Quotes: Friday practice

The Texans practiced Friday 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
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Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on his response to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips turning down his interview with Tampa Bay) “Actually I think I was the last one to know. I was so tied into my game plan and working last night. No, it’s good I mean, it’s great to have him, what he’s done here and be a part of this organization, and you’re always looking for stability in this league from a standpoint of trying to be successful in the long haul, so you’re sitting here with (Executive Vice President/General Manager) Rick (Smith) and Wade and (special teams coordinator) Joe Marciano, you want stability in everything that you’re doing. It’s a great feeling when I found out.”

 

(on if he expects other teams to pursue defensive coordinator Wade Phillips) “You never know. I mean those things, they go through (Executive Vice President/General Manager) Rick (Smith) when people submit requests to talk to your coaches and I’ll tell you like I always told you, you want the best for all your coaches. I mean, these guys work their tail off for you. This business is like any other business, guys want opportunities to move up and to do bigger things and when they’re busting their tail for me and (Owner) Bob McNair and Rick Smith, then we should support their opportunities that they have in their career. But the fact that Wade has chosen to stay here or make that decision, that’s a great one for this organization so like I said, it’s part of the business, you deal with it and like I said, it was a good day.”

 

(on the difference between the Texans defense now compared to their last game against Baltimore) “Yeah, I think, I don’t know if I’m totally right on this, I want to say we came out of Pittsburgh and went to Baltimore, something like that. Those games were pretty close together. We’d lost Mario (Williams), we were going to work Brooks (Reed) at Will, then we moved him to Sam, so you’re right. That was all kind of going on with our team and Baltimore played very well when we went there last time and we started playing pretty consistent defense from that point on. I don’t know if that’s the day we went on the next seven weeks to win. Am I right? But we went in there and played a good football team for three quarters pretty tough, but they got after us in the fourth and deserved to win. It’s been a process in a lot of phases in our team as far as guys coming in and playing and us having to adjust so that’s been part of why we’re here today is because we’ve adjusted well.”

 

(on the players saying the way they played against Baltimore was unacceptable) “Yeah, I agree with that. You know, we’ve had some times where we’ve watched the film together about where we’re heading and our direction and what we’re doing. I know one day I sat in the meeting room with the defense and when the meeting was over, when they got through, I remember standing up and I told them that I thought we had one of the top defenses in the game and that regardless of our issues and what was going on that we had the capability of playing that way and I think we’ve done that consistently throughout the season.”

 

(on how QB T.J. Yates will handle the environment of Saturday’s game and how much the running game can help him) “Well, it helps any quarterback. It’s something that we have to do effective to be successful and win games. As I say all the time, you never know how a game’s going to go, but T.J.’s got a lot of guys going with him and it’s a big stage for a very young man, we all know that, but he’s got a good football team to go play with so we just need him to focus in on his job, protect the football, and let everyone around him play and that boils down to us finding a way to run the football.”

 

(on RB ’s season) “Yeah, it was not the best of starts, and he dealt with the hamstring through camp, and then, we were trying to figure out exactly when was the time to bring him back. I think we brought him back in Miami probably a little soon if I’m right. That seems like three years ago. Then, we sat him in New Orleans the following week, but once he came back for Pittsburgh, I think was his first full game back, he’s been pretty solid throughout the course of the season. If you look at what he’s done, and he’s really only played in 12 football games this year, 11, 12 football games, it’s been remarkable. He’s a hell of a player, and he’s a three-down player, never leaves the field. That’s the most important thing.”

 

(on the importance of TEs Owen Daniels and Joel Dreessen) “Yeah, they give us flexibility offensively and what we can be – a two-back team, a one-back team. Owen and Joel both do a pretty good job on the line of scrimmage. They both obviously can catch the ball, make plays, and then James (Casey) has added to the group, so it’s always kind of been a little bit of strength of our team here over the course of the time that I’ve been here. That group of players, I think (tight ends) coach (Brian) Pariani does a great job with them, and it’s no different right now. We count on them big-time every weekend.”

 

(on how much of an impact FB ’s absence had on the running game in the regular season game against Baltimore) “I got to give them credit from that standpoint. We were in an adjustment phase there because we had just lost James, and I can’t remember which game that one was, Pittsburgh if I’m right, so we were adjusting with Vick (), but Vick came on and played extremely well for us throughout the course of this season. Going in there, the run game against these guys, you know it’s going to be tough, but I keep using the word effective. That’s the key. We’ve got to be in a type of football game where we stay committed to running the football and find a way to be effective before the day’s over.”

 

(on this week of practice) “Well, first off, we made practice very difficult on our players this week. I think that was important. We’re going into a very tough environment, so we made our environment very difficult. We showed them a lot of looks, so from a preparation standpoint, we really challenged them. They’ve been excellent this week. They’ve been great in the classroom. Our effort’s been very good on the field and the focus. They know what they’re fixing to face, so I think it’s been very good. I mean it’s as good as it was last week. New challenge, going on the road, but it’s just as good as last week.”

 

(on how different the team looks now compared to earlier in the season) “I think if when we started Matt (Schaub), had we said, ‘This is what it’s going to look like at the end of the year,’ we would have thought we were facing some very difficult times, but what has happened is we’ve overcome adversity. We believe in each other. We found a way to win. We found different ways to win as a team, offense, defense, special teams, and that’s what has given us confidence in my opinion moving forward. I think we show up on Sunday saying, ‘We don’t know how we’re going to win today, but we’re going to find a way to win,’ and there’s a lot to be said for that. This week will be no different, and we got to go in there and play well in all three phases, and I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but we got to find a way to make it happen.”

 

(on the importance of the kicking game)  “I think it’s huge. It really is, and we got two kickers that kicked a lot in this league, and they’ve been darn good the last month for us. Return game, you never know how many returns you’re going to get your hands on, but if we do get our hands on some, I think Jacoby (Jones) and Danieal (Manning) will give us a chance to make some big plays.”

 

CB Jason Allen
(on the team responding well to injuries) “Well adversity has definitely made us stronger as a group. The defensive unit had a lot of guys go down, playing with a backup quarterback all the way down to our third quarterback, so it’s definitely made us stronger, made us come together as a team and as a unit. Guys are playing confident and we’re playing very well right now.”

 

(on his reaction to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips turning down the interview with Tampa Bay) “I don’t think anyone’s been really paying attention to it that much. I think our main focus has been on Baltimore and the job that we have at stake there this weekend.”

 

(on if there’s one concern in particular he has with Baltimore) “Well we feel like Ray Rice, the offense is really predicated around him. We feel like if we stop him, that can limit a lot of our problems, but they also have a good quarterback and some good wide receivers as well that we have to keep under control and limit their catches and limit their yards after the catch.”

 

OLB Connor Barwin
(on if he was surprised about defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ decision to cancel his interview with Tampa Bay) “I guess I was a little bit surprised because I think from what you guys were talking about, it does sound like he does want that opportunity to be a head coach again and I was a little bit surprised, but I’m happy about it.”

 

(on how he feels about defensive coordinator Wade Phillips being with the Texans again next season) “I’m really excited about that. With the defense we have, what we’re able to do this year to have another year with him, the system to get better, have an off-season with him and (linebackers coach) Reggie (Herring) is obviously very exciting for this team and this defense.”

 

(on if it helps to know that defensive coordinator Wade Phillips isn’t interviewing anymore and if that ever was a distraction) “No, I don’t think there ever was a distraction, I think we’re all adults and understand the situation. I don’t think any of us were distracted, so I don’t think it makes a difference, but I think we’re all excited that he’ll be back.”

 

TE Owen Daniels
(on what it means to him to have ILB Ray Lewis say how talented he is) “Well, it’s all about respect and to have respect from that guy who’s been do it so long, that’s good and we have a lot of respect for those guys, him especially. So, it’s good that he sees that out of us.”

 

(on how critical the tight ends are in the upcoming game) “I think it always is and this week especially. They’ve got two really good linebackers in (Jarret) Johnson and (Terrell) Suggs and a lot of our plays, running plays, typically go out there and we’re going to have to hold up against those guys in protection and be able to get open in the pass game too. It’s always, we’re always involved in the offense whether we’re catching the ball or if we’re having to block for Arian (Foster) and Ben (Tate), but this week it’s magnified.”

 

(on what it would be like to win this upcoming game) “That would be another week, a chance to play in the championship, and one step closer to the ultimate goal. It’s just, we’re all in this, we’re ready for it. We know it’s going to be a big challenge for us, but I think we’ve prepared as well as we have, as well as we could. Coach has thrown everything at us so we’re ready going in on Sunday.”

 

TE Joel Dreessen
(on if he is just thinking about S Bernard Pollard) “Nah, there’s a lot of stuff I’m thinking about. I might mix it up with Bernard a little bit, but I’m thinking about one play at a time really. That’s what it’s going to take.”

 

(on how the team looks different than when they played in the regular season game against Baltimore) “Yeah, and a lot of guys have been hurt. A lot of guys have been put on injured reserve, and all season long, people have been telling us we can’t do it. We can’t keep winning with all these injuries. We can’t win a playoff game with all these injuries. Well, we’re not supposed to go to Baltimore and win a playoff game either, but we’re going to go there and we’re going to put up a fight to say the least.”

 

(on his experience with cold weather games and how it’s changed for him) “I don’t think it changes all that much. When you start mixing in wind and some precipitation, that can change a little bit as far as ball handling and trajectory and that sort of thing, but football’s football.”

 

CB Johnathan Joseph
(on how the team looks different than when they played in the regular season game against Baltimore) “Yeah, that almost seems like it was last year, it was so long ago, but we’ve improved some since that game, and I’m sure they have as well. I think this time around, it’ll be a different look from both of us, and we’re just looking forward just going out and being 1-0.”

 

(on his feelings about the media hype over Baltimore’s defense despite Houston having the second-ranked defense) “Well, they did it for the last ten years or whatever, so that kind of speaks for itself. This year, we made a jump of the difference from last year to this year, but for us, none of that really matters. All of that is out the window. The only thing that counts for us is the game, who has the best defense on Sunday.”

 

(on the difference having OLB Connor Barwin on the edge makes) “I think overall, those guys have just been applying pressure all year long, whoever’s been in there. Just for us, we have to hold up in coverage and just getting that extra half a second, whatever it may be, just so that they can get to the quarterback. Those things work hand-in-hand and step together.”

 

ILB DeMeco Ryans
(on if the defense is upset that they’re not getting the same attention as Baltimore’s defense) “No, it doesn’t matter because at the end of the day, the game has to be played. We continue to go out and have to prove ourselves each week and we don’t expect any of that to change. We’re excited, we’re always the underdog. That’s fine. I like being underdogs. I like people not counting on us to go get it done. It really fuels the fire of this team and it keeps us motivated, keeps us hungry to go and get it done, prove everyone wrong.”

 

(on his reaction to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips turning down the interview with Tampa Bay) “Like I said, I’m excited that he’s sticking here with us because it was selfish but we wanted to keep him here. He’s done a great job here for us. We love him and he’s great to be around, great person, great coach, so we were excited to keep him here.”

 

(on what he said to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips) “I didn’t say anything to him. He didn’t bring up the job to us, so it was nothing to say. It was just good news to hear in passing, he turned down an interview. It’s great news to hear.”

 

DE Antonio Smith
(on his reaction to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips turning down the interview with Tampa Bay) “I’m happy about it. You don’t want to say it and everybody just walked around like it wasn’t a reality, but nobody wants him to leave, especially not yet. We still got some winning to do. On the other hand, I can’t fault him for wanting to take his game up another level. I think everybody knows that Wade is a head coach at heart and that eventually he’s going to want to go do that. So, when it’s time for that to happen, it’s going to happen, but for right now, I’m going to take what I can get.”

 

(on what it will mean if the Texans win on Sunday) “It’ll mean that we just took another step closer to our goal. It would mean a lot for this franchise. I think it’ll just pull us closer together, the city. Probably all the naysayers, they’ll probably jump on the bandwagon and start fueling us and things like that. But this win will probably be, no, will be the biggest win ever in franchise history.”

 

(on if he mind tricked defensive coordinator Wade Phillips into staying) “Yeah, when he was asleep, he didn’t even know I was there. I spoke very silent ninja words to him. It shoots and hits right at the top of the medulla oblongata and it made him do exactly what I wanted him to do.”

Barwin named AFC Defensive Player of the Month

Houston Texans OLB was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month after leading the AFC in sacks and helping the Texans to a 3-0 record in November. Barwin is the second Texan to win player of the month honors this season, joining RB , who was the AFC Offensive Player of the Month in October.

Barwin led the AFC with 6.5 sacks and helped the Texans defense hold its opponents to a League-low 219.3 yards per game and 11.3 points per game, which was second in the League during the three-game span. Barwin accounted for nearly half of a Texans pass rush that registered 15 sacks, one off the League lead for the month.  He recorded at least one sack in each game in November.

In Week 9 vs. Cleveland, Barwin had a sack for 4 yards and followed that up with 1.5 sacks for 7.5 yards in Week 10 at Tampa Bay.  After the Texans’ bye week, Barwin set a franchise record with 4.0 sacks in Week 12 at Jacksonville.

Barwin leads the Texans’ top-ranked defense with 8.5 sacks and 20 quarterback hits in his first season playing linebacker. The 6-4, 264-pound third-year player played defensive end his first two seasons before making the switch to outside linebacker in the Texans’ 3-4 scheme.

Barwin is fifth player in franchise history to win a player of the month award and the second defensive player to win the award. Former Texans safety Marcus Coleman was named AFC Defensive Player of the Month in September of 2003.

List of Texans AFC Player of the Month Award Winners:

Connor Barwin (Defensive), November 2011
Arian Foster (Offensive), October 2011
Arian Foster (Offensive), September 2010
(Offensive), October 2008
Marcus Coleman (Defensive), September 2003
Chad Stanley (Special Teams), September 2002

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
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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.”