With Antonio Smith's suspension now official, the team reacted to having their defensive captain sidelined until September 10. Head coach Gary Kubiak assumed responsibility for Smith's actions.
"First off, I'm disappointed in myself because I've got to make sure my players keep their composure on the football field," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "That's my job. Then, they've got a job when they get out there to maintain their composure regardless of circumstances. There's no excuses. We can't hurt the team. I talked to our guys about that all the time and, if somebody's going to miss some time, that hurts the team."
Kubiak discussed Saturday's incident with Smith, which involved the Pro Bowl defensive end removing Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito's helmet and swinging at him with it.
"Well, he's very disappointed," Kubiak said. "He wants to be on the football field and be out there with his teammates and he understands that there are consequences that go with losing your composure in a given moment. At the same time, like I said, we stand behind our player and let's go through the process and let's see what happens."
With a primetime game on Monday Night Football, the Texans will have to open their season in San Diego without Smith's leadership on the field.
"It's tough," inside linebacker Brian Cushing said. "To not be able to play in the first game of the year, it's what you work for. You work the entire camp to run out of the tunnel in the first game and, like I just said, it's Monday Night Football. It's the biggest stage you can get on besides the Super Bowl. I know how frustrated he is right now. He's just going to have to work to get back and whatever happens happens with that situation."
Smith will likely appeal the suspension, but in the meantime cannot participate in practice or play in the Texans final two preseason games or the first regular season game on September 9.
General Manager and Executive Vice President Rick Smith is disappointed in Smith's loss of composure on the field but says the organization will support him and be an active participant in the appeals process.
"I certainly believe that they will consider and they will listen," the G.M. said of Antonio's chances of having his suspension overturned by the league. "They'll give us a fair opportunity to present our side of it. I think we've got a legitimate case to present and hopefully, they hear us."
Smith has a history with Incognito, claiming that the Miami lineman was twisting his ankle at the bottom of a pileup during Week 1 last year. When asked if he thought Incognito was a dirty player, J.J. Watt's answer was diplomatic but clear.
"I think a lot of people think that," Watt said.
In the meantime, Smith will serve his suspension while the appeals process gets underway. Beginning Wednesday, he was at the practice field but not allowed to participate.
"That's my brother and I miss him," J.J. Watt said. "Like I said, hopefully we get him back as soon as we can. I know there is a process he has to go through but you always miss a brother out there."