Head coach Gary Kubiak and players spoke to the media after practice and during open locker roomWednesday afternoon.
Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on QB Bradlee Van Pelt) "Oh, Bradlee's Bradlee. He had it flying around in the wind pretty good. But he's competing; he'll be fine. He knows what we're doing. We just have to get him back settled down to doing it the right way, but he'll compete. He knows what's going on."
(on Oakland's defense)"They're playing as good as you'll see for a team that's been on the field more than anybody in football, which they have this year defensively. And to be, I want to say they're either sixth or seventh, I don't have the rankings in front of me. But to be playing the type of defense they have been playing all year long, it's just a credit to their coaches and their players. They have been exceptions. They have played really well."
(on Oakland rookie S Michael Huff) "He's been something. We knew he was a great player coming out. They're a football team that doesn't fool you. They line up and they play you man coverage. If you don't beat man coverage when you're playing the Raiders, you're in trouble; so we have our work cut out for us, from receivers, tight ends, everybody."
(on whether the Raiders schemes give some opportunities) "Well, you hope so. Obviously they're not going to let you hold it very long, but hopefully it gives you some opportunities. So we all know we have to find some ways to get the ball down the field. But we're going to have to protect. They are very good at rushing the passer. They probably have one of the best on our right side, (DE Derrick) Burgess. So (T) Eric (Winston) has got his biggest task as a pro, you know for us to hold up and go against that man coverage. You know they're very good."
(on whether he expects to see much change with a new offensive coordinator in Oakland) "Well, I'm sure there's going to be some change. He was in Chicago. We know a little about him; (defensive coordinator) Richard (Smith) knows a little bit about him. Those things usually give players juice and people juice, so I would expect them to come in and play well. He's done a good job wherever he's been."
(on whether they have looked at some Chicago film)"You have to, you know. We didn't know until about one or two o'clock yesterday. So (defensive coordinator) Richard (Smith) and them were having to cover all their bases. I'm sure he can do some things they have been doing and he's definitely going to have his personality, so it's double the workload a little bit."
(on whether a change like that complicated game preparations) "No, you still have to play their football team, and we've got to worry about our defense. But as far a Richard (Smith) and the defensive staff having to go back and do some research, and they're probably not going to be totally ready, you know, two people change all the time, but having that type of change is a new challenge for him."
(on QB Bradlee Van Pelt's strengths) "He's a competitor. He just loves to compete, very good running with the football. You know, he'll go back there and take off and make the play. He's one of those kids that stats aren't very pretty, but he finds ways to move the ball and win games. And I just love the way he competes; I really enjoy it. I've had him since he was a pup. Hopefully we can keep going here. Hopefully he'll get better each day."
(on DE Mario Williams' status) "Well, he's not practicing, as you saw. That's our plan with him. He usually practices on Friday. But he did play extremely well the other day which I did mention. So hopefully he keeps improving. I don't think he's hurt his foot any in the last few weeks, but hopefully it just continues to get better."
(on the team's injury status) "No, just (FB) Jameel Cook's battling a knee. So he's basically working once a week right now. (DE Anthony) Weaver's the same way. You know, there's a lot of young kids getting an opportunity they never dreamed they would have got. We moved (DT Cedric) Killings up. Killings will play this week. So I just want to see those guys; (C) Drew Hodgdon goes in here today and he's staring at being the starter for the next five week. Some very great opportunities for some very young players, so it'll be interesting to see how they play."
(on what he expects from WR Jerome Mathis)"I'm expecting him to backup (WR) Andre (Johnson) in the game. That's kind of what I expect. He's going to play on offense; that's what I've told you all along. My plan with him is that I want to see him as the full fledged football player. I know he can return kicks. I want to see him go in there when Andre takes his self off the field because he's tired or something, I want to see Jerome operate on the offense as well as return kicks."
(on how the running game can get going) "We just have to keep going. You know, he's another…this team's tough to run against. They're stout upfront. You just have to keep plugging. We've had weeks; we ran the ball really well two weeks ago, last week we don't run it a lick. In a lot of ways I think I'm mad at myself. I think we should have stayed with it more even though we weren't running the ball good. We should have stayed with it in the football game that we were in. So hopefully we'll have some guys step up and run a little better this week."
(on Raiders DT Warren Sapp) "It seems like he's been playing forever and is still playing well. They rotate guys upfront. They've got some good players."
(on what has kept the Raiders' offense from having more success) "You know, I don't know. I think they have had some injuries upfront. They're missing some offensive linemen. They lost their (running) back as few weeks ago. Those things add up to things not going well. And then this week you have to be able to protect. You can have all the playmakers you want, but if you can't protect its hard to get them the ball. But they have done a better job in that in the past few weeks. I watched some Kansas City film right before I came out. They moved the ball well against them. The quarterback Aaron (Brooks) went in and played really well against Kansas City and just as well last week. To me it looks like they're getting better right now."
(on whether C Drew Hodgdon will start) "He's definite. Yes, he'll start. He's the guy, and (G) Steve (McKinney) will continue to be the swing guy. So it's a big time in Drew's career in a lot of ways. So I hope he steps up and plays really well."
(on whether RBs Wali Lundy and Samkon Gado might be on their last chance) "I don't look at it that way. I'm going to continue to look at those guys. Whether (RB) Chris (Taylor) is this week or next week, I don't know. Next week we'll make that decision, but I want to continue to evaluate all of those guys."
(on Justin Gatlin) "It's my understanding that he never played football before, but he can run really, really fast. A lot of teams in the league have worked him out over the course of the past month. From Rick (Smith) and my perspective, he was very impressive. I'm sure it would be a very big step for him to all of a sudden step in and start playing football. But it's something he seems interested in.
"I wasn't over at the workout."
(on his ban from track) "According to the NFL, he's OK to work out so or we wouldn't have worked him out."
(on signing him) "Nothing is going to happen right now with Jerome (Mathis) coming up and what's happening with our receivers. That's not going to happen right now."
(on his workout) "It was positive. He did a good job. Some of our kids who were over there watching him were amazed at how fast he ran. I don't even know if he was full speed at that time. He did catch the ballpretty good. I really don't know. I know he's been working out for a lot of people so it looks like he was interested in working out for a lot of different people."
**QB David Carr
(on it being the first time playing in Oakland)** "It should be fun. It's always exciting to watch games on TV there, and I'm sure its going to be a little bit different when I'm walking up the tunnel there, but it will be fun."
(on growing up near the Raiders fans) "It's a little crazy. We lived in Fresno and we had people that lived on our block that would come out in their Raiders stuff, in their skull and crossbones. They definitely have an atmosphere that you kind of have to be there to experience."
(on getting the ball down the field) "This is going to be fun. It's going to be like backyard football. They obviously can do whatever they want on defense, but what they really want to do, sometimes their corners don't even come into the huddle on defense, they just stay out and wait for a wide receiver to come out there and they stick whoever comes out there. This is going to be a true test. We'll figure out who the most physical team is and who the better players are. It's going to be cut and dry."
(on why the Raiders have been successful defending the pass) "Their corners and their pass rush. It's as simple as that. They get tremendous amount of pressure on the quarterback and they don't mess around outside. They get up in your face and they push guys around and we're going to have to be more physical than them. We've got some physical receivers. We've got some guys that will be up to the task, but it's still going to be a challenge."
(on throwing 54 times again) "Why not? I'm all for it. If we have to throw it 60 times to win, I'm ready. If we have to throw it 10 to win, I'm ready."
(on running the ball to get the pass rush down) "You do, just because they are so good at rushing the passer. If you do just try and drop back 50 or 60 times it will probably be rough, you'll get a couple sacks. That's not what you want. If we have to do it, then we have to do it. But I have confidence that we'll find ways to sneak some runs in there and pop some."
(on C Drew Hodgdon)"Drew is fine. I've worked with Drew the last couple years and a lot of people make a big deal that he hasn't had much playing time, but really he got in there with us just last year, and he got in there pretty good and I don't think he missed a beat. I think he is very athletic and I think he will get after people. He plays with good leverage. I like having Drew in the huddle and it' not going to be a problem for me."
(on QB Sage Rosenfels being hurt and being more careful when running around) "(QB) Bradlee (Van Pelt) will be alright if he has to go in every once and a while. He played against me in college and I saw him run for about 300 yards against us, so I'm sure he'll be fine."
(on playing at McAfee Coliseum and the mystique) "It's going to be crazy. I hope I don't see too many Texans jerseys in the crowd. I've got a lot of friends and family going and I hope they wear silver and black and I'm sure they still have some from my younger days. It will be fine. That's what football is all about. It's the style of defense that they play, up in your face, man coverage, come beat us. Just that atmosphere, that's why you play football."
(on not wearing Texans gear to the game) "I have already told them. The ticket comes with a prerequisite that you can't wear Texans jerseys or hats to the stadium, so it's already taken care of."
**C Drew Hodgdon
(on being the starting center and how it feels)** "I feel good. I feel like they have some confidence in me and I've been fortunate enough to have a few starts in the past this year and in my rookie year. This isn't a complete, new start for me, its something that I can feel comfortable jumping into."
(on having already played at center this season) "That's huge. Especially for a rookie coming in and not having any experience, that is the toughest thing."
(on the defensive line and playing against Warren Sapp) "It's exciting for me. It's exciting for all of us. It's always good to go out there as a professional and face a great defense and face a challenge and step up to the plate. I think their defense is not indicative of their record at all. They have a lot of great players out there and some guys with some experience with Warren Sapp and some big players on defense. Their front is a big front."
*(on the pressure of coming into the situation and the running game's struggles) *"I think as an offensive linemen you take a lot of pride in the running game. We're going to come out this week, especially after a poor performance on the ground, and try and take care of that. But again we're just going to do what we're capable of doing."
**RB Wali Lundy
(on Warren Sapp)** "I know he's a competitor and I know he likes to talk a lot so I'll be ready to take it all in. It will be fun to be out there and play with him."
(on if he'll talk back to Sapp) "I'm not a big talker on the field. I let the game work itself out."
(on not being able to get the running game going last week) "A running back has to create and if nothing is there he's kind of got to do it on his own. I feel like I didn't make enough plays for our team to be successful."
(on the message from Coach Kubiak through the tough times) "I don't think it's hard to keep your head up, I just think you've got to keep working. Each week is a new week and you have to just keep playing harder and harder each week, because if you put yourself in a hole, it's like quick sand, you keep getting deeper and deeper."
**WR Jerome Mathis
(on running pass routes)** "I'm just here to do everything he asks me to do. That's all I'm here to do. There are no tricks up anybody's sleeve, we just want to go out here and play Houston Texans football."
(on getting into the rhythm and if that is a factor)"Not necessarily. That's why you meet and you pay attention in the meetings as well and out there on the field. I wasn't out there going through the motions with the guys, but I was paying attention to what was going on in practice."
(on being fresh this time of the year and if it will help) "I feel like that will help me tremendously. I missed training camp and I only pretty much had two or three weeks to get in shape before the month they were activating me. I think that will help me out a whole lot."
**G [Chester Pitts
]() (on the Raiders)** "Talent wise, on paper, you can't tell me a team looks better than them, they just haven't found a way to put it all together every game. But they are a good team and trust me we're going to take this game very seriously. They can make you look bad like anyone in the NFL."
(on cohesiveness on the offensive line) "You have to. When a guy goes down, the next guy has to step in a do his job. Its part of football, it's a part of this job. Just like if it was a receiver, quarterback, defensive back, anybody goes down, the next guy has to step in and go."
**CB Dunta Robinson
(on facing bigger wide receivers this week as opposed to the faster receivers the past few weeks)** "Randy Moss you get big and fast and you won't face another receiver like him. He is one of the special guys that we've got to pay a lot of attention to. Jerry Porter we're really not sure his situation. The guy only has one catch this year. But from what you've seen over the years and the things that he can do, he is a very good, productive receiver. Curry is coming off of a lot of injuries. When these guys are all clicking and they're all healthy, they can be one of the best groups in the league, but with a lot of distractions and a lot of things going on right now and Moss saying he really doesn't want to play; it's just a mess right now. But you have to take them seriously because Moss can, on any given moment, light up the scoreboard. We're going to play them just like the receivers that we think they are. We think they are a great group and we're going face them."
(on what Randy Moss's comments and his ability to take over a game) "At any given time. You can't let him lull you to sleep. You have to bring your 'A' game no matter what he says about the situation because an asleep Moss is better than a lot of the receivers in this league. We're going to face him just like he is the Randy Moss of old."
(on the vertical passing game for the Raiders) "All of their routes are downfield routes. But unfortunately for them, with the offensive line and their quarterback isn't having that much time. They are still going vertical and they are still coming out of their breaks well 14 yards down the field and still running a lot of go routes. They have just been having a lot of trouble keeping the quarterback up right. Hopefully we can bring the same problems to them Sunday. Hopefully the guys can get some pressure and get some sacks."
**QB Bradlee Van Pelt
(on his reaction when the Texans called)** "Obviously I felt bad for (QB) Sage (Rosenfels) when he went down. You don't wish for injuries, I never have and I never will, but it does happen in this game. I was excited. I knew that I was on their list in their two quarterback system, like some teams now, and if something happened down here I knew I would be called, and it happened and I was on a plane the next day."
(on who he was working out with) "I was out in Minnesota just working out wherever I can. Just being a quarterback is pretty difficult on your own. It's not everyday you get people to run routes. Coming down here it's just nice to have live targets. I'm just very appreciative and its humbling sitting out of the game, it's humbling."
(on having Coach Kubiak and being familiar with him)"It makes it a lot easier. But like I said, getting back into the speed of things, when I was out there today, and people were running by, its not that I can't do it, but you have to see a couple times. And for me I have a couple days to go, so I'll be okay to step in on Sunday as a backup."
(on getting back in a rhythm) "I've seen a 3-4 and back in Denver I saw a lot of 4-3. Just little things like that, when you're trying to get back in a groove and you're with receivers you don't know. And being a quarterback its all about rhythm and timing. Even though I understand the playbook and understand the concepts, I don't know who is on the outside and they don't know me, so we don't have a lot of confidence in each other."
(on it being strange being out of football and now close to being on the field again) "It is mind boggling, but I had to be patient. Like I said, two quarterback system is something that just sprung up and I guess i was number three but not a part of it. I knew there were a couple squads out there that I was number three and that is bothersome, but you just know that you're going to get that phone call and you just have to step right into it and you have to kind of be a man when you get into that situation and you have to study and you have to catch up. It's not easy, but then again the sport is not easy, and I guess that is life."
**DE Mario Williams
(on worrying about getting hurt) **"I just have to suck it up. If it happens it happens. I would rather have it happen in a game then happen in practice. I'm not to that point yet where it is that bad where it's that I shouldn't go because it's a big risk to my health, so I just fight through it."
(on if his injury is getting worse) "It's just not getting better, that's the bad part about it. But at the same time that's why I'm basically just sucking it up and going with it. It's not getting any better, so I just have to keep going with it."
(on it being a mind set to playing hurt) "Obviously it's difficult, especially it being my foot, if it was something else as far as me being able to run it would be a lot different, it's kind of hard to run and things like that. But as I said, you just have to suck it up."
(on the Raiders' offense) "Looking at their offense, people probably look at their numbers and things like that, but they are scrapping. We can't fall into the trap, we have to be smart and be focused. And playing at a place like that, I've never played there, but I hear it's pretty rough, so you just have to be focused and play ball."
(on if things will change for the Raiders with their new offensive coordinator) "I don't know. But if I were to say, I don't think you can really change a scheme in one week for offense. I've seen offenses and they are pretty detailed and pretty intense on what they do and things they can do. If they do, then they do, but other than that we are playing it as they are playing it the same way."
(on Warren Sapp)"Obviously I looked at him as a heck of a player and he still is. He's a great vet and hopefully after the game I'll get a chance to see him."