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Quotes: Monday practice

Posted Oct 22, 2012

Members of the Houston Texans spoke to the media following Monday's practice.


Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
TE Owen Daniels
ILB Bradie James

Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison
(on QB Matt Schaub’s play so far this season) “We think he’s playing very well. I think he’s organizing. He’s managing the game very well. We put a lot on (QB) Matt’s (Schaub) shoulders as far as getting us in the right place sometimes in the run game, organizing protections, obviously finding the open guy, going through his progressions so he’s managed the game. He gets our guys going. I think he’s stepped up leadership wise. I think he’s done a tremendous job.”

(on what he’d like to see QB Matt Schaub do better) “Just continue to improve, it’s kind of hard for me to ask him to do more because he puts in his time and he works hard. Just continue to work on, his accuracy has been great but he could always be better, just keep working on that.”

(on the Texans’ wide receivers) “I think (WR) Andre (Johnson) played very well yesterday. He went through just a little bit of a slump I guess, somebody called it a slump, but he’s working his tail off every day. (WR) Kevin (Walter) played very well yesterday. I think Kevin always will do what you ask him to do. It doesn’t matter. He’ll do the dirty work. He’ll do the glamour touchdown, big play on a takeoff yesterday. Kevin’s going to battle every minute of the day. Our young guys have progressed. We’re still teaching them some stuff with (WR) Lestar (Jean) being out for a while. We asked (WR) DeVier (Posey) to step up and do something and he’s progressing. Now Lestar is back in. We’ll just keep rotating him in. I think the young guys going in and out it just keeps everybody fresh, and I think the added things that we ask for (WR) Keshawn (Martin) with the return game. I think that’s important for him to touch the ball as many times as we can get him the ball.”

(on the Texans’ tight ends) “Well (TE Owen Daniels) OD, obviously, he’s had a tremendous year catching the ball. It’s hard for people to cover underneath and we know that especially with having (WR) Andre (Johnson) outside and them having to work their coverage around him. Owen has done a great job and we’re working him down the field. He does a great job in the seams. Obviously, (TE) Garrett (Graham) had a great catch yesterday. He’s really coming up with plays. He does a great job on the line of scrimmage. (FB) James (Casey), when he’s fullback and he’s slash tight end, he moves around. He puts a lot of pressure on people. Those guys as far as giving (QB) Matt (Schaub) somebody to distribute the ball between the tight ends and the wide outs and obviously when we ask (RB) Arian (Foster) to catch the ball out of the backfield and James out of the backfield, it really has presented a tough thing for the defense.”

(on if WR Andre Johnson’s best is ahead of him this season) “You’d have to ask (WR) Andre (Johnson) that. I think yesterday he was really explosive. I think he did a great job catching the ball, getting up field, getting first downs. He missed some training camp with a little bit of a nick here and there and I think he really, really played very well yesterday.”

(on if they’ll continue to rotate at guard and tackle) “Yeah, we’re going to take a look at this. This is the bye week so we’re going to look at a lot of film and see how it goes. See if we can decipher the difference between each one, tackle-guard. If we like the way it’s going, we’ll continue it. If we see a clear difference then we’ll make that decision. That’ll be on this week. I couldn’t tell you right this second.”

(on if he has any inkling to the guard and tackle situation) “No, no. We’re interested in moving the ball every minute. Up to this week, we’ve liked the way things have been going, but we’re going to spend some time and really study that the next couple days.”

(on things QB Matt Schaub is doing better now ) “I really think that coming off the injury last year when he got hurt he was playing at a very high level. Coming off the injury, you could tell there was a little rust early on. Every time we went through a different situation like the first two minute of training camp there was a little bit of rust. He got better at it. I think he’s really starting to work into that midseason form that he was in when he got hurt last year, which is about the right time. I think he just keeps getting better. We had some adjustments this week. We changed up some routes, trying to do some different things just because we saw what Baltimore did and we thought they presented themselves with some change in our routes and some of our progressions to help us out with that and he did a great job handling that.”

(on C/G Ben Jones’ play) “(C/G) Ben (Jones) did pretty good. He did pretty good. To him, getting used to playing guard everything is kind of new for him. There’s only so much you can do in practice to show him those reps and even so much as to just the little thing where an alignment issue. For him, it’s just a matter of taking reps and doing it. Center is a lot different than guard. They’re a lot closer to you at center and how you work that, you’re more a hands player where as you’re more legs and power at guard. He’s just got to make some adjustments and do those things. It ain’t for lack of effort. He’s a bright guy. He understands everything, but just seeing that thing and the picture he sees on every snap it’s just going to be a little bit different. Each snap he’s getting better at it.”

(on what WR DeVier Posey has to do to get more playing time) “There are a lot of good guys in front of him. It’s going to be just keep working at it. Certainly, special teams are a role having those guys so he gets a bunch of snaps on that. For us to say well he has this package, he’s just got to fit into the rotation and keep making plays. That’s the part where we like to say everybody deserves their own play time. When they show they’re ready for it then they’ll get more playing time.”

(on what part of RB Arian Foster’s running style does he prefer) “I love it when he goes downhill. (RB) Arian (Foster), the one thing that he does is he has a great feel of the soft spot. He can read that as he goes when the defender there is more defender outside than there is inside of our offensive player because we try to keep them all square on the line of scrimmage and let him feel that spot. That’s what he does very well. People call it patient, but he’s not slowing down. He’s still on the move and feels the soft spot and understands what we’re trying to get done. But he also knows that he has to go over there far enough to go for us to get on top of them. I think it’s just understanding exactly what goes on in the run game. He has a good feel for that.”

(on RB Arian Foster’s low average per carry) “I think you can’t put that all on (RB) Arian (Foster). That’s on us, us as a group. Coaches, players, we as the Houston Texans may be a little bit low in general, but we’re getting better. Yesterday was a prime example. We were much better than we were the week before. We’re all learning in a process, and that’s having different guys up front. It’s not (G) Mike Brisiel and (T) Eric Winston over on the right side. It’s different guys. We’re coaching them. They’re working at it and I think we’re progressing. We’re getting to where we want to be.”

(on the key in the running game on Sunday against Baltimore) “I think everybody was focused. I know they gave us some changeups, some things that were different than what we saw on tape. We were focused and really worked together. I think you could see that. Guys were working hard on the technique, front side, back side because they’re all important in the run game. I think really everybody stepped together and stayed together and worked hard at it.”

(on overcoming slow starts offensively) “If we could bottle that up that’d be great because usually we are a fast starting team. I don’t know if we were trying to do too much too fast or what, but I know we’ll get better at it. I think we just showed them on tape, look we had a chance to convert both third downs and we should have and we will, just seeing that on tape. It’s a matter of converting the thirds if we don’t make enough on first and second or getting more on first and second. You can’t always put third downs all on the third downs if you’re not productive on the first and second downs to give yourself a better third down. If it’s a short yards, and we can run it and we can make it, that’s great we’ll stay on the field longer.”

(on if he expects the offensive line to keep improving) “We would hope. That’s what we’re progressing to. We’re not, obviously, going to change what we do. We’re going to get those guys to work hard at it and getter better at it. So I think we as a group are trying to make sure that we’re staying on the rise. We’re always getting better because if you ain’t getting better, you’re getting worse. That’s what we keep trying to tell them.”

(on C Chris Myers’ and LT Duane Brown’s play) “They’re doing good. They’re doing very well. Certainly, everybody has their moments. We’ve had ours over the first seven, everybody, coaches included. I think that’s what makes that group pretty solid. They understand what each other’s doing and they’re working very well as a group. I think the other guys are getting there. I really feel good about what we’re doing up front.”

(on the atmosphere in the locker room at 6-1) “I think we’re happy, obviously, where we are, but we know that they’re still some plays that could be had on the field. We’re certainly not resting. The season is not over. It’s seven games. We’ve got nine more to play, one at a time. We know the Bills will present themselves as a challenge again. We’re at home, if we have the kind of support that we had yesterday. The crowd was noisy yesterday after (OLB) Connor (Barwin) got that sack it was tremendous. We’ll just keep working at it and progress one at a time. We know we’re far from home.”

(on how QB Matt Schaub avoids pressure) “He does a great job of feeling it and understanding and working to get a throw lane. That’s what he has done well. (Quarterbacks Coach) Karl (Dorrell) keeps working with on a daily basis. He’s throwing stuff at him, and making him slide. That’s what he knows his strength is, to be able to slide and make plays, keep his eyes up field.”

Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
(on this season’s team) ”This team, last year we had a lot of firsts and the old ‘never say never,’ that kind of thing. But it’s really nice to have a team that does things that have never been done before. It’s an accomplishment, it’s something that you strive for, records to be broken, that kind of thing. We’ve been able to do that this year, and that’s pretty impressive.”

(on what he’s most proud of) “I think all of that; that we’ve done things that have never been done with this team. It’s still a young franchise, but to take the steps we’ve taken and won the games we’ve won has been real special.”

(on CB Kareem Jackson) “(CB) Kareem Jackson played outstanding. He’s in the top of the league in interceptions, his man doesn’t catch the ball very often. The things that we expect from J-Joe (CB Johnathan Joseph), he’s done the same thing on the other side. We know he’s going to be targeted a little bit more, though they’ve kind of gone away from that because they’re getting back a nub. They keep throwing it over there and he keeps making plays. I think he’s really improved his technique-wise. Maturity-wise, as a person I think he’s really come along well. A big part of it is him. Anytime you go through really what he went through with all the negatives about how you play and you can’t play and you’re a number one pick and you’re a bust or whatever people were calling him, that’s tough mentally. And a lot of players don’t come back form that. But he’s been strong enough mentally. I think (defensive backs coach) Vance (Joseph) and (Assistant Defensive Backs Coach) Perry (Carter) have done a great job with him. Some of it’s confidence, but a lot of it’s technique. The guy’s a really quick athlete that’s a very tough player, one of our tougher guys, especially for a cornerback and he’s learned to utilize his talents. I can’t say enough good things about him.”

(on ILB Whitney Mercilus) “(OLB) Whitney (Mercilus), we felt like he’d been practicing well, we wanted to get him in the game a little bit more. The last time he played, he played a little better. He’s progressed. We thought it was time to get him in the game a little earlier. I’m glad we did. He knocked the ball out and he actually was free on the one (OLB) Connor (Barwin) got to him before on the safety, he was right there. Then he made a big play on knocking the ball away on GQ’s (FS Glover Quin) interception. He’s done good things in practice, he’s a smart player, he’s athletic. We know he’s talented. You’re just waiting for the bell to ring. The bell rang this week.”

(on if he’s ever had no rushing touchdowns in seven games like he has this season) “Well, I think we didn’t have a couple in the last games of last season so I think we got nine or 10 games going with that. The first thing is, to play the run, stop the run, we do it a little bit different than some people. We do it on the way to the quarterback, we try to be aggressive with our run defense and sometimes they hit a little hole on us and people think ‘boy, we’re soft in the middle’ and all those things. But we’re actually not, we were in the top of the league last year in run defense and I think we’re up there again this year. Something we take pride in. But we do it a little bit different than some teams. Some teams play soft, bend don’t break. You can stop the run that way, but we’re a little more aggressive with it, and I think it pays off in our pass rush and things like that. I’ve been with some awfully good defenses. Somebody can look up all the stats but I’ve been with quote a few teams that were awfully good defensively. But this is a long time for not giving up a rushing touchdown that’s for sure.”

(on DE J.J. Watt) “You expect a first-round pick to come along and be a good player in time. They’re not always going to be an all-star player, we’ve seen that, and some of them are not going to be good players. He’s come along so fast. Like I said at the end of the year last year, I thought he was playing tremendously well and he’s carried it over into this season. He’s one of the best defensive linemen in the league. I don’t know what I expect now. After him being the player of the game like the first five games, I was amazed that he can continue to just dominate people the way he has. He has a great knack for football, he plays football. Some guys play hard or maybe they can whip somebody up front. But this guy, he sees the ball, knocks the ball down, makes tackles for losses that other people don’t see that find the football as quickly. It’s hard to do from a three-point stance from down on the ground. You don’t see all the action down there and you have to make really quick decisions. He has a great knack for that. He also has a great knack for getting around a blocker. Some players, you can say ‘hey you have to play this way all the time.’ With (DE) J.J. (Watt) you can say ‘Hey we’re going to let you play this and whatever you see go get. He makes the right decisions. He has a lot of freedom.  Any time you get a great player, you give him as much freedom to do what they do best, so that’s what we try to do with him.’”

(on how DE J.J. Watt has a skill for batting down passes) “Well, we didn’t invent it. In college he knocked down 12, I believe, in his senior year so he was the number one pass defender on Wisconsin’s team. That’s something we’ve done and team’s that I’ve been around have done quite a bit of is try to knock down passes and I’ve had some guys that were really good at it. (DE) J.J. (Watt) is the best that I’ve ever been around, but part of what we saw in him is a football player to draft him is ‘Hey he’s got a great knack for knocking the football down and rushing the passer and seeing the ball.’ He just carried that onto pro football.”

(on the team’s interceptions and pass defense) “We had seven in the game. He had seven incomplete passes in most cases, but in this case it was five incompletions and two interceptions so that changes the game. It certainly when you get in an interception for a touchdown which we have on a couple of them, I don’t know what the percentages are but they’re pretty high that if you intercept one for a touchdown during a game you’re usually going to win that game.”

(on how CB Johnathan Joseph played coming off a groin injury) “He looked pretty fast to me. I know that receiver couldn’t catch him. He needs to tuck that ball before he gets to the goal line, but I was glad to see him get to the goal line so fast. We rest him some during the game, but he came back strong and played well.”

(on the defense) “Well our front seven and our d-line overall is a real strong group as far as talent. I think we got guys that are real smart. They know their position. They know how to play it. Like I said, we get some of them more freedom than others. (DE) Jared Crick came in and had a real good game for us. We only have five now so (NT) Earl Mitchell played well in his position. (DE) J.J. (Watt) always plays well. We played (NT Shaun) Cody a lot more this game and it helped us. (DE) Antonio (Smith) had an outstanding game. They’re a pretty strong group.”

(on how the defense bounced back this week) “You’re tested sometimes. You’re tested mentally and how strong you mentally sometimes. You get beat down sometimes. You get knocked down. I tell them it’s a 16 round fight and we knocked down the other guys the first five times, but they knocked us down. We got to get back up and fight so that’s what they did. That game was a tremendous accomplishment in my opinion. They were averaging 385 yards a game. They were one of the best offensive teams that we had seen this year. Stat-wise, they were better than Green Bay was going into the game. They may still be. I just thought they were awfully good on offense. To hold them to 176 yards, I thought our guys played lights-out.”

(on what he wants the team to improve on in the second half) “We want to win. The stats don’t make a whole lot of difference if you don’t win. You have to know how to win. I think our group knows that and not only that, but you have to know how to prepare to win. That’s the key. I think our preparation, especially this past week after we did lose a game, we came back stronger mentally and I thought our preparation was even better than it had been. We want to carry that on.”

(on what he said to OLB Connor Barwin after he got his first sack) “I could hardly get to him because everybody else was so happy for him, too. The guy is really a great football player. He works tremendously hard and works at what he does. Everybody was happy for him, especially our team scoring two points, so we were only one point down at that time.”

(on what it means for the team to be on top of the AFC at this point) “I told our guys today, every game is important and you play everyone the same way. There are certain games that can get you over the top. This game got us over the top. There is no doubt about that. We have the best record, so we’re on top again. I told them too, that we were on top at 5-0, so we have to continue to be on top. This was a big, big game, a big win because it gave us an opportunity to be ahead of everyone else. Again, that’s not quite halfway through the season, we know all those things, but if you have those games and you win them, it can make or break a season for you.”

TE Owen Daniels
(on the significance of the win over Baltimore) “I think it was a really, really big win for us. If you look at the circumstances losing a week earlier and having a big game going into our bye week and playing against a really good team, to be able to get a win in the fashion that we did was huge for us going forward confidence-wise. It’s a great way to go into this bye week to get some rest. I can’t overemphasize the confidence of the situation.”

(on if they welcome the break given how well they’re currently playing) “I think we welcome the break. I don’t think we’ll have any problems getting back into sync once we get back to work next week. I think we just feel good about where we’re at and we’re going to take advantage of the time off and get refreshed mentally and physically. We’ll be ready to go back to work when we come back here.”

(on if this is the best that he’s felt since the 2008 season when he made the Pro  Bowl) “Yeah, I think so. I guess since the beginning of the 2009 season where I felt pretty darn good. Yeah, I feel great physically. The coaches really took care of me during camp, giving me days off here and there. I think that is translating into feeling good now and hopefully it will later in the season too.”

(on if he thought the Texans were very well-rounded in the win over the Ravens) “No question. Everyone contributed, all across the board, all three phases. We were as balanced as we could be on offense, running the ball and throwing the football. We were pretty darn good on third downs and staying on the field. Our time of possession was huge, keeping their offense off the field. Obviously our defense made some huge plays and got things rolling for us. When they’re scoring point, it just makes it easier to win games. We had a good contribution on special teams, but obviously, it was a very well-rounded game for our team.”

(on the play of QB Matt Schaub) “I think he’s playing unbelievably well. Coming off the injury that he had and getting back on the horse and being as in sync as he is, you know he’s always going to be prepared. The way he’s playing and holding up physically, he just keeps getting better. It’s fun to watch.”

(on Coach Kubiak saying that he is playing as well as he was the year he made the Pro Bowl) “It’s hard to compare but I think I’ve improved as a player. I think I’m better in terms of holding up in pass protection and blocking in the run game then I was back then. I think I’m a little more physical now. You like to see that, the longer you’re in the league, to get a little better at that type of thing. I feel pretty good about running my routes and catching the ball. That’s more of the thing that has come naturally but being able to improve in the run game and having the coaches having the confidence to put me one-on-one in pass protection is a good improvement.”

(on his ability to overcome some injuries a couple years ago) “There are always bumps in the road and everyone has them. I’ve really put in a lot of work to get back to where I was and feeling the way I do physically. I think I’m more of a complete player then I was back then for sure.”

(on FB James Casey and TE Garrett Graham) “James is just an amazing athlete in my eyes. He’s continued to improve. I don’t think he really has a natural position, other than just being able to move around and run routes. He’s taken on that fullback position and jumped in with two feet. He’s knocking guys’ helmets off like any big-time fullback would. He’s going in there with confidence and he’s playing really well. He’s improved a ton from last year and you can see him improving day-by-day and game-by-game this season. Garrett, I think he’s just having an opportunity to play. Knowing that, I think has lit a fire under him and you could see that improvement from OTAs and camp and obviously he’s playing really well right now. It’s great for our group to be able to be playing well as the three of us have been and being able to contribute and be involved in the offense.”

(on TE Garrett Graham’s acrobatic catch against the Ravens) “It was so sick, man. Watching that thing on the TV copy in slow motion, it was like he was going up to dunk the ball, it was an amazing catch. He had amazing concentration. He never took his eyes off the ball. You could see it the whole way. It’s good to see flashes like that out of him when he’s getting a chance to make plays.”

(on his secret to scoring so many touchdowns this season) “I’ve been getting lucky, man. I don’t know. Just taking advantage of my opportunities I guess. I don’t always get looks down in the scoring zone, but when you do, you’ve got to make the most of it. I think that’s been the key.”

(on what is said in the huddle and on the sideline regarding the slow starts) “I think we just look at each other and not much needs to be said. Enough is said by going three-and-out. We’re pretty hard on each other as it is. We expect a lot out of what we’re doing. We just try to tell each other to lock-in a little better and get more focused. Sometimes defenses have a good scheme to start the game and you’ve got to give them credit sometimes for being able to stop us. I think that’s one thing we’re going to look at tomorrow as well. We’re going into the second half of the season looking to start fast. In our position to get points on the board right away, a lot of time we’re getting the ball to start the game and that’s what we like offensively. To put points on the board with the defense we have early in the game, the first drive if possible, it’s really important. We have to do a little bit better job of that.”

(on what the Texans are doing better offensively than they’ve ever done) “I just think we’re more balanced than we’ve ever been. I don’t think there is one guy that is carrying the ball all the time. In the past, Dre (WR Andre Johnson) has had 100 catches but now the ball is getting spread across the board between him, (WR) Kevin (Walter), myself, (TE) Garrett (Graham), (FB) James (Casey) and some young receivers. Then we’re running the ball really well behind that, this past week especially. Offensively, I think that’s what makes us successful. There are so many people to game plan for and prepare for week-to-week for opposing defenses. That makes it easier for us.”

ILB Bradie James
(on how he’s adjusted to playing more with ILB Brian Cushing) “It is definitely different from going from playing about 25 plays to 60 plays. I’ve done it before. Haven’t had to do it in a couple years. (The) great thing about was coming into this offseason program, Ced (Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Cedric Smith) has done a great job with everybody. This is a younger group, so I’m the old man on the team, or one of them. You just have to fit in and just being in better shape definitely has helped me to be able to make that transition.”

(on if he has to have a different mindset playing that many plays) “The thing about being able to play with a player like Cush (ILB Brian Cushing), what makes our team and what makes the defense real good is everybody understands their role. Coming in, I wanted to make sure that not only did people understand their role, they had to take it to another level. No matter what your role is, it’s very important to the success of the team, defensively, offensively and special teams. I was fitting in, getting ready to enjoy my 30 plays and then football happened. We got an injury to one of our better players, one of our best players on the defensive side of the ball. I wanted to definitely have a better rapport, to have more time with him. But now you just pick up and try to pick up where he left off. The only way we can do that is by committee and I think we have enough players to really do that.”

(on if playing in Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips’ defense has been better than he expected after playing in it with Dallas) “Right before I signed, I got a chance to really see these guys on film. I didn’t know what was going on down here I should say. I got a chance to see guys like (OLB) Connor (Barwin) and (OLB) Brooks (Reed) and (DE) J.J. Watt. I saw J.J. on film and I said, ‘Hmm. This is different.’ This is why was (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) tailors his defense to the players that he has. It’s not only by the high-motor guys we have on the team, it’s a tribute to the second year also. And then a couple guys coming in like myself and Dobbs (ILB Tim Dobbins), who had played under the same scheme for a while, we can help people out. My focus is definitely to be the best teammate I can be to help as many guys as I can because it really does take everybody.”

(on how important it is to the team’s success to come out of the bye week and pick up where the team left off) “The thing about the bye, especially when you have good seasons, is you’ve got to get away from the game and come back with an almost renewed commitment because you have to use that time off. That’s why it’s so important to win going into the bye, so you don’t have things lingering on while you’re supposedly off. You want to be playing some of your best ball going into the bye and then you can tail it down a little bit while you relax. And then you can come back just re-focused, fired up and ready to finish that second half because the first half is what it is. One thing about this team, you talk to (Head Coach Gary Kubiak) and the fabric of this team is just its work ethic. He always talks about just going 1-0. You don’t really try to bit the whole pie. You just take one piece at a time.”

(on how important it is that the team has the best record in the AFC at this point in the season) “It’s huge. It just lets you know that every game is very important and definitely when you’re winning and when you’re on top, people are always gunning for you. The week before we lost, it was very humbling because guys had to focus more, do a little bit more and then pay attention to the details and that’s why we were able to play as well as we were able to this last game. I think it’s really more about and how we feel, it’s really more about us instead of whoever we’re playing because it’s about how we prepare and how we approach each week. That’s another great thing about this team.”

(on DE J.J. Watt having 10 passes defensed this season) “It’s unreal. For me to be in my 10th year to have a player like that in front of me, I’m so thankful and so grateful because with me knowing the scheme, I just really play off him. Because sometimes he just does some things and you’re just like, ‘I don’t know how he does that.’ And to tip the ball consistently the way that he does, man, we’re watching something that never really happens. I’m sure he’s on pace to break whatever record it is, I don’t know, I know you guys keep up with that but I’m sure he’ll break that record. He’s an asset to this whole organization.”

(on how important it is to have had four people score on defense this season) “That’s another thing that doesn’t usually happen during the season. But we actually practice that in practice. You guys get a chance to see what we’re doing in practice in a game on Sundays, and really, that’s when it counts. It’s huge. It gives everybody a boost. I think OD (TE Owen Daniels) alluded to it earlier, talking about us scoring. I think the statistics are off the charts, at least 90 percent when a defense scores on the defensive side of the ball increasing the chances of winning. It’s huge, man, for everybody. I mean everybody feeds off of that, defensively, offensively on special teams. We’ve just got to keep grinding and get some more.”

(on his plans during the bye week) “Going back to Dallas with a smile on my face.”

 

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