Following are comments from Texans heach coach Gary Kubiak and players following the first day of OTA's.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak
(on the new guys) "It's fun to get started. Everybody is bouncing around the first day. I was very excited how clean we were for the first day. You go back to when we started last year for the first time, first couple days a lot of balls on the ground, what you would expect. I can see that we're further along from that standpoint. We have a long, long way to go, but it was fun to get a look at them."
(on the left tackle position) "The bottom line is this, Ephraim (Salaam) did a good job for us last year. He's the guy. Ephraim has been playing a long, long time, so we have to be smart with him with his body, so Jordan (Black) is over there competing with Ephraim. There will be times that Eric (Winston) will get some reps over there. That is the way we're going to work for now until we get to camp. And we're expecting (Charles) Spencer to be brought along slowly once we et to camp, but for now Ephraim and Jordan will be competing over there with Eric probably getting some reps here at some point during OTAs."
(on RB Ahman Green and QB Matt Schaub) "They are pros. You watch Ahman bounce around and run zones that he's been running for 10 years. It's very impressive. What Matt is to me is very composed, watching him operate with everybody and getting everybody lined up, you get here, you get there, and the young guys get in the huddle with him and they don't panic. They can ask him and he's got control of all 11 of them. We knew that's what he was. Just continue to get him familiar with what we're doing."
(on DE Mario Williams) "It's awesome because it's a guy that we saw the first day we got started last year. (Defensive line coach) Jethro (Franklin) and (senior defensive assistant) Frank (Bush) are getting after him down there and he's got to feel really good about those two guys working with him every day. But it's nice to see him walking around like himself."
(on moving Williams to the right or left) "We would like to settle Mario down. Mario is going to work on the right exclusively at this point right now. With us acquiring (DT) Amobi (Okoye) then that lets (DE Anthony) Weaver play outside, so we feel like with (DE) Jason (Babin), Weav and Mario, we've got guys that can play outside. We want to keep Mario in one spot; we want to do that through OTAs. We'll always do what's best for our football team, but right now what's best for Mario is that he stays in one spot."
(on comparing the team at this point from last season at this point) "We're much farther along. The hard part right now is that we still have a lot of new players and we've still got to catch the guys up. But to give you an idea, last year we met for two hours and 15 minutes everyday before we came on the field just to feel like we felt good enough to come out here and practice. We cut our meetings back almost 45 minutes this year. Our guys know what we're doing, our veterans know what we're doing, and we just have to get these young guys caught up. We came out and practiced pretty clean and that's a good thing because we don't need to be in there all day, we need to be out here getting our work. And if we can continue to work clean like that, we can cut our meeting time down."
(on expectations being raised) "I kind of told everybody that when we got done today. That is the first thing that I noticed out here. We talk about expectations and we talk about wanting to be a playoff football team, and that is what we should be out here for. If we're working for anything else, we're just spinning our wheels and we're not going to do that. I can sense that. I can sense it from our players, the way they practiced and what they expected out of each other. Learning how to practice against each other better and staying off the ground, we lost some players last year because we were sloppy in practice. There is a lot of respect among our veteran players out here and the new guys we brought in. I can sense that today. But I told them the key is 'are we doing that a week from now?' We did it good today, but how are we going to do it over the course of the month?"
(on QB Matt Schaub's first day) "I would imagine it was a pretty nerve-wracking day for him to walk out here with all the tension he's getting, but he handles himself with a lot of poise and that's who we knew he was. I really liked the way he ran his huddle. He made some mistakes and he's going to make some, and we'll work on that, but I like what I see and I like his leadership skills."
(on T Charles Spencer's role) "If Charles is 100 percent, I would think he is there every down, he proved that last year. But the key is he's not there yet, so we have to operate as if that's not going to happen and that is hard to do. So we have to get Ephraim (Salaam) ready to play and Jordan (Black) ready to play, and if Eric (Winston) has the ability or the young kid that we drafted has the ability to play on that side, we have to give them a look to. It's an issue, and I've said this before, there are a lot of teams in this league that have that issue. It's hard to find that rock solid left tackle. So we're searching, but we're sure hoping that Charles makes his way back."
(on Spencer's confidence he'll be back) "That's him. And he looks good doesn't he? If you saw him out here walking around or in the building, you would think he's going to be fine, but as I've told you before the key is when he does come back and start playing, how does the knee respond? But I don't think we'll know until we're a week into camp this summer exactly how he's going to do."
DT Amobi Okoye
(on his first NFL practice) "It was fun being out here with my teammates. It was a little humid, so I had to get used to the heat, but once I got my second wind it got a lot better."
(on the adjustment to his first pro practice)"I'd probably say the speed of the game. It's kind of like the transition from high school to college; it's kind of the same as far as from college to the NFL. It was pretty fast. It was a couple of notches better than college."
(on if he was nervous) "I'm not going to say I was nervous. I had a little nervousness in me, but it was more excitement and anxiousness about what it was going to be like. I was ready to get that first day out of the way. I just know I'm a Texan and I'm in the NFL now."
(on if any teammates teased him about his age) "No. It was just guys out here, and you get questions and people ask you about how things happened and stuff like that, but other than that, we were just out here competing."
(on if he looks to DE Mario Williams since he went through a similar situation last year) "Mario and I talk a lot about our experiences. Once I got drafted, he came and picked me up like an hour later and we just hung out. Not just Mario; there's a lot of guys out here, too, so we're definitely just getting to know each other and building the relationships with all of our teammates now."
(on if he has talked to T Ephraim Salaam, who also graduated from school at a young age) "Definitely, because obviously he can relate to the things I've been through."
(on if he wants to establish himself as a leader) "Right now, I'm just going to go out there and make it all natural and play me and play the way I played and do the things I did in college and just take it up a notch. If that comes with it, I guess it comes with it."
QB Matt Schaub
(on his goals going into OTAs) "Just to get better and work together on what we've been talking about this whole offseason and working towards, and that's just to come out and get better and work on our skills and develop and get that cohesive mindset as a tea, that collective mentality, and it was a lot of fun."
(on if he feels like he has a grasp of the offense when calling plays) "I think it's getting there in mental preparation, but once you step in that huddle and go through the physical work of it and the mental gymnastics on your feet, it's a different story. It's good to get out here in the huddle and say the plays in the game setup and game environment and to do it at that type of speed. It's a work in progress and we'll make sure it gets better every day."
(on how long it will take before the team begins to gel) "It takes a little bit of time. It doesn't happen in one day, but through coming out on the field and working, and the work in the weight room that we've been doing the past six weeks, but through time—hopefully a couple of weeks—hopefully each day it picks up a little bit more and we get to know each other a little bit better."
(on what he's done to get to know his teammates off the field) "A lot of it happens in the locker room, in the meal room, off the field when you get out of the facility and meet and start going to dinner and stuff like that, that's when you get to know guys and know their personality. Like we had the golf tournament earlier this week, and that's a chance to go out and get to know everyone's personality and joke around with them a little bit"
(on shaking off the rust from being away from football for a while) "Oh, there's always a little bit when you first get back out on the field. That's why you don't install your whole offense the first day. You just put in the nuts and bolts of it and work on the fundamentals of the game. But obviously, there's a little bit of rust and you've just got to shake that off as quickly as possible and just keep getting better."
(on getting back out on the field) "It was wonderful. It's great to get back out as a team and put the helmets on and go through the actual plays that we've been talking about for six weeks and actually go through it."
(on if it feels like the beginning of the 'Matt Schaub era') "I think it's the official beginning of the 2007 Texans. I think that's the way we're looking at it. There's a lot of new faces around here and we've just got to work on bringing the young guys up to speed, and the new guys such as myself and (RB) Ahman Green, and just getting out here and working hard."
(on if there is a sense that the expectation level has been raised) "Definitely. The tempo we were working at, the speed and the enthusiasm of all the guys across the board and the attentiveness of everybody, the bar's been raised and the expectation levels and the standards are set really high. We expect to match those and each day come out with that same mindset."
(on the adjustment for him becoming the starting quarterback) "It's been an ongoing process since I got here, just learning; learning the guys, learning my way around the building, the weight program, the offseason conditioning as well as getting to learn the offense. It's a work in progress, but you just try to take a little bit each day and absorb it and go from there each day."
(on what goes into being a starting quarterback off the field) "We're just another one of the guys on the team, we're teammates. You're one of the leaders. You're not just the leader of the offensive component; you've got to be the leader of the defensive and special teams guys as well. You've just got to be one of the crowd and be in there and mix it up with them a little bit and let them know that you're just one of the guys trying to get better out there and work towards one goal."
(on his excitement to get back out on the field) "I'm very excited. It's a great opportunity and a great situation, and it's up to myself and the team to take advantage of it and come out and work towards our goals."
(on finding his own leadership style) "Everybody leads in a different ways, whether it's by example or vocally. You've got to find a happy medium, being a new guy. You've got to take the reins, but you want to show guys that you're out here to work and get better and do it by example, not just be the voice."
(on the examples of leaders that he learned from) "Growing up, it was always high school coaches and stuff like that. Once I got to college and the NFL, you had certain coaches—Bill Musgrave for one, and Al Groh when I as at Virginia who taught me the offense and basically how to be a quarterback at the collegiate level and then into the pros. Those are a couple of guys. When I got to Atlanta, Greg Knapp and Bill Musgrave as well."
(on why he decided to wear no. 8) "That's been my number in my time in Atlanta, and I thought I'd just keep it."
DE Mario Williams
(on the difference between this year and last year at this time for him) "Everything is just a little bit faster, just being more consistent, just coming out and reacting. Everything is just a lot smoother."
(on whether his confidence has increased going into his second season) "Yeah, everything is under my belt now as far as the system. We still do the same things. I'm basically just more fluent with everything, so I just come out here and try to get better every day."
(on if the time off this offseason helped his foot injury heal) "Oh yeah, big time. I feel a lot better."
(on if he still feels like he's under a microscope as a former no. 1 overall pick) "I'm not worried about that. That's not even something that's on my mind right now."