The following Texans spoke to the media after practice on Wednesday.
Head coach Gary Kubiak LB Brian Cushing RB Arian Foster WR Andre Johnson RB Ryan Moats QB Matt Schaub DE Antonio Smith
Head coach Gary Kubiak(on RB Steve Slaton) "I'll give y'all my best understanding. He was evaluated by a doctor in Dallas and has a nerve issue, to me it's the neck, from the neck standpoint. They think it will heal on its own here over the course of four to six weeks. He will be reevaluated at that point. If it doesn't then obviously there could be another option but this is not career threatening. Steve's going to be fine. He will play and play well, everything's going to be ok but they just said that right now he does not need to be taking any hits here over the course of the next month. So that's where we're at and the next best answer I can give you will probably be after the season."
(on how he will deal with RB Steve Slaton's absence) "Obviously we're going to activate (RB) Chris (Brown) but (RB Arian) Foster's fixing to get very much involved and so we got Chris and (RB) Ryan (Moats) who we played with last week but I want to look at Foster—I expect him to play some this week on the offensive side and then we'll see how far Chris can come, what he'll bring forward. But obviously it's hard to lose Steve but you got to do what's best for the young man and his future."
(on if surgery is an option for RB Steve Slaton) "It's my understanding that it could be something that could require that if it doesn't heal on its own, but even if they had to do that, he still will be fine and he will be back ready to go next year. But that will be evaluated, they told me, in four to six weeks."
(on if Slaton has a disc problem) "You know, I really don't—I'd rather have Kap (head athletic trainer Geoff Kaplan)—it's a nerve problem, that's my understanding. Nerve problem."
(on QB Matt Schaub) "He practiced full, took every rep that he would normally take so he'll be fine. We need to protect him but he'll be ready to go."
(on if RB Chris Brown will start) "I think so. I think we stay the way we are with what we're doing. Like I said, I'd just like to come out of this game with (RB Arian) Foster getting some touches on the ball and so we'll get him ready to play."
(on RB Arian Foster's blocking abilities) "The biggest issue is—will he block? Yeah, he'll block, but understanding protections—but he'll get all those reps this week and we'll see how he does in practice. He has to, I mean, the guy's got to figure this out if he's going to be on the field right now."
(on why he's choosing to play the rookie Arian Foster over the veteran RB Chris Henry) "We like what Arian has been doing. Arian has been with us for a while; he's practiced very well. He's earned his way on special teams so he deserves a shot."
(on any other injuries) "The guys that didn't practice today—(DE) Mario (Williams) did not practice, he's got a little groin problem bothering him and of course (T) Duane (Brown), y'all know what program he's on, (LB Brian) Cushing, same problem. (DT Jeff) Zgonina just needed a rest day, didn't want it, and then Timmy (DE Tim Bulman), y'all know Timmy's out. So that's where we're at today. (CB Glover) Quin was back today."
(on DE Mario Williams) "I think you'll see Mario practice tomorrow. I'm just being smart with him today, he had an injection yesterday."
(on the Seahawks) "First off, very good football team. Very athletic. Very aggressive on defense. Jimmy's (Seahawks head coach Jim Mora) always been that way. Offensively they've got a quarterback (QB Matt Hasselbeck) who, when he gets hot, he can light you up. So we're going to have to play well to beat them but we're very concerned with ourselves right now and getting ourselves to play better."
(on if WR Jacoby Jones was back today) "Yeah, he's back at work and did a good job on special teams so if he takes care of his business, he'll be out there."
(on the harness that QB Matt Schaub will wear) "It basically keeps him from going to the ground, getting it moved too much one way or another, kind of locks him into one position. So it is an altering process for him as far as throwing the ball but he handled it pretty good."
(on if he's worried about the mindset of the team) "Obviously nobody's real upbeat right now, when you go through what we've gone through the last month. We started very slow today in practice, got to remind each other to get going but we did get going and practiced well. The only thing that makes things better is winning football games so that's what we got to prepare to do."
LB Brian Cushing
(on how the team refocuses moving forward) "The next objective is the following game. We're focused on Seattle right now. Our goal right can only be 1-0, and that is getting that win this Sunday."
(on if it's tough getting motivated now) "No, not at all. It's just playing football. We have an opportunity to go out there and show ourselves and improve upon last week's performance. That's the great thing about this sport, you can go out there and have a better game and get that win."
(on if he still feels he won't hit a rookie wall) "Yeah, I still feel that way. I'm fine. I'm going 100 percent and 100 miles per hour. Like I said, it's just football. I'm just looking forward to the game on Sunday and prove myself and prove our team to the rest of the country what we're all about."
(on what they've seen from Seattle's offense) "They have a good offense. There's no question about that, especially with (QB Matt) Hasselbeck coming back. Very good quarterback. Very good passing team. They can attack us in many different ways and they can definitely put some points up."
(on Seattle LB Aaron Curry) "Versatile linebacker. Big guy. I met him a couple times at combines and draft stuff like that. He's very dedicated to the game; he loves this sport and he's definitely a great football player."
(on if he feels any competition with Curry due to Curry being drafted higher) "I don't, but that's something that is definitely in the back of my mind. I obviously know that. My main goal is to go out and perform as well as I can and help the team as best I can."
(on what they learned from their inability to stop Jacksonville and get the ball back in the fourth quarter last Sunday) "That's what we're in control of. I can only do stuff on defense. That's our job. We didn't close when we were supposed to. I think it was 3:57 that we had left and they got about 38 yards rushing. That was crunch time for us. We couldn't come through and that was obvious. We definitely should've been able to."
(on how they correct that) "Eliminate the mistakes. There is no question that we're playing hard all game. There are just some technical errors here and there and we feel as a defense, we need to get that out of our system and continue to play hard. We know we're right there. It's going to take those one or two more plays of getting turnovers or stopping a fourth down or something like that to really be the kind of defense we want to be."
(on only having three tackles last week) "I thought I had a little more than that, but I guess the stats person only marked down three. That's fine. I just have to come back and have a better game this weekend."
(on how important it is to him to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year) "It would be special. There's no question, and I'm not going to deny that. That's something I definitely want to accomplish. I want to be the best defensive rookie in football, and that's something that I have a lot of pride in. First and foremost comes winning. That's what is most important right now."
(on what he thinks about his Pro Bowl chances) "I don't know. This is my first year. I'm unfamiliar to a lot of things. There are a lot of good guys in this defense. There are a lot of good guys around the NFL. There is some reputation. Some guys have been in this league for a while. I know of it comes down to popularity and who knows who and stuff like that. I'm not sure. I'm just looking to continue to playing the way I do."
(on how he is avoiding the rookie wall) "Keep your routine. Whatever your routine is, stay on top of that. Don't let things get to you, mentally or physically. Just continue to grind it out. There's four games left and I'm trying to have my best four games of the entire season."
(on what he does about his body to make sure it bounces back) "A big thing is rest and taking care of it and being smart. I'm not going to go out there and kill myself in practice or kill myself in the weight room. I have to do what has worked so far and be ready for Sunday. That's the biggest thing. I can have great days throughout the week but if I don't play well on Sunday, none of it really matters."
(on if LB DeMeco Ryans has been a mentor to him) "Yeah. There's no question about that. He's kick-started things for me. He's run along me the whole time. He's out there, not only every day in practice with me on the field of course, but we're talking off the field. We're talking on the phone. We're doing everything we can to help each other's game as much as possible. Of course, it's been mostly him helping me with the experience he's had and the years he's played so I'm real thankful for that."
RB Arian Foster
(on if he's excited about the opportunity) "Absolutely. This league is all about opportunities. I came in, low status, worked my way up and this is my time to help this team."
(on if he ever wondered if he would get an opportunity) "Yeah, that's human nature, the wonder and the doubt. But I've got a good supporting cast, my family stayed behind me and we've got a great cast here—coaches and players, you know, they're very encouraging and it's fun. You get an opportunity to do what you love to do."
(on if he knows how he'll be involved offensively) "I play running back (laughs). But you never know because of how the game goes, if you get into running situations, passing situations, so I just got to be ready no matter. When they call my number I'm going to be ready."
(on if he feels like he's ready to pick up the blitz) "Absolutely. That's something I've taken pride in since I was in college. When I was coming out of college that was one of my good attributes that they tagged me as having—picking up the blitz. And I take pride in that."
WR Andre Johnson
(on if he worries about making the Pro Bowl) "I'm not really thinking about that. It's a great accomplishment. I've been there a few times already. I have bigger goals than making the Pro Bowl."
(on how far away the playoffs seem to be) "I don't think that it's far off. We just have to find a way to close out games. If we did close games out this season, we'd be in a totally different situation right now. I don't think it's far away at all."
(on what he's looking for the offense to do this week) "I just want to see us, as a team, play consistent. Not go out and have that slow first half. It comes to a point where we have to put a full game together and play a full 60 minutes as a football team. Not just the offense or the defense, but as a whole team, we need to play together."
(on if that's the most frustrating aspect of the season) "Yeah, I think that is. Besides us putting ourselves in bad situations with penalties and things like that. You see the talent. You look at the team and can tell that the talent is there. It's just up to us to put it together."
(on what he's playing for: pride, postseason, something else) "You really can't worry about that. You just have to go out and try to win these four games we have left. I think that's the biggest thing. We can't worry about playoffs or anything like that. You just have to be focused on the task at hand. And that's the only way that you'll find a way to get through it."
RB Ryan Moats
(on his larger role) "I'm ready to go. I've prepared myself to be successful."
(on if it's tough to lose RB Steve Slaton to injured reserve) "Of course. Any time you lose anybody, it's tough. I wish him the best and I'm always there for him."
(on if he and RB Chris Brown have talked at all about their increased roles) "Well, we're going to go out and just run and just try to make it simple. Try to not complicate things and just run when your number is called and block when it's time to block."
(on if the team's lack of success running is from over thinking) "Sometimes things happen and sometimes it's things that you can't control. Personally, I'm just going to concentrate on one thing at a time and not try to over think anything."
(on what he sees out of Seattle's defense) "Of course, you see an athletic defense. We've faced similar defenses all year long, so we just have to be on top of everything that we need to be on top of."
(on how difficult his role is when it's constantly changing) "I prepare even when I'm not playing. I prepare like I'm going to play. It's all patience I think. You just have to be patient about it and know you're role and play your role and your time will call."
(on if he knows who will start) "I don't know. I really don't even make that a concern for me. When I'm called, I go out there and run as hard as I can every time, ever play."
(on if they take the inconsistency of the run game this year personally) "Of course. It's our job. It's our passion. This is what we've been doing since we were little kids, so of course you want to be successful in the run game. We're going to keep working to do that."
(on their inability to win their past two 'must-win' games and how tough is it to stay positive) "I've said it before. That's the difference between a gladiator and a regular person. Are you going to lay down or are you going to go out and fight? I'm pretty sure the guys in this locker room are going to go out and fight."
DE Antonio Smith
(on how the team approaches the last four games of the season) "The same way. You have to attack it with the same frame of mind and just execute better, I think. You can't not say that it's not a must-win, because it is. Regardless if our playoff chances are slim to none, we've still got to play the game the same way."
(on the defense not getting a stop at the end of the Jacksonville game) "You've got to play a full and complete game. I think that that escaped us right there. You know throughout the game, they're going to make plays and we're going to make plays, but when the game is on the line like that, we've got to seal the deal."
(on Seattle's offense) "I think with Seattle, it's just stop the run and force them to pass it so you know you have a chance to make big plays. I've been playing them two games a year for five years and that's the way to get to them is to get to (Seattle QB Matt) Hasselbeck, rough him up a little bit and get sacks and big plays and turnovers."
(on the team's attitude after losing four games in a row) "The attitude is we've got to win. Just a win just to get out of this funk. If for nothing else, just to have a win. It's been four weeks and if you add the bye week, even longer since we had a win. It gets old after a while."
(on if he has noticed the team's morale declining) "No, we can't go back into that mindset. I don't feel it now, I don't see it and I won't let that happen because I've been there before where you get into that mind-frame of, 'What's going to happen next?' and then the next thing that you know, you've lost four more games in a row."
(on criticism from fans and media about the coaches) "I actually haven't heard any conversations or heard anything since then (Sunday). I don't really read the paper much or watch too much TV."
(on head coach Gary Kubiak) "I think that you've got to look at the complete whole and the job that he's done since he's been here and what he has turned the team into. I know from what I hear, each aspect of this team is better than it was last year, this year. The win categories, especially with these last four losses we just had, it could've went either way and right now everybody could be praising Coach Kub. Just a play here or a play not missed there, it could be a whole different thing, so you've got to look at what he did as a whole to this team and the way people used to think about the Texans and the way they think about us now."
(on QB Matt Schaub returning to last week's game after separating his shoulder on the first play) "Man, that was big. That was big. For your teammates to see you do that is big, for your fans and just to see him, because when I saw him go down, it looked like he was in pain. He was in pain and then I thought he was pretty much done, and then he came back in the second half and pretty much brought us back in it."
(on if QB Matt Schaub got credit from the defensive linemen for his toughness) "You give him a little bit, but you know, a quarterback still is going to be a quarterback. They're still going to get babied a little bit here and there, but at least he's one of the tough babies."