The Texans practiced Thursday at the Methodist Training Center. Afterward, head coach Gary Kubiak, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, linebacker Brian Cushing, nose tackle Shaun Cody, cornerback Johnathan Joseph, tight end Owen Daniels, fullback Tyler Clutts and rookie outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
ILB Brian Cushing
NT Shaun Cody
CB Johnathan Joseph
TE Owen Daniels
FB Tyler Clutts
OLB Whitney Mercilus
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(On the team's health at today's practice) "We were good. We had a couple guys not finish practice today. Arian (Foster), his knee is a little sore so he missed like the last quarter of practice, the last third. Brooks Reed's hip is a little sore, same thing with him. But we had a good physical day. Those guys that had been out held up good. Shaun (Cody) held up good, Cush (Brian Cushing), J.J. (Watt), everybody's fine. I expect those two guys are fine too, but they did not finish up the last third of practice."
(on taking precaution) "Precautionary reasons right now. Arian (Foster) said his knee was sore so we pulled him out. Same thing with Brooks (Reed)."
(on if anything specific happened to them today) "No, just through the course of practice."
(on what it means for the Texans if Miami's Jake Long plays Sunday) "I don't know. I don't think of stuff that way. He's obviously a great player and one of the best left tackles in the game. I know he's very important to their team. As far as what it means to us, my concern is strictly us and how we play like I tell you guys all the time focus on what we do and playing good, clean football. We got penalties we need to clean up form the preseason. We turned the ball over in the preseason. We got so many issues of our own that we need to stay focused on. So we're trying to do that this week and make sure we're ready to go."
(on if Opening Day is still special for him) "It always is. There's something about it. Just watching it last night, I got a chance to watch a little bit of the game at the end. This league is just tremendous. The athletes, the players, and the way they're prepared to go compete every Sunday. Getting the chance to open at home is really special, too, so yeah, it is. They're all special. You look forward to every Sunday but there is something special about Opening Day in the National Football League. There is some unknown to it I think for your team and what you're going to get from the other team that's another thing that makes it a little bit different. There are always surprises around the league. Everybody starts to find out really what they're all about, and the preseason goes away so yeah from that standpoint it is."
(on WR Kevin Walter's preseason) "We don't call plays saying, throwing to him. We attack coverages and wherever the coverage tells us to throw the ball that's where we're going to throw it. We rotated our receivers in the preseason. Kevin probably played a total of maybe 60 plays throughout the whole preseason. I know what Kevin can do. He caught the first ball of the preseason if I'm right and I guess he got shutdown from there. We know he's going to be in the right spot. If the coverage dictates that's where we got to go then Matt (Schaub) will go to him. But Kevin's had an excellent camp. He's been there every day. He's huge for our offense because he does so many things for us and he'll do them again this year."
(on WR Kevin Walter's consistency) "Very valuable, last year he had the shoulder issue and thought he was going to miss a lot of time. I think he ended up missing one game maybe. So that's Kevin, he's going to do everything he can for his team. He's actually playing some special teams for us now. For our guys who've been around 10-11years I don't know how many it is, Kevin will continue to contribute in this league because he's unselfish and does so many things."
(on how the Texans will handle Miami's' Cameron Wake) "The way they play their defense it's hard to dictate exactly where he's going to be all the time. So the best way we can help on pass rushers is to run the football. That's the way we're built from that standpoint. (Derek) Newton's got to step up and play like a starter, play like a big-time player. Being able to help him do those type of things is strictly for us starts from running the ball."
(on Miami's success running the ball last year against the Texans) "They did an excellent job. They spread us out a little bit and ran the ball on us. They've run the ball pretty good in the preseason, too, with Reggie (Bush) and some things that have given us trouble. San Francisco ran the ball on us pretty good in the preseason game. We know it'll start there. Obviously they're working a hurry-up offense and got a young quarterback. The best thing they can do is be able to run the football to help him out. In a lot of ways, we're kind of built the same way from that standpoint."
(on competing against a hurry up offense) "It changes how you practice. It really doesn't change the personnel that much. You can't change unless if they change personnel then obviously the officials have to slow the game down and we get a chance to adjust. That's a rule that helps your defense. As long as they stay the same, we got to stay the same. We've been working all week. We basically worked today with noise only defensively. That's unusual, but that's a nice problem to have here at home. Our fans will be loud so (Brian Cushing) will have to get everybody going and in the right direction with the noise. We worked on that today."
(on how he feels about the ability to run the ball) "We're going to see. Regardless of who we're playing, it starts with us running the ball. That's the way our offense is built. We got, I used to say two fine backs, now I think we have three real good ones. I think (Justin) Forsett's had an excellent preseason. Those guys are going to get their touches. Usually how well we run it has a lot do with our success offensively with some of the things we can do. So it's always important."
(on RB Justin Forsett's ability to help the team on game day) "Well, he's playing all of special teams. He was excellent doing that. He can go in and return if something is up with Trindon (Holliday) or whatever. We got a lot of confidence in him. If something happens to Ben (Tate) or Arian (Foster) we're going to keep our rotation going. He's going to become part of the rotation. From that standpoint, we got a lot of confidence in him. We think he's very capable of playing like a starter and being effective."
(on OLB Whitney Mercilus' ability to contribute) "I think he's gotten better each and every week. He's become part of the rotation that Wade and Reggie are using. The further we go, the better he plays, the more he becomes part of that rotation. He's had a good camp. He's really had a good couple of days here. Me just watching him, I thought he had an excellent practice. He's ready to continue to contribute more and more."
(on Miami QB Ryan Tannehill) "I think a lot of him. I think he's a franchise-type player. That's what you're looking for. He's smart. He's athletic, makes plays off schedule. I think he's in a perfect situation with (Mike Sherman) to get him going there. I think he's going to be very good for a long, long time. I know a lot of talk of the other two, but I think this guy is going to a part of that conversation pretty quick."
(on Miami QB Ryan Tannehill's mobility ) "That concerns you. Throughout the preseason, we've been beat on some third downs with quarterbacks running. Whether it was San Francisco, Minnesota, Drew (Brees) did it a couple of times on us in New Orleans so that concerns you. Then you're matching up the man coverage, he gets out of the pocket that's a problem. He's done it in the preseason too. He's done a good job with it."
(on WR Keshawn Martin) "Yeah, he's been practicing good. Remember we moved him from one position to another after Carolina. When Andre (Johnson) came back, we moved him onto Kevin's (Walter) side so that he and Kevin are rotating. So he had a little learning curve there, but he's handled it well. He's doing fine. He's practiced well. He's just playing a different spot. I think it took him, probably took him a good week to get comfortable on the other side of the ball with what he's doing and the calls, and those types of things. When number 80 is on that side there's not a lot to go around so we got to make sure we get it spread out."
(on how WR Keshawn Martin embraced the position switch) "That's hard, but he was our young guy that could handle it. You got (DeVier) Posey, I thought that between he and Posey, he was the one picking up what we were doing a little bit quicker as far as understanding our schemes and stuff. He needed to do it for the team. We're not going to move Andre (Johnson). You don't take that guy and make him move around. It was part of a team move. We asked Lestar (Jean) to know both spots. He's our young player. He's been here the longest. Each guy has something they have to build a handle and that was key that Keyshawn get that done. He has. He's been good. There haven't been many mistakes from him at all."
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
(on what hits him when he watches Miami QB Ryan Tannehill on tape) "(Ryan) Tannehill, I think (Gary Kubiak) described it a lot. He's a really good, young quarterback that looks like he has a great future. We hope it doesn't start now, but he's got all the ability. He can make all the throws. He's athletic. He can run with it. I do expect that. They haven't shown it in the preseason, but they've got that read option where the quarterback, we got hurt one game because we weren't working on that in the preseason where the quarterback faked it and ran with it and made a big gain. We worked a lot on that this week. We expect them to try to do a lot some things like that with him too because he can do those kind of things."
(on preparing for a quarterback who can do it all) "Well it's hard to tell with a young guy exactly what he's going to do. He hasn't run with the ball very much. He has scrambled some; some of them will scramble a lot. Some of them won't. The more you try to scramble, you're going to take some hits too and some sacks. We're going to try to get him to hold the ball. When we rush the passer we try to see the quarterback as we're rushing the passer. If he tries to get out then we hope we have a sound enough pocket that we can keep him from doing that."
(on Miami's success running the ball last season against the Texans) "It was real early in the year for us. There were some things that we needed to work out. Actually they ran more against our sub defense than they did our base defense. They had some plays in there. The running back made 100 yards and he and (Ray) Rice were the only two during the season that made a 100 yards on us. We played a lot of really good backs. Then Rice the second time didn't make it. We just hadn't been together. I think that was part of it last year. We weren't as sound as we wanted to be against the running game. We weren't as sound as we wanted to be against the passing game. We found that in New Orleans. We were still a vanilla defense the first part of the season last year. But we had to be because that's missing all the OTAs and the offseason and teaching and so forth. But we progress and that's what I was glad to see."
(on unleashing the defense as a play caller) "Yeah we are going to put some chocolate and strawberries and everything on that vanilla. You know I like that stuff. We'll give them some different looks now. They're seeing some of the things we did last year, but we've got some wrinkles for them."
(on teams adjusting to DE J.J. Watt) "Well it's a little tough to play defensive end. That's part of why we had Reggie White and Bruce Smith and those guys at defensive end because they're going to end it one-on-one a lot. You can help in some situations, but with our two outside backers coming a lot, J.J. is going to get a lot of one-on-one stuff. He got better and better as the season went on in that. He's a tremendous run player though. You can only block so many guys. They're not going to double team him and let Brooks Reed or those kind of guys free or Bradie (James). It's the one-on-one stuff that he's really adept at."
(on if Miami will try to spread the ball around or set the tone with the run) "I think every game every season you say 'Hey let's stop the run, force them into the passing game, and then play the pass.' That's the year beginning. Again, we didn't start very well last year against the running game. If I remember right last year when we played them, they passed for about 400 yards against New England the previous week so we worked a lot on the pass against them. We want to be solid against the run, force them into passing situation, then come after them. That's our philosophy."
(on concern for OLB Brooks Reed leaving practice early) "Sure. I don't know the extent of it, but he didn't get to practice the whole practice so that's a concern."
(on OLB Whitney Mercilus's contributing role) "Well, he may have to be a bigger factor than we thought. We want to work him in some. I don't think he's quite ready to go full-time, but Brooks Reed wasn't last year when he went in after the fourth play of the fifth game last year. I think he can do the things. We saw him in preseason play and do some good things. He got better and better against the run. We feel good about Whitney playing."
(on if DE J.J. Watt's elbow brace will limit him) "J.J. (Watt) hasn't seemed to have a problem with the brace in practice so far. He's been able to rush the passer. He's been able to play the run plays. Hopefully it'll just help him."
(on the excitement of Opening Day) "Yeah, this is exciting. It really is. I don't jump up and down, that kind of thing. But I told the players, I'm getting geared up just like they are. But we got to wait for the ballgame. Emotionally you have to get ready when it's game time. Physically, you got to get ready. Mentally you got to be ready. Emotionally you have to be ready. I'm working up emotionally, but I'm on start right now."
(on expectations this season) "You know it reminds me a lot of where I'm from Port Neches, Texas. They expect them to play well every year in football. They respond that way. It's a great atmosphere. It's a great winning atmosphere when you have a town and people that expect you to win and expect you to do well. I think that helps a team when they're kind of wishy-washy about their team and so forth. You see a lot of Texas towns that win over and over and over, and they necessarily have the great players every year but expectations of the people in the town affect the team itself. I think that's a good for us here."
(on concerns of slowing down Miami RB Reggie Bush) "Sure, Reggie Bush is a one-on-one nightmare. If he gets you out in space, he can make a big play and make you look bad. He can beat linebackers. He can beat safeties. He can run the football, too. The big thing you worry about is him coming out of the backfield or him out wide and making plays like Marshall Faulk and people like that."
(on the Dolphins' wide receiver changes) "Yeah, we've looked at all their guys. We know Anthony Armstrong even back at West Texas (A&M). My son coached him there so we know a little bit about all those guys. We've been studying what they've done there or at Washington or the previous year with (Brian) Hartline. That's what we do is study the opponent and try to get a feel for all those guys. We played against (Davone) Bess last year so we try to get the best matchups we can."
FB Tyler Clutts
(on doing whatever the Texans ask of him) "Whatever they expect me to do or ask me to do, that's what I'll do and I'll do it to the best of my ability. The way that I came to be where I'm at now, I've had to do a lot of things so I've had experience doing a lot of things. I just want to be really good at what they ask me to do. I don't want to go out there just because I can do some things and maybe not do them as well. I just really want to go out there and be efficient and effective with everything I do."
(on his road to the NFL) "It was definitely a long road getting here. It's shaped me to the man and the player that I am, the resiliency that I feel that I have is going to help me in this game because there was a lot of uphill climbing and fighting that I had to do to get here. That's the game of football. Things don't always go your way. You just got to fight through it, work through it. I think that's just going to help me as a player."
(on how many people told him he'd never reach the NFL) "I couldn't tell you. That was my motivation. It really was. Every time that you're able to prove somebody wrong when they say that you can't do something and then you do, it's all worth it. Luckily, I had enough people around me that believed that I could. The ones that really mattered believed that I could and really helped me continue on and push and work for this."
(on playing in the CFL out of college) "I signed in the CFL two or three days after the draft. I just wanted to play football. I knew that I wasn't done and that was my best option at that point. Looking back, I think it helped me. It helped me in a lot of ways. Again, everything that I did leading up to this point has shaped me to be who I am."
(on defying the jokes about his last name) "It goes along with it. I've gotten it since I was a little kid. You just got to roll with it, have fun with it. I do. Me and my wife joke about it all the time. It's all fun, but I try to prove the last name wrong so there's no correlation there."
NT Shaun Cody
(on how it felt to be back at practice) "Good, first day you knock the rust off, but now I'm feeling in-tune and ready to go."
(on if he's excited to play with the healthy defense) "Yeah especially at home. We made quite the name for ourselves last year so hopefully we can keep that going."
(on the defense allowing some lengthy runs in the preseason) "Some of the runs were on dime, we're ready for pass situations and they got some runs off on us. That can look deceiving. So once we got back to full speed and guys in there that know a lot of our stuff that'll help out. We got a great rotation of defensive line with Earl (Mitchell) and Tim Jamison so we have a great mix of guys that can do a lot of good things."
(on finally having the defense healthy and on the field) "It's good. We know we have a good defense. We just got to get out there and prove it now."
(on Opening Day) "I think especially home season openers are awesome especially with the kind of crowd we've got. We know what kind of atmosphere it's going to be. People are going to be pumped up. People in Houston have been pumped up all offseason. Going around town, people are excited so it should be fun."
ILB Brian Cushing
(on how excited he is to start the regular season) "Yeah, I'm very excited. We're looking forward to this year, especially with the atmosphere. I think that Reliant on Sunday is going to be special. It's a team that is looking forward to a lot. Overall, everyone's just very excited."
(on if there is another level for him to reach after last season) "There's no question. Physically, I've never felt better. Mentally, I've never been smarter. I think as you progress through the years in the league, you learn more and more and you anticipate so many more things. You can read plays and just see things different. From where I stand right now, I'm very comfortable in my position and it's one of those things where I'm healthy and just looking forward to the season."
(on the Dolphins ability to run on the Texans defense last year) "We've discussed that. I think Daniel Thomas and Ray Rice were the only two rushers to go above 100 yards against us (last year). We're aware of that but we also understand where our rushing defense was at the beginning of the year compared to the second half of the year. It was pretty night and day. I feel like we improved a lot. If anything, I think we've carried over from our last game and where we were last year and looking to be a top rushing defense."
(on if teams playing rookie quarterbacks play more conservatively) "I think so. I think that's probably going to be their game plan, especially in a very hostile environment. It's going to be very loud when he's on the field. I expect them to do small things to build his (QB Ryan Tannehill) confidence and get him ready for the game and get him comfortable as the game develops. At the same time, he's a very capable quarterback. We've seen it. He can make some really good throws. We just really want to limit him and don't let him get going."
TE Owen Daniels
(On the defense receiving a lot more attention heading into the season) "That's okay with us. We're going to go to work and we're to do our thing and keep things balanced and hopefully be really productive and give our defense rest. We know when they're well rested; they're pretty tough to get any type of yardage on. So keep them off the field, keep them fresh, that should be a recipe of success for us."
(on Opening Day) "I just think it's the anticipation of it. It's such a long build up through July and August and the first week of September getting to Opening Day. I think it's even more anticipation just because of the expectations around here now in the locker room, around the city. It's pretty cool. It's going to add to the electricity on Sunday. It's the kickoff. Everyone is waiting for it so we're excited to play. I know the fans are excited to get out there and support us."
(on expectations to win every game) "That's what you want. You want that expectation to win every week. I think that we've got the type of team that we can go out and win every week if we want to, if we do all the right type of things. It wasn't like that back in 2006. We've steadily built up toward that, which is what you want to see, improvement over the years. Now we're in position where we expect a ton out of each other on a peer level. Obviously the city expects a lot out of us now. I don't think it adds any more pressure. I just think it makes things more exciting. I think we just look to each other more, expect more out of each other."
CB Johnathan Joseph
(On Miami's offense and QB Ryan Tannehill) "Obviously there's a new coach and coaching staff over there in Miami so from that standpoint it's kind of hard to get some film on those guys. Rookie quarterback, it's hard to get film on him as well. But with the skill position guys, some of those guys have played around the league before so that's a familiarity for us. With the running back position, of course Reggie Bush, he played a lot of football in this league. It'll be a good test for us. We just have to go out and execute."
(on what makes RB Reggie Bush special) "Actually, it's the run after the catch and breaking tackles, and now he's added to his game where he's running between the tackles so that's another dimension that he's added. Obviously, he's a big play threat anytime he has the ball in his hands so that's a big problem for us as well."
(on preparing for Miami's new wide receivers) "You have to dig up some old film, things like that, and just go with your instincts. You practice all week against your guys throughout the week and don't really change other than the guy wearing the other jersey. If you just use your technique and play sound defense, everything will be alright."
OLB Whitney Mercilus
(on if he's excited for Sunday) "I'm pretty excited. I got all the jitters out during preseason so I think I'm pretty much ready to go and contribute the team. I'm going to start playing some special teams which I've been wanting to do all preseason . So I'm probably going to do that also."
(on if he's truly excited to play on special teams) "Yeah, I'm actually excited to play on special teams. I hadn't gotten to play much in college so playing in the NFL, no doubt. I'm ready to go."
(on doing whatever he can for the team) "Exactly, it's no problem to me. Wherever they want to put me, contribute for the team, I'm ready to go."
(on playing in the NFL on Sundays) "I'm excited playing anywhere on Sunday. Being able to be out there with my teammates and contribute in some way, some form for the team and just excited to be playing against other NFL players and great talent."