Texans coach Gary Kubiak spoke to the media on Wednesday following his team's first practice of the week in preparation for the 2008 AFC South division champion Tennessee Titans.
Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on if he sees a lot of similarities between RBs Steve Slaton and Chris Johnson) "Yeah, they're both big-play guys from a speed standpoint. When they came out, that was the strength of both of them. I think the fact that how big of a factor they've played on their teams this year so quickly has probably been a surprise to everybody, but two fine young players and have bright futures."
(on how big it was for QB Matt Schaub to bounce back from his struggles this year with a game like he had in Green Bay) "That's extremely important. This game's all about confidence. When you've been out for a while and then you're coming back, I don't think any of us knew exactly how sharp he would come back, and to go and play in the conditions he played in and handle them and be as successful as he was for that day was very encouraging. So there's a lot of football left to play, but that was a big step in the right direction."
(on what something that he wants to see from QB Matt Schaub that he hasn't seen) "I just want to see him play consistently. He's battled some turnover bugs at times and those types of things. The other day, he had one poor decision, but you go back and look at the course of the game, he played very, very well. And to take your team 75 yards in that atmosphere at the end of the game, that's hard to do. So (I'm) very pleased with that progress, but I expect him to play well. I think he's a fine, fine player and he's a key for this team."
(on why Tennessee is so much better this year than in the past) "Their defense has taken another step forward. They've been exceptional, as good as anybody in football. I think (offensive coordinator Mike) Heimerdinger's done a tremendous job with the offense. They don't turn the ball over. They run the ball. They're built for success. They run the ball. They play great defense and they give you problems on special teams and they never hurt themselves. So this team doesn't beat themselves and they're going to be very difficult this year for anybody to get."
(on if there is a difference in the problem with struggling with Indianapolis and Tennessee or if he can put a finger on why) "Well, being a new franchise and trying to make your way up against those organizations, that's a good problem to have right away. You're battling that, and just look at those football teams. One of them is made up of one of the greatest quarterbacks (QB Peyton Manning) to ever play the game. So that's a challenge you have, stopping the pass and the big, big plays. Right now, you've got one (Tennessee) that plays as good of defense as anybody has played in this league in a long, long while, and they are adding a run game to go with it. They're totally two different animals as far as us and what we have to do to be successful against them. But they both present very big problems either way."
(on if they are a better or luckier team in December or any thoughts on why he's better in December) "I don't know. I've been asked that a bunch in the last few days. I don't know. We'll see. We've only played one game so far in December this year, so it doesn't mean we've arrived by any means. But – has it been two? The one before, Jacksonville. Oh, that's right, it was. OK. Let's see at the end. But I just think right now at this point of the season, we've been fortunate to keep a group together. Especially on defense; we've had some consistency there in what we're doing. Offensively, we've been lucky all year, other than our quarterback, as far as keeping people healthy. So let's see how it pans out. We're playing a great football team this week. We'll see."
(on if you want to be a forceful playoff team then you have to be a good December team and if you want to get to the playoffs then you have to be a good September team) "Well, you have to be consistent in this league all the time. We all know what kind of start we faced this year with the three road games and the four teams we played as we started 0-4, but there are no excuses in this business. You've got to find a way to compete every week, and being consistent is the key to success. We're striving for that, trying to become more consistent."
(on what makes QB Kerry Collins so effective) "Well, he's seen it all. He's seen it all in this league. He's played in big games. He's been to a Super Bowl. There's something to be said for that as a player. So, nothing rattles him. He's surrounded by a football team that can help him a lot from a defensive standpoint, a running game that can help him a lot. He's being coached extremely well. So all of those things add up to a veteran being successful, and he's taking advantage of it."
(on what he credits RB Steve Slaton's success to over the past few games late in the season) "Well, I think we're better. Our guys up front have gotten better from a scheme standpoint and playing together a bunch. But I think Steve has just gained confidence. When you first get put into action in this league as a rookie, I think regardless of how successful you were in college, it is a new league and (you wonder) 'Can I do this?' I think along the way, there has been some bumps and bruises, but he's gained more and more confidence each week, and the kid has a lot of fun playing. The long grind of the NFL season, to me, has not really affected him mentally at all. He's really enjoying himself, and you can really see it on the field."
(on the grind of the NFL season hitting RB Steve Slaton a month ago and giving him a little break) "You have to remember, it was a month ago when he was coming off being banged up a little bit. So he's been fresh since and hasn't had any setbacks along the way, but this team can beat you up pretty good, so we're going to have to keep him in one piece."
(on RB Steve Slaton being the only back that has rushed for 100 yards against Tennessee) "Oh, really? I didn't know that. But that was his first time out, and he did some really good things that day. That's as good of a football team as you're going to play against. So it's a new challenge for him. More is being asked of him right now from a protection standpoint. Our scheme, we're doing more things with him. The way he's maturing and being able to handle more and more gives us a chance to be better as a football team."
(on the significance of winning four in a row and keeping things going) "Well, we just want to continue to keep playing well. But in this league, anybody can beat anybody. So I think sometimes, if you get caught up looking at your schedule one way or another, I don't think you really know how seasons are going to go. But when you're playing good football, you have a chance to win any week in this league. So I think we've done a good job of just staying focused on ourselves and trying to improve our football. Obviously, we've improved a great deal on defense in the last three weeks."
(on if the level of play they have been playing at is good enough to win this Sunday) "Oh, we're going to have to find another level against this football team. I mean, they're sitting here in line to make a run for a championship. They're that solid, that sound. The way they're playing right now is very impressive right now, I can tell you that. So we'll have to play a lot better than we've been playing and we'll have to be better with the football than we've been in the past."
(on if they are back to having WR Jacoby Jones carry a football around with him everywhere he goes) "Yes. He needs to carry two of them right now. But no, it's just been frustrating because he can help us win. I've said this before, just putting that ball on the ground like that is going to get us beat. The kid knows that. We continue to put an emphasis on it, but at the same time, we're going to stand behind him because he's capable of making plays that give us a chance to be successful this weekend. So we're just going to keep working with it."
(on WR Jacoby Jones' mindset) "Well, I think it's a combination of things. First off, he's not getting a lot of playing time at receiver, so his reps are coming as a returner. I think he's pressing a little bit because of the four or five touches that he's getting. But that's part of his job right now, so he's got to handle it."
(on if has considered putting someone else back there to return punts) "Well, one of them that he dropped was on the 50 or 40-yard line so, I mean, that's a great return ball opportunity right there, and he almost busted one, too, in the game. I mean, he almost came out of there. So no, we're not going to run away from his problem. We're going to keep battling with him and putting him back there because the kid's very talented. But at the same time, we do have to find a way to make him more consistent."
(on how important finding WR Kevin Walter as the number two receiver has been to the offense) "Well, I think it's just become part of our offense. I mean, how important was it? We knew Kevin was a fine football player last year. I mean, his numbers are going to end up being bigger this year, and that's a credit to his work and probably the attention (WR) Andre (Johnson) gets and the way we run the ball has a lot to do with that. But Kevin's been a fine player, and as I said the other day, I think the key thing is there's another level for him. I think he's going to only get better. So he's a fine team football player, a team-first guy."
(on P Matt Turk's run versus Green Bay and if he has a green light to run) "I wouldn't say his light is green. I have to get back in that meeting. I sit in all the special teams meetings and I don't know that Turk has a green light."
(on P Matt Turk saying he has some secrets that he can't give up) "Those are some real secrets. Even I don't know them."
(on FB Vonta Leach and his contribution to the running game) "Well, he's been a fine player for us this year, and as I've said a couple of times, I think he's playing about as good as any fullback in the game. But what he did was he really took (assistant head coach) Alex's (Gibbs) scheme. Alex asked him to do a lot of new things as we got started this year, and he's grown in that capacity. Then he's stepped up, made some big plays catching the ball. He's a fine football player, has a lot of fun out here. Really a joy to be around. He's getting better each week."
(on how tough preparing for Tennessee was last time coming off of Hurricane Ike) "Well, yeah, that was after we came out of the hurricane that week and then got started again. It was difficult from the standpoint of trying to get guys ready to play when their families were having problems at home. So that was the most difficult thing. As far as doing our job and getting ready to go play the football game, we handled that. We just didn't play good enough to win. Gosh, that seems so long ago. But that was a tough time, we worked through it and now we have to keep working."
(on how close QB Matt Schaub is to being one of the elite quarterbacks in the league) "Well, I think all you have to do is look when he's been on the field or take his numbers against other people in this league, he tells you what he's capable of. He's capable of being a top-five guy in this league, in my opinion. Now, staying healthy and playing within the system, protecting the ball, those are the things that are going to tell you if he can be great along the way. But obviously, when he's had a chance to do it, he's done it pretty darn good."
(on QB Matt Schaub making some plays last week against the Packers that not many other guys could make) "Yeah, he played extremely well, and the weather didn't bother him at all. Last week during practice, watching him practice, you could tell that there was some rust there. But man, he was ready to play and just did a heck of a job. Not many guys step in the huddle on the two yard-line, three yard-line, on the road to the win the game and get it done. That was a big step for him."
(on their confidence in LT Duane Brown and switching him out with Ephraim Salaam) "Oh, I have a lot of confidence in him. I think he's going to be one of the finer tackles in this league in the years to come. We're not doing that—that process is not because we're disappointed in Duane. We're really doing it to keep Ephraim going. He needs the work. We just think Duane has played better when it's been a 50, 55-play stretch for him. But is he capable of playing 75? You bet."
LT Duane Brown
(on the Titans defensive line) "They have great guys all across the front; (DE Kyle) Vanden Bosch to (DT Albert) Haynesworth to (DT) Tony Brown, (DE Jevon) Kearse. They all work hard and work together and that's what has made them successful throughout the season. You know, they pretty much won the battle the last time we played them. We had the game there, and then they just took control in the fourth quarter. Us as an offensive line, we've really taken things like that personal the past few weeks and wanted to put the games on our backs to win it. And we've been able to succeed in that area. We just want to keep the ball rolling. We know they are going bring different looks to us and we know it's going to be a fight for four quarters. But we're at home. We feel like we're a different team now. We're just going to go out there and play."
(on the Texans moving the ball against the Titans in the last game) "Yeah, definitely. You know, at the end of the day it's all about points. You can put up as many yards as you want, but if a defense can stop you from getting in the end zone, you didn't really do much. So, we're looking to make that a point of emphasis this week, you know, just finishing drives, finishing games - just try to go out and make it happen."
(on if he takes pride in what RB Steve Slaton has accomplished this season) "Oh, yeah. Definitely. And me being a fellow rookie, I feel even more happy for him. We both had to go through our trials and tribulations throughout the season and both of us have improved. He's breaking franchise records and consistently going over 100 yards. You know, that's big in this league to have a running back to rush for over 1,000 yards. That's not common these days against the defenses that you face. He's done a heck of a job and we still have three weeks left, so we'll see what else he can do."
(on LB Xavier Adibi playing well) "Yeah, definitely. I'm not surprised at all about (LB) Xavier's (Adibi) play. He's been a playmaker in college. I knew it was just a matter of time before he got a chance to show what he can do, and he's definitely stepped up."
(on what makes RB Steve Slaton so good) "Vision. I think that's a huge attribute that great backs have. His (RB Steve Slaton) stature, that helps him out. He gets lost in there and before you know it he's popped out for a 30-yard game and of course, his speed. You see guys run the 40, but one you get out on the field and just see him beat people, beat them out of their angles, that's amazing to watch."
WR Andre Johnson
(on the win streak) "It's a good feeling. Definitely winning three games in a row, guys are feeling good. There's a great attitude around the building. Other than that, we still know our situation. We still have three games left and we're going to go do what we have to do to go out and try to win those three games."
(on what is going to be the toughest of the three games) "It's going to be a tough challenge for us. Every game is going to be tough. I don't think anyone is going to just lie down and just let us win. But, this one is big. We're playing against Tennessee, a rival. They're the hottest team in football right now. So, to go out and get a win against them would be big for us."
(on what is the toughest part about getting past Tennessee) "I think the thing about it is when we play against them we put ourselves in bad situations. We went out there earlier during the season, we didn't make any plays when we were in the red zone and that was a big part of it. We just have to go out and execute our offense and our defense go out and stop them and we do what we're supposed to do, we should come out with a win."
(on what it does to the teams confidence that they played well against them last game) "You can't live off of the past. You can't live off what we did in Green Bay. It's a new game, so you approach every game differently because it's a new game. You can't live off what you've done in the past or what happened bad in the past. It's a new game. You go out and you just try to go out and execute your offense the best way you can."
(on if he was at all surprised that QB Matt Schaub was able to do what he did in Green Bay) "Nothing (QB) Matt (Schaub) does surprises me. Matt's been working hard to get back. He was really excited about being back his first day of practice. He went out and the way he prepared it showed. He prepared well and he went out and played well. I don't think anyone on the team was surprised about that."
(on if it felt like a 529 yard offensive day or did that number surprise him) "You know what? At one point in the game, I did look up at the scoreboard and at the point I saw it, I think, we had 490 some yards. I was sitting there and I was like, 'Whoa.' When you're playing, you're not thinking about that stuff. You're just out there playing trying to do everything you can to help the team win. That happening just shows what we can do and what we can be if we can go out and be consistent and play good football like we know how to."
(on if it felt like being in Miami again) "I wouldn't say that (laughs). It was pretty cold out there, but it was a lot of fun. Guys were out there having fun and guys were just playing. No matter if something bad happened or good happened, whenever it happened, we just put it behind us and we kept playing. I think that's what we've been doing the last past couple of weeks and we've been successful with it."
(on from a competitors standpoint this is the matchup you want to see how good the offense is) "They're a great defense. They have a lot of great players. We're definitely going to find out where we're at. It's going to be a challenge for us like I said before. Hopefully, we can come out and play the way that we know how to play."
(on what the defense did to take WR Kevin Walter and himself out of the game) "I don't really think it was anything that they did. I dropped two touchdown passes in the last game. I catch those two passes maybe it's a different story. So, like I said, we got down in the red zone and at times, we just didn't make plays. That's the thing I think that killed us. Like I said, we can't worry about what happened in the past. We just have to come back. It's a new game. So, we have to come back and just go out and do what we do best."
(on if he wants to atone for the dropped touchdown passes) "I'm not worried about that (laughs). I can't even tell you how long ago that was. That's the last thing that's on my mind."
(on how big has WR Kevin Walter year been for this offense) "It's been really big. He's (WR Kevin Walter) been working hard. He was given the opportunity when he first got here being the second receiver. I think he was like the fourth receiver when he was in Cincinnati. So, it was a big opportunity for him. He was really excited about it. He talks about it a lot. He's really excited to be in the situation that he's in. I tell a lot of people he's a good receiver. He's been going to continue to get better. Since he's been here, he's been getting better and you can see it in his play out on the field. So, I'm really excited to have him playing on the other side of me."
CB Dunta Robinson
(on this win streak being different than the first one) "Yeah, I think one of the differences is we finally won games on the road. We won two games on the road. If you can on the road, that always helps to improve your record. But, right now, we're playing pretty good on special teams, offense and defense. We've just got to make sure maintain it. We can't have a layoff. We can't be comfortable with where we're at right now. We've just got to keep digging and keep fighting and keep scratching and just make sure we keep practicing well, because that's the key to winning."
(on this team playing well in December) "Right, we've played a little bit better in December than we have in the previous months, but who knows what's going to happen. Like I said, Tennessee is the best team in the NFL, so we know we've got our hands full. We feel good about the players we have on this team. We feel good about our situation. We just want to get back to .500."
(on why does this team struggle against Tennessee) "I really can't explain it. You really can't explain what goes on in the games you lose. It's just a couple of plays here, a couple of plays there that you miss. We've just got to make sure we make those plays this time. On offense, we've got to make plays and on defense, we've got to make sure we don't allow them to make plays. That's kind of the biggest thing, giving up plays and Tennessee making more plays than we have in the past. We've just got to limit their big plays and we've just got to go out there and make plays."
(on if he looks at Tennessee differently than the Colts) "Actually, every team is different. Tennessee presents different problems than the Colts do. Jacksonville presents different problems than the Colts or the Titans do, so you can't look at every team the same. Right now, they're the best team on this side in this division. We've just got to make sure that we focus on Tennessee and not think about their record and just try to go out there and get the job done."
(on finishing strong) "It's always nice to finish strong. In the offseason, you feel a lot better about what went on at the end of the season. It gives you something build on going into next season. We'd love to finish these last three games strong and see where we go from there. But offseasons are a lot better when you can win at the end than they are if you lose at the end."
(on what it means to get a chance to play against Tennessee at home since he missed the first game) "It's going to be big, especially starting against this team—the best team in the NFL right now. These are the games that you look forward. You always want to play the best, and right now Tennessee is the best in our conference. As a player, I'm looking forward to that and I'm pretty sure my teammates are also."
(on Pro Bowl voting today and if he thinks DE Mario Williams and WR Andre Johnson are definitely in the Pro Bowl) "Who knows what can happen with this Pro Bowl thing."
(on if he thinks that DE Mario Williams and WR Andre Johnson should be in the Pro Bowl) "Without a doubt, they (DE Mario Williams and WR Andre Johnson) should both be in, but everybody knows what the Pro Bowl comes down to, and it's kind of a popularity contest. And you know Houston is, we're not nationally known. So who knows what will happen, but those guys along with a couple of other guys deserve to be in the Pro Bowl."
(on if they beat Tennessee they will be nationally known) "(laughs) Yeah, you know everybody would be talking thing, but I'm pretty sure most people would be saying it's a fluke (laughs)."
(on if Tennessee has taken the role of being a measuring stick for the rest of the league) "No doubt about it. It's hard to be 12-1 in this league, no matter who you are or what team you are. They've earned it. They've gone out and played hard every game. They definitely deserve all of the respect they're getting right now. This is kind of a chance for us to get a little bit more respect. We've been playing well the past couple of weeks. We've come off a three game winning streak a couple of weeks ago and then lost three straight and that's in the back of our minds. We've just got to make sure we go out there and play tough and go out there and play hard and what a chance to go up against the best team in the NFL. It's a great opportunity for us and we know what kind of problems it presents for us. We've just got to make sure we go out there and play hard and try to get a W."
(on knowing that Tennessee is going to line up and run the ball) "They don't shy away from what they do. Everybody knows what they do and it's all about stopping them. 12-1 proves that nobody has stopped them so far. It's one of those situations where you know what's coming, but can you stop it. We've got to make sure we get that job done on defense."
QB Matt Schaub
(on winning the AFC Offensive Player of the Week this week) "Oh, it's an incredible honor but, you know what, that's not possible without a whole lot of other guys playing really, really well. That's a credit to our entire offense and our offensive line, our receivers, running backs, and also our defense for putting us in a position to get a chance to go down there and win the game at the end there."
(on the player WR Kevin Walter has become) "You know, it's nothing that we haven't expected and known that he was going to go out and do because he works his butt off every day. You know, it's just great to see it all show on the field and giving him the opportunities and him making the big plays and scoring touchdowns. It's great to see."
(on what concerns him about the Titans' defense) "Oh, they're a great defense, and it all starts with their front four and the pressure they apply and their ability to stop the run and not have to blitz so much. Then, they force teams to throw the football, and that's when they can rush the passer and that's when their secondary gets interceptions and big plays. So we just have to stay balanced and stay committed to what we want to do."
(on if you approach the Titans differently when you know they are going hit you) "You just go out there and play. You just have to go out there and know that it's coming and just get yourself ready for it. Just go out there and play and distribute the football, get rid of it. Stay balanced and keep your third downs manageable. All those things. Stay true to your game plan."
(on how important it was for him to get back on the field after his knee injury) "Oh, it was important to me to be back out there and be with my team and to get back as soon as I could. And that's what I was able to do by getting in the training room and working to get back on the field. So now, it's just go play."
(on if it was his best game as a Texan) "It was a great game for myself and for our team. It was a big win to go on the road in those conditions and come away with a win in the dramatic fashion that we were able to do it. So it's a good one for everyone in this room."
(on the Texans moving the football in the last game against the Titans) "Yeah, we hurt ourselves in the red zone. We didn't convert opportunities down there. We didn't make the plays we're making now offensively. Some of those tough plays, we're making them now. So just converting in the red zone and not turning the football over. You know, all those things. Our defense is really playing tremendously well right now. As a team, we're just really playing well."
(on head coach Gary Kubiak saying he could be a top-five NFL quarterback) "You know, it's about going out and working. It's a tremendous confidence boost knowing that your head coach has that much confidence in you. It's just about going out to work every day and just getting the team ready and getting myself ready to go out and play and just executing the game plan."
(on if he compares himself to other quarterbacks in the league) "I just try to be myself and just go out there and do it the way I know how."
(on how much RB Steve Slaton's development means to the team) "Well, it's meant a whole lot to our whole team. We knew how much talent he had when we brought him in. Just to see it grow and develop over the season, we forced him into action early in the year. Just being able to get him the football and him being patient enough to let the holes develop. And he creates a lot of mismatches in the passing game when teams try to match him up with a linebacker. So it's to our advantage, and he's just taking advantage of all those opportunities and he's a workhorse for us."
(on LT Duane Brown saying he got schooled versus the Titans in the last game but he feels like he's a lot better now) "It is night and day. He's had a tremendous year so far. He's just like (RB) Steve (Slaton), he's gotten tremendously better throughout the course of the season. It's one of those things. It was tough sledding for him early in the season. But when you look at, over the course of the entire year, who he's had to go up against, he's played tremendously well as the year went on. So we're extremely confident in what he can do."
(on if he was impressed with P Matt Turk's escapability) "Initially, and then he decided to tuck tail and go out of bounds a little prematurely in a lot of our opinion. But he said someone was chasing him and he got the first down, so that's what mattered."
(on P Matt Turk not doing the quarterback slide) "At least then he wouldn't have went out of bounds, though. See, I'm not going to get on him for doing a quarterback slide because that's what we do, we're taught to do. So it was a great play by him, very instinctive in being able to escape out of there and get the first down. He got some good blocks, too. I think one was by (RB) Ryan Moats there to help get him on the edge."
(on how much a fourth win in a row would mean) "It's just another win for us. When you start playing well and getting better as a team, you're going to have winning streaks. You don't want to count them, you just want to get one after the other and put your head down and just keep going after the next one. At the end of the day, at the end of the tunnel, then you look back and say, 'You know what, we were able to do some pretty good things.'"
(on if beating the Titans with everything they have accomplished this year would just be another win) "You know, it would be a big win for us, but it's one-sixteenth of the season. It's just another win, just another game. So we just have to approach it that way and not make it too big prior to. You know, we'll look back on it and say, 'You know what, that was a good game for us,' but right now, it's just another game and we have to go out and play 60 minutes of football."
(on if it is night and day for the team going into this game as opposed to the beginning of the season) "Yeah, I think we've come a long way. We knew coming into this year that we could be a pretty good offense if we played the way we were capable of. It was tough sledding there at the beginning of the year, but there were games we were moving the football and we were just hurting ourselves and not converting opportunities and not taking care of the football. So it's just a matter of, over the course of the season, just everyone getting better and continuing to work on their skills."
(on the team overcoming turnovers now and if there is a different approach to that than in the beginning of the season) "No, we want to take care of the football week in and week out, so I mean, there's not a different approach. We just have to continue to play well and convert opportunities and make plays when they're there."
(on what kind of obstacle DT Albert Haynesworth is to the offense) "Well, he's a huge obstacle. He's a guy that takes up a lot of room in the middle and he demands two people. When they have the front four that they have, it's hard to give too much attention to one guy because then there's other guys left on islands on the other side of the line and in other areas. So, them as a group, they're very tough to handle, and it's just a matter of us executing our plan."
(on if he thinks about where DT Albert Haynesworth is lined up every play) "We know where he's going to line up. He lines up in the same spot every time, so it's just about going out and dropping back and throwing the football, and I trust in those guys up front that they are going to do their jobs."
(on if he needs more time to throw against this team) "I just need to be able to drop back and get rid of the football. You know, the guys up front, they're doing a great job blocking right now and giving me the ability to drop back, step up and throw the football. So it's just about going out and playing the game."
(on what he remembers about the first game against the Titans and what they need to do differently) "We have to convert on opportunities. We were, I think, two-of-six in the red zone. We missed a few fourth downs. We had a few turnovers late in the game. So it's about taking care of the football and taking advantage of opportunities when we're down in there."
(on if would be extra sweet to beat the team with the best record in the NFL) "It would be great to go out and get a win and get our team to 7-7 with two games to play."
(on the offense moving the ball on everybody this year) "It's great to be back out there and playing well. Our team has played really well the past few weeks, so we just have to continue that string."
(on if he has just been unlucky with all his injuries) "Well, yeah, I mean, it's unfortunate of what happened to my knee. It's hard to avoid something like that, the way I was hit. But I got back as soon as I could, you know. You just go back out there and play."
RB Steve Slaton
(on how has adjusting to the pounding, more plays and physicality of the NFL) "It's worked out a lot. The biggest thing is just taking care of your body after the game. That's been helping me out, just resting as much as I can."
(on what concerns him about the Titans defense) "They're tough. They've been playing tough all year. It's going to be a big test for us. They have a bunch of all stars on their team."
(on if it was his coming out party against them the first game) "Yeah, you could say that."
(on what he remembers from the first matchup) "I just remember a lot, just going out there and (I) really didn't worry about too much, just going out there and playing. Hopefully, I can have a game like the first game."
(on him moving the pile and gaining extra yards) "That's the thing that (assistant head coach/offense) Coach (Alex) Gibbs has been preaching, just get as much yardage as you can on every play."
(on moving the pile being easier said than done) "It's takes a while, but once you know that you've got big guys around you, your offensive line is helping push the pile, too. So, that definitely helps a lot."
(on how has this offense changed from the first meeting with Tennessee) "It's changed a lot. I think we are finally gelling like we are. I think we are still are making little mistakes and not putting up as many points as we can, but I think we're fixing to start to fix that problem."
WR Kevin Walter
(on what has it been like to be a big part of the offense this year) "It's awesome. We're rolling. I'll tell you what—it would be scary to see, if how many balls we didn't turn over as a whole this year, how many points we would score on people. I think our offense, we've been doing some good things. We've been going up and down the field. I think we've been moving the ball well. We've been going out there and playing our tails off. We've got guys that are not going to give up and we're going to continue to do that this week."
(on if he is opening things up for WR Andre Johnson or is Andre opening things up for him) "Hey, I'm trying to make his job easier to tell you the truth. That's what I keep telling him, 'I'm trying to make your job easier.' We've got guys on this offense that can make plays. We're trying to get that cloud corner off of him (WR Andre Johnson). If those guys are going to put single coverage on (TE) Owen (Daniels), myself or any other guys, we've got to take advantage of that and get them out of there so Andre can get that single coverage."
(on the long touchdown play on the first drive in the game versus Green Bay) "It was a double move. We called it. It was etched in stone. We knew we were going to call that play. (QB) Matt (Schaub) just gave me a chance. He got hit pretty good back there. Obviously, I didn't know that because I was running the route, but he got hit pretty good and stood in there. He knew he was going to get hit. He threw it up and gave me a chance. I came back for the ball and made a play on it, and those two guys basically hit each other and it was kind of a walk-in from there."
(on if he is running more double moves than anybody else or is he just seeing more replays with him doing double moves) "I think you might be seeing more replays (laughs). I have my fair share of double moves. But, that's just part of (being) a receiver. I think there's a lot of ways to get open, just kind of use your techniques, use your ability and go out there and stop those guys from cutting different routes and double moves—that's what does it."
(on if the double move is called more for him) "No, definitely not. Everyone runs double moves. It just happens that coverage, that certain coverage, that certain play I'm running a double move and I beat him and we threw it and completed it."
DE Anthony Weaver
(on what is Tennessee doing so well) "I just think they're playing old school football. You win with playing good defense and pounding the ball, and they have that formula working to a tee right now."
(on how does the defense stop a speedy, powerful combo like RB's LenDale White and Chris Johnson) "I think the only way to stop them is to play team defense. You don't want guys trying to go out there and make heroic plays. You want everybody to stick to the game plan, play within their gap and hopefully the guy runs into you."
(on if he is impressed with what RB's LenDale White and Chris Johnson) "I'm most impressed with (RB) Chris Johnson's speed. He has unbelievable speed and to see him pull away from some of these guys who I know are fast is quite impressive."
(on the Texans doing well in December the last couple of years, and why does he think that is) "That's tough to say. That's tough to say. I think that maybe for a while in the beginning of the year this team was searching for identity and I think we're beginning to find that, especially on the defensive side of the ball. I know that we're starting to come into our own a little bit. I don't know why this happened late in the year, but for some reason it has."
(on why has everyone always circled the wagons and committed to see this team through to the end) "I think that's a credit to Coach (Gary) Kubiak. He never got too down and he was never too up whenever anything happened in the season. Even when we were 0-4, we still believed in the system and we still believed in him, and I think that's why we stand where we do today."
RT Eric Winston
(on losing to the Titans the last few years) "Yeah, they've always just seemed to be able to make that play to beat us. I feel like we've been in some close games with them. It's just, they always seem like, we either make that mistake or, I'll give them credit, I think they make that play to beat us. So we have to figure out how to make that play to overcome that and to get one on them."
(on if he feels like they match up well with the Titans) "Yeah, I feel like we've matched up with, especially down this last stretch of 10 games, I feel like we've matched up pretty good with everyone we've played. I think that's a tribute to the guys we have on our offense. We have a lot of versatility. We can get in a lot of different sets. I think (TE) Owen Daniels and (TE) Joel Dreessen help a lot. Any time you can bring those two guys on the field, they don't know if we're going to be in two tight ends or four wides (receivers). That's tough. That's tough to match up. That's tough to get the right personnel on defense out there with. So there's a lot of versatility on this offense, and I think no matter what gets thrown at us, we can adjust to it."
(on why they have played so well in December and not at the beginning of seasons and what they can do to change that) "Just start a little earlier and get it going a little earlier. It's hard to point a finger on why that is or what that is. I look at it the other way. It's a lot of credit to our coaches and to our weight staff, our medical staff, to why we're playing this good in December as we are in the past years. (Head coach Gary) Kubiak does an awesome job of kind of pulling back a little bit and taking the pads off and not hitting so much. You have a lot of teams out there still full pads on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I guarantee it, if you go ask those players if they need it, every single one of them will say no. So I look at it, I give (head strength and conditioning coach) Dan (Riley) a lot of credit. You know, our weight program is built to last over the season and not be great in July and bad in November. You have to build up. So, and (head athletic trainer) Kevin Bastin and (assistant athletic trainer) Jon Ishop, those guys, (assistant athletic trainer) Roland (Ramirez), they all do a great job. So I can't say why we're starting slow, but I know why we're finishing strong. If we can keep just moving that year-round, I think we'll be fine."
(on where the Titans' defensive line stacks up to all the defensive lines they've played this year) "Top, at least top-three or –four, I would say, if not the best. These guys, all around, are good. You have (DE) Jevon Kearse, (DE Kyle) Vanden Bosch, (DT Albert) Haynesworth, all three Pro Bowlers. And 97 (DT Tony Brown) is a guy I don't think a lot of people know about that I've gone (against) a bunch this year, and he's turned into that kind of caliber of player. I think he's getting up there pretty fast, too. Brown is a guy that knows what he's doing out there. And they've got some good backups now that they've started establishing. They're tough. Like I said, we're going to have to play very well to open up lanes and to hold up in the pass protection."
(on what his mindset is going into a game like this) "I think going into a game like this, you have to get ready for kind of a street fight. That's kind of how it's going to be. I think Tennessee plays as physical ball as there is around here. I think Pittsburgh's up there, Baltimore, that kind of game where, just be ready to be sore on Monday and just be ready to keep swinging for four quarters. That's what it's going to take to beat these guys. We know it and we have to go in with that attitude that, 'Hey, you get hit in the mouth in the first round, don't worry. There's plenty more rounds left in this thing and we're just going to have to keep swinging.' I think that's what we have to be ready for."