Quotes: Third day of Texans draft

The Texans 4th-6th round draft picks and their respective position coaches spoke to the media on Saturday afternoon.

 

DE
C
WR
Offensive Line Coach John Benton
Wide Receivers Coach Larry Kirksey
Asst. Head Coach/Defensive Line Bill Kollar
Kicker
Special teams coordinator Joe Marciano

 

DE Jared Crick
(on his reaction to being selected by the Houston Texans) “It’s a great organization to have an opportunity to be a part of. I’ve been following them. I follow guys like (Texans DE) just for the fact that he plays the same position I did in college, so it was good to follow him. And just seeing the progress that the team has made over the past couple of years, they’re an exciting ball team to watch.”

(on joining the Houston Texans defense) “I’m very excited to play for a team who prides themselves on defense as Houston does. Coming from Nebraska, where we do the same as far as pride on defense, it’s very exciting to go in and have the opportunity to work for a coach like coach (Texans defensive coordinator Wade) Phillips and the whole defensive staff.”

(on which players he patterns his playing style after) “I like to predicate myself on hard work, and again, watching guys like (Texans DE) J.J. (Watt) play this year, I like to think that I have the same mentality as far as how we play the games. So just being around those guys who predicate themselves on hard work, I think is going to be a great opportunity for myself.”

(on how much interaction he had with the Texans prior to the draft) “Other than just a conversation at the Combine, not too much at all. We didn’t really talk that much, so this is kind of a surprise for me.”

(on what being drafted means to him) “It’s very special. You live your whole life and wait for this moment, so right now it’s just really exciting. It’s been a while since I played football, and I’m just ready to get back out there and play the game I love.”

(on where he’s watching the draft and who he’s with) “I’m at my aunt and uncle’s house in Cozad, Nebraska, and I’m just with some family members and kind of not really watching, but I’ve just kind of been waiting for the call and today I’m pretty fortunate to get it.”

(on his style of play) “I like to consider myself a guy who plays the game hard. I love this game and I’d do anything for my team. I want to win, and whatever it takes to win, I’m going to do, whatever my role is. I like to consider myself a very loyal teammate, someone who’s going to work for the guys, so I’ve just got to go in and I’ve got to prove that to the vets and I’ve got to prove that to my new teammates.”

 

C Ben Jones
(on his reaction being drafted by the Texans) “It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had. I’m just excited. It’s in the south. I love being from the South. I was born down here, so it’s good to stay down south. I can’t wait to get there and enjoy Texas and being in Houston.”

(on how he would describe the type of player he is) “I’d say I’m a very physical guy that plays whistle to whistle and I like to get after it.”

(on where he’s watching the draft) “I’m watching it at my aunt’s house in Bibb County, Alabama because I don’t have service at my house at home.”

(on if he had any idea the Texans would pick him) “I really didn’t have any idea. One of the special teams guys said, ‘Hey, I heard good things about you when I was talking to the special teams coach,’ but that’s really all I heard. I am excited.”

(on how many people he is watching the draft with) “It’s probably 30 of us. It’s all my mom’s side of the family.”

(on what he knows about the Texans offense and zone blocking scheme) “They’ve got a high powered offense and a lot of great talent. I actually followed them pretty well with (Matt) Schaub and then they had TJ Yates last year, , (Arian) Foster, so you’ve got a lot of power down there and I can’t wait to get in that system and contribute in any way I can.”

(on if he ran a similar scheme at Georgia) “Very similar. We ran a lot of inside and outside zone. I think I can come in and do whatever I can to help the team out.”

(on if there is a player that he looks up to and simulate his game after) “I’ve always grown up watching Jeff Saturday and just seeing him. He’s a 6’2”, 6’3” guy kind of like me. He played for awhile and he’s from Georgia so I followed him for awhile now. Now, hopefully I can play for awhile and kids can look up to me.”

(on if he think he needs to add size before playing in the NFL) “I think I’m a pretty good size but if they need me to get bigger, I’ll definitely do that. If they want me to lose a little weight, I’m up for anything. Whatever they want me to do, I’ll do.”

(on if he has played any other positions on the line other than center) “I actually played guard my whole life growing up, all through high school and I played it in college at Georgia a lot. I was the backup to both guards this year and the previous two years. I played center, but our next best player was a center, so if somebody got hurt, I would go to guard and he’d become the center.”

 

WR Keshawn Martin
(on the type of receiver Martin is) “I’m just a fast, quick type of receiver, also can do punt and kick returns. I feel like I got good route-running ability, and I feel like I’m going to be a good fit for the Houston Texans.”

(on who he patterns his style of play after) “When I was in college, I liked to compare myself to a Percy Harvin-type of player that could make those big plays for the team and really help the team out.”

(on his favorite type of route to run) “My favorite type of route is probably a 12-yard out route.”

(on how much exposure he had to the Texans’ offensive staff during the entire process) “I really can’t remember, but I don’t think that I talked to the Texans at all. I don’t think I talked to them at the Combine, and I haven’t talked to them at all. It’s such a surprise that the team that I haven’t really talked to just picked me up like that. I’m just so happy, I’m lost for words right now.”

(on playing with WR Andre Johnson) “It’ll be great just playing with a guy of his caliber, just going in there and learning from him and being hopeful that one day, I’ll get my chance to be the type of player that he is.”

(on what he needs to work on to make the transition)  “The first thing I feel I’ve got to work is just getting used to the system, playbook, everything like that, and just getting my hands, not looking up the field too early, just really concentrating and focusing on the ball. Then, once I get the ball in my hands, I’ll feel like I’ll already have the ability to play in the NFL.”

(on other Big Ten players joining him in this rookie class) “Yeah, I know they drafted , right? Yeah, so I’m excited about that just playing with him.”

(on what his draft day has been like – where, with whom, how he found out the news) “I’m at my mom’s house right now watching it with my mom, my aunt, grandma, cousin, and my girlfriend and my son. I just got a call, and I’d seen who was on the clock, so I took a wild guess. I was saying it was them.”

(on his family’s reaction when it happened) “Yeah, it was a lot of crying going on. They were over here crying a little bit, but I’m good.”

(on his agent) “Chase Callahan.”

 

Offensive Line Coach John Benton
(on drafting and Ben Jones) “We’re very excited about both of them. Starting with Brandon Brooks, he’s a guy who through the draft process—both these guys were targeted by us early on, even before we knew a whole lot. You start this out by watching game film, from a coach’s perspective, and that’s all you know about them and then you start the combine and the different processes and get to know them a little better. Brandon is a guy who obviously we liked him initially on film. He’s a big presence guy, which is a little different from us. He’s a big body man and I liked what he did at Miami of Ohio. I was very impressed with how he played in the East-West game. We actually brought him in here to the deal and spent an extensive amount of time with him in the meeting room, at dinner, casual settings, formal settings, the whole deal. He just surpassed our expectations that way and I really feel like we’re getting a physical presence who also has the things that we need to be successful in the way that we run the ball which is body quickness and the ability to get to the second level and to reach and cutoff shades and that type of thing, which is a little different from other offenses. We were excited that he was there when he was there. Ben was a guy, a very similar deal, we started watching film on him and we all watched it separately at the beginning. Myself, Jim Ryan helped out this year, Rick Dennison, Gary (Kubiak) and he was one of the guys we all came to a consensus to target right off the bat. He only exceeded our expectations. He’s one of those guys, everything you go investigate about Ben Jones is A-plus, plus: character, work ethic, and those types of things. He really is a role model in that way. I’m obviously very excited that we got both of those guys.”

(on if they ran the zone blocking scheme at Miami of Ohio) “Yeah, close enough. It’s never exactly right. Miami of Ohio was more of a spread offense that all of the colleges are running. The good thing in our vein is it doesn’t matter what offense you really run, almost every offense uses zone blocking, so that’s a big thing and all the linemen have to pass protect so you can evaluate them, at least to an extent. One thing that I always tell all of our young guys coming in, ‘we’re not drafting you for what you are, we’re drafting you for what you can become.’ Both of these guys have a high ceiling in that way.”

(on Ben Jones saying he patterns his game after Jeff Saturday) “That’s a good one to pattern. He’s been playing and been successful for a long time. Along those same lines, Jeff Saturday is great success. It may not be the exact scheme we’re running but that’s really irrelevant to me at this point. If he’s taking on the work ethic and professional attitude, then he’s going to be very successful doing that.”

on losing former starters, RG Mike Brisiel and RT Eric Winston during the offseason, and if he’ll have to bring his rookie offensive linemen up-to-speed because of it) “Sure. I tell you, from standpoint, it was painful losing those guys. From obviously Mike (Brisiel) and Eric (Winston) are outstanding players, not only that over the course of six years, you grow pretty close to guys, even on a personal level. It hurt from being their position coach and whatnot. I think, obviously losing two of five starters on the line, knew this draft or whether it was free agency or the draft, it had to be addressed. I would personally, and I think it’s the thought of quite a few, I would always rather do it through the draft if we can’t get viable players and feel like we really did.”

(on how he sees third-round pick G Brandon Brooks and fourth-round pick C Ben Jones fitting in with the rest of his offensive line) “Very well. There’s going to be a heck of a lot of competition going on, which can…the rising tide raises all boats. I think we’re not handing out positions to anybody so we’ll see where everyone ends up right there but there’s a pretty good competition for those inside three spots right there. Obviously will have the upper hand but we’ll throw these other guys in the fire with Antoine (Caldwell) and see what happens.”

(on how much better he feels about the depth of the offensive line with the players they’ve drafted) “Quite a bit better. I’ll tell you, just on a side note, obviously we’ve got some players, but even more specifically, we like what has done. But losing Mike Brisiel, this is the little known fact and part of the structure of my job, is Mike Brisiel was our backup center. If something were to happen to Chris Myers in a game, that was Mike Brisiel. I think Ben Jones coming in as a center provides us right now with a legitimate backup at that center spot and allows us more flexibility, whether it’s Thomas Austin and (Antoine) Caldwell and even .”

(on if the Texans’ draft picks on the offensive line viable candidates to start) “Absolutely. I think it’s wide open in there.”

(on how much Ben Jones’ ability to play guard helps him with the Texans) “It helps a lot. It really does. Just as I mentioned with Mike Brisiel being our backup center, we only get to suit up seven for a game. You really can‘t afford to have one-position players really at any spot. All our tackles know both tackles positions and all our inside guys will know all three inside spots. We may not choose to do that, but they’ve all got to have some ability to do that. Versatility becomes a key part. I was telling them, you win the starting job outright, maybe you don’t have to worry about it as much. But when you’re coming up and you’re coming in to compete, you’ve got to do that and we’ll rep them in practice that way. Ben (Jones) will come in right off the bat and he’ll be repped at center and guard and probably do that with Brandon (Brooks) as well.” 

 

Wide Receivers Coach Larry Kirksey
(on his thoughts about WR Keshawn Martin and what he can bring to the team) “I just think when you look at Keshawn, he’s been a productive receiver. We like his size. We like the way that he plays the game. He’s an outstanding player with the ball in his arms. He has route-running skills where he can escape the line of scrimmage and elude defenders, and I like his playing strength. He’s a dynamic player that we think will come in and compete and hopefully run after the catch, which has been down in the last couple of years, and improve that and make us a better football team.”

(on how kickoff and punt returns skills help with his versatility) “Again, if you go back and just watch him like we all did, you can see that he has running back skills like Percy Harvin does, but at the same time, he’s not a big receiver, but he’s an explosive receiver, and we like the way that he plays the game.”

(on what he liked about the two Big 10 draft picks in comparison to what else was available) “Again, it’s a very talented group of receivers coming out, and it just so happened the way we had them lined up and those receivers, that’s how it came out. The Posey kid, again, he’s a big, physical receiver, he’s a good athlete, he’s smart, and we expect him to come in and compete. That’s what we want our receivers to be is physical. We think he brings that to the table, and at the same time, he only played a limited number of games a year. At the same time, we see the potential there to be an impact player.”

(on how excited he is to start training with these rookies) “That’s the key. Again, you guys know we drafted Jacoby (Jones) I guess five years ago, and we had Dorin Dickerson a year or two ago, so we only had a couple draft picks then from that. Those classes were so weak. Again, we’re looking to improve in that area and get some impact players and create competition and make us a better football team.”

(on if Keshawn Martin will return kicks after doing so in college) “He’s done that, and he’s an outstanding returner. He has good vision, and that’s key in returning kicks or even playing the game. You got to have vision and run-after-the-catch skills, and he has both of those – vision and run after-the-catch.”

(on ’ future with the team after the acquisitions of DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin)  “Well, again. We’re creating competition right now, and again, as far as that, I don’t know that. Right now, Jacoby’s here on this team, and we’re going to proceed that way, but at the same time, we’re creating competition and trying to make us a better football team.”

(on if the DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin picks are a statement about the depth of the quality of receivers coming out or about the receivers on the current roster) “Well, I just think it’s about the depth of the quality of the receivers coming out. It’s a good year for receivers, and I think there are going to be guys that are not going to get drafted that are very talented. They’ll come in and make some teams from that standpoint, but it’s a good year. We’re in position where now we can create competition to make our team better, and that’s what we’re trying to do and get beyond where we were a year ago, beyond that first playoff game and beyond. At the same time, we want to improve in that area.”

(on if he has had discussions with Jacoby Jones on what he needs to do in the offseason) “No, and again, he’s here working out, and we’re proceeding as normal. No, we haven’t had that discussion. This is news to me, too. I guess Rick Smith and Coach Kubiak will answer those questions for you, but we’re proceeding just like he’s here. He’s on this football team.”

(on how excited he is to be getting multiple draft picks) “It really is. You always want to try and improve and this game is forever evolving and changing as far as talented young receivers. This is a good year for that, but at the same time, we want to continue to build and improve in that area. You’re right, it’s a good year to get a couple young receivers in here.”

(on how difficult it is to sort through all the depth at receiver in the draft) “Again, it’s a great number and Marc Lubick and I sat down and would make up cutups on each receiver. We then would watch the combine and then we’d watch them at the all star games and things of that nature. We would try and see what skills they had in common. Who is explosive? Who can get in and out of their breaks? Who has strong hands? Hand placement with the ball? All those things come into place. Run after the catch? At the same time, will be block in this system? Our system is one where we ask our receivers to be blockers and if you go throughout the NFL and you talk to other teams, they say, ‘man, how do those receivers block those defensive ends and block downfield?’ That’s a compliment to those guys but at the same time, we want guys to come in and be able to do things that we want in our system. Our system is one that you have to work at it and prepare because of all the things we ask them to do. To answer your question, it was a tough decision but at the same time it was a lot of hard work and hopefully it will pay off.”

(on what jumps out about DeVier Posey on tape) “He’s a fantastic athlete. He’s smart. He’s tenacious and he has those skills you’re looking for as a receiver with his size and playing speed and hands, route running skills that you’re looking for in a receiver. He has all those things.”

 

Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Bill Kollar
(on what the Texans like about DE Jared Crick) “We really like him. I watched some film on him from last year, also. He got hurt this year and missed, really, most of the season, so I saw him and he really uses his hands well and gets off blocks well. His sophomore and junior year, he had a total of 19 sacks, so he can get after the passer and plays real good technique, so we really liked what we saw on film.”

(on whether DE Jared Crick’s injury last season concerned the Texans) “No, not really. You see what the guy can do, what he’s done over his four years at Nebraska, and it’s just one of those things. I think he had a concussion and came back and tore a pec (pectoral muscle) and was out for the year; and those things just happen, sort of like (former Texans OLB) Mario (Williams) this past year for us. He’s 100 percent and ready to go, and we’re looking to get some pretty good help from him this year.”

(on whether there was any drop-off in DE Jared Crick’s production after DT Ndamukong Suh’s departure to the NFL in 2010) “Not really, because the first year that Suh was gone, he still had 9.5 sacks and was very productive. Again, this year he was hurt, so that’s obviously the lack of production that he had this year, but we see him as a good football player and we see that he should be able to get into our rotation at defensive end and be a big plus for us.”

(on whether DE Jared Crick has a similar motor to Texans DEs J.J. Watt and ) “Well, that will be yet to be determined, but we don’t see any problem with that once he gets here and he sees how everybody else plays and works. We see him fitting right in with us, because also (DE Tim) Jamison and (NT Shaun) Cody and (NT) and all the guys have all worked real hard and I’m sure he’ll fit right in.”

(on whether there are any lingering issues from DE Jared Crick’s injuries last season) “He was totally cleared at the Combine and he’s in good shape and ready  to go.”

(on whether DE Jared Crick reminds him of any players that he has coached in the past) “Not necessarily. He really does a good job with his hands. He’s an instinctive player, which you really like. You know how you see some guys who sort of look like robots when they’re out there playing? He’s not like that at all. He’s an instinctive player; he uses his hands real well, comes off blocks, and I think that’s why he had a productive career at Nebraska.”

(on whether DE Jared Crick could play defensive end and defensive tackle) “No, not really. What happens is, with us playing the 3-4 now, he’s not an outside linebacker. Really what happens is we have outside linebackers, defensive ends, and then the nose men. The defensive ends usually play a five- and a three-technique, and that’s what we see him really playing. We don’t see him as a nose man, either, and then when we get into nickel, he’ll be an inside rusher, really, a defensive tackle for us.”

K Randy Bullock
(on his feelings about being drafted by his hometown team) “It feels great. It’s my dream, growing up in Houston. To have the opportunity to play in my hometown, it’s a dream come true.”

(on where he is watching the draft) “I’m watching the draft in College Station, Texas, with some family and close friends.”

(on his reaction when they called his name) “It was awesome. They called me with a couple minutes left on the clock, and I wasn’t sure if the fifth round was going to work for me because I saw the time ticking down. When I saw the Houston area code, my heart stopped.”

(on if he was aware that the Texans never drafted a kicker before and if he thought he might be the first) “I had an idea through interviews and my workout process with them. They had told me they were considering doing it, and I’m very happy that they did. It’s the place that I wanted to be, so I’m very excited about my opportunity to be a Houston Texan.”

(on what the Texans did to scout him) “I saw (special teams coordinator) Coach (Joe) Marciano several times. I worked out for him at the Combine. He came out and worked me out at my pro day. I went and worked out in Houston for them for their local workout, and we stayed in touch several times probably once or twice a week throughout the whole process. I knew he was high on me. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, but I’m very, very happy that it did.”

(on what he thinks of Texans special teams coordinator Joe Marciano) “I’ve enjoyed my conversations with him. I really get along well with him, and I think that’ll carry over onto my play, onto the field. Having a relationship like I have with him going into the season will definitely be a great situation for me.”

(on his family’s reaction about his being home) “Everybody started yelling. As soon as we saw the Houston area code, I said, ‘Hold on,’ and everybody started yelling. Most all my friends here are from Houston, so everybody’s fired up, and I’m very excited to be in blue and red.”

(on what he thinks the difference will be kicking in the NFL) “Honestly, I think it’ll be about the same. A lot of it’s just continuing to work hard, moving through the workout process. Everything’s mentally tough. It’s a learning process, and I think I’m prepared to go out and contribute as soon as I get there.”

(on how much of a possibility he saw Houston being after K Neil Rackers signed with the Redskins) “That right there was kind of a red flag. Obviously, they didn’t have anybody on their roster, so they would definitely be looking for somebody. I wasn’t sure if it would be something that they would draft or a free agent, but they were obviously in the market, and I was hoping that my number was the number that they dialed.”

(on if he was excited when he saw K Neil Rackers had signed with the Redskins) “A little bit. I really didn’t follow a whole lot of that throughout the process. Most of the information I had was from friends and family members. I stayed away from the internet the last few months, but all that stuff didn’t really mean anything until my number was called.”

(on if he was excited when the Texans were established in 2002) “Absolutely. I grew up watching the Houston Oilers, and then we didn’t have a team for a while when they moved out to Tennessee. I started following them immediately once they came to Houston, and it’s pretty neat for me to be in this situation. It’s a dream come true.”

 

Special Teams Coordinator Joe Marciano
(on K Randy Bullock) “Obviously, very positive. There’s a couple things I like about Randy. Obviously, he has the leg strength. I worked him out twice, so leg strength is important and mindset is important. I just think he’s a very strong-minded individual. He has a lot of confidence in himself. More importantly, I’ve got confidence in him.”

(on if he has any concerns about going with a rookie at kicker) “None.”

(on if Bullock’s ability to overcome adversity has made him so strong-minded) “Well the tragedy with his dad, overcoming that is pretty strong. I don’t know. You’d have to ask him that. I just think his total makeup, he’s all business. That’s another thing I found out as I’ve researched a lot of young kickers this year in case we had to go this route. I talked with a lot of them and worked a few out. I studied a lot of tape. I made a lot of phone calls. He is all business. That’s another part of the process and equation that I like about him.”

(on Texans general manager/executive vice president Rick Smith saying that kickers tend to fail before they succeed in the NFL) “It’s no different than any other position. Everybody fails. Show me one that didn’t fail.”

(on if it’s more obvious when a kicker fails) “We took a rookie punter last year so we’re not afraid to make a move. The biggest difference obviously is if the punter shanks a punt in the second quarter and they end up going three downs and punt, it kind of goes unnoticed. But if a kicker misses a big kick or makeable kick and you lose by two points, obviously its more amplified, you’re right.”

(on the return abilities of Keshawn Martin) “There were a couple of guys we were looking at for the wide receiver position. The fact that he has return ability, everything else being equal, he gives us more value and he’s a terrific punt returner and kickoff returner.”

(on Randy Bullock’s ability to kickoff) “He’s pretty strong. We’re in a league now where the five yards makes a difference. It depends on who you play. If you put it eight yards deep and you’re playing the Jets or the Bears, they’re coming out. You’re going to have to cover some kicks. There’s a couple things that I think I can help him with to be more consistent in getting the ball deeper, a couple technical things I think he can improve on. He’s strong; he’s strong enough to kickoff.”

(on what stands out about Keshawn Martin returning kicks on film) “He plays fast. He’s fearless. He’s got courage. He doesn’t like to run out of bounds. When he got near the sidelines he looks to cut back or even get three, four, five more yards. Usually I judge a returner by how they run the middle returns because when you run in the middle, it’s not a wall. It’s instincts and he has the instincts. He has running back instincts. He can put his foot in the ground and make a move. He can break tackles. He can make you miss. He has the speed to go the distance. He’s pretty complete. There are not many holes in him as a returner.”

Texans hope for 2nd-year surge from Dickerson, others

Texans head coach Gary Kubiak often says that players make their biggest improvements between their first and second NFL seasons.

It’s no surprise, then, that when asked about which players he’s most eager to see on the field this fall, Kubiak rattled off the names of three rookies from 2010.

“I would’ve loved to see have an offseason,” he said. “I would’ve loved to see (Trindon) Holliday have an offseason; he missed a whole year. (Ben) Tate, Tate really hasn’t played football in two years. Usually, players like that can make huge jumps from year one to two and help your team a great deal, and I think in a lot of ways we’re starting over a little bit. It’s not their fault, it’s not our fault. It’s just the way it’s worked out, so we’ll see how disciplined they’ve been.”

Tate and Holliday are coming off season-ending injuries, and Dickerson played sparingly as a rookie as he transitioned from tight end to wide receiver. Because of the lockout, the Texans weren’t able to monitor their progress at OTAs and mini-camp like they would in a typical offseason.

Dickerson is a hot topic among Texans fans because of his size (6-1, 220), speed (4.47 40-yard dash), athleticism (43.5-inch vertical) and potential that he flashed in the preseason (see: ). But the seventh-round draft pick from Pittsburgh remains a work in progress heading into his second season.

“He’s got to step to the table in a lot of areas, particularly in special teams,” Texans wide receivers coach Larry Kirksey said. “He’ll play in all aspects of special teams for us, and he’s got to try to get in to be that third or fourth receiver. At worst, can be the fourth receiver for us or fifth receiver, but he’s got to grow up now.

“He’s got size. He’s got playing strength. He’s got speed, and now he has to be a little bit more nifty and understand the things that we want him to do and be able to function in those areas and be productive. He has to be on point to help this football team in any way he can. (That) starts with special teams, and then in the three- and four-wide receiver sets, he’s got to be able to go in and play anywhere we ask him to play. When the coverage is away from him and on those other guys, he’s got to step up and make some plays for us.”

Dickerson spent much of his practice time on the scout team last season. Kirksey thinks it helped him “tremendously” to be able to watch and learn from perennial All-Pro .

“There were days where you thought, ‘Hey, this guy’s got it,’” Kirksey said. “At the same time, he wasn’t very consistent at times. He had a whole year to watch Andre; now, he’s got to put the time in. He’s got to put the film work in. The biggest thing with him because of his size, trying to learn that position – like I said, he’s got the speed. Now, he’s just got to get the finesse part of it down and understand getting in and out of his breaks.”

The Texans had high hopes for Tate last season as a second-round pick out of Auburn. He was expected to compete for immediate playing time at running back, but he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the first preseason game.

went on to lead the league in rushing, and averaged 6.3 yards per carry as Foster’s backup. Tate was medically cleared in February, but it’s unclear what his role will be in a backfield that also includes .

“I just hope that Ben can come out and compete with the three guys that we have,” running backs coach Chick Harris said. “Ben hasn’t been in a regular-season game yet. Ben kind of has a taste of what it’s like, but he hasn’t been in it yet. He is confident that he’s going to be ready and going to bring something to the table. I’ll be confident when I see it. I’m sure he’s going to do the right things to make it a good competition in the backfield.

“I just can’t wait because we know he’s a tough guy. We know he has speed. We know he had talent before we drafted him. We’re expecting him to go out and compete for a position and show what he has and how he fits. That’s what you have to do: see how you fit and what you can get as far as playing time and then make it happen.”

Holliday, a sixth-round pick from LSU, was drafted as a potential game-changer at kick returner. He showed flashes of his blazing speed in training camp before a hand injury ended his rookie season in August.

“If I lived in a perfect world, hopefully he’d be our kickoff returner and would be our punt returner, and/or one of ‘em being both or Trindon doing both,” special teams coordinator Joe Marciano recently told SportsRadio 610. “But, you know, we may not have that luxury. And the depth chart is a long list. It’s open competition.”

When that competition starts remains to be seen. But Texans coaches certainly expect Dickerson, Tate and Holliday to be in the thick of it at their respective positions.

Kubiak, Texans coaches keep fatherhood at the forefront

When Gary Kubiak received a Father of the Year award from a local non-profit group in 2009, he became visibly emotional as he spoke onstage at the ceremony. He called it “the ultimate compliment” in his life.

“My dad’s not here today, but he taught me that I really had two big responsibilities in life,” . “I know I’m a coach; I know I’ve got a lot of responsibility over there on Kirby Drive. But really, my two biggest responsibilities in life are to be a good husband and be a good father.”

Kubiak and his wife, Rhonda, are the proud parents of three sons: Klint, 23; Klay, 21; and Klein, 19. And Kubiak has long taken the advice of his father Alfred, who passed away in 2010, to heart.

Klint is a graduate assistant at Texas AM. Klay is starting grad school at TCU. Klein is a wide receiver at Rice. Somewhere in between the early mornings, late nights and long weekends that are typical for an NFL coach, Kubiak makes it a point to be with them as much as possible.

“It’s very important,” Kubiak said on Thursday, three days before Father’s Day. “In coaching, you spend a lot of time at the office, and especially six months out of the year it’s a pretty time-consuming job. My wife’s done a tremendous job with them, but one great thing for myself from a coaching standpoint is my kids have always been able to be a part of what I was doing.”

That’s because when Kubiak was an assistant coach with the Denver Broncos, Mike Shanahan would welcome staff members to bring their children around the office and to games. Kubiak has done the same since becoming the Texans’ head coach in 2006.

“Coach Kub is very father-friendly as far as your schedule is concerned,” said Texans special teams coordinator Joe Marciano, a single father of one. “Like during spring break, any time the kids are off in school, he knows they’re off. He’ll come by your office and say, ‘Hey, take off (early). Go be with them.’

“He knows it’s locked and loaded here pretty much Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays during the season, and sometimes a lot of dads don’t see their kids until Friday and then if we’re on the road Saturday, they don’t see ‘em. We come back late Sunday, they don’t see ‘em, and the cycle starts again. If we’ve got back-to-back road games, for example, I think it’s hard to spend a lot of time with your kids. He understands that.”

Most of the Texans’ coaches are fathers. Marciano has a unique plight in that his adopted son Joseph, 11, has autism.

During the season, Joseph stays with a caregiver during the day. Marciano arranges with Kubiak to come in to work earlier in the morning and leave a little bit earlier in the afternoon so that he can spend time with Joseph after school.

“I told Coach Kubiak and Coach (Dom) Capers and Coach (Tony) Dungy, the three coaches I’ve worked for, that my relationship and my time with my son is important,” Marciano said. ”And they agree.”

Marciano has learned how to reach Joseph through a psychological method called applied behavioral analysis. Joseph is an A and B student in school – Marciano calls him a “computer whiz” – and can often be seen roaming the halls of Reliant Stadium with his dad. All of the Texans’ special teams players know him, as do most of the front office staff.

Marciano’s close relationship with Joseph has been featured in USA Today and countless other publications. He has become a spokesperson for autism awareness and the All-Pro Dad and First Down Dads programs.

“I just enjoy my role being a dad,” he said. “It’s neat. It really is. It’s certainly more pressure on raising kids the right way than there is winning football games, I’ll tell you that. Especially with all the negative stuff you see out there around the country with young children that maybe come from households that don’t have dads. I’m not saying their lives are doomed, but their chances of getting in trouble or getting involved with drugs or being disruptive in society… I think the kids that don’t have father figures in their lives are more apt to find themselves in that role.”

This Father’s Day will be Marciano’s first without his own dad, who passed away this spring at the age of 88. Like Kubiak, Marciano bases much of the way he raises his son on the example of his father. He has fond memories of some of his father’s traditions – eating at 5 o’clock every day, going to church every Sunday, going to early mass and Yankees games on Father’s Day – but says that “probably the biggest tradition is my dad was at everything I ever did.” And that’s what he tries to do for Joseph.

Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison feels a similar obligation. Dennison and his wife, Shannon, have five children, including one son who graduated from Yale and another who was just drafted to play for the Houston Astros.

Dennison goes to every parent-teacher conference and went to all of his sons’ games when they were younger. These days, he’s become a regular at his twin daughters’ tap-dance recitals.

“Your primary role once you have kids is being a father, a father and a husband,” Dennison said. “We have a pretty high-pressure job, but we still do things (with our kids). I work – that’s what my job is, to be a coach, but my job as a husband and a father is more important.”

It’s been harder for Kubiak to see his sons as they grow older, but he has done his best. When Klein played football at Strake Jesuit High School in Houston, Kubiak would go to as many of his Friday night games as possible. Klein’s older brothers were playing football at Colorado State at the time, and Kubiak would watch their games on TV. For the ones that weren’t televised – which was most of them – Kubiak arranged for game tapes to be sent to Reliant Stadium the next week.

After Klein graduated in 2009, he often came to Reliant Stadium to work out in the weight room and run routes with Texans assistant coaches and players after OTA and mini-camp practices. Now that Klint and Klay are back in Texas, Kubiak is able to see them more as well.

“I’m very proud of them and what they’re doing,” Kubiak said. “I get a chance to see my youngest one play at Rice – whenever we have a home game, I’m able to go over there and watch a little bit of the game. The other two are getting involved in coaching themselves, so I talk to them about what they’re doing and who they’re working for and what they’re learning.

“I just spend a lot of time with them on the phone during the week. I talk a lot to my little one about not only football but school. Got one who’s married now, so we talk about that kind of stuff, too. Just try to stay very much involved in their life.

“They’re at that point right now where it’s time for them to kind of make their own way, and hopefully you’ve taught ‘em the right things. I know their mother has. We’ll find out if I have, so hopefully they continue to move forward.”

It doesn’t sound like Kubiak has much to worry about in that regard.