The following Texans spoke to the media after practice on Saturday morning, the second day of training camp.
Head coach Gary Kubiak WR David Anderson LB Zac Diles RB Arian Foster WR Jacoby Jones SS Bernard Pollard CB Glover Quin LB DeMeco Ryans QB Matt Schaub
Head coach Gary Kubiak(on RB Arian Foster) "He is a totally different young man. He's a professional about what does. It's exciting to see where he could go with this thing."
(on RB Arian Foster's progress in the running back competition) "He's grown up. He's just a totally different young man. We're not having to battle Arian for how he practices or his effort or how he meets or those things. That's over. It's all about football with him. He's got a chance. He's got a chance to be a fine player, but I think we're all excited to see what he's doing right now, including his teammates."
(on WR Jacoby Jones) "He's in better shape than he's ever been. He's battling (WR) Kevin (Walter) head-to-head every day. It's a great competition. He's played big for us and we need his consistency. He has a chance to help this team big-time. We will give him a chance to do that."
(on TE Owen Daniels' status for the opening game of the regular season) "I haven't changed my mindset at all. That decision will be made down the road. All of our focus is for him to get ready for the Colts. As I said yesterday, we are going to know a lot more about Owen in the next two weeks. His rehab looks good. He's picked it up and I've been watching him every morning. I think Owen is a warrior as long as I've been around. So if anyone is going to make it to that spot, then he has an excellent chance. So we'll be smart with him."
(on TE Owen Daniels' progress in rehab) "I think what we are trying to find out right now is how he will respond to the increased level of rehab. He's doing more football stuff. We'll have a new response in the next few weeks."
(on the Texans' young cornerbacks) "The good thing about our preseason is that we have three playoff teams and one Super Bowl Champion, so we are going to get great competition and we'll learn more about them then. Just watching throughout this league, some young players step out and do a great job and I think (defensive backs coach) David (Gibbs) has done an excellent job with these young players. We played Miami with two rookie corners and they played the whole year. We believe in these young guys and it's a lot to ask, but it's a decision that we've made as coaches and an organization. Not only there, but also in running back. So we are expecting those guys to grow up real quick."
(on the progress of CB Glover Quin) "I hate to call him the middle man of the group, but he really is. He's only a second-year player. He's a pro guy and he's all business when it's time to go to work. He plays both spots. He plays nickel and on the tackle. Last year he was special. I hope he keep it going."
(on the Texans' running back competition) "It's a great competition. You guys see what's going on. It's not like we have a 10-year vet and a few young guys out here trying to make the team. We have five guys that are pretty much the same guy. One of them has had some success in this league and is trying to come back from an injury last year. It is so competitive; it's fun to watch them compete. It will be interesting. That position will help us in special teams more than anything."
(on if he still has confidence in RB Steve Slaton) "No doubt, I think he's had as good an offseason as anybody we've had. He's healthy and focused. You've got to go through that. When it's time to bounce back, I'm pretty sure he will."
(on the Texans' place kicker situation this preseason) "I think we will probably rotate kickers. We have a long way to go. I think we have to go kick-by-kick. If one of them gets a game-winning situation, then the other one will get it next week, regardless of the rotation. Those guys have a competitive little battle going very quickly and making it competitive in front of everybody."
(on TE James Casey) "First of all, James has the maturity. He's an older player because of the route he took to the NFL. He will get an opportunity to be a starter. He and (TE) Joel (Dreessen) are sitting there battling each other. Joel has become a better player. The opportunity is there for James to help this team."
(on TE James Casey's role in special teams) "He had a big role last year. I've been impressed on how he snaps. So when it comes down to a roster spots, the way he's snapping right now may surprise some people."
(on having the veterans take off from practice) "It was just (DE) Mario (Williams) and (LB) DeMeco (Ryans). I think DeMeco will be an every other day guy. Actually Mario's hip is a little sore so we gave him the afternoon off. Anything we do as a team that makes us juggle our linebackers a bit each day is going to help us in the long haul because of the fact we are going to miss (LB) Brian (Cushing) that first month."
(on why K Kris Brown and K Neil Rackers were out practicing kicks this afternoon) "They're out there doing some competition stuff. (Special teams coordinator) Joe (Marciano) is out there timing them. He's got them in a competitive situation. Then in a couple of days coming we will do it from a team standpoint. So, we're just getting them ready to do that."
*Kubiak also answered questions after the 3 pm practice, which took place inside the Methodist Training Center. The following is a transcript of Kubiak's interview from the afternoon.
(on when the team will begin full contact practicing) "Tomorrow morning. We've got shells tomorrow and then we've got full gear the following day. So, it's about time to go. We've got four good practices under our belt and just kind of get back into football action again. I like the look of our group. I think (strength & conditioning coach) Cedric (Smith) did a good job in the offseason."
(on how will he determine who will start at running back in the preseason) "(RB) Arian (Foster) is our starter. He ended last season that way. Obviously, it's very competitive. We will see what happens. Usually every good team plays two (running backs). You have one guy who is more of a bell cow that gets more of the carries. Arian's the guy right there and let's see what happens."
(on if he's comfortable with all the depth he has on the team) "What we will probably struggle with in training camp is the fact that we have two kickers and a deep snapper. We have two tight ends that aren't participating. It's making our numbers at other positions tough. (General manager) Rick (Smith) and I will have to approach it day to day. (WR) Glenn Martinez got a hamstring today. I like to practice (WR) Andre (Johnson) once a day. So, you just got to deal with it each day."
(on TE James Casey being more comfortable) "James is getting very comfortable in what he's doing. With he and (TE) Joel Dreessen and OD (TE Owen Daniels) being out, I think we really left him alone at one spot. We have a fullback competing with (FB) Vonta Leach. I mentioned this yesterday but I think James is snapping the ball very well. If he keeps that up, it might give us another option down the road."
WR David Anderson
(on the theory that every route he has ever run, he has been open) "I have never been covered. What's that old saying? It used to be a funny saying, but I don't remember. I don't think any receiver has ever been covered; it's just that DBs sometimes get lucky. You've got to think like that as a receiver. It is hilarious whenever you see a receiver come back to the quarterback: 'Were you open?' 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, just throw the ball and I'll get it.' Yeah, so we've never been covered. None of us have."
(on what if five guys come back saying they were open) "That's his (the quarterback's) job, not our job, to decide about that. That's why he gets paid the big bucks—to figure out who really is open and who is not. We're all open, so, just throw it, I guess."
(on what the difference of the word "open" means from high school, college and pro) "Open in high school is yards, college it's arm's reach and pro's it's a head. If you have some color showing, then you're open. The room for error is very little and the quarterbacks in this league get paid a lot of money to make those passes and they do. (QB) Matt (Schaub) had been doing a good job. When you are wide open in the NFL, you are a special type of player. That's definitely something to be proud of."
(on which receiver is the most convincing to QB Matt Schaub when he comes back and says "I was open") "Well, the person that tries to convince him the most is (WR) Kevin Walter. The person who has the least convincing to do is obviously (WR) Andre (Johnson), but he's probably always open the most. Then there's me, who is somewhere in the middle. I try to argue or finagle my way into getting a ball or two. However you go about it is the way you go about it. I mean, they call certain routes for certain receivers and they try to play to their strengths. The coaches do a good job with that. We are open a lot, fortunately, in this offense."
LB Zac Diles
(on how training camp is going) "It's going good right now. We have a good pace in practice and everybody is flying around. It's year two for us in this defensive scheme and everybody is locked in, assignments are sound; we're just going out there, having a good time, and trying to get better every day."
(on putting on the pads at tomorrow's practice) "You could say this is like an OTA since we don't have pads on. Tomorrow we put our shells on and get to come out here and hit a little bit more. It should be a good time. We haven't hit since January 3rd, and so it's going to be a fun time out there tomorrow."
(on the linebacking corps) "We are just more assignment sound. This time last year, (LB) (Brian) Cushing was a rookie; the development from a year ago to where he is now is phenomenal. Everybody in our linebacking unit has picked up the defense; we're locking into the system and going out there and having a good time."
(on LB Brian Cushing being out for the season opener) "It's unfortunate with his situation that he will not be there at the first game, but we have to keep it moving. The season is going to go on. We have plenty of capable guys in the room to get it done, so we will be good."
RB Arian Foster
(on if he takes comfort in head coach Gary Kubiak's statement that he will let the players earn their spots) "I don't take any comfort out of it, but I think he is a man of his word. I really do. I say that every time I speak—I think very highly of Gary. He has been in this league a long time and when he says something, I'm pretty sure he means it. He has always told us that if we are producers we are going to stay on the field, so I am going to do my best to produce."
(on whether going undrafted motivates him) "I would be lying if I said it didn't, absolutely, but it's in the past. Now, I have new opportunities, goals and challenges ahead of me, but every now and then when I'm tired, that comes in to play."
(on if he feels as if he has matured in the past year) "I think I have matured. I came in last year as a rookie, I made mistakes off the field and on the field, just being late and things like that. I just saw last year and really took in how guys like (WR) Andre (Johnson) and (QB) Matt (Schaub) and how these great guys, players in the league that are respected, take care of their business off the field and I try to incorporate that in my personality now. I try to be a professional in everything I do now, whether it's picking up a small piece of trash when I see it. It's small, but it just kind of builds character all the time."
(on last year proving to others and himself that he could play) "I think as an athlete you have to be on the brink of cocky/confident. It is a fine line, but I think, I already knew I could play in this league; without being brash, I already knew I could play, so I think it proved to other people that were doubting me or just didn't know. Once you have that tag of undrafted free agent it's like, "Oh well, he wasn't good enough," but sometimes diamonds slip through the cracks, so hopefully I can prove I'm one of those."
(on adjusting his thinking from hoping to prove himself) "You kind of don't adjust your thinking. I was told when I was little that once you get complacent, you die a little inside. You never want to be content as a human; I don't care if it's in sports or in business or whatever, so you never want to be content. My mentality hasn't really changed; just once you get an opportunity, you have to produce. You have to show them what you can do. I wasn't up at 5:30 this offseason for nothing, so my mentality isn't, "This spot is mine." My mentality is, "This spot is going to get taken. I am going to take it." That's my mentality and it's not cocky, I just put in the work, so I feel like I deserve it."
WR Jacoby Jones(on watching WR Andre Johnson and learning from him) "I pick up a lot of his habits on the field. I watch how he works on the field as a pro. I tend to pick up some of his habits and (WR) Kevin's (Walter) too; I take some of his habits too. That helps me out a lot on the field."
(on if he feels more confident) "I feel like my last year at Lane College. I was hungry; I felt like I had something to prove. I'm having fun again."
(on his expectations and goals for this team) "We've got one goal, and that is to get the Lombardi Trophy. That's what we're working towards. Everybody has playoffs (hopes); we expect to make the playoffs, but we want to get the trophy like everybody else does."
(on proving himself at receiver and returner) "Of course, I want to show that I can do both. Whatever my role is, even if I have to come in the game and cut one guy in the game, I will do it. I will play a role."
SS Bernard Pollard
(on what the defense has to do this year to make a playoff run) "We have to be sound. I think with our alignments, with our assignments, we have to understand what we are good at. We can't overstep our boundaries. We have to be good at these things. You look at a lot of teams that have won championships and you look at these defenses; they are good at what they do. They don't step outside the box. They stay in the box and they run their defense better than the other team runs their offense. I think that if we can do that, I think great things are going to happen for this team. We came up short last year, but it's gone right now. We're fine with that. I think at the end of the day, we understand that we have to play a whole game. We have to understand that when that clock starts, we have to turn the show on."
(on if momentum from the team's strong finish to the 2009 season will be carried into this season) "Some of the momentum has to carry on. I mean, 9-7 is great, but at the end of the day, you want to play past the regular season. You can't leave your destiny in somebody else's hands. That gives them an opportunity to screw it up. The team came up short. We look at that and we're professionals. We have to understand that we have to go play this game. We have to play hard and we've got a lot of fans, so many people behind us. We have to just go out there and play."
(on if he was surprised to see nearly 10,000 fans attend the first two days of training camp) "That's great. Our fans are showing us the passion they have in football. That's showing us that we have someone who is pushing us, we have that cast. This is big. This is a really big year and for the rest of these seasons, it's big for us. The expectations, we have them. We have goals that we want to reach. We just have to keep moving."
(on how eager he is to wear pads and have contact in practice) "Well, (the pads) come on tomorrow. There's no way anyone can stop that now. We've had two practices a day and now we're going to stop those long deep routes; everyone running fast, that's going to be null and void now. We get a chance to put (the pads) on now. We get a chance to hit."
(on if it's hard not to have contact in practice) "That's hard. That's very hard. This is not my game. I don't run around. I don't like tapping people. We're going to lay the hat down. That's how we're going to establish our dominance. This is camp. This is where we start. We're trying to work out the kinks and get this roster set. When Day 1 comes, you're going to know we're here."
(on what practice will be like with pads on tomorrow) "It's going to be fun. The level of play is going to go up tomorrow."
(on if there is a different feeling heading into this season as opposed to the 2009 season) "I think this year we have to understand what we're good at. If we keep continuing to practice, going 100 percent, we're not going to be doing anything but get better. We're excited. It's not just about me. It's about the 11 guys lining up on defense. I really believe that we can't be stopped if we play our game."
(on being a Houston Texan) "I feel great. Like I've said to a lot of people, a lot of people don't get second chances. (Texans general manager) Rick Smith and (Texans owner) Mr. McNair, they reached out. My biggest thing is that I want to let them know I'm the player they want. I'm the player that they need. I'm going to continue to be that player. This is year five for me. This is a great organization and a great place to play and I wouldn't mind finishing up here."
CB Glover Quin(on his second year and taking CB Kareem Jackson under his wing) I try to do what I can do. I don't ever look past the fact that I'm a second year player myself, so I'm still learning. I try to teach him the things I've experienced, but at the same time, I'm still looking to our veterans for things to help me out. There's a whole lot of stuff that I need to learn. I don't feel like I'm the guy that has all of the answers, but as far as studying and teaching him things about being a professional, how to carry himself, and do the things he needs to do, I try to help him out as much as I can.
(on his biggest mentor last year) I talk with (CB) Fred Bennett a lot, he's been here for awhile, and we used to talk about studying. I talked with (DT) DelJuan Robinson when he got in; he used to tell me the things he did. I talk with (FS) Eugene Wilson, when I was playing the nickel, I would have to communicate a lot with the safeties, so I got to talk to a lot of the guys that had been there, especially Eugene; he's been to some Super Bowls, it was a big help. It still goes on right now. I think as a DB unit, we're a pretty close-knit group. We're not the type of group that withholds information from the next guy because we're trying to beat that guy out. We just go at it. We compete with each other, and if a guy has a question we just tell him what we know.
(on the fact that the defense is young) I don't really pay much attention to how young I am or things like that. I do know that I'm only in my second year, but just like everybody else, you're a professional football player. Just because you're a second-year guy or a rookie, the veterans may know some things that you don't know, but you still have the ability to play the game. I don't try and look so much into the fact that we're so young, but being that we are so young, we do need to take in from our vets more, we do need to study more and watch more film to try and speed up the learning curve.
LB DeMeco Ryans
(on any drills that help him practice recovering fumbles) "No, I just think that is just from running to the ball. Coach always tells us, 'Just run toward the ball because you never know when the ball is going to come out.' So, that is just from doing what I am supposed to do and trying to get to the ball, whoever has the ball. Sometimes the ball just pops out."
(on his film sessions and recognizing opponent tendencies) "It is a lot easier than it was the first year. I do not have to look at it as long and as hard as I had to do in my first couple years. Now it has been a lot easier and now we are facing the same guys over and over again, so that makes it easier also."
(on the AFC South's running backs tendencies) "All of them are great running backs but it's more so when I am reading them I am reading the linemen more than I do the running back."
QB Matt Schaub
(on throwing to a receiver versus throwing to a spot) "It depends on the play, depends on the coverages. There are certain zone coverages you are throwing to spots and your guys to get there, throwing to windows like you said, but there are times when you put it in a spot; there are times where it's, 'If you feel your guy get open, hit him,' but a lot of our stuff is on timing."
(on who does best job begging or making argument he was open) "I can't single one guy out. They are all like that. That's what you have to love when you are a QB—all your guys feel like they're always open and they demonstrate the ability to make a play when they're covered, so to speak. It makes you feel good to be able to give your guys a chance, no matter who it is, and they're going to at least make you look good, if not make it not be a bad play."
(on noticing a difference from where he was last year to now) "I do, (I'm) just further along in my career, all of our guys are intact and our offense has remained the same, the continuity, and just feel more comfortable with what I am doing. I'm more confident as I progress through my year."
(on if the Pro Bowl helped with his confidence) "The season in general did that. The whole Pro Bowl thing was just an added experience. It was a lot of fun to go down there and be recognized in that group. It was something just to put icing on the top."
(on what he sees in the running backs) "A lot of hard work. There's a lot of competition there and these guys are working hard. They're in their books; they're studying their protections, their routes, their responsibilities, and their assignments in the run game. There's a lot of competition there and young talent. Those guys are ready to go. (RB) Steve (Slaton) is back stronger than ever and healthy and with (RB) Arian (Foster) the way he finished off last year and (RB) Ben (Tate) coming in, and (RB) Chris (Henry) coming in, we have a lot of guys who can play.
(on seeing a running back-by-committee situation as opposed to relying on one guy) "I feel like at this level and during this day and age, you've got to have multiple guys, just from the wear and tear, you've got to have guys able to step in, spell the starter for your backup and just not skip a beat. You have to be able to have multiple guys to get in there."
(on what he sees differently in TE James Casey this year) "He is a lot more comfortable in what he is doing. Coming in last year, I don't know if he was ever in a three-point stance at Rice, not even when he was playing offense, so it was an adjustment playing on the line of scrimmage. Some of the things we ask him to do in the run game and blocking, he has just has more confidence in what he is doing and understanding his role. He is a gym rat, he studies, and he has been studying all offseason, both on the field and in the classroom from what I have heard, so he is just a workhorse."
(on TE James Casey having a big role now that he is more comfortable) "Obviously, he has a lot of time right now with (TE) Owen (Daniels) still being out, but he is taking advantage of it. He's playing hard and he's got some skills. He has a lot of things that can help us and he fits well in what we do."
(on feeling like TE Owen Daniels will be ready to go for opening day) "Yeah, no question. No question. I feel like he can be ready. That's between him and the trainers and medical staff, but from what he says, he says he's feeling good and he's just progressing in his rehab."