Texans coach Gary Kubiak and wide receiver Andre Johnson spoke to the Jacksonville media via conference call on Wednesday. Texans players were given Monday through Wednesday off for the Thanksgiving holiday and will report to practice on Thursdsay morning.
Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on if his players can gain a motivational advantage from playing on Monday Night Football for the first time) "I don't know about any type of advantage. I just think they're excited to have an opportunity to do that. This is something they haven't had around here, and you guys have done a lot of those Monday night games. Players get up for things like that, but the biggest thing is figuring out a way to play better football than we've been playing."
(on what caused his team to slump after an impressive offensive performance at Jacksonville in Week 4) "We hit a streak about four weeks into the season where we played very well for about a month and played good football. We won some football games, and then we started turning the ball over again. It started for us in Minnesota and continued through the Baltimore game, and when you turn the ball over in this league, you're not going to win. We've struggled to this point. We'd like to be in a lot better shape. Our biggest issues have been turnovers. We lost a couple of close football games that we feel like we have to find a way to win, but that's part of this league. You have to play extremely well every week to have a chance."
(on how close QB Matt Schaub is to coming back) "I'll know more tomorrow when we hit the field again. He made a lot of improvement last week. He has been back on the field. He'll be out there today on his own doing some work, and I'm hoping he can do some things with the team tomorrow. So he's day-to-day right now, but he's getting very close."
(on if there is any chance that QB Matt Schaub could play on Monday night) "I hate to go that far right now. We'll see. I'll know more tomorrow, like I said."
(on if he is not ruling it out) "No, he's making progress. That's all I can tell you. He's a lot closer to playing right now than he was a week ago."
(on if he is worried about whether QB Matt Schaub can stay healthy over the long term) "It's a concern. We've had him for two years and he's played some very good football for us but he's missed a lot of time, and part of being a great quarterback in this league is finding a way to stay there for your team every week. It's been unfortunate, but at the same time, it's something we have to get figured out and find a way to keep him healthy, and he has to find a way to stay healthy, because that's the key to his career."
(on how he would evaluate QB Sage Rosenfels so far) "He's done some very good things, and at times, he hasn't been very sound with the football. For him to reach, to me, the next level as a player, he has to get more, I would say, more accountable with the ball on a week-to-week basis, keeping his team out of harm's way from a turnover standpoint. But Sage makes as many plays as anybody. We just have to eliminate the bad ones."
(on WR Andre Johnson's stellar performance) "Yeah, he's a fine player. He's been a good player here for a long time and he's been the one constant with this organization. He's a tremendous young man. He's as hard a worker as I've ever been around. It shows when he plays. He just does a great job. He's having a very, very good year. He's been healthy this year. He's had some health issues last year and missed some time and had some health issues at camp this year, but fortunately, he's held up for us."
(on what WR Andre Johnson's issues in camp were) "He was coming off of a knee that he had cleaned up and so he missed the majority of training camp. I think I played him a little bit in the Dallas game, which was our third preseason game, probably about 10 plays. So that was it for him in the preseason, and (he) got off to a little bit of a slow start during the season. I think that was because he missed camp, but he's done pretty dang good since."
(on WR Andre Johnson catching 10 passes in the season opener) "Yeah, he did, but if you go back and look at that game, it was a little different. Pittsburgh got after our tail pretty good. A lot of those catches came late in the game, so it was a little bit different. But he's been pretty consistent."
(on if Jacksonville defended WR Andre Johnson well in their first outing or if he was he still coming back from injury) "I thought they did a good job. That was early in the year for us, but I thought he played well. It's just what they were doing coverage-wise, it dictated that the ball went elsewhere. It went to our tight end, it went to our Z (receiver), so we've got to do what we've got to do. If people take him away, then other guys are going to have to make plays."
(on if the Jaguars double covered WR Andre Johnson) "I wouldn't say that. They did some things with their coverage. Some of their rotations and stuff that made it difficult to get him the football but like I said, when that happens, you have to find other ways to move the ball."
(on how RB Steve Slaton is coming along) "Yeah, he's been a pleasant surprise. We've had running back issues again this year with Ahman Green not being healthy, so we put it all in the hands of this young back, and he's responded. He's had 10 starts for us this year and has been consistent and gotten better each week. It's a long haul for a rookie, but he's bounced back and has played well the last few weeks and will have to play well for us the rest of the season."
(on the Jaguars stopping RB Steve Slaton in the first game, too) "Yeah, they did a good job. They stopped us. We did not run the ball very well."
(on if the run game is one of his priorities for Monday night) "We're trying to run the ball better as a team, so that's been a point of emphasis for us. We've run the ball well at times and we've struggled at times. So we've got to do what we've got to do to move the ball, but I think we're like anybody else: We'd love to be able to run the football."
(on how the Texans' pass rush has been) "I think it's gotten better. It's been very consistent for Mario (Williams) all year. Looking for some help to go with him. It's been an issue for this football team as we move forward, but I think it's gotten better. We've had some young kids step up here in the last few weeks and play well for us and found a little bit of help from the linebacker corps. This (Xavier) Adibi kid has come in and played well for us. So (we're) trying to improve, just like everywhere else."
(on if DE Mario Williams is being double-teamed and if that is why he doesn't have a sack the last three games.) "He hasn't had sacks the last three games but he's been very disruptive, and I think last week, he played as well as he's played all year. Sometimes, those sacks are very much overrated. It doesn't have a lot to do with how you're playing the total ballgame. It has to do with a play here or a play there. But he's been very consistent as a player."
(on if he sees an opportunity to get a big pass rush with the Jaguars struggling with their pass offense) "I think we're both struggling in certain areas. It's just part of this league. They've lost some very close football games. They've played very good on the road. I think three of their wins have been on the road. They have all the same pieces intact, so it's a big-time challenge for our football team. And trying to clean up our act, as far as turnovers go, is very important."
(on if he has any explanation for why the Texans generally play well against the Jaguars) "No. Hopefully, we just play better football. We have to play better against a lot of people, but if you don't play (well) against this team, you're in deep, deep trouble because they're so very capable of controlling the football on the ground and play great defense consistently and their special teams always give us fits. So we're going to have to play extremely well."
(on if they are doing the Battle Red thing for this game) "You know, I don't know. I'm in here trying to figure out how to get a first down, so I don't know what we're wearing."
(on who is in charge of deciding that) "I don't know. You're going to have to call somewhere down the hall. Do you want me to get that number for you?"
(on it seeming like every time the Jaguars play at Reliant Stadium it's Battle Red Day) "They do a lot of different things around here, but I don't know. Heck, I'm too busy here trying to put together a game plan."
(on if it's frustrating that this hasn't been a breakout year for the Texans) "I thought we've made progress as a football team. We made a lot of progress last year. We were excited going into this season, and we have struggled. We went through a very tough start the first month, not only football-wise but personal-wise, too, around here with some things going on with hurricanes and those types of things. We'd like to be in a heck of a lot better shape than we are, but there is a lot of football left and we're looking forward to the next five weeks."
(on if he thinks the hurricane situation was a difficult thing to deal with) "I tell you what, it's been so dang long ago. I know it wasn't any fun going through, but we've found a way to work through it."
(on if he worries about his own job security) "No, I have too many other people around here to worry about. That would be very selfish for me to worry about myself. I've got coaches and families and players. I'm going to worry about them, and we're gong to keep battling."
WR Andre Johnson
(on where he is right now) "I'm home in Miami."
(on if the team gave the players a few days off for Thanksgiving) "Yes."
(on if he is at the top of his game right now) "I just think that I've tried to make the best of the opportunities given to me. This year, I've been given a lot of opportunities, and I've just tried to make the best of them."
(on if he prides himself on how hard he works) "I go out and just try to work hard and learn every day, working hard on what I have to do. Every day I'm out there, I try to better myself and make my game better."
(on how he would characterize his battles with CB Rashean Mathis) "I think Rashean is a great cornerback and a great athlete. I think he's one of the top cornerbacks in the league. I think he has great ball-skills, and every time I go against him, it's a challenge. When you come against him, you definitely have to come ready to play. He's the type of guy who can go out there and just shut a guy down. Every time I go against him, I just have to make sure I'm on top of my game and ready to play."
(on the long catch he had and how the Jaguars limited him to only three catches in the first matchup) "I came up and we threw over the top and the cornerback didn't help that time. Every time I play against Jacksonville, that happens. It doesn't happen every play. You have to pick your spots. They're not just going to let you go out there and just throw deep routes. It happens every week. It's not just something that they only do. You just have to pick your spots when you can."
(on why this team gets up so much for the Jaguars) "You know, I've been asked that question several times. I don't know. Somehow, against Jacksonville, there's this little rivalry. I don't know what it is. I'm asked that question every time we play against them. Every time we play, it's like we're playing against that high school rivalry or that college rivalry. I don't know what it is, but somehow, this game has just turned into a rivalry."
(on if this game is a rivalry to him) "I don't really look at it like that. I approach every game the same. I don't look at it as a rivalry. But like I said, every time we play against them, there's just a little more attitude or something. I don't know what it is about it, though. I just try to approach every game the same."
(on how frustrating it is to have started the season with high hopes and to have it turn into what it has) "It's very frustrating. We went 8-8 last year, and you feel like you've put all the pieces together. You're hearing everyone saying, 'Hey, we have a shot to make the playoffs.' Unfortunately, it didn't turn out that way. We've been turning the ball over, and that's the thing that's been killing us, just turning the ball over. It's costing us games. It's hurt us. All we can do is play the games that we have left and try to win as many games as we can."
(on what is different with the Jaguars' defense from last year) "I don't really think there's much difference. I think they're a physical team. They're missing Marcus Stroud and Deon Grant. You're used to playing against them and seeing those two guys. It's just a little different when those two guys aren't out there. Marcus was, I think, a big-time player for them. Just having those two guys in the middle for them, Marcus and Big John (Henderson), you can't find big, tough defensive tackles like that nowhere else that are that size. Two guys who are 6'7" and 6'8", however tall they are. Those guys made a lot of plays for them. I think that's the difference. You don't see those two guys anymore."
(on if he feels he has established himself as one of the top receivers in the league) "Yes, I think I have. I don't really worry about that, though. I don't really care about what people have to say or get caught up in that. I just go out there and play. I don't really care about getting the attention. I just want to go out and do what I have to do to help my team win games."
(on if individual honors mean anything to him) "Individual honors are great to have, but I really don't worry about them. I go out and play. I feel if I go out and play to the best of my abilities, then individual honors will come. Those are the things that come if you go out and make plays and play how you're capable of playing. Like I said, I don't care about those things. Everybody's asking if I have set goals for myself. I just do whatever I can to get the team to the playoffs. That's the only goal I've set. I haven't set a goal for how many yards or how many catches. Nothing was set for me to do anything personally. It was just all about the team."
(on if it is tough to keep playing without the hope of a playoff berth) "You know what? It's not tough until the last game of the season. I don't know why. As long as you're playing now, it's not tough. I don't think it's tough to get up for a game. I think it's always that last game, when you play that last game of the season, because right then is when you know you're not playing for anything. You're just playing. Sometimes, guys are like, 'This is the last game of the season. Let me get through it without any injuries.' But I think right now, guys play hard. Once they hit that last game and you're not going to the playoffs, that's when it sinks in and guys think, 'Hey, we're not going to the playoffs. Let me just get through this game.'"
(on if he has to fight personally to stay on top of his game even though the playoffs aren't a possibility) "I just go out there and have fun. I don't really worry about the playoffs or anything like that. I just go out there and play. When I'm out there playing, I just try to do everything I can to get a win. I don't think, 'Hey, we're not going to the playoffs,' or, 'Hey, we have nothing to play for.' I don't think about that. I just go out there and say, 'This is a football game that we have to win.' That's how I look at it and that's how I play."