The Texans practiced outside at the Methodist Training Center on Wednesday. After, head coach Gary Kubiak and some players answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakDE Connor BarwinT Duane BrownRB Arian FosterCB Kareem JacksonWR Andre JohnsonWR Jacoby JonesQB Matt LeinartSS Bernard PollardQB Matt SchaubWR Kevin WalterRB Derrick WardT Eric Winston
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on what was practice like preparing for the first game of the regular season) "It seems like it took forever. This is the longest week of the season for everybody because you finished (preseason) on Thursday night. Then you've got nine or ten days before your opener. What we tried to do was to get our guys fresh and get going today. We've held our game plan until today. They were so eager to work, they finished an hour-and-a-half practice in an hour and five minutes because they were going so fast. We'll calm them down the next two days so that we know what w we're doing and ready to go."
(on how much playing time TE Owen Daniels will get this Sunday vs. the Colts) "It's easy for me to tell you all 20-25 plays. I'm feeling good about that right now. I'll listen to him, is what I'll do. He's going to play a quarter of the snaps I would say, or a third of the snaps. If he tells me he feels good then I may let him go. I'll see how he'll respond to this week's work."
(on if TE Owen Daniels will start this Sunday) "Let me see how he feels. I want to do whatever is comfortable for him. I don't want the pressure on OD (TE Owen Daniels). To me, the pressure is on us to bring him back the right way."
(on what it is like to open the season at home against the Colts) "It wouldn't matter who it is. Opening day is a big day. Is it big because it's the Colts and they're in our division? Yes, but that's twice a year. Its two teams that know each other pretty good and sure they're both going to be fresh and getting a few players back that they've been missing in the preseason. I'm looking forward to it and excited about it."
(on how quickly RB Derrick Ward will be able to contribute) "I think he could help us spot-wise pretty quick. He's done some of our stuff. We'll give him a limited amount to work, but (RB) Steve (Slaton) and (RB) Arian (Foster) look good. I'm comfortable. I'll just have to know I'm calling what he feels good about."
(on if decided to rotate his offensive guards) "Yes they will continue. (G) Antoine (Caldwell) will start the game, but (G) Mike (Brisiel) will play. I don't think either guy has stepped up and said that 'this is all mine' and I'm waiting for one of them to do it. We will see, but we will rotate those two guys."
(on QB Matt Leinart's first practice as a Texan) "You can tell he's played a lot of football. He walked out here and spent the last two days with (quarterback coach) Gregg (Knapp) and kind of getting down our base stuff. He went in the huddle and ran the team. He's played a lot of football. What we'll do is take it a day at a time and sees how far we can bring him, but I think he fits in what we do and we're excited to work with him."
(on if he feel like he have to rebuild the confidence of QB Matt Leinart) "I don't feel that way. I just think that's the part of the NFL. It didn't work out. He's very positive from the standpoint of making a new start and going back to work. Do I think we can help him to get back in the right direction? Yeah, I sure do. I'm excited about it and I know our team is. To have (QB) Matt Leinart walk in your locker room gives us more confidence at the quarterback position and makes us stronger."
(on how his young cornerbacks will do against Colts QB Peyton Manning) "That's a decision that we made as a team and they're facing the best in the game. That makes it tough, but that's the way we decided to go and we believe in those guys and they are only going to be able to do it if we play them a few times. They'll get a chance real quick."
(on if this was the most confident he felt going into the season) "I feel good about our team. I feel real good about our group. I think we've had a good camp. We're better with some new faces. We're better because OD (TE Owen Daniels) is coming back. We're missing (LB) Brian (Cushing). We've got to overcome that, but I've got a lot of confidence in the group we've got. The key for us is to play our football and not get consume with who we are playing, but play the way that we know how to play to be successful."
(on who will fill in for LB Brian Cushing) "(LB) Xavier (Adibi) is the guy. He was when we started and he is here in the end. The way we got there wasn't the ideal way, but we're okay. We knew that was the plan we had from the get-go."
(on if LB Xavier Adibi is back in shape from his injury) "He's been good. His legs are good. He practiced good last week and played good and looked good today. We've given a good break this past weekend. We'll be fresh."
(on how the team's confidence has changed over the years facing the Colts) "They want to be a part of it. That's where you want to get in this league, where you think you've got a chance to win every week. Like I said, it's a group that has been working hard and grown together. It's got a lot of confidence in itself, but they've got to focus on a game plan and on a opponent and just make sure they play good football."
(on RB Steve Slaton) "He looked fine . He practiced today, he looks fine."
(on how to prevent from coming out flat this year) "To prevent it, we try to change a few things. I hope we prevent it. You're right, the last two years haven't been good, but it's a new year."
(on DE Connor Barwin) "He can play many spots for us. Obviously he could fill in for (DE) Mario (Williams) at defensive end. He can play some standup linebacker for us. We are doing different things with him. He gives us flexibility going into this season. With this Cushing issue, he continues to give us flexibility as a defensive player. He and (DE) Jesse (Nading) both offer that."
(on how often will he be using three linebackers against the Colts three wide out formation) "We could go both ways. We've played them in base before. They'll go 'tiger' which is still (Colts TE) Dallas Clark and two wides. We've played base to that and nickel to that. We'll mix it up and we'll have to do both. We have to keep our people fresh. The key is making them get rid of the ball."
(on his memory of Colts QB Peyton Manning's recruiting visit at Texas A&M while he was coach there) "That was my first or second year coaching. He's always been a pretty smart young man during his whole career and he's still doing well. I remember how bad we wanted him on our team, but he knew what we did (run the football) and we did that pretty good too."
DE Connor Barwin
(on giving different looks helps him on the defensive line) "It's just fun because you can come from different places and show the quarterback a couple different look and they don't know exactly where you're coming from. To be able to stand up, put my hand down, do different things like that, definitely helps me get a better pass rush."
(on if he is excited about what the defense is capable of) "Yeah, we're ready to do that for four quarters. We got to do it a little bit in the preseason for a couple series or a half. Now we're trying to show it we can do it for four quarters."
T Duane Brown(on what he's learned in his three games against Colts DE Dwight Freeney) "Well, the first time we played them, he put his patented spin move on me. It was a rough one. I've gotten better every time I've faced him. I feel like I've improved a lot this offseason, mentally and physically. I'm just trying to keep that progression going this year."
(on how important it is to play well against the Colts' defensive line) "If you can block their front four, you have a chance of winning. They don't have a lot of blitzes. They feel like their front four can get enough pressure to get to the quarterback and they do a good job at it. (DE Dwight Freeney) and (DE Robert) Mathis are two of the best in the league. If (Texans QB) Matt (Schaub) can set up on the back side without worrying about him, he'll be able to complete passes. If I can shut him down, and Matt feels confident, then we'll have a chance to be successful."
(on if this is a statement game) "It's week one, against the guys that have run our division for years. There is no more to be said. If we go out and handle our business, it should set the tone for the rest of the season."
RB Arian Foster
(on some of the challenges the Colts offer on defense) "They're just very sound. They're fast. They're always in the right spots, so we have to make sure we execute as an offense."
(on how different this is for him now that he's the starter) "I'm excited. They made me number one, so I've got to go out there and prove them right."
CB Kareem Jackson
(on the challenge of playing against the Colts' receivers) "It's going to be a challenge, but from seeing the guys that we see every day in practice, as far as (WR) Andre (Johnson) and (WR) Jacoby (Jones), I think we'll be ready for the task."
(on what the Texans veterans have told him about the Colts) "They told me the pace is going to speed up a whole lot from what we're used to seeing as far as preseason games, but I think we'll be ready for it."
(on if he is nervous before his first NFL game) "No. No nerves, not right now. But I'm pretty sure once the game's coming around and I get out there, I'll have a couple nerves."
WR Andre Johnson(on opening the season against the Colts) "Well, it's a big challenge for us. (We are) 1-15 against them. It's a big test. For us to open up against them, I think it's a big test for us. We'll find out if we're ready to take that next step or not. Playing against the Colts, we'll find that out."
(on what is different about the Texans this season) "Well, the expectation is different. The attitude around here is different. Just the way we finished the season last year, the way we played last year; I think last year, more than any season, was a real growing stage for us. I think we really found out what type of football team we can be. I think that feeling has just carried over to this season. Guys were ready to get the preseason over with and get ready to play some games that count. It's going to be a big test for us. It's not going to be easy. They're a great football team. It's going to be a challenge for us."
(on how important it is to get off to a fast start this season) "Well, we know in order to get to where we want to be, to be playing in the postseason, that we have to be consistent for a full 16 games. We can't just win two games here; it's always been you win two, come back and lose four. We have to be consistent as much as we can during these 16 games so that we can get into the postseason. To start off with a game like this, a big game, a division game, it's awesome. I really can't wait for it. I think it's a big test for us. Like I said, it's a great chance to find out where we are as a football team.
WR Jacoby Jones
(on being more involved in the opener game plan than any time before) "I'm just going to play. It's still just football. I'm going to play my role, whatever I've got to do and make plays when they call my number."
(on if the team has talked about the trouble they've had finishing games against the Colts) "Coach always says to win in the NFL, one team has to make more plays that the other team. That's what we've got to do. We've got to make one more, two more plays than that team to get the job done."
(on how important it is to get off to a fast start) "That's the big thing. We've been working on our temp and our physicality. We're going to be ready to roll and play football on day one."
(on the confidence this team has opposed to when he first arrived) "We've all been together for about four or five years now, most of us. We're starting to gel. We know each other. We know how each other plays. It's all about the chemistry. We're comfortable so we're ready to roll."
QB Matt Leinart(on if he sees his arrival to Houston as a fresh start) "Yeah absolutely; obviously the first four years didn't go the way you would hope, but I learned a lot as a quarterback and as a person. I had the chance to learn from Kurt Warner who is one of the greatest quarterbacks who, I think, to play. Now I have a chance to come here and learn from (QB) Matt (Schaub) and become a pretty good quarterback in this league, obviously. My mindset is just to learn and compete and to soak it in as much as I can. It's a completely different offense that I'm used to as far as the terminology. I think I'll get it pretty quick. I just got to keep studying."
(on if the Texans offense suits his skills) "Yeah, it's more play action stuff. That's what I did a lot in college and something we actually didn't do a whole lot in Arizona because Kurt (Warner) had his strength with four or five wides to get the ball out. We weren't under the center a whole lot. Here, it seems as though there is so much more. There's a lot more plays that we do, but there's a lot more play action stuff and throwing the ball down field which is something I like to do."
(on what went wrong in Arizona) "I don't know. The thing that I've learned over the last couple of years is control what you can control. I've worked hard and prepared hard for this season in the off season. I thought I played well and had a good training camp. It just didn't go as planned. Coach decided to go in a different direction. We had our differences , but at the same time I think we respected each other. It was just time to move on obviously. I'm happy to be here. I'm excited. It's a new chapter."
(on telling Texans head coach Gary Kubiak that he took responsibility in what happened in Arizona) "Yeah, you watch film and you watch the games and collectively when I was in Arizona's preseason we were trying to get better as an offense. We were coming in with a lot new faces out there and we had a lot receivers down. It was a new thing. For me, I'm extremely hard on myself and I'm a perfectionist that way and I expect to play as well as I can play every game. I think I played well and did what they asked to execute, but you could always play better. You could always work at it. For me as a quarterback, that was something I've learned. Every year you should never be satisfied. You have to continue to work and get better. I was just telling coach that I was ready to compete and have fun playing football. The last couple of years have been a grind over there. It's been hard and like I said, it's a new chapter in my life. I'm excited."
(on if he knew anything about Texans head coach Gary Kubiak prior to arriving in Houston) "I remember his name when I was getting ready for the draft. Just looking at his resume and the quarterbacks that he's coached throughout his career speaks for itself . He's had some great ones and I'm just excited to learn from him. I'm going to soak up and be a sponge and just learn all the offense in his system. Even last year in Arizona watching Houston, their offense is explosive. They score a lot of points and they throw the ball down field. From what I'm learning the first two days is that it's very technical and they expect a lot from the quarterback position. I think that's the way it should be, but that makes you a better player. That's what I'm most excited about . I've heard so many great things and a lot of guys who played for (Head) Coach (Gary) Kubiak have told me great things."
SS Bernard Pollard(on playing against the Colts) "The Colts have been dominant. They've been dominant in the AFC South. They've been dominant. I think we're 1-15 against them. We're tired of losing. It's to the point now where it has to hurt at some point. I think when a man is being punched so much, you have to get tired of it and think, 'you know, we're tired of it.' We're ready to play. Speaking from a defensive standpoint, this team is very good. You've got to give them what they deserve. They're very good, but we're good too. Like I said, we're excited. We're excited to play. We're playing a really good team, but they're playing a really good team too. They're coming to a packed house. They're coming to play a very good team that had a good record. We were 9-7. We left some games on the field, but you can't turn back the hands of time. Football is who we are. We're ready to play."
(on what he tells the younger defensive backs about going against the Colts) "We have to play as close to mistake-free football as we can. If we line up and know what we're doing, there is no way they can come in and do anything against us. (QB) Peyton Manning is going to do some things to you. You're not going to stop a quarterback. This league is driven by quarterbacks. They take care of them. At the same time, if we line up and we run our assignment and get our stance right, they're no reason, no way, we shouldn't come out with a win in this game."
QB Matt Schaub(on starting a new season) "It's exciting. It's an exciting time of year. All the expectations build up, just being anxious to get started and playing real games and going week-to-week and getting a grind. We're excited about the opportunity to play against a divisional opponent, a team we know really well, a team that was in the Super Bowl last year. I know our home crowd will be behind us going crazy. But we're excited about getting started."
(on the Texans starting slow in past season openers) "We're looking to come out of the gates ready to go in mid-season form but we just have to get prepared this week to play well, take care of our business and let the chips fall where they may. We're definitely excited about getting going."
(on how excited he is about the Texans running game) "Very excited. It's looked good throughout training camp and the offseason and throughout the preseason games but it's different once you get out there for real during the regular season. I'm excited about it. I'm excited about getting started and getting going."
(on how tired he is of losing to the Colts) "Very tired, as a team, not just me personally. It's a time that we step up and say enough is enough and go out and finish ball games. In the past we've played well, we've been in the game, we've been leading in the game. We just haven't finished. It's just about consistency for four full quarters."
(on the Colts defense) "They're a good group. They're very fast. They're good up front. Their front seven is very good. Their back end is very experienced. Their secondary feeds off what their front seven does and especially their pass rush. They have to two of the best pass rushers in the league at each end, so it's a tough challenge for us, but we played well against them in the past and we have to go out and do it again."
(on how much he has studied Colts QB Peyton Manning and tried to add that knowledge to his game) "Well, we run different type of systems so it's tough to. But I do watch him in the offseason and study some of that film and various other guys as well. But, just from his leadership standpoint; how he manages the game. There are few that have done it as well as he has for the extended period of time he has. But like I said, they do a different type of system, so it's hard to mechanically watch him."
(on how important this game is) "Well, the fact that it's a season opener; I wouldn't put more weight on it than any other game. But the fact that it is the Colts, it's a divisional opponent, a team that we play twice a year; obviously it means a little bit more. But it is a chance for us to get off on the right foot, being the first game. At the same time, it's one of 16. It's a chance for us to go out and show where we are as a team and what direction we are headed."
(on the increased confidence of his team heading into games against the Colts and other top-tier teams) "Well, that's the way we look at every game, no matter who we're playing. We'll play anyone, anytime, anywhere. We know we can play with anybody, it's just about finishing things off and playing 60 minutes of good football, taking care of the football offensively, getting off the field defensively and scoring points. If we can go out and just execute our game plan, we can play with anyone, so it doesn't matter who the opponent is."
WR Kevin Walter(on the season opener against the Colts) "There's no better test than the Colts coming in here and we're real excited. We're real, real excited about it."
(on how far the team has come since he's been a Texans) "That's what we need to do. We play good football at the end of the year. We need to start out fast. That's the key to it right now and we're going to do that. We had a great practice today. We've got a great game plan; offense, defense and special teams. We just have to go out there and execute. We've played this team, we know this team inside and out. We just got to go out and do our thing."
(on TE Owen Daniels returning to practice) "It feels like he's been practicing the whole camp. He's not missing a beat. He's out there running great routes. He's in great shape and he's going to help us out big-time on Sunday."
RB Derrick Ward
(on if he's ready to play from a conditioning standpoint) "Yeah, I do. I feel like I'm ready to go. I was only out a couple of days so I really didn't fall behind."
(on if playing with the Texans is a better situation for him rather than playing in Tampa Bay during a rebuilding mode) "Yeah, I think so. (Houston) came close last year and they missed the playoffs. I think this year we'll have all the pieces we'll need to get over that hump and get into the playoffs for the first time. It will be exciting."
(on signing with a playoff contender) "It's great. This team actually reminds me of 2007, the (New York) Giants, when we went to the Super Bowl. I see a great defense here. We have a veteran quarterback, we have all the right pieces in place to make a run at this. Anything can happen on Sunday. We'll be ready to go on Sunday."
T Eric Winston
(on the team being more physical) "We'll see. I think preseason, while it's not the end-all and be-all, there's some indicators there. Obviously, we struggled a little bit last year in the preseason. This year, we did a pretty good job I think of getting some push and running the ball. I think the final test is always every Sunday, so we'll see what happens."
(on the importance of a fast start) "I think that's the name of the game this year. I think we've proven with everybody that we can play for 55 minutes with anybody and probably better than most people. We've got to put it together for all 60 and for all year."
(on if he sees the Colts in Week 1 as the perfect test for this team) "I think they've been the big boys on the block for awhile now. So if someone wants to come and get the division championship, it's got to go through them. This game is going to be one of the two we play against them this year. We've got them at home, so we need to take advantage of it. You can't not beat them and expect to win the division. We've got to go out there and with it being the first game, you want to get out to a fast start."