Head coach Gary Kubiak and several players spoke to the media on Monday following the Texans' first practice since their 31-13 Thursday night victory over the Denver Broncos.
Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on the second opinion on QB Matt Schaub's shoulder) "It was exactly what we thought, and I think there's a decision to make after the season whether or not we think they need to surgically repair the issue that he has or not, but it was exactly what we thought it was. But the idea of him having a chance to play here in the last two weeks, it's a very good possibility. He did a little bit in practice today. We'll wait and see."
(on if there is a chance QB Matt Schaub plays again this season) "Yes, I think there's a good chance. I'm hoping that, if anything, this week he's ready to be (QB) Sage's (Rosenfels) backup going into the game. He did take some practice reps today, but I'm hoping that he's available this week, and we'll see. But I'd like to see him play some more before the year is up."
(on if QB Matt Schaub faces any risk of further injury) "Well, if there was a risk of something getting worse, we wouldn't do that. So all indications are that this is an injury that's not going to get any worse, and he's not going to further risk himself by being on the field other than the fact that it's part of the game. We wouldn't do that to him."
(on if the team has a different approach now that they are out of playoff contention) "No, it really hasn't changed at all. We're trying to take a big step as an organization, and our next win is a big step. And we're playing two of the finest football teams in the league this year over the course of the next two weeks, so very big game for us and our kids. And we're once again looking at some very young kids as we're moving forward, so, hey, we're going to play them one at a time. These are very important games for us as we move forward."
(on the details of QB Matt Schaub's shoulder injury) "I'd have to let (head athletic trainer) Kevin (Bastin) tell you. It's not bad."
(on DE Mario Williams possibly making the Pro Bowl) "Well, I think any time any of your players are elected, it's about respect, and we've had a guy around here in (WR) Andre Johnson who's made a couple, if I'm correct. Am I right? So Andre's got a lot of respect around the National Football League. We've got a few players who I think have an excellent chance when you talk about (LB) DeMeco (Ryans), (DE) Mario (Williams) and (K) Kris (Brown) and the type of years they've had. O.D.'s (TE Owen Daniels) had a tremendous year. It would mean a great deal to our progress as a football team and an organization and a great deal to those players and this team, so we'll see what happens."
(on the possibility of having a winning record for the first time in franchise history) "Well, I think that's huge. That's something we talked about last year and that was a big step for us, and to get that done this year would be a huge step forward for this football team and this organization. And we've got a chance, if we're going to do it; we're going to have to do it against a heck of a football team. So that makes it even better from my standpoint; I think that's the way you have to do things, and we beat two football teams the last two weeks and we've got two more coming, so let's see how we play."
(on why the defense has suddenly gelled) "Well, I think our football team's playing better when you look at that. Our defense went through an extremely hard period where corner-wise, we were in trouble and we had to adjust as a football team. I think (defensive coordinator) Richard (Smith) and his staff's done a great job of adjusting, finding an identity as we move forward, but I think the team has played better. The other night, the offense held the ball in the second half for almost 19 minutes. That helps the defense play better. Our special teams have played better as a group, so I think it's a group effort; it's not about one particular thing."
(on having to revamp the secondary) "Yes, we were coming out of – which game was it? You go all the way back to the bye, when you're losing (CB) Dunta (Robinson) and trying to find a new identity seeing who was going to go to corner or what type of scheme you were going to play, how (defensive coordinator) Richard (Smith) was going to call the game, and our players had to adjust to that and they've done a good job."
(on a potential disaster in the secondary) "Yes, it could've been very, very scary. If we go out there and play as much man the second half of the season as we did the first half of the season, it probably would not have been good, so it's a credit to (defensive coordinator) Richard (Smith) and the players."
(on what K Kris Brown changed to become so consistent this season) "He's as hard a working kicker as I've ever been around. This guy really works hard at his trade. I think he just got a lot of confidence early in the season, especially against Miami when he makes all those big kicks. And I think he hasn't missed over 50, am I right? Confidence becomes an issue with those guys, and he's got a lot of it right now. But he's got a lot of competition to make this Pro Bowl, but boy I know he sure deserves an opportunity, so we'll see how the voting comes out."
(on any other injury issues) "No. (LB) DeMeco (Ryans) didn't practice today. (RB) Ronnie Dayne, his ankle, we held him out. (QB) Matt (Schaub) did do a little bit. Other than that, we're OK. So we'll see."
WR Andre Johnson
(on the possibility of a winning season) "It's very exciting. Everybody was hoping for the playoff thing, but unfortunately that's out the window. We still have a lot to play for. We've never had a winning season around here, so we just have to look forward to that."
(on ending the season with momentum) "It's real big, because in order for you to be a successful football team, you have to just take steps toward our goal and that's one, getting to the playoffs, and then eventually, hopefully, one day winning the Super Bowl. So we have to start off by having a winning season, and that's something we've never had and we're going to work towards getting that these last two games."
(on the 2004 season, when the Texans finished 7-9) "Yes, I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a chance we could've finished at .500, but it didn't happen, and a lot of guys were upset about it. So hopefully that won't be the problem this year. Hopefully we go out and win these last two games."
(on DE Mario Williams downplaying the Pro Bowl talk) "I was messing with him this morning. He's kind of trying to downplay it, but you kind of downplay it because you want to go because it's something you work hard for and you just say to yourself, 'Nah, man, I'm not going to make it.' But I told him he's going to make it. I really don't see any reason why he shouldn't go. But sometimes people who should go, it doesn't happen for them, but I think (DE) Mario (Williams), he really deserves to go, and I think he'll make it tomorrow."
(on if he will be disappointed tomorrow if he is not selected to the Pro Bowl) "No, I won't be disappointed. Things happen for a reason, and it's the first time I've missed this much time playing football and I get another shot at it again. Of course, that's something where you want to be there at the end of the season, but like I said before, that's not my thing any more. I'm not really worried about that. Those things take care of itself just by going out on the field playing on Sunday. My goal is getting to the playoffs, so that's what I'll be working for when I come back next year."
DE N.D. Kalu
(on LB DeMeco Ryans and DE Mario Williams) "That's huge. To have a guy like (LB) DeMeco (Ryans) and (DE) Mario (Williams) on this team and know they're going to be here for the next 10-12 years producing the way they're playing, that's big. As an old vet, I'm excited just to watch them guys when I'm done. It's exciting just to know that they're so young and they're playing good ball so early in their careers, and it just makes the people who chose Mario look like geniuses. He's definitely outplaying (QB) Vince Young and the other guy, (RB) Reggie Bush, so nobody can say anything now. It's just good to see, because you saw how hard he worked last year and people were talking so bad about him, so it's just good to see that he's actually producing. He's playing without the injury that he had to play with last year, and it's fun to watch."
(on facing two good offenses in the next two games) "It's big. Last year, we had a losing record, but it felt good at the end of the year because we beat the eventual Super Bowl champs. And we have a chance to do that again this year. We all saw what Jacksonville did against Pittsburgh, so they're a great team. If we get a chance to beat them and the Colts, as bad as it feels not to be in the playoffs, we would still end the season with a good note."
(on DE Mario Williams downplaying the Pro Bowl announcement) "No, I didn't even know it was tomorrow. I have no reason to know (laughs), but I didn't realize it was tomorrow. But if he doesn't make it, it would be a shame. Maybe that's why he doesn't want to get too excited, but I know inside he really wants it. It shows how hard he's approached this season, and again, it'll be a shame if he doesn't make it. But we're only going to focus on the good, so we expect him to be in Hawaii. I can't see why he wouldn't make it this year."
(on the possibility of a winning season) "It's big. As a player, as hard as we work, you work to get to the playoffs. Obviously, that's gone for us, but if we can end the note on a 9-7 record, knowing that we're in the right direction, at least we'll walk away feeling good. Mr. (Texans owner Bob) McNair, he obviously deserves it; he's done so much for the community. Houston fans deserve it. But as a player, I feel like I deserve it, too, because we've been busting our butts since last January to get to this point. So it means a lot, and we definitely have a lot to play for."
(on if he was deflated when the Texans were officially eliminated from the playoffs) "Not really, because I personally didn't get too caught up into who had to win, because not only did those teams have to win, we've got to beat the Super Bowl champs and a Jacksonville team that's playing out of their mind. So you didn't really get caught up into who had to win, because we had to win against two of the better teams in the NFL. But it just solidifies the fact that we're playing for pride, we're playing for the city of Houston to have a winning football team, we're playing for the owner of the team to have a winning football team, and we're trying to keep jobs. You know how the NFL is; most of us might not be in this locker room next year, so we're trying to put something good on tape for the other 30 teams to see."
(on being unable to make the playoffs) "The games that we should've won, we didn't win, the Atlanta (game), the Tennessee here. If we had won those two games, then everything's in our hands, but we didn't win those games and you don't want to say we don't deserve it, but you have to win those kind of games to get in the playoffs and we didn't do that. So let's just move forward."
QB Sage Rosenfels
(on the last two games having a lot of meaning) "This is a big game for us. We know we're out of the playoffs, but we still have a lot to accomplish. We're trying to break the team record for wins and this team's never gone to Indianapolis and won, so there's a lot that can be accomplished this weekend."
(on if that's enough motivation) "Absolutely. Absolutely. We're starting to play good football and we're still learning how to win and we have the World Champions. There's nothing better then going and beating the World Champions in their house."
(on what it would mean for the team to win this weekend) "We know, obviously, this year, our goal to make the playoffs isn't where we want to be, but we're trying to build momentum into next year. I think we did that last year, building some momentum into this year and hopefully we can build some momentum into next year and, hopefully next year will lead to better things for us."
(on preparing knowing that he's going to start) "It's a little bit different. It's nice to obviously practice the plays throughout the week and if you make mistakes, you can make them in practice and hopefully clean those up for the game. We as a team have played pretty good football over the last two weeks and hopefully we can play good, solid football the next two weeks."
(on how much he's grown as a quarterback this year) "I've learned a ton from Coach (Gary) Kubiak and Kyle Shanahan and Coach (Mike) Sherman since I've been here. That just right there, the X's and O's part, has been big in my development. Hopefully I can keep learning and keep plugging away and keep getting better."
(on the offense growing around him) "I think they feel comfortable with me and I feel pretty comfortable with those guys. But like I've said, as an offense, we're playing good football. We're throwing the ball well; we're running the ball really well. Our offensive line is controlling the line of scrimmage, both run and pass, and as a quarterback that makes my job a lot easier."
(on what worries him most about the Colts defense) "They've got great speed and they won a Super Bowl last year for a reason. They we're outscoring everybody, they were stopping people. Obviously, (S) Bob Sanders and the crew that we're there last year are still there. The core guys of that defense are still great players."
T Ephraim Salaam
(on how big it would be to win the last two games) "Well, it would be a place the franchise has never been before, and that's what we're looking to do. So we've got to focus in; we've got two tough games, two playoff teams that happen to be in our division, and we've just got to see what we can do, go out here and pull a win out in Indy – we've never done that before here as a franchise, so we've all got to focus in and come with our best stuff."
(on what has kept the team together) "Love. We all love each other, man. I mean, working as hard as we've worked from April up until now, you just bond with the guys, you have an understanding with the coaches, the organization is behind us. So when we say family, we truly mean family, and that's why we continue to go to war and go to battle no matter what happens."
(on DE Mario Williams possibly being in the Pro Bowl) "Well, I think he should be. He's had a phenomenal year. I'd like to directly correlate that to the work we've done together in the offseason. All through camp, me and (DE) Mario (Williams) going one-on-one with each other, it seems to have paid off, so I'll be looking for some type of bonus from him or something like that, so I'm excited about that."
(on wanting to get his piece of the prize) "Well, yes, just a little piece. Maybe about .5 percent of whatever he gets."
(on if he made DE Mario Williams a better player) "Well, I'd like to think so. No, but he's been working hard; he's been working hard, man. And he's taken the most scrutiny out of anybody and he's definitely stepped up from last year and showed everybody he can be a heck of a player in this league."
(on his plans for the holidays) "Sit down and enjoy myself."
QB Matt Schaub
(on the second opinion on his injured shoulder) "Well, it was exactly what I was told by doctors here. (It's) peace of mind and knowing that, hey, we're on the same page and what I was told is what it is, and we're proceeding in that direction and working on getting range of motion and strength back."
(on what the injury is) "Well, we'll see as time goes on whether I can get back out there, but it's just an injury to the shoulder and we'll just take it one step at a time and day by day."
(on if whether or not to have surgery will be a difficult decision) "Anytime surgery's an option, it's a way to get it fully recovered and 100 percent strength back in it but after a period of time when you're rehabbing it. But it's a decision that will have to be made, and will be made upon the season's completion."
(on if he will play in the next two games) "I'd love to get back out there, be on the field with my guys and play in the games and compete. We'll just make sure that when we do that, that I'll be able to protect myself and not have to injure the shoulder any worse than it is. So we'll just proceed in that direction and go out and get it as strong as I possibly can."
(on if doctors told him he cannot hurt his shoulder any worse) "Yes, they told me that nothing worse can happen. Obviously, if my arm gets ripped off, that could happen (laughs), but I mean, no further damage can happen to the area."
(on when he is healthy and the offense has a lot of weapons) "We definitely have a ton of weapons, and guys have stepped up in a huge way and provided a lot of value to our football team, especially offensively and at the skill positions. And we've done a lot of good things this year, it's just tough how things went personally with injuries and whatnot, but it's part of the game and you just have to battle through it and deal with it and keep moving forward in a positive direction."
(on how much he has grown as a quarterback) "I think a lot. I've had a lot of positive things, a lot of negative things, too, but that's part of the game. You have to deal with both those things, and it's just a long season and (you) just keep moving forward and getting better. And mentally, I think I've grown a lot about the position, how to be successful at this level."
DE Mario Williams
(on possibly being selected to the Pro Bowl) "It would mean a lot, but that stuff I'm not really worried about right now."
(on being selected to the Pro Bowl being an individual honor) "Yes, it is, but like I said, I'm really not too big on individual stuff. It's like I keep saying the same thing, but pretty much, I'm just trying to finish these last two games up strong and try to help the team win."
(on how big it would be to win the last two games) "It would be very big because, for one thing, to finish strong at the end of the season, and like you said, it would be a winning season, which is something that has never been here. It's time for that to happen, so hopefully, we can go out and get it done."
(on what the team has to do to win these last two games) "We just have to play harder then we've ever played before. We have a two-game season, and that's pretty much all you can do, these last two games go out and play hard."
(on the defense gaining momentum) "Yes, we're getting better. We still have a lot of things we have to do, a lot of mistakes to correct. Like I said, we just have to play hard and try to get there."
(on being second in the NFL in sacks) "It's great, but like I said, it's all about the team. That's all I'm worried about."
(on starting to be double-teamed) "I've been double-teamed. It's the same stuff pretty much week in and week out. You can't just double-team one person the whole time. We have a great defense line, a great defense, so that helps out a lot for everybody."
(on guys giving him tips of what to do when he gets a sack) "That was pretty much it. That was the last request I think for right now, so I'll just go out and have fun."
(on if it's helped to have the defense simplified) "Pretty much it's just going out and making plays. All we've been talking about is trying to make plays and get things going in the right direction. Things are simpler now and we're just out there having fun trying to make plays."
(on how much it has helped that the defensive line has been healthy all year) "It's helped a lot because we're more gelled together. We're playing together more in practice and in the game, so it's helping out a lot as far as the chemistry of the team."