The Texans practiced Thursday at the Methodist Training Center and after, head coach Gary Kubiak and some players answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakILB Brian CushingQB Jake Delhomme
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on how he's going to decide who will be the No. 2 quarterback) "You know, what I'm doing is I'm working them both. Obviously T.J.'s (Yates) getting the majority of the reps because he hasn't had them, so we got to get him ready to go. I'll feel comfortable when I leave tomorrow, leave the field. I'm working them both this week. I got a package that each of them kind of presents to me and I'll go with which one I'm comfortable with. Jake's (Delhomme) made a lot of progress in the last two days, so hopefully we keep going in that direction."
(on what it means that QBs Jake Delhomme and Kellen Clemens present a package to him) "Well, I don't expect them to take our whole game plan. There's no way. You don't do that. We've got to be limited with them in what we're asking them to do and then I got to see which one I'm most comfortable handling that part of."
(on if he's giving QB T.J. Yates more reps than normal for a starter) "I would say yes. Wednesday and Thursday I did. Friday, I always give them all to the starter. Yeah, you got to understand, he's 12 weeks behind in reps and if he's going to lead this team, he needs all he can get. That's just probably the way we'll work here for a while."
(on how QB T.J. Yates is responding to the increased reps) "He's practiced good. The thing I'm impressed, the team's picked it up around him. We practiced good as a football team today and that's what we got to do. They all know they don't need to worry about T.J., they need to worry about themselves."
(on what he's focusing on with QB T.J. Yates to get him ready) "No, we're going about it just normal. Obviously there's a lot more time being spent just because of his lack of time on the job, so to speak, so he's been up here at nights with (quarterbacks coach) Greg (Knapp) and Knapper hasn't had much sleep, but he does a hell of a job and he's done a hell of a job with all of them up to this point. We're prodding along. Our expectations for him are big and he's working towards getting that done. We just got to stay behind him and keep pushing."
(on QB T.J. Yates being as calm now as he was a few weeks ago) "He's played a lot of football and he showed you the other day when he got thrown in a real tough environment that he's just a football player and he needs the time on the job like anybody else, but he's fixing to get it."
(on any injury issues) "(Lawrence) Vickers still did not practice today. (Tim) Bulman did not practice today and I'm filling in for (defensive coordinator) Coach Wade (Phillips). He is sick today."
(on ILB Brian Cushing) "Cush did practice on a limited basis today. Not full practice, but he did practice. He'll be fine. He'll take everything tomorrow."
(on if FB Lawrence Vickers has a chance to play on Sunday) "Yeah, I think there's a chance. There's a good chance. It'll probably be a game-time decision though."
(on the improvement OLB Connor Barwin's made in the past few weeks) "Well, it hasn't been the last few weeks, he's played really well all year long. Those sacks tend to come in bunches and so he's kind of got rewarded for all his hard work. But he's having a fine year and he's playing with a lot of confidence right now. That's the group as a whole and young players really stepping up. He's a young player, so just very impressed with where he's at right now."
(on how happy he is for OLB Connor Barwin after his injury last year) "Well that's why you coach, for guys like that that work really hard at it. Watching him being taken off the field opening day last year and then to see the award he got yesterday, that's why you do what you do, to watch that happen."
(on why OLB Connor Barwin has made such a good transition to outside linebacker) "Smart, he's a smart guy. He takes to coaching. When he makes a mistake or something, he gets it right the next time. He's very athletic. That's what you're asked to do playing linebacker in this. It suits everything he's got as far as ability and he's taken advantage of it."
(on the Falcons offense) "It's exceptional. It's got to be as powerful probably as there is in the League when you look at the weapons across the board. It'll be the biggest challenge for our team in awhile and we'll have to play excellent across the board and defense, like you said, that's probably the top offense they've seen since New Orleans."
(on when all the work QB T.J. Yates has put in will pay off for him) "We'll see. I don't know. I've never been to a third quarterback in the 12th week of the season. It's hard for me to answer these questions, but he's doing all the work that he needs to do and we as coaches and team need to rally behind him and play well. That's what's fixing to happen, so we'll see. The work's not a problem. He'll do the work."
(on what's keeping him up at night about QB T.J. Yates) "I don't know how to answer this. Obviously, from a comfort zone standpoint, all of a sudden, you're to your third guy. I feel good about T.J. My biggest concern right now is who's going in there if T.J. goes down. Now we've got a guy who's been with us five days and one who's been with us two, so we're trying to get ready to play. This is a very unique situation and let's go to work and see if we can get it done."
(on what makes the Falcons run defense so good) "Gap control defense. (Head Coach) Mike's (Smith) a very good coach. They're very stout in their gaps. They don't give up a lot of big plays. They're a zone football team and just very sound in what they do and their offense keeps them off the field."
ILB Brian Cushing
(on what impresses him the most about Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez) "He knows how to run routes. He's smart. He knows how to get open, has great hands and pretty much catches everything. I think that's what separates him from most of the other tight ends."
(on what he thinks the Falcons will do to try to beat them) "Just their best players. I think they can obviously pass the ball and they can run real well, too. They're a very well-rounded offense, who's going to try to attack you from a lot of different angles."
(on if the defense has to step up more now with all the injuries) "I just think we have to play good and we have to play smart, play tough. Every game, we want to play better than the next, whether we had someone go down or whatnot. We just want to continue improving our defense."
(on how much of a test the Falcons offense will be for the defense) "Yeah, but it's a challenge that we want. This is going to be a home game, it's going to be exciting and it's going to be a test. There's no question about it, but that's what we want. It's going to be competitive for us."
(on his health situation) "Excellent. I'm walking around. I'm doing well. I practiced today, so I'm good."
(on why he was limited in practice) "I'm just a little banged up from last week. I was able to do some stuff today. I'll do more tomorrow and by Sunday, I'll be fine."
(on the Falcons offense being the biggest challenge since New Orleans) "I agree. They're a very deep offense. They've got a lot of good weapons. On top of it, they've got a very good quarterback running that team. They're explosive. They can run the ball really well. They got a lot of weapons as receivers and it's definitely going to be a challenge for us."
(on OLB Connor Barwin being named AFC Defensive Player of the Month) "It's a great honor. That's special, but you look at the numbers and no one's played better. It's awesome to see him get those kind of accolades and coming up like he is."
QB Jake Delhomme
(on how he is progressing) "You got to understand we're not just going over the same stuff. There's new installations that go in every day, but it's going as good as could be for me. It's a grind. There's no other way around it. It's a grind and you just have to work and learn. That's just the way it is."
(on how hard it is to learn the offense so quickly) "It's difficult because it's a new language. No matter any way you slice it, it's a new language, the verbiage and certainly the little nuances. This is not June. This is not the second week of camp. This is middle of the season, the latter part of the season. This is December. A lot of the things that these guys have been doing and have been doing well, you're just trying to catch up to speed and if you do get in there, just try and not to mess it up and get in the way."
(on how much it will help him that he's been a backup quarterback in the past) "Well I think it does help some. I've been in those situations and I think the biggest thing is this is a good football team. Drive the car. I don't know any other way to put it. Just drive the car. The car's moving. It's going downhill. Just drive it. Keep it in the lane. I think that's the biggest thing that you have to tell yourself."
(on if the good running game and offensive line makes it easier for him) "Well, to me, that was a major factor of me wanting to visit here. Not only that, defensively also. That's the blueprint to winning in the NFL consistently year in and year out. If you can run the football, rush the passer, play solid defense, you're going to be in every game and you'll pull out some wins along the way. You'll win your fair share and then pull out some close ones, you're going to have winning seasons. I truly believe that's the blueprint to winning in the NFL consistently."
(on the challenge facing QB T.J. Yates) "I really and truly believe it's a good challenge for him, but he's been here. He's very, very intelligent for a young kid. He really understands what's going on. I'll be honest with you, I think if he just does his job and all the other players, I know the other players are not worried about T.J., you can just tell, they're going to do their job, he's going to run the offense. People can always talk about oh, he might not have experience, but how do you get experience? You have to play. To me, that's the thing. You have to play. That's the only way you get it. He doesn't have the big wide eyes. I think that's one thing that I've seen so far these last two days being with him."
(on if he learned to "drive the car" more as he got older) "I think earlier on, I might have driven it better than I did as I got a little older. I think we did a bunch of different things. I just think a lot of it is predicated on what your team is made of and how your team is doing at that time and what's your strengths and weaknesses and I think this team has a pretty good idea of what their strengths and weaknesses are."
(on if this is the biggest challenge he's ever faced in his career) "Oh, 100 percent. There's no doubt. It doesn't matter who you are, it's going to be that way. But 100 percent because I've never been in a situation where the two different places I went to… In Carolina, I showed up in March for offseason and in Cleveland last year, it was March and it was basically a similar type system to what I ran in Carolina. Without a doubt, 100 percent."