Practice quotes: Wednesday

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Head coach Gary Kubiak LT Duane Brown G/C Antoine Caldwell LB Brian Cushing WR Andre Johnson WR Jacoby Jones CB Dunta Robinson QB Matt Schaub DE Antonio Smith RT Eric Winston

Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on if he likes the way the linebackers are playing together) "Yeah, I think Cush (LB Brian Cushing) has really pushed (LB) DeMeco's (Ryans) game to another level, just competition wise. I think (LB) Zac (Diles) is as healthy as he's been, coming back from his leg. And the key thing—they've all been playing together so the longer they stay healthy I think they're only going to get better."

(on what exactly happened to Brisiel) "I'll try. It's a Lisfranc. That makes sense? So he got it fixed this morning at 7 o'clock. He's out of surgery; he's actually going to spend the night in the hospital. Everything went good, he's doing ok."

(on if Antoine Caldwell is ready to play) "He's got to be. He's young; he's probably going to make some mistakes. He's probably going to go through exactly what Casey's going through here, his first three starts in this league but like I just told him on the field, it's what we drafted him for. We've got confidence in him and it's an opportunity for him and Chris in this league that neither one of them have ever had. And I know Caldwell's young but it's a chance to take advantage of it and become a player."

(on Antoine Caldwell's strengths) "He's a sharp kid. He's played center, played guard so he can handle a lot from that standpoint. I just think they key when you get your first starts in this league is understanding the speed of the game and how fast it is and how good they are for four quarters. And Like Casey he's gotten better each week. So that's what we want to see from these guys."

(on if there are other injuries) "No, we're fine. Everybody's here today."

(on Rush Limbaugh) "I'm worried about the Bengals. Again, no comment—that's a league issue."

(on Bengals RB Cedric Benson) "Well he's a fine player and you can see he's hungry right now. He got a new start there and obviously they're giving him great opportunities in the games, he's getting a lot of carries. He's always been a fine player and you see that happen to a lot of guys—they move one time and then they settle down and really get their careers going. It's kind of like Joel (Dreessen?) coming here in a lot of ways. So we're very impressed and we know that stopping them starts with stopping him right now. He's playing well."

(on his saying that LB Brian Cushing's play has elevated that of LB DeMeco Ryans) "I think they just push each other, you know? When you're DeMeco out here and you're, of course, our captain and been a leader around here since he's been here and all of a sudden a young kid steps in and how he goes about his business, the plays that he's making week in and week out, to me it only makes DeMeco better. It's like, when they compete in practice and we call defense up, who can sprint to the ball first, little things. They just make each other better."

(on if LB Brian Cushing is still making up for time missed during preseason) "He hit the ground running but he's eliminated his mistakes. The first few weeks he still made plays but he made mistakes and the mistakes have started to go away. The effort plays are there. Last week he was asked to do something he's never done—he rushed the passer, if I had to put a number on it I'd say probably in the 20s. So he comes out of that game a little more beat up going against those big bodies but I don't think there's anything he can't do. As long as we've got him knowing what's happening and in the right place he's going to make plays."

(on what he thinks the defense needs to be consistent) "Well I'm taking about the whole team. I think it's just being able to do things for four quarters. You know you don't dominate and hold somebody to 43 yards in this league, I mean that's incredible. But can you go through a four quarter game and play a good four quarters and contain somebody instead of having the spurts that we've had like right before the half where the game kind of got out of control there for a few seconds. So it's not just them, it's everybody. It's all of us. We've got to be consistent in what we're doing."

(on Cincinnati's defense) "Well (Bengals head coach) Marvin's (Lewis) always done a good job there, him and Zim (Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer) and I think what's happened, to me, is first off their linebackers is as good a group as I've seen on film this year. Exceptional. Odem leads the league in sacks if I'm right. I think their team is in the top two or three in sacks. So they're getting to the quarterback, just playing very hard. They're not on the field for long, their offense is running the ball well so they're just playing well as a team and they're making all the plays in crunch time. Every game they've been in the fourth quarter and they've made the plays."

(on Bengals QB Carson Palmer) "I think he's one of the best in the business. Before he got hurt I was so impressed with him and his accuracy and how he plays. And of course he went through the injury last year—nothing you can do—but he's back, he's the heart and soul, the leader of the team and we're facing a totally different football team this week than we did last year.

LT Duane Brown
(on how this team becomes consistent) "For one thing, we as an offense, we've got to get started quickly. I think (head) Coach (Gary) Kubiak threw out the stat—last year we scored on 10 out of 16 of our first drives. We haven't done that this year. So we've got to come out strong and I think that will give us momentum throughout the game instead of coming out and trying to feel our way through the defense and gradually improving."

(on if the difference in the second half was attitude) "I think that was a little bit of it. I think the crowd got to us a little bit in the first quarter, first half. In the second half we came out blocking, we were down 21 so we knew we had to get it going."

G/C Antoine Caldwell
(on what he thinks about this opportunity) "I think it's a great opportunity. I'm sorry what happened to Mike (Brisiel) and everything, but the coaches told me you've got to be ready to go. They always preach that you're one play away, and now that it's actually here, I'm going to be ready to go."

(on what the coaches have told him about this week) "Pretty much me and Chris White are going to be battling for the right guard spot during the week. Today, both of us had a good day, we're just going to keep putting good days together and hopefully we'll see how it works out on Sunday."

(on how much he has grown this year) "A lot. I remember at first, things were kind of flying around everywhere. It took a while for things to settle down. But now I'm kind of settled in at the guard position and I just feel like I'm ready to go."

(on what he has heard from teammates like T Eric Winston and C Chris Myers) "Actually, both of them sat me down Monday after the meeting and pretty much told me that's how they got their start. Winston told me the window of opportunity is so small in this league. I'm really trying to grab hold of this opportunity and to make the most of I can right now."

(on how he doesn't try to do more than he is capable of) "I think that helps with being prepared. You've just got to know what to do. And I think that'll make you poised and make you calm, and that's the position I'm in right now. I'm just going to prepare as hard as I can, and when game day comes Sunday, if it's either me or Catfish (White), I'll be ready to go whenever my number's called."

(on if he has any butterflies) "Maybe a little bit, but I'll be fine. I've just got to keep preparing. I'll be OK."

LB Brian Cushing(on LB Rey Maualuga) "I think he's good. I think both of those guys are going to be great pros because they want to be good so bad. I think their determination is great. I think Rey is a really physical player. I think he's a downhill kind of guy in the sense that the longer he plays, and the longer he'll be in the NFL, the more of a force he'll be. (LB) Keith (Rivers) has always been athletic; kind of a rangy kind of guy. He's real smart. I've seen both those guys mature so much in four years. I saw how well Keith did in the beginning of his rookie season last year and I see the impact that Rey has made so far. I think both of those guys, playing with each other again, has helped a lot."

(on if Keith Rivers has given him any advice) "He has. He just gave me the advice on what to expect from the NFL and how he did and how his first year was like. It really was unfortunate for him to be hurt like that too, and sit out and miss that much time. Hopefully, I'll never be there."

(on what it says about USC that so many guys are playing linebacker in the NFL) "Well, we like to think of ourselves as the new Linebacker U. That's what we always used to say; that's what we used to break down the huddle call with everyday, as soon as we left. I think it was kind of a reminder. I think it was kind of a pride thing. I think it drove us that much more."

(on what it will be like to be on the field with them on Sunday) "It's special. This is what our main goal has been all along. We wanted to be the best for each other and we always wanted to play pro. We're all going to be out there on the same field and we'll enjoy it for a second. On the other side, we've got a game to win."

(on the key to building on the second half of last week) "Starting off faster. We did so good in the second half. If we can get two halves of that, that would be awesome. That would be perfect."

(on if it helps knowing they shutdown a very good offense) "Sure. We see the capabilities that we have. We see the chances we have to make plays like that, to hold teams to only 45-46 yards in the whole second half, especially a team in the second half."

(on what they see from RB Cedric Benson) "He's a hard runner. He's good. He's 225 and nimble. He can hit the corner and of course, being that big, he can run some guys over too. So he's very capable. We have a challenge ahead of us this week and the way that we held the run the last two weeks, I think we feel good about ourselves and we're looking forward to another challenge, especially from a good back."

(on if he's worried about his foot) "No, I'm not. It's just sore. It's a little Wednesday injury is what it is. It's still sore from the game. As the game approaches and generally creeps up, you forget about it really quick."

(on if this feels like preseason or midseason) "I think I really didn't do too much in the preseason with my knee, of course, but I feel that with OTAs and just being here for awhile and being adjusted, that it's been long already. This is part of the NFL experience. This is part of what I want so I'm just grinding through it. This is fun for me."

WR Andre Johnson
(on what he thinks is the key to a quicker start to the game) "I think we just have to get in a rhythm. I think once we get in a rhythm as an offense we're able to move the ball and things happen well for us. So I think that's the biggest thing."

(on a few plays making the difference between the Bengals winning games and the Texans losing games) "It's definitely something you think about. You just look at games throughout the weekend and you see a lot of crazy things happen. So you never know. Any play can happen and it's a deciding factor in the game. So every play that's made on the field, you have to make it count."

(on if he and Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco talk during the season) "The last text I received from him was, he asked me, 'how does it feel to still have Johnson on the back of your jersey?' So that's the last time I had a chance to talk to him but I'm pretty sure I'll talk to him sometime this week."

(on his being one of the top five underrated players in the NFL) "I really don't worry about it. I just try to let my play do the talking. I really don't worry about what everyone else thinks. I just go out and play and as long as I'm satisfied with myself I'll be alright."

(on this being the battle of the Johnsons) "There's only one Johnson in the game. I don't know if it's going to be a battle. We're going to try to go out and just—like (Bengals WR) Chad (Ochocinco) said, just make a show."

WR Jacoby Jones(on how frustrating it is that they could be 4-1 instead of 2-3) "We've just got to be consistent. Like Coach said, we have to get off to a faster start in the first half; don't wait so late. Take one game at a time and go to work every day in practice."

(what's the key to starting faster) "You've got to have that mindset to stay focused. Like Coach said, in 10 out of 16 games last year we scored in the first opening drive. If we get that going right now, we'd be a great team."

(on his success so far this season) "Well, (special teams coach) Joe (Marciano) is making some great calls and the boys are doing a great job of blocking like I said last week, they continue to do it. Special teams are a big asset in the game today."

(on if there is enough of a sense of urgency) "You can't get frustrated and panicked. You've just got to take one game at a time and come out every day and work hard and get on that horse."

(on how do you get to where the team feeds off each other) "It's all about a spark. If on the opening kick, if you get a tackle inside the twenty, then you might get the defense going. On kickoff returns, if they make a big run, offense is getting going with great field position to score."

(on if that is what he tries to provide) "Somebody's got to spark us. One little spark and this team is on fire."

CB Dunta Robinson
(on the challenge of Sunday's game at Cincinnati) "It's one of those situations where you just got to line up and you can't make a lot of mistakes this Sunday. We're going to playing in a hostile environment. In 'The Jungle'. We can't start slow. That's something that we can't do this Sunday."

(on the challenge of playing a multi-dimensional offense) "It's going to be a great test for us. These are challenges that hopefully everybody on this team welcomes. You want to play guys that are going to test you. You want to maximize your ability. It's going to be a great test for us. I think this team we're about to face is definitely a playoff team, and a team that could possibly go all the way. We got to get rolling, one way or another, and what better way to start than with the Cincinnati Bengals."

(on how much the loss to the Cardinals hurt) "It hurt. For me, when that film went off on Monday, it was said and done. That was the end of that football game. Because you have another challenge this week. We can't dwell or focus on what happened last week. Go and correct the mistakes. Because you know the mistakes you make, you'll see them again the next week. Just go and correct them, and line up and play ball."

(on the need to maintain focus) "Just focus throughout the entire game. Up until this point we haven't played a 60-minute game, so we have to stay focused for 60 minutes. With the Bengals, you're going into a situation where you play great football at home and on the road, so we've got to have 100 percent complete focus if we want to win this football game. Focus means you can't make mistakes. You have to limit the opportunities on third downs. You have to focus and get off the football field. You just have to do whatever it takes to make sure we come out of there with a win."

QB Matt Schaub
(on what particular challenge the Bengals bring this week) "Well it's a big game for us. We're going on the road again; they're a very good football team in their place. They're 4-1 and they could very easily be one play away from 5-0. It's a tough test for us and we're excited to go and meet that challenge."

(on how the offense can get off to a quicker start) "You know just come out and execute our game plan and execute our first series and then first quarter and that's all we can really go out and do."

(on how hard it'll be for them to become a team that can handle short yardage situations) "Well you do your best run plays which you try to execute and it's a mind set and when you get in short yardage situations and so we just need to be better when we get in those positions."

(on how hard it is not to get those one yard plays) "You just see how close you were and if you just execute to get through that hurdle—obviously the other day and even before in Jacksonville we shouldn't have even been in those situations but we were and we have to buckle down and know that that's the difference. Each week in the NFL it's one play, two plays, it's a yard, it's the difference between winning and losing."

(on how he helps calm the newer offensive line members) "Well they're guys that, you know, Chris White has played a little bit, he's filled in and he played a lot in the preseason so we have a lot of confidence in him and what he can do. He's a smart guy and with Antoine (Caldwell), you know, he's a young guy but he's eager to get in there and play well. There's a lot on his plate and it's just a matter of him getting down with what his job is and his responsibilities and focus on the little things and the technique and the details and he'll be fine."

(on what he can do to help those younger players) "Just to make sure we're all on the same page with what we're doing in the pass protections and everything but he's a smart guy and he's got two smart guys on either side of him, (C) Chris Myers and (T) Eric (Winston) over there that you know they'll get him ready."

(on how he adjusts to prepare for Cincinnati's defensive line) "They're a good group and they're probably one of the best groups of linebackers in the league and they've got good back end players and then their front four is aggressive with two good D-ends. So it's a good challenge for us but we're excited to go up there and play in their house and go and play well."

(on if quarterback sneaks will be an option in future short yardage situations) "Well you know we've done them a few times already, it just depends on how far that yard is. There's small yards and there are longer yards so it just depends. But it's a mindset when you get into those situations and we have to be able to execute."

(on if he'll ever run a QB sneak) "Well the goose play is usually when there's no one on the center and there's two or three techniques. That's not something you do when there's three guys over the top of the center. You're not going to get very much."

(on what impresses him about the Bengals defense) "Without a doubt, they're a very good group. They've held some good offenses to a few points and their defense is playing extremely well. They've got a great group of linebackers and they're tied in well with their front and their back end players. They're very aggressive and they're playing very well."

(on there being positives in every game but the bottom line being wins and losses) "Well that is the bottom line and we're 2-3 and that's what we are but one thing we know and the frustrating part is the two games where we're a yard away from being a better bottom line team and we've got to find a way to go out there and make those yards, make those two or three plays that are the difference between winning and losing every week."

DE Antonio Smith
(on what they see on tape with RB Cedric Benson) "He's back. I think he's back to his old college form. Throughout these years, he has had his ups and downs, but he's running the ball really good now."

(on what's different) "I don't know. I think he's just more confident in his game. He's found a team that believes in him and gave him an opportunity to do what he does."

(on what problems he could potentially cause a defense) "If he breaks free, we've got a lot of problems. He can take it all the way. He'll bounce; he's a big back but he still moves like a little back. He's got a lot of shifty moves. I think that if he made one or two guys miss, and can get into open field, he'll be trouble."

(on the Bengals offensive line and what it will take to get to the quarterback) "I think that it will take what we had in the second half of last game to get to the quarterback consistently and keep them frustrated; stand in space and keep the game more on our playing field."

(on if the Bengals are playing with a high level of confidence) "I think that's exactly what it is. When you watch the games, all of their games are close. All of them come down to a play here or a play there if they win or not. Either way, they've got a great quarterback that's making plays for them and leading this team in drives at the end of the game. That gives you confidence, when you win games that is on the wire—that you could lose if you have any lack of focus. That gives a team a lot of confidence."

(on if a couple plays went another way, if the Texans would be looking at a different season) "I think you'd be looking at a whole lot of things differently if a couple plays would've gone the other way. If a couple of these games would've went the other way, the whole situation, the way people look at things and they are perceived would be different."

RT Eric Winston
(on the importance of the team playing well for four quarters) "Sure. I'm sure that's exactly right, but I'm sure a lot of teams say that, so we've got to be that team that's doing it and we've got to stop talking about it. We've got to be ready to go from the opening kickoff and we've got to get it done. It's one thing to talk about and say, 'Hey, we need to go play this.' It's another thing to get it done, and talk is cheap."

(on why the team has struggled early in games) "I don't know. I don't think it's a thing where we're not ready; I think it's just a thing where we're not doing it from the very beginning. I'm not saying we're not ready because we were running the same plays in the second half that we were pretty much running in the first half last week. So it's a situation where, hey, we've got to go out there and do a better job up front, we've got to catch the balls early, we've got to make the throws early, we've got to make the runs early. Everyone's got to do their part early in the game and we can't get into a hole until we start saying, 'Hey, we've got to do it.' We've got to go out and we've got to put pressure on the other team instead of letting them put pressure on us."

(on what stands out about the Cincinnati defense) "They're really running to the ball well this year. They're swarming to the ball; everyone's playing together. I think when you really talk about team defense, I think that's something that they're playing. They're playing really good team defense. You say, 'Name a standout on the Cincinnati defense.' Hey, there's some good guys, but it's not like you've got (guys like) Ray Lewis or whatever. Everyone's playing together and that's what it's all about. You've got 11 guys doing what they're doing, and that says a lot, I think about what (Cincinnati head) coach (Marvin) Lewis up there is doing and what their team is doing up there."

(on the possibility of Rush Limbaugh being a part owner in the NFL) "I don't have a lot of comment on it other than that I wouldn't like it and I wouldn't be a big fan of it, but other than that, I guess I really don't have anything else to say about it."

(on why he feels the way he does about the situation) "No. I just think you get chances in life to do things and to say things, and he's had his chances and he's done it and that's what he feels like and that's what he does; but I feel like this is a league that encompasses everybody and doesn't single out anybody, and that's what it's all about."

(on Cincinnati RB Cedric Benson, with whom Winston was a high school teammate) "Oh, I'm happy for him. I said this a while ago. I think I said this last year when they came to play: Cincinnati is a perfect spot for him. He's a guy that he doesn't want the limelight; he doesn't want the attention; he wants to go out there and he wants to put in a full day's work; he wants to run hard and that's it. He doesn't need all the glitz and glamour and anything else about it. He just wants to go out there and do his job, and you can see a guy who's gone out there and is just putting that lunch pail together and hard hat and gone out there and, man, I'm happy for the guy. I hope he has a bad week this week, but I'm happy for the guy."

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