Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers and John Fox spoke to the Houston media on Wednesday.
Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox and defensive end Julius Peppers spoke to the Houston media via conference call on Wednesday, just days before their showdown with the Texans at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
Carolina Panthers Conference Call
Head coach John Fox
(on what he saw with QB Matt Schaub last week) "We didn't get a lot of looks at him when he was with Atlanta but he is a guy we did coming out when he came out of Virginia as a rookie that we really like and we had pretty high on our draft board. We hold him in high regard. As far as how he performed last week against Kansas City, I thought he managed the game very well and played very efficiently."
(on DE Mario Williams) "I'll tell you what, I didn't get a chance because we didn't play last year, so I wasn't able to study him, but we studied him very hard coming out. He's a guy that we really liked. To be quite honest with you, we're not surprised when he got picked where he did. I knew he was going to be a heck of a player. I'm sorry I can't comment a little bit more in detail about last year, but he looked like he was worth his spot in the tape I watched against Kansas City."
(on what DE Julius Peppers means to the Panthers and what he does best) "I'll start off by saying he's a great, great athlete and in my opinion, an impact defensive end. I think the thing that makes him most unique is he's the lowest maintenance star I've ever been around. He's very quiet, very humble. And yet he works his butt off in practice. He has a great work ethic. He's a very quiet leader. As far as what makes him special, I think he's just a tremendous athlete from flexibility to quickness. I don't really think too much about his time speed. He just makes all the plays, speed wise, he has to make."
(on if he saw the same attributes in DE Mario Williams) "Yes, I did. We thought very highly of him. If I remember right, DE Mario (Williams) is probably a little bigger than DE Julius (Peppers) coming out. The thing that made Julius unique was that he was a two-sport letterman at a major university so he never got the full effects of a weight program in the offseason. I think Mario might have been a little bit further along when they came out as far as football strength."
(on what he's thought of QB David Carr so far) "QB David (Carr) was another guy when we were sitting there, I think Houston had the first pick and we had the second pick. He's a guy, again, we looked at. Pat Hill, David's college coach, is a close friend of mine I've known for years because I grew up out there. I knew everything there was to know about him. I'm glad we got him."
(on if QB David Carr is a resource this week for what he knows about the Texans offense) "You can probably answer that. That happened last week. We played LB Chris Draft and LB Will Witherspoon last week. I'm sure they helped the Rams."
(on if QB David Carr was negatively effected by the five years he was in Houston) "No, not at all. I think any time you don't have success, whether you're the head coach or the quarterback, you're going to get more blame or more accolades then you really deserve. I think any time you're in that position, it's not easy no matter what anybody says. I don't know about the physical part of it, the sacks and whatnot, but I think this move has probably been good for both of us."
(on how to know when do draw the line on QB David Carr's knowledge and not make it too much) "I think, again, it's just words. Our game is decided between the lines. Whether I have their whole play book, I don't know when it's coming, so it doesn't matter. Too much is made of that stuff. The game is played between the lines with the players and that kind of stuff is not nearly as big as people try to make it."
(on what he thinks about the situation going on between the Patriots and the Jets) "The signal issue is not new. It's been around football, baseball. I've been too busy getting ready for Houston so I don't know much about who said, they said, we have, we don't have, so I don't know all the facts. I'm sure the league will figure it out and take the necessary steps."
(on how good they can be if they stay healthy) "Really, we've gotten whacked two years. In 2004, we were 31st in the league in games missed by starters. Last year, we were 31st in the league. We had two years, 2004 and 2006, where we got fairly decimated compared to the rest of the league. The two years we've been healthy we've been ok. It's early. It's been one game and now our focus is on this next one."
(on what makes WR Steve Smith one of the best receivers in the league) "He's got great ability. He has excellent quickness. He has speed. He has leaping ability. I think what separates him from a lot of players is just his tenacity."
(on how he is using RB DeShaun Foster and RB DeAngelo Williams) "It's kind of a trend that started back in 2003 when we had both RB DeShaun (Foster) and RB Stephen Davis. We've been in this two-back thing for some time now like a lot of people are also doing now. When you have 11 guys on defense trying to get that one guy with the ball, it takes its toll. I think it's important to have two guys to keep them fresh and keep them healthy."
(on if the Texans offense looks different this year) "No, Gary (Kubiak's) offense is Gary's offense. We played them back in 2004 at Denver. You can go back and even see similarities there from Denver and definitely from last year to this year. You always have wrinkles. I'm sure there are things we are going to see that we haven't seen. I think the scheme is the same."
(on his impressions of Houston's defense) "Very impressive. You're looking at basically four first-rounders and another guy that was picked as the first player in the second round. They've played together a couple of years together now and I think it's a good, young defense."
(on his second wide receiver) "We just kind of go with the hot hand. WR Drew Carter caught two touchdown passes last week and he's not even a starter. We rotate those guys through there, keep them fresh, and we feel like they're all starters."
DE Julius Peppers
(on how everything came together for the Panthers last week and how optimistic the team is this season) "Very optimistic. We've got everybody healthy. Seems like the chemistry is a little better at the start of the season this year, so we feel good about what we did last week and we feel like that's something to build on going forward."
(on if he's followed DE Mario Williams' career) "We don't really get too many of y'all's games up here, so I haven't really seen a lot of film on him. But from what I hear about him, I hear he's a good kid, and he could play. That's pretty much it."
(on if comparisons between him and DE Mario Williams cause him to pay closer attention to Williams' career) "It doesn't really matter to me. I guess when he comes to town I'll try to get a closer look at him, but as far as me following him, I really don't have a lot of time to be following what he's doing."
(on his thoughts on the Texans offense and how it's changed this year) "They look improved. They've got a lot of players over there- WR Andre (Johnson), the quarterback is pretty good. So they added a few pieces, and they're an improved offense, improved team. So we're not taking them lightly at all, because we saw what they did last week, and you've got to be prepared for them."
(on if having QB David Carr in Carolina gives them insight on the Texans offense) "Not really. He was there last year. I assume they're doing different things to try to get away from what QB David (Carr) knows, so I don't think that's an advantage for us too much."
(on if he felt pressure as a number two overall draft pick and if he can relate to what DE Mario Williams went through last year) "I really didn't look at it as pressure when I came in, because I knew I could play. I knew I was going to produce. And I really don't know his situation down there, so I can't really speak on it."
(on how important sacks and other numbers are to him as a defensive end) "It's important for contracts and stuff like that. When you want to re-negotiate those type of things, you've got to have the numbers to go talk. But as far as me evaluating my performance after each game, if I have a sack, you know, it's good, great for the stats, but I really try to focus on overall play instead of trying to build stats up."
(on what he's seen of QB Matt Schaub on film) "We've seen a little bit of it. But I saw him when he was at Virginia and I saw him while he was down at Atlanta, and he's a good quarterback. I played against him a few times and he's just now getting his opportunity, so we've got to be ready for what he brings to the table."
(on if he'll seek out DE Mario Williams on Sunday at all) "If I see him, I'll try to say 'What's up' to him. After the game, after the game is over, I'll try to say 'What's up' to him. Maybe."
(on if he gives advice to young players like DE Mario Williams) "Well, the guys that I know, like RB Willie Parker and a couple of the other cats that I played with at Carolina. But you know, I really don't know DE Mario (Williams) personally too well, or at all, really. I never met the guy, and I would reach out to him, but I don't know him."
(on his best general advice for players trying to keep up their confidence in the NFL) "The best advice I can give is work hard at what you're doing and focus on your job and your responsibilities. The rest of it should take care of itself."