play on Sunday) "Yeah, I do. I was kind of hesitant coming in, because I didn't know how fast I would pick up on the playbook, but once I spent a lot of time with (Wide Receivers) Coach Larry (Kirksey) in the meeting rooms, it started to come to me. I don't know how or why, but it just started to come to me, and that's a good thing. So I feel confident that I can go out there and play at full speed, and if not, then I know I'll have the other guys around me to help me as I go out there."
OLB Brooks Reed(on how important it is to know and be able to read his teammates) "It's very important that me and Antonio (Smith) are on the same page. We got to know when each other are stunting. We got to know what's going on with the blitz. We can't be stunting in when there's a blitz. We all got to be on the same page."
(on if he was starting to get to know his teammates as he played last week) "Yeah and I talked to Antonio (Smith) a few times just trying to catch up to the point where him and Mario (Williams) were at. It kind of felt natural for them."
(on if it's hard to know what your teammates are going to do during the game) "Oh yeah, definitely. You got to be able to recognize certain formations and whatnot to be able to kind of call things on the fly."
(on how important on-field communication is during the game) "It's very important and being able to disguise it because that's what the O-linemen are looking for. They're looking for the D-linemen to signal the stunt, but when we know it, we don't have to say anything or signal anything. We just kind of look at each other and we'll know."
DE Antonio Smith(on the challenges of rushing QB Joe Flacco) "With a quarterback like that, when you rush him, you want to rush under control so that you won't fall off of sacks and things like that and make sure you don't break your rush lanes because if you're rushing too far on one side, it opens up a lane. He takes off, that's 15 yards, guaranteed first down. You want to make sure you don't do that, but most of all you just want to hit him. That's our key. That's what we want to do, hit him as many times as we can, try to get him rattled."
(on how much better QB Joe Flacco has gotten better from last year) "He's gotten better. I think that his quarterback rating doesn't really support what kind of quarterback he is. I think they're winning games. You always got confidence in that and he's a good quarterback throwing the ball, but I think that my job is no matter how good a quarterback is, our job is to get to him, put as many hits on him as we can, try to do our jobs of keeping him rattled so our team can win. That's our primary focus as a D-line and with the front seven since we're rushing linebackers so much. That's our only focus, get to the quarterback, get to him. Stop the run first, but get to him and rattle him a little bit."
(on if anything changes with OLB Mario Williams out) "It changes a little bit because it took me and Mario even two weeks to align up with each other where we ain't running into each other. We're both rushing outside to get a good feel with each other. I think that it's going to do the same thing with Brooks (Reed). We got to get a feel for how each other rushes because he's going to be at the Will, which I'm most of the time at a three technique, so that's the weak side. We got to feed off of each other. We can't rush in each other's way or I go wide and he's coming tight. We have to be able to gel together and he needs to know how I rush and I need to know how he rush."