Practice quotes: Wednesday

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Head coach Gary Kubiak LT Duane Brown LB Brian Cushing RB Arian Foster WR Andre Johnson SS Bernard Pollard QB Matt Schaub DE Antonio Smith

Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on the upcoming game against Miami) "Obviously a big, big game. We've got some guys trying to get healthy and get back on the field but its Christmas time, a lot of things going on. We've just got to get our work done and get ready to beat a good football team. They've been playing very, very well; lost a tough game last week and we've got big challenges. We've got to stop (Dolphins RB) Ricky (Williams) and we've got to be able to pass protect against two of the best edges in football who've been playing for a long, long time. It's going to take a team effort."

(on any injuries) "(T) Duane (Brown) didn't do anything today but I think he's got a chance so we'll be hopeful. We'll work (T Rashad) Butler and of course (T) Ephraim (Salaam) will get ready to play. (LB
Brian) Cushing did not practice today, probably will not practice this week but I think there's a chance he'll be there on game day so we'll see. That's where we're at right now."

(on LB Brian Cushing's injury) "It's a combination of everything: foot, knee, ribs, he's just beat up. We'll see where he's at tomorrow but I wouldn't expect him probably to maybe do anything until Saturday morning."

(on what he expects from T Ephraim Salaam) "The big thing there was that Ephraim's experienced, knowing what we're doing. He's had to play against these two players in his career many, many times so if (T) Duane
(Brown) can't go and (T Rashad) Butler starts, then Ephraim would be our swing guy and we need somebody who can go play in a pinch and who's been in some football games in this league. So that's why we did it."

(on if T Ephraim Salaam will be activated) "It all depends on (T) Duane (Brown). I think we'll stay hopeful and see how far Duane comes."

(on how he plans for Miami's defensive ends) "They present big problems. You've got two of the best pass rushers in the game over the course of the last ten years sitting there, coming off the edge, so you've got to be able to protect with your backs. You've got to be able to protect with your tackles. We've been throwing the ball a lot and us protecting (QB) Matt (Schaub) is key to our success in a lot of ways. So it's a big challenge for all of us. They're very excellent at what they do."

(on the running back situation for this week) "We're back to where we were. We'll work them all week and see how they do but I'd say the same thing I said last week: I'd like to see (RB) Arian (Foster) play more and if he has a good week at practice, he will."

(on if you can make too much of the fumble problem) "There better be a lot made of it because we've had too many of them. You've got to protect the ball to play and we've all had the problem, not just him (RB Arian Foster). Like I said last week, my situation with him stemmed from some other things, too, not just him putting the ball on the ground one time. I want to see him prepare better during the week and practice better during the week and he took a step in the right direction today."

(on how a young guy like RB Arian Foster can't afford to blow
opportunities) "How big an opportunity can you have right here with these games? He can help us. He's a talented young man but becoming a pro and the team watching him get ready to play on Sunday, all those things are important and we're counting on him to do his job. He can help us go to Miami and win, I can tell you that. So I'm looking forward to him having a good week."

(on how the team deals with the magnitude of this game) "I think we've played in a lot of big games this year, but obviously, whoever doesn't get it done this week is not going to make the playoffs this year so that makes it even bigger but we need to play in these games. Late in the season, 15th game of the year, this team, these young guys, they need to play in these games. We're playing a good team, we're playing them at their place, we'll have to be as good as we can be and we need guys to step up for us to get it done. The facts are there we just got to get ready to go and get them as fresh as I can."

(on audibles) "We change a lot of plays. We do a lot of either/or at the line of scrimmage. We do a lot of that stuff. So he handles all that very well. I think that's part of coaching quarterback competing.
That's what you want on your team. Matt gets after me all the time when he doesn't think I call a good play or he questions something, I tell him, I want guys like that on my football team. I've got no problem with that."

(on the difference between calling audibles and making the planned offense work) "I would say we do a little bit of both. We try to adjust to everything people do. I feel like we have the answer, we also have freedom of either/or plays and stuff like that. We're not a team that works on the line of scrimmage and tells the quarterback to go have some fun. We don't do that. So we're somewhere in between I guess."

LT Duane Brown
(on how he is feeling) "I feel better today that I did on Monday or Tuesday. I'm just hoping that I can get better every day leading up until Sunday."

(on what is wrong with his knee) "Honestly, I really don't know. I don't know the term they use for it. It's not one major thing. It's a few minor things that are adding up on me. I think playing on the turf had a little bit to do with it acting up so early in the game. Hopefully it will be better this week."

(on if the game was tonight, if he could play) "Probably not. Not at the level that I like to play at."

(on if it will be a game-time decision) "I still have a few days to rest up some more. I'm going to try and see what I can do tomorrow and I'll take it from there."

(on QB Matt Schaub saying he played well in the first half with almost no knee at all) "If you watch the film, you can tell I was struggling early. I was pretty much trying to anchor myself with one leg in the pass protection. I appreciate Matt saying that. I didn't feel I played very well. Off course, I was far from one-hundred percent but that was nice of him."

LB Brian Cushing
(on how banged up he was after the St. Louis game) "I was. Last game was a little tough. But I've got two games left and I'll tough it out. I'll be fine. This is what it's all about right here. These last two games are huge and I have to play my best ball."

(on if this game is like a playoff game) "It is. (We both have the) same record in the AFC. We understand what we're playing for. Anything can happen if we win these last two games. There's a lot of things that are out of our control but one of the things we are in control of are these last two and we have to get victories."

(on the most important thing to stop with the Miami offense) "Stopping the run. They can do it in so many ways. They have a good quarterback, a good running back, and they're a versatile group. They can attack you in numerous ways."

(on the effectiveness of Dolphins RB Ricky Williams) "He can still do it. There's no question about it. He's pretty good. He looks for contact and he's a hard runner. He's one of those guys we're going to have to stop early."

(on why the Dolphins run the Wildcat offense more effectively than other teams) "They scheme well. They have guys that can play quarterback, and when they're in there at quarterback they can also throw the football. So you know you have to play both the pass and the run."

RB Arian Foster
(on how to erase the memories of bad plays) "Well, you don't listen to people like you. Nah, just playing. You just have to forget about it. It happens. Marcus Allen said 'If you haven't fumbled it, you haven't carried it.' And not to say that it's a good thing, but it happened. It happens to everybody. You just have to let it go and ensure that it doesn't happen again."

(on how much he thinks about fumbling) "If you dwell on negative thoughts, they'll eat at you."

WR Andre Johnson
It's a lot of fun. I've been getting phone calls all week about tickets and stuff like that. Right now, I have like 125 family members and friends coming to the game—coaches, former coaches and stuff like that. It's a lot of fun. Everybody's excited about me coming home to play."

(on the playoff implications) "It's very big. It means a lot to me. It means a lot to the organization. It's the biggest game we've had since I've been here. Like I said before, as long as we keep winning, every game is going to keep getting bigger and bigger. This is the biggest one now and we're going to have to do everything we can to try to win."

(on playing against the team he grew up watching and cheering for) "It'll be fun. I'm kind of over that stage. I think that was more when I was a rookie because that was my first professional game, going back home to play. It'll be fun. It'll be exciting. I'm pretty sure they'll be real pumped. We all have the same record and are battling for the same spot. It will be like our playoff game."

(on what QB Matt Schaub has been able to accomplish this season) "He's played in fifteen straight games this season. He hasn't played a full season for us yet. This is the first time that's happened. By him being here a full season healthy and able to play, that just goes to show that if we keep him healthy, what he can go out and do and do for the team. I'm not surprised by it. He's always shown flashes of it, but you can have a couple good games and then have an injury or something happen. He's taken a lot of criticism for that. I think this year, it just goes to show what he can do if he's healthy and able to be out there playing for us."

(on QB Matt Schaub only missing a quarter of play with the dislocated shoulder) "Matt is very tough. Like I said, everyone has their own opinions. Him playing the position he's playing, he's going to take a lot of criticism regardless. It's crazy, but we know what goes on here. A lot of people don't really know what the players and stuff go through. They are able to make their own opinions, but I'm behind him one-hundred percent."

(on if it will be an emotional game for him in Miami with playoff implications) "I'm pretty pumped about it, but I wouldn't get carried away about it because when you get too carried away, it affects the way you play. So I approach it the same way I approach any other game, but I know what's at stake. That's pretty much what I have on my mind."

(on the challenges that Miami's defense present) "They have a very good front seven. They get a lot of pressure on the quarterback. I think their cornerbacks, even though they're young, I think they're very talented. You look at them on film, they make a lot of plays. They're physical. The plays that they do give up, it's just stuff from them not having the experience of being out there a lot but I think that will get better as time goes on. So we have to go out there and protect Matt and just try to find those soft spots in the defense."

(on if he thinks he is accomplishing his goal of the five best games of his career) "Well, we've been winning. I think I have. I've been doing enough for the team to win. Hopefully I can keep doing what I'm doing and do it enough so that we can get a victory on Sunday."

(on being the second WR in NFL history to have back-to-back 190-yard games) "It's a great accomplishment. You don't think about that stuff. It's a great thing to accomplish stuff like that, but when you're not winning and playing in the playoffs, it really doesn't feel the same. Now, it feels a lot better."

(on if he still has another contract in him) "I hope so."

SS Bernard Pollard
(on taking this game seriously because of the stakes) "Obviously, if we could go undefeated, we would've loved to be undefeated, but we take every game seriously. Preparation this week is going to be just like what it has been every other week. We understand what's at stake, and we've got to go out and win."

(on how you stop Dolphins RB Ricky Williams) "You've got to hit him. We've got to be in our gaps. I've thought we've done a great job of playing the run the last few weeks, and it's been one or two plays that let things spit out. I take full responsibility of the one where (Rams RB) Steven Jackson – I thought we played him really well. We've got to come in, we've got another animal coming in – or we're actually going into a place that's got an animal, and Ricky runs the ball hard. They've actually got two backs that run the ball hard. We've got to be in our gaps and we've got to do what we've got to do and we've got to tackle."

(on how important it is for the defense to get offense on the field) "We've got to continue to get the ball back to our offense. Our offense is powerful. I don't care what's been said as far as saying if we can run the ball if we can't, we have weapons on our offense, and that's with running backs, with our line, that's with our quarterback and our receivers. Obviously, we have one of the best receivers in the league if not the best, but I think as a defensive unit, we have to continue to get the ball back to them so they can make big plays."

(on what Dolphins QB Chad Henne does well) "I think throughout his career or his time playing quarterback, he's always played at a high level. At Michigan, he played as a freshman. He came in (to the NFL), he's been doing things as a young player. He has a strong arm, a strong, strong arm. You see the throws that he makes, he makes them like a pro, a quarterback that's been in the league for a while. We've got to make sure that we're doing everything that we can to shut those lanes down for him and make them run the ball and stop it."

(on Dolphins WR Ted Ginn having big-play ability) "Well, this is the NFL. You have athletes everywhere. But you know, we have to step up to the challenge, and we are. We're ready to step up. Our defense and our team, we're playing good ball, and we've got to continue to keep playing if we want to go to the postseason."

QB Matt Schaub
(on the Miami defensive line) "Their defensive front, their front seven is incredibly good. They get a lot of push, they're physical. It's going to be a tough test and we just have to prepare and be ready for the different looks that they present."

(on if their defensive line will make him think to get rid of the ball more quickly) "We try and drop back and get rid of it as soon as we can and quickly and they guys have done a great job up front so it's just a matter of continuing to execute."

(on if it will be difficult getting Miami to defend against the run) "It hasn't been too bad for us so far this year in 14 games. We've still been able to be effective with our play action game and so we just got to continue to try to be effective with it. It's not about getting someone to completely jump out five yards, as long as you get them to hesitate a little bit that gives your receivers enough time to get open in the secondary."

(on the differences when playing a 3-4 defense) "Just being able to identify the personnel and understanding who's blocking who, who the backs have in protection and just being on the same page so when they do blitz, whether it be off the edges or the guys inside, we know who's picked up."

(on how they know who blocks who in a 3-4 defense) "We know going into it whether it's a three-man front or a four-man front who we're blocking. That's the bottom line, just being able to recognize whether it's a three-man or four-man."

(on the team bringing in T Ephraim Salaam in case T Duane Brown can't play) "Duane played a heck of a game the other day with basically no knee and that's a credit to what this means to him. Hopefully he can be out there but we'll see as the week goes how he's feeling and whoever else out there—(T) Rashad (Butler) stepped in and did a great job for us in the second half and so we've got confidence in him and Ephraim's played a number of years, so I know what he brings to the table. So whoever's out there, we're just going to go play ball."

(on how we would have responded if told he would still have a shot at the playoffs after four straight losses) "I'd have said, 'Let's go take them one at a time and go win them and see where we stand.' But we can only control what we can control and obviously we'll probably need some help but all we can do is go out and win a game."

(on if he will watch scoreboards) "No, only our scoreboard. We've got to win the game and we'll see what happens but all we can control is our stuff that we can control."

(on this being the most important game in the team's history) "It is. It's a playoff game for us, that's our mindset. It's a must-win situation to continue to have a chance to continue on past the regular season so that's how we're approaching it."

(on what he's learned about avoiding sacks) "Whatever I know today about avoiding sacks I knew three years ago: it's about getting rid of the football and trying to throw it away when necessary and not hold onto it and understand the protection scheme."

(on if it's in a quarterback's nature to hold on to the ball in hopes of making a play) "Kind of, but sacks are tied in not only to the quarterback but also receivers are involved in getting open in time and running precise routes, it's on the backs in protection, the tight ends when they're blocking, the o-line knowing their calls. So it's everybody tied together and when we're on the same page we need to have a lot of meetings about them and so we identify people and we go play."

(on encouraging players) "Each guy is different. As a quarterback and people on this team, coaches as well, talking with players—each player is different. You've got to approach each guy and know their personality and what motivates them, how they handle things. Certain guys you get in their face, you yell at them, some guys you've got to—you've got to just understand who they are and what they're about and what makes them click and that's our responsibility."

(on how RB Arian Foster is bouncing back from his fumble) "Comes back to work. He had a great practice today, knew his stuff, he picked up blitzes, he knew where he was going and very workman like so it was good to see that out of a young player."

(on his impressive statistics) "For me to do that, obviously I have tremendous players around me and our offensive line has given me the protection. We've had numerous guys, not just (WR) Andre (Johnson), we've had (TE) Owen Daniels the first half of the season, was having a monstrous year, we've got (WR) David Anderson stepped up, (WR) Jacoby's (Jones) played very well when he's been in there. (WR) Kevin (Walter) is having a good year. So we've got plenty of guys to give the ball to and that's my job is to just distribute the ball to the open guy and let him make a play."

(on if he thought he could be in the top five quarterbacks four years ago) "Obviously I had the confidence in myself. I thought I had that potential. As long as I continue to work and improve and get my game to where it needs to be. A lot of what the quarterback is about and doing stuff like that is having the people around them in order to get those things done and on this team we've got those type of people."

DE Antonio Smith
(on if Dolphins RB Ricky Williams is playing like he's 32 years old) "He's running pretty good. I think it's one of his best years since he came back from his little break, but he's running pretty good out there. He's running hard. He is fumbling the ball a little bit, but he's putting his head in there and he's trying to run people over."

(on if this game has a playoff atmosphere to it in his mind) "I think every game we've had these past three or four weeks, it's been on our minds, that this is a playoff type of atmosphere. We've got to win. If we lose, all hope is gone. We don't even have just a little bit—all hope is gone. So we're just trying to win each and every game."

(on the challenges of Miami's Wildcat offense ) "I think it's a big challenge because that Wildcat, the way they run it, is a little unorthodox. It's hard to sit up on your gaps and it's easy to get out of your gaps. You have to be disciplined and hit them in the mouth from the beginning of the game and hopefully you can get them away from it."

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