Strong safety Bernard Pollard was one of a handful of Texans who spoke with the media after Thursday's practice.
After the Texans practiced Thursday, head coach Gary Kubiak and some of his players answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head coach Gary Kubiak TE James Casey WR Jacoby Jones SS Bernard Pollard LB DeMeco Ryans QB Matt Schaub RB Steve Slaton
Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on today's practice) "We were a little sluggish early but we got going. Naturally when we work against ourselves, Monday and Tuesday I thought we were very, very fast and of course today we start working on Tennessee and the mental part starts to come into effect so it took us a little bit to get going but we ended up having a good day."
(on WR Jacoby Jones) "He came out and did some special teams. He's still pretty sore. He has some swelling in there and we're trying to work the soreness out. I think he's going to be day to day. You know obviously today he was a very limited participant."
(on if he expects WR Jacoby Jones' injury to heal before Monday) "I'm sure hoping. I was encouraged by what I saw the first few minutes of special teams and then it stiffened back up on him so we just kept him out the rest of the way. So hopefully he comes back tomorrow and takes another big step forward."
(on if CB Glover Quin would return punts and kicks if WR Jacoby Jones doesn't play) "No, I would put (WR Glenn) Martinez back there. Glenn would probably be our punt returner. The kicks—no, we'll still have (WR) André (Davis), so we'll probably just go that way."
(on TE James Casey) "He's fine, yeah, he's ok. He's a full participant, didn't miss anything today and there's been no setbacks so he's done a heck of a job for what he went through to get back that fast."
(on what he meant when he referred to the team being slow in practice against the Tennessee offense) "What I'm referring to is, when you're practicing against yourself, not a lot of card work and those type of things so we're very, very fast. All of a sudden we got back in our card routine of, you know, working against an opponent and we slowed down a little bit. But just trying to get back in the routine, the way we do things, and we finished up strong."
(on what challenges the Titans bring) "Well, they're just a fine team. They're the same team that won 13 games last year and got off to a rough start this year but have played as good as anybody in football the last three weeks. The challenges they present are obvious—the top running game in the business, top back in the business. That's a big challenge for us defensively. Then offensively, trying to protect against that front. They play extremely well, they get after the quarterback and the last few weeks they've been excellent in the turnover battle that's going on. So those are the biggest challenges that come to mind."
(on how Titans QB Vince Young has changed the Titans offense) "He looks more comfortable to me, number one. And that happens a lot in this league. You play, you sit and watch a little bit, sometimes you come back and you're much more relaxed. I think Dinger's (Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger) doing a great job with him and what they're doing offensively. And obviously his football team's playing very, very well. They've had, I think they've had one turnover in the last three weeks and when that team is playing that cleanly with the football, they're hard to beat. So it just looks like a much more comfortable player."
(on if Titans RB Chris Johnson or titans QB Vince Young is the bigger threat) "Really, with Vince's ability to boot and do all the things, they options that they're running, obviously it's another threat but you better stop the run against them, regardless. I mean, that's just a philosophy, that's what they do and do very, very well and obviously we had a hard time with it the first go around. It's a big challenge for us to stop the run however we can."
(on how expects SS Bernard Pollard to factor into the defense) "He's made us better but I think we've gotten better because we're all tackling better. I think the whole group, earlier in the season we really missed a lot of tackles and gave up big plays. I think our whole back end has tackled better and has quit giving up some of those big plays. But these guys, with (Titans RB) Chris (Johnson) and with (Titans RB) Vince (Young) you better tackle well or else they're going to be home runs, you know, they're not going to be 10 or 12-yard gains, they're going to be just like they were last time, what was it, 80-something. So we better tackle well on Monday."
(on what he likes about WR Glenn Martinez as a punt returner) "He's done it in this league before and he's done it very, very well. Just watching him with our team this year, I've been very comfortable with him. And actually the last time he suited for us was when we played Tennessee so if (WR) Jacoby (Jones), if it's a problem and he doesn't get any better, I'm very comfortable playing him."
(on if he expects WR Jacoby Jones to play) "I think I'm probably going to give you a different answer every day. But obviously today we took a little step forward, hopefully a bigger one tomorrow."
(on if he's made a decision about which running back will start on Monday) "No, like I said we'll play him all and there's even a possibility that we get (RB Arian) Foster involved. So we'll see."
(on if there are any other injuries) "(LB Brian) Cushing did not practice today, and that's just strictly precautionary. You know we went two days hard with him on Monday and Tuesday. (Head athletic trainer) Geoff (Kaplan)'s got this pattern going of how many days he wants him out there in a row. So he just took the mental reps today, he'll come back tomorrow and Friday and practice."
(on the importance of Monday night games) "It's the only game that's played, so obviously in this business it's a big game. But for us it's number 10 and we've had a lot of time to think about this one and a lot of time to stew over our last game so it's just important, we need to get back on the football field and go to work and we're going to have to play very well these last seven (games) to compete in this league. And the challenge starts on Monday."
TE James Casey(on how different it is to prepare when you know you're going to see lots of playing time) "Yeah it's a little different because going into Buffalo I was expecting to play some special teams but not really expecting to get on offense at all and if I was it was maybe a couple of plays. So now it's a little bit different because I'm preparing as if I might get a lot of playing time, even though I still don't really know exactly how it's going to work out but it's a little bit different how you prepare for the game when you're expecting to play a lot just because you know you might be out there so you study a little bit more film, do a little more extra stuff."
(on testing his injury) "When I really test it is when I really try to open up and run. When I'm running, just running short routes I really can't tell at all but when I really try to open up and really go full speed is when I really kind of test that out and I'll feel fine and it starts off a little bit tight early in practice but that's expected; it's always going to be a little tight and sore but I feel fine once I start getting going after a while."
(on if the stumbles after his receptions were because of the knee) "Yeah, that was definitely because of the knee. My mind was telling me to go but my right leg wasn't following but hopefully I'll be able, if I ever get the ball in my hands again, to do a little bit more than I did against Buffalo with it."
(on the importance of Monday Night Football) "It's the biggest stage in football and I'm really excited about it. I know the whole team's excited about it. It's also a big game for us, you know, it's real important for us to go out there and play well and get this win. But like I said, it's a big stage, the whole nation's watching, it's a chance for me to maybe get some opportunities and go out there and help this team."
WR Jacoby Jones
(on how he feels for Mondays' game) "I'm taking it day by day. I can't really tell right now. I ran on it today and it feels alright."
(on how frustrating it is to have the injury right now) "It's aggravating because when I did it, I did it in the Colts game and I played the whole game and practiced that Tuesday. On the plane ride home, the air pressure made it swell up, so that's aggravating."
(on if it would be hard to sit out on Monday night) "It would. That's a big game, big stage and another step for us to shoot towards the playoffs too. I want to contribute to this but we've got guys like (WR) Glenn Martinez and everybody else that can step up."
(on if he would rather play) "Of course I want to play. Why wouldn't I want to play?"
(on if he has noticed any improvement) "Oh yeah. Big difference. I had like massive swelling and all of its gone now, so now you just try to work the soreness out."
SS Bernard Pollard
(on how different the defense is from the last time they played the Titans) "Like I tell a lot of people, I believe the guys and the coaches and everything has settled in. Everything is settled now. I believe when you communicate and everybody can build that trust, I think it's just a big thing for everybody. I think if we continue to play like this for the rest of the season—we've got seven games left in this goal we're trying to achieve. If we continue to play hard and continue to run around hitting people, if we continue to just know what we've got to do, we've got to know our assignments and get the ball back to our offense. If we do that, I think great things are going to happen for our team."
(on how the Titans have improved since Vince Young took over as the starter) "He's a good athlete. He's a very good athlete. They're not turning the ball over. I think they've got one turnover in the last three or four weeks. We've got to take advantage of their mistakes. He (Young) is going to play good and going to be in front of a lot of people. I just found out that this is his hometown. We can't let him come in and keep that rhythm going. We've got to hit him, when we get a chance and keep everything clean. I think if we continue to do that and continue to run the ball and take their running game away from them, I think it will be a good thing for us."
(on if they want to force the Titans into passing situations) "Oh, if we can put them in a pass situation, I think that would be a great thing for us. Still, he hasn't turned the ball over but it's going to be a big thing for us if we can continue to put them in that situation on Monday night and ask him to lead his team through the passing game. I think they're going to run the ball, but we've still had got to take advantage of everything."
(on the meaning of Monday Night Football) "I've never played on it. So you're about to see a crazy player. I'm about to be crazy out there. So it's going to be fun for everybody, all eleven guys are going to be nuts. It's going to be running around, hitting, talking, everything else. It's just going to be an intense game. Like I said, we've got seven games left and we've got a goal to achieve. I really believe this team, as powerful as we are, as powerful as our offense is and the special teams and everything else, we've got to come out and establish something. We've been playing good the last five or six weeks, but we've got to win games."
LB DeMeco Ryans(on what he remembers from the OT game in 2006) "It wasn't a good reaction in our stadium. It's something that had to get over and move on from. This is a big game this week with them coming in here. We just have to find a way to stop them."
(on if there will still be parts of the stadium they will have to win over) "Oh yeah. I think it's always going to be that way. Anytime a guy comes back to his hometown crowd, I would expect it to be like that. If we had a pro team in Alabama and I went back and played, I would expect it to be that way."
(on how the Titans offense is different with QB Vince Young) "They're the same, just running the ball a lot more. (RB) Chris Johnson is an important part of their offense and they're trying to put the ball in his hands and he does a great job of making plays every time he has the ball in his hands. He gets them out of a lot of bad situations. He's their go-to-guy. Vince gets the ball to him and they're running the ball even more now. He's the top rusher in the league so you're going put the ball in his hands."
(on if their approach changes since Young can run as well) "It doesn't change our approach. We're just more conscience of him. In third down situations, we have to be more conscience of him running as opposed to when (QB) Kerry (Collins) was in. Kerry wasn't going to run. He would try to throw for the first down. Vince does a good job. He's athletic. He does a good job of making plays with his feet."
(on if you try to make Tennessee a passing team) "Oh yeah. Always. You're always trying to make a team a passing team. Our goal is to go out and stop the run. That's first and foremost. We can't have them running the ball and throwing the ball. We have to make them one-dimensional."
QB Matt Schaub
(on the importance of Monday Night Football) "It's a great opportunity for us to go out and play against a good football team in front of everybody. Everybody will be watching, we'll be the only show in town, and it'll be exciting. It's a divisional opponent, a team that's playing extremely well and we're really going to have to prepare well and play extremely well on Monday."
(on if he gets any more pumped up for Monday Night Football than a Sunday game) "Yeah, I think everybody's juices get going but you know once you get in the flow of the game and, you know, get that first pass out of the way and everything you settle down, you just play the game. It's going to take the same to win whether it's Monday night or Sunday afternoon so we're just going to have to be on top of things and be ready to go."
(on if he wants to take advantage of the prime time game to show everyone what the Texans are about) "Absolutely. It's a chance for us to go out and play well and show everybody what we're doing down here and that we're doing good things and playing good football. So that's what we have to go out and do."
(on WR Andre Johnson saying he needs to step up because these next seven games are the most important in franchise history) "I think that goes for everybody in this locker room. I absolutely agree with him; these next seven are extremely important. None more important than the one we have on Monday night. They're all going to be important but we're going to make them important because we're going to go on a little streak. We got to win games and that's what we have to do here in the stretch run. We have to go out Monday night and play well to win the football game and then just carry that over with each week."
(on if he can imagine WR Andre Johnson playing at a higher level than he already is) "Absolutely. I think all of us can do that. I think if you settle or you're satisfied with where you are individually or as a group you're in for a rude awakening. So I think everyone can get better in some form or fashion."
(on if he will focus more on trying to control the clock like the Titans or scoring points) "I just think we just go out and execute our plan, score points and take what they give us. And whether it's dinking and dunking or it's getting big plays, we just want to score points."
RB Steve Slaton
(on needing to stop the Titans win streak) "It's definitely going to be a tough game. I think every game that we've played has been a tough game and been a very physical game but that's what you've got to look at and mindset to have and just set records aside because it's not about our records in this game, it's just about who can last as long and who can make the most plays."
(on what he sees from the Titans run defense) "They fly to the ball. They do a good job. Their secondary's healthy, their secondary are very good tacklers so once they get a hand on you, you're pretty much, they're going to swarm you and get you down. But I think this is just going to have to be, just keep fighting through the whole game and hopefully whenever the chance for big plays are there, we can capitalize on them."
(on playing on Monday Night Football) "I think every player loves playing on a big stage. Being that game, being the only channel everybody's going to pretty much be focused on and that's why you play the sport, to be on the highest stage that you can."
(on how often he thinks about his fumbling issues) "You think about it all the time. It don't matter how much time you have off or how much time you have but it's just something that I've got to work on more. I mean, we're doing things differently now, just watching and just hoping the next time you're in that same predicament that you can put two hands on it and just know what to do and know when to concede."
(on visiting with his old coaches) "It wasn't really just to notice anything, it was really just get my mind, clear my mind, just talk to them. It's so much more a business on this level to where we were in college and high school so I went back to just start over again."