Quotes: Monday AM practice

The Texans practiced Monday at the Methodist Training Center and after, head coach Gary Kubiak and some of the players answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.

Head Coach Gary Kubiak


Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on working with Defensive CoordinatorWade Phillips) “I’ll pay a great deal of attention because obviously, we’re working against each other every day trying to be as good as we can be on both sides of the ball.  I have an interesting dilemma, so to speak, because I have an offense that’s been doing the same thing for a long time and yet, I’ve got a defense that’s starting from scratch.  I can’t let one get the other out of whack.  I got to be careful so Wade (Phillips) can get his stuff taught.  So I’m just listening to what he needs every day.  I think our training camp is more of a fluid situation this year than it has been in the past because we could change every two or three days depending on how much progress we’re making on the defensive side of the ball.”


(on his plan for the heat) “I met with doctors all offseason, Kap (Director of Sports Medicine/ Head Athletic Trainer Geoff Kaplan).  It’s been in place for two or three months.  Basically we’re going to work our way to a two-hour outside practice.  We were out there for about an hour and 15 minutes today.  We’ll do the same thing tomorrow.  Then we’ll get to about an hour and a half, a little bit further, and then I think by day five, we ought to be out there for good.”


(on losing FB Vonta Leach) “Losing Vonta (Leach) is very tough because you got to remember, he’s a free agent off the streets that we picked up and then look what’s happened in his career.  That’s a great feeling as a coach and (Running Backs Coach) Chick (Harris) did a great job with him.  I talked to him yesterday at length and I’m happy for him.  He got a hell of a contract and he’s a heck of player, he’s on a good football team.  I wish we could’ve got it done.  We tried, it didn’t work out, but I told Vonta I’m proud of him.  I’m happy for him. I wish him the best.”


(on TE James Casey’s opportunity) “First off, what we do is easy for James (Casey).  There’s no overload when it comes to a mental deal.  It’s going to be the physical part, naturally.  There’s some things we can do with James that maybe we didn’t do with Vonta (Leach) from some of James’ strengths.  We could be built a little different when it’s all said and done, but we don’t need to get in a hurry here.  We need to give the young kids a chance and keep letting James work with what we do.”


(on if he’s excited to do something different on offense with TE James Casey) “Well obviously your wheels start spinning because you could be a little bit different offensive football team, but yet teach the same schemes and those type of things.  James (Casey) is very athletic.  He’s a tight end with great hands, very athletic, smart, can handle a big load.  He could give us some flexibility, but right now I want him to settle down, learn the position and we’ll go from there.”


(on what TE James Casey has to prove as a blocker) “He’s got to step in there and do the things we ask him to do iso-wise.  Our fullback probably straight-on iso’s 8-to-10 times a game and a lot of times, he’s on the backside cutting off doing those type of things, so that will be a big factor in James’ (Casey) development.  But at the same time, we have to be smart as coaches and know what James could give us in some other areas.  It’s kind of give-and-take.”


(on how encouraging it is to see a lot of key guys returning) “The thing that’s encouraging is that the way we’re working right now.  DeMeco (Ryans) went through the whole practice because of what we’re doing.  I think if we had been out there today two hours or two hours and 15 minutes full-go, we would have had to pull him off at some point.  I think everything is structures so we can get our injured guys going, we can get used to the heat and bring our team along the right way.  We got to be careful here, a lot of dynamics going on with training camp this year.”


(on when ILB will play) “I liked what I saw today, watching during the individual.  He’s (Brian Cushing) come a long way this past week.  I don’t think you’re going to see him in the next couple days, but I don’t think he’s very far away.  I don’t want to put a timetable on it.  We’ll see.  He’s definitely a few days away anyway.”


(on what he expects out of RB ) “I want to see him compete.  Let’s face it, we don’t know a lot about him.  He missed most of camp last year and when he did get healthy, he got hurt. He’s very talented.  He’s lining up as a fourth guy right now in camp and I’m sure that wasn’t much fun, but I’m going to see him compete.  He’s a talented young man and I want to see him get out here every day and work his way up because we know he can help us.”


(on not being able to practice with the new signed free agents) “I don’t make the rules, I go by them.  That’s different.  That’s 10 key players we had watching practice today, so it’s a different dynamic I have to work with.  We got the biggest roster we’ve ever had in this league, 90, but today we had 74 guys practicing.  That’s the least number we’ve ever had at practice, so there’s some hoops to go through and I got to get them until Thursday before I can get them all out here.”


(on if it’s weird to see former defensive end OLB Mario Williams at linebacker) “Yeah, standing up on that edge, but boy was it exciting to see him go through the linebacker drills today.  I think he’s very excited about his career and where it’s going now with this new position, so to speak, so it will be fun to watch for all of us.”


OLB Connor Barwin
(on OLB Mario Williams getting to rush more than him) “We only installed one defense so far, so I’ll be rushing, I’m sure I will. Today we didn’t have that in yet but I’m sure in the next week or so they’ll put in some rushes where I get a chance to get after the quarterback.”


(on how his leg is feeling) “Good. The ankle felt really good today. Out on the grass it felt good. I could start to feel it a little bit after about an hour but it felt good. It held up really good.”


(on what will be the best for him going into a 3-4) “Just the versatility. I think the way you can disguise things is going to really help with the rush and the drop. I think tight ends and tackles will not know what I’m going to do every play. Essentially we try to look like I can do both things, so I think that’s going to be the biggest advantage.”


(on the enthusiasm of today) “It’s Day One. It’s like the first day of school, everything. Everybody’s all excited, everybody’s all jacked up. This morning I bet we had to be out here at 7:50, half the guys were out here at 7:30, 7:40. In a week that won’t be anything like that but Day One, everybody’s all jacked up, juiced up, ready to go”


TE James Casey
(on how confident he is handling the blocking portion of playing fullback) “I’m extremely confident.  I played two years in the NFL.  I’m not some soft, weak guy.  You got to be a tough guy to play in the League, especially playing line-of-scrimmage and tight end and special teams stuff.  Fullback is a little different because you have a running head start and sometimes you’re one-on-one with the linebacker.  I feel fine doing it.  I’ve done it before.  I feel comfortable doing it and I just got to go out there and prove that I can do it.  It’s one of those things that you can’t just talk about it until you go out there and do it.  Hopefully I just let my actions answer my critics.  I know there’s a lot of people that say ‘Can he do it? Can he not do it?’  I plan on being able to do it and hopefully I can go out there and show people I can do it.”


(on having flexibility at the fullback position) “Playing tight end the first two years, I know that position pretty well and I’ve also been doing fullback as well the first two years, but mainly concentrating on tight end.  Any time they tell me to go to tight end, I’ll still know everything what to do and also fullback.  I could go in to tight end from the fullback position.  That’s the coaches’ job.  I just go out there and whatever play they call, I’ll do whatever they say.  If it’s motion out wide or if it’s staying in at fullback and going iso-block, I’m happy to do whatever and I feel capable to do anything.”


(on the toughest transition to fullback) “Just getting used to angles and ready the line of scrimmage is the toughest part.  You got all those big bodies in front of you and you have to try to maneuver your way through them to get to the linebackers.  You got a guy that you’re responsible for, but sometimes the line gets in your way or sometimes maybe somebody gets beat and you got to pick up their guy.  So just getting used to reading the offensive line and getting through the line of scrimmage, picking up fullbacks and what kind of angles and getting through there.  I felt fine doing it today and when you put pads on and it’s in a game and everybody has different uniforms on, it’s a little easier.”


WR Andre Johnson
(on getting back out to practice) “It was fun and exciting. You can tell a lot of the guys were pumped but it was a little rusty, we didn’t have the OTAs but it was fun. I’m excited to be out here. It’s training camp here and I’m pumped to play football.”


(on his expectations) “We always have big expectations but in the past we just talked about them so much that we just ran them in the ground and we never accomplished them. I’m just looking at it now and it’s not something I’m going to talk about, I’m just going to go out and play and that’s what we have to do as a team, we can’t talk about it, the only way we can get it done is on the field. We know what we have to do to be where we want to be but to me there’s no real reason to talk about it you just have to go out and get it done.”


(on losing FB Vonta Leach) “It’s very tough. Vonta (Leach) was a big part of our team and not only a great player but a great teammate. When guys were uptight he was a guy to loosen everybody up so it’ll be a little different. I talked to him yesterday and he was pretty hurt, he wanted to be here he didn’t want to leave but I just told him that it’s the nature of the business, you go through things like that but at the same time we’re still friends. We’ll see him sometime this year because I know we play them and he’ll be pumped and ready to go.”


(on who is going to fill FB Vonta Leach’s role) “Vonta (Leach) was Vonta, I don’t think you can find a guy. You just have to have a guy step in and replace him. We have fullbacks here and when we break down to our 53-man team we’ll have a guy in his place and I’m pretty sure he’ll step in and do a good job.”


(on if this Texans team excites him the most) “I said yesterday that I thought this was the biggest signing since I’ve been here besides Matt (Schaub) but we got Matt in a trade. As far, as free agents it’s the biggest signing and you’re pumped up about it because we haven’t had those things before and the fans are pumped up about it. We’re just excited and we just want to get where we want to be so we just got to go out here and keep working.”


(on if some of last year’s losses were flukes) “I don’t really worry about last year, that’s over and done with. All I can focus on is the now. My main focus now is to come out here every day to training camp and just get better as a football player and help this team get better, that’s my main focus right now.”


(on staying healthy during training camp) “I think now, with the way things are, there will be more detailed things. We’re out on the field going full speed in the mornings and then walk-throughs in the afternoon, so I think practice will be more detailed, just making sure guys know what they’re doing and I think with just the way practice is now, I think it’ll make us more disciplined as a football team and we won’t have the mistakes and things like we did in the past. That’s something we’ll have to take upon ourselves, but at the same time we can focus more on it.”


(on what he did during the offseason) “I go back and train back down at the U (University of Miami) like I do every year but I just try to get better as a player every year. People always ask me what I’m trying to improve. I just try to improve on every part of my game. I’m just down there working hard and trying to get better.”


CB Johnathan Joseph
(on watching the other players play) “It’s a great feeling to be a part of the Texans. Not having a chance to go out there your first day with your guys, that’s not kind of a good thing but it’s part of the rules. It’s just good to be here and get guys going.”


(on what he’s doing during practice) “I’m kind of coaching and learning at the same time because I’ve been here a couple days trying to learn the system as well as the other guys. I’m out there just being one of the veteran guys trying to help out and learn at the same time.”


(on what he brings in as a veteran to help players like CB ) “Experience, just like what it is to work hard in practice, what it is to finish on plays, just the little simple things, because there’s no doubt about his talent. He has all the talent in the world.”


(on what he hopes to see from the team this year) “Just improvement. That’s the key thing, is improvement. Being better than you were last year and just improving on the little things. If we can get all those things figured out, it can be a big year for us on defense.”


(on what the approach is this year) “I don’t really have anything to judge it off of because I wasn’t here, of course, last year, but my take on it from being in the meetings and going to the defensive courses would be definitely an aggressive defense. Guys on guys, getting pressure on the quarterback, getting sacks and creating turnovers.”


(on what he brings to the team) “Just another veteran, proven guy in this League. So I better go out there and do my job and do my part and hopefully this thing is figured out and we can take off.”


ILB DeMeco Ryans
(on taking younger guys under his wing) “I know it’s a lot different for those guys than it is for a guy like myself who’s been around a lot of different schemes and different things. I like being in a position being able to help these young guys and teach them the few things that I do know.”


(on seeing OLB Mario Williams and OLB Connor Barwin with the linebackers) “Our meeting room is kind of different with those old defensive ends in our meeting room, but it’s good. You can continue to talk and we can talk pass rush together, we could talk key and different things. It just brings the defense kind of full circle with having those guys in the room.”


(on what kind of adjustment it is for OLB Mario Williams and OLB Connor Barwin moving from defensive end to linebacker ) “It’s probably a tough position for Connor (Barwin) pretty much because he’s more of a rush guy. Now he’s having to cover a lot more, which he never had to do. It’s going to take a little getting used to for Connor but I think the more he reps it and does it he’ll get better at that.”


(on how things have changed in the inside with four guys) “It’s not. It’s really not that big of a change for us. We’re keying pretty much the same thing that we keyed in a 4-3 defense. I can’t say it’s not that big of a deal.”


QB Matt Schaub
(on how the first practice went) “It went well, as most first days go; especially coming off what we just went through, through the offseason. Guys were sharp, crisp, excited to be out here moving around and it’s good to get the young guys involved in what we’re doing. I think they’ll be a big part of what we do. It was just good to be out here and have a good practice.”


(on it being tougher than normal to shake off the rust) “Yeah, a little bit. As much as you can try to simulate in the offseason, it’s hard to try to do that, especially without OTAs and the mini-camp. But we did a lot of work, throwing. It was good to get out here in front of a defense, in front of live personnel.”


(on former FB Vonta Leach signing with Baltimore) “It’s tough when you have such a big part of what we do; he was such a good player and good for our offense. But at the same time, it was a good situation for him to move on. I wish him the best. We have guys that just need to step up now.”


(on if he is confident in FB James Casey) “(I’m) Very confident in James (Casey). He’s a smart guy; knows what he’s doing, works his tail off and he’s a guy who can do a lot for us, whether it be at fullback or tight end.”


(on if he’s worried that RB won’t be able to do as well without Vonta Leach on the team) “I don’t worry about that too much because it’s not just one guy leading the way through. The offensive line did a heck of a job, the receivers do a heck of a job blocking. So we have guys who can step in and do that as well. The fullback position only plays so many snaps. There’s a lot of snaps where we’re not even with a fullback. I’m confident that we have the personnel that we have to get it done.”


(on if he felt rusty in his first practice, given that the team didn’t’ have organized training in the offseason) “There’s a little bit of rust, but there would be that even if we had the OTAs and then we kind of took July off. There’s always going to be a little bit. Just getting in and out of the huddle, and just the little things that you work on throughout the offseason when you’re here working out and you have OTAs; it takes a little time to chip that rust off. We’re back at it, full-swing, ready to go.”


(on this training camp being different and if it requires more attention than normal on keeping players healthy) “Yeah, I think so. We’re a more veteran team than we’ve been in the past. Obviously there’s a lot of young rookies but the core of our team is very veteran so we know how to get ourselves ready to play and coach (Gary Kubiak) knows how to get us ready to play. So I think the importance of staying healthy and not having those little nagging things in camp; those little nags and pulls and things can last you the whole season. The more we can keep away from that, the fresher we’ll be and the more resistant.”


(on which new teammates stuck out to him in the first practice) “You know, it’s hard to say right now and I say that every year. By Wednesday or Thursday I’ll have a good feel of who is really surprising because it is just Day One. Everyone kind of looks good when it’s just out here in shorts. So we want to get the pads on and get moving, get more install so you can see what guys can handle and how they produce. So it’s hard to really say who stood out.”


(on if the fourth wide receiver position is up for grabs in training camp) “Yeah. Everybody is out there working. We’ve got the three guys in Dre (Andre Johnson), Jacoby (Jones) and Kevin (Walter), who are proven. From there, it’s whoever wants to step up. We have guys that we have confidence in; a good, young group. It’s just whoever is going to work the hardest and produce.”


(on if he misses former WR David Anderson coming to camp with his head shaved) “I miss David (Anderson). It’s a lot quieter during stretch and in the locker room, especially with him and Vonta (Leach) gone. They’re a couple characters. So it is a little different without him out here. He’ll be missed.”


(on how it was to be back out at practice) “It’s great to be back out here, be back on the field and not worrying about all the other off-the-field stuff. Just to be out here working and getting ready for the season, it’s breath of fresh air.”


(on if the other quarterbacks in camp will be able to step up with former QB Dan Orlovsky’s departure) “Yeah, I think so. He (Dan Orlovsky) was a big part of what we do and helping me throughout the season and during the game. Definitely, he’ll be missed. Matt (Leinart) will do a good job. We’re confident in what he can do and also with T.J. (Yates) coming along.”


DE J.J. Watt
(on playing for Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach Bill Kollar) “I like it, he’s a very passionate coach and he likes to get after us and it’s good for us because it keeps the fire lit under us and keeps us going all day.”


(on being a rookie) “It’s been good. I expect them to be tough to me. I’m a rookie, I’m a first year guy, so they’re going to be tough but I feel good for the first day. The install went well for me I’ve had the playbook for a couple of days and been getting into it so it just felt good to play football again.”


(on the playbook) “They’ve been working us through it pretty good. I’ve had a couple of days to go over it and it’s been nice. The coaches have been doing a great job here of installing it and I’m starting to feel real comfortable with it.”


(on if he has a mentor) “There’s not really one go-to guy; all the guys have really been welcoming and they’ve all been wanting to help and it’s kind of different, as well, going into a new defense together. It’s not like they played it last year so they know a whole bunch more than I do so it’s nice that we can all learn it together and move forward as a group.”


(on acclimating to the heat) “It’s very hot here and definitely one of my biggest adjustments will be the heat and I can’t lie about that it’s going to be tough for me. But I’m going to keep on hydrating and working my tail off to get ready and come that first game, I’ll be set.”


(on how he felt in the heat) “It was tough, it was hot. There’s no doubt about it, it’s hot. But I can’t make excuses I can’t complain because my job is to come out here and play football so that’s what I’m going to do.”


OLB Mario Williams
(on the 3-4 defense) “Little things seem kind of difficult but it’s something we’ll get used to and get back to it.”


(on what seems difficult) “That’s the biggest thing, rushing and standing up, getting the footwork. The biggest thing is technique and not having any wasted motions at this point, so it can be a pretty simple formula.”


(on if it’s coming pretty fast) “We just had a confusion between something that we used to as a 4-3 defensive end and now. It’s a different way to play the technique and that was the thing. We did it out there and we did it in here and come to find out it’s really easy. We were just doing it wrong because we were in the mentality of having a 4-3 defensive end.”


(on his shape) “I’m trimmer. I’m still at 285 but I’m much trimmer.”


(on the difference between 4-3 and 3-4) “This isn’t a problem. The thing is this was our first time doing it. I think if we have done it before it would’ve been different. I think even if we were a 4-3 it would’ve still been the same because we’re doing basically similar things, it might be a little different position like myself standing up but even doing the simple things that we used to do all the time it’s kind of like working back into things.”


(on if he will drop back into coverage) “I’m going to do a little bit of everything. I’m not worried about that though, it’s football.”


(on Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips and Linebackers Coach Reggie Herring) “I’ve had (Linebackers) Coach (Reggie) Herring before at N.C. State, so I know what to expect from him. Wade (Phillips) is a phenomenal coach, obviously. I’m just happy to be aboard and part of the defense.”


(on CB Johnathan Joseph and S joining the team) “That’s going to help us out, getting some leadership in our secondary is a big thing for us.”


(on if he’s better suited for 3-4) “My mentality is to be good at both, being versatile. Being able to play both the 4-3 and the 3-4 is not only good for myself but good for the team because we can flip flop from each.”


(on his conditioning) “I’m fine, everything is good. This was Day One, so getting back into the swing of things was something we’ve all had to do.”


(on if he’s worried about guys taking shots at his legs while rushing) “No, not really worried about it. The only thing I’m worried about is getting my footwork down and I’m talking about not having the hesitation, not having a wasted step. That’s the biggest thing, just getting off the ball and not taking a false step.”


(on if he’s more comfortable standing up) “Yeah, but last year we were just doing it. This year there’s a lot of technique and he’s trying to get me to learn proper steps and not wasting motions; that’s the biggest thing right now.”


(on if he watched film of the Dallas Cowboys’ 4-3 defense) “Yeah, because that’s where they (defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and linebackers coach Reggie Herring) came from, so watching guys like DeMarcus Ware and stuff really helped us out.”


(on if he’s excited about the change) “Yeah, I’m really excited. It’s one of those things that we got to stay in the classroom and really got to focus on working on the fundamentals. Like I said, it’s the technique things that are different right now for us in the 3-4.”


(on being open to playing in a 3-4 defense) “You look around the League and most of the linebackers that get the sacks are in a 3-4 defense. There are big names out there obviously from the 3-4, so it’s still the same thing in a 3-4 defense; you want to get to the quarterback.”


(on if the games they lost last year were bad luck) “I don’t play the luck game. We won, we won. We lost, we lost, but at the end of the day, we just got to win.”


(on if he’s excited about this team more than any other) “Definitely, this is now. Before whether it was good or bad, this is the present, so I’m excited about going out there and getting after it.”


(on if it was strange seeing the changes in defense) “There are some things that are obviously a little different like when we do our stretches the big guys go first and then it’s the linebackers and sometimes we kind of hesitate like we’re about to go but that’s just ‘cause we’ve been doing it for so long that it’s alright.”

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