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Practice quotes: Thursday


The Texans will look to employ a run-heavy offense against the Steelers. Members of the team talked about the approach on Thursday.

Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on if anything is different with the team's health) "No, same thing. Everybody is out there. Our plan is to give (Xavier) Adibi good rest and hopefully he is full speed by next week because we feel like we've been setting him back every time by bringing him back too quickly. Everybody practiced, looked good. We had a very good practice."

(on developing the three headed monster of passing, rushing, and receiving) "If you want to be successful in this league, everything starts with running the ball. If you run the ball well, your play action and all of those things are better. Your defense usually plays better when you're a good time of possession football team. All you have to do is look at the football team we're playing. They're a mirror of what we're talking about. They led the league in time of possession and had the number one defense in football last year. Those things kind of go hand in hand."

(on RB Ahman Green getting labeled after being injured and how he can break away from those labels) "I see a guy that hasn't been distracted by what has happened. He pulled a groin, and there wasn't anything he could do about it. Timing wise, it didn't look good, but I've watched him work. I love his attitude. He's had good practices the last two weeks. He had an excellent practice today. You just keep your fingers crossed. He's been running the football for a long time, and if he is able to stay healthy and we do it the right way with him, he can help this football team a great deal."

(on if the intensity has picked up now that it's the regular season) "I thought we had an excellent practice today. You can sense the focus right now. Our guys know that they have a tremendous challenge and where they're going they have to be at their best. You could see that in their focus today. Tomorrow is another day. We have to have another good one before we go down there, but our players know, our coaches know that we'll have to be at the top our game, and that's what it takes to go in there and find a way to beat this football team at their place. We're looking forward to the challenge, and the way they worked today, to me, they're getting ready for the challenge."

{QUOTE}(on if it is important to get WR Andre Johnson involved early) "I don't really get too consumed with that. We have to do what we have to do against a football team to win. Do I like to get Andre (Johnson) going early? I like to get him going all the time. When he's making plays we're a better football team, but sometimes you can force feed a player and you can distract what you're trying to get done team-wise. Andre is a team player. We're going to always do our best to get him involved, but at the same time, Andre will do whatever he has to do for us to win. I promise you that."

(on the Pittsburg fans and the crowd noise) "I've played there many times in some big games. You can't mimic that. We can sit out here and turn all the noise we want, but it's not anything like what we are about to go see. I think our players know that. We have maybe a couple of players that have no idea — Duane (Brown) being one of them. We're trying to get him ready with that. We'll do some more of it tomorrow. That's one of those things that you have to grow up on the move, so hopefully he handles it."

K Kris Brown
(on if Pittsburgh is one of the tougher places to kick in the league) "You know, people ask me that all the time. To me, most all the stadiums in the league are pretty much about the same. And certainly, the stadiums that are in the north, again, when you get later in the year, it becomes a little more challenging because of the weather itself. But, really, there's not one stadium I think that is harder to kick in than another one. So, it's just about going out and going through your routine and going through your mechanics and putting the ball through the uprights."

(on if the Steelers' fans are different from other fans) "I think they are passionate fans. The team has such an incredible history being in Pittsburgh. They have such a loyal following. Their fans are really the heart and soul of that city and the team. They are a lot different from most fans in the league."

(on how the Steelers' fans are different) "Their support. They live and die with the Steelers. As a team here in Houston, we are trying to get our fan base to emulate what they do in Pittsburgh. They really love their Steelers and it's really important to them."

(on if the crowd noise has an effect on his kicking) "No, because I get out on the field and I'm not calling a cadence or anything like that. I'm getting out there and I'm going off of Matt's (Turk) movements, when he moves his hand, that's when I'm going. So for us, the kicking, the crowd noise isn't a big deal."

(on what he remembers about the last Texans game in Pittsburgh) "It was a crazy game. You probably won't ever see a game like that ever again. I mean, we had 47 yards of offense, I don't know if we had a first down. I think we had one first down. You think you're going to get blown away and you end up winning 24-6. That's why in this league you never know and that's why there is such a premium on big plays. You just have to find a way to win and by no means did the statistics reflect what the score should have been. But you know, again, I think we had three turnovers that we were able to score off of. So, if that's the way you have to win some days, then that's the way you have to win."

TE Mark Bruener
(on the Steelers fans and how difficult it is to play there) "The thing that you can't explain is that you just can't hear anything. You can be two feet from one of your teammates and you just flat out cannot hear anything. They really have something special with regards to the way their fans support the organization. That starts with the Rooney's and the way the players treat the fans, as well."

(on if he has talked to teammates to try to prepare them in any way) "We all play in tough environments. Every year we play in Indianapolis, and that's one of the loudest stadiums that I've ever played in. At this level, you have been accustomed to noise and dealing with that and you just have to make sure that you're keyed in to your assignments and have to concentrate and focus that much more because the noise can be a distraction if you let it."

(on if he is glad to be going back to Pittsburgh) "Yeah. Pittsburgh's a great team, and it's the season opener. We're all excited about the opportunity to open up another season against a great opponent."

(on if the noise that is put in during practice is anything like it's going to be on Sunday) "No. You can't duplicate or find a way to get it to the level that you're going to get at that stadium, but it's still a good conditioning mode because it tries to simulate the noise that we're going to experience when we're there."

(on how you adjust for crowd noise and staying with the cadence) "You've got to find a way to look at the ball. Being out there at the tight end position, you're the farthest away. So, it can be challenging and tough. The speed of their defensive line and their outside linebackers with the scheme that they run, it can be very, very challenging. We really need to be focused and keyed in to our assignments and understand going in that those are the conditions we're going to be facing and find a way to overcome it."

(on if the Pittsburgh defense is different under coach Dick LeBeau and head coach Mike Tomlin than when he was there) "No. Coach LeBeau is an outstanding defensive coordinator. He's proven that year after year, for many years. They lose talent every year, but they always replace talent with better players. They really have a great scheme. We've been studying them on film and it can be confusing at times. That's their goal: to try to confuse and have an offensive player miss an assignment or miss one of their blocks because it can free up a rusher and then that can cause some havoc for the quarterback."

(on why Heinz field is such a hard place to play) "I would say the noise factor. The noise is a huge factor. It's difficult with regards to trying to communicate and trying to get off on the snap. It really poses a tough challenge for us and a great advantage for the Steelers."

(on if the Steelers will be the most physical team the Texans will face all year) "We've had a pretty physical training camp here. The Steelers, when I was there and still since I've left, every year they play their opponents very physical and they have physical players. Every game that anybody plays in the NFL is a physical game. They do a great job of hitting the opponent right in the mouth and all of their players come up and swarm tackle and do an outstanding job of hitting everybody. So, you need to be ready and keep your head on a swivel."

(on if opening day is still special after playing so many years) "It's even more special the week leading up to it. You don't wait to have those feelings on game day. You have a kind of unusual, different feeling that you experience in the opening game of the season. The nervousness is beginning to start, and you are always double and triple checking to make sure your assignments are right. There's nothing like the feeling of opening day in the NFL. There's nothing like it."

DE N.D. Kalu
(on Steelers' QB Ben Roethlisberger) "He's just so big and athletic on top of being a good quarterback. He's one of those guys that, once you get to him, that's half the battle, but trying to bring him down is another battle in itself. He's just so strong and poised. A lot of time on film we see a defensive lineman is trying to bring him down and he's steady looking down the field trying to complete the ball while he has someone on his back."

(on how he ranks Pittsburgh among tough places to play) "Right now number one, just because all we're thinking about is Pittsburgh. We know they do have a history of being good at home. Right now, they are up with the top. Of course you hear about Kansas City and Philadelphia being tough, but in our minds Pittsburgh is number one right now."

(on what he expects to see from the Steelers offensive line) "Same attitude. They've always been known as being a bruising o-line and that's how they look on film, even in preseason. They want to be aggressive, they want to run block, then finally drop back and pass if they get in trouble. But right now, they are a tough offensive line and they just really want to pound you."

(on if Steelers' RB Rashard Mendenhall's fumbling problem makes him a target) "I'm sure it has and with him, it's not that we are trying to pick on him, but any young running back in the NFL is more susceptible to dropping the ball, to being separated from the ball by a big hit. So that's our goal anytime we face a young running back. Nothing against him personally but he is a rookie and rookies tend to drop the ball more than vets."

(on if he thinks one guy needs to step to be the compliment to DE Mario Williams) "No, one guy stepped up last year, number 90, and all we heard about was how no one else did anything. So, we take that personal and we take it as a challenge. All the other defensive linemen are going to have to step and get those sack numbers."

G Chester Pitts
(on the Steelers defense) "They are a really good defense. They're a 3-4 defense. It's difficult because they flip-flop back and forth between 3-4 and 4-3 and sometimes give you three down looks and four down looks. They're a good physical, fast team, and they're so good entrenching into the system that they know exactly what they are doing so they never miss a beat. That's what makes them more difficult."

(on if they are the most physical team you can face in the NFL) "Absolutely, that's what they pride themselves on. Year in and year out, if you ask anybody who is the most physical team, they would say Pittsburgh because that's what they hang their hats on."

(on how the defense brings different players from all directions) "Any and everywhere, you never know where it's coming from. They'll drop Kasey Hampton in coverage every now and then. They do it all and present it all to you. So, you've got to go out there and play, and when they give you opportunities you have to capitalize on them."

(on how you counter a defense like the Steelers) "Stay on schedule. There's nothing wrong with a two-yard run, just keep yourself out of third and long because that's where they really thrive. If you can stay where it's third and four or third and five then those are extremely manageable third downs, and even if they do bring the house then you can throw quick passes and still combat that. You've got to stay on the field. It's their philosophy: stay on the field 34 or 35 minutes every game, keep your defense fresh."

(on if Steelers' NT Casey Hampton is the largest player he will face this year) "No, he's not bigger than (Albert) Haynesworth is he?"

(in reference to the previous question about NT Casey Hampton weighing in at 385) "Well, then that could be (the biggest guy I face). I didn't know he was that heavy. I knew he was a big man. I thought he was more like 350, but I don't think anybody else is that big."

(on if NT Kasey Hampton is an occupier or if he tries to get up field) "He does it all. His first step is just as fast as anybody else in the league. (He's) a production player. He can time up the count, get up the field. He's smart. He's kind of all over the place. He's not one of those that goes hard for two plays and then takes five off. He's going to go hard all seven."

(on how he would compare Pittsburgh's and Dallas' three-four defense) "I think that the guys on Dallas' 3-4 are a little more athletic inside, but I think that the Pittsburgh guys are a little more gap sound and a little bit more technique sound."

(on if the reality of the regular season sets in tonight because there is an actual game to watch) "For me, once the second to last preseason game is over, the season starts. It will be cool to watch a game tonight just to kick off the 2008 season and see guys go and play, watch a little film, watch a little technique. It's going to be fun."

(on the Pittsburgh Steelers fans) "They have a very strong fan base. It's a loud place to play. They definitely don't make it easier on you, but I don't think it's louder there than say Indianapolis where it's pretty loud too. Whenever you're on the road in this league, you're not going to be able to hear and you better try to find a way to get the crowd out of the game early or you're in for a long day."

(on why the Steelers fans are often voted the best fans) "The pride and tradition. Haven't they had record number of years of sellout or repeat season ticket holders? They've been there a long time and (have) a lot of heritage. That's probably why."

(on if he is anxious to hit an opposing team when it actually counts) "When it really matters? Always. That's why we do what we do, get out there and play, compete against the best and it's for real. I'm very excited about the season."

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