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Houston Texans

Practice quotes: Wednesday

The Texans spoke to the media on Wednesday about their upcoming game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Head coach Gary Kubiak

(on the team's health situation) "We had everyone back on the field today. (T) Ephraim (Salaam) practiced today, (T Rashad) Butler practiced today. (DE) Earl Cochran was back on the field today. So, other than (LB Xavier) Adibi, we're full strength right now. Everybody is out there."

(on if RB Ahman Green will start) "I don't see any reason why he won't. He looked good in practice, today. I plan on playing them all, to be honest with you. I could say right down the middle, but it usually doesn't end up that way. I plan on all of them playing. We'll be smart. He's not going to be ready to go in there and carry the ball an abundant amount of times but he's ready to play."

(on how important it would be for RB Ahman Green to play well) "It would be very important. Our team gets an extra step in the run, so to speak, whenever he's out there because they know what he can do. He brings big play ability and the fact that he's moving around the way he's moving around is exciting for us. You just keep your fingers crossed that we go down there and come out of this game with him playing well and feeling good and we keep moving forward."

(on how confident he is in T Duane Brown against Pittsburgh) "He's our best guy. He's been exceptional throughout the camp. Is he in for some growing pains? I bet he is. But, he's fixing to find out. Like I told him, it's going to be a little bit louder than it was in the preseason, and a little bit tougher. But, he's been a rock. He works, does his job. He's gotten better every week. This will be the ultimate challenge for him. He's got to go through these things to become a big-time player."

(on any concerns at running back) "Concerns? Yeah, the fact that 30 (RB Ahman Green) hasn't been out there is the biggest concern, but the fact that he is healthy and ready to go is a positive too. But we'll see. (RB Steve) Slaton is fine, (RB Chris) Taylor is fine. Would we like to have a fourth guy active? We would, but we're not going to do that just to put a body up. We're going to make sure if that guy is up he's going to be playing for us."

(on Pittsburgh's defense being confusing for the linemen) "They have a coordinator (defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau) who is a legend in this league. He does a lot. If you look at the Pittsburgh Steelers and you study them over a month, they do so many things there's not enough time in the week to try to prepare for all the things they do. So, what you try to do is make sure your guys are doing what they do best and what they know. You're going to get some looks that you haven't seen. They're no different than anyone else in the league. They've been saving some things. This guy has a lot in his arsenal. We'll see a bunch of things, but we'll just try to settle our guys down and hopefully keep them confident in what they are doing."

(on working out RB Tatum Bell) "You know, that's news to me to be honest with you. I saw before I came over to practice on TV that we were working him out. So, I guess I need to go check with somebody."

(on if he knows how RB Tatum Bell did in the workout) "I have no idea. I know (RB) Tatum (Bell), I had him in Denver but other than that, I know nothing about a workout."

(on what his biggest defensive concern is) "This team's (Pittsburgh) strength is holding the ball, running the ball, controling the football game, time of possession. I think tops of the league, if not tops than top two or three in the league. That has been one of our problems and that's what this team does best so we're going to have to stop the run or this team can control the game on you. I think that's our number one challenge, and then that we're playing a great quarterback. A young quarterback who very quickly has become a great one."

(on if they have voted on the game captains yet) "Yeah we did. We have five captains. Two on offense are (QB) Matt (Schaub) and (WR) Andre (Johnson). Two on defense are (DE) Mario (Williams) and (LB) DeMeco (Ryans) and our special teams captain is (K) Kris Brown."

(on the Steelers' being a physical team) "Yeah, they are a physical football team. If you look back through the years, the only people that find a way to get out of there with a win are the people that find a way to run the ball and pound with them. So that's a big challenge for us. But we know if we go in there and we throw it 40 times we're probably in trouble. They are going to play physical; we have got to match them physically. We know that, that has been a key for us as a football team throughout camp, so we'll see where we're at."

(on where WR Andre Johnson and QB Matt Schaub are) "They are fine. They've worked together well here over the last two weeks. I thought they were good today. It's really our first time to be back on the field for a couple hours here in about a week. So, you could see the effects on the players but we need to come back the next two days and have two good days. As far as those two guys working, they've got plenty of work together."

(on if he is encouraged with the way the secondary is coming together) "It's been a work in progress because we have some relatively new safeties working back there. Not the first two, but when you talk about (SS) Nick (Ferguson) and (FS Brandon) Harrison. And then, the fact that (CB) Jacques (Reeves) hasn't missed any time as a player since we've gotten him has helped. We have our work cut out for us because we have to go down there and stop the run, so they are going to have to hold up back there."

(on emphasizing yards after catch with the receivers) "We feel like we threw the ball extremely well last year but if you look around the league, yards after catch, we were near the bottom. We feel like making plays once the ball is in your hands is something that is very important. We have to put the pressure on them to try to step up and make some of those plays."

(on WR Andre Johnson watching tape of Rod Smith) "We had a board in our room, yards after catch, showing how many yards you are responsible for as a receiver, because so many times there are guys that play that position that catch it and think they are done. And there's guys that before they catch it, they know what they want to go do with it. So, we are just encouraging them to get better in that phase."

(on if he trusts RB Steve Slaton) "Yeah. Does he still have a lot to learn? He's got a great deal to learn, but he made progress every week in camp. He never took a step back. He showed his teammates he'll step up in there and hit somebody in the mouth to protect our quarterback. You know, that's all you can ask for. He's a work in progress but his work has been good. There's nothing that says he's not going to continue to move forward. Now, this will be a big, big test for him but we need him."

(on what he thinks of RB Steve Slaton over all) "Eventually this kid has a chance to be a heck of a player. How quick he gets to that point this year may have a lot to do with how far we go. But we're going to count on him. He'll get a bulk of work along with (RB) Ahman (Green) right now. We'll see where he's at but this football team is counting on him growing up pretty quick."

(on the signing of DB Eugene Wilson) "We've been looking for a guy that's played some nickel to add as a fifth DB. We had a couple of options. (General manager) Rick (Smith) had his eye on him. I played against him, I coached against him. Very smart player. So, we just felt we needed to add that depth right now and the fact that he can play nickel helped."

(on what he saw from WR Andre Johnson and QB Matt Schaub last year) "They work really hard. You'll see them stay out afterwards, out early making sure they are on the same page. And they were throughout the time that they played together. It's just a trust factor in a lot of ways. We haven't branched out a lot. We pretty much stayed with the things we feel good about doing. So now that they've missed time together, It's helped them get back to where they were. Working together every day, just trying to get better everyday."

(on if the WR Andre Johnson and QB Matt Schaub tandem is strong because of the supporting cast) "It's extremely important. It's like playing Pittsburgh this week, if we don't find a way to run the ball and be effective, we are going to have a hard time getting the ball down the field. That's how good they are up front going to get the quarterback. So, those two go hand-in-hand. Usually those combinations are great because they stay together for a long time too. This is their second go-round; they both missed a lot of time last year. I hope they can stay together this year."

T Duane Brown

(on if it feels comfortable to play) "Every day I'm getting a little bit more comfortable, but it's like I said, this is the week it starts to matter; preseason is over. It's a different speed that we're going to be going against this week. So, just got to stay screwed in and see what happens."

(on going against a defense that the team doesn't normally see every day) "That goes back to film study. You have to get as many looks as you can at different options that they've faced. Like I said, the Dallas week really helped us out a lot going against the 3-4, great players and great speed. It all comes back to film study with me being a person who hasn't gone against this team before."

(on if the first regular season game is giving him any jitters) "Oh yeah, definitely. It's at Pittsburgh against a team with great tradition and a great defense, so nerves are going to be there. You've just got to play through it."

(on how much he is leaning on some of the veterans of the team to prepare for Pittsburgh) "I'm leaning on them a lot. We have our offensive film sessions with guys who have gone against this defense and gone against these players to tell you what to expect. That's been key for me, and I'm just going to keep continuing to do it throughout the week."

(on how much he has grown as a player since the beginning of camp) "I've grown a lot. These few preseason games that I have played in, I've gotten the chance to learn a little more each game, just getting used to the speed and going against players that I haven't faced before. I've improved a lot. I have a ways to go, but I'm pleased with my progress up to this point."

(on the pressure that goes with having QB Matt Schaub's back) "It's a huge job. He's our starting quarterback; the guy's leading our offense. I've got to keep those guys off his back any way I can, no matter who it is or what team it is. It's a great responsibility, but I'm up for the challenge."

(on if he has any concerns or worries going into the first game) "No, not really. I've just got to do what I know and continue to progress throughout the week and just keep working with my line mates and just keep going. I'm not too worried about anything."

(on which veteran has helped him prepare the most for his first real NFL game) "I would have to say probably (G) Chester (Pitts) just because he has been out there with me just going over different things that might happen when we line up beside each other. Also, (T) Ephraim (Salaam) who I've had a chance to watch some film with and (he) tells me what to expect from different guys and just from Pittsburgh in general. So, probably those two guys."

(on how much fun it is to work with G Chester Pitts and T Ephraim Salaam) "Those guys are fun to be around, fun guys to talk to. There's never a dull moment with those two. So, having them around to explain things to me in a humorous manner and in ways that I can relate, it really helps me out."

(on some of the teams pointing him out as a rookie what he is hearing) "(I'm hearing) that I'm a normal rookie. Left tackle is probably one of the most looked at positions on the line, and for a young player to come in, they're all going to try to throw stuff at you or just try to get in your head talking to you. I've just got to block it out. That's all I can do and just try to focus in on my job and task at hand."

(on what family members are coming to watch his first NFL game) "My parents are coming. My brother may come. I'm not too sure yet. I'll find out in the next day or two."

(on if it has hit him yet that he's here in the NFL and he's got to do this) "You never really realize the situation you are in until the first game and when I went out there and I was like, 'Ok, this is it right here.' So, I'm just taking it one day at a time and coming to work every day and trying to make myself better and get closer to the player that I want to be so I will be able to solidify that left side and keep guys off (QB) Matt (Schaub). That's all I'm trying to do every day."

LB Zac Diles

(on the opening game) "I'm looking forward to it and going out there and just playing on Sunday and having a good time out there. I'm looking forward to it a lot."

(on what the defense needs to improve) "Just being able to get more three and outs. That's the biggest thing. We have to work on it as a unit but I think when we get that accomplished, we'll be fine."

(on if stopping the run is the first assignment this week) "That's a big assignment every week, to be good in our run defense. That's a point that they emphasize every week, week in and week out. But you see, they (Pittsburgh) do like to run the ball so that is a big point this week also."

(on if he can think of a more challenging place than Pittsburgh to start the year) "I know it's going to be crazy. I've never been there before so this will be a first time for me but, just you can see, from years past, how the atmosphere is there in their home games. So, it's going to be a challenge for us but it's nothing that we can't handle."

(on what it would mean to come out of Pittsburgh with a win) "It would be big for the morale and confidence of this team. You know, go in there and get a 'W.' So, like I said, we just need to go in there and play hard and see what the outcome is on Sunday."

(on what stands out to him about Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger) "He stays alive in the pocket a lot. He's a mobile quarterback. He'll scramble out and the receivers will find a way to get open. So, if you want a sack, if you're there, you have to try your best to get him down the first go-around. Otherwise, he's going to scramble out and usually when you see it on tape, he's finding the open receiver downfield. So, you have to be cognitive of that."

(on Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger being as big as a tight end) "You get to the quarterback, you just tackle him. You get him on the ground any way possible. I don't know anything about that; just get him on the ground the best way I can."

(on what goes on through his head before the game) "Just go out there and play football. I've been doing it nearly my whole life, so it's just another opportunity to go out there and play football. It's the NFL, it's a whole different kind of level but it's still football. So, just go out there and play the game that you love to play and everything should be fine."

(on if he has talked to his teammates about what it's like to play at Pittsburgh) "No, I haven't. (FS) Will (Demps) has played out there a couple of times, (LB Kevin) Bentley, but I've never talked to them about it. It could come up, when we get there Friday or Saturday night, it may come up a little bit."

WR Andre Johnson

(on what he thinks about the opening game) "I think everyone is excited that it's finally here; the regular season. You kind of get tired of playing the preseason games but I think everyone is excited that the season is here."

(on what stands out about the Pittsburgh defense) "They are a great defense. Very disciplined defense, very physical, real fast. So, it's going to be a challenge for us. We just have to pick our spots and attack the spots that we pick."

(on if there is any concern that he didn't get to play much in the preseason) "No, I'm fine. I'm not really worried about that. The season is here now and from now on, just have to take it one day at a time and just get better."

(on if it takes a lot of time to get his timing down with QB Matt Schaub again) "I don't think it takes a lot of time. Like I said before, I think that every day we are out there together it's just going to get better and better. So, I don't think it will take long."

(on how tough it is to open up against Pittsburgh) "I think it's a big challenge for us. Especially going against their defense. Like I said, they have a lot of great players on their defense; a very disciplined group, a very fast group. So, it's going to be a big challenge for us. I'm pretty sure the place will be loud, everybody will have their towels swinging and things like that. It's going to be an atmosphere, I'm pretty sure it will be loud, kind of like Indy. And everyone is excited for opening week, and it will be a big challenge for us."

(on the key to the success of a quarterback-receiver tandem) "Being on the same page. When you go out and you're always out there running routes and catching balls from a quarterback, eventually both of the guys seem to think the same. When that happens, you really don't miss a beat because you know what he's thinking and he knows what your thinking."

(on if he wondered about the rapport with a new quarterback when QB Matt Schaub came here) "You really don't realize it, you have to go out there and just start working with him. When Matt first got here, that's what we did, from day one. It worked out well for us and unfortunately we had some injuries happen. But we are trying to get that back to where it was. We are just going to keep working to try to get that back."

(on if he hears from other players around the league if they don't have that rapport with their quarterbacks) "No, not really. I don't really hear other guys talk about their quarterbacks being bad or anything like that. Even if you felt that way about your quarterback, I don't think that's something you really want to do."

WR Jacoby Jones

(on carrying the ball around with him at all times) "It's getting me in a comfort zone. It's helping me out a lot too, changing my running style."

(on his impressions of playing the first game at Pittsburgh) "Pittsburgh is a good defense and they bring a lot at you. Like coach said, we have to make plays on both sides of the ball and special teams has to stay special."

(on if he has dropped the ball yet) "No I have not. I don't plan on it."

DE N.D. Kalu

(on the difference between the preseason and regular season) "In the regular season you show your kind of moves, you show your inside moves, you show your outside moves. During the preseason, you just want to speed rush and kind of not get hurt because you don't want to give away everything you have for the regular season."

(on having to stop the run first) "Exactly. They are a great, physical team. They are a lot like the Dallas Cowboys. We know we don't get a chance to go after the quarterback if they are running it down our throats, so we know that's our main objective on the defensive line."

(on any concerns about Steelers' RB Willie Parker or Rashard Mendenhall) "Not concerns. I mean, (RB Willie) Parker is a great back, 1300 yards and he missed two games. Watching him on film, I remember I was telling (DE Anthony) Weaver, I didn't know he was that good last year because I didn't get a chance to see a lot of their games. But, you're not concerned; you're just up for the challenge."

(on how physical the Steelers are) "That's what they are known for. They are known for that black-and-blue-type of running. They want to hit you in the mouth and kind of see where your hearts at. It's going to be a great test for us but we could send a message to Houston, the city of Houston, that we are tough up front if we can take them on."

(on them not having a big, pounding-type running back) "Yeah and they don't need it because they have pound-it-type guys blocking for them. To me, that's a harder mix when they have those offensive linemen that really want to pound you, then you got a guy like (RB Willie) Parker who's going to look to get to that edge and he's very fast and elusive. (Ex-Steelers RB Jerome) Bettis was great, but there's no drop off with Parker back there."

G Chester Pitts

(on Steelers DT Casey Hampton) "He's a big man. I'm not going to call him huge. He's a big guy and he's a smart player and always finds a way to put himself into position to make plays. I'm definitely going to have my hands full. Their whole d-line, linebackers, that front seven, they're all really good. Just got to go to work."

(on how much help he gives rookie T Duane Brown) "I would say that's kind of part of my job, to help him along and keep him focused. Just really try to make it easier for him so that he's not so nervous. I'm expecting him to be nervous maybe the first series, but after that it's time to go to work. But one of our sayings is 'the measure of how good you are as a player is how good you make the people around you.' So, I take it on my shoulders and try to make him better."

(on how he will calm T Duane Brown down) "Well you try to make it easier for him. They are going to move around a lot and the thing with our scheme is you have to identify who he's blocking. Lock him in and then he'll be fine."

(on talking to T Duane Brown during the game) "All game. All game. After the snap. If they twist we have to pass the games off. It's part of it, and that's what we have to do."

(on if he remembers his first game) "Yeah, rough one to say the least. Offensively, we couldn't do much of anything right that game."

(on if he knows what T Duane Brown is going through) "Yes and no. I would say that this plan, this scheme, the coaching involved in this one is going to be better for us. We'll be better prepared and just go out there and do our jobs."

(on if he is healthy) "Everything's attached. I'm always healthy."

(on what he remembers from his last game in Pittsburgh) "It was cold. We got our butts kicked offensively. We won the game though, so that's what I remember."

(on what he thinks of QB Matt Schaub and WR Andre Johnson as a tandem) "Very effective. You know, keep the ball in either of those guys hands and let them make plays. They are extremely good players and they've shown it year in and year out, especially Dre (WR Andre Johnson), and I expect big things out of (QB) Matt (Schaub) as well. Our job is to keep him upright so he can make plays to Andre."

(on if it's key to have two players like that on an offense) "Of course. I would never not want to have two great players like that on my offense. But, would I say it's the key to everyone's team? No, but on our team it works and we'll keep it going."

CB Jacques Reeves

(on his impression of the Texans so far) "It's a hungry team, a young, hungry team. Come out here looking to work every practice and trying to get better every day, and I'm loving it."

(on stopping the run first against Pittsburgh) "Each and every game you have to stop the run. If you don't stop the run, you're in for a long, long day. That's our goal every game. Pittsburgh likes to run it down your throat a little bit. They are a real physical team so we have to come with it."

QB Matt Schaub

(on if the locker room feels different now that it's the regular season) "Definitely. There's a different feel. Walking in here this morning, everyone is anxious to get going here with the season. It's been a long time coming: this whole offseason, working out in training camp. Now it's finally here; we can get this thing going for real."

(on what he sees in the Steelers defense) "Obviously they have a lot of speed on defense, a lot of playmakers. They're all over the place, all over the field. It's about recognition and recognizing where they are coming from and where their secondary players are. Being able to execute our game plan and not try to outthink ourselves and be fundamentally sound with the football and what we are trying to do. And being on schedule, you know, you don't want to get behind the eight ball on third down too often. You want to stay at third and six or less and you can do a lot of different things."

(on game planning for the Steelers) "This is one of those games that you basically have eight months to prepare for. You start watching this opponent early on in the offseason and you really get into depth into what they do. Again, it's the first game, you can look at players all you want but they could come out with something totally new and totally different. You always have to diagnose what they are doing early and be able to attack those things."

(on playing against a defense you don't work against every day) "Obviously it's different but I think we benefitted from seeing it with Dallas. We were able to prepare for a week, our third preseason game when the starters played the most. We were able to work against that and their coverages and their schemes so it gave us a little bit of a head start."

(on LT Duane Brown protecting his blind side) "He's done a great job this preseason and in training camp. He's really made a lot of strides. Duane, he's a smart guy and knows his role and his responsibilities. So, we've really developed a rapport this offseason and this training camp. So, we're excited to have him go out there and play and play well."

(on if he feels comfortable with the offensive line) "Without a doubt. You look at our preseason: we haven't given up a sack. We haven't had any problems in the pocket and we just want to keep that going. Those guys understand their responsibilities and their calls and their adjustments. We just have to be able to diagnose it and be able to make the adjustments that we need to be able to make. It's on me to get back there and get the ball out and we need to trust each other and I think we've got each other's backs out there."

(on what the keys are to the game) "I think we want to establish the line of scrimmage and get our running game going and mix it up and stay on schedule. Then the downs, not getting in many long yardage situations where they can bring anything that they want at us. We have to dictate the outcome of the game early and establish ourselves along the line of scrimmage."

(on how hard it is to establish the line of scrimmage against the Steelers) "It's very tough. They are a great defense in a hostile environment. We're just going to have to be on point in our calls and our blocking assignments because they are very gap-sound and their front seven is very stout."

(on how much he expects RB Ahman Green to play) "I expect him to be out there a bunch. It's hard for me to say, it's up to how he feels and coach and how he wants to do the rotation. But Ahman says he feels good and I'm anxious to see him out there and give him the football."

(on how important it is for RB Ahman Green to play) "It's very important. I think a guy like that who's been around this league and played at a high level for years and years, he just brings a level of confidence to the running back position. He knows how to handle a 3-4 defense and he's a great protector in the blitz game. So, I'm excited to see him back there."

(on if he has had enough work with WR Andre Johnson to get their timing down) "Yeah, I think so. We've worked really hard to get back into timing and a good rapport. It's just something that just takes some work but we've got those things cleaned up and we're ready to go."

(on what he knew about WR Andre Johnson from his trade from Atlanta) "He's a very explosive, big guy who could get vertical and you knew he was going to stretch the football field. He's a playmaker. I remember watching him in college and when he catches the football he's bound to make a touchdown every single time he touches it. A very explosive, dynamic player."

(on what it was like to be traded to a team with an established Pro Bowl receiver) "It gives you a whole lot of confidence knowing you have a guy like that. It's a great security blanket to know that you have a guy on the outside there that one-on-one, if you give him a chance, he's going to make the play. He just gives you so much confidence that when things hit the fan, that you can get him the football and it's going to be successful."

(on what he expects from the team) "It's our first game. We want to go out and be 1-0, but we understand what's at stake. You want to open your season on the right foot and come out successful. So, we're just concentrating on the little things that it's going to take to win this football game. If we play our style of football for four quarters, we'll be in fine shape."

RB Steve Slaton

(on if he is nervous going into his first regular season game) "Not yet. I think as we get closer I will get a little bit more nervous, but right now, I'm comfortable."

(on what he knows about Pittsburgh and the defense) "It's disguised very well. You have to be on your P's and Q's to pick up the defensive rush."

(on the things that are going through his mind that he wants to do against Pittsburgh) "Protect the quarterback, that's the biggest thing and protect the ball. Those are the first things that I want to accomplish."

(on if he has to be prepared for a running back by committee with not knowing how long RB Ahman Green can go) "Anytime that coach wants a different look, you just have to be ready and understand what they are doing."

(on if he is a better football player now than a month ago) "Definitely. I think I'm being a better football player each day."

(on if any of the other running backs like Ahman Green have given him any advice going into the first game) "Just to watch a lot of film and to know your protections, and to protect the ball and the quarterback."

DE Anthony Weaver

(on if he considers Pittsburgh to have a well balanced attack) "I do, I do. Their running game is well documented, and now that they've got that quarterback that has all of the confidence in the world, they're definitely well balanced."

(on how you go into a game where nobody expects the Texans to win except the Texans) "We believe in one another, and we believe in the talent that we have on this team. So, for us, it's just a matter of going out there and playing mistake-free football which you've got to do on the road, and just believing in one another that we can go out there and get it done."

(on how he feels about the pass rush that wasn't there in the preseason) "I'm still confident in the pass rush. You've got (DE) Mario Williams and (DE) N.D. Kalu, a lot of guys that can get to the passer. Right now after the preseason, guys have played a little over a game worth of football, so you're taking a lot more snaps now and when it gets to the third and fourth quarter, which we haven't really played yet, that's when guys wear down and that's when you get those sacks. So, the pass rush is going to come."

(on if he feels like they are going to rush a lot during the game or keep the pressure off) "I don't know. I'm not trying to give away any game plan information here, so we'll see."

(on if he can give them a hint, referring to the previous question) "We're going to get there. We'll put it that way, one way or another (laughs). We're going to get to Big Ben. That's our plan."

(on the Steelers offensive line giving up a lot of sacks) "We hope to continue that trend when we go in there on Sunday (laughs)."

(on if the defensive line is licking their chops) "As a defensive lineman, you want to get sacks in this league. That's what everybody talks about. I've got to step up myself, step up my game, and try to go out there and put pressure on the quarterback. Hopefully, we'll all be able to do that."

(on what it would mean to go into Pittsburgh and come out with a win) "You want to start out the season fast. In this league if you start off fast, that bodes well towards making the playoffs. So, if we can go out there and get a win, it would be huge for our team. With that being said, half the teams are going to be happy and half the teams are going to be unhappy after this week."

T Eric Winston

(on QB Matt Schaub's confidence in the offensive line and what that means) "That's huge. I think that's huge for him knowing that he doesn't have to look at the protection and what's going on, and he can focus on what's going on downfield and deliver a good pass. I think we've built that up over the preseason. Everyone's done a good job of staying together and doing what they need to do in protection. I think a lot of that protection is going to create a lot of completions or a lot of big runs."

(on what changes can be made to have a better running game) "I think the big thing with our receivers and our passing attack is we have to stay on track, on schedule. One or two yard runs in this game are going to be fine. We can't expect that we're going to go in there and gash them for seven or eight yards at a time. We have to go in there and stay on schedule, keep those third downs to third and five or less. I think we'll be fine because with our receivers and the way we go, we can convert a lot of those. Those are high percentage plays for us. Staying out of those long down situations are also going to keep us away from the crazy blitzes that they'll throw. So, a lot of it is just going to be staying on schedule, running the ball effectively, and getting in there and staying tough and hopefully late in the game we can break the big one."

(on knowing that the Steelers defense is aggressive and the fact that they have to prepare for that) "Absolutely. I think sometimes when you do that, it's a little bit of boom and bust. They're going to get us a couple of times. We can't hang our head about it if we get stuffed for a loss or a no gain. We've got to just keep plugging and keep breaking away at it and eventually we're going to pop one up."

(on if he needs to check up on rookie T Duane Brown during the game) "He's fine. I don't need to check on him. He knows what's going on. I think he's shown that he can match up with anybody. He's had to go against some tough guys in the preseason: Elvis Dumervil, Will Smith, and Demarcus Ware. That's a tall task right there just for the preseason. So, he's been tested. He knows what he needs to do. He's just got go out and get ready and play hard."

(on how important it is to have RB Ahman Green back) "Absolutely. He (RB Ahman Green) carries so much experience with him, so much knowledge. He's such a great pass protector. He knows how to play in these tough games. He'll be needed. (RB) Steve (Slaton) is going to be needed. (RB) Chris (Taylor) is going to be need. We're going to need a whole team effort to go out there and win this game. We're excited about having everybody."

(on if the team senses the high expectations coming off of the 8-8 season) "Well, I think we've all put those expectations on ourselves. We're not looking down the road. We're looking right here. We know how important this first game is to get off to a good start. We're going to start here and see where it goes."

(on what it means to go into Pittsburgh and have a good showing and come out with a victory) "It would mean a lot. Pittsburgh is really tough to play. They are so much better at home than they probably are on the road. I think that's a tribute to their fans and to what kind of a team they are at home. They use the time of possessions to their advantage. They use the crowd to their advantage, and it's a tough place to play. So, we're going to have to go in there and match up toe to toe with them and keep slugging it out until the end."

(on what he thinks is the key in order to being successful) "Staying on schedule and not getting dejected. You're not going to hit these guys for eight or nine yards at a time on the run. A one or two yard run in this game is going to be just fine. It's going to set us up for third and five or third and four, and eventually we're going to just keep pounding and we'll break one. We've just got to stay on schedule. We can't keep getting tackled for a loss. That's the big thing. We can't sit there on third and ten and expect to convert a lot of those. With how good they are on defense and how much stuff they bring, we can't let them have that kind of advantage. We've got to be able to stay on schedule with the run, hit some play action passes, and just stay in our offense, stay in our normal rhythm to stay successful."

(on if he thinks QB Matt Schaub and WR Andre Johnson are among the great tandems in the league right now) "Absolutely. You see the numbers that they put up in nine games last year. That was better than some guys the entire season. (WR) Andre (Johnson) is a special player. I've known that for a long time. I think (QB Matt) Schaub is just now starting to come into his own. You can see it when he gets hot. That ball is coming out and hitting guys right in the chest every time. So, there's no reason why they won't be, and I think the supporting cast too is one of the deeper cores in the league as far as receivers go. There's not a weak link on the chain. So, it's exciting. That's why if we stay in that manageable third down, that's an advantage to us. I'll take our receiving core against anybody else's in the league. Third and fives are going to be high percentage plays for us."

(on how important it is as an offensive line to keep QB Matt Schaub healthy) "It's always a big part of it. We want to make sure that he is never getting touched. It's on us to do our job. He's going to get the ball away. The backs have got to protect, and the receivers have got to run the right routes. Protection is an eleven man issue. It's always been a team part, and everyone has got to do their part to be successful."

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