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TEAM Luncheon quotes


Head coach Gary Kubiak told fans at the Texans TEAM Luncheon that the players have been working this offseason like they are hungry for the playoffs.

The annual Texans TEAM Luncheon, presented by Amegy Bank of Texas, drew over 500 fans who got to meet the entire team and coaching staff.

Head coach Gary Kubiak rallied the crowd by talking about his high expectations for the 2008 season. Since he was hired, Kubiak has been striving to build a playoff team and he believes he is on the brink of something special this season.

Several players also took the podium, answering fans questions about their lives on and off the field.

All in all, the event proved to be a huge success with proceeds directly benefiting the Houston Texans Foundation and the Houston Texans YMCA.

Head coach Gary Kubiak

"I know it's been mentioned before, but our football team is missing a guy today. Of course, Harry (Williams) is not here. And it's tough for me to talk about after what we went through with him, but I'd like to just mention him to you because I want y'all to know what he meant to this football team.

"He's a great kid. He had come a long way. He started from nothing with our football team when he first got his chance. He found a way on the practice squad last year. Harry had made this team (this year). He was the best special teams player we had, by far. He was playing at a speed that wasn't even close to some of the other things that were going on, and our players know that. He's a special young man. Our players love him.

"It was very, very unfortunate what took place the other night, but very, very fortunate that he is going to be OK. It's going to be a long, lengthy process for him and his family as he recovers, but I just want y'all to know he's a special young man. I hope y'all get a chance to know him like our football players do, and I would ask you to keep him and his family in your prayers as he moves forward. Great kid.

"Alright, now on to the good stuff. It's time to get going. Obviously, this is my third year here at this luncheon, and it kind of signals to me that it's time to go play. We're, what, 11, 12 days away from going to Pittsburgh, competing against a great football team opening day, an organization that's been around a long, long time, so we have a tremendous challenge from that standpoint. Before we do that, we've got one more preseason game here on Thursday night against Tampa Bay. In this game, we're going to play a lot of young players.

{QUOTE}"We've got some hard, hard decisions to make as a football team and as a staff, and we're going to give these kids (the chance) to go out and help us make these decisions by how they play. At the same time, they deserve to play. I mean, they have paid the same price as every player has paid on our team over the course of the last six weeks, they just don't get the reps that the first players get. And they deserve a chance to go on that football field, and we're going to let them do that. So, I know they're very, very excited, they're looking for your support, and I can promise you that they're going to play hard.

"I'd also like to mention – I know we're going to introduce the coaching staff here in a minute – but I want to mention two new faces that we have on our coaching staff, and I think we all know who those two guys are. They're legends in the National Football League, whether they want to believe that or not. I'm talking about Alex Gibbs and Ray Rhodes. I'm so excited about them coming to be a part of our staff. I'll give you just a few statistics. In a nutshell, you're talking about two guys that have seven Super Bowl wins between them, 29 playoff games that they've been in between them and over 468 victories in the National Football League between them. And they could be fishing, they could be golfing, they could be sitting by the pool, but they chose to come here and fight this battle with us, and we as a bunch of coaches and players, we try to stand as close to them as we can because we're hoping that rubs off on what we're trying to do. But I really appreciate them coming here to be a part of our organization.

"Folks, our guys have been working. They've been working extremely hard. It's been a good camp, a very good camp. Training camp's a necessary evil. You've got to go through it to get ready to play; that's just part of it. And we've had a good one. We're working on a month now. It's been the best of the three years that I've been there. We've been fortunate; we've stayed pretty healthy. We've made a lot of progress as a football team. We're a better football team. The guys that have been a part of this football team, we're better, the core is better. That doesn't guarantee you anything, but I can promise you we've been doing the work to get where we need to go and to get ready to play this schedule, this challenge that we have as a football team in 2008.

"What's our goal? Y'all know what our goal is. We got started March 20, 2006, when I walked in the meeting room. And we all know where we started, and we all know where we're at right now, and there's been a lot of progress. But we're to the point now where there's only one goal every time this football team gets together, and that's to be a playoff team. That's our goal. And as a franchise, as a football team, that will always be our goal when we get together. We made improvement last year. We were 8-8; it's the best record in franchise history. That felt good at the end of the year, but it's still not good enough. And you don't have to look any further in this league, than if you can find a way in the playoffs, anything can happen. The team that won the Super Bowl last year won 10 football games. They were 10-6. So that will be our goal.

"Now, the thing I like about what's going on is that our football players and the people in our organization, that's our goal, and I can tell you that and I can go around town and talk about that and Bob (McNair) can do the same thing and Rick (Smith) can do the same thing, but talking about those things don't get it done. But the thing that I'm excited about is the people in the organization, the players and the coaches, know the work that has to be done for us to achieve that goal. I tell them all the time: We have to be willing as an organization to earn our respect over and over and over again, 'til we get to that point where we're thought of in that light.

"I tell them all the time, 'We have to be willing as an organization to earn our respect over and over and over again until we get to that point where we are thought of in that light.' And we're close; we're awful close. But that next hurdle, that next step will be the hardest step. But we know how to work to get there. Our players know how to work; our coaches know how to work. And that's what gets us a chance to get there in my mind, no doubt.

"I'm very proud to be a part of this group, a great group of players, very good football players, great young men. They handle themselves with a lot of class. We went down to New Orleans; we spent a week down there going against the Saints, and you would be so proud of our group and how we handled ourselves and went about our business down there. We've got a good group. We've got a good group.

"There are some things that happened. I look back last year and nothing jumps more at me than that we were a 6-2 football team at home. That's pretty good in the National Football League. I would like to see us be 8-0. We were a couple of plays away. We lost one game with 53 seconds on the clock where we probably could have had one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history. We lost another to the previous year's world champs where we were right there in the fourth quarter with two minutes left and had a chance to win.

"A lot of that credit goes to you - I want you to understand that – it goes to the fans. Our place has become a tough place to play. Reliant is a tough place to play. My goal is that someday they will say it's the toughest place to play in the National Football League. When you guys are loud and the way you support us, our men feel that and we feel a tremendous responsibility to you. So let's make it an even tougher place to play this year and let's see if we can find a couple more.

"We have a great city. We have a great city. It's my hometown. We've got great fans. We've got a great group of men that are working their tails off to achieve a goal that we all want to reach. And when we reach it, we are going to reach it together. But we are at a very important spot in the history of this organization - and I've hear Rick (Smith) say this many, many times – the toughest step we are fixing to take and the things that are important to me is that we maintain our focus.

"We know where we've been. We know where we've been, but we've got to be focused on where we want to go. We can't lose sight of that as an organization. The progress is there, but we've got to stay focused on where we are trying to go. We have to stay focused. We have to keep our poise. We are going to have to keep our poise along the way because this is a tough business. There are some good teams in this business.

"When we do things good, when we start 2-0, we will not have reached our goal. We won't even be close. If we start 0-2, can we still reach our goal? You bet we can. It takes poise in the organization from top down with people so that we stay focused and remain poised so that we can reach our goal.

"The last thing is that we have got to have great support. We've got to support the heck out of each other for us to get there. We have to know that we all have each other's back. Everybody's got to be behind this man (Rick Smith) to my right, right here as he puts this football team together and builds this team year in and year out. We have to do that.

"We as coaches have to do everything we can to make these players successful. They have to know that we are doing that and that we are giving them everything we can to put them into position to be successful. We as a coaching staff have to support the heck out of each other so that we can be as good as we can be on special teams, offense and defense.

"We as coaches all have to help Joe (Marciano) have great special teams. Joe has done a wonderful job. We as a defensive staff all have to do our job to let Richard (Smith) put together the best defense he can put together, and we have to do the same thing on the offensive side of the ball. But we've all got a piece of the puzzle; we've all got a piece of the puzzle. We stay focused; we keep our poise; we keep working; we support each other; there's no doubt in my mind that we can accomplish anything we want to accomplish.

"And last I want to tell you this, it's like I tell the players, we can talk about winning 10, winning 11, winning 9, those are easy things to talk about, but as I always tell them, the only thing we can do right now is win one and that's the first one.

"So we are going to work through Thursday night and we are going to get better with these young players Thursday night. And then we are going to go to work and be as good as we can be when we go down there and play Pittsburgh. But right now, we can only win one and that's the one we're going to stay focused on. Thank you so much for you support. I can't wait for 2008."

WR André Davis

(on having a good year last year and signing a contract in the offseason) "Yeah, that's the amazing thing about the NFL: It's all about opportunity. I was just grateful that I had the opportunity to be able to come here and be able to be part of something special. I think we've really been able to build on what happened last year and we are going to continue to build on that this year and have even better things."

(on what we didn't know about the WR group last year and what to expect this year) "I think a lot of people didn't know about our determination. A lot of us, besides Andre (Johnson), we are all coming from different programs and we all had a lot of adversity we had to go through. I think whenever you deal with adversity; you can always come out better on the other side. We all realized that we all wanted to continue to push each other and really get to the level that Andre was playing at week in and week out. Doing that and seeing Andre work and seeing the competition that we had at our position, it really helped us all to make it to another level."

(on if he worries about being caught from behind on kick returns) "You never worry about anybody sneaking up on you when you have this burning speed (laughs). No, you are running scared; you are running for your life."

(on what fatherhood has been like so far) "It's been amazing. Just to be able to have them (his wife and his son), especially at the end of the season, and being able to spend the offseason with them, it's been a lot of fun. He just turned seven months, I think last week. I just saw that he was crawling over at my grandparents' house. It's just been an amazing experience, and I'm just grateful for him and my wife."

FS Will Demps

(on spending an entire offseason with the Texans) "It's been great. The transition from New York to here has been great. The fans are great. I couldn't have done it without these coaches, Richard (Smith), Rick (Smith), coming in here. I've learned a lot. These guys had the people here, and I just had to kind of fit in. It's been a wonderful time being here, and there's more to come from us and we're excited this year."

(on living in Houston compared to living in New York) "Houston is great. The people here are great, the fans. You can't say more about them. The community here is great, as you can see with the (Houston Texans) YMCA. The things we are doing in the community, we didn't have in New York because there weren't a lot of suburb areas for us to kind of contribute. Houston is my home and I love to be here."

(on being named most eligible bachelor in Houston last year) "No comment. I don't even know."

(on surprise player or two that might contribute this year that fans may not know about) "All the young guys we drafted. From (CB Antwaun) Molden to "Bulldog," (CB Derrick Roberson), we call him Bulldog. All the guys we have. We drafted a lot of young guys. We have a lot of young guys on our team. You can't pinpoint what guys are going to contribute. Myself, I started the last eight games and I contributed late. In this game, you never know. You are one play away from stepping on that field. So, the secondary is going to wreck havoc this year and we are excited. There's more to come this year, and we're excited about it."

(on if he likes hitting or covering better) "Hitting; I hate covering."

WR Andre Johnson

(on how he feels) "I'm feeling pretty good. I'm out practicing every day now. I haven't been feeling any pain or anything like that. I'll be ready to go on opening day."

(on if it felt good to get on the field versus Dallas) "Yeah, it did. I was out there, (but) got a little frustrated. I didn't get to touch a ball (laughs). But, other than that, I'm feeling fine. I'm ready to go."

(on what his expectations are offensively this year) "I just remember catching that first pass from (QB) Matt (Schaub). That was the longest pass I've caught since I've been here. I was really excited about it, and hopefully I can catch a lot more long ones."

(on the key differences on the team now as compared to his rookie year) "I think just the attitude of the team. When I first got here, the attitude of the team was totally different than it is now. I think things now mean a lot more to the guys that are here than they did before. We have that goal of getting to the playoffs, and that is my goal."

(on if his friend WR Chad Johnson could beat Michael Phelps in a swimming race) "Chad's crazy. He doesn't have a chance (laughs)."

DT Amobi Okoye

(on his trip to Africa this summer) "That was a nice thing for me. I haven't had the chance to go back since I left in 1999. Having the chance to go with a lot of my friends from other teams also was a good thing, and then also to go back and give back to the community, when I was leaving, that's one thing I said that I wanted to do. So, that was a good thing for me."

(on fans should look forward to from Amobi Okoye this season) "I look forward to a lot of things. I think as a unit, we can do a whole lot. We've got a lot of talent. With the coaching we have also, I think we can get a lot of things done. I want to get 15 sacks, but that's a high mark, but you never know what can happen."

G Chester Pitts

(on his thoughts on the Texans' seventh season) "My thoughts: To be the best we've ever been, no matter what it takes. I heard Coach Kubiak say before, 'You have to win all the games you're supposed to, and then find a way to steal a couple games you're maybe not.' So, that's our plan: To be better and win as many games as we can."

(on how this year's team stacks up against the other Texans teams) "This one, talent-wise, coaching scheme-wise, by far and away the best I've ever been a part of here. Obviously, I've only been here (laughs). This is definitely the best group of guys. The attitude and the whole aura of the team is much better, and we're definitely going in the right direction."

(on if he really plays the oboe) "I do not play the oboe nearly as well as the gentlemen that they brought in from Julliard to play in the (Super Bowl) commercial, but I did play it for three weeks in high school. Don't tell anybody about that!"

(on what it was like to shoot the Super Bowl commercial with T Ephraim Salaam) "It's my best bud, Ephraim Salaam – his highness, Ephraim Salaam (laughs). It was cool. I really now understand why the Hollywood famous types act the way they do because on the set, there were 30 people every two minutes asking if we needed some water, wanted to play video games, needed a massage, haircut, need your shirt pressed, whatever you need. I now understand why some of those people act like you're supposed to wait on them hand and foot. They're used to it (laughs)."

(on how he likes the new blocking scheme) "Honestly, it's by far the most cohesive system I've ever seen. It all fits together. It all makes sense. It all ties in together, and the best thing about it is the way we run block and the way we block for play-action pass looks exactly the same. So, for safeties and defenders, it's very difficult to tell the two apart, so they are either going to stop the run and give up deep passes or play soft to stop the pass and give up runs. So, for me, it's really cool because we're going to always keep moving the ball, get first downs, score touchdowns and go hang out on the sidelines. So, honestly it makes a lot of sense, and I'm glad that (assistant head coach) Mr. (Alex) Gibbs is here. He's teaching me a lot, and I have reached the $500 fine for standing up here talking. What's the commercial going to cost us is the real question? Ah, another five. So, I'm at $1,000. It's all going to charity (laughs)."

(on if he actually got an invitation to Ellen Degeneres' wedding) "Actually, we did. No, I'm kidding. We're not on that level. She knows us if we're walking down the street, but we don't hang out like that (laughs)."

LB DeMeco Ryans

(on what it was like to go to the Pro Bowl) "It was a wonderful experience, going out there and being in a room with all of the great players of the NFL last year. It was a great experience just to be out on the field those guys and practicing with them, watching how they work, and just being with the best of the best. That's where every player wants to be, and every body strives to get to that level."

(on how the Pro Bowl has changed him) "It hasn't changed me at all. I'm still hungry to go and make our team better. It's just not a personal accolade. It speaks highly of the team. It speaks highly of our defensive front and the guys in the back, and that's an accolade for our entire defense, I think. As I look at our team, we're looking forward to getting more wins and getting our team to the playoffs. That's what it's all about. It's not really about getting to the Pro Bowl. It's about getting to the playoffs and becoming a championship team."

(on what it's like to have a radio in his helmet this year) "The radio, it makes it a lot easier for us when we get the calls in. It makes my job easier. I don't have to read signals from (linebackers) Coach (Johnny) Holland. Offenses can't steal our signals. He just talks to me, and we get the calls in quick and we're lined up and ready to play before the offense breaks the huddle."

(on what he expects of the defense this year) "I'm expecting our defense to dominate. Our guys know we always break it down on dominating. We're looking to go out and dominate teams this year. We have to pick our intensity up as a defense and we have to bring it every play. We need the fans cheering, making it loud for us when we're at home in the stadium and giving the (opposing) offense a rough time. But our defense, we're looking to go out and dominate and be a top defense in this league."

QB Matt Schaub

(on his personal expectations for this year) "I have a lot of expectations on myself, but I think as the quarterback for the team, my expectations are the team expectations. As a lot of people have alluded to, we have very high expectations of what we can do and what we can accomplish this season. Our goal is to go to the playoffs and win championships here, whenever that might happen. But we want to make the playoffs this year. Anything personally or on top of that is icing on the cake. What we have to do here is go out every week and find a way to win a game. That's what we are concentrating on is going out there in week one and win that game and then we'll go onto the next one."

(on an improved running game this season) "It's a great sign for me. I'm all for running the football and keeping our third downs – we always talk about on offense about keeping our third downs manageable. If we can run the ball effectively and keep our third downs less than six yards, that's great for a play call. You can run the ball and get that first down or throw it and you have nice completion plays. It keeps you in manageable situations, so I'm all for the running game and it working. I had the opportunity to work with Coach Gibbs in Atlanta and I know how he gets fired up and he gets things done. So, if we all just buy into that system, it's really going to help us out and help out our passing game."

(on if he has had any thoughts about throwing a deep pass to Usain Bolt) "I think that's one guy that might run out of the area code. I don't know if I can get it to him or not. I'd just make a three-step drop and throw it as far as I can and he might get to it."

T Eric Winston

(on how the new offensive line scheme is working for him this season) "I'm excited about it. I'm excited about the guys we have, how we are coming together, and I think every week so far during preseason we've taken a small step forward."

(on how playing tight end in college helped him with becoming an offensive tackle) "I don't know that there's any direct correlation, but I think it's helped with my movement, being able to run down some of the smaller defensive ends, being able to stay with them. Just playing all sports like basketball and being able to run around and move your feet as fast as you can with some of the guys we have in our league like Robert Mathis and the guys from Indianapolis and everywhere, they're really athletic and you've got to be able to stay with them."

(on how it is to have so many teammates from college on the Texans, especially C Chris Myers) "Yeah, he won't really leave me alone. No, I'm excited about having Chris. When I came to Miami, he showed me around and showed me how to do things. Having him come here and being able to show him around Houston and introduce him to a lot of people, it's been fun to kind of give that back. When I heard that he was coming here, I was really excited to have another friend here, but at the same time, I was excited for Houston and excited for our team because I knew what kind of player he is and what he was going to bring to that position for us. So, it was exciting."

(on playing professional football in his home state) "I wasn't really sure what was going to go on (during the draft), but to be able to be back here turned out to be the best thing for me. Being close to my family again and all of my friends that moved from Midland to Houston, it's really worked out well. I hope I'm doing well."

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