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Quotes: Thursday practice

Posted Nov 29, 2012

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


Head Coach Gary Kubiak

Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
LT Duane Brown
RB Arian Foster
WR Andre Johnson
SS Danieal Manning
OLB Whitney Mercilus
C Chris Myers
FS Glover Quin
ILB Darryl Sharpton

Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on the team’s health at practice) “These five guys were non-participants in practice, (G Antoine) Caldwell, (ILB Bradie) James, (RT Derek) Newton, (OLB Brooks) Reed, and (CB) Johnathan Joseph. Johnathan did not work with the trainers today. I told you guys yesterday, he worked with the trainers. I made a decision this morning not to go back-to-back with those guys so we’ll wait tomorrow and see where he’s at and hopefully we’ll get some reps. He did not work at all today, other than that everybody else was back to work.”

(on WR Andre Johnson winning AFC Offensive Player of the Month) “It didn’t surprise me with the month he’s had. I should say it doesn’t amaze me. What I’ve seen him do since I’ve been here, he’s just been spectacular. I will say this, it just goes to show everything he’s been through the last couple years with some health issues and stuff, you stay on the grind and you’re just battling and how hard he’s worked to get back and now I know he’s totally back to himself and playing with a ton of confidence. We’re proud of him. He’s done a hell of a job. We’ve always been proud of him, so that’s a nice feat.”

(on WR Andre Johnson’s big games this month) “That’s the best I’ve ever seen. I think I told him that after the game the other day. That was the biggest game I’ve ever been around against Jacksonville. He reminds me I was fortunate enough to be around Jerry Rice, Rod Smith, some great players I had. All three of those guys, they’re a lot alike because of how they work and I’ve always told (WR) Andre (Johnson) that. Funny, these great players they don’t just walk out there and it happens. They have to work at it and Andre is a very hard worker, has been his whole career. Then I always tell you guys I think the greatest thing about Andre is how committed he’s been to this organization through some tough times and stuck with this organization to get it in the position that it is now, week-in and week-out, so very proud of him.”

(on if the decision to rest CB Johnathan Joseph today was based off  how he felt coming out of yesterday) “No it really hadn’t. We made the decision this morning. I shouldn’t say I. I was part of that. The trainers just told me they pushed him hard yesterday. If we’re going to ask him to possibly practice tomorrow, they thought a day off would do him some good, so we just kept him out today.”

(on backups and replacements filling in for injured starters) “Well it’s huge. That goes back to those guys are always working. They’ve always got a list of guys that we can hopefully pull from and the depth that we had to replace on this football team starting the year. When you go back and look at the depth that we lost starting this year and the challenges we had, they’ve done a hell of a job and I think the coaches have done a tremendous job of catching some guys up real, real fast. That’s so essential in this business because everybody’s got starters. Everybody’s got that core group of guys, but really in the 16-game season how that other tier of players how they play for you, how they hold up through tough times has a lot to do with your success in this league.”

(on DE J.J. Watt’s health today) “(DE) J.J.’s (Watt) back. I don’t know that he’s feeling a 100 percent but he did practice full time and should be okay.”

(on if he’s more concerned about the players who didn’t practice again today) “Well, the fact that they haven’t done anything the last two days would concern me a little bit. We still got some time on our hands with these guys and I’ll just say the same thing I said before. (OLB) Brooks (Reed) we know. These other three, depending on how they continue to come out of this treatment, they could possibly be ready to go. There’s a big difference between those three and that one.”

(on RB Ben Tate’s status this week) “He’s fine. He’ll be ready to go. He worked special teams, worked with the offense. He should be out there helping us on Sunday. There have been no setbacks. He’s been fine.”

(on his involvement with free agents this time of year) “I think I’m still involved. Obviously, I don’t have the time to sit there in the evenings this time of year and study free agents and stuff because I’m busy game planning and doing our routine during the year. I have a lot of recall because that’s all I do in the offseason. I study the draft and I love being a huge part of the draft. That’s always been something I’ve been a part of in my career so there is a lot of recall with players when they’re out on the streets. (Executive Vice President and General Manager of Football Operations) Rick (Smith) and them are always working on that stuff and then I’ve got to see how those guys fit with our team and whether or not they can help us. Hopefully all that work you do the other six months helps you from a recall standpoint.”

(on how much he interacts with Texans Director of Sports Medicine and Head Athletic Trainer Geoff Kaplan daily) “I interact way too much with him. We start our morning off together. We meet at the trash can down the hall. He gives me the rundown on what’s going on right before our team meeting. Then after practice this evening he’ll come up, let me know how we came out of practice, what he expects, what he expects going into the weekend. He’s a huge factor in everything. Your training room knows your players and knows your team probably as good as anybody because that’s just a natural place they all hang out and obviously have to be in there when they’re hurt. I trust him. He’s done a great job. He and his staff do wonderful work.”

(on OLB Whitney Mercilus’ work this week) “He’s fine. He’s ready to go. He’s working at it. The best thing he’s getting a ton of reps, so that’s been a most important thing this week is to go to work with the (ILB Darryl) Sharpton’s, the (OLB Whitney) Mercilus’, and all these young players that are fixing to play a ton of football. Now they’re getting it on Wednesday and Thursday as well as fixing to get it on Sunday. They’ve been missing some of that time so hopefully this will help them out.”

(on Offensive Line Coach John Benton’s work) “(Offensive Line Coach John Benton) J.B. is a hell of a coach and he has been ever since I got him here, very fortunate. Go back to Mike Sherman. Mike Sherman is the one that went and stole him from the Chicago airport for me. I knew John pretty good, but Mike got him for us. He’s a grinder. He’s an excellent teacher. When you see young players jump in and play and you have problems and they jump in and play that reflects how well a coach teaches in my opinion that he can have those guys ready to come in and replace people. John’s reputation in this business is excellent. It should be.”

(on the story of Mike Sherman getting John Benton at the Chicago Airport) “That’s a long time ago. I just remember we’re looking for a line coach, or was it an assistant line coach? Yeah, Troy (Calhoun) was here, was the coordinator. (Mike Sherman) Sherm was the o-line coach so we needed an assistant because Sherm wasn’t going to be the o-line coach for long. We looked around and I knew John (Benton), but actually Sherm had come to me and said I’ve heard about a guy. He brought up John’s name. I said I know him very well, so between Sherm running back and forth to Green Bay to Houston trying to move his family, he met John in the Chicago airport. I think they did about a couple hour interview and we hired him from there. That’s a long time ago, but that was a good hire.”

(on if several teams wanted Offensive Line Coach John Benton during that time) “Yeah, a lot of people, he’s not getting out of here hopefully.”

Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
(on facing Tennessee this Sunday) “Tennessee certainly could present a little bit different problem in that they changed coordinators. We knew what Chris Palmer did and had an idea of how they were going and what direction they were going. Now they brought in another guy. I don’t know that much about (Dowell) Loggains. I know his momma don’t dance and his daddy don’t rock n roll. That’s about with (Jimmy) Messina. I don’t know about with (Mike) Munchak, but that’s all I know about him. I think (Head Coach) Gary (Kubiak) knows him a little better than I do. We expect similar offense, a quarterback that can really move, has got a top-notch young quarterback that has great ability, has a strong arm and can really move around well. Then they got the tight end. They got two ends really that are really good receivers, good wide receivers, so they’ve got a challenging group. Then the running back, you can talk all you want to about ‘Well he didn’t have this year or that year.’ He’s sixth in the NFL in rushing right now and I think he started out poorly. They have a great running threat, too.”

(on where OLB Connor Barwin and OLB Whitney Mercilus will play) “They’ll be on different sides. On base defense you don’t know which side they’re going to be on because you don’t which side the tight end is going to be on. (OLB) Connor (Barwin) normally rushes from the right side, our defensive right in third downs.”

(on OLB Whitney Mercilus’s recent play) “He’s picked it up. I think mentally, I’m talking about he’s picked it up. He’s always practiced hard. We told him this is his time and he’s got to come through for us. A lot like we did with (OLB) Brooks Reed last year, said, ‘Hey, you’ve got to go out and play and you’ve got to play like you have been playing.’”

(on the biggest challenge for OLB Whitney Mercilus) “He played about 70 plays last game so I think just the speed of the game he realizes now what it is. Although he played limited amounts earlier in the season, I think he’s just going to pick it up and go.”

(on if OLB Connor Barwin will have to cover more in base defense) “Yeah, he may have to. Depends on what the calls are obviously, I’ve had SAM linebackers that have led the NFL in sacks, so it’s not a position you don’t rush the passer, so he will be rushing quite a bit.”

(on covering the tight ends) “Yeah, we don’t cover the tight end with our outside backer. We might do some other things with him, but we don’t have him normally match up with the tight end.”

(on OLB Connor Barwin’s versatility) “(OLB) Connor (Barwin) can play either position. We knew that. He’s actually really strong against the run, which is going to be more strong-side run than there is weak-side run, so it’s a real positive for us there. I think he’s a really good player against the running game. Again, he’ll have an opportunity to rush on different people, probably the right tackle rather than the left tackle in first and second down situations.”

(on OLB Bryan Braman playing on Sunday) “Yeah, (OLB Bryan) Braman, we’ll probably play him some, but it’ll be when the guys are tired, that kind of thing. He’s not in the basic rotation yet.”

(on if there is any reason why OLB Whitney Mercilus can’t be as productive  like OLB Brooks Reed was last year) “No, I don’t think so. I think he’s got the same kind of abilities. He’s got natural ability and I think he’s going to go out and play as hard as he can play. That should be good enough.”

(on OLB Whitney Mercilus’ development this season) “That was part of it, but he wasn’t there yet earlier. He showed some in those games where he made plays and we wanted to play him more after that. But he wasn’t into a rotation type, just like (OLB Bryan) Braman isn’t quite yet.”

(on OLB Brooks Reed having to fill in last season) “Yeah he had to play and he played well.”

(on WR Andre Johnson’s success this season) “I’m glad I’m on this side. (WR) Andre (Johnson), he’s special, being around him more, getting to know him is even better. I’ve been around a lot of great players or see great players on the other side of the field, but you don’t always know what kind of people they are. Once you get around Andre you find out and all of you know what a great person he is too. It’s hard to get him to say a whole lot, but he’s a great guy, a great player but a great person, too.”

(on how WR Andre Johnson stacks up against all the receivers he’s prepared for) “Well, I mean he’s one you obviously have to double cover as much as you can. That’s the ultimate compliment I think. That’s the guy you’ve got to stop. When we played against him, we said ‘Hey this is the guy you got to stop.’ Obviously, people are trying to do that throughout his career, but they still couldn’t do it. He’s on quite a run right now.”

(on CB Kareem Jackson’s play against WR Calvin Johnson) “(CB) Kareem (Jackson) played well. He’s been playing well the whole year. He’s got four interceptions. I think he’s played tremendously well. We had (CB) Alan Ball. We wanted to double team the guy as much as we could. It seemed like when we got one-on-one they did hit the plays on him the first half so we thought, well, we’ll change up with Kareem see if we can do something different, put a different guy on him. We still doubled him a lot. Kareem did have help some, but the one-on-ones he won a lot of those. That made the difference in what, the last six drives they didn’t score any points? Kareem did an outstanding job and he was a key part of us playing well at the end of the game and actually the only drive they had for a touchdown was all running plays. I think he came in, I don’t know if anybody could have done any better than that against that kind of receiver.”

(on ILB Bradie James’ status and if he may play Sunday) “If anything, I don’t know right now. He hasn’t practiced. (CB) Johnathan Joseph hadn’t practiced. Obviously (OLB) Brooks Reed is not going to play. I think tomorrow will be a key day for those guys, see what they can do tomorrow.”

(on moving linebackers around) “We worked the other guys, obviously. (ILB) Barrett Ruud is practicing to play that position until it comes out different.”

(on if the defense is eager to rectify how it’s played recently) “I don’t know about rectify. It’s a team game. We’ve won 10. Not all of those were offensive games or defensive games or whatever. I said last week and I believe that it’s about winning. It’s not the stats overall. It’s about being able to win. Our team has learned how to win. We’d like to win by 20 points every game. That’s not always going to happen, but I think we learned to fight and win in tremendously tough situations. That’s the key.”

(on which linebacker will be the signal caller) “(ILB Darryl) Sharpton right now, with practice today we did it with Sharpton although (ILB) Barrett Ruud knows all the signals. I could signal to him if I have to. Sharpton probably most definitely will play more third downs, so I wanted to have him as the communication guy you want to make sure the third down stuff we’re calling to get correct.”

(on the linebackers moving around) “We’ve moved him around, but I think we’ll play well.”

(on ILB Barrett Ruud’s progress) “He made two big plays in that game. He made two plays in pass defense that were really big plays in the ball game in overtime.”

(on ILB Darryl Sharpton and ILB Barrett Ruud) “Yeah, (ILB Darryl) Sharpton’s coming along. He’s moving around well. Both of them I think could kind of come in and play well for us so we’ll see.”

LT Duane Brown
(on his teammates talking about what a great left tackle he is) “It means a lot to me. The respect and admiration from my peers means a lot to me. I work hard to get where I am. I work hard to perfect my craft, not just for myself, but for my team. To hear that, coming from them, means a lot.”

(on if it would nice to receive some of the individual accolades such as Pro Bowl or All-Pro) “It would mean a lot. To be recognized as one of the best at what you do out of a lot of people who are very talented, it would mean a lot. Like I said, I’m just trying to be the best I can be for this team to take us where we need to go, but it would be great.”

(on the potential to clinch a playoff spot with a win on Sunday) “It’s a great position to be in. We’re always going out looking to win our next game. To have that extra incentive and keep that in your mind as the game goes on, it means a lot.”

(on what it’s like to be a part of the offensive drives that go almost the full length of the field) “It’s great, and the thing about this team, we’ve been doing it for a few years now. If we get backed up to the three, two-yard line, there’s no reason that we can’t drive all the way down. We’ve done it over and over again. It’s just about executing and making plays and just keep getting yards. As the drive goes on, you don’t really realize it. Then it’s over and you’re like wow; you look up and you took five or six minutes off the clock. That’s a great feeling. It’s great for us and it’s great for our defense.”

(on if the long drives fly by because of the way QB Matt Schaub throws the ball) “Yeah, absolutely. When you’ve got him back there, time flies and you don’t really realize what you’ve accomplished until it’s over.”

(on WR Andre Johnson being named AFC Offensive Player of the Month and what it means to have him full strength) “I’m ecstatic for that guy, man. I’ve seen him at his best and I’ve seen him nurse through a lot of injuries the past couple of years. To see him back on top of his game, 100 percent, it means a lot. You can see how much fun he’s having as a player. You can see how much fun he’s having with the team and it’s showing. We’ve leaned on him the last couple of weeks and he’s come out and responded and had two of the best games in his career. He’s one of the best in the game if not the best in the game. It’s great to see him back healthy again.”

RB Arian Foster
(on if returning to Tennessee is still special for him) “Yeah, it still is. I’ve still got a lot of ties over there, a lot of people that I have a lot of love for over there that are going to be a part of my life until I’m not living no more.”

(on if he ever reflects on how far he has come since his Tennessee days) “I don’t like to look back too much, but it’s noticeable. I didn’t have the best of times there, but I had a lot of good relationships that I built. I’m always trying to grow as a human so I’ll reflect on it when I’m retired.”

(on WR Andre Johnson winning AFC Offensive Player of the Month) “That’s my man right there. I’m just happy for him. It’s fun to be a part of his legacy, if you will, just to be a witness to it firsthand. He’s going to continue to play at a high level because that’s what he’s been doing for years. Getting awards like that, it’s the icing on the cake, but just to see him work it’s been inspiring for me and my career.”

(on how glad he is to see how WR Andre Johnson is playing now after all his previous injuries) “I’m just happy for him period because I see how much work he puts into his craft. Injuries are a part of the game. They’re going to happen to every single person that plays this game. It’s about how you deal with them and he bounced back well. He deserves everything he has.”

(on knowing that a win on Sunday clinches a playoff spot) “It’s not a given and I think it’s the opportunity that people understand and we realize. Everybody kind of knows where everybody’s at in this division and in this league. You pay attention to what’s going on. This is what we do for a living. The fact that we have an opportunity, it’s got to make you a little more hungry because we have a chance to clinch a playoff spot. There was a time around here where we weren’t even talking playoffs until Week 16 and Week 17. It’s early in the year, still we feel to be talking about playoffs, but we have that opportunity. We don’t want to let that slip by.”

WR Andre Johnson
(on being named AFC Offensive Player of the Month) “It means a lot. It’s just a lot of hard work and just dedication putting in to what you do. I’ve been able to go out there and produce a lot over the past few weeks and I was rewarded.”

(on if he’s more proud of what he’s doing since it’s at this stage of his career) “I don’t really get caught up in that. I just try to go out and do whatever I need to do to help this team win. Over the past month or whatever, it’s required me to do more than I did at the beginning of this season, so there’s been a lot more of an opportunity and things like that out on the field for me and I’ve been able to take advantage of it.”

(on how much better he feels now than at the beginning of the season) “I’m feeling a lot better. I feel like my explosion and stuff has come back. I think that’s a big part of my game, so I feel a lot better than I did at the beginning.  

SS Danieal Manning
(on what the defense is focusing on) “Paying attention to details. That’s what they’ve been saying all week, all day in practice. Just continue to hone in on our detail, little technique stuff that we have to continue to work on, minor things that we can correct, and the rest of the stuff is on us. The physical part; take care of our bodies, make sure we’re making our tackles and being emotionally into the game.”

(on playing a lot of man coverage) “We do a certain down distance, but we’ve got to continue to hone in on our technique and once that’s together we can play defense as a whole as we were playing before.”

(on how much earning a playoff berth plays a role in this game) “It’s huge. It’s a long season. Guys get around Week 13 and your body’s aching, but if we can play to win this game, we in. So this game means a lot to us. Then continue to win, we’re trying to get home field advantage throughout. We have a lot to play for, so it’s’ not like guys are taking it easy.”

Whitney Mercilus
(on his progress this week rep-wise) “I’m taking most of the starter reps and all that. So, it’s pretty good. I’ve got my mindset focused. And just being more aggressive and handle my responsibilities and tune in to what I’ve got to do.”

(on his thoughts about the pass rush these past few games) “It probably wasn’t there since the beginning of the season. The thing is, we have to be able to produce and get to the quarterback. You have to put in the work and all that. Guys like (OLB) Connor (Barwin) and (DE) J.J. (Watt) and (DE) Antonio (Smith), they’ve been putting in the work every day this week, so I’m feeling pretty good that we’re going to get to the quarterback.”

(on the things to fix from last two games) “Yeah, all things considered, those were two of the closest games we had all year. There are things we have to improve on, no doubt, especially on the defensive side. We just can’t give up that many points and that many yards. There’s no excuse for it. This week we’ve been working really hard and tomorrow we get another day under our belt going to Tennessee to prepare.”

C Chris Myers
(on the ability to clinch a playoff spot this week with a win) “It’s something extra that’s a bonus for the game. Obviously we’ve got a huge task ahead of us. You can’t take anybody lightly and we don’t plan on doing that this week. It’s a scenario we’ve set ourselves up with, so if we can take care of business, then that’s an extra bonus.”

(on how you prevent a letting up against a team you’re expected to beat) “You treat it just like every other week. Obviously, we’ve played some big games, some big meaningful games this year for the playoff picture. We’ve played some games versus teams that have been struggling a little bit but you have to treat every single week the same. You have to go into every single week preparing the same and do what you do every single week—treat every team like it’s going to be the team that’s going to knock you off. If you treat it like that, I think you’ll be alright.”

(on G/C Ben Jones) “(G/C) Ben (Jones) has been doing a real good job. For a rookie to come in and step up into a starting role and transition with him and (G Antoine) Caldwell a bunch, obviously there’s a learning curve for a rookie and he’s gotten thrown into the fire against some great defensive tackles. That’s the way you learn in the league and he’s doing a great job. Mentally, he’s got the whole thing down. It’s just being able to pick up the speed of the game and learning his craft. He’s doing a great job at it.”

(on Offensive Line Coach John Benton) “J.B. (Offensive Line Coach John Benton) is a great guy. He doesn’t get much credit for what goes on. He should get a lot more. He’s a master at the offensive line scheme and the zone scheme. He’s taken it under his wing with all of these young guys now on the offensive line to be able to coach them up a lot more. Obviously, we have some veterans in the room and we do what we can, but he’s taken it upon himself to give that extra little push. He’s doing a great job with everybody.”

(on T Ryan Harris and G/C Ben Jones starting on the right side) “The whole season, between all four guys that have been transitioning, and now (G) Brandon (Brooks) is actually getting a chance, we’ll see how it all works out. With that, you have to have cohesion on the offensive line. We’ve kind of been spoiled around here for the last three, four, five years, having the same exact starting lineup. With these guys all stepping in now, you have to understand there will be some mistakes here and there and there will be some mentals here and there. If you can limit them and learn from your mistakes, that’s the biggest thing.”

(on how LT Duane Brown has been playing this year) “Unreal. Personally, I think at an all-pro level. He’s just locking guys down. Over the past few seasons, he’s locked it down. I think he’s only given up one sack and just as a result from last week, he’s just dominating. It’s pretty fun to watch. Obviously, I don’t get to watch during the game, but when you sit back and watch the film the next day, it’s pretty unbelievable. Obviously I’m glad to have him on our offensive line and he’s done a hell of a job.”

FS Glover Quin
(on the opportunity to clinch a playoff spot this week) “I guess it’s a big deal. Every team goes into training camp, it’s their first and foremost goal. You have to make the playoffs to get anything. You can’t win an AFC or NFC championship. You can’t win a Super bowl. You can’t do any of those things if you don’t first make the playoffs. To be able to get into the playoffs and what’s this, Week 13? It’s big. We definitely want to win, get our 11th win. It’s a lot of things in this game that makes it big for us. We want to do it and so we’re going to prepare for it throughout the week and we’re going to go out there on Sunday and try to get it done.”

(on the defense giving up yards in the last two weeks but being able to fix any issues) “We’ve had a few busted coverages and we’ve missed some tackles. When you play a lot of man to man and one guy misses a tackle that means nobody’s there so he’s going to run until somebody can go catch him. We’ve had a few of those plays where we just got to be more focused, be more detailed in our technique and things like that and finish the plays. We’ll be fine. It’s nothing major, nothing catastrophic or whatever. We just had a couple breakdowns, but like he said all that stuff is fixable. We’ve fixed it. We’re ready for Tennessee.”

ILB Darryl Sharpton
(on if he’s ready to play Sunday in Tennessee) “Oh yeah, I’m ready. They’ve been preparing me and every week I’ve been having more and more responsibility. I feel like I had a good week of practice and I have another day to go. I feel confident and ready to go.”

(on how comfortable he is with the added responsibility) “Yeah, I’ve done it before. I’ve played linebacker my whole life, so it’s just something a little extra, but I’m ready to handle it.”

(on if he’s feeling fresh) “Yeah, I’m fresh. My season is just beginning. This is my third game so I’m feeling pretty good. My legs are fresh and I’m ready to get after it.”

(on how much concern there is with the defense over the last two games) “It’s some simple things, just missed assignments and stuff like that. I think we’re right back on track and we’re trying to do the things that got us to be one of the top defenses this upcoming week to get right back on track.”

(on working with ILB Barrett Ruud) “(ILB Barrett) Ruud has a lot of experience. He’s very familiar with football. He’s football savvy. Just going out there with him, it’s great to have a veteran guy out there to play next to.”

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