During his Sunday afternoon press conference, Texans head coach Gary Kubiak discussed roster cuts and his team's performance against Dallas.
Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak spoke to the media on Sunday following Saturday's 28-16 preseason victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the battle for the Governor's Cup.
TEXANS HEAD COACH GARY KUBIAK (on roster moves made today) "We released eight players this afternoon. I've sat down with all of these guys, except for one: (defensive tackle) Thomas Johnson, (quarterback) Quinton Porter, (quarterback) Bradlee Van Pelt, (wide receiver) Harry Williams, (defensive tackle) Thomas Smith, (wide receiver) Charlie Adams, (cornerback) Derrick Roberson and (tight end) Ben Steele. I've visited with every one of these kids. I haven't visited with Thomas Johnson yet and I'll probably be visiting with him briefly after we get through. We released eight. We still have a couple moves we have to make and we're going to hold off until Tuesday to make those moves. We need to release two more or release one and make a move, which could involve tackle Charles Spencer here in the next couple days. That's where we are right now."
(on the roster move that would be made with tackle Charles Spencer) "What could probably happen is if he goes to the PUP. I'm not sure. (General manager) Rick (Smith) would have to tell you. There is some way that you place him on the PUP where it's the sixth or seventh week where he becomes eligible, and Rick would gain us a roster spot. That's a decision we'll make in two days."
(on how many moves he still needs to make) "Really, two, and if (Spencer)'s one of them, then we have one more to make, as far as a cut."
(on when the final roster cuts will be made) "We'll make those when we get back from Tampa on Friday. We'll do those early too. We'll do those after the game. Rick (Smith) and I will get that done Friday."
(on the reason wide receiver Charlie Adams was released) "I think the world of Charlie. He's played for me. He knows all our spots and does an excellent job. I think in all fairness to Charlie, letting a guy like that go this week probably gives him a better opportunity somewhere else. That last cut-down, when you're a player that gets let go at that last cut down, it's very, very difficult to land on a roster. I thought it was going to be very difficult for Charlie to make our football team. If we keep five, if we keep six, I think it's still going to be very difficult. I just thought, in fairness to him, we let him go this week and I'm going to look at all these young receivers in this game, along with (wide receiver) Keenan (McCardell), anyway."
(on which quarterbacks will play in Tampa) "I haven't made up my mind totally. We're going to continue to talk about that, but it's obvious that we're definitely going to play (quarterback) (Jared) Zabransky a great deal in this game. Whether (quarterback) Matt (Schaub) plays, I'll let you know in a couple of days. How much (quarterback) Sage (Rosenfels) will play, I'll let you know. Zabransky is going to play a great deal in this football game."
(on if tackle Charles Spencer is a candidate for IR) "No, not at this point."
(on the progress of Spencer) "I think's been very good. Since they went in and did the scope, he's probably made as much progress as he's made throughout the process. I think it's still a reach to say that he's going to play for us this year, but we'll see. He's come a long way. We'll know here within the next month. He's going to have to make a great deal of progress for us to count on him playing. But, as far as will he play again, will he make it back, will he be a factor in this organization, I don't have any doubt that he will. But I think it's still going to be a tough go this year."
(on if he is happy with tackles Ephraim Salaam and Jordan Black) "I think Ephraim has done a good job for us. He's solid. Jordan Black was brought in here to push Ephraim, to make us better, and I think he's done that. I know what we're going to get from Ephraim from an effort standpoint and preparation standpoint; it's a matter of him staying healthy for the long haul. We have to be smart with him as coaches, and I think having Jordan here gives us a comfort zone that if Ephraim gets banged up, that we have a veteran guy that go in there and play."
(on if he's made a decision at center) "No, I have not yet. We'll make a decision on (center) Steve (McKinney). There are three situations that I'll let you guys know, probably Tuesday or Wednesday. That's regarding McKinney, regarding the SAM linebacker position between (linebackers) Charlie (Anderson) and Danny Clark, and also the last one with (defensive tackle) Travis Johnson, between Travis and (defensive tackle) Anthony Maddox. I'll let you guys know about that Tuesday or Wednesday."
(on the injuries from the game last night) "Let me talk to you about our injuries from the game. (Safeties) C.C. Brown and Jason Simmons both have bruised shoulders. There was no damage. We expect them to be fine, but it definitely was a factor. They got banged up pretty good. They're definitely touch-and-go this week as we approach Tampa Bay. The biggest one, (safety Brandon) Harrison, the young safety, he got dinged and was struggling. We ran him through many tests last night and today. We feel like he's going to be fine, but he'll be day-to-day. I'll have to let you know. It was a concussion. Yes, he got dinged. And (kicker) Kris Brown's plant foot was bothering him a little bit, affected him throughout the second half of the game. Not his kicking foot, but his plant foot. We don't think it's that big of a deal. We'll probably limit some of his kicking his week, but he should be fine. And then the last one, just to bring you up-to-date on (defensive end Anthony) Weaver, he's much improved. He started running again. The knee felt good. Our mindset is to work him towards Kansas City and not play him against Tampa Bay. We'll work him toward opening day. And then you can see (fullback Jon) Abbate back this week. He should be back this week. (Fullback) Jameel Cook came out of the game fine. (Fullback) Patrick Pass should be back tomorrow. (Guard) Chester (Pitts) came out of the game fine. Other then that, we're okay. The biggest one is Harrison. I'll let you know on him."
(on how he will approach the Tampa game) "We'll approach it just like any other preseason game. I know for a fact, I'll have some guys that will not play. I will let you know that as we approach game time. There are some starters that I think need to get on the field and get some more reps. We'll deal with that. The emphasis on the game is going to be to try to get the answer for some of the issues that we have; wide receiver, running back, offensive line, I could go though them all. We're going to play these guys and let them play it out on the field and make sure they get a ton of reps this week in practice, which is a very short week, as well as in the game. And, like I said, you guys will see Zabransky quite a bit."
(on if punter Chad Stanley got hurt last night) "Yes, he went out and punted the first time and came to (special teams coordinator) Joe (Marciano) afterwards and said that he felt like he had pulled something in warm-ups. I think it was his hip-flexor that was bothering him. It was actually his groin. We did not let him punt. We let (punter Matt) Turk go ahead and finish. (Head athletic trainer) Kevin (Bastin) seems to think that he's fine today and should be out there punting this week."
(on the battle for the punter position) "I told you we could have possibly made a decision today. We decided not to do that. We want to watch them work in practice this week and expect them both to punt in the game. I would have loved to see Chad punting last night. That didn't happen. There's nothing he can do about that if he's injured. I think Turk did a good job. I think he's even capable of doing a better job then he did last night. I think he's the first one that will tell you that. We'll see. We'll have to have some competitive situations this week in practice."
(on the change of position for linebacker Shantee Orr) "With the emergence of Danny Clark and the way he has played, we have to get him on the field. We like what Charlie (Anderson) has done. As I've told you all before, Charlie didn't do anything to move backwards, it's just Danny Clark did a lot of things to move forward. Shantee missed a great deal of training camp and was way behind in that battle. As you watch Shantee, the first thing you notice about him as a player is that he rushes the passer well. We talked about that last week- 'Let's put him in nickel. Let's start him in nickel this week. Let's see how he responds.' If we're going to keep seven linebackers, that guy is going to have to do some other things for this team. If Shantee can rush the passer on third down and play great special teams, then maybe we have a place for seven guys. We liked some of the things he did. We'll take a hard look at him once again this week. He made a nice tackle on special teams. That's just another tough situation for our football team. But if that's something he can do, we can always keep one less defensive lineman and we're keeping one more linebacker."
(on defensive end Mario Williams' performance against the Cowboys) "It was definitely his best outing of the preseason. We moved him around last night. We moved him to the other side in some nickel situations. I think it brought a little fire to him in some of the things that he was doing. A lot of people like to play Mario with the tight end on his side. Because of us moving him, he got to the open side quite a bit. I think it was definitely effective. His energy level was very good. He chased the ball well, he finished to the quarterback. He could still get better, but he took a big step forward. I just like the enthusiasm and the energy he played with on the field. If he keeps doing that, he's going to keep getting better."
(on if he would consider playing Williams on the left side full-time) "Well, you know, last year when we got started- he's a very smart kid, he can handle a lot of things. And then we felt like well maybe we threw too much at him, so we settled him down in one spot. And you know when you are in one spot, people can game plan you, people can do some things knowing that you're isolated. So by moving him around, I think it gives him, I think first off it gets him excited about various opportunities to play off different tackles. And it just kind of gets him motivated to making more plays. And that's our job. We've got to move guys around to get them in position to be effective. So I wouldn't be surprised if Mario keeps getting better through this process of moving around and maybe we don't throw him inside some in nickel. As long as we think our defense can handle it; I know Mario can handle it. But it's about our whole defense being able to handle him moving around. But we were excited about what we saw."
(on if wide receiver Jacoby Jones moved up the depth chart with his performance) "Well I know one thing, he's going to be on that football field. I see them the same way. (Wide receiver) Kevin (Walter)'s our starter. I think Kevin's had a fine camp, he's earned that job. But it's pretty obvious that No. 12 is going to be on the field a lot. The way y'all have seen us play him the last two games Is a lot like if we were opening this weekend, you're going to see it the same way. You're going to play three receivers in this league one way or another. And the great thing about him I think is that if Kevin was out of the game, he naturally could go in for Kevin. If Andre wanted a break, he could go for Andre. He's a sharp kid. He's going to be out there many plays and three wides, he's going to be out there starting. So the more touches he gets, the better our team's probably going to be."
(on the adjustment Jones made on the receiving touchdown) "It's something we teach. If the quarterback moves your way, you know, a scramble rule that if you're the guy on the sidelines, you should turn and go. And that's what he did and Matt (Schaub) put the ball up in the corner and the kid made a great catch. You know, he's just very instinctive on the field, some of the things he does. And you know he almost broke another punt there. If we give him one more block he's fixing to break another one. But he's done some special stuff. I tell you, what he's done this preseason has been as good as any rookie I've been around, and just got to keep him going. He could block a little better- he didn't block real good a couple times."
(on Jones' celebration on the punt return touchdown) "You know, I didn't actually see it because there were so many people on the field. The kid gets excited, but you sure hate to lose him (to injury) doing something like that. That's like holding the ball up- we don't want him to do that. I want him to have fun, but we're not going to hold the ball up at the 10-yard line and drop it. But I like what he brings to our team. Our kids get up off the bench when people punt to us, and that's a good thing, because they want to watch him go to work. Been very exciting. Really looking forward to his progress week-to-week."
(on Schaub's strong performance two weeks in a row) "Well, he's just steady is what he is. I think this game's a great example of what he is. The game starts, he makes a nice throw to (tight end) Owen (Daniels), Owen gets hammered pretty good. And we come back, we miss a line, he made a great play- he was hot, they brought an extra blitzer, so he makes two good football plays, but yet we turn around and it's third-and-seven. We catch a blitz, a zero-out blitz where we can't pick it up. He has to eat the football and go down- he has no play to make. He doesn't get frustrated. He comes right back the next series, continues to make plays. You know, anything that happens that's not good for him doesn't affect him. He'll go back and play the next play, make the next play. If our team stumbles and we have a sack our some penalty or something, he'll come in and make the play to make it up. He's just very much in control of what he's doing and it'll be exciting to watch him grow as a starter."
(on if Schaub is making the decisions Kubiak wants) "Well, you trust him so much. When you're calling plays and putting him in situations, you trust that he's going do to the right thing. I have a habit, when I'm talking to those guys in their helmets all the time of reminding them of situations. 'You can't go down with the ball here, make sure that…' Sometimes, I probably talk too much and with this kid, I'm starting to find myself saying, 'Hey, don't tell him. He's fine. He understands that.' (He's) just a very, very trusting guy with the football and the game in his hands. You know, the two-minute drill's a great example. No panic right there. Plenty of time, plenty of timeouts. He came to the sidelines, we had second-and-two. I think there were about 50 seconds left and he said to me, 'Let's go four verticals, and if I can make a play, I'll make it. If not, I'll dump it down,' basically saying, 'Hey, trust me. Give me a chance to make a big play here.' And he goes and makes the play to Jacoby. And I think he's only going to get better. Let's remember it's his first time out as a starter, so I would expect him to improve weekly."
(on what kind of factor the home crowd was Saturday) "Well, I think it was awesome. Our stadium was electric last night. I think the fans were just super, and that was good because that's the way it really is week-in and week-out in this league. You know it was even loud for us as far as operating offensively- we wanted to get in the shotgun. But you've got to be able to function in those situations. It definitely helped us from a defensive standpoint. They jumped a couple of times. And it was good work for us on the offensive side of the ball. So our fans- you know, the place was great, and I'm looking forward to it being the same way here in a couple of weeks."
(on if the game last night will build confidence in some of the younger players) "Yeah, you sure hope so. We approached that as a regular season game, and that's your approach with those players all week. And I think that they felt that. The guys that haven't been in a big-time NFL stadium on game day, they got to what it was really going to be like last night, and I thought they handled it very well."
(on running back Ahman Green getting good touches Saturday) "Yeah, he really did, to take the shot he took the first time he touched the ball and then to come back and make plays he made. But that's what he is, and it's a great reminder to our receivers- we've got a guy back there that can turn a little one into a big one, so they better be working downfield on their blocking and stuff. But he gives you a chance to make a big play. On the screen he almost came out of there. He breaks a tackle on his big run. But that's what he is. He actually was sick last night but kept going, and had a few episodes on the sidelines where he wasn't feeling good but he kept going out there and playing. He's just very impressive with how he goes about his business, and I think he's ready to go."
(on what Kubiak will do about safeties in practice) "Well, that's a big issue right now. That's another reason why we're really kind of holding off on making our last move, because we've got to see how Harrison comes out. We've got to see how (Jason) Simmons and C.C. (Brown) are when we come out here tomorrow to practice. We've got to make sure we've got enough guys at that position to make it through the football game. Every team faces this in the last preseason game, so we'll hang on and see from that standpoint."
(on if there was anything that he did not like about the Cowboys game) "Well, there's always things you could do better. I would like to have seen Chester (Pitts) get more reps. Chester has missed a lot of time. He did some good things. I'd like to see him get some more reps. He's a guy this week that I'll have to think very heavily about getting him some playing time. (Tackle) Eric Winston had some mistakes in the game that he normally doesn't make, so I'd like to see him improve this week as we get ready for Kansas City. We had some alignment issues a couple times defensively. One time on special teams we got called with 10 guys out there. Some of those things like that are going to cost you a game once you get going. So we definitely have plenty of corrections to make, but the big focus this week will be on trying to answer these questions as we get down to 53 next Friday."