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


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.”

Quotes: Kubiak press conference

Texans head coach Gary Kubiak answered questions from the media during a Monday press conference at Reliant Stadium. The following is a transcript of his interview.


Texans head coach Gary Kubiak
(on what moves he made today) “We’ve been checking out players. We did that all morning. I released four coaches today: (defensive coordinator) Frank Bush, (defensive backs coach) David Gibbs, (assistant linebackers coach) Robert Saleh and (linebackers coach) Johnny Holland. Obviously, we’re going to go in another direction defensively. It’s a tough day. I appreciate all the hard work they’ve put in, the job that they did and the effort that they put forth. It’s a tough day from that standpoint. We’re going to move forward and we’ve got some serious things to fix on the defensive side of the ball. We’re going to move forward to try to do that as quickly as we can.”


(on his reaction to Texans owner Bob McNair bringing him back for a sixth season) “It’s a tough day, really, to be honest with you. That’s a very positive thing for me and I’m excited about that. I probably don’t show much excitement right now because of some of the other things I’ve had to deal with today. I appreciate Bob’s confidence in me. We’ve had some great conversations over the past few weeks. As I told y’all the day before, I wanted to digest those conversations. I wanted to enjoy coaching the football team last week with the coaches and players and finish the season the right way. We visited today and decided on a new direction and obviously him giving me a chance to move us in that direction. I’m very thankful for that. I appreciate that, but I know I have a lot of work to do and have got some problems to fix and we’re working forward to doing that.”


(on why he let those specific position coaches go) “Our defensive side of the ball this year was not good. We’ve got some serious problems that we’ve got to address. It definitely was not all coaching in my opinion. We’ve got issues across the board and things. I had to make a decision on how I think we can get better. Doing that, I made that decision to make those four guys go. I’ve also retained a coach and I have to think about where we’re going next. It’s a combination of all those things. We’ll bring in a new coordinator and we’ve got to be fair to him from a standpoint of how we put a staff together and how we go about our football team defensively, so all those things together led to those moves.”


(on if the team has not drafted effectively on defense) “I don’t know. I’m not sitting here with all of the draft choices in front of me but whatever we’ve done draft choice, free agency, whatever, we’re not playing good enough defense right now to be playing in January. We’ve got to assess that across the board.”


(on the current status of his search for a defensive coordinator and if he’s contacted Wade Phillips) “I have talked to nobody. I know there has been a lot of speculation. My focus was strictly on Jacksonville and getting ready for the game. I have not talked to anybody from that standpoint, but I will be talking to people very quickly, probably as early as this evening as we get started. I think it’s important that we do get started on this and make a decision so that we lock in which direction we want to go and we get the best possible coaches available, not only as a coordinator but to assist him as we move forward. It’ll start for me when I get through with you guys today.”


(on his thoughts on Wade Phillips) “I know Wade. Y’all know that I know him and have competed against him many times. I have a lot of respect for him as a person and a football coach. We’ll talk to a number of people. I think it’s pretty safe to say that Wade will be one of the people that we talk to and it will probably be very quickly.”


(on whether he will interview several candidates for the defensive coordinator position) “I didn’t say that. I said I will talk to several. We will talk to several candidates.”


(on whose will decide on the defensive coordinator hire) “I think we’ll all be a part of that process. Obviously there are a lot of names flying around and (Texans owner) Bob (McNair) has got ideas. (general manager) Rick (Smith) has ideas. My ideas will start today because I’ve been dealing with a lot of other things. Together we’ve got to come up with what we think is the best group of guys to talk to moving forward.”


(on if he gets the final say on who he wants on his coaching staff) “We will all work together, but Bob has always assured me that he doesn’t want me working with anybody that I don’t think is best for this football team. We’ll always work together.”


(on whether he wants to hire a proven defensive coordinator)  “I think that’s very important right now.  I think it’s very important that whoever steps in our defensive room, as we get moving forward, comes in from a well-respected standpoint of a big background in this business, and we will do everything we can to get that best guy.”

(on whether it will matter if the defensive coordinator he hires runs a 3-4 or a 4-3 scheme)  “You know what, it doesn’t.  I’ve been asked that a couple times today.  I think what we have to do is respect the person that we hire, knowing that we’re getting the best guy available; and we’ve got to say, ‘Look at our personnel,’ and I don’t think it really matters what we play.  Whatever he thinks is best and gives us the best chance to be successful, then we should adapt to him.  So we’re going to turn it over to him.”

(on whether the potential uncertainty with the Collective Bargaining Agreement could affect the decision to drastically change the defensive scheme)  “I don’t think that factors into it right now.  The only place the difficulty could come, to me, from something like that, and I’ve expressed this with (Texans owner) Bob (McNair), is if something lingers and we don’t have our players in the offseason.  If something like that were to take place and you do have change in your organization, then obviously that could get a little scary as far as moving forward.  But let’s hope that doesn’t happen.  That’s also why I think it’s important that we do do something fast and establish an identity real quick in which direction we’re going so our players know.”

(on how DE might fit into a 3-4 scheme)  “Well I would imagine there’s always going to be a few players that have a thought one way or the other, but I think Mario just wants to be successful, and if we do end up going to a 3-4, then we’ve got to convince Mario that that’s the best thing for this team and the best thing for Mario.  If we don’t, then so be it.  I think right now it’s about getting the right guy, and then we make the players fit.  It’s our job to make sure we do what’s best for our players, too.  We’re not going to go to a 3-4 just out of spite.  We’re going to do it because we think it’s the best thing for our football players and our team.”

(on which players on the current roster could play nose tackle in a 3-4 defense)  “That’s the cart before the horse.  Obviously, if it’s something we would do, we’ve got some holes because we have been a 4-3 football team, and that would be one of the things that would have to be addressed.  So, a lot of questions like that if that happens, but that hasn’t happened yet.”

(on how hard it is for him to fire people)  “It’s very difficult.  It’s a brutal day.  I don’t know how to describe it to you, to take away something like that.  But one of the great things about my job is I get to give people opportunity, too.  So I try to take as much satisfaction out of that, because the few times you’ve got to take it away, it hurts very bad.  That’s part of what I do for a living, that’s my job, and my job is to do what’s best for the Texans, and that’s what makes it a very difficult day today.”

(on how he feels about getting the opportunity to remain as head coach)  “I’m very lucky.  I know that. After our process that we’ve been through, and then this year, the big letdown that we had, I work for a great man that believes in me, and that means a lot to me.  I know I’m very, very fortunate from that standpoint in this business, and I don’t want to let him down.  I’ve got a lot of work to do to make him proud, and I plan on doing that.  Like I said, it’s a tough day today, but we’ll move forward tonight and we will do everything we can to get it corrected real fast.  I’ve got a lot of confidence in myself and a lot of confidence in what (Texans owner) Bob (McNair) wants me to do, and I’m looking forward to getting started on it.”

(on whether there is a sense of relief to have this decision out of the way)  “Not today; not yet, because I’ve had to deal with too many other tough things today, like I said.  The tough outweighs everything right now, but obviously I’m very appreciative of my opportunity that I’m getting.”

(on whether he talked to SS about his free agency situation)  “You know, there were a few guys like that today.  I met with every player today and visited with them briefly.  There are guys that are listed as unrestricted free agents; there are guys that could be restricted depending on what happens with the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement).  I think that’s a very open book right now, so we don’t know, but my conversation with Bernard was good.  He did not play yesterday with his shoulder bothering him, but he has done his job for us, he has always played hard for us.  Bernard is sitting, I would assume, in a good situation.  He’s been a good football player, he’s free, and we’ll see what happens.”

(on whether he wants SS Bernard Pollard back with the Texans next season)  “He’s done a good job for this football team, but we have to go back and what we’ll start doing tomorrow morning is go back and evaluating our football season and looking at our players, and we’ve got to decide which direction we go, but Bernard has always done his job.”

(on how important it is to re-sign TE and QB ) “I think all of those things are important but there is so much work to be done between now and those things happening. I think I spoke on OD’s (TE Owen Daniels) behalf yesterday and what I think of him and what he means to this team and how far he’s come. Great visit with him today. I can tell you OD wants to be a part of our team and we want OD. You know, as far as (QB) Matt (Leinart), first off, I’m very proud of Matt. I had a great visit with him today. I went through this situation before with Brian Griese and watched how tough that can be; taking over for a great quarterback and what you can go through and what Matt went through. Matt came here and this year was about Matt getting his confidence back and regaining his form, so to speak, for his career moving forward. I hope that’s with us, but if it’s not, I’m very proud of him and I think he’s got a bright future and I like what he did for us. He’s a fine young man and he’s going to be a fine player in this league.”


(on QB Matt Leinart’s upside) “It’s huge. He’s got the ‘it’ factor. People follow him and just watching him come here with us, where he was when he walked in the door, what he had been through and watching the confidence that he’s walking around this building with this past week as we prepared to play our last game, either we’re going to get him or somebody else is going to get a hell of a quarterback. I think he is going to be a fine, fine player.”


(on if the new defensive coordinator will have input into defensive personnel) “No doubt. We need to do everything we can to support that guy. Like I said, we’ve got a problem. We have not played good defense. This year was very, very poor. We’ve got to go out there and sell our program to a top-notch guy and we’ve got to let him know we’re going to totally support him and what he doesn’t think he has, we need to go get it for him and whatever we can do to get better. This football team needs to see us be totally committed to getting better on that side of the ball and that means supporting whoever we bring in.”


(on if Texans Owner Bob McNair indicated that general manager Rick Smith’s job was secure when he met with him) “I talked to Bob (McNair) about my situation. I visited with him today. I’ve been visiting with players and now I’m here with you guys. I can’t speak for (general manager) Rick (Smith) and Bob’s conversations.”


(on how he will approach hiring a defensive coordinator for the third time differently) “It’s got to be different, I guess is a good way to answer it. You’re right. I’ve had two opportunities; gave two first-time guys opportunities to be coordinators and I’m proud of the effort they’ve put forth and everything. They’re both fine coaches and great guys. What’s going to be different this time? Like I said, it’s got to be different. We’ve got to be successful. It cannot take time.  It’s got to be quick. So we’ve got to do everything we can to get the right person and get it going very quickly.”


(on if there is a deadline to hire a new defensive coordinator) “No, I don’t see it that way. But it’s not like we’re going to sit here and wait for everything to pan out over the course of the next month. I think we’ve got to get started tonight. We’ve got to start deciding who we’re going to talk to. We’ve got to get a plan of action real quick.”


(on the importance of making an immediate improvement on defense next year) “I don’t think we’re sitting here talking about a three- or four-year building process. Whoever we go get, we’ve got to get him the people and expect to be successful next year. We’ve got to be ready to go real quick.”


(on if it’s time to win immediately next year) “There is no doubt in my mind. We felt that way going into this season. We thought we were there as a football team and we thought we were there six weeks into the football season but we found out over the course of the last 10 weeks we definitely were not. We need to improve as a football team but we obviously know where our biggest problems are and that’s what we’ve got to go fix right away.”


(on how difficult it was to fire Frank Bush and Johnny Holland) “It’s very tough. Those are obviously my friends that I’ve known for a long time and now that I’ve coached with for a long time and like I’ve said, it’s the greatest feeling in the world for me, coming here, giving those guys opportunities. That’s a great feeling for me. But at the same time, I had to sit across from them today and shake their hand and move in another direction. I don’t know how to describe to you how tough that is. I know it’s part of my job.”


(on LB ’s performance this season) “First off, (LB) Brian (Cushing) missing the time hurt Brian. I don’t care who you are as a player, when you do not play, when you miss four weeks or something, you don’t just bounce right back on the field and do things the way you’ve done them in the past.  The suspension hurt Brian. (LB) DeMeco’s (Ryan) injury hurt Brian a great deal because we had to move him. That’s on us. We had to move him around, got him uncomfortable for a couple weeks but I still think we had to. So I think you take a combination of those things, him missing DeMeco’s presence; it doesn’t add up to the same season he had a year ago. But his effort was the same. He still made big plays in games. But as I’ve told all you before, we need him to be huge. When you look at the whole factor of the defense, it just didn’t happen and he’s part of that. His effort and everything is the same as it was the year before.” 


(on whether he’ll change his own role on the coaching staff) “I’ll evaluate myself too. I’ll listen to (owner) Bob (McNair). I’ll listen to (general manager) Rick (Smith).  I’ll listen to the coaches. Obviously I’m sitting here talking about hiring a guy who’s got great experience on the defensive side of the ball and who possibly could have head coaching experience. I like that. That’s why I have (senior defensive assistant) Ray (Rhodes). That’s why I had Mike Sherman with me. I want people like that around me that I can lean on and ask questions. I don’t see this hire any different, but yes, I do need to take a good look at myself also, if that’s what you’re asking.”


(on whether senior defensive assistant Ray Rhodes will return next year) “I can’t speak for (senior defensive coordinator) Ray (Rhodes) , but at this point right now we have talked a little bit and he has talked about retirement. Ray’s contract is up I think March 1. He’s been going year-to-year with us. So he and I will discuss it more, but today Ray is helping me do some evaluation. So we’ll go from there.”


(on whether he wants to bring back DE next year) “Yeah, he did some good stuff. We had a good conversation with him today. I think he helped himself in his career. I thought (assistant head coach/defensive line) Bill (Kollar) did a good job with the crew that he was having to put together throughout the back half of the season and (DE) Mark (Anderson) was part of that.”


(on whether he’ll look for coaches he’s worked with before)  “I really don’t know. I couldn’t tell because I don’t have that list in front of me right now.”


(on how to fix the slow starts on offense) “I’ve got to go back and look at them. We had a good fast one yesterday. We played pretty good the first half at Denver. We played pretty good in the first half early this season. We just have to go back and look at that just like we do everything.”


(on how to fix problems in the return game) “Yeah, we got to evaluate that just like everything else. Who is doing the returning? Who is doing the blocking? How we went about it. We evaluate that just like we do everything else.”


(on reasons not making coaching changes in defense during the season) “I don’t think it called for that. I don’t think there’s any one coach who was not doing his job. If I thought the problem was one person throughout the season and all of a sudden it was going to change we would’ve done what we had to do. I think there was a combination of problems. I didn’t see that as the fix so to speak.”


(on why he decided to retain assistant head coach/defensive line coach Bill Kollar) “First of all, I think (assistant head coach/defensive line coach) Bill (Kollar) has done a hell of a job. I think the job that he did with the group he had. He had four guys that suited up yesterday that weren’t on our team when the season started. I just like the way he does his job. It has a lot to do with what I see us going forward without getting too advanced with that.”


(on whether his contract status will hinder his ability to hire assistant coaches) “I hope he (owner Bob McNair) gave me an extension because he thought I was a good football coach. I think that’s part of our business. Hiring coaches and having them believing where you’re going and what direction you’re heading. That’s all part of what we do. That’s our job to convince who ever we’re going to bring in here that we’re going to do it the right way. That we’re going to win. We are going to make him successful. That’s something that we’ll have to do.”                          

Thursday notebook: Johnson chasing historic milestone

Texans linebacker returned to practice on Thursday after sitting out Wednesday with a sore foot. Wide receiver missed practice for the second consecutive day to rest his sprained right ankle.

“We’ll see where Andre’s at tomorrow,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. “It’ll probably still be a game-time decision. I don’t think he’ll do much (Friday).”

Asked if he was more concerned about Johnson’s availability than in previous weeks, Kubiak said, “I’d say it’s the same at this point today.” Johnson has been injured since Week 2, but he has played in every game except for the Texans’ Week 4 trip to Oakland.

Chasing 1,500
Johnson needs 284 yards in the final two games to become the first receiver in NFL history with 1,500 yards in three consecutive seasons. He had 1,575 in 2008 and 1,569 in 2009, and he has 1,216 so far in 2010.

“It would mean a lot,” Kubiak said. “It is something that I thought about, and I know it would be important to him, throughout the season. I’ll be honest with you, seven or eight weeks ago, I didn’t think there was a chance in hell in where he was with his foot and the time he had missed. Yet he continued to play well and have big days. It would mean a great deal, but at the same time, we’ve got to be smart in what we’re doing with him. So I’ll strictly listen to him, but it has been on our mind.”

Johnson and Marvin Harrison (2001-02) are the only receivers with 1,500 yards in two consecutive seasons.

“Like I’ve said before, I’d rather be playing to go to the playoffs, having something like that happen, than to be worried about getting to 1,500 yards,” Johnson said. “But of course you would love for it to happen.”

Sharpton standing out
On Monday, Kubiak said that rookie linebacker played as well as anybody on the team in Week 15. A fourth-round pick from Miami (Fla.), Sharpton has started the last five games at weakside linebacker.

“He got a chance to play and kept getting better and better,” Kubiak said on Thursday. “Last week, it was so impressive what he did. The whole team watched the film together. He’s a guy that’s proven every week that he belongs here. He’s getting better. We are giving a chance to lead a little bit more in these last two weeks. I’m very impressed with what’s happening… He’s a downhill, physical player.”

All-Pro Owen
After missing five games with a hamstring injury, tight end has nine catches for 136 yards in the last two weeks. The 2008 Pro Bowler could be headed for a strong finish to the season.

“He’s back,” Kubiak said. “He was mad at me for about five or six weeks when we went through that situation when we sat him. I thought it was best for his career moving forward. So he’s got a smile back on his face. He’s played like Owen Daniels these last two weeks. He’ll be back, and he’ll be an All-Pro. I’ve been very impressed with the job the training staff has done with him. It’s been hard on him, but we did the right thing by him and he’ll benefit from it.”

Surgery for Mario
Defensive end had surgery on Tuesday to repair the sports hernia that landed him on injured reserve on Dec. 15.

“He was actually out here today walking around,” Kubiak said. “He flew back here yesterday and had some pretty extensive work done on both sides. He’s not feeling very good and has got a long road back. (But) it was done, and to my understanding, done well and successfully.”

Williams, who had a streak of 77 consecutive starts snapped by the injury, had 8.5 sacks in 13 games this season.