The Texans spoke to the media after practice on Wednesday. Following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head coach Gary Kubiak T Duane Brown LB Brian Cushing TE Owen Daniels WR Andre Johnson QB Matt Schaub
Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on WR Andre Johnson) "Andre ran a bunch today. He did the pre-practice stuff but did not practice. He took a step forward today. He did not participate in practice, but I'm encouraged by what he did."
(on if Johnson will play on Sunday) "Well, I don't want to go there, but I would say I feel good about what I saw him do today, so if there's no setbacks I think we'll be smart with him, get him to Friday and see where we're at. (LB Brian) Cushing did not practice, (S) Eugene (Wilson) did not practice. (DE) Mario (Williams) did practice, (LB Jamie) Winborn did practice and (CB) Dunta (Robinson) was a little limited, he has a sore hamstring so we limited him in practice."
(on LB Brian Cushing) "We'll keep the same program with him for right now, and hopefully we have no setbacks between now and the bye week and then we get him a good break and hopefully his practice can pick up after that."
(on S Eugene Wilson) "Eugene has a groin (issue), it's been bothering him a little bit. He came out of the game a little sore and we're just being smart today."
(on if he expects DE Mario Williams' shoulder injury to be an issue all season) "I kind of would say the same thing I'm saying about (LB Brian) Cushing. Mario took practice, Mario's fine. But I think there's a bunch of these guys right now that need a little break and there's no time for one, so we're just trying to be smart with those guys and two weeks from now, we'll get them to the point where we can get them a break. But Mario's fine. Mario did practice today."
(on the significance of having WR André Davis) "It's huge. All you got to do is go back and look at the game the other day. No (WR) Andre Johnson, need a couple of first downs, second-and-10 he runs a great slot out there and picks up a first down. We have a lot of confidence in all of our receivers, and our play calling doesn't change."
(on WR André Davis' contributions on special teams) "He covers kicks, he returns kicks and that's why we're able to carry five wide receivers on game day, because our receivers do a lot of things, they don't just line up to play receiver. They cover and do what they have to do."
(on the Texans' run defense) "We've got to do what we've got to do to win. They obviously had a big game against them a couple of weeks ago, and in this league when somebody has a big day like that, typically you can move one way or another very easily. We're a great example of that, what was happening with our defense the first three weeks, and look at the ground we've made up. We'll have to play good in all phases, not just the run. We'll have to do everything well to have a chance to win."
(on having to play in the wind) "This is a perfect day for us to practice. We went into the wind a couple of periods so that our guys were working into, it but it's kind of a nice day for us, helps (WR) Jacoby (Jones) catching kicks, things like that."
(on the defensive game plan) "I think we're doing a few things differently than we've done in the past, but I don't think we're doing anything drastic. That's strictly a game plan scheme of what they did off of the goal line. Had nothing to do with we're no good at going downhill so we're going to go outside, it's not like that. It's something to defeat the defense and it worked pretty good."
(on the importance of TE Owen Daniels) "He's the same importance as he's been before. He's turned into a great player, very special, and he seems to be getting better every week, being a complete football player and I always feel what a great kid he is, too. I think he's on his way to a great career."
(on if he's challenging his offensive line by making them move more in screens) "I think we've always done some of those things. We're pretty athletic up front as far as guys that can get out and run. Those are game plan things that you're always trying to get your best players to touch the football and that's easier said than done sometimes and that day it worked out good with (RB) Steve (Slaton) and who knows what we'll have to do this week to move the ball, so we've got to do what we've got to do."
(on how the replacement guards are playing) "I think they're young, and we know that and as coaches we've got to be smart in how we go about their progress and what we're doing offensively. That's our job, to protect those guys as they grow up. But we're looking for consistency out of all three of them and we're getting great effort out of all three of them."
(on QB Matt Schaub) "We've got so much confidence in him right now and I think the game he played last week might be as good a game as he's played, just the way he avoided sacks and threw the ball away, kept the team out of harm's way in some tough situations. I just want him to manage the game, obviously he gives us a chance to make big plays so where they're going to come from this week, I don't know but we'll have to find them."
(on correcting RB Steve Slaton's fumble woes) "That's part of our job, whatever it takes to get to work but Steve's a good kid, he's not out there struggling having problems fumbling because he's not a hard worker or he's not paying attention to detail. I think he's given us everything he's had, but obviously the ball's coming out, so we're going to work with him and like I told him, we're behind him but he's got to do his part and his part is to hang on to the football."
T Duane Brown
(on the importance of running the ball well this week) "It's going to be really important for us this week, playing in Buffalo. I'm not sure what the conditions are going to be like. We're expecting a lot of wind so we probably won't be able to pass the ball as much as we have. We're going to have to pick it up this week."
(on how much of the rushing results do they put on their shoulders) "We take a lot of the responsibility because we feel like most of what goes into it is attitude with us up front, creating a new line of scrimmage, not giving up penetration and cutting guys free. We feel like if we can get on our guys and get some movement, then that's half the battle for the running back. We're taking that approach and with the whole season, just trying to gradually get to where we want to be."
(on he would like to see the line have to block more in space in the future) "We have the type of guys on the O-line that can get out and run a little bit and we try to take advantage of that, week in and week out, so we'll have some planning for that this week."
(on if Buffalo being No. 32 in run defense make your eyes light up) "No, not at all. They play very hard. That's what thing we learned on the film. They don't have a lot of big names over there but those guys fly around and they're very aggressive. Whatever they've done up to this point really doesn't matter. I'm sure they're coming in ready to go and I'm sure they know we haven't run the ball as well as we've liked to, so they're going to want to take advantage of that as well."
LB Brian Cushing
(on how his foot feels) "It's OK. Same thing, you know, just playing and resting it during the week and just doing what I can to stay off of it as much as possible."
(on the team playing well on the road) "Well, you need to be if you want to be a good team. It's important to go out and win in other people's stadiums, especially good teams like this upcoming week, so we're looking forward to the opportunity. We know we have to prepare well during the week and really get this going."
(on the importance of the team establishing some consistency) "It is (important) to keep this ball rolling. We know we're headed in the right direction. We know we're playing good football, but we need to continue to do that. We need to have a good record and we need to win our AFC games and take care of business. We know the potential that we have, and it's time to live up to it."
(on if he enjoys playing in hostile environments) "Yeah, of course. It's an instant feeling going in there, knowing your back's against the wall, it's just you guys out there – the 50 guys on the team – and you're going to war with them. It's a special feeling when everyone in that stadium wants you to lose."
(on the crowd booing them on the road) "Yeah, you know, I wouldn't say it's a good feeling, but it's motivating."
(on Buffalo's offense and their wide receivers) "(They're) a very capable offense. They're fast, they're physical; you look at some plays on film they've had and they're downfield threats. They're definitely, like I said, a capable offense and we have to respect that."
(on playing in Buffalo and potentially inclement weather) "There's certain things you have to cancel out: the fans, the weather, the crowd, all that stuff. Like I said, we've just got to be a good road team. You have to be able to take your team, pick up, travel and go somewhere else and win in their stadium. That's what the NFL is about and that's what establishing a good team is all about."
(on being proud of the improvements made defensively against the run) "We are. I wish we could've started out since Week 1. It just shows what we can do. We're headed in the right direction, we're playing another very good running team with a good running back and we have to keep that going."
(on the reasons for the defensive improvement) "I think it's a little bit of both. Different calls, and a lot of guys are used to playing with each other now and on top of that, you feel more aggressive. So, I mean, along with the maturity that this defense has had, I think we've taken a step in the right direction and just have to keep doing that."
(on if he feels more comfortable now after missing most of training camp) "Yeah. The routine of anything is really helping. Coming in, you're not exactly sure what works, what doesn't. I've found the right formula and just keep it going. It's week-in, week-out you're playing some pretty good teams, some pretty good running backs, offenses, and you have to find what works best for you."
(on he and LB DeMeco Ryans feeding off of each other's play) "Yeah. It's a good relationship. He's a good friend of mine and we're both linebackers and we're trying to be the best that we can. I know individually, we're probably both trying to be the best linebacker there is out there. That's just the kind of mindset that we have. We strive for that every single day and our interaction just helps us play that much better. It's been great so far."
(on whether there is a friendly competition between he and LB DeMeco Ryans) "I think so. The big goal is winning; we know that, but we want to have a great fast, physical defense and I think me and him have the same game plans going into every single week of what we want to do, what we want to accomplish and what we want to prove."
(on the similarity between playing with LB DeMeco Ryans and playing with a group of great linebackers at USC) "Yeah, it helps. It helps when you've got guys around you and everyone's got that right mindset and you're on the same page. You want to be the best, you want to be physical and fast and take games over. I think if you've got another guy with you next to you that wants the same thing, people start to follow."
TE Owen Daniels
(on the importance of getting the run going this weekend) "We'd like to get it going. I guess it helps, as you said, that they're the worst rush defense. We still need to get things going. If we can't get things going against them, obviously we have a lot of things to fix. We aren't going to get away from the pass if we don't have to."
(on if the wind is manageable if they will be able to throw the ball in Buffalo) "I hope so. It's in our game plan every week. We want to be able to throw, obviously, we want to be able to run it. We're going to commit to both. I'd like to get our yards per carry up, but definitely if the weather permits, we're going to do what we usually do."
(on how do you account for Schaub and the offense's success on the road) "I think we, at some point, we realized we need to better on the road and that was a big focus this offseason, if we wanted to be a playoff team, we couldn't be 2-6 on the road. That wasn't going to get it done. It was a little bit of a different focus. One that's just us 45 guys up there playing. I think we're doing a lot better job of protecting Matt, and that helps at home and especially on the road when it's a little more hostile. We're doing a lot of good things to support him."
(on what they need to do to get the running game going) "We're working on it. Last year, we started off a little slow running the ball and it picked up as the year went along. Hopefully, that will be the case this year. It's been alright since we have been so successful throwing the ball, but I'm sure we're going to get in some situations, whether it's the weather or their defense has our number and we're going to need to get our run going, and we've got to get it started this week."
(on how important is it that WR Andre Johnson be in the lineup) "Extremely important. He's a big focus for defenses to worry about. When he's not in there, things are a little different. We experienced that a couple years ago. We need our playmaker in there to help us out and win this game."
(on Andre Johnson saying that his nickname isn't "Awesome" for nothing) "You know, I think (offensive coordinator) Kyle Shanahan said something in a meeting like last training camp. I don't know if I ran a good route or something, he just used the word awesome and you know (FB) Vonta (Leach) is going to run with that thing. I'll blame it on Vonta for the nickname sticking so far."
(on if defense have changed the way they defend him now) "I think I'm definitely benefitting from people focusing on Andre and obviously he's a huge threat to have ten catches a game, every game. I think myself and Kevin (Walter) and Steve (Slaton) when he's out there and David (Anderson) as well, we're definitely beneficiaries of Andre playing so well and being such a good player."
(on scoring more touchdowns this year) "I think it's just been opportunities down there. It's a little bit more fun when you get a chance to make some plays and get in the end zone and help your team out to win some games that way—not just being a possession guy and getting first downs."
(on if the offseason work with Matt has allowed them to click and get to a different level) "I think so. This is our third full year together. That definitely contributes to us having better chemistry and things going more smoothly out there. We recognized that in the past few years, I've only had five touchdowns, but all these catches. I think we jokingly maybe made it a point to get me in the end zone a little more but were thinking about that more during the offseason."
WR Andre Johnson
(on how he feels) "I'm good. I'm not in any pain or anything like that. I feel fine, to be honest."
(on if it was scary when he heard what the injury was) "No, I wasn't scared. I was trying to go back in the game and play, so I wasn't scared at all. I was just wondering to myself what was wrong with me as I was spitting up the blood. But I felt fine. I wasn't in any pain or anything. I was telling the doctors I was OK, I can go out and keep playing. Right now, I'm not in any pain, I haven't been in any pain, so I feel normal."
(on if he had trouble breathing during the game) "On the play that I came out, actually the play that I made before when I caught the pass and then that next play when I was running, I did have some trouble breathing because I was kind of choking and I was spitting up blood. So that's when I fell down to the ground. But after I went to the sideline and I was telling them what was wrong with me or whatever, I felt fine after that and I felt like I was able to go back and play, but they wouldn't let me go."
(on if he expects to play this weekend) "Yeah, I'll be out there."
(on if that's 100 percent) "I don't see why I wouldn't. I really don't. I don't know – they might have to cut my leg off or something to keep me from going out there, but I'll be out there."
(on his helmet being hid on Sunday) "I wanted to go back in and they were just like, 'Wait for a second,' and I felt like they were taking too long to make a decision. And you know me, when I went in the back and got the x-ray, I just threw my shoulder pads back on and ran back out of the room, because I knew what situation we were in as far as the game. I didn't feel like it was stopping me from playing. I took the hit in the second quarter and I didn't feel any pain or anything then and I played throughout the rest of the game. So I felt fine; I felt like I could keep going."
(on why it's important for him to play this weekend rather than rest and let his injury heal) "If I was in pain or something like that, then maybe it would be something that I'd think about, but I'm not in pain. I don't feel any pain. I went out and ran today and my breathing felt normal, so I feel like I'm fine, so that's why I feel like I can go out and play. I don't know what else to tell you. I don't feel any pain or anything, so I feel fine."
(on why he's confident that he'll play this weekend) "Yeah, because like I said, I don't feel like anything's wrong with me. The only thing I think the thing that they're scared of is me taking another hit in that spot, so I think that's probably the biggest thing. But I want to play."
(on if he'll wear any extra protection) "No, it's something that we've talked about. When I came in on Tuesday, we talked about that and they have a guy coming in that's going to see what pads they can put on the back of my shoulder pads – some extra padding and things like that, so that should help me out."
(on if he'd like to test out how he feels in practice first) "Well, they're keeping me out of practice. I have to take another scan, and after that scan, then they'll see how things look as far as my lungs and everything; and we'll just have to make a decision from there."
(on when the scan will take place) "I'll take the scan tomorrow."
(on if the scan is precautionary) "It's the same scan I already had, the same scan I took when I went over to the hospital after the game."
(on if he feels like the Texans have turned the corner) "Well, if I say ,'Yeah,' and we turn around and lose, then you know it's going to be something crazy in the newspaper, so I'm not really worried about that. We just have to focus on the game at hand, and that's Buffalo. You really can't worry about all of that; you just have to take it one game at a time. And I really don't worry about things that have happened in the past. I just try to keep looking at what's ahead of us. That's how I look at it, and we have to go get a win on Sunday."
(on if he was scared when he began spitting up blood in last Sunday's game) "To be honest, I didn't know what it was. When I was down on the ground spitting, I was just like, 'What's wrong with me?' But did it scare me? Yeah, it scared me a little bit because I've never had that happen to me before, and at first it was a nice amount that I was spitting out, but it kind of slowed down once I came out of the game and they had me on the sidelines, so that's why I felt like I could go back in, but it did bother me a little bit."
(on what it will mean to him to not miss the game) "It means a lot because I want to play. I feel like I need to be out there to help my team be successful. I mean, I want to be out there, but like I said, I feel like I'll be out there unless they cut my leg off."
(on the Buffalo Bills) "When you look at their defense on film, if you look at the last game, I think Carolina put up like 300 yards of offense on them but they didn't win the game, and I think that's the thing. Their defense is on the field a lot and they keep teams out of the end zone, they make them settle for field goals, and that's why they're always in football games. You look at them as a unit and they're a very good group. They're very disciplined in what they do, and I think the thing that we have to do is just go out and take what they give us. I think the run after the catch and things like that will be real big for us in this game, so we'll have to go out and make some plays against those guys."
(on what it would mean for the Texans to get to 5-3 for the first time ever) "It would be very big. That's something that has to happen in order for us to get to where we want to go. We know what we have to do to go out and win this game on Sunday, and it's very big for us. I don't think many people think we would be in this position that we're in now, so we really can't worry about what everybody else thinks. We just have to go out and just play the way we are capable of playing."
QB Matt Schaub
(on TE Owen Daniels' nickname of "Awesome") "I think it's pretty deserving. He goes out there and plays well week in and week out, makes plays for us. When you're around these guys, everyone gets a little bit of a nickname every now and then, so that's one that he's developed over the years."
(on the potential elements in Buffalo) "It can play a factor in the game, but that's something both teams have to deal with and we've played in the conditions before so we just have to out there and know it could be nice, it could be a little windy, it could be rain, whatever. We just have to go in and handle it."
(on the potential of getting to 5-3 for the first time in team history) "It would be huge for us just to go on the road and get a win against a good football team. We're excited to go up there and meet the challenge. We just have to be prepared to go and execute our game plan on the road and in a tough environment."
(on if there is any difference to playing on the road other than noise levels) "Other than the crowd being behind you or not, you step between the lines and its football. It still takes the same things to win, regardless of if you're home or on the road, at a neutral site, you still have to execute and play good football."
(on how much the noise complicates things) "It doesn't complicate things too much. You might use a little more of a silent count in the shotgun, but for the most part, we have hand signals to communicate with them. A lot of times, those receivers can't hear you at home anyways, so they watch the ball anywhere."
(on why he has put up bigger numbers on the road this year) "We just go and play football, regardless of if we're home or away, we just have to go out and play good football and execute our plan."
(on WR Andre Johnson saying they'll have to cut his leg off to keep him from playing and if that surprises him) "That doesn't shock me one bit. Not at all. He's a tough guy and he's going to go out there and be there for his team and be ready to go."
(on how important is it that Johnson be in the lineup) "It's very important. He's a guy our whole offense goes through and he's a playmaker for us. We've been there (two years ago, he missed some time, so we played when he was nicked up before so we have guys that can step up in play, but obviously he's a big part of what and we need him out there as the leader of our team."
(on what he likes best about TE Owen Daniels as a player) "Just the fact that he goes out there and makes plays for us. That's number one. He's a great guy and one that we can depend on and count on. He's very reliable for us."