Aside from an injury update on wide receiver Andre Johnson and defensive end Antonio Smith, here are the highlights
- The Texans ranked 30th in defense last season. As of Monday, they rank No. 1 in 2011 under new coordinator Wade Phillips. “It’s just been fun to watch,” Kubiak said. “I didn’t know it until this morning until I walked in and saw the league stats, but there’s a long way to go and a lot of big football games to play. But the job that he’s done and (linebackers coach) Reggie (Herring) and (assistant head coach/defensive line) Bill (Kollar), (defensive backs coach) Vance (Joseph), (defensive assistant) Bobby (King), (assistant defensive backs coach) Perry (Carter), they’ve done a tremendous job. The players have just bought into what we’re doing and they’re playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
- Kubiak said the defense has gotten better each week since opening day. “The reason we’re getting better is to watch these young players get better — watch J.J. Watt get better; watch Brooks Reed get better,” Kubiak said. “Troy Nolan comes in and plays well. (Brian) Cushing, we know the level he’s playing at. DeMeco (Ryans) is getting back to full health. DeMeco played really good yesterday. The key is toward the back end of the season you want to win every week, but are you getting better as a football team? Right now, we’re doing that.”
- The secret to the defense’s turnaround under Phillips? Pressure. “Going against Wade for years as an offensive coach, he does a hell of a job of busting protections,” Kubiak said. “Being able to bust people’s protection schemes and get heat on the quarterback is the key in this league… He does a lot of things, and our guys have responded and done a good job of learning it at a very quick pace.” Kubiak also said that the acquisition of cornerback Johnathan Joseph has been key to the Texans’ success so far this season.
- As fullback James Casey works back toward 100 percent from a chest injury, fullback Lawrence Vickers continues to carve out a role in the Texans’ offense. “Lawrence has come in and boy, has he played well,” Kubiak said. “That’s the third week he’s started and that’s the best he’s played. You guys see how we run the ball here lately, so you got to give him a lot of credit along with our guys up front. Lawrence has taken to what we’re trying to teach and do. We ask our fullback to do a lot in our offense and it takes some time, and he’s really starting to take to it. He’s playing very well. James is OK… He needs to continue to get a week or two under his belt where he continues to come out of the game healthy… We’ll need them both before we’re all said and done, but Lawrence has taken advantage of an opportunity. That’s probably the best way for me to put it.”
Tags: Bill Kollar, Bobby King, Brian Cushing, Brooks Reed, DeMeco Ryans, Gary Kubiak, J.J. Watt, James Casey, Johnathan Joseph, Kubiak day-after pressers, Lawrence Vickers, Perry Carter, Reggie Herring, Troy Nolan, Vance Joseph, Wade Phillips
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