The Texans practiced Wednesday at the Methodist Training Center and after, head coach Gary Kubiak, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, receiver Andre Johnson and some more players answered questions from the media. Also, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin and quarterback Ryan Tannehill took part in a conference call with the Houston media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakOffensive Coordinator Rick DennisonLT Duane BrownRG Antoine CaldwellWR Trindon HollidayWR Andre JohnsonRT Derek NewtonQB Matt SchaubWR Kevin WalterDE J.J. Watt
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on health concerns) "We're full-force today, back to work. (Bryan) Braman is still not practicing. He's coming off a hamstring (injury). He'll be touch-and-go here going into the weekend. But other than that, everybody's out there ."
(on how WR Andre Johnson is doing) "He looks good, he looks really good. He's back to his full load at practice. Obviously, I'm going to play all four of those guys in the game. We'll continue to do that. I think that's best for Andre (Johnson) and for the guys, for the team as a whole. He's back to his normal self as far as work habits. He actually stayed out there a little longer today, him and Matt (Schaub) to work on a couple things. That's the guy I know, so he's back at it."
(on the status of NT Shaun Cody) "He's fine. He took all his practice today. Tomorrow is our pads day, so that's another big test for him to pass, but he's been fine and all signs are that he'll be ready to go."
(on how he thinks the right side of his offensive line is doing) "We had a good camp. They're ready to go. (RT Derek) Newton, this is his first start as a pro. That's a pretty big deal for him and for our team. (RG Antoine) Caldwell has started a lot of games. As I told ya'll along, we're going to be different. What this group is going to be, how good it's going to be, we're going to find out. But they've had a good five weeks together and it's time for them to start putting some good game weeks together. It's a big, big test. I think getting (T) Ryan Harris has been a big positive for our team. I think he's shown some really good stuff in the few days he's been here and I'm excited about him helping out this team also."
(on if he has talked to his team about taking it one game at a time) "My message always to our guys, and they know this, if we play good, then we can beat anybody. If we don't play good, then you're going to get beat in this league. This week will be no different. We've got some many things to focus on. Like I said, (RT Derek) Newton's getting his first start; got a young receiving corps, trying to get these guys ready to play. We got a fullback that's been with us two, three days, who we're trying to teach. We've got three defensive starters that really had no preseason. We've got plenty of reasons to worry about the Texans, so I'm focused on that and getting those guys ready to play and focused on our brand of football, regardless of who we play."
(on if he's concerned about the replacement officials) "No. First off, we've got a group that we had before, so at least I'll know them. I'll see them for the second time. I think they're working hard, doing a good job, the best job for them to get going so quickly. We can't focus on that. We got to stay focused on that and how we play, playing clean and penalty-free. Those type of things are a key to us winning, so regardless of who's out there doing it, we've got to handle our job. "
(on what Texans game Sunday's officials had during the preseason) "Did we have them against San Francisco or New Orleans? I know we've had him before and talked to him before so I'm not quite sure."
(on staying focused on the big picture) "I think I'm that way all the time. I try to stay focused on what's going on right now, trying to have a good Wednesday today. We've got a really hot week this week here in Houston. So I've got to get this team to the right point on Sunday, so I'm focused on those things. I think our guys just do a really good job of knowing what it takes for our team to be successful and win. Today was a step in the right direction toward getting that done. We were very focused in our practice."
(on how the team's approach has changed from five or six years ago) "I think I have a big group now that knows what it's all about instead of eight or 10 guys. I think we've got a pretty big group of guys that know what it takes to be successful, what makes our team tick. So I think we're much more advanced from that standpoint. Obviously, we've got some new faces that have to come onboard with that but I think we have the leadership to do that."
(on if he'll have to bring DE J.J. Watt along slowly at the beginning of the year because of his elbow injury) "Well, I don't want to say a play count, but there's no reason for him to go out there and play 70 plays. I think we know that. That's on me and (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) and (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line) Bill (Kollar) to make sure. But watching practice, he's been excellent. I watched one-on-ones today, he was excellent. He looks like J.J. I know he's going to be battling us to take every play but I think it's smart of us to make sure that we bring him along the right way."
(on how fortunate he feels that there weren't many major injuries in training camp) "Other than (RT Rashad) Butler, we're really ready to go. We've had some guys miss time but as we've said all along, we knew we were getting them back. That's the hard part, I mean, you've got to have camp. You've got to have a good camp to get ready to play in this league. Unfortunately, sometimes guys get nicked up but maybe this year we'll be a little lucky, be able to avoid that."
(on if he'll have some of the same restriction on ILB Brian Cushing and NT Shaun Cody like those on DE J.J. Watt) "Well they're a little different; they did play some in the preseason, so I would say they're a little further ahead from that standpoint. We're going to rotate (NT) Shaun (Cody) anyway. (NT) Earl (Mitchell) has had a great preseason. (ILB) Mister (Alexander) has had a great preseason; he'll have to spell Cush some. I think we're going to play a lot of people, regardless. This is the week where every team goes past a point they haven't been to yet, as far as how many plays you play and the first team and that type of thing. We're going to rotate players. We're going to keep fresh guys on the field. We've got confidence in all of them."
(on how he prepares with the Dolphins having a new coaching staff) "We've got to look at their preseason. We know what they're trying to get done. They're a hurry-up offense and stay on the line of scrimmage. It's going to test you, test your conditioning, test you mentally with what's going on. Defensively, they're a lot like Cincinnati. Their coordinator came from the Bengals, so a lot like them. They throw a lot of stuff at you. Special teams; they kept their same coach and they were very good last year on special teams. I think they were in the top five in the league. I mean, you kind of have an idea but it's opening day and there's always some surprises. "
(on his impressions of Miami rookie QB Ryan Tannehill) "I'm very impressed. I went into the draft thinking he's a franchise player. I told (Executive Vice President and General Manager) Rick (Smith) that before the draft. I expected him to get where he's at right now and I know he's getting coached extremely well. He's scares the heck out of you because he can move around and make plays off-schedule and the last time he was in this building he made quite a few. I've got a lot of respect for him."
(on if it is more important to pressure a quarterback when you're going against a rookie quarterback) "I think it's the same every week. It depends on what you think you have to do to win. (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) will get a feel for the game and what's going on and do what he thinks puts us in the best position to be successful. But it always starts with making him get rid of the ball. Obviously, noise can help us out a lot this week. We need everybody to be loud because they're a line-of-scrimmage team, so that can really help us out."
(on his relationship with Miami Offensive Coordinator Mike Sherman) "Well, I have tremendous respect with him. He worked with me. I've worked with him, he's worked with me; however you want to look at that. We were in college together, in pro football together. A great person. Hell of a football coach. Thought he did a great job at (Texas) A&M. Those guys there, those young players, especially (QB Ryan) Tannehill, don't realize how lucky they are to have somebody like that running their offense. Sherm (Mike Sherman) and I text quite a bit. I get a lot of laughs from him. Haven't had any here in the last four or five days. I look forward to seeing him."
(on if he is concerned with K Shayne Graham on kickoffs) "Well, I think he's been pretty consistent. He's been around two or three yards deep every time. We're more concerned with it being up there. If we can get it two or three yards deep and we've got good height on it, we ought to be able to cover. In the league nowadays, people are lining their guy up seven yards deep and bringing it out anyway. So unless you can kick it totally out of the end zone, you're probably going to have to cover. That's the way we do it kickoff-wise, our kickoff return and we expect most people are doing it the same way."
(on how important it is to the team to have WR Andre Johnson) "Well, he's huge to the team. But the first thing I would say is that it's big to him. That's what I've seen. With what he's been through, you've only got so many in you and I know how hard he's worked to help this organization be successful, how hard he's worked to be a great player, and I think all of us, coaches, players, are all rooting for him to stay in one piece. Because if he does, he's going to play great. That's just the way he is. Obviously, he's huge to our team but it's very important to him and we're right there with him."
(on if he's comfortable with where his defense is coming out of the preseason) "I think we have some things to find out about our team, not just defensively. Some of the things I've talked about today and obviously Cush (ILB Brian Cushing), (NT) Shaun (Cody) and (DE) J.J. (Watt) had not been out there as part of the group. We got great work today together. We got some extra work on Monday. So I think we're going to start to find out and that's the way this league is week-to-week. You've got to grow as a team, so we'll find out where we're at Sunday and go from there. Just glad to have him back."
Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison
(on the right side of the offensive line) "You know the more they practice and play together, the better off they're going to be. Obviously they're both on the upswing. That's what we see. They're both improving, and they keep better together. I think that's the biggest part. They just keep trying to gel and working with Chris (Myers) and obviously the left side, all five kind of work together.
(on T Ryan Harris) "I remember Ryan from when I had him in Denver and just watching him move around he's moving well. I know he's had some injuries in the past but it looks like he's moving around. He understands the language. There are a few things that we do a little bit different here that he has done in the past. But I'm impressed with how he came in."
(on what he liked about T Ryan Harris in Denver) "Well he's an athletic kid. He's a smart kid. He's a very aggressive kid so it fits in really what we're trying to build here similar to what we tried to do in Denver, have athletic guys that know what they're doing and they're aggressive and can do the things that we need to do in the zone scheme and do all our movement plays and our play pass plays. Ryan kind of fits exactly with what we tried to build there."
(on the keys to scoring on opening drives) "I think it's tempo, being ready. We try to prepare our guys to what we're going to call early in the game and just impress on them or make them understand the tempo that we want to get up and down, get ready to go, and really set the tempo of the game. We try to follow that through the entire game. Obviously the defense makes adjustments and we try to make adjustments off of that. Early on it's tempo. It's setting the pace."
(on the progress of backups) "Well I think they've made improvements. It's a big leap from college to professional level. Each position's got its own tests. When they go in the offensive line, it's no different. It's hard up front because of the speed of guys when you get to this level and both of them made some strides. We tried to move Ben (Jones) around a little bit last game and see him inside at guard also. Each has met the challenge I think and they're taking their strides and working towards their end goal which is to get them out on the football as much as we can."
(on if C Ben Jones could play guard in a game) "Well we're hoping to see. That's what we're trying to work towards."
(on the NFL's head injury research) "Well having played the game I think it's important and I know some guys that have had some problems with that. So I think it's important. The more research and the more study that they can do on those kinds of things, I think the better off not only for the guys that have played but for those that are coming up. I think even youth football, being a parent; I think it's important that the kids are taught the right way so that no injuries occur. Fortunately for me, my two older ones have made it through and done well. I got another one working towards that end hopefully."
(on FB Tyler Clutts' role this week) "Well that's another thing that we're trying to see during the week. The guy has athletic ability. He has good hands. We saw him play through last year with Chicago and do some of things that we need to do. Now it's just a matter of, what's the learning curve? How fast can he get to where we need him to get to do the things that we need to do? Obviously we feel very good about James (Casey). It's just having another guy and that kind of body on the field not only on ours but obviously special teams is a bigger guy that can run well."
(on the possible plans for FB James Casey) "Well I don't know what the ultimate is. We're just going to see what happens. If I told you that then I'd let the cat out of the bag. I think James (Casey) does a great job with whatever we ask him to do and he will continue to do that. It's just another chance to be versatile and use different assets if you will just like we use different wide receivers with two tight ends. It's just a different vehicle to get things done on offense."
(on if RB Arian Foster can take a next step) "I think he can. I think Arian is a tremendous talent. He catches the ball very well out of the backfield. I think he can take even more strides doing that just because we give him more chances. With the guys we have, we just try to tell the quarterback to get the guy that's open and distribute the ball. Not only running the ball, Arian's done a great job doing that. Each day we tell him look here's your read, here's your cut do what you need to do. He gets better every day. The guy really works hard at it and I think that's the key not only does he have talent but he spends the time working at it."
(on WR Keshawn Martin playing Sunday) "Obviously the more speed you have on the field the better off you are. You stretch the defense and you make it harder to play any one guy one on one or to double one. It makes the defense have to think so maybe they have to zone us up. I don't know what their adjustment is. That's the whole thing of trying to set the tempo and changing up personnels, changing up schemes; you make the defense adjust to you as opposed to adjusting to them."
LT Duane Brown
(on catching defenses off guard by starting games fast last season) "I think we came out with a certain energy level and a certain tempo. That's how we try to start every game off, with the right tempo. If you come out with a lull, you can be in for a long first quarter for first half, so we're just trying to come off with the right tempo and get it started off right."
(on whether the team pays attention to people calling them favorites against the Dolphins) "Not at all. You can't sleep on any team in this league. You can't look at what you've done against any team in the past. You've got to take every game one game at a time and respect every opponent you have. We know we're not going to play a perfect game, but we're just trying to come out and execute. We're not so much worried about what they're going to do, but how we can produce."
(on how good the Texans offense can be this year) "I think the sky's the limit. I think we have all the potential in the world to be a great offense. Like I said, it's just about executing. You're not just going to show up out there and have a lot of yards and a lot of touchdowns; you've got to execute the plays that they call and you've got to sit them down up front, and the quarterback, running back and receivers have to do their thing."
(on what the Texans offense has to prove in the season opener) "Get our run game going. That's something that we have yet to do throughout the preseason. I think (QB) Matt (Schaub) has done a good job of getting the ball downfield, but us up front, we have to establish the run. I think there's no better time than now to do that and set the tempo for the rest of the season."
(on people questioning the Texans' ability to run the ball as effectively with two new starters on the offensive line) "Absolutely. I think the two new guys we have penciled in over there – (RG) Antoine Caldwell has a lot of experience, he played a lot of football blocking for both (RB) Ben (Tate) and (RB) Arian (Foster); and I think (RT) Derek Newton has really progressed well. I think he's only going to keep going up as the year goes on, and I think his biggest asset is his run blocking. So I think we're going to do well in the run game."
(on what this week's game means to QB Matt Schaub after missing the last six games and the playoffs last season) "I think it means a lot to him. Just seeing him work in the preseason and seeing how excited he was to get on the field in the preseason, stepping out Week 1 at home I think will mean the world to him. I'm expecting a big game from him. I'm expecting a big season from him, and it's our job up front to keep him upright and let him do his thing up there."
(on WR Andre Johnson) "I think he'll be fine. He's looked pretty good in practice. You're not going to get much out of him if you ask him how he's doing, so you've just got to go off what you see in practice, and he looks pretty good, so I think he'll be fine."
RG Antoine Caldwell
(on how he feels playing with RT Derek Newton) "I feel good. I feel confident. I think we both had a good preseason; obviously we're still improving on a lot of things. The chemistry seems like it's real good and obviously I think repetition is what's really going to progress us forward."
(on what it means to him to be a starter on Opening Day) "It means a lot. You've been working hard for a long time to get here. It's definitely a great opportunity for me and Derek (Newton) and we're just going to go out there and try to make the most of it."
(on the value of his starting experience) "That's huge. I think there's no experience like game experience. No matter what you do on the practice field, you can't really simulate game speed. So I think me playing in some games has definitely helped me. But each year is a new year and me and Derek (Newton) are definitely looking forward to it."
(on the Miami defense) "Well they do a lot of things and they do a lot of things very well. Their front four I think is definitely the key to their team. They've got a lot of good young players up front too. We just got to focus on us though, just do go out there and do what we do. We like to do a lot of things as well so we're just going to go out there and focus on us."
WR Trindon Holliday
(on playing in Sunday's game) "Like I said it's a dream come true, it's something that I've been working on for a long time."
(on if it's hard to believe it's here) "It's kind of hard to believe it's here. I've just been soaking it all in."
(on everything riding on him during games) "There's a lot riding on me. It's a big part of the team. Special teams are a big part of the team so you just have to be focused and come out and do your best."
(on what he expects from the opposition) "Yeah, they've seen what I did this preseason so I'm kind of thinking they're going to start kicking the ball away from me so I'm just going to be prepared for that."
(on not getting overanxious) "Not to get overanxious, it'd be good for the team and give us better field position."
WR Andre Johnson
(on how he feels physically and if he's ready for Sunday) "I'm fine. I'm having no problems so I'm ready to go."
(on what they need to prove offensively in the first game) "We just have to go out and execute our offense. That's pretty much it. I don't feel like we have to do anything special. I think if we go out and play the way we know how to play, we'll be fine."
(on his level of excitement for the first game) "I think the older you get, the more ready you are to play games, just ready to hurry up and get the preseason games over with. You pretty much know what to expect. This is my 10th season, so you just want to get training camp out of the way. The real games are finally here. I'm excited about it and I'll be ready to go on Sunday."
(on if this is the most exciting game since it's the current game) "It's just a new beginning of a new season. We have different goals, different expectations. It starts on Sunday and our goal is to go out and winning game one."
(on how you keep from looking too far ahead with the expectations) "You can't look too far ahead because you have to take care of what's in front of you before you can get to what's ahead, especially in this game because if you can't win, you can't get to where you want to go. We have to take care of what we have to take care of first."
(on if he thinks about the big picture in the offseason) "It's something you think about, but that's all hearsay. You have to go out and win games. That's the only way you can get to where you want to go."
(on if his thoughts and expectations are a lot different than they were five years ago) "Yeah, I think about it differently now. I think everybody thinks differently about us. It wasn't like that when I first got here. It's not just the team, it's everybody."
(on if there is added significance playing the Miami Dolphins) "Not really. That was my hometown team. I grew up a huge Dolphins fan. I think you guys know that from me talking about it every time we play against them. I grew up right around the stadium. I was drafted a Texan and I'm a Texan now. I have a lot of family members and friends that still root for the Dolphins. Every time I go home, I go in the barber shop, and the guy who owns the barber shop where I get my hair cut is a huge Dolphins fan, so we talk a little smack here and there. It's all fun."
(on what he remembers about his first career game which also was against the Dolphins) "Just being comfortable. I think the biggest thing was I was comfortable because I was at home. I wasn't real nervous. I just felt like I was at home. I think that was the biggest thing and I think that's why I was able to go out and make plays and play the way I play. I was just comfortable."
(on if there is a sense of urgency to accomplish certain goals before he leaves this game) "The window is not as big as it used to be. As time goes on, you definitely feel a sense of urgency, but it's nothing you can rush. You just have to take care of the task at hand. I would love to win a Super Bowl before I hang up my cleats, but you know, it's not going to just take me. It's going to take everybody in that locker room to get it done. We all have the same goal in mind and we're going to do our best to try and accomplish it."
(on how they manage the higher expectations) "You just can't get caught up in what people say. I'm pretty sure people are saying that we should go out and win on Sunday. When I think about this game, I think about my rookie year, when we went down there and played them and everybody was saying they were going to win the Super Bowl. We didn't have a chance. One article said it was going to be like a scrimmage game. We went out and beat them and they didn't make the playoffs that year. So that's what I think about when I think about this week alone. We are in the same position they were in when I was a rookie. You can't overlook anybody in this league. I know that and we know that as a team. We're going to go out there and play the way we know how to play. That's basically it. We can't get caught up in what people are saying or who they expect to win or whatever. You have to go out and play the game."
(on if it bothers him that people may hint that he's old or injury-prone) "I don't really get caught up in that. I said that coming into camp, that everybody is saying that I'm old and I probably can't play anymore and that I'm injury-prone. Things happen. That was out of my control. I can't control that. I can't control what happens. I think, as players, if we could control that, there wouldn't be any injuries. It happens and I move on from it. When I'm out on the field, as you see in preseason when I was able to play, I went out and made plays. People can say what they want. I really don't care."
(on how good the offense can be with everyone healthy) "I think we can be great. Like I said, it's just going out and executing our offense to the way we know how. Me, Matt (Schaub) and Arian (Foster) are a big part of what we do. It's great to have us all out on the field finally together and for everyone to be healthy."
T Derek Newton
(on starting his first regular season game) "It's exciting. I'm just ready to come out and play. I've just been talking with (Antoine) Caldwell about how to go about playing the first game, starting. He just told me to go out there and have fun. We've just been working hard together in practice, and we'll continue to get better every day."
(on not getting overwhelmed) "Yeah, I'm not going to let it worry me. I'm just going to take it one play at a time and we're going to have a good game on Sunday."
(on taking it all in on Sunday) "Yeah I'm going to take it in, but once I get to the stadium I'm going to put it behind me and get ready for the game."
(on his chemistry with RG Antoine Caldwell) "It's been great working with him. We're going to continue to make that chemistry even stronger. Every day in practice we're talking about how we're going to do different things on the field and we're going to put it together on Sunday."
(on having butterflies before the game) "Yeah I am. I'm not going to even lie to you, but after that first play I'm going to be good."
(on if it's hard to believe he's here now) "Yeah it is. It's still a shock to me, but over the last few days I've been thinking about it and it's kind of been a great moment for me. I talked to my this week and last week when they came. It was great. So it's time for me to step up now."
(on Miami defenders reminding him he's a rookie) "I'm not worrying about that. Like I said, after the first play I'm going to be ready to go."
(on Miami's defense) "They've got a great defensive front. Just got to keep working hard every day in practice to get better and I'm going to be ready once Sunday hits."
QB Matt Schaub
(on the right side of the offensive line) "They're ready. They've been working extremely hard those two guys. We're excited to get ready for the first game. I know they're excited and amped up and practiced really well. So it's going to be fun to watch them for a full 60 minutes."
(on Miami's defense) "They're a physical group. Their front is extremely physical, very active. Their secondary, there is a lot of experience back there especially on the corner. We're going to have to come out and be ready for a lot of different looks, a lot of different blitz packages and just be ready to go and be able to adjust on the fly in game."
(on if he has to tone down pre-game hype in the locker room) "I don't even think guys are aware of that. Our focus is just on us. If we just prepare and play our style of football, play good football, clean football, we're going to like where we are at. We just have to go out, play mistake free and understand that in this league there is a ton of talent everywhere. If you're not ready to play on Sunday, anybody can win. We just got to focus on our side of the ball and get ready to play."
(on if dealing with the expectations and Super Bowl talk this offseason has been a challenge) "No it hasn't just because we have the right guys in this locker room, the right leadership. The coaching staff has really made sure to just keep our focus on the next at hand. Whether it be throughout training camp, the next practice, the next play, next preseason game to get ourselves as best we can be ready week one. I think we're there. No one once training camp hit has any focus down the road. We know it's one game at a time."
(on playing in his first regular season game since last November) "I'm excited to go. I'm ready, as is everyone in our locker room. So we're just excited to get this thing started."
(on the importance of a strong start) "To get things started the right way to get to 1-0, it sets the tone for the season and just shows everyone that you're ready to get something special going. I think we're there. The focus is to go 1-0. At the end of this week half the league is going to be 1-0, half is going to be 0-1but to get to that 1-0, it sets things on the right foot."
(on if he trusts the replacement officials) "You got to. We're just worried about getting ourselves ready to play. All we can control is what we can control. We can't worry about what the officials are doing. Whatever happens, it happens."
(on the young wide receivers) "Those guys worked extremely hard. We got a lot of young guys in that group, a lot of guys that haven't caught a regular season pass in this league. They've shown everyone on our team that they're ready to play. They've improved so much through a lot of reps this training camp and in the preseason. They're going to play huge for us. With Andre (Johnson) and Kevin (Walter) taking the bulk of things and Keshawn (Martin), Lestar (Jean), and DeVier (Posey), they're going to play a huge role for us. We're excited to see them in live game action as well as our tight ends. Garrett's (Graham) really come on and stepped up in a big way. We're excited."
(on WR Kevin Walter) "I think Kevin's one of the most underrated guys that we've got. He's the mister do everything. He's always in the right spot, does everything a thousand miles an hour. He does so much for us in the run game. In the pass game, if you put it in a spot, he's going to go make the play for you. He's going to make you look good as a quarterback. I've got a ton of confidence in him. We know what he brings to the table. It's just good to see the young guys step up and play a role because we needed to see what they were going to do. We know what Kevin can do for our offense, but through training camp we needed to see what those other guys could do to help us out. But Kevin's going to show up on Sunday."
(on if he's talked with WR Andre Johnson about how excited they are to play Sunday) "We've talked about it especially over the last week and a half, two weeks not so much the past couple days. We're both excited and ready to go. We know what's at stake for our team. We're looking forward to it."
(on talk that the Texans could have reached the Super Bowl last year if he was healthy) "I have even thought anything about it. It's been about getting myself healthy this offseason, ready to go for 2012 and through camp just to get myself to where I know I'm ready to play. That's where I am right now. We're just focused on what's ahead not what has happened in the past."
(on success scoring on opening drives) "I think it's just being ready to play. I think just being on top of our script that we have laid out at beginning of games and just executing at a high level. I think all the guys knowing what their assignments are if there are certain adjustments to the defensive looks and just executing, keeping our third downs manageable and then converting those. When we get in red zone, being able to score points off that, I think that really sets the tone for the game especially when you can have a long 9-10 drive to start the game off. You really set the tempo for the game."
(on the red zone offense) "I think we've gotten a lot better at that. Especially last year early in the year, I think we were struggling in that area. I had a lot of possessions down there, but we weren't necessarily scoring at the rate we would have liked, kicking a lot of field goals. As the year went on, we got better in that area. I think this year in the preseason it was the same way. We really progressed a lot and really focused on what we need to do to be better."
(on if he feels like the offense has anything to prove) "Yeah I think anytime you go out there and you're playing in this league, you have something to prove. Whether you're a first, second year player or you're a 9-, 10-, 11-year vet, you have to go out and prove that you're capable of playing in this league and that you're going to play at a high level. I think we know that and we understand that. We do have a lot to prove that we're going to be out there and be a 30 point offense or whatever it is every year."
WR Kevin Walter
(on how he would describe the offense) "Explosive, we want to be known as a fast, physical, explosive football team not just on offense but special teams and defense. That's what I think we have."
(on being one of the more experience receivers) "No doubt, I'm the old grizzled vet, for sure. But I'm going to go out there play my role on this team and go out there and make plays and do my job. Everyone has a niche on their team. I'm just glad to be a part of it."
(on if he feels like the forgotten receiver) "No, maybe you guys think that, but I don't feel like I'm forgotten guy, no. I'm out there making plays in practice. You just got to be patient in the game. That's what it's all about but you better be ready to make a play."
(on being favorites this weekend) "You don't pay attention to that, no. You have to worry about your own job. You have to worry about your own team. You take care of business on the field and prepare like a pro it'll take care of itself. That's the way we approach things."
(on this game setting the tone for the season) "Absolutely, this is the first game at home. It's exciting, very exciting year. We're looking forward to it. Sunday can't come fast enough."
(on him flying under the radar) "I've been flying under the radar my whole life. That doesn't bother me one bit. You can probably ask me that next year, too. I'm out there just trying to get better each year, just trying to help this team win football games."
(on what they have to prove on Sunday) "You got to go out there and I think the preseason we had a few turnovers. We don't want to turn the ball over. We just got to go out there on third down and execute and score a lot of points. That's our plan."
DE J.J. Watt
(on getting the defense completely healthy) "It feels good. It feels good to have the defense at full strength, have the guys you're familiar with, the guys you're used to. We all know each other so well it's fun and the defense really gels well."
(on Miami's offense) "They have a good running game. First and foremost, we always want to stop the running game. So they have two very good running backs. We kind of want to put the ball in their rookie's hands and make him make some plays. So stop the run game and then get after the passer."
(on facing a rookie quarterback) "You want to fluster him. You want to confuse him, put a lot of pressure on him, make him uncomfortable. It's his first game, and I know one thing that's going to make him very uncomfortable is our fans. Our fans are going to do a heck of a job getting loud, making his checks tough, making it tough to hear their audibles. So really excited to have him come into our environment and see what it's all about."
(on pressuring a rookie QB) "Absolutely. You want to hit him often and early. That's the goal. You want to hit any quarterback often and early, get him flustered, get him out of his groove so that's our goal."
(on if he had concerns with his elbow brace) "No. Our trainers gave them three different options. Three different companies, so I tested all those out. I'm really comfortable with the brace I'm with now. It really is literally no issue out there. I felt great."
(on playing with his brace) "It looks funny in pictures when I look at it. But when I'm out there I don't even notice it. It does kind of look like something you would see in a movie or something."
(on opposing lines adjusting to him this year) "I imagine there will probably be a couple more double teams. That's to be expected. I understand that. It's kind of a sign of respect so you appreciate it but it also brings a new challenge which I'm excited for. But like I've said before, if you want to double me, you're going to have to deal with a whole lot of other weapons around me. A lot of teams are going to want to double Connor (Barwin). A lot of teams are going to want to double team Brooks (Reed), double Antonio (Smith) so have fun with trying to figure that all out."
(on using Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillip's entire defensive scheme ) "Yeah most definitely, he kept it very simple in the preseason obviously, but we've opened it up. We're excited about it. We have a lot of good blitzes in there so it's going to be fun to see our defense fly around."
(on the defense's excitement) "It's very exciting. They're going to be throwing a lot of different things at a rookie quarterback. Guys coming from all over the place, it's going to be fun."
(on the importance of a strong start to the season) "You want to jump out of the gate quick. We're here at home. You want to come out running. We have a great football team here, high expectations obviously. We want to show the world what we're about early. We want to show our fans and the city that we're ready to play this year."
Miami Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin Conference Call (Transcribed by Miami Dolphins PR)
(on the Houston Texans' defense) "Well, obviously, Coach (Wade) Phillips arrived last year and I think where they went from 30th in the league to second in the league, so he had a huge impact on the defense. It's a very well-coached defense. They've got good players and they're well-cached. They play hard and they're not overly complicated. Sometimes, when you game plan times, sometimes the scheme gives you fits and sometimes just pure execution and good all-around football gives you fits, and I'd say the Texans fit into that category. They play hard. They play fast. They know the defense well. Obviously, Coach Phillips knows the adjustments and all those things, so he's had a huge impact there. They've played extremely well and it'll be a great challenge for us."
(on if there is one player that is the catalyst of the Texans defense or if they all feed off each other) "It looks like a good-team defense, good overall defense. I don't think you get to second in the league by featuring, highlighting one specific guy. I think they have good players really at every level of the defense. Certainly, they've had guys, J.J. Watt obviously came in and had an impact. (Brian) Cushing's been an impact player. Their edge guys are good football players and they've got good players in the backend in the secondary as well. It's an impressive group to watch on film. They can mix and match their coverages pretty well. They certainly aren't afraid to play man-to-man, but they're good in zone as well. Sometimes, you line up and play against a team and they're only good in man-to-man and not very good in zone or vice-versa, but these guys have, they've got versatility as a defense."
(on what it means to have offensive coordinator Mike Sherman with him as he goes through his first season as a head coach) "He's been a tremendous resource. Obviously, there's a high level of trust between he and I. He's obviously a very excellent offensive football coach. He's proven that at a number of different stops, both as an assistant and as a head coach. He's a fun guy to work with and be around, so I couldn't be happier that he's here with us in Miami."
(on if he watched all of the episodes of Hard Knocks) "I did not watch any of them."
(on if he's glad that he did Hard Knocks based on what he's heard about how the team was portrayed) "I have no regrets. Said goodbye to one of the guys from NFL Films today. I said to a number of different people – when they came and pitched the idea to us in May, I don't think NFL Films gets to their position on the food chain of sports-filmmaking without a lot of level of trust and professionalism. This is a first-class operation, NFL Films. They know what they're doing. They're extremely professional and, before we agreed to do it, I asked them that they treat our players with great respect and that they not compromise the relationship that our staff has with our players. That's really all the requirements that I had and they certainly fulfilled that. They're good people to work with."
(on not being happy during the Dallas Cowboys game and making sure that team isn't the same one that shows up against the Texans) "Well, it's a good question. The fun part about football is you've got to line up and play the games. If a coach at time appears frustrated, which certainly I think at halftime and the end of the game I was, the big difference for us and our program is we've got to show development and improvement from day-to-day, week-to-week, year-to-year. This is kind of a benchmark game for us. We've got to figure out when we play all our starters and another team plays all our starters, where are we? Where are we at? Obviously, the Houston Texans are a good football team in all three phases. This will give us a tremendous reference point as to where we are as a program."
(on the pitfalls of starting a rookie quarterback against the Texans defense) "It's going to be a challenge for Ryan (Tannehill). No doubt about it. We're going into a domed stadium. We had the crowd noise going. We've been practicing with it for a long time, but obviously the last couple days we've been cranking that up cause the communication is going to be a factor. It's a very talented defense from a physical standpoint. It's a very good defense schematically and so it's going to be incumbent on Ryan as well as the 10 other guys in the offensive huddle that we play well and we can't get behind in the chains or it's going to be a long afternoon for us. We've got to stay in normal down-and-distance so to speak and have some balance in the run and the pass. I think if we, if you overdo it one dimension with those guys, they're going to be hard to move the ball against."
(on if he's aware of how loud Reliant Stadium can be) "Again, all we can do is do the best we can to prepare these guys. They know they're going into a domed stadium. They know it's loud. They probably have more experience in it than I do. I was only there I believe in 2004. It's been a long time since I've coached a game in that stadium and I know the Texans are kind of rolling right now and I'm sure it's going to be loud. But again, we've got to execute. If we're on offense, we've got to block and we've got to run hard. We've got to catch the football and throw it accurately. If we do that, as you guys know, I've coached some games in some loud places, fans at times start out real loud, if you move the football and make a couple plays, sometimes you can take them out of the game a little bit, but that's the plan anyway."
(on how important the one-two punch of Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas are) "I think we have to have an effective running game. There's no question about it. I think we've got some talented runners that can give us an opportunity to make some yards on the ground and, just as we mentioned earlier in the conversation, we're playing a young quarterback, we've got a young offensive tackle starting his first game at right tackle in a loud place and we don't want to be taking five and seven-step drops all day. We do that, I think we're playing right into the hands of the Texans. So the ability to run the football on offense and, conversely, our ability to stop Houston's running game probably are two critical factors in the game."
(on what he likes about Ryan Tannehill) "I like his decision-making. If you watch the preseason film, there's not a lot of picture of him throwing the ball into triple coverage and double coverage and making really bad decisions. Certainly, we want him to be a hair more accurate as we move forward during the regular season, which we believe we will be. No. 1, I like his decision making. No. 2, I think he has enough velocity with his arm that he can make the throws we need to make in this offense, whether it's the 15-yard out breaking route, whether it's the seam balls down the middle of the film, whether it's throwing the ball on the move, which we think he does extremely well. We think he has a talented arm. The third thing is this guy's a football player. In college, he helped his football team at two positions. He knows the game. He studies the game. The other nice thing is when he comes off on the sideline, this guy can kind of tell you exactly what happened. It's not a mystery to him what just went on on the field. He might even tell you before you tell him that, 'Yes, coach, I should have read the out breaking route instead of reading the option route based on the coverage.' He knows what the coverages are. He's not surprised a whole lot on the field."
(on if he kept fullback Jorvorskie Lane) "Yes."
(on what he expects from Lane) "Well, he's made a lot of progress since the day he arrived. I think we signed him in either late May or early June and he's really developed. As you guys know, having been around him from his college days, he's a productive football player. I use the analogy, if you were a kid in eighth grade and you had a bunch of guys playing pickup football, Jorvorskie Lane would probably be your first pick because he's a football player. He has running skills. He can catch the football. He's got very good balance. He's hard to tackle and he also has enough power and athleticism that we think he can be a very good blocked in this league. He still has a way to go in that area, but he's shown a willingness to block and we think he has a nice future. "
(on how familiar he is with Texans head coach Gary Kubiak and the rest of the offensive staff) "I have great regard for them. As an offensive coach, we had some similarities. When I was in Green Bay, we used to study those guys on film and watch them on film. From a personal level, obviously Mike Sherman worked for Gary for two years. I got a chance to briefly meet him at the owners meeting, just a first-class individual and he's obviously done a great job there in Houston. I don't know him extremely well. I know Rick Dennison has been in the league for a long time and been a very productive coach. Chick Harris has been in the league for a long time and done an excellent job. It's a good staff. It's a really good staff and they've obviously done a great job. I know Bill Kollar, coached his son at Harvard when he was there. Bill's one of the best d-line coaches I think in the league. And Wade Phillips' reputation speaks for itself. So it's a very accomplished coaching staff."
(on if he had any apprehension about stuff that he heard appeared on Hard Knocks) "No, not at all. Somebody asked me at one point, 'Why did you talk to Chad Johnson in front of the cameras?' and we had released a young player by the name of Derrick Dennis from Temple a week before or something and I had sat down in my office and I had talked to him. So I felt like I was going to do it with every player that this is where I'd have every meeting and there was nothing to hide. We told the players, 'Look, we want to be honest and open in our communication.' We told them that on April 10th when we started the offseason program. Obviously, not everyone gets released on national television, but it's a fact of life and things happen. Coaches lose jobs. Players lose jobs and it happens in the real world as well. I didn't really hear nay backlash or anything of that sort."
Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill Conference Call (Transcribed by Miami Dolphins PR)
(on how excited he is to get this first start out of the way) "I'm really excited. It's been a goal of mine for a really long time to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, and this really, really kicks it off. I know we had a couple preseason games, but going into Week 1, we're really excited as a team. I'm really excited for the opportunity that I have. We have a tough opponent in Houston, but we've had a great week of practice so far, and I'm looking forward to the game."
(on what stands out defensively for Houston) "They play really hard. They play hard from the start of the game to the end of the game, and they trust their guys. You see a lot of man coverage and a lot of one-on-one matchups, and at the end of the day, everyone says that football comes down to your one-on-one matchups, and they really believe in theirs, and they're going to fight you hard 'til the end of the game."
(on coming back to Texas for his first regular season NFL start) "Yes, it's exciting. Anytime you get to come back home to your home state its good. I went back last week for the last preseason game against Dallas and now this week against Houston. It's always exciting to go back and see a few family members and things like that. To have my first start being in Texas is pretty exciting."
(on having good memories at Reliant Stadium) "Yes, the last time I was there was for the bowl game. It was actually my first time playing in the stadium. It's a great place to play."
(on preparing for Wade Phillip's defensive schemes) "They do a good job at what they do. They don't have as many exotic pressures and zone blitzes as you will see from other teams, but they're really good at what they do. They believe at what they do and they're crisp at it. So, it's not a situation where they have so much in that they're not good at it, or you're going to catch them at something that their not really comfortable with and do a whole lot. So they really trust, like I said earlier, in their players and they believe in their one-on-one matchups."
(on having Mike Sherman as his offensive coordinator making his transition to the NFL seamless) "Yes, it definitely has helped out. Anytime you can take learning a completely new playbook out of the equation, it definitely eases things up for me a little bit. I can focus on going out the and learning the details, be on the same page with my receivers, getting more comfortable with the defenses that I'm seeing and those types of things as opposed to just learning a playbook in general."
(on the first thing that jumped out at him when he started watching film of the Texans defense) "Like I said earlier, they play hard. They play hard and come at you. They bring a lot of five man pressures and are able to get pressure on the quarterback a lot of the time juts not bringing more than the team can block, but do a great job of using the guys that they put in the pass rush and getting pressure to the quarterback."
(on his excitement level as he begins his career and how he got to this point) "It's been a whirlwind. Going back from last season to preparing for the draft, breaking my foot, getting drafted here, going to the spring OTAs then minicamp and training camp. It's been a whirlwind, kind of nonstop, but I'm really excited in the position and the opportunity that I have, but now it's just about taking advantage of it. This is not the end of the road. It's just starting as I see it, and it's about going out every day, getting better, learning from each mistake you make and not making it again and just trying to become the best player you can be."
(on the pressure of trying to be the next great Miami quarterback since Dan Marino) "I don't think there's any more pressure than you would see on any NFL team. It's an NFL team, there's only 32 of them, there's only 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL, so every situation is going to have its certain pressures. So I don't look at it that way. It's an opportunity and a blessing to be here and I just try to handle what I can take care of day-to-day. I don't try to think of the things that have happened in the past or the things that can happen in the future. Just live in the present."
(on whether Dan Marino has reached out to him) "Yes. I've talked to him a little bit. He's a great guy and he was willing to help out in any way, so he's a great asset."
(on whether he has watched Hard Knocks and if so how he thinks the team came across) "I didn't watch all of the episodes. I saw a few of the episodes; parts of a few of the episodes. I think they did a great job of just being professional about it. They do a great job, NFL Films, and that's why they're one of the best in the industry. The professionalism that they have; yes they're always around filming everything but they try to stay out of the way as much as possible and not be distracting. Like I said, they're good at what they do."
(on what has been the hardest part of the transition to the NFL) "It's just a faster game. Obviously the guys are just a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger, a little bit faster. The game is played at a faster rate. I think that was the main adjustment that I had to make; getting adjusted to the speed of the game. I think I started that process in the spring and coming into training camp. I'm really comfortable now. I feel like I have a good handle on everything that's going on, and it helps when you have great guys around you and you get comfortable with those guys. Going through training camp, we're seeing a lot of different guys on our side of the ball, so to finally have our roster nailed down and working with the same guys play in and play out, it really helps to develop that chemistry where you're really on the same page."
(on whether he developed a relationship with Gary Kubiak while at Texas A&M) "I talked to him a few times; not extensively, but I talked to him a few times, and he was great. He respects me as a person, I respect him, and he's done a great job there."
(on whether he felt any extra pressure to win the starting quarterback job with Hard Knocks there) "No I don't think so. I think that they were going to film it either way. I just tried to go out there and focus on the things that I control. Did I make every throw perfectly? No, but you just have to learn from your mistakes and get better every day. Focus on the things that you can improve upon and not making the same mistake twice."
(on whether guys make fun of him for not knowing the NFL Divisions) "Really not too many guys on the team have messed with me. I don't know if they aired it or if they saw it when it aired, but you know I get a hard time from the QBs. Other than that it's not too bad."
(on if he can name the divisions now) "I still can't. Maybe it will be an offseason project when I have some time to play into it (laughing).