After their first practice following the Week 10 bye, members of the Texans spoke to the media on Monday. Following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head coach Gary Kubiak TE James Casey LB Brian Cushing LB Zac Diles WR Andre Johnson SS Bernard Pollard CB Dunta Robinson LB DeMeco Ryans DE Mario Williams RT Eric Winston
Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on today's practice) "It was good. You know, we're very fresh, obviously; we've got our legs back underneath us, so we came out here and banged around a little bit just as if we're playing. We're hitting a week before, just like we'd be playing a game today. Good workout. We'll do the same thing tomorrow."
(on their schedule for the rest of the week) "We're going to practice in the morning, basically just like we did today, and then give them Wednesday off and then we'll get into our normal week routine."
(on the Titans' offense) "They're exceptional right now. They're as hot as any team in football, with having won the last three, and I think by a combined score of 105 to something like 55. So, that's domination. That's what they've been doing. It's the same team that won 13 games last year. So we know that we'll have to play as good as we can play, and obviously, they run the ball extremely well."
(on what's different in the Titans defense from earlier in the year) "They've been nicked up. It looks like, to me, they're getting healthy. They've got their guys back and they're doing what they do best and that's get turnovers. Running the ball and getting turnovers, that's a tough combination to beat."
(on if TE James Casey practiced today) "Yeah, he did, James practiced today. (He was) a little bit limited but everything looked good, so if he comes out of today and tomorrow fine, I would think all systems would be go next week."
(on what TE James Casey can bring to the team) "He can bring a lot. Obviously, he helps (special teams coordinator) Joe (Marciano) a lot on special teams. Obviously, he can do some things for us offensively, so he'll become a big part of what we're doing over the course of the next seven weeks and, like I said, we're just trying to get him good and healthy and get him to Monday."
(on if the bye week helped LB Brian Cushing and DE Mario Williams) "Yeah, obviously, Cush practiced today, so we hope to get him on more of a practice schedule. Mario really was doing it before we left on break, so I think it helped them all. They were moving around pretty good today. The only player that wasn't here today is (WR) Jacoby Jones. He's got a little calf issue."
(on if he stresses the high profile nature of Monday Night Football with his players or if it's just another game) "Well, it is another game, I mean it's one of 16, but we obviously know how important it is as we start these last seven. Any time you play Monday Night Football in this league, for players, it's special, but we've got a long week ahead of us and we need to stay focused on ourselves here for a couple of days and then we'll get started on Tennessee on Thursday."
(on WR Jacoby Jones' injury) "Coming out of the (Colts) game, it bothered him a little bit. He did practice on Tuesday, it was sore, there was no concern, really. He went home, got away for a few days, came back with some swelling, so we're getting it checked out. That's where he's at right now."
TE James Casey(on the bye week) "It was great. It really wasn't too much of a bye week for me. I was here every day, and Saturday and Sunday rehabbing my knee. Just still working. But it was nice to get away a little bit and watch some Sunday night football yesterday and relax a little bit. But at the same time I'm ready to go and excited to get back on the field because I missed the last game, so I'm real excited about Monday night."
(on how he felt at practice) "I felt really good. I felt a lot better than I was expecting to feel. It was two weeks ago today that I got the knee scoped. I was out there pretty much full go. I felt really good. I'm not where I want to be but I feel like I'll be definitely where I want to be by Monday night."
(on if there's any doubt he'll play next Monday) "There's no doubt in my mind that I'll play. This is going to take something very severe to keep me from playing on Monday and the way I felt out there today, I feel like I'll be fine for sure."
(on the intensity of last week's rehab) "I don't know the exact hours, but I was in here I would say at least three or four hours a day doing stuff. Pretty much everything you can imagine in that training room, like doing lunges. I started off pretty slow because I was right out of surgery. The day of and the day after surgery I was walking really well. So with this surgery you can be really aggressive with it, so I was doing lunges and step ups and anything you can imagine. The trainers are really about staying with me. It was their bye week too but I was in there every day because I had to get ready for this week."
LB Brian Cushing(on hearing a lot about Titans quarterback Vince Young this week) "Yeah, he's back in town and playing again. He's kind of uplifted the team."
(on the Titans play with Young as opposed to Kerry Collins) "I think he just adds an edge to the team. You have a guy who's versatile, where with Kerry Collins you just got to watch the pass. But (with Young) you've got to watch for both."
(on playing on Monday Night Football) "It's going to be awesome. Everyone talks about that first Monday night game you have and the experience (of it being) the only game on TV. I'm just really looking forward to the opportunity for our team and myself to shine."
(on defending Titans running back Chris Johnson) "We know he's an edge rusher and he loves getting outside. Once he gets out there no one's going to catch him. It's preventing the big play. You take away two or three plays from the last game and it's a different game."
LB Zac Diles(on playing against Titans QB Vince Young) "It's going to be my first time, so I'm going to be a little giddy about it, but I've still got to go out there and play ball. He brings a different element to the game and the offense, switches things up a little bit with him back there, but you've still got to just go out there and play ball."
(on Titans RB Chris Johnson) "You see every week he can get you two, three yards and then all of a sudden, 90. So you've got to stay on your keys and be in your gaps. He's fast, he's an athlete and we're going to definitely have a good game coming up for us."
WR Andre Johnson
(on going back up against CB Cortland Finnegan) "I just go out and play. I think he just does things to try and get in your head and whatnot, but that's about it. You can't really worry about that."
(on if he likes playing against Finnegan) "It really doesn't matter. I like playing against anybody. It doesn't really matter who I play against."
(on if Finnegan bothers him) "No. He doesn't bother me."
(on if he likes playing on the big stage) "Monday Night Football is very big. Everybody is watching. Who doesn't watch Monday Night Football? This is a real big game with them winning three games in a row and us coming off a loss against Indianapolis. I think this game will be real big for us."
(on what he thinks about Chris Johnson saying they're going to win the rest of their games) "That's his prediction. So far, he's been right. They've been winning. Hopefully, we can change that on Monday."
(on the keys to his big games against the Titans the past two years) "I think that it's just us being able to run the ball and it opens up our play-pass. When we're able to do that, we're able to have some big passes against them."
(on TE James Casey) "I think James is very talented. I watched him a lot when he played at Rice. I always thought he was a very talented guy. I think he has great hands as a receiver. I think there are still some things he has to learn, but every week, by him being out on the practice field, he's learning and getting better and better."
SS Bernard Pollard
(on if he's played much against Titans QB Vince Young) "Vince, I played him actually my second year. You know, he's the type of quarterback where we've got to make sure we keep him contained. If he breaks contain, he can get out and beat you with his legs and he can do some things in the passing game, so we've got to make sure we're on our Ps and Qs. And coming off a bye week, everybody's feeling good. We're kind of getting back to the swing of things, and I think Coach Kube (head coach Gary Kubiak) is doing a great job as far as getting practices and everything together and going all through the week with a Monday night game."
(on if they've looked at tape on Titans QB Vince Young) "We looked at some tape. From what I've seen, you know, I'm speaking for myself, from what I've seen, he has a very good team. You have the running back going to the media, saying that they pull off a 10-6 record and, you know, they've won three straight. So this is a powerful, powerful football team. (Titans RB) Chris Johnson is probably one of the best runners right now in the game. He's rushed for, was it 120 yards or something like that a game? So we've got to make sure we contain that, we've got to make sure, like I said, we're on our A game. We've got to get it going."
(on RB Chris Johnson making a prediction of some sort) "He did make a prediction of some sort, but nevertheless, we've got to come and I think if our defense continues to keep playing like we've been playing and our offense continues to keep playing hard and be as explosive an offense as they can be, we've got a really good shot. And everybody's feeling good, everybody's fresh coming off the bye week, so we're just getting back into the swing of things."
(on if he puts in more work than normal for Monday Night Football) "Well, I've never played in a Monday Night Football game, so this is going to be some good for me. I've never been a part of it, but the biggest thing is just seeing that, you know, everybody's said that the atmosphere is just ridiculous. So I think it being my first Monday night game, I'm going to treat it just like any other game. But nevertheless, you guys are going to see an excited person, excited player who's going to go out and leave it all on the line."
CB Dunta Robinson
(on Titans QB Vince Young) "You watch him in a lot of third- and fourth-and-shorts, he's converting with his legs. He's keeping a lot of drives alive with his legs and doing a good job of getting the ball to the receivers."
(on the Titans being conservative with Young) "They're kind of easing him into it. When you've got a running game that is clicking and working the way the way that running game is, you shouldn't have to ask any quarterback to do too much. He's coming in and he's managing the game pretty well. He's making the throws he's supposed to make and they're handing the ball off to (RB) Chris Johnson, and he's making the difference."
(on if Young may revert to old tendencies playing in his home city) "You never know. You never know what you're going to get. We're preparing for what we've seen so far from him. If anything new happens, we'll adjust to it. We know what kind of quarterback Vince is. We know how dangerous he is. We're preparing for him like we prepare for any good football player."
(on why RB Chris Johnson is able to be so successful) "The guy has it all. He's breaking tackles. He's outrunning people. He's just a great running back. If you want any chance to beat this football team, you've got to contain him. He's taking two- and three-yard gains and taking them 80 and 90 yards. The problem is that he's just as fast as a defensive back, so that's where all the long touchdown runs are coming from. He's a tough guy."
(on if Monday Night Football is a big deal for him or just another game) "It's just another game and that's the way we've got to look at it. This is the game that we have this week and it's the most important thing we've got going on right now. The big stage, that's where you want to be, but you can't go out there and try to do too much. We've got to go out there and do the things that have allowed us to win football games thus far and not try to do too much. I think we've got enough veterans in this locker room that we're going to take care of our business."
(on his thoughts on DE Mario Williams having 6.5 sacks in two primetime games) "I'm glad we have a primetime game coming up. Maybe after this game, he'll have 9.5 sacks."
(on if he expects another physical game with Tennessee) "No doubt about it. Any time you play against the Titans, you can always expect a very physical football game. We're looking for the same thing. We know this team, on both sides of the ball, they like to hit you in the mouth. We know we've got it coming. We feel like we are a pretty physical team ourselves, so I think we'll be in for a very good, physical football game."
LB DeMeco Ryans
(on how things change with QB Vince Young at quarterback) "Vince changes things, as you all know. He can run the ball in crucial third-down situations. When it's third-and-four and third-and-five, we have to definitely keep our eyes on him because he can make the play—he can go run for the first down."
(on what he remembers from the game when Young scored the winning TD in OT) "I'm trying to forget that one. This is a different team and we are looking to get a win against these guys. Vince is a great player. He brings a different dynamic to their team and he's been getting it done for them. He's been winning games for them, and we have to find a way to slow him down."
(on if the Titans are a lot different from when the first played them in September) "The key is still Chris Johnson. Vince comes in, he's managing the game well, but the key is still Chris. He's done a great job, running the ball and making great plays."
(on the key to containing Johnson) "We have to be physical. We have to hit him. Any opportunity we get, we're going to have to be physical against them, and that's the key to when you're playing any running back. I think it's no different playing him."
DE Mario Williams
(on why he's played so well in his two primetime games) "I don't know. Every game is going to be different. Hopefully, we can go out and do the same thing as a team and get a victory."
(on if he gets extra fired up for primetime games) "At this point, every game is going to be very important. Obviously, it's November, it's time to get that last stretch, so we've got to go out and play hard."
(on RB Chris Johnson and QB Vince Young) "Obviously, it's going to be a challenge. They're 3-0 and on a winning streak and we're not, so obviously it's going to be a challenge. We just have to play our best football."
(on what changes with Young playing as opposed to QB Kerry Collins) "It brings another dimension to the game with him being able to run. It's just another one of those things that we've got to contain and try and get it done."
(on how is shoulder is) "It's good."
(on what he thought of the Titans-Bills game) "They were running the ball like they wanted to. They were passing the ball pretty well. (RB Chris) Johnson had over 100 yards receiving and then the fourth quarter got out of hand. That just shows that we've got to play all four quarters, because it can get out of hand."
(on Johnson's ability to make big plays) "That's the thing—you contain him the first two or three plays and then all of a sudden, he busts out the big one. We have to minimize the big plays."
T Eric Winston
(on if the week off helped the team) "I'm sure everyone enjoyed themselves, I'm sure everyone had the chance to relax, take a deep breath and nurse whatever injuries they needed to and try to get back as close as they could to 100 percent."
(on the difference between the Titans now and at the beginning of the season) "I don't know; I haven't watched them. I'm sure they're not different in the sense that they're not doing anything schematically different. I'm sure you're going to see the same kind of Titans team, same kind of defense, very aggressive, they get after the quarterback, fit well against the run, do those things. You know, I never thought they were that far off to begin with; that was the thing. I thought they were playing hard, I thought they were getting after it. I think they got some bad breaks, they caught some injuries in some unneeded times when they were playing some good passing teams and it just worked that way. Obviously, they found their formula for winning, and we've got to go out there and play a little better than them."
(on if Titans QB Vince Young has turned them around) "I don't know. You'd have to ask them. I'm sure he's bringing a lot to the table right now for them. I like Vince. Vince has always been a good guy. We took recruiting visits together, so I've known him for a long time and I wish him nothing but the best, you know. He went through some tough times, but sometimes that makes a great player; you go through some tough times and you come out on the other side, and I'm sure it's helping him in the long run."
(on if he gets fired up about playing in primetime games) "Oh, sure, everyone wants to play Monday nights, everyone wants to play Sunday nights. You know everyone's watching. It's going to be a good test for us. It's going to be a case where we've got to go out there and we're going to have to play pretty well, obviously, to beat this team because they're as hot as it gets right now and they're playing pretty well."