After the Texans practiced Monday at the Methodist Training Center, head coach Gary Kubiak and some players answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak SS Dominique Barber DE Connor Barwin K Kris Brown DT Earl Mitchell K Neil Rackers OT Eric Winston
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on if there were any differences in this morning's practice versus yesterday morning's) "Really not much difference for us. Very physical two tough practices back to back these last two day. I really thought it was good. We're stronger as a football team right now. Not only physically with (Head Strength and Conditioning Coach) Cedric (Smith), but we are a little bit mentally stronger in my opinion than when we left last year. I like what I see."
(on the value of TE James Casey) "When you're starting to put a poster together of people you count on he's the poster child of that. He's an interesting guy though. He's up in age from the standpoint of being a young player. He's got a situation where he's got a chance to prove that he could start in this league. There is a lot to expect from (TE) James (Casey) from a lot of people around here. And I know realizes that too."
(on the status of DE Mario Williams) "It's going to be day to day. He's had the injection this morning. He actually had to stay there for awhile to get that done. You probably won't see him all today because we're working special teams (this afternoon's practice). We will watch it (swelling in his hip) through tomorrow I'm sure, but the bottom line it's too early in this thing. We going to get exactly the way we want it before we proceed forward."
(on RB Ben Tate) "Well he's got a lot of ability. He's behind the team because of the stuff he missed in the offseason. He has to catch up with the group from that standpoint. I think players see his talent. As young guy now it's about earning respect of other people here that you could help on Sundays. He's got a long way to go, but he's doing his job."
(on if he see a different attitude from RB Steve Slaton as opposed to last year) "Yeah, I think guys calmed down. You see a lot guys that had success in this league early (in their careers) and as a coach you try to tell him it's not going to be that way, but they have to have it happen to realize it. I think he realizes it now. I think he enjoys being out here. He's not worrying about the next 1200 yards. He's just trying to have a good practice and making it to the next day. I think that's important."
(on the offseason of WR Jacoby Jones) "He's been accountable and consistent. When he follows that guideline (WR) Jacoby (Jones) career is going to take off."
(on lining up CB Kareem Jackson against WR Andre Johnson during practice) "You got to think about who we are getting him ready to play against. We are going to line up against number 80 (WR Andre Johnson) all day long. I'd told him in front of his teammates yesterday a lot of guys might get a false impressive where they're at as a player. You won't have when you come out this camp because you'll working against one of the best. That's what we got to get him ready to do."
(on CB Glover Quin) "He's one of those guys that you wouldn't know he's out here. He's so consistent and such a pro. He's really becoming a leader type guy back there (secondary). He just does his job. All business."
(on his TE Garrett Graham) "He's getting a lot of reps for a young player. He's worn down like everybody else. Nothing's too big for him. You could tell he's played in big football games in college."
*The Texans practiced in the afternoon inside the Methodist Training Center, and afterward, Kubiak met with the media. What follows is a transcript of his interview.
(on once WR Trindon Holliday progresses as a wide receiver and continues to produce as a returner how it will affect the play of WR Andre Davis) "Well, I think it's like anything else that you stay at one piece for the next month and you got all these guys staring at you for the final cutdown day. Yeah we have some serious questions, like which receiver to keep. Do we keep just a returner? There are a lot of questions to be answered. It just seems like those kinds of things just work themselves out. We just keep playing and see what happens and having those problems are good problems."
(on handling any upcoming big player contracts) "I don't look at that stuff. I'm sure eventually it will get looked at from an organizational standpoint, but my job is to pick the best 53 football players for us to go play with. The business part, (General Manager) Rick (Smith) will handle that."
(on the progress of DT Earl Mitchell has made in his first team practice) "Well, he has been a very flashy player. He's made a lot of plays. He's quick and strong. He's a heck of a draft choice. We need somebody in there to get active to help us to get our rotation. He sure looks like he has a chance. But it's very early so we'll keep going, but I've been impressed with him."
(on DT Earl Mitchell pushing DT Amobi Okoye competitively) "I think everybody is pushing everybody. If you have players to make your team better, they are going to line up somewhere and hopefully in free agency you could pull some players that can make your guys better. In this league, if you're not getting better, it's kind of tough. So it doesn't matter if you are a first-teamer, second-teamer, or third-teamer, you better be getting better as a player."
(on the upcoming schedules for the placekickers) "They are kicking competitively away from everybody right now. They will be kicking competitively with the team in two days. We're charting them right now. They're right down the middle, which you would expect. We would like to put them in a team environment in a couple of days."
(on what he see in the defensive line that can prove that the Texans can compete this year) "I think the pass rotation can get better with the competition we have in our team. I think (DE) Connor Barwin is a totally different player than he was when he came here last year. We got to get (DE) Mario (Williams) back healthy and going again. It's just group that has played a lot more football together. We are going to get more help to make them better."
(on DE Mario Williams' status) "This morning he had a procedure. He is back in the facility resting. He will not practice tomorrow and it will probably be a couple of days until we can get the inflammation out of his hip and if we could do that, then we can feel better about putting him back to work. It's more a preventative thing more than anything.
(on if DE Mario Williams' hip injury is a continual injury) "No, I don't think so. He's been through this before. Usually when you come back from the summer to these tough workouts that we ran. Hopefully it's just a stage he's going to and we can get back into control."
(on the relationship between competing place kickers Neil Rackers and Kris Brown) "Well they respect each other and they respect each other's job that both have done in this league. It's unusual for a NFL team to have two kickers of this caliber. It's going to be a good competition. I think they enjoy each other's company. Like I said, one will be kicking for us and one of them trying to kick to beat us somewhere else. Both guys will be in this league."
(on how DE Connor Barwin has improved during the off season) "He's stronger confidence-wise. Just everything, he's a second year player who just found his niche. He's got to continue to improve from what he did last year. He's an all business guy. He doesn't talk a whole lot to begin with. (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach) Bill (Kollar) got after him for one whole year last year. He has a few other toys to deal with this year. Maybe (DE) Connor (Barwin) has found his niche and moved on."
(on making a tough decision on the placekicking position) "I think it will be very difficult."
(on the play of RB Steve Slaton) "I've been impressed by the way he's been working. Obviously we have him back there working as a kick returner now. I think Steve is healthy. He stepped up this morning too, on some blitzers. I think he's himself. He has got his confidence back."
SS Dominique Barber
(on playing his brother Marion Barber and the Dallas Cowboys) "Both of my parents will be at the game here in Houston. It is exciting. They (Barber's parents) go both ways I guess. If the Cowboys win, they win, but I do not know. It is just going to be a fun experience to play him again."
(on if him and Marion Barber jaw each other about playing against one another) "Not really. Every once in a while we will talk about football. Our relationship is not different. We are really close and you know when we get out here and put the pads on, we are always checking on each other. Things of that nature. We will see, but it is going to be fun."
(on his brother, Marion Barber, talking much) "I think it is kind of funny, but he actually does talk quite a bit. He just keeps it to his own little circle. He gives me a lot of knowledge and I would not be here without him."
(on before being drafted to the Texans, was he a Cowboy fan) "I honestly did not know too much about the Texans (Houston). Everybody loves the Cowboys (Dallas). I was just happy to get drafted and it was just a blessing to be able to be in the same state because I am able to go down there (Dallas) in the offseason. I am able to take a 45 minute flight or a four hour drive, so it is nice to be so close."
(on how it was playing his brother, Marion, last year) "We spoke briefly before the game. Actually, it was my rookie year when we played them. I was not able to go up against him, unfortunately. Hopefully I maybe get an opportunity this year and I just have to make sure I get my pads set because I know that every down he brings the wood."
DE Connor Barwin(on expectations to be most improved player on team) "I'm excited, obviously you like hearing things like that, but at the same time, the only way you can do that is to continue to work and that is kind of my philosophy and I know that, I know that there is room to improve and I know I can do it. I worked all summer; training camp is a huge month for me, especially because I am getting more reps in now that Mario is out, so it's a huge opportunity for me. It's just about staying out there and working. There is improvement needed to be made, and I want to make it."
(on being more comfortable this year than last year) "It's about a 360. I don't like to talk about it too much because I think being only a secondary D had something to do with it, I don't want to make an excuse, but other than that, just knowing the system, not having (Asst. Head Coach/Defensive Line) Bill (Kollar) on me every single play, watching every single step I take let's you relax a little bit and it makes it easier to play out there."
(on second year in NFL defense) "It's just, as the season went on last year I thought I improved, just because I got to know the system, I got to know the teammates more and better and you get more comfortable out there going to training camp. You just kind of carry that on and move in to the year knowing what you're supposed to do, you start looking at the finer things in the game. You learn more about the game, learning what plays they're about to run and certain formations and that kind of stuff. Last year that stuff I wasn't even paying attention to, I was just trying to get through the plays."
(on if he feels good about getting close to a lot of sacks last season) "I wouldn't say I felt good, you never feel good unless you get the sack, if you get the sack you feel good. I guess if you look back and you look at the pressures, pressures are just as good as sacks. If you look at (Defensive End) Antonio (Smith), people kind of let it go by a little bit, but he lead our team in pressures, me and him had four and a half sacks, I don't even know how many pressures we had, and that's almost just as good as a sack, it doesn't show up on the stat sheet or anything, but that's what flusters quarterbacks, those hits on quarterbacks really take a toll on the quarter back in a game."
(on making up the close distance he was missing by last year) "Yeah that's the plan, I want to. I think the defense is expanding a little bit so I am able to stand up and do a little bit more things. That will be able to disguise rushes and then hopefully that step I was short last year, I will have that step this year."
(on setting goals) "Yes, more than I had last year. "
(On if going eight for ten would make him happy) "Yes."
K Kris Brown
(on how much camp has changed since his first year with the Texans) "By and large, just the talent level is so much better. It's so obvious when you walk on the field and see the way we move, the way we practice, and from position to position we're a lot more talented, not just at the starters, but the backups too. Just the level of competition on this team is the highest it has ever been."
(on working with K Neil Rackers) "It's been great. He's a great kicker, he's been very good in this league for a long time, and I think we're both going to make each other better. That's kind of my goal and I'm just having a good a time in camp as I ever have."
(on coach Kubiak's statement "respect this battle because one guy is going to come back and try and beat us with another team") "I'm not really focusing on that stuff, I'm just going to come out here every day, really just enjoy it all, come out with a good attitude, and really just kind of savor this experience. It sounds crazy to say to come out really and enjoy training camp, but that is really my attitude now, to enjoy the training camp, the competition, and to get better. At the end of the day we'll see what happens."
DT Earl Mitchell
(on no false impressions) "It's all motivating to compete with Amobi (Okoye) and still learning the position. It's good to come out here and learn and compete and continue to try and make the transition to playing defense."
(on being with his hometown team) "I'm Just getting used to this humidity again, man. Just being here reminds me of how it was back in high school. Its great competition and all the aspects I've already learned back in North Shore."
(on having veterans watch him) "Of course when you're done, you're just wondering what everybody is thinking. Just going out there and just continue to keep going and going while hoping they teach you a thing or two."
(on offensive linemen who have told you that you're doing a great job) "(Eric) Winston has come up to me and he tells me a lot of things. So does our left guard, uh, I'm still trying to learn people's names actually. I'm getting a lot of talk from veterans and a lot of encouragement. So, I'm just going to keep coming out here and just working and proving to them that I can be a part of this team."
(on shaking his head in the locker room putting on his jersey) "Exactly. I can remember the first time I picked up my varsity jersey and shorts and I get the same feeling every day when I come here and put my jersey on."
(on having a large amount of ticket requests if he makes the team) "Oh yeah. I have about 15 aunts and uncles and plenty of cousins and friends. I'm not worried about that yet."
(on what the adjustment has been with speed) "It's pretty much just the same. You're just getting used to different people. In college, it's a different speed than in high school but you get used to the people. That just helps to make the transition so you can get used to playing fast teams."
(on the depth of the defensive line) "There's a lot of people competing and a lot of people playing the same position. We're all just trying to come out here to play in certain packages. So, I'm learning to play inside with (Shaun) Cody, Antonio (Smith), and just learning from everybody. As far a depth goes, I'm pretty much not concerned with that. I'm just trying to come out here and learn the play book and get better."
K Neil Rackers
(on what the kickers do during training camp) "Hitting the ball straight. That's what it boils down to. You're just getting back into things, we're (K Kris Brown) both 10 and 11 year kickers respectively, so we're not going to come out here and kick 100 balls and be shot for the rest of camp. We have to be smart and get some quality work in. We're both just trying to find our stroke and get ready to go."
(on anything he particularly tries to improve on at camp) "For me camp isn't so much being off on your own, it's the team's field goal, that's the important thing. Getting back in the situation after seven to eight months of not doing it, getting back in the situation of being in front of the team, being in front of three new guys, and just get out there and get ready for the season."
(on how it has been working with K Kris Brown) "Kris (Brown) is a great guy, he's been a big help to me since I've been here, and I've had a lot of respect for the guy. What people know of him here in Houston is how he is behind closed doors as well, and I think that's a great quality about him."
T Eric Winston(on letting guys know how they're doing) "If I see something about an offensive lineman during a game or on film-- we watched film a couple of weeks ago. I'm the first one to go up to(DE) Mario (Williams) and (DE) Antonio (Smith) and those guys and tell them what I think their weak spots are, what I think their strong spots are. How they use it is their business. It's just like they'd do for us. They know those guys that they're playing against. We're all on the same team here. We're all in this thing together. Right now, we're going after each other pretty good on the field. It's a case where we're all getting each other ready for week one."
(on his thoughts about DT Earl Mitchell) "He's doing good. He's built in a way that's kind of tough to stop if you're explosive. He's not real tall. He's a big defensive tackle guy but he's got a low center of gravity. I think he listens to (Assistant Offensive Line) Coach (Frank) Pollack and he really uses it well. I think he's going to be a tough player to stop because he's explosive off the ball. It's hard to get under him. Offensive linemen in it are, generally, I think getting a little bit taller now. So, I think their center of gravity is a little higher. He's going to be able to get some push. What I think about with him is that it's all about working, staying in it, not looking too far ahead. He's a rookie. I think he needs to take it one day at a time and listen to Coach (Frank) Pollack and Antonio (Smith) and I think he'll be fine."
(on fighting with the New Orleans Saints) "It's the same thing like right here. We're going to protect each other and that's what it comes down to. If they're stepping across the line, we're going to go after them. Just like I'm sure they'll come after us like they did last year. I'm never going to be a guy that's going to go out there and start a fight but if something presents itself, I'm never going to back down either."
(on Coach Kubiak telling the team not to fight) "Coach told us don't fight. Don't cost your team penalties. Don't cost your team with that. And that's true. Maybe if this was a game situation it might have played out a little bit different and you'll try to keep your head on. It's a long camp. We can't let them push us around and we've got to be the guys taking it to them. When I think they're stepping over the edge, we're going to do it."