The Texans practiced Tuesday at the Methodist Training Center and after, head coach Gary Kubiak, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and some of the players answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakDefensive Coordinator Wade PhillipsILB Brian CushingCB Johnathan JosephOLB Mario Williams
Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on how he views the defense) "I think the direction we're heading right now, you can see a lot of people playing. You've got guys like (OLB) Brooks (Reed) playing extremely well and (OLB) Jesse (Nading) playing well, and those guys are interchangeable too as far as playing either outside spot. I think if those guys keep coming the way they're coming, you feel good spelling (OLB) Mario (Williams); you feel good spelling (OLB) Connor (Barwin). I think you could see a lot of guys playing and that's a good thing."
(on if he has to guess since OLB Mario Williams is the only one on defense that has put up big sack numbers) "I think (it's about) systems. Obviously, players are the ones that got to get to the quarterback, but systems are the ones that help them get to the quarterback. (Defensive Coordinator) Wade's (Phillips) got a system that's proven to get there and I think it'll even itself out. I think the key is are we going to be a good defense and get to the quarterback? It's not who gets there; it's just that we get there as a team. If the preseason's any indication, it's been pretty spread out."
(on if ILB Brian Cushing is starting to build up the explosiveness he had in his rookie year) "To me, he's doing a lot better. It was a slow start for him in camp. He did look good the other night in his 20 plays. He'll play a lot more this week. I think the key is for Cush is just another big step forward this week, get his confidence back; I can freshen him up and then we'll be ready to go. We all want to see that and we're well on our way to that."
(on OLB Mario Williams getting comfortable in his new position) "It is a change, but every step has been positive. What they're trying to get him to do, it's a total change in technique in how you play and the scheme is playing and what he's being asked to do. Mario's working. Mario hasn't missed a day, except the day his dad was ill. He's been working his tail off. He's very receptive of (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) and (Linebackers Coach) Reggie's (Herring) teaching. There are a lot of expectations out of him and that's okay. That's a good thing. We're very pleased with his progress at this point."
(on if he is treating this next game as a regular season game) "All our preparation is like it's a regular season game. Obviously, our guys won't play the whole game. As far as the returns go, I think you'll see (WR) Jacoby (Jones). I'm very confident in knowing what (SS) Danieal (Manning) can do. I'm more concerned with him getting our defense down right now. That answer is probably not a 'No,' but we know he'll be ready to go. He's been successful doing it, but I want him to concentrate on what he's doing on the back end right now."
(on what he's looking for out of the team this week) "Just want to be consistent. We had everybody on the field last week, so that was a good thing. We had everybody back at practice this week. We've been missing time together, but now we're getting some good time. We're going against a good front up there in those guys, a good young front, so we'll get challenged. Go on the road, learn how to play in some noise and just keep getting better."
(on the injury situation) "At this point, nothing's really changed from yesterday. It looks like we'll get (DE) Damione (Lewis) back tomorrow. Other than that, we're probably pretty much the same. (ILB) DeMeco (Ryans) is day-to-day right now."
(on DE Tim Jamison) "He's very consistent. Nothing jumps at you about Timmy in particular, but all of a sudden you turn the film on and he just makes plays. He plays with a lot of effort; (he's a) very smart player and has the ability to play on both sides. He's always done his job for us. He's always found a way to make a few plays."
(on CB Johnathan Joseph) "He looked good. I had him work outside full-time. When we came back in, it was my understanding he wasn't supposed to work inside. I looked up, he took the first play and so I about went nuts, got him out of there. He took a step forward. If he keeps going, he'll get his playing time on Saturday."
(on what he wants to see out of OLB Brooks Reed this week) "Like I told y'all, he's the one player right now that really stands out from a standpoint of every time he gets coached on something or makes a mistake, it's over, it's done and there's a new level that he's reaching every day as a player with (Special Teams Coordinator) Joe (Marciano) and the defense. I'm very encouraged. He's pushing players right now and pushing for time. That's a good thing for our team."
(on if he's surprised how quickly OLB Brooks Reed has adapted) "Yeah, I am, because I know how big of a change that is going from your hand down to up. The way he's adapted, I think he's starting to fit in. He's an effort player, big-time effort guy."
(on if OLB Brooks Reed will play in the first half on Saturday) "They'll play. We'll probably take our rotation kind of like we would in a regular season game. We have to make sure (OLB) Connor (Barwin) and guys like that get a bunch of snaps this week from a conditioning standpoint."
(on if CB Johnathan Joseph has rubbed off on the younger players) "Yeah, you can just tell a little difference when he's at practice. He's so confident. The young guys pull from him all the time, talk to him. I'm just very excited to have him on our football team and we've just got to be smart this week and make sure we get him to opening day."
(on how he keeps the running backs satisfied) "It's your job as a coach to find a way to get them their touches and keep them into what you're doing. One thing about the running back position, when you have a great one, they need it 25 times to do what they do. We've got a pretty darn good one, so that makes it difficult, but I still think there's a place for each and every one of them. There's still a lot of football and a lot of balls to be carried in the next two weeks, so we'll see what happens."
(on if Running Backs Coach Chick Harris decides which running backs play at certain times) "We kind of go in with a plan. I could sit here and tell you (RB) Arian's (Foster) going to take eight snaps and then number two is going to take the next three. That sounds good. It kind of all depends on how it's going. We give them the freedom to raise your hand if you need a blow. We'll get somebody in there for you. For the most part, when Arian's at his best, he's playing three snaps to the other guys' one."
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips(on the difficulty of installing a new defensive scheme) "Part of it is trying to evaluate and see what everybody can do and what they can't do. That's part of setting up what you do, is working on those things."
(on if he will be mixing starters and reserves up against San Francisco) "Well, the first group certainly will be playing like they did last week. I think some guys will earn their way to be able to look at them."
(on if OLB Brooks Reed is one of the players who has earned his way onto the field) "Well, yeah. Obviously, Brooks had a good ball game and it looked like he's settling in, so he'll have an opportunity."
(on what he's looking for out of CB Johnathan Joseph) "Just get him on the field and get him playing again. He's practiced great when he's practiced. He practiced again today and he did super. We just want to get him game-acclimated."
(on if he will rotate his nose tackles) "Right now, they've been pretty even as far as playing time and what we're doing with him."
(on how OLB Mario Williams is adjusting to outside linebacker from defensive end) "He's doing fine. I think he's doing fine. He's adjusting well. He gets better every game. He only played a half. Once he plays a whole game, I think they'll have problems with him."
(on if it is hard for OLB Mario Williams to not to get frustrated learning a new position) "When you look at the game; he had three pressures in the game against (Saints QB) Drew Brees. I mean, you're not going to sack Drew Brees every play. He had three big pressures against him that in the limited time he played. He's getting there."
ILB Brian Cushing(on his first game back) "Obviously, first game back, you're not going to be as sharp as you want to be, but the number one thing I was worried about and most concerned about was conditioning and just staying healthy, and both were very good."
(on how much of an adjustment it is to the 3-4 scheme) "It is. It's definitely a different defense. There are definitely some different roles and gap fits and everything, but for the most part, it's football. If you've got instincts, you've got instincts and that's basically it."
(on if he feels quicker now) "Yeah, I do. I definitely feel quicker this year and now with the knee finally being healthy and getting to where I need to be, I'm back to where I can run again and feel healthy."
(on how long he had been playing with the bad knee) "Probably since the end of my junior year of college. It was one of those things where you get drafted, you've got the Senior Bowl, the Combine and one thing rolls into another and you have no time really to take care of it. Next thing you know, you're in your rookie season. I was fortunate I was able to get it taken care of."
(on OLB Mario Williams) "I think he's done a good job. Everyone's really critical of him right now and trying to figure out whether he can do it or not, but I definitely do. It's going to take him a little time. It's a big role from putting your hand down to standing up and now rushing the passer and dropping, doing things he's never done before. For the adjustment he's made in the short amount of time, I think he's done a great job."
CB Johnathan Joseph(on if there's a different feel to this training camp than the ones he's had in Cincinnati) "Things are done just a little different, but everybody runs their thing totally different from the next person in this league. An adjustment is what I had to make coming here and just getting on schedule with the way we do things here. I think personally I've done a good job with the help of my coaches and the rest of the teammates just keeping along as far as what we have to do on a daily basis as far as in-season schedule."
(on specifically what's done differently here compared to Cincinnati) "For instance, to start we had outside training camp. Last year, we were here at the stadium pretty much here every day for training camp. The commute back and forth to practice with the earlier meeting times, things of that nature. So I think overall, it's just getting acclimated to how we do things here."
(on what he's seen from the secondary so far) "The thing I've seen is progress being made from every week in practice to each and every day in practice as well as from each preseason game to the next preseason game. I'm kind of looking forward to seeing what we do out here in the third preseason game, which everyone calls your dress rehearsal."
OLB Mario Williams(on what is getting better about his adjustment to OLB) "Just technique and feeling more comfortable in the position: getting off the ball, being able to see things and just trying to get adjusted."
(on whether he is becoming more instinctive at OLB yet) "Yeah, this is only the third week that I've been standing up in my whole career like I have been. I've never been up this much. It's definitely an adjustment, but it's coming along."
(on whether changing positions is one of the biggest challenges he's faced in his career) "Yeah, because like I said, I've always been a 'hand in the dirt' guy, so it's definitely something different, but it's coming along and with more repetitions and more game time, I'll be more comfortable."
(on whether the position change has been tougher than he anticipated) "I think the biggest thing is bending. I'm so tall, so I think that with my angles and keeping my knees bent and waist bent, proper angles, I think it will be a lot easier, but I'm not used to doing that as much."
(on whether the mental aspect of playing OLB is drastically different than DE) "Not really. It's still, 'See ball, get ball.' I drop every now and then, but that's part of the game."
(on whether he has become more confident that he can succeed at OLB) "I know I can do it, but like I said, the more repetitions, the better and the easier it'll be, the faster it will be second nature for me. I definitely know I can do it; it's just like I said, more reps."
(on the advantages to his career of playing OLB) "I think the biggest thing is that I'll be able to do the 3-4 and the 4-3, stand-up or down. I think that's the biggest thing and that's really the big reason why I'm excited about doing it because it'll make me more versatile and (create) more options."
(on how he and Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips have meshed so far) "He's still a go-get guy. It's all about getting after the quarterback. It's all about having intensity, all about being fundamentally sound, so I think the biggest thing is just getting better fundamentals standing up in a two-point (stance) and rushing efficiently and dropping efficiently."
(on whether it weighs on his mind that he is in a contract year) "No, I don't care. I'm not worried about that. We'll deal with that after my year is up. I've still got a year to play, so I'm not really worried about that. Right now, I'm worried about getting off the ball properly in a two-point stance."
(on whether it's weird seeing himself on film as an OLB) "That's not weird. Like I said, the only weird feeling I get is when I'm actually doing it. Like I said, it's only my third week of doing it, but I'm definitely getting better with every rep, so I just look forward to it."
(on whether he feels like people overanalyze his performance) "I don't care what people say, man. This is my sixth year; I don't worry about it. I don't care what people analyze. It doesn't bother me when people analyze. You're going to analyze what you want to analyze."
(on how he's making the transition process fun for himself) "Being that I can stand up and put my hand down in the dirt, I look at it like that. I look at it like I can bounce around. I can have fun with it. The biggest thing is getting comfortable with it and being able to play around with it, so once we get to that point, I think everything will be alright."
(on confusing opposing quarterbacks in Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips' system) "Definitely. Once we actually put a whole game plan in and go out there and mix it up, it'll be beneficial for everybody on the defense."
(on how his arm feels) "It's alright. I've just got a little fluid in it, that's all."
(on whether his arm injury would keep him from playing at San Francisco) "No. I had it this past week, actually, this past Saturday. It happened Monday night (against the New York Jets), but it's fine."
(on whether he is enjoying playing OLB as opposed to DE) "It's nothing negative. Like I said, it's just a way to play around with it. It's just a way to be down in a three-point stance and then switch it up and be in a two-point stance. It's just having fun. I think that's the biggest thing is once you get comfortable with it and fundamentally sound, it's all about having fun and just going out there and letting it happen."
(on how he feels being compared to elite OLBs like DeMarcus Ware of Dallas) "I think the biggest thing when you try to compare me to other guys is most of these guys did it from Day One or an early point. I did this (with) no OTAs, straight into training camp. It's definitely a bigger adjustment for me, I think just because I don't have as much time. Also, it's more anxiety, it's more excitement, I guess, to try to get it done soon."
(on how difficult it is not having the offseason to make the transition to OLB) "It's difficult because I didn't know there were so many fundamentals into it. If you rush from a two-point stance properly without any hesitation on your front foot, because that takes away a split second for getting to the quarterback, and we all know that's very valuable. I didn't realize it was going to be that particular, but it really is. Now, only this being my third week, going on my fourth week, it's definitely a big difference and something that I see I've got to really focus on."
(on the potential of Houston's defense) "We can be as good as we want to be. With what Coach (Defensive Coordinator Wade) Phillips is putting in, we can match everything. It's all about communication and it's all about us wanting to do it. Everything that he has in is going to work against any adjustment that we need to make. He has called some great game plans so far. Once we get some live bullets after the first real (regular) season game, I think we'll be able to judge where we're at, but like I said, it's all about us communicating and being as good as we want to be."