The Texans practiced at the Methodist Training Center on Tuesday, and after, head coach Gary Kubiak and some of his players answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakOLB Connor BarwinILB Brian CushingTE Owen DanielsC Chris MyersILB DeMeco RyansDE J.J. Watt
Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on the status of RB Arian Foster and ILB Brian Cushing) "Arian's going to be day-to-day, like I told you. I think he's still a few days away from practice and we'll be cautious with what we're doing. The question on Cushing is does he go tomorrow or Thursday? The plan all along was the middle of this week, so we'll see. Hopefully tomorrow."
(on if he feels the team is more caught-up today) "They asked me if I thought we were behind where we normally are and I said yeah. We missed a whole offseason. You're behind in volume a little bit. You're behind in recall and you have a bunch of rookie free agents that have had six practices with you instead of 18, so that's the difference. With what time we've had, I feel good about where we are right now."
(on WR Dorin Dickerson) "He's getting better. He's a big guy that can make plays with his body. He does have excellent speed. He's got to learn to bend a little more and those type of things. The thing Dickerson has night and day improved on is his conditioning. He can practice two hours in the heat, make plays at the end of practice as well as the beginning of practice. His conditioning level has given him a chance to become a better pro."
(on QB Matt Leinart) "I tell you what, he's been very good. He's been exceptional. He's very comfortable with what he's doing. He's a guy who's got his confidence back as a player and a pro after everything we went through last year. I think you're going to watch him grow every day."
(on if he can trust two rookies at the four and five wide receiver positions) "Could I trust them? We're going to find out. We're very young. Seven of our 10 guys working are rookie or first year players. That's something we're looking at, so it's a great opportunity for them. There's a long way to go, so we'll see."
(on the secondary) "The thing I like is we're getting our hands on more balls. We're making more interceptions. We've got playmakers back there that can do that. Danieal Manning has made a few. You've seen what Johnathan (Joseph) can do. I just think we have more playmaking capability back there than we've had in the past."
(on the offensive line) "We're much improved. You like to be at the top of the League. Usually if you're running the ball well, your sacks are down. We ran the ball well, so I'd like to see them still go down. Our first group is pretty solid. (Mike) Brisiel and (Antoine) Caldwell are battling as they have through last year and they're battling again this camp. I think (Rashad) Butler's come back and been exceptional. I think he's pushing both Eric (Winston) and Duane (Brown), so that's been encouraging for us to get him back."
(on G Wade Smith) "He's a hell of a player. He's very athletic. That's what we want. He's very comfortable with what we're doing. His leadership skills to me have taken over and he's done a hell of a job."
(on RB Ben Tate) "You know what, he hasn't been out here much. He's missed a lot of time. He came out today and said his hamstring is sore again, so we pulled him out. He's missing a lot of work since he's been out here, so we're all just waiting on him to get back out here and get going. Those other guys are working their tails off and had another good practice."
(on RB Chris Ogbonnaya) "I tell you what, he wants to be on this team. You all see it, you watch practice. It's fun to watch. He's got a lot of confidence in what he's doing. He's making a big push."
(on his thought process behind showing the players tape on five close games last year) "Just finishing games. We lost five football games in the last two minutes. Some of them were in the last 10 seconds. That's this league. First off, you want to be good enough to have the chance to win every week and then when you got a chance to win every week, there's usually a player or two that separates the good from the average in this business. That's why we were very average or below average because we didn't win those type of games."
(on if he believes the team can finish games this season) "I believe they can do it, but they've got to go do it. I can't go out there and make the throw or the catch or the tackle or the play. They're the ones that have got to make it and it's our job to prepare them to make that and get them in position. Taking the next step as an organization and a team is making those plays.
OLB Connor Barwin(on what the defense has to learn) "Everybody has got a lot to learn but the biggest thing for me and Mario (Williams), and I'll be doing it a lot more than Mario, so that's probably what DeMeco (Ryans) was getting to, was that me and Mario played defensive line, we never dropped and now me and Mario are playing outside linebacker and Mario will drop a little bit but I'm going to be dropping half the time so that's a lot different. I was a little worried about it but it's not been hard to pick. Like I said before, they've kind of simplified everything and I've picked up on it pretty quick."
(on what he did during the offseason) "I've actually put on a little bit of weight so I think I might lose a couple of pounds running with all these running backs, but in the offseason I tried to play a lot of basketball at the end when ankle was starting to feel better. That's the best thing, running backwards, that's all you're really doing when you're running in coverage so that's about the only thing I tried to do."
(on what he likes about the 3-4 defense) "One thing about d-line (defensive line) that I liked was that you're just going. There's no hesitation, you just go. Now you got to read a little bit but Wade (Phillips) allows us to, still in certain defenses, just go but also the thing that I enjoy about it is that it kind of disguises, because that tackle or that tight end that I'm lined up against doesn't know if I'm going or not. When I played d-end (defensive end) they knew I was coming every time so the ability to keep the tight end or tackle on their toes is good."
ILB Brian Cushing(on if he's frustrated with his knee) "Yeah, I've had to be careful about it and be smart but at the same time I've progressed real well."
(on learning the new scheme while being out of practice) "Before you go on the field you have to have an understanding of the defense you're going into and this has been an opportunity for me to sit back and learn from a different perspective. I think I've been able to grasp a lot more than just going out there and trying to practice."
(on if he likes his new role in the defense) "Yea, I'm sure I'll be able to tell you a lot more once I start practicing if I really like it but I mean so far it seems great and it's a playmaker position."
TE Owen Daniels(on if he watches other tight ends in the NFL to learn) "Absolutely. You go back and try to learn stuff, try to take a little piece from everyone's game. I watched Tony's (Gonzalez) game, watched Antonio's (Gates) game. I like Zach Miller's game, he's in Seattle now. I like his game a lot. I like Chris Cooley's game. It's just to see what they're doing and how they're successful. Obviously Shannon (Sharpe) is one of the best ever. He's a beast. I wasn't a tight end growing up, but now I'll look back to see what he was doing. I know (TE Coach) Brian (Pariani) coached him."
(on if he's a perfect fit in this offense) "It's always been a good fit. This West Coast offense, Kubs (Coach Kubiak)'s offense has always been tight-end friendly. They ask the tight end to do a lot of things, but with that comes a lot of opportunities to make plays. I fit in well right away, got a good relationship with the quarterback, we always seem to be on the same page, and there are seven other people around that can make plays too."
C Chris Myers(on how much pride the offense takes in RB Arian Foster's rushing last year) "It was tremendously prideful last year. We go out there every single week in, week out and try and get him his yards. Obviously the number one goal is a 'W' but at the end of the year to not have to make the playoffs and have the number one rusher was a nice little side prize."
(on if RB Arian Foster gave the line a reward at the end of the season) "Yeah, well he wasn't one of the guys who had a big contract guy so he had to work with what he had. He did a nice little gift, his own jersey signed with our own pictures in it and rushing title statement on it. It was pretty cool what he did for us."
(on being a unit for over a year) "Yeah you'd be surprised. We've only played as a unit for a year, but with Wade (Smith) last year stepping in, you felt like he'd been here the last two or three years. He was able to come in here and just act like he'd picked up the offense for a long time. We're able to come out here and be cohesive and have success week-in and week-out. Like I was saying earlier, we try and treat it like we're all rookies trying to learn the offense all over again. We all take notes just like we're rookies and that's a big help to us come regular season time."
(on if the offensive line takes as much pride in protecting QB Matt Schaub) "Yeah, as much success as we had last year running the ball, you take as much pride in trying to pass protect and get Matt (Schaub) his yards. We don't want him on the ground at all. He's been able to be a successful quarterback the past couple of years as well. He was kind of under-shined by Arian (Foster)'s running last year but we take pride on both sides of the ball and being a real balanced offense."
ILB DeMeco Ryans(on learning the new 3-4 defense) "We're picking it up pretty fast, we've learned a lot and taking a lot in and guys are really taking ownership of the defense and making it their own and getting better each day."
(on what he's liked about the progress of the defense) "Communication has gotten a lot better. Guys are knowing what to do and are doing the job and making plays and it's good to watch when you do it right."
(on defensive coordinator Wade Phillips) "Wade will get in if anybody screws up and he'll let you know when you mess things up and he'll let you know when you did a good job. Wade is just a great coach."
DE J.J. Watt(on spending time with the Berry children) "You just try to be there for them and it reminds you that every single day that you're so lucky playing the game of football. I'm playing a game for a living and he's just hoping to walk again."
(on what it'll be like knowing that the Berry children along with his family and friends will be watching him on Monday) "It's going to be great. I play the game of football for a lot more than just myself. There are a lot of people out there that wish they could play in the NFL so when I run out of that tunnel on Monday night next week, it's for everybody who wished they could play in the NFL and I'm excited for that moment.
Head Coach Gary KubiakRunning Backs Coach Chick Harris
Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on ILB DeMeco Ryans) "I think he's doing well. I've got a decision to make going into the weekend. Do I play him in this first preseason game? Obviously, he's coming off a serious Achilles situation, but he hasn't missed a practice. The only one he did miss was strictly on us when they were restructuring the contract. I think he has looked his best the last couple times out, so it's very encouraging. He's coming. Now we need to get Cush (Brian Cushing) on that same path."
(on if he's concerned about ILB Brian Cushing) "I'm concerned. He needs to get out here and go to work with his buddies. Obviously, he had surgery done and we didn't have him all offseason, so we couldn't just throw him out there and watch him. We thought he needed a good week or so, but as I told you before, the plan all along has been Thursday, but it could very well be tomorrow. We'll go in and talk, but I'm expecting him to be on the field here real soon."
(on how important it is to get ILB Brian Cushing on the field playing) "It's real important. You can have all the players you want and the depth charts and all that stuff look great, but those guys got to work together to be good. Players know that and I don't have to tell them that. He's getting the reps in our walkthroughs, but there's nothing like lining up and playing ball. It's hard to be at your best when you're missing a lot of time, so we need to get him out there."
(on if it energizes the veteran players to see rookies playing well) "Yeah, no doubt. I think you're probably referring to J.J. (Watt) more than anything. You get a first rounder come in and obviously everybody's expecting a lot of things from him. When he earns the respect of the vets as quick as he has and I heard some of Antonio's (Smith) comments about him, that's important. It just tells you what they think of him. Just the scheme in general, I just think we've been very physical in practice as a defensive football team. We're deeper as far as the competition's going. Who's going to end up at different spots? We've got some pretty good competition going on."
(on if CB Jason Allen could push for a starting spot) "No doubt. There's absolutely no doubt. I think he's doing that every day. We're going to play our best two guys, but he's done a heck of a job."
(on if RB Ben Tate will be able to practice tomorrow) "I hope so. The last couple days, he started practice and then about 20 minutes into it, he says he tightens up. He needs to be out there. He needs to be out there and work. Hopefully he's back out there tomorrow. We'll see."
(on if WR Andre Johnson will play in the first preseason game on Monday) "I don't know. I don't have any doubt he can, but we'll see. We'll make a decision on it. His finger's fine. He's been okay at practice."
(on if there are any other health issues) "(Dominique) Barber has a thumb issue, but he was back out here this afternoon. One of our young linebackers has a little hamstring issue, (Matt) Marcorelle. He's got a little hamstring issue."
(on CB Roc Carmichael's injury) "He's got a shoulder. That happened on Sunday. He has a sprain and probably is going to miss about a week or so. He should be back ready to compete in camp."
(on CB Kareem Jackson) "I think he's played well. I think he's more comfortable in what we're doing. It's actually the defense he ran in college. He's getting tested every day, a lot of balls coming his way. He's in a battle. The way Jason's (Allen) playing and some of these young guys, the way they're playing, like (Sherrick) McManis is having a really good camp. Like I said, we're going to put our best two out there, but I think he's holding his own."
(on what CB Jason Allen has done specifically to impress him) "He's just consistent. He's made a lot of plays on the ball, got a few picks in camp. He's always been an effort guy. He's more comfortable being here this year in my opinion and he's playing better."
Running Backs Coach Chick Harris(on RB Chris Ogbonnaya) "I think he's had a good camp, he's having a good camp. He's a real smart guy and he's a tough guy. He learns by doing and also, he's so smart that he knows exactly what's going on and that's what's going to push him ahead along with his toughness."
(on if the running backs can simulate pass protection during practice) "You can simulate it but the physical part of it in a game will open a lot of guys' eyes. It's not the same, it's much faster and you have to be sharp mentally to get it done."
(on what he would like to see from RB Ben Tate) "Well being able to be consistent at practice, that's the number one deal right there. If you're at practice every day and you can take all your reps you will get better and that's the whole thing right now, being able to be consistent and healthy enough to go through practice."