Day one of the ’13 Houston Texans football camp was completed Friday afternoon without any setbacks.
That being said, there still was a lot to be said for day one of the camp, with head coach Gary Kubiak saying both practices went relatively well.
“I think it was good generally,” Kubiak said. “I think I said this morning I like the way, the condition, we came back in. I thought we held up pretty good. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of guys who were either out today, PUP, whatever, and some guys we’re bringing along slowly, but I thought for the most part, it was pretty good.”
Being just the first day of practice, one thing the Texans and their fans were happy to see was the return of outside linebacker Brian Cushing, who played in just five games in ’12 after suffering an injury.
Kubiak spoke to the Houston media about Cushing’s return following the afternoon practice, in terms of having him back in the defensive huddle.
“It’s real good,” Kubiak said. “He’s the emotional leader of this team in a lot of ways. What he went through last year, having to watch us play for the next three months, it was very difficult on him.
“He’s got some ground to make up. He knows that. I’m looking forward to watching him doing it because I know he’s on a mission. He’s worked really hard.”
The head coach continued to speak about the return of Cushing, in terms of how he makes the players around him better.
“Oh, no doubt,” Kubiak said. “Yeah, no doubt. He’s just so tough inside.
“The position he plays, he gets isolated on backs and stuff, and when people have to do things to account for him inside, then obviously (OLB) Brooks (Reed) and (OLB) Whitney (Mercilus) are getting one-on-ones outside. He’s a big part of what we do.”
Still on the topic of Cushing, the ’09 AFC Defensive of Rookie of the Year, media members asked if Cushing makes J.J. Watt (the ’12 AFC Defensive Player of the Year) a better player, even if the numbers of Watt don’t match the impressive numbers of last season.
“Oh, no doubt,” he said. “That happens all the time. People look at numbers and sacks, you can play better and not have those same numbers, but I think one of the things that help players get better is when they get smarter in what they’re doing.”
Also speaking to the media was defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who also spoke about having Cushing return to the team.
“Just basically speaking, when Cush rushes – which we try to rush him a lot from the inside – if they have to pick up a back on him they are in trouble,” Phillips said. “We got a big advantage, so they try and pick him up with a lineman. Well, if they do that, then the outside guys get a chance to get a back or a better matchup, so that’s the simple way to say it, I guess.”
Though the Texans finished the first practice unscathed, Kubiak answered questions about the health of his team after the first day.
“Brooks Reed had a sore foot, so we kind of held him out a little bit of just our jog through this afternoon,” he said. “Who else? (T Nick) Mondek’s also got a sore foot coming out that didn’t do much this afternoon.”
(All quotes provided through transcripts at houstontexans.com.)