The Texans practiced Wednesday morning at the Methodist Training Center and after, head coach Gary Kubiak, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and some players answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakDefensive Coordinator Wade PhillipsILB Brian CushingWR Keshawn Martin
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on how he felt practice went today) "It was good. I liked the way we were battling in practice. We were kind of swapping off practice, defense wins a period and offense wins a period. That's a good sign for your football team. It's very competitive. It's good and hot for us, it's great conditioning for us. We've got some of those second- and third-year players really starting to do some good things out here so it's exciting."
(on what feels different about this team) "I wouldn't really know how to answer that right now. We've got a long way to go. Every team kind of takes on its own personality. This one has a lot of fun in practice but it's very responsible to each other, they all work. That's what you're looking for. Let's hold judgment on that one. Let's just keep going."
(on who some of the second and third year guys are that are stepping up) "There's some guys really jumping at me, when I look at Trindon Holliday starting to look like a wide receiver out here, he's making plays. I think Garrett Graham is doing some good things. The defensive side of the ball, I look at (Bryan) Braman and how far he's come in such a short period of time and also Torri Williams. What we're going to eventually be will probably have a lot to do with how many of those types of guys step up and all of a sudden become real good pros, so we'll see."
(on WR Keshawn Martin) "I think he's doing well. He's got a lot of explosion. He needs to learn some things about the pro athlete that he's going against because sometimes when he separates, he thinks it's over. You've got to keep playing, so that's just something to get used to but I like his work habits. He's kept up in the book. He has an excellent chance."
(on WR Keshawn Martin in the return game) "Well, he's automatic catching the ball. That's the first thing you look at. He's very confident in doing that. You never find that out until it's time to go play, but we'll keep working."
(on how the team is doing heath-wise) "We're good. Antonio (Smith)'s back is bothering him a little bit. I pulled him out early. I don't' even know if he went back in, I'll have to watch the film. For the most part, we're holding up pretty good."
(on if anybody was absent today) "Nobody quit. No, that's tough. I talked to him (Dwight Jones) a couple times and he had a good college career and he's a talented young man. It's a grind. It's tough out here. Hopefully, he'll get home and things will feel a little better about it and he'll come back and give it another try someday. He's a very good athlete."
(on his expectations for QB John Beck) "To me, they are all competing with T.J. (Yates). I see Matt (Schaub) as our starter and everyone is competing with T.J. right now. I think John (Beck) has the mental capacity. He understands everything we're doing. I think we can really help John with some of the ways he plays the game. We're trying to change some of the things he does. Time will tell. Case (Keenum) continues to come on every day. There will be plenty of reps to go around with Matt and us being smart with Matt. We'll see how it comes out."
(on WR DeVier Posey) "He continues to do good things. I want his conditioning level, and I'm not saying it's bad but all these young guys need to get to where you can go all day in this Texas heat. They think they're okay until they get down here. When that gets better, his talents will continue to take over. He made some plays and he's a hard worker. He's one of the last guys leaving here every day so that's important."
(on the status of NT Hebron Fangupo) "He's doing good. I expect him back out here on Monday. He's running."
(on NT Shaun Cody not practicing today) "I'm not working him on back-to-back days. I'm just going to practice him every other day."
(on if any of the young players are in great shape that blow him away) "I think they're all in pretty good shape. I'm just saying when you get here and you work in this type of heat and humidity, it rained out a little bit before we came out today so it was really hot, you can tell the veteran guys that can continue to find juice throughout practice. Those young guys, after an hour or so, they can't find it. That's what they're here for and they've got a month and a half to get themselves in better condition so they can keep competing."
(on how far behind is ILB Darryl Sharpton from not participating) "He's behind. How far is he behind? When he comes back, we'll find out. I know Sharp (Darryl Sharpton) is a bright guy. He keeps up with what we're doing, but there are no reps like getting them on the field so he's definitely going to be behind. The key for him is to be healthy enough to compete, so that's what we're heading towards."
(on if ILB Darryl Sharpton will be 100 percent in camp or if they'll have to take it easy on him) "Nowadays, it's so different. What's taking it easy? A guy is really only practicing once a day anyway. He would never practice if we end up on turf. Stuff like that, yeah, we'll do that with him. For the most part, nowadays two a days are not even a question."
(on if this is now ILB Brian Cushing's defense with DeMeco Ryans gone) "I think it's all of them. I think they all look to Cush as a leader, but I think the reason we were so good last year is because it was about a family and everyone doing their job. I think that's what we stand for as a team. Is Brian being asked to be more of a leader since DeMeco is not here? I think that's obvious, yeah."
(on if the wide receiver position is a concern) "It's a concern. But I like the ability we have on the team right now with the group and we've come a long way just in five days. Guys that have been on the big stage, this group hasn't but it's got the ability to go out there and do it. Lestar (Jean) is acting like a dang good player out here every day, so we just got to stay committed to them. But we'll continue to look, we'll continue to watch some of these guys that are out there and see what happens through the first of June. But we got to stay focused on this group because this might be what we go to camp and then the season with. We'll work and gotta get it done. That's our job."
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
(on what rookie OLB Whitney Mercilus has done well and what he needs to improve on to this point) "I think, like all rookies, we've hit him with a lot of stuff and it slows him down a little bit on the field but he's a real smart guy and a hard worker. That's what I really like about him."
(on ILB Bradie James) "He's the signal caller. He calls all the signals and all the audibles. He already knows them, so that's the good thing. We put in a few different things, but he's caught onto those real quickly. He's real familiar with what we're doing and how we want it done and what changes we need to make in the heat of the battle. That's what I like about him."
(on the perception that ILB Bradie James didn't have much football left in him) "I think he moves around good. That's what I look for. I don't see much difference in him than a year and a half ago."
(on how far behind ILB Darryl Sharpton is because of his injury rehabilitation) "It obviously hurts him. Being out there watching and being in the meetings is one thing but being out on the field and doing it…and certain guys are different. Some guys can just watch and go out there and play and other guys can't. He played real good for us early last year and we're hoping he comes back."
(on where ILB Bradie James is right now compared to when he last coached him) "Pretty much the same. The guy is a field general, is the quarterback out on the field, knows what we're calling. Sometimes we signal things, which I can go through the whole signals with some guys and I just do one thing and he knows what the call is. If we play somebody that has a hurry-up offense, he has no problem. It's boom-boom-boom, he gets it done. That's the real help he gives you."
(on how much pressure there is on rookie to perform, given the way OLB Brooks Reed and DE J.J. Watt performed in their rookie seasons) "We got a solid group right now. What we wanted to do was try pick up where we left off last year. If we can play as good as we were going into the playoffs and then in the playoffs especially; I thought we played outstanding defensively the last two games. If we can get to that point early and then go from there, I think we'll be where we want to be."
(on if this is ILB Brian Cushing's defense) "He's the example. He's the guy that plays hard, plays tremendously hard, has great athletic ability, but uses it. That's the example we use on him."
(on learning about players during OTAs) "Yeah, that's more what we had to do last season to see what everyone could do. Once we realized how good (Brian) Cushing was rushing the passer from inside, we did it quite bit last year, if you noticed and we got better and better at it. Same thing with Brooks Reed and what he could do. J.J. (Watt) can stunt and he's really quick at it, so we utilize that. Yeah, the more you learn about them, the better you can call and set up things for them, specific players that do specific things. Same thing with Connor (Barwin). Connor's a really good rush guy. We could use him as a drop guy but we switched in the middle of the season and said, 'Hey, you're our rush guy,' and he had 10 or 11 sacks right after that."
(on how good it is to ILB Bradie James in his defensive system, being that he already knows it) "It's good guys know what to do. The first thing you have to do is not make many mistakes and you need a signal caller that helps everybody and Bradie (James) does that. He can tell everybody, 'Hey, this is where we're playing. I cover this guy, you cover that guy. Safety's got him.' He knows the whole defense. A lot of players know their own position but Bradie knows the whole defense, so that helps."
ILB Brian Cushing
(on how he is feeling after five practices) "I'm feeling good. I think the whole team is feeling good and we're comfortable with where we are right now. It's been a good couple of days so far of practice, and we are just looking to continue to grow and get better."
(on whether he is comfortable taking on more of a leadership role with the defense) "I feel that I've really had to take that role for a while now, even when (former Texans ILB) DeMeco (Ryans) and all those guys were here. That's just the kind of player I am. I want it upon myself, and now more than ever, I guess."
(on earning the right to be a leader on the defense) "Well, yeah. It's something that I want. I know a lot of guys would rather not have it or whatnot, but I feel that it's part of my responsibility being on this team."
(on how the rookies on defense have adjusted so far) "I think they're doing well, because it's so competitive out here. A lot of these guys are established; they've been in the playbook for two or three years now. It's tough, there's no doubt about it, when you're a rookie, and the only thing you can do is just hustle hard every day because you're not going to be 100 percent with the plays or whatnot."
(on rookie OLB Whitney Mercilus' performance so far) "I think he's done a good job, but it's tough. OTAs, everyone looks good in some shorts, so we'll wait til August when we get the pads on and start playing real football."
(on whether the performances of DE J.J. Watt and OLB Brooks Reed last year create more pressure on this year's rookie defenders) "I don't think so, because if you look at the specifics of what (OLB) Whitney's (Mercilus) coming into, there's a good chance he probably won't even start. I think he's coming into a defense that's, I wouldn't say established, but we definitely found our identity. We look to continue to grow, and I think he just needs to contribute. He doesn't need any added pressure of thinking he needs to be a certain player or have 10 sacks or anything like that. He just needs to play football like he can."
(on ILB Bradie James) "Oh, he's great. He's your typical example of an older guy with leadership. He's been out of (Defensive Coordinator) Wade's (Phillips) system now for two years, but he just comes right in and he doesn't miss a beat."
(on whether he feels like this is his team) "Well, I really wouldn't specifically put it on one person, but if it's said to be that, that's fine with me. That's something that I'll accept and continue to go forward with, but we're a collective unit. It's all of the guys, whatever 53 we put out there, chipping in and contributing."
(on what Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips has meant to him and to the team) "Oh, a ton. How well he coaches this team and how simple he makes it. Football is just a whole lot more fun playing for him. You're free, you play loose, and you just go out there and have a good time."
(on whether DE J.J. Watt's comment that his only goal is the Super Bowl is representative of the whole team's attitude) "I think so, yeah. That's the ultimate goal for any football player, and I think everyone on all 32 teams would say the same thing, but at the same time, we've got to go 1-0 first. That's all that matters – winning that first game."
WR Keshawn Martin
(on whether he feels that his ability to return punts can help him make the team) "It just gives them another reason to pick me, so yeah, that's something that I feel like I can bring to the table also, doing returns and playing receiver."
(on what makes him a good punt returner) "Just instincts; just finding a hole and then bursting up the field."
(on whether he can return kickoffs as well) "I returned a couple of kicks at Michigan State, so I feel like I can definitely return kicks, too."
(on whether there has been an adjustment to working with NFL quarterbacks) "It's a little adjustment, but I had a good quarterback at Michigan State, so it's not that much different."