On their third day of training camp, the Texans practiced Sunday at the Methodist Training Center. Afterward, head coach Gary Kubiak and some of his players met with the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak LB Kevin Bentley LB Danny Clark WR Andre Johnson SS Bernard Pollard QB Matt Schaub RB Steve Slaton DE Antonio Smith RB Ben Tate
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on the condition of DE Mario Williams) "His hip is bothering him a little bit and has some swelling. Yesterday afternoon he did not practice. We were able to get the swelling down the way we wanted this morning. It might be a couple of days before we are able to get it back under control. Then we could just go from there. It could be a few practices."
(on if he is concerned with DE Mario Williams' hip injury) "He had a problem with it in the past and he's always been able to work through it with his rehab and it just kind of swelled up on him. We are going to get it right before we proceed forward. We are just taking a little bit more precaution more than anything."
(on working in LB Xavier Adibi in the starting lineup during LB Brian Cushing's absence in the first four games) "What we're going to do first, is that we have a teaching process all the way through next Saturday with input and teaching. There's enough reps to go around for everybody. So there is no reason for us to all of the sudden to go switching guys. So we are going leave everything the way it is. When we start playing the games, obviously we are in a tough situation because we have to get (LB) Brian (Cushing) ready to play and yet we have to have X (LB Xavier Adibi), (LB) Kevin (Bentley) and whoever is going to be that guy start to play with the starters. So we will start to mix that in when we start to get in the preseason and go from there."
(on how big of an opportunity it is for LB Xavier Adibi to fill in for LB Brian Cushing in the starting lineup) "It's huge. It's all about opportunity. You're a player and a backup until somebody gets hurt or something happens you get to play. If you're ever going to play and you do your job and you play well, they can't kick you out. That's just how this game works. What more can you ask for? He's been working hard for us."
(on how the team looked practicing in pads for the first time) "You know I thought it was good. It slows down a little bit because they're carrying that extra weight. They've got to get used to it again. We kind of put them through a tough one this morning. We've been out here two hours and fifteen minutes. Really, one thing I'm always looking forward to is to see who steps up at the end of the day and show me they can make a play when they're all tired. Some of the same faces stepped up and did it today."
(on when the kicking unit will start participating in full team practices) "I think Tuesday we start. They have been kicking competitively, but not with the team yet."
(on why was the Texans defensive was much better over the last 15 games last year) "First off, I think we fixed a few problems we had. We corrected our mental mistakes. We made a few changes with players. Q (CB Glover Quin) came on and played well for us the rest of the way. I think at that time (former Texans CB) Dunta (Robinson) was catching up from missing camp. So it took a few weeks for it to be put together. Once it did, it became pretty consistent."
(on if the 2010 Texans defense can be a top five defense in the NFL) "No doubt we can. We've got the people to do it. We did it for 13 weeks (last season). There is no reason we can't do it for 16 (weeks).
(on how the running back unit looked in pads this morning) "I liked them. Obviously this is their first day to get hit. I was interested in watching (RB) Steve (Slaton) get hit today since he's coming off his situation. I thought that he looked good. (RB) Chris (Henry) continues to impress me. It's a bunch of good, young, fresh legs."
Following the afternoon practice inside the Methodist Training Center, Kubiak answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of that interview.
(on if he ever met former Houston Rockets Head Coach Jeff Van Gundy) "You know I've never met him, but I've been in many stadiums with him. Over at Episcopal (High School) I've had a nephew play over there. So I've been many places that he's been. I've never got a chance to formally meet him (until today). I really enjoy listening to him on TV. I told him that I find it so interesting to see him critique his brother (Orlando Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy) on the air. It was a joy. It was nice to meet him."
(on if he enjoys the NBA) "Yeah, I love to go to the games. I do as much as I can (to watch), but our seasons cross at a different path so I get a chance to see a few."
(on any injuries from the morning practice) "No, nothing new this afternoon. I sat (G) Mike Brisiel this afternoon with a sore foot. I sat (T) Duane Brown with a sore knee. They should be back in the morning."
(on if there will be full contact in tomorrow morning's practice) "Yeah, we will be in full gear tomorrow even the bottom. So, we had a good pounding today. We will get after again tomorrow. We are starting to get into our one a day (practice) routine tomorrow. We will practice and have special teams in the afternoon so we can rest some of those guys."
(on the progress of RB Ben Tate) "I think he's improving. I don't like the fact that he would correct a mistake and come back and come back and do it again after a few plays later. He needs some consistency from that standpoint. That's part of being a pro. He's a very talented young man. You'll see the plays that he make like reversing the field. He's capable of doing those things, but we just got to get him to be consistent in everything he does. He's a very talented young man."
(on was it exciting to see RB Ben Tate in time for training camp) "Yeah, I think everybody was. He missed a lot of time in the offseason. Honestly, out of respect from a player's standpoint they didn't know really much about him. He's got to catch and you know he's doing a good job. Hopefully, we can keep him in one piece."
(on how excited is to see RB Chris Henry's progress) "I'll tell you it's been impressive. You don't want to put too much on a player this early, but he's been a very bright spot by seeing how hard he goes and he's doing a great job for (Special Teams Coordinator) Joe (Marciano). I think our players are impressed with him. I think that's the most important thing. He'll get a good chance so let's see how he does."
(on WR Trindon Holliday's progression in learning the wide receiver position) "He's struggling at that position (wide receiver) and he's excelling as a returner and we knew that. So, we got to have some patience here and be willing to get him those reps and see how far he comes from that standpoint. In the NFL you suit 45 (players) and you got go do other things. We got to get him better at that spot as a receiver. He really worked as a running back at LSU more than anything. So, it's a whole new world for him and we knew we were in for that. He's working hard at it."
(on his current situation at tight end) "It's an interesting situation to have six guys counting on your roster and two of them not participating. I like the job (General Manager) Rick (Smith) has done bringing (TE) Derek Fine in. I really liked that sign. He (Fine) played some football in this league and he fits in our group. Derek has come a long way as a young player. (TE) Joel (Dreessen) and (TE) James (Casey) will have opportunities to prove they are starters in this league too. So, it's very competitive just like a lot of spots."
(on SS Bernard Pollard being vocal with teammates during practice) "That's who he is. I told him this afternoon that we have all different personalities and I can handle them all. If your guy likes to talk a little bit and have some fun I don't have a problem with it, but the minute we put the ball in the dirt you better do your job the next play. One thing about him you can count on him being ready to play. I don't have a problem with it as long as it's channeled in the right direction."
(on is the rest of the team take SS Bernard Pollard being vocal the wrong way) "I think he's slowly becoming a leader on this team. It's one thing to talk and not work. He works. They don't have problem from a guy they see that's working hard. Nobody works harder than him for us."
(on the condition of DE Mario Williams) "He just got some swelling in his hip flexor. We are actually are going to give him an injection this afternoon or tomorrow morning. I'm not positive when, but I think we are going to do that. We trying to get the swelling down so he can continue his rehab program. He's been through this before. It's not a big concern right now. We want to make to get him feeling good before we proceed on. We have a long way to go."
(on SS Bernard Pollard testing RB Steve Slaton in the morning practice) "Bernard tested him this morning. I don't know if you saw that one blitz (SS) Bernard (Pollard) came on. He tested him and he's back out here today so far so good. I think (RB) Steve (Slaton) is fine and he's gaining his confidence back. I think he'll come back and play well this year."
(on DE Mario Williams' rehab program) "Well he's always have been on a rehab program for his hips and stuff. He's a cut up guy so they (training) try to keep him on a program all the time. I don't know what triggered it (hip flexor injury) because he looked pretty good the first four practices, but Cap and Dr. Lowe just think that we should just calm it down before we go forward."
(on DT Frank Okam playing with the first team defense in the afternoon practice) "Well that's going to happen because (DE Shaun) Cody is never going to practice on turf. That's the way we work with his knees. Frank did some good stuff this morning running to get to the quarterback. We setting up right now where a lot a guys are getting time in the afternoon."
LB Kevin Bentley(on when was the last time he saw someone as fast as Trindon Holliday on special teams) "Never (laughs). Man, that guy can roll. He is the kind of guy that makes you mad if you are playing against him. If he is on your squad and your side, then you love him. When you are playing against him, every chance you get, you have got to try to hurt that kid. You have got to make sure you hit him with everything you have got, then maybe he will stop running as fast."
LB Danny Clark(on training camp) "It is good stuff. You know the weather is what is expected. Guys are competing and this team is a lot better than when I left last time. I am really excited about the way we are bonding and getting better. We came in on the run, which is good. We came in without any meetings on the first day and guys understood what to do and where to be. We are accountable to each other and I am excited for where we are going."
(on linebackers stepping up because of LB Brian Cushing's suspension) "It is going to be a competition that is very open. The (linebackers) are very civil as far as how we respect each other's space and understand that we are all competing to help this team win. Whoever gets that gets to win that position, which I am definitely up for that challenge. It will be a guy that does not miss a beat."
(on opportunities in football) "When you are given an opportunity, take full advantage of it. It may not happen when you want it, but it will definitely happen. I think that if we put our best foot forward, we will be the one to beat in the end."
WR Andre Johnson
(on what he is trying to work on most) Every training camp, I just try to work on my total game. It's not just one specific thing that I try to work on. I try to work on every aspect. There's always room for improvement. There's not one particular thing where I say, "Hey, you know, I'm just going to work on this." If you do that then it hurts other parts of your game because you tend not to worry about it.
(on the intensity of his workouts) "If you don't go out and perform like you plan to perform on Sundays, then it's not going to happen. So, now is the time where you teach yourself up and know how to quit when you're tired. Coach (Gary) Kubiak puts in a lot of different situations throughout practice and you just try to feel comfortable in those situations. If it's one of those things that come up in the game on Sunday, you're going to be prepared for it.
(on QB Matt Schaub's improvement) I always say that if (QB) Matt (Schaub) can stay healthy that he'd be a top quarterback in this league and he showed that last year. I still feel the same way. As long as he can stay healthy and go out and play 16 games then he's going to be at the top of the league every year. I mean, he's a great quarterback. He goes through his reads; he puts in a lot of work. He doesn't get the recognition right now but I think he will as long as he's able to stay healthy and keeps playing the way he's playing.
SS Bernard Pollard(on taking it upon himself to inspire and motivate people at practice) "It is not so much inspiring and motivating anybody and I think we have to understand the intensity we have to bring. We have to understand that we are not going to back down from anybody. We will throw the first punch and I think every guy understands that. I am pleased with our practice today. We have two practices where we play great ball and as long as we eliminate the errors we can win a lot of games. We are excited, we really are and the sky is the limit for us."
(on the rivalry between the offense and the defense) "Definitely. I think that is one thing about camp. When you are in camp, you get tired of seeing each other, but not here I have yet to see that here. Our guys love the game of football. We (Texans) love the game of football. Like I said before, it is different around here. It is a new aura. It is different. Everybody is loving the game. We are expecting to win. We are expecting to win a lot of games that is going to put us in the playoffs and take us on a great run."
(on guys telling him it is different with him being there at training camp this year) "I have talked to a lot of the guys and everybody says it is different and how they love it or whatever but at the end of the day this is just something I do. I have a lot of fun with it and I love all our teammates. We keep this on the field, we honestly do and we have a blast off (the field). As long as we can understand that and translate that over onto the playing field. The sky is the limit and I will continue to say that because we have a great team. We won't settle for less."
(on always being a vocal guy) "I have always been a vocal guy. I am blessed, I really am. I am blessed to have been given a second opportunity. God has watched over me but I understand the game. I have had to re-evaluate myself. I understand the game so much more and when I call things out I am able to be there. I know what is going on and I am not just out there calling out false routes or false checks or whatever. I know what I am doing and you have got to love it when you are out there playing the game and you know what you are doing."
(on verbally crossing lines with guys on the field) "Well we all need some fire up under us. We all really do and I do not play this game to make friends. I honestly do not. When we are inside this paint, this is football, this is my job and this is my career. I have been on the streets before and I do not want to be there again. I understand the game. I understand the things I say on the field. I do not take anything back. I am not going to take anything back because this is my job. Off the field it is so much different. We can get away with it on the field. Coach Kubiak understands and he knows I am not going to cross a line. I am that type of player where I know and understand. In a game sometimes people may feel that things are crossed or whatever, but like I said we are not going to take a punch without throwing one back."
(on feeling like if he overload CB Kareem Jackson on defense) "You cannot overload. I do not think when (CB) Kareem (Jackson) signed his deal, did he say 'you are overloading me with this check.' This is a great game. This is a great game and we all play it. We get paid a lot of money to play this game. I think coming on as a rookie it is a lot different than college football. When you step in between these lines and you get placed with the first team, you know it is an expectation. You have got to have expectations and goals that you have to reach and you have got to be accountable. We are holding him accountable to know his side of the playbook. We are holding him accountable to carry himself on and off this field."
(on if they can survive on the field with a rookie and sophomore cornerback) "Yes we can. We can and we will. I do not think a lot of people understand what we have at the cornerback position. (Defensive Backs) Coach (David) Gibbs said it best. We have competition at cornerback this year. We have a lot of guys. You have got (CB) Jacques Reeves. You have got (CB) Fred Bennett. You have got so many guys that are here that people have not realized and people are playing their tails off. That goes back to having a first rounder and putting him in the first string. We expect him to know they gave you something. We are not spiteful for that. We do not spite him at all. We do not care. That is fine and dandy but we will hold him accountable."
QB Matt Schaub
(on the first practice in pads) "It was good. The first day with pads is always exciting. Guys will have a lot of energy. Coming out our third day, here in the morning, we got a lot of plays and lot of good work to get in. It's good to get back in, to get the offensive and defensive lines thudding up, the running backs getting thudded. It raises the intensity a little in practice because you're a little bit more physical. I think it was good. It was good work for us and to start off going with pads, and a plateau where we can continue to climb."
(on how WR Jacoby Jones has progressed through the offseason to now) "Well, he's had a great offseason of work. He stepped up in a big way last year when he was thrown in there. I think that was huge for him, for his confidence, especially on the offensive side of the ball. I think that was good. He's had a great offseason of work. He's really stepped up in his fourth year now, as a receiver. He's really helped us out in a big way because he has so much ability."
(on how good WR Jacoby Jones can be) "He can be tremendously good. The amount of attention that WR Andre Johnson gets and the amount of plays that TE Owen Daniels sees when he's in there, there is a lot of focus on those guys. (Jacoby Jones), WR Kevin Walter, WR David Anderson, WR Andrè Davis, they can all make a lot of big plays for us. Jacoby is one of those guys who can catch the ball and make a play after the catch."
(on what he's seen from RB Arian Foster in training camp) "He's shown that he does have that burst. He has some power, so he can run and put his head down and run with authority. We like what he brings. He's a smart kid and he can catch the ball out of the backfield. As a young guy, the big thing for him is knowing the protections because we have so many of them, so many calls. He's coming along with that, so he's doing a good job."
(on the biggest area he felt like he had to improve in heading into training camp) "Cutting down some of the mistakes, some of the turnovers. We want to be better in that area. Just overall, managing some of the situations. We can get a little bit better in the red zone and just taking what the defense gives and not looking too much for the big play."
(on how much confidence from the success last year is brought into this season) "It gives us a lot of confidence. Obviously, as a team, we didn't reach our ultimate goal. We have a lot of work to do on that front. We're really close. We just need to keep working. We need to take each day at a time and keep getting better."
RB Steve Slaton(on having something to prove after his injury and problems last year) "Definitely. You're always going to have something to prove, injury or not. It's just an extra burden on my shoulders. I just have to get healthy again."
(on competition with RB Arian Foster and RB Ben Tate) "It's definitely a positive thing. It's going to make the whole group better and make the team better as well."
DE Antonio Smith
(on how it feels to have his pads on) "Tired. Exhausted. Sore. That's how it's going to be during camp. You've got to see what a good measure of what guys can do when they put their helmets on. You know, when you don't have your pads on, everything looks good. We looked pretty good out there today. We've got some highly aggressive linebackers. There was some good hitting out there today."
(on moving from the end of the formation to the inside) "To me, it doesn't matter. I've always done whatever it takes to have my team win. If I can rush down there to do technique better, than I'll do it no matter what."
(on establishing consistency to reassure what they can do) "I think that it comes with the maturity that you get each and every year. I think it's very important. Without consistency, you can have two good series with two sacks in those series. If the next series you give up an 85-yard bomb or run, it really shuts down everything. So, I think that's kind of how it was in the beginning of the season. Last year, we had some good plays and then all of the sudden Chris Johnson gets a break for 50 yards. Those are the type of things you stop when you have consistency."
(on the potential for the 2010 Texans defense being good enough to be a top five defense in the NFL) "I think we are good enough to do it. You've just got to have consistency. We have got to keep working on that and build a standard for ourselves that we can't accept less than that, than fifty to seventy-five yards (rushing). Those are the goals you set that sometimes. You might not make it, but if you get anywhere around there, you will be one of the top five defenses in the league."
(on the key to stopping the run as well as he did last year) "I think we simplified things and got back to the basics, and just being aggressive. That is all we did in the running game the last half of the season. We went straight to under and played football. "
(on if being aggressive means attacking more) "Attack more. When you don't have to think, you can attack more, you don't second-guess, you just go. You can play power football, you can get up the field. I think that's kind of what happened. We simplified things, we knew what we were going to have to do, we got comfortable in the defense and we tried to go out there and do it.
(on having a good running game on offense helping the team more this season) "A good running game always helps any team. Especially when you've got a defensive line that you need to pass rush a lot and you need to be out there a lot, a good running game will keep you fresh. You can be on the sideline and come off with fresh legs ready to rush (Colts QB) Peyton (Manning) and other good quarterbacks we've got in this division.
(on what he sees in DT Earl Mitchell) "Quickness. He's real quick and powerful and I like that. I'm trying to keep in his ear a little bit about keeping what it is he has. I know sometimes at camp, fans get talking to you, try to slow you down, but you just have to keep doing what you're doing. You just have to knock off some cobwebs and adjust to the NFL and you'll be alright. You'll be pretty good."
RB Ben Tate(on trying to make the running back rotation) "I just have to work hard, stay in focus, study, and do what the coaches ask me to do."
(on working with RB Arian Foster, RB Chris Henry, and RB Steve Slaton) "It's a great experience, it keeps the competition level high and they're all great running backs."