The Texans practiced Wednesday at the Methodist Training Center, and after, they answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakOLB Brian BramanWR Jeff MaehlRB Arian FosterT Eric WinstonQB T.J. Yates
Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on how much practice the team will do in full pads) "Normally it's pretty mapped out and structured, but we're going day to day right now feeling our guys out. We wanted to get them in the pads today without the pants. We're going to come back in the morning and go full go. You could see us bouncing in and out. Remember, we're fixing to have a whole new group of guys on this team joining the team. Then we're going to have to work that situation. Are they in pads? Are we all out of pads? Hopefully within a week, we're all back on the same page because right now we're on different pages as far as the guys that have been working and the guys that haven't."
(on if any young guys have jumped out at him) "A guy jumped at me today. Earl Mitchell jumped at me today. I was just telling the players I think good players make their big jump in this league from year one to two. It's just fun to watch a guy come out in his second year and be so much more comfortable in what he's doing. He made a lot of plays today. It's one practice, but it was evident."
(on how RB Ben Tate looks) "He's looked fine. It's very competitive back there. Of course Arian (Foster) will be back here to work in a day or two. It's a very competitive situation and it will work itself out. Last year at this time, we had no idea who in the hell our back was. Right now, we think we've got too many. Let's just let them all play and see what happens."
(on if there's any update on signing FB Lawrence Vickers) "Nothing yet. We're still talking to him. I think he's talking to a couple other teams. You can see how those things work. We were involved with Ty (Warren) and then he ended up going to Denver. You never know. (General Manager) Rick's (Smith) working. While we're out here, he's working on those types of things. I'll catch up this afternoon, but I know we're still involved."
(on how TE James Casey looked today) "I thought he did some good stuff. Everybody's looking. James (Casey) is going to bang in here and do the things we ask our fullback to do. We all know the things James does well. We'll go back and look at the film, but he knows it's about respect and he's got to step up and show the players he's capable of handling that load. I think David Bailiff had the best quote I saw the other day. He said, 'I wouldn't bet against him.' I wouldn't either. I think he's going to be a good player."
(on how he plans to work the rotation on punt and kickoff returns) "(Quintin) Demps is part of that equation too. There's an interesting dynamic in football this year because the kickoff is being moved forward. How many are going to be returned? Now you're down to knowing you're going to touch the ball on punt returns. Are you going to touch it on kick returns? So there's a teaching difference. How do you put your team together at the end? We've got a few guys, but obviously Danieal (Manning) has been one of the better ones in the game. He just happened to be on a team with a pretty good one. It's going to be nice to see him get involved."
(on if there will be competition for the punt return job) "I think there definitely is. Like I said, (Quintin) Demps, Shiloh (Keo) has done it, we've even got GQ (Glover Quin) working back there a little bit, so putting this team together will be a tough call at the end who ends up doing that. We get a 46th guy on game day now so that's nice. So is that going to be a returner? I don't know. We'll have to wait and see."
(on RB Ben Tate) "He's in a battle. He's working as a fourth guy right now and that's a humbling experience. You come out here after you miss all last year. He's working as a fourth guy right now and he's working hard. It's a very competitive situation and we've got a nice problem back there, so we'll see how it works out, but he's working good."
(on if the abbreviated practice sessions affects special teams practice at all) "Well what it does, it makes you do more special teams in the morning because in the morning is when you can do the banging and the contact. Obviously all the teaching takes place in the afternoon so it's changed the format just a little bit, but not all that much really. It just keeps you out here a little longer in the morning."
OLB Brian Braman(on how his first day of camp went) "It went great actually. It's hard work but I knew it was going to be hard work coming into it. I'm just really happy and feel really blessed to have the opportunity to come out here and play with some of the best players in the game."
(on the transition from his time at West Texas A&M University) "It's definitely been a little different so far as the game speed goes. All the coaches at West Texas do a great job of preparing us guys for the next level if we ever get the opportunity and I don't think I'd be doing what I am now if it wasn't for them but it's been a lot of fun and hopefully the learning curve I can catch on quick."
(on Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips and his 3-4 defense) "First of all it's the same defense that we ran at West Texas so it's kind of nice that I'm not jumping into something new and Wade Phillips is one of the best in it and I'm really excited to learn from one of the best."
(on his expectations for this season) "First and foremost is making the team. I'm not really worried about the season, I'm just taking it one day at a time and making sure I'm mistake free and hopefully I can catch on."
WR Jeff Maehl(on how to make the team as a rookie) "You have to be on special teams first and foremost, something that I was fortunate enough to do a lot of at Oregon so they know I can do that. Obviously the NFL is a little different with body types and whatnot on different special teams. Just any way that I can contribute is going to help me make the team. Obviously learning the stuff fast and putting it on the field and not making mistakes."
QB T.J. Yates(on what Matt Schaub is teaching him) "Just little things about how to work cadences and how he kind of approaches things in the huddle because being a back-up quarterback, you have to be able to do the things the exact same way the starter does. You have to mimic his exact cadence, you have to say the exact same things that he says in the huddle so when you get in the huddle with his guys there's no drop off."
(on the importance of having short term memory) "That's the one thing you have to especially do out here because I've gotten lucky I've gotten so many reps that you're kind of forced, you have to move on to the next play because there's so much stuff mentally that you have to think about for the next play. If you're thinking about the thing you messed up last play it's going to affect the next play in front of that. I kind of learned that in college. You have to get over whatever just happened on the previous play."
(on what areas he's excelling in) "I think I'm doing a good job picking it up and being able to kind of take over the huddle and spit the plays out and go out there and kind of take command. I still have to work on my foot work. I only have a couple days of this kind of teaching as far as foot work goes so I'm trying to get that down and get my timing down with the receivers."
(on how working out with the team at Rice has helped prepare him) "Absolutely. I was here in the summer for almost a month and a half, two months working out with the guys every day at Rice. That made the transition that much easier. Every day that I was out there with those guys, after we were done I would go straight in my car and start making notes and stuff that I heard and stuff that Matt and Dan (Orlovsky) taught me on. It helped the transition. Jumping into getting the playbook I noticed a lot of things, I recognized a lot of things that was going on."
RB Arian Foster(on how it feels to be the NFL rushing champion) "I'm not this year. It doesn't feel like I'm the NFL's leading rusher. It felt like it week 16 last year or week 17 last year but it doesn't feel like it right now."
(on how long he celebrated last season) "During the off-season it didn't really hit me until like mid-way during the off-season that you had a goal, you set out a goal and you accomplished that goal and that's what feels good about it. The crazy thing about this league is that, Coach (Kubiak) says it all the time, that you have to prove yourself every single day. You could lead the league in rushing one day and the next day they'll forget you fast. You have to keep on making your mark."
(on how he will follow up last year) "I think (the media) set standards. I just play the game the way it's supposed to be played. Statistically speaking, it's hard to put up numbers like that back-to-back-to-back. My job is to be the best running back for this team, meaning do my job on every play that I'm in there, and that's what I try to do. Individual accolades always come with that when you're playing at a high level, but you can't get caught up in statistics. Sometimes it could be very misleading."
(on if he would be okay not statistically having another season like last year) "I want to be great, put it like that. Who doesn't want to be great? Everybody wants to be great. We play this game to have our names remembered and that's what I work for."
(on what's impressed him so far from the running backs) "Today was the first day in pads and I just like our combative attitude as a unit right now. We're out there hitting, we're not tentative. We're hitting the holes hard. It's hard to be a cohesive unit the first day out as an offense because it takes so much work but we're going to get where we need to go."
(on if any guys that didn't believe in him have apologized) "I didn't count them, but I'm not vindictive in nature. You hear a lot of 'I knew you could' and you hear a lot of 'I was wrong about you', but I treat everybody the same. I love everybody."
T Eric Winston(on the first day of practice in pads) "First day in pads is always a little bit of a struggle. I'm kind of wondering who stuck the weights in front shoulder pads, I kept falling on my face a few times but other than that it is what it is, we've got a long way to go but I think it was good for everybody to get pads on. You got through a couple of days of what we call spiders, those little foam pads and everyone is getting too aggressive because everyone is itching to get out there and prove themselves."
(on if there is pressure on the offensive line) "I don't look at it as pressure. I look at it as a chance to make big plays. You don't have to get Arian a whole lot, he's going to go. You don't have to give a guy like Matt Schaub a whole lot of space; you know Andre Johnson and those guys. So, I just look at it like we've got to give those guys a chance so we don't have to do anything special. We just got to do what we do and these guys have already proven that they're going to go out there and open up great stuff."
(on Michael Lombardi's comment that the Texans are soft) "I know this, you don't luck into 1,660. You don't luck into 2,000 yards rushing as a team so you can call it whatever you want, you can call it finesse, you can call it whatever but, I'll take those yards, I'll take those touchdowns and I'll take that production so Mike Lombardi can call it whatever he wants. He can come out here; I've never seen him at practice before so, he might have a different take on it if he's not 2000 miles away commenting on something he's never seen before. That's kind of the old school mentality on this as well, if you're not hitting every day, if you're not doing that I guess you're not tough but I'm not going to worry about that; that's something that if we can go out there and get Arian Foster over 1,600 yards again, if we get Matt Schaub to 4,000 (yards passing) and we can score those big touchdowns in key moments than he can call us whatever he wants."
(on Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips and his 3-4 defense) "Well obviously they're aggressive. I mean Wade has been an aggressive coordinator everywhere he has been and he's going to continue that. I think we have great athletes to give him a chance to be aggressive and I think that's what is important so, it's going to be fun and practices are going to be challenging. They are going to make us a better offense and I hope that we make them a better defense because we're all in it together. If we don't, score then we can't win and if they don't keep them out of the end zone than it's hard for us to win so it all comes in together, I think we both have to challenge each other but at the end of the day I think we are going to make each other better."
(on his high school days at Midland Lee) "I remember everything; you can argue that those are some of the best days you could ever have playing football so enjoy it. Don't worry about anything else other than what's going right now. Don't worry about going to college, don't worry about anything else. Enjoy every second you've got there, you'll never play on another team with so many friends and so many guys you've grown up with. That's the special part about it."
Head Coach Gary KubiakAssistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach Bill KollarWR Andre JohnsonQB Matt LeinartFS Danieal ManningOLB Brooks ReedWR Kevin Walter
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on signing FB Lawrence Vickers) "It's a good opportunity for him with our football team. I think he fits what we do. It will be a great competition between him, James (Casey) and these young guys we got in here. We're excited to get him. It gives us some avenues as an offensive football team since we lost Vonta (Leach)."
(on if FB Lawrence Vickers will be the Texans' starting fullback) "No, James (Casey) is our starting fullback and (Lawrence) Vickers is coming here to compete with him. James gives us a lot of options as a football team, so that's the good thing, but it will be a heck of a competition."
(on what he likes about FB Lawrence Vickers) "He's very athletic. He's a high-spirited player, very emotional player on the field when you watch him play. He loves to hit. We're looking for guys from an iso standpoint and he's played good special teams in this league. When you've got a fullback or two fullbacks on your roster and they're playing special teams, that's a good thing. I just think he's a good fit and I think this offense is kind of tailor-made to him too with his athletic ability."
(on getting key players back on the field tomorrow) "Well that's still up in the air, believe it or not, so I'm going to go in there and see what's going on. We hope to get them back on the field. As of now, we're not sure. It could be later tomorrow afternoon, so things could change. We're hoping that they do come back tomorrow."
(on how he makes adjustments for the players that haven't been on the field yet) "Every day is different. Every practice we sit down there and talk about what we've got to get done. The bottom line, at some point here in the next four or five days, we've got to have the football team all in the same position physically, so there will be some things to work through right there, but I just hope we get them back out here. We can figure that out. We can bring them along a little bit slower than these guys, but we've got to get them all to the same point here pretty quickly."
(on which players are holding the team back the most by having to sit out) "None of them are losing ground. They're all key players. They're all guys that have been very big contributors to this football team and in battles for jobs obviously. I feel bad for them. They're upset. They want to practice. They want to play, but there's nothing we can do. They've been sitting here trying to learn everything they can learn and when we turn them loose, I'm sure they'll be eager to get going. I've got to be smart with them too and know that these guys are now four days ahead of them."
(on the transition with the new defense) "Well the new pieces haven't practiced yet, but the teaching and everything we're doing is going fine and hopefully we'll get the two new pieces out here as quickly as possible."
Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach Bill Kollar
(on if any player has surprised him in training camp) "I'd say Earl Mitchell has looked real good, even though it's the first day in pads, but he's been a pretty good surprise. As a rookie and for his first time, J.J. (Watt) has been doing a pretty good job also."
(on if the 3-4 defense is a better fit for DE Antonio Smith) "When he played in Arizona he was really in a 3-4 defense and he played more inside than he did outside. He wasn't really a true defensive end, so really this move for him really ends up helping him out. I think more than ever he's going to be a productive player even though he's been a productive force in the past two years. I think he'll be even better for us this year."
(on how his defensive line meetings are different) "It turns out to be the same, it's just different because like you said, we have three guys instead of four guys like last night when we went to our nickel defense and all the outside linebackers came in, Mario (Williams), (Connor) Barwin and all those guys were back in and we had about a 20-minute meeting for the nickel but, really it doesn't change much."
(on if DE Tim Bulman and OLB Jesse Nading will be a fit in the 3-4 defense) "Oh yeah, I see it. Jesse Nading is playing outside linebacker, so he's with the outside linebackers but (Tim) Bulman is a real good player and he gives good effort. Again, in this defense we told him to put a little bit of weight on to help him out and stuff and we've got Damione Lewis, you know, guys who have played. Damione can play all three spots and we're going to play Bulman at either end, so I think really both of those guys are going to end up being pretty productive in the defense."
WR Andre Johnson
(on the heat at practice) "Just approach it, just do what you have to do while you're out there. You can't really worry about it. Just go out and practice hard. They have the things that you need, the ice towels and stuff like that. After you take your reps or whatever, come in, come back and get your ice towel or something and cool off for a few minutes, then go back at it."
(on this being the hottest training camp) "It definitely has you in shape. Like I said, we all know that it's hot out there but at the same time we have to deal with it. We're here in Texas. Guys don't really like being inside. We don't like being on the turf so we'll deal with the heat outside."
QB Matt Leinart
(on what it takes to win individual games and a championship) "A lot goes into winning a championship; preparation. That's what we all strive to do as a team. As a quarterback, it's just week in and week out, leading your team and being prepared, making right decisions and putting your team in the best chance to win games. Obviously, it's hard to get to the Super Bowl. It takes a little bit of luck, it takes timing, it takes everything to get there. Few have done it and it's what we all strive to do. We all strive to be Super Bowl winning quarterbacks, teams, whatever. That's the number one goal for every team."
(on what he can learn without being on the field) "It's huge. It's frustrating that we want to get out there and especially myself to get the reps. Fortunately, I was here last year and was able to learn the offense. Everything's coming a lot easier to me now. I think I'll be ready to go when this thing gets all settled and I can get out there and practice and just move around. I just want to play. I'm anxious, but it's been important for me to just stay focused, which I've done, and study, take mental reps with both other quarterbacks every play and just be prepared when I get to practice."
(on the positives from last year) "I felt last year was kind of a bizarre year for me. Coming here, it was great for me. It built my confidence back up and I really love this offense. I felt like just with the mental reps last year, like this is an offense I feel like I can be successful in given an opportunity to play in it. This offseason I wasn't sure what was going to happen if I was going to be back or somewhere else, but the way things kind of happened, I figured what was best for me was to be a Texan again and to keep learning and getting better as a quarterback. I'm still young and obviously my goal is always to be a starter and play, but things happen, I'm here and I'm excited about it. I'm excited the coaches believe in me. They believe that if anything were to happen to No. 8 (Matt Schaub), I could come in there and run the offense."
FS Danieal Manning
(on waiting to start practice) "We'll get out there when the time is right. I can't wait to get out there though and get some of this rust off me."
(on if he's heard anything about when he can practice) "I really don't know. Right now I'm just doing what they asked us to and just try to get me some work outs in whenever I can, wherever I can. I can't do anything here, not at all. I can't do anything here."
(on sticking next to Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips to learn the defense) "Doing that, looking at Wade (Phillips), it's a little different because we're in the classroom all the time, we're on the field, of course they're practicing, and we're trying to see exactly what we want to do. It's a new defense. We don't have a lot on these guys with this defense so we try to watch film of practice. That could be a little hard sometimes. It's just different getting in here trying to get that done. It's a whole new defense."
(on what he's watching on film) "We'll watch a few Dallas (Cowboys) tapes and things like that, but for the most part once we get the scheme in, it's pretty much the same thing we just have to know how to make our adjustments."
(on if Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips has told him which spot he is playing at) "Well right now it's been free safety. I think the safeties here are interchangeable. We can run one coverage one way and another coverage another way."
OLB Brooks Reed
(on what is easiest for him in the 3-4 defense) "Just the rushing part, rushing the QB. We got a few packages there, we've got a 4-3 (defense) look and 3-4 so I've got to know both and there are lots of different coverages, but I like pass rushing. That's my strength and those are the sets I like."
(on the attention to detail he has to pay to all the different sets) "There's all kinds of different nuances of every little call that you will see in the playbook that you have to pick up every day and make sure you're listening and watching when you're on the sideline watching your guy do it and that's the only way you're going to get it."
WR Kevin Walter
(on QB T.J. Yates) "Not just T.J. (Yates) but the whole rookie class coming in, without going through OTAs, they know how to line up and they know what to do. It's impressive, very impressive."
(on how much the veterans needed OTAs and minicamp) "OTAs are good though, we were still working out, a lot of guys were working out at Rice and still continuing to run our routes and stuff. We were still doing the same stuff we would be doing in OTAs but missing OTAs hurt. It hurt some guys coming trying to learn the system, it hurt guys who want improve and keep working hard and it hurt trying to install our new defense. Overall, we're playing catch-up right now and I think we're doing a good job."
(on the new defense and the differences he sees in it) "There's a lot of playmakers on that side of the ball, I tell you what. Those new guys we're bringing in are going to make plays and defend. It's going to be exciting to watch. So far these past few days going against them, they've done some great things and it's going to be fun to watch them."
(on who takes over as the locker room comedian) "I can tell you that, that's easy. That's Jacoby (Jones). Jacoby still plays that role. Jacoby is still going to be the comedian; he's still out there dancing this morning, so I'd say Jacoby for sure."
(on CB Johnathan Joseph) "I've played against (Johnathan) Joseph for years. He's a great talent. I'm glad we have him on our team. He's going to be a big help. He's going to continue to work hard and he's going to make me better, he's going to make me work. We've got a lot of good corners here, we've got a lot of playmakers."