Dolphins running back Ricky Williams said that he's glad to know that Texas Longhorn fans will be able to watch him on TV on Sunday.
Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano and running back Ricky WIlliams spoke to the Houston media via conference call on Wednesday. Following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano(on the adjustments they've made since losing RB Ronnie Brown) "I think one of the adjustments has been certainly the play of (RB) Lex Hilliard. We had to get Lex involved a little bit. With (RB) Ricky (Williams)—Ricky's done a tremendous job for us, he really has, but when the play count starts to get up, we need to get Ricky off the field a little bit and get Lex involved. So we've got a young player involved, he's done a very nice job for us, runs the ball really well, and that's been the biggest adjustment for us right now, not having both of them back there in the Wildcat stuff, those type of things, we've got to use (QB) Pat White a little bit in some of those situations."
(on how QB Chad Henne has grown throughout the season) "I think he's grown a few different ways. I think one of the ways that he's grown certainly has been from a leadership standpoint. The guys really look at him as a tremendous leader in that huddle. He's done a great job in some big games, bringing the team back in the fourth quarter. I think he's grown also from a decision-making process out there on the field, he's making better decisions faster so the game is starting to slow down a little bit for him."
(on preparing for Texans WR Andre Johnson) "It's pretty difficult. We prepared for him last year and didn't stop him. This guy's a tremendous player, he really is. I have all the respect in the world for what he does out there on the field, especially when everybody is trying to invent ways to take him away. It's really a difficult task. The guy's an outstanding player. So from our end, we're going to have to be very disciplined. We're aware of our problems and one of our problems has been the big play, and one of his strengths is making the big play, so that's something we're going to have to address."
(on Texans LBs Brian Cushing and DeMeco Ryans) "I think they're two outstanding linebackers. I'm not just saying that. I've always thought that Ryans—I played against him in Dallas a few times and then played against him here last year, and I just think that the guy's an outstanding player, I really do. I just think he's outstanding. As far as Cushing goes, he's a guy that I got to know very well in the draft process, and there's a lot of things I really like about him. He's got great make-up and is a really physical player. For a young player to come in and do what he's done right now and make the plays that he's made for that football team says an awful lot about him. But this guy, when we did him in the draft, I remember coming away just saying, 'He's just a football player.' He really is when you watch him on film. He's all over the place. So you've got to find a way to block those two guys or they're going to make every tackle on the field."
(on how much they talk about the playoff goal) "I think it's important. I don't think it's something that's important to talk about when you're in the eighth week of the season, but I think when you get to where we are right now, it's important to talk about it because it's out there, it's in front of you. I heard somewhere that (Texans head) Coach (Gary) Kubiak had mentioned that this was an elimination game for both teams, and he's right. He's 100 percent right. Both teams are still alive, and we understand that. We need to make sure we understand it. You're in a must-win situation right now, so it's ok to make your players aware of it. I think that that's important that they understand where you are. We all have goals that we started with at the beginning of the year—every team does—and we still have goals and we're hoping that we can continue to play meaningful games."
(on RB Ricky Williams' success) "It's been tremendous, it really has, and it's a pleasure to coach and to watch what Ricky has done. First of all, he's been a great pro since the day I walked through the door here. Outstanding. Really good for our young players on this team; a great example that way in practice and what he's done that way. But the guy prepares himself for these opportunities and had tremendous offseason work and now is in a position where he's carrying the ball over 200 times and has his best average per carry right now that he's had in a long time and has gotten over 1,000 yards. It's a credit to Ricky and how hard he's worked with what he's been able to accomplish that way."
(on Texans QB Matt Schaub being in the Pro Bowl discussion) "I can only tell you that I think he's an outstanding player and he's more than worthy of being in that conversation. We have some outstanding quarterbacks in the AFC, but he's one of them, and I'm so impressed by what this guy's done. He really has been outstanding throughout the course of the season and really has put together a super year. You look at the numbers and you stack them up against everybody else's numbers and he belongs in those conversations."
(on if they talk about the fact that the Dolphins have never beat the Texans) "No, it's not something that we've really discussed one way or the other. You guys had to bring that up (laughs). But no, it's not something that we really have discussed. Obviously, my history here, we try to just keep things in the now as much as we can keep them in the now. We know that we lost last year's ball game there, it was a hard-fought contest and Houston won the game. That's what we do know."
Dolphins RB Ricky Williams
(on how good he is feeling about what he's been able to do this season at age 32) "Well, I don't really feel that good. The body's kind of beat up at this point in the season, but I've been around long enough to know how to get my body ready for the game. It's a grind and it's difficult, but I have the experience to know how to do it the right way."
(on if the last time he had 1,000 yards rushing, in 2003, seems like forever ago) "Yeah, it seems like it was another lifetime ago. I've been through so much and I've done so much outside of football as well as in football, so it seems like a long time. I didn't lose my work ethic, and this new regime that we got in here last year, they push us hard, and we have a good scheme and we have good offensive linemen, good quarterbacks, so it's easier this time than I remember last time. It's been fun this year."
(on if he is happier now than he's been in the past playing football) "I'm having more fun with it, yeah. I think as I've gotten older and I've been away from the game, I think I appreciate this opportunity more than I have in the past. We have a great bunch of guys over here, so it's fun to come to work every day."
(on if it was an epiphany or a gradual decision to come back to football) "I realized that it's a good job, it pays well and it puts me in a good position to do what I want to do after football. And so it was a logical choice."
(on if he regrets not playing for that time) "No, definitely not. To me, life is for living and not just making money or doing what people think you're supposed to do, and I've been able to live my life to the fullest and I've been lucky enough to have this opportunity to come back and continue to play football."
(on how much longer he will play) "I'm going to play this year, I'm going to finish these last two games, and then I'm going to play next year. Then I'm going to retire."
(on if that is for sure) "As of today, it's for sure, yeah, but who knows what's going to happen in the future. But that's the plan."
(on leaving a good legacy for his kids in football) "Yeah, it's been fun this year because my kids are old enough to watch the games and to go to school and hear stuff that their friends have to say about me, and it's all positive. As far as what happened in the past, I guess the kids that go to school with my kids aren't old enough to remember and talk to them about it. So as far as my kids go, they only have good memories and good experiences related to their dad as a football player."
(on getting to the Super Bowl) "Well, the talking to the media part, not at all. But playing in the game would be great. I think it's what motivates a lot of us to play. It takes so much to get there, one of those things being luck. It's a long road, and I think that's what keeps us going. Right now as a football team trying to fight our way into the playoffs, that's what's fueling us, is to get a shot to play on a big stage like the Super Bowl."
(on what former Texas and Oilers RB Earl Campbell has meant to him) "Well, at first, I didn't really know who he was when I first got to Texas, and then when I got to meet him, I didn't really like him that much. But after being around him more, especially after I left Texas, Earl and I got very close and he's been one of my biggest supporters through the ups and the downs. I consider Earl one of my close friends and I'm very, very glad that I know him."
(on his teammates' reaction when he came back to the team) "I think the players that I played with, they were all sad to see me go and I think they all cared about me as a human being first, and I think a lot of them understood why I left and really, I didn't experience any negativity from my teammates. They've been supportive to me through the whole process, and that made coming back that much easier."
(on Bill Parcells giving him a contraction extension) "It was nice. It was unexpected. He had told me he was going to give me some money, but I didn't know – first, he came up to me and he said, 'I want to talk about your contract,' and I said, 'What, you want to give me a pay cut?' and he kind of laughed. He gave me a great extension. As a backup player, to make the kind of money I'm going to be making next year, I'm very fortunate."
(on if he thinks he should be the starter next year) "No, definitely not. That's Ronnie's (Brown) job, and my role here is to keep Ronnie fresh, to spell Ronnie and do what I can to help the team."
(on if it makes him smile when people say he doesn't look 32 on the field) "Well, I don't feel 32. When I'm on the field, I still feel explosive, and in my mind, it's the same way I remember when I was 22. The biggest difference is that I've learned over these years how to do a better job taking care of myself and making that a priority."
(on the Wildcat offense) "When Ronnie (Brown) was here, it was just an opportunity for me to get on the field more. Now that Ronnie's gone, we don't run it as much, but when we do run it, it's a lot of fun because it keeps the defenses kind of off-balance, and I think in the games where we can really get into the Wildcat more, the defenses can't key on what we're doing so much and it creates a little bit more space out there for us."
(on Texans LBs Brian Cushing and DeMeco Ryans) "When you watch Cushing, the thing that jumps out is he doesn't look like a rookie. He's all over the field. He plays hard, he comes downhill. Everyone knows about the middle linebacker (Ryans). He's been to the Pro Bowl a couple of times and he makes plays all over the field. As running backs as far as blocking and running the ball, it's going to be a tough day for us with those linebackers playing the way they're playing."
(on if taking time off is a big reason for his success this season) "That's part of it. But I think part of it is just that we have a coaching staff and a front office that they know how to use backs that are older. So one of the things that Bill (Parcells) talked to me about in the beginning was – I wasn't expecting him to say we want you to carry the ball and do all these things, but he said you're getting up there in age. This is your first time being a running back at 32, so he said, 'Be smart.' And the way that they used me has been very smart, and that's what helped me to be fresh."
(on former Dolphins coach Don Shula reminding them of the team's past success when he comes to their facility) "It's not so much Shula. It's more the players, the rare occasion when (Larry) Csonka comes around or Mercury Morris. Having those guys around and just really appreciating what it took and what it takes to win every game during the season, that legacy looms above us. As you walk into our facility, pasted on all the walls or the wallpaper are pictures, and a lot of them are from that impressive season they had. It's just something that it keeps the bar up there high, something for us to shoot for on a daily basis."
(on having more touchdowns than them) "Well, I just say I get the ball more than they got it. And we have 16 games, and I think they played 12 or 14 or something, so…"
(on if they talk about their playoff hopes) "We have to. That's what we're here for, and I think as you go through a season and you look for motivation, I think the way our coach makes it for us is getting into the playoffs is our No. 1 motivation. I think some guys at this point in the season in our position, they talk about playing for pride. But that's not us. We're playing for the playoffs still. I think there have been stories of teams that weren't sure they were going to get in and then they get in and they're not mentally prepared for it, and I think our coach wants to guard against that."
(on Texans DE Mario Williams) "He's a long-armed guy with tons of athletic ability. He's a guy that can change the course of the game, and you have to account for him on every play. He poses problems for every team he goes up against."
(on playing against Texas teams) "It's more special when we play in Texas, but it's nice to know that the game will be shown in Texas and a lot Longhorn fans will get a chance to see me play."
(on the Texans being 4-0 against Dolphins) "I remember we played them back in '03 and we were supposed to be one of the best teams, and they came down here and beat us opening day. And it seems like every time we play against them, they find a way to beat us, and that's something that we need to stop."
(on if he wonders what would have happened if he had played baseball) "Not really. Sometimes, every once in a while, I will, but people ask me and I say playing baseball is much harder than being a football player. Having to get up every day and play for six months, that's a grind and that's tough."
(on if there's anything that he'd like people to know about his season) "I'm hard on myself and I look at every game and I want to be more productive. But when I take a step back and I look at what I've been able to accomplish this year, and half the year I was a backup, I just think as far as touchdowns, as far as I've had the longest run of my career, average yards per carry, I'm putting up numbers that I never put up before. It's a credit to the team here and our offensive line and taking care of yourself. Being 32 as a football player, as a running back, doesn't mean anything unless you allow it to.
(on if he can take a step back from it) "I think I have to because otherwise I'm too hard on myself and I think to try to stay focused and just enjoy the moment and make the best of the situation I have in front of me, I think I'd be a fool not to do it."
(on one thing he wishes he could do over again since he left Austin) "I think I would have done a better job early in my career of utilizing the network of Texas Exes and really stayed in closer contact with Coach (Mack) Brown. I think that would have provided me a buffer and a lot of support that I didn't have early in my career."