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Houston Texans

Offense packs it up


The Texans' offense finished the season ranked third in the league, averaging 382.1 yards per game. The offensive players talked to the media as they cleaned out the lockers and got ready for the offseason.

TE Mark Bruener

(on if he has spent any time reflecting on his NFL career) "You kind of reflect on your career almost every day that you're in it. You look back at the accomplishments and the teams and the players that you've played with. And this season obviously didn't end the way we wanted it to. We had eight wins and eight losses, but we really feel that there's an opportunity for some advancement and some progress with the group that we have here. So I'm excited that we finished the season the way we did, and we know that there's room for improvement."

(on what's in the future for him) "I don't know. I'm going to go head out to Seattle tomorrow to go visit my family, and we're going to enjoy some time there and enjoy the offseason and then we'll see what happens after that."

(on if he wants to stay in the league in some way) "I do. I really do, and I'm hoping there's going to be some opportunities and I'm going to try to pursue that and try to work as hard as I can to try to create as many as I can as well."

(on if it is tougher to leave the locker room today) "It's always different after the season than when you're in the middle of a work week, but it's the way the game goes and it's part of it. Looking back on it, I've really enjoyed my time in Pittsburgh and I've enjoyed my time here in Houston and it's been an honor."

(on if this is going to be an interesting year as far as the collective bargaining agreement goes) "Oh, yes, very interesting. Every day, there's new things that are going to evolve and have evolved, and we're working to make sure that things are done right. And I'm really confident they will be done."

(on how important is that for him to stay involved as a players' representative) "The road that I've traveled was paved by a lot of former players, and I think it's important that I leave the game better than when I came in. We have an opportunity to do that, and I think we can do that."

TE Owen Daniels

(on addressing how far he's come now personally) "Personally? I'm happy with my improvement, I guess. My goal is to improve every year and to become more consistent every year. I think I've done a good job of improving in that area. I've tried to work hard to become a complete tight end. I think catching passes and running routes comes naturally, but I wanted to really improve on run blocking and pass blocking and I think I've definitely taken steps toward being a good player in that area."

(on if he is a first alternate for the Pro Bowl) "Yes. That's what I've been told (laughs)."

(on how much it's on his mind about maybe playing in the Pro Bowl) "That would be awesome if I could get an opportunity to go out there and do that and to play the best players in the league, but I'm not thinking about that too much. If I get the call, I'll be happy to go and enjoy that experience, but honestly, (I'm) just trying to enjoy the beginning of my time off."

(on being mentioned on the top of the list of weapons on this team's offense) "It means a lot. We've got a lot of great players on this team, obviously starting with (WR) Andre (Johnson) and a lot of good receivers with the other (WR) André (Davis) and (WR) Kevin (Walter) and (WR) David Anderson making plays and obviously a lot of weapons in our run game. But to be a part of the offense and to be a guy who they want to involve and want to get the ball to, that means a lot to me."

(on if he feels like the Texans have all of the offensive weapons in place) "I think so. I think we've got all of the players we need on offense. I think if you go look at what numbers we've put up on offense this year in terms of yardage, there's no spots that really need to be filled. I think we just need to protect the ball better, and that's obviously what we need to correct."

WR André Davis
(on the season) "My feelings are that we had a decent season. A little bit of inconsistency throughout the season but at the same time I think I'm continuing to be happy about where this team is going right now and hopefully we can use this win right now going into this offseason to really see where we're at and let people know that we can really play with any team in this league when we play well. When we're really mistake-free, we know that we're a good team. So hopefully, we'll be able to continue to have this winning attitude for next year and for the years to come."

(on how he feels personally) "For me personally, I'm very excited for this team. I love being a part of something and right now I can see all of the potential that we have and if we can just fix our own mistakes that we're going to be a very successful team. And I look forward to being a part of that."

(on if it was hard not getting as many touches as he thought he might get this year) "Of course, it's hard. I think you want to be able to get out there whenever you can and help this team in the way that you know how. I was able to help this team last year and I may not have had the production there this year, but at the same time I think I was able to help this team when I did get the opportunities to. So hopefully, the coaches will be able to see that on tape as they evaluate the season and hopefully I'll be able to get a little more of an opportunity next year to help this team out."

(on his big catches yesterday) "Yeah, you know, once again, I'm just the type of guy - you know, I'm not going to complain like some other guys around the league. I'm going to go out there and continue to work. And when I do get an opportunity, I'm going to make the most of it and I think people were able to see that yesterday."

(on if he has any big offseason plans) "No really big plans. Once again, we'll probably go back up north where I'm from and really introduce my son to a lot of my aunts and uncles that haven't had a chance to see him. So that'll be the biggest thing that we do."

WR Andre Johnson

(on if he thinks the team is close to where they want to be) "Yeah, I think we're very close. We're very excited about where we're at. Like I said before, we learned a lot about ourselves. So, I think the biggest thing is just not taking steps back and just to keep moving forward."

(on if this is one of the best years for him) "It is. This is the most fun I've had. I think all of the guys can vouch for that. I think we're much closer as a football team. I think we grew a lot this year, and like I said, we just have to keep moving forward. We just have to keep working to be where we want to be."

(on if he feels like the expectations next season will be higher after finishing the season third in total offense) "Definitely. You never want to take a step back from where you're at right now. We're very able to go out and be a good football team, and we were right there in the mix. But we've just got to not dig holes for ourselves or put ourselves in tough situations. I think if we go out and play like we know how to play, we would be fine."

(on if he feels like the team has all of the pieces to be a playoff team) "I think we have a lot of pieces. I think we have a lot of weapons. You can always add things and make your team better, but we're just going to keep working and hopefully, it will all work out for us."

(on his offseason plans) "Get some rest (laughs). We went 15 straight weeks. That's pretty much it."

FB Vonta Leach

(on reflecting on the season) "We had a good year. Obviously, we didn't reach our goal just to make the playoffs, but we're a lot better team than we were last year even though our record doesn't indicate it."

(on what he does on the field to receive his nicknames) "Well, (I'm) just a guy out there blocking people. They call me the 'Coke Machine.' They say I'm a Coke machine on wheels. I'm just straight ahead and then I'm going to knock somebody out, so that's why they call me the 'Coke Machine.' They call me all kinds of things: 'Big Bruiser' and 'The Hammer.' So, they give me all kinds of names – whatever comes to their minds."

(on how it feels to be a big factor in RB Steve Slaton's success) "That feels really good. Steve did a lot of it by himself. I can't take all of the credit. Steve's a great athlete. He made a lot of big runs and stuff. I just did my job and blocked. He did the rest."

(on what it's going to be like in 2009 with the high expectations) "I think the guys are going to come out and grow more as a team. I think when the bar is set high, guys are going to step up and play. Our goals are the playoffs and eventually to win the Super Bowl. I think a lot of guys, that's what we're going for."

(on if he is going to start campaigning for the Pro Bowl earlier) "Well, I hope so. I hope my name's out there now. I hope our marketing people do a good job of getting me out there. But, no, I'm going to start early this year. So hopefully, we get a lot of wins and stuff and that'll take care of that."

(on if he will do something more than a white T-shirt with a Sharpie for Pro Bowl marketing) "I think it did pretty good for me. I got voted an alternate, so I think that did pretty good. I think next year, I'm just going to jazz it up a little bit more and hopefully I'm in."

RB Ryan Moats

(on of winning is a good way to win the season) "I guess, yeah. Just like (head) coach (Gary) Kubiak said, we don't want to take a step back, and we did that. So hopefully, we can build off of this and try to do some better things in the future."

(on how he thinks his meeting with head coach Gary Kubiak will go) "I don't know. I just try to look at things one step at a time. I don't try to look towards next year. I'm looking towards this summer to try to get better as an athlete and phsyichally, and then I'll look towards the other stuff a little bit."

(on how good it felt to get the opportunities) "I'm just happy for the opportunity. I've been waiting for an opportunity for a little bit here. I know that sometimes, it takes some time to get an opportunity and they have to have confidence in you. You have to go through that cycle before you can get some playing time. So, I'm glad I got some playing time to show what I could do and I'm looking forward to some more."

(on if he wished the season was going on for five more weeks) "Yeah, so I could get some more runs. Yeah, of course."

G Chester Pitts

(on his plans for the offseason) "Getting lots of 'R and R' and going to L.A. Hang out, see what happens, see if I can fall on to something fun and cool to do. We'll see."

(on what he thinks he'll find that would be cool to do in L.A.) "I don't know. TV stuff, you know, see if I can sneak on 'Best Damn (Sports Show)' or do some stuff with NFL Network. We'll see. Hopefully, Ellen (DeGeneres) calls. She calls, I'm there (laughs)."

(on how his offseasons have changed since his rookie year) "My rookie year and probably the first five, I didn't do a whole lot, just kind of rested, hung out, let my body heal up and then I would come and do the offseason program. Never really did anything fun or exciting. But last offseason, I got to do some cool things, some running around. Actually, two years ago I went to Dubai, and that was really nice. So I did that in the offseason, and last year was the whirlwind offseason. It's really not last year, it's this year (2008), but I had a lot of fun and got to go to the Playboy Mansion and do all of the little things that are really kind of fun and kind of the L.A./Hollywood lifestyle-type stuff."

(on if he is saying that at this point in his career that having fun is more important than hard work) "I didn't say that at all, because that was January and February. I still have to do my job March through the rest of the year. During my time of 'R and R,' I can have a bit of fun here and there."

(on WR Andre Johnson) "The best, plain and simple. No questions. His work ethic, his attitude on the field, the way he plays, he shows up for work every day ready to go. And I think he's proven that to be a great receiver, you don't have to be the loudmouth or always trying to have the camera in your face or trying to always, I don't know, take being a showman to another level. He's a great guy, a friend, a teammate. When we're done playing, I'll go over to his house for barbeques. He's a good guy. You could go on and on about 'Dre. I mean, he doesn't do a whole lot wrong, and I'm just glad to have him as a teammate. You know, any receiver in the league, you can keep them all. Give me 'Dre."

QB Sage Rosenfels

(on the offense's performance this season) "Well, it was an up-and-down year. We did so many good things offensively this year. I think we ended up third in the league in offense, and that's really exciting. And we had our negatives that everyone sure knows about, but we did so many good things offensively there, from when I got here three years ago to where we are now, it's pretty astounding where (head) coach (Gary) Kubiak and (offensive coordinator) Kyle Shanahan have brought this offense."

(on his personal performance this season) "Well, you know, I was 2-3 as a starter this year, and it wasn't as good as last year. I was 4-1 and as a quarterback, that's the most important thing. And losing twice to Indianapolis and once to Baltimore, those are teams that are now in the playoffs and in the postseason, so I'd like to play better. I felt like 95 percent of the time, I played really good football, and then five percent of the time, I played poor football. So it's a learning experience for me. I'm playing a lot the last couple of years, and that's been a lot of fun; it's been exciting. But it gives me a lot of motivation for next season."

(on if he has met with the coaches this morning) "I have."

(on if there is any indication of his future with the team) "No, it's more of a… you know, everyone is going to do a lot of battling the next few days and I come back in a couple of weeks and I'm sure we'll talk some more. I live here in Houston in the offseason, so I'm sure we'll have a lot more discussions on what's going to happen. "

(on his potential as a starter) "Well, yeah, I think every competitor's goal is to be a starter, but I do love it here. I love the guys here. In my eight years, this is the best group of guys I've ever been around, whether in Washington my rookie year, four years with the Dolphins and now three years here. We have so many great guys in this locker room and they're so fun to play with, and I think everyone is seeing the possibilities, especially on offense, that we can have. We have great players, I think we all really understand the scheme, there's not a lot of holes in what we do and it's very efficient. We still have a lot of room for improvement and things to get better at, but it's very exciting for a quarterback to be in a system that everyone now is going into their third and fourth season and that I feel I can run as good as anybody."

(on if he worries about his window of opportunity) "Oh, I don't know. My body feels great and I didn't play a lot my first four or five years in the league, so my body feels like a 26-year-old's. I don't really have any health issues, no surgeries or anything like that, where a lot of the guys that are playing a lot early on have had three or four or five major surgeries by now at 30 years old. So my body feels great, I feel like I can play for six or seven more years and, you know, we'll see what happens."

QB Matt Schaub

(on if he has had time to reflect on everything) "You know, not really. (I slept) the rest of yesterday and I've only been up for about an hour, so I haven't really had a chance to reflect on everything as a whole. It's just about enjoying yesterday and getting that win and ending our season on the right now. The next couple of weeks is the reflection period where we'll look back on the entire season and the last year and how we can get better going into next year."

(on how he can get better for next season) "Just being more consistent, I think. You know, more things will come to mind in the next few weeks, thinking about things. But just being more consistent on a week-to-week basis and playing at a high level week in and week out."

(on how much better he feels than he did a year ago) "Oh, without a doubt, I feel a ton more comfortable. It's about just playing better on the field and being more comfortable within a role here with this team and with the guys in the huddle, our whole team in general. I just feel a whole lot more comfortable. So, that led to better play on the field."

(on how important it would be to get through a 16-game season without injury) "Oh, it's huge, and that's my goal for next season. I'm going to make sure to get that accomplished. I can't help when guys dive at my legs or anything like that, but I'm going to do my best to be ready to go for 16 weeks next year. You can see, other than my injury, we stayed really healthy throughout the season on most guys along the front and on defense and offensively. So if we can keep that together, then the sky's the limit."

(on the development of the offense and what they can do going forward) "Well, just keep getting better. We can eliminate a lot of turnovers, which hurt us. You look at how we moved the football and (we need to focus on) just being able to take care of it and score more touchdowns and not settle for so many field goals. So, we can put up a lot of points and play with anybody. We just need to polish those things up and keep our focus on moving the football and scoring touchdowns."

(on if he leaves knowing the team could have been in the playoffs) "Well, you just look at it and it's the difference in football games and then when you look at the season, there's four or five plays throughout the season that if they go our way, we might have a few more wins and things might be a little different for us. But that's the way this game is played and that's the way it goes, and we can't change it. We can just learn from it and move on in the right direction."

(on what he thinks of the offense ranking in the top five in the league) "Now, it's about staying up there and trying to be the best offense. There's some categories I can mention that we can get better in and that will make us even better – with the red zone and the turnovers. If we clean those things up, we'll be a tough team to stop."

(on all the weapons they have on the offense) "I think a ton of guys emerged. We knew what (WR) Andre (Johnson) could do. (WR) Kevin Walter stepping in, you know, he had a 900-plus-yard season. And (TE) Owen Daniels getting voted a Pro Bowl alternate, he had a tremendous year and is one of the better tight ends in the league. And (RB Steve) Slaton stepping in as a rookie and playing the way he did, you know, we have a ton of talent and a ton of guys that can make a lot of plays. It's just about putting them in position to make plays and executing our offense."

(on how he has developed into a leader since joining the team) "You know, that's not something — there's certain things you come and you just try to develop into that role. You want to be it, but you can't just come in here and start screaming and hollering and doing those things. You have to earn the guys' trust and their respect coming into a new team. That's what I tried to do in my first year. Then, coming into this year, you just develop it over time and you get a feel for your guys and how they handle certain situations and then how you should handle them positively, and it's just getting a feel for your team."

RB Steve Slaton

(on his reflection on the season and getting the rookie rushing title) "I think it's an accomplishment. I'd been behind the whole year, and to get it the last game is a big statement for me."

(on if he feels like he's grown a lot this season) "Yeah, I think you have to. It's so long, you really have to respect your body and do the right things for your body and the right things for the team."

(on if everything he has done this year has been exciting) "Yeah. I mean, to come in in one role and finish in another role is a blessing."
(on if he foresaw any of this) "No, I don't think anybody could foresee this."

(on what the difference is between him now and before training camp) "A lot of confidence. I think the coaches have a lot of confidence in me, and it naturally gives me more confidence in myself."

(on what it's going to feel like coming back knowing he's a key player on this team) "I mean, I have to work harder. I have to do more than I did this year."

(on if he is excited about the future in Houston) "Yeah, I'm very excited. The sky's the limit."

(on the aspect of his game he wants to improve on) "I think pass protection. Yesterday, I kind of got knocked back into (QB) Matt (Schaub), so I have to watch that and give him a little more space."

(on how he fixes that) "Just work on my technique. There's a lot of guys out there with different types of techniques, so I think I can work on it and attack them early."

(on one or two things that he surprised himself with this season) "Being able to hold up this whole season – it is a long season, and this being the first year, really getting used to playing this long. But I think I surprised myself with how long I lasted."

(on what it means to him how everyone mentions him at the top of the list when talking about the weapons on this team) "It's a pleasure to have the respect of your peers and people you play with and coaches, just to have that confidence from them."

(on if there was a moment this season when he thought that he had arrived) "No. I felt like this whole year was going to be improvement. I had to prove myself week in and week out."

(on what the coaching difference was like from college to the pros) "It's more of a business. This is your real job now, so the pressure is on you. If you're not doing your job, they can get someone to replace you."

(on head coach Gary Kubiak giving RB Ryan Moats a lot reps in yesterday's game) "Well, I wasn't performing well enough for us to win, so he put somebody else in there that could do a little bit better than me."

(on if Kubiak putting someone else in was hard on him) "Was it hard? No. I'm a team guy and I knew whenever I got my chance, I was going to make the best of it."

WR Kevin Walter

(on next season the expectations are tremendously higher) "Yeah, well we've set the bar pretty high. We have high standards for ourselves. Being 8-8 this year compared to last year is night and day difference. Same record, but I think our team is a heck of a lot better than it was last year at this time. We're a few plays here and there from getting where we want to be obviously in the playoffs. We've just got to do a better job next year and come ready and play our game like we have been the past month."

(on specific things to work on) "Yeah, I think last year turnovers really hurt us and this year it definitely did. I think we've got to do a great job of focusing on not turning the ball over, hanging onto that ball because that's the most important thing. And the red zone, we were good last year and this year we struggled. But, again, I think it's all about ourselves. It's not about what the defense does. I think it's just about going out there and executing. We've just got to execute better on offense."

(on if it helped to finish yesterday like they did in the red zone) "Yeah, it did because we harped on being better in the red zone. We played pretty bad against Oakland in the red zone and we wanted to do a better job and we did. We did and obviously the score showed it because we scored points. We moved the ball well, but we also got points out of it."

LT Eric Winston

(on his meeting with head coach Gary Kubiak this morning) "It was good. It's kind of the same every year a little bit, but you know, just setting expectations and starting to move forward."

(on the difference between finishing 8-8 this year and last year) "Well, I think it's just a different expectation level. I think there's a different direction we can go now and just a different point of what we're going to build from. To me, there's not too many holes at least on our side of the ball, you know. I'm not saying there are on defense. I just don't speak for them too much, but I think going into this offseason our offense is pretty much set. I'm sure we'll add a couple more guys here and there where they see fit, but we know who our 11 is probably going to be and 12 with the subs coming in. It's exciting and we're looking forward to it. And I'm sure when the time comes, we're going to be pretty excited about getting rolling."

(on how they avoid 8-8 next season) "Just get better. I think it's just a matter of improving. Obviously, we've got to improve on turnovers and improve on our red zone. We need to score more touchdowns when we get down there and we've got to hold on to the ball better. We rack up about as many yards as we can, I think. We do it in a balanced way, which I think is tougher for the defense. I think it lends to a more consistent offensive output when you do that. And I think once we just get down inside the 20, we need to execute better and just hold on to the ball better. I think we were pretty good in penalties all year when you look at it over the season. Moving the ball, I think we moved the ball and we've just got to score more times, more touchdowns when we get down there, and turn the ball over less."

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