After Wednesday's practice, head coach Gary Kubiak and various Texans spoke with the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak LB Brian Cushing WR Andre Johnson LB DeMeco Ryans QB Matt Schaub T Eric Winston
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on the health of the team) "Good. (LB) Brian (Cushing) didn't practice today. It's more precaution than anything, his foot is just sore and he seemed to handle it last week very well—I think I said that in the press conference Monday. So we'll probably give him a break until we feel like he's back feeling really, really good. So he didn't practice today. Everybody else is ok."
(on if LB Brian Cushing will be ok for Sunday) "Yeah he should be fine. I'm hoping—I think the plan will probably be a little bit tomorrow, most everything on Friday and then we go back to work. We're kind of bring him along like we did (DE) Mario (Williams) a couple weeks ago."
(on LB Brian Cushing winning AFC defensive player of the week) "Yeah, he's had a great month. He's really played extremely well and earned the respect of his teammates. He's been exceptional and that's a nice honor. It's a heck of a league and you've got to play pretty good football to get that honor. I'm sure his teammates are proud of him, I know he feels pretty good."
(on if LB Brian Cushing is becoming more comfortable) "Yeah, he's settled down from an assignment standpoint and like I said, I was really impressed last week because he really played without practicing. He practiced a little bit on Wednesday, didn't practice Thursday or Friday pretty much at all—none Thursday, maybe a little on Friday—so that tells you that he can watch a practice, focus on what's going on in the meeting room and still go out and do it on Sunday and that's what being a pro's about. So it was nice to see him handle it that way."
(on if he thought S Bernard Pollard would contribute so much so quickly) "It'd be easy to say yes now but no, I think we're all surprised but we knew we had a chance with him because of (defensive backs coach) David's (Gibbs) relationship with him and the time he had spent but he's adapted very well and he's been very good and seems to be getting even more comfortable."
(on if he seems similarities between WR Andre Johnson and 49ers WR Michael Crabtree) "Well I did when I studied Michael in the draft and I mentioned that to the San Francisco media today, that I think they're a lot alike. Big players, explosive players, really good after the catch with the football, dangerous. He was a great college player and unfortunately we get to see his first pro game. He's a great player."
(on 49ers RB Frank Gore) "Well you know I think he was averaging over six yards a carry before he got hurt, so if that's not the best in this league it's awfully close. He's a big physical player. This team, for us, is a lot like playing the Jets. They present the same problems for us. They run the football extremely well and they give us problems with their three-four scheme so we've got a big challenge."
(on the defense's improvement) "Obviously we've played better over the last three weeks but we're going to have to continue. They're going to be fresh and we know they're going to pound the ball at us so we'll have to stop the run."
(on how he explains the improvement in run defense) "I've probably given y'all two or three different answers in the last few days but I just think we're playing better. Better assignment football, more sound, we're tackling better as a football team. When people do get past the line of scrimmage or make a good play I think our back end is tackling better so there's no big plays there."
(on if he thinks S Bernard Pollard has helped shut down the big plays) "Yeah, I think he's helped out a great deal. But I think all of them has tackled better. (CB) Dunta (Robinson), he's now going on seven weeks, he's into a good season now, he's tackling better. Q (CB Glover Quin) has tackled extremely well, has played well for us. So I think the back end has really added to that."
(on if DE Mario Williams participated fully in practice) "As far as I know. I'll have to go back and look."
(on why QB Matt Schaub is playing better) "We've made some big plays. Last week we had almost 150 yards on screens, you know, and that's a quarterback's best friend. But we've been throwing it probably more than we have in the past so his numbers are up but he's just playing better. And you think about, his biggest games have been on the road so that tells you the way he's grown up."
(on what he means when he says QB Matt Schaub is playing better) "He's got great command of what we're doing. You look at how he handles the football team in pressure situations—it's easy for him. So I just think it's a bunch more starts under his belt, he's got a lot of confidence. (Offensive coordinator) Kyle's (Shanahan) done a great job with him and he's just becoming more of a pro. The more games you start in this league, if you're a player, the better you're going to get and he's showing signs of reaching a new level."
(on what it would take for him to be known as an elite quarterback) "The key is for his team to win and to protect the ball. That's ultimately how quarterbacks are judged. His numbers have been exceptional and he needs to continue to get better at protecting the ball and we'll get his team to where they all want to go. That's part of the job."
(on if his previous injuries factored in) "Yeah I think it definitely hurt. He could have had some more starts under his belt and some more time with (offensive coordinator) Kyle (Shanahan) and myself but he's worked through that and, you know, he played hurt the first three games of this season with his ankle. So we're very proud of where he's at right now. Hopefully we can keep it going."
(on RB Steve Slaton's fumbles) "He was exceptional last year, didn't do it. I think maybe he might be pressing a little bit this year, the fact that we haven't run the ball as well but that's still no excuse. You've got to protect the football and he knows that."
(on how the talks have been between him and RB Steve Slaton regarding the fumbles) "I can say all I want to say but he knows his job. He knows how bad it hurts the team. It's just something that he's got to focus on and make sure that it doesn't hurt his football team from that standpoint."
(on the right guard position) "I think we go right back and do what we did last week. They played pretty much down the middle. (G) Chris (White) was probably a little steadier but the young kid (C Antoine Caldwell) showed the flashes of why we drafted him and why we think he can be a starter in this league so I think we keep going and let them show us who deserves to be out there full time."
(on what he sees from the 49ers defense) "Their scheme—first off they're three-four so that's a change for us and you've got two edges that rush the quarterback very well. You've got arguably as good a middle linebacker as there is in the game and they have a shut down corner. Those things add up usually pretty good. And their coach is a pretty good defensive guy himself."
(on if he can see 49ers head coach Mike Singletary's attitude in the 49res defense) "No doubt. You can see it throughout his whole team: offense, defense, special teams. They're playing very hard, very physical, and they're a big challenge for us from that standpoint."
LB Brian Cushing(on how big of a deal is it that he was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week) "It is. Anytime something like that happens, it's special. It's an honor. I'm real happy about it. Of course, it doesn't mean anything if I don't come out and perform again this week."
(on not practicing today) "Sometimes the foot needs a little bit more rest than just a day or two off. It's a little significant of an injury, but nothing too serious. Obviously I played and I can play with it. It's just a little sore. It's not like it's going to hold me out of the game. I'm sure I'll come back to practice again later in the week and play again."
(on the San Francisco offense) "They're good. They're a tough football team all around. Offensively, they've got weapons. They got a new wide receiver coming back, a great tight end, a very good offensive line and a great running game. I believe, supposedly, (49ers RB) Frank Gore is playing this weekend, so it will be another good running back challenge to go against."
(on if they are an unknown commodity because 49ers WR Michael Crabtree and RB Frank Gore are back) "I don't think they're unknown. I think the league has recognized how well they've done this year. I think it's definitely going to add to the team. No one really knows what to expect from Crabtree, as far as how effective he'll be the first game. He obviously is a playmaker and Frank Gore has proven that a few years now. The question is how healthy he will be."
(on if the foot bothers him during games) "It's a little sore. I'd be lying if I said it didn't. It's a little sore and it can get a little pain in there, but nothing that I can't play through."
(on him and former teammate Clay Matthews being recognized for their successful starts) "It's an honor. I think he'll tell you the same thing. It's special. It only has been six games though, you know, it's a long season. We've proven we can help our team and that's our main goal, not to be ranked here or there. To help our defenses in their respected aspects as best we can."
(on his impressions of 49ers WR Michael Crabtree) "He's a flashy guy, on and off the field. He's a great football player and that's what matters most. He's got the job done for three years over there and I think he's looked good so far with San Francisco. I think he's going to be starting this weekend so it shows what they think of him."
WR Andre Johnson(on QB Matt Schaub leading the NFL in touchdown passes) "Yeah, it's a good thing. Like I've said before, I think Matt takes a lot of criticism and sometimes people need to stop talking and they can look at the numbers, and I think they speak for themselves. But at the same time, you want to win games, so that's the thing we focus on around here."
(on if people forget that QB Matt Schaub is still relatively young as a starting quarterback) "A lot of people that watch football, I don't think they really understand as far as the preparation and things that go into it. They only see what happens on Sunday; they don't know what we go through during the week, and one guy can't go out there and carry a team by himself. If he doesn't get protected, then I don't care who you put back there, you're not going to play well. They've been doing a good job of protecting him and like I said, he's been able to put up some good numbers."
(on him showing QB Matt Schaub the ropes when he first arrived in Houston) "Well, he was different. As soon as he signed, he called me, and I think that was real big of him. He didn't have to do that. He gave me a phone call and we didn't really get to talk like we wanted to because I was out on the beach, but I thought about that a lot, even after I got off the phone with him. Since the day he got here, we've just been communicating a lot. We talk about everything we see on the field and things like that. I have a bond with him that I didn't have with (former Texans QB) David (Carr) when he was here, so that was big of him."
(on QB Matt Schaub being the leader of the team despite not being very demonstrative) "I think that people have their own way of leading a team. The quarterback is the guy that runs everything on the offensive side of the ball, and (LB) DeMeco (Ryans), he runs everything on the defense, so you look at our two leaders on each side of the ball and neither one of them are big guys that talk a lot. I'm pretty sure people may say different things, that we may not have leaders or things like that, but you don't always have to run your mouth. You can do it by example."
(on the difficulty of getting the timing down if you haven't been working out with the team) "I think timing just develops by just knowing the person as a player. A lot of times me and (QB) Matt (Schaub) mis-timed, we came back and were still able to connect on certain things, but we know each other. We've done so much together to where it really doesn't take much for us to get it back going. You never know. He (San Francisco WR Michael Crabtree) might can come out here Sunday and have the game of his life and they might say, 'He missed some time but it didn't seem like it,' but it eventually kind of catches up with you. I think that him being in camp and going through the preseason and stuff would've helped him out a whole lot, but he had some things going on with his contract situation which is understandable. I'm just glad to see him here this season playing. I watched him a lot when he was in college and I think he's a great player, so I think the sky's the limit for him."
(on people comparing San Francisco WR Michael Crabtree to him) "I really don't know how big he is. I've heard that, I've heard the comparison, and like I said, I think he's a great player. He's a tremendous talent, and if he had the chance to go through training camp and get those preseason games under his belt, you really want to see what he would be doing right now in this league. He'll get his first chance on Sunday and I wish him all the best."
LB DeMeco Ryans(on what's changed with the run defense) "We finally found out how to be consistent in the run game. Guys are being true to their assignments. Nobody's trying to do too much. Everybody's doing their part. Everybody's doing their job. As you see, when everybody does their job and everybody's correct, we can stop the run."
(on what challenge Frank Gore presents) "He's another big challenge for us. Just like we faced last week with Cedric Benson, Frank Gore is a top running back in this league. He has the capability of tearing it up on us. We respect him and we definitely have to be honed up on our assignments and be in tune to what we're doing to put the fire out in the run game."
(on the importance of winning two straight games to build momentum) "It's very important. We're trying to get on a roll here, so it's very important to get this next one under our belt."
(on Brian Cushing winning the AFC Defensive Player of the Week award) "It's a huge honor. He's been playing his butt off. He's been doing a great job for us. We still have a lot of stuff to get better on, but he's a great player and going to continue to make big plays for us."
(on if he's proud to be a part of Cushing's accomplishment) "Oh yeah, I'm proud. Especially any time a linebacker gets an award I'm proud of him. It's great that he got defensive player of the week for our team, and Kevin Bentley got special teams player, so I'm proud when we can get the personal accolades."
QB Matt Schaub
(on how he explains his success) "We just have to keep playing. That's something that we're not even thinking about right now. It's about winning football games and right now, we have to go out and look for number four against a tough team in our house in San Francisco. That's all that matters right now."
(on what he is specifically doing to be successful) "We're just executing our offense as a group. For me to be doing what I'm doing and what our offense is doing, we have eleven guys in the huddle that are executing and playing hard and making plays. That's what it comes down to: completing passes, letting your guys work for you and making plays downfield. Our pass-blocking has been exceptional. If we just keep pounding the run and working at it and executing our passing game, we'll let the chips fall where they may."
(on what allows them to be able to execute on offense) "Just being detail oriented in our preparation, in our route running and our timing and what we're trying to do against certain coverages and looks the defense is doing. That's the bottom line, being able to adjust and continue to find ways to make plays."
(on when he took control of the huddle) "It's been developed over time. When I first got here, just getting used to the system and my teammates and what they do—their strengths and understanding my role and what I'm being asked to do. It's just been developing over time. In the offseason, that's just something you develop. I have such a good rapport with my teammates and we respect each other and know what we have to go out and do."
(on what it's like to have the weapons on offense that he does) "Well we've got a ton of weapons as you said. We've shown it every week, we've got guys that can make plays if you give them a chance in open space. Whether it's (WR) Andre (Johnson) or (WR) Kevin (Walter) or (TE) Owen (Daniels) working the middle of the field, (RB) Steve (Slaton) coming out of the backfield, (WR) David Anderson in our three receiver route sets, (WRs) Andre Davis and Jacoby (Jones) have shown what they can do when they come in there. They can make plays. It's just great to know as a quarterback to know that you've got a lot of weapons that you can use."
(on if this is the best he has felt since coming to Houston) "Definitely, just the comfort level with my guys. We've been together now for a few years. Things are starting to click and we are understanding our capabilities and what we can do when we play well."
(on how surprised he is that the play-action pass is continuing to work even without running the ball successfully) "We showed signs this past weekend. We had a few penalties that negated some of our longer runs, especially late in the game. We try to stick to it. We don't totally abandon our run game. We're still committed to it and if teams don't want to honor it, we'll be able to gash them and make big plays in the run game. I still have to honor it and understand that we do have weapons that can get by them in the secondary. It's just something that we have to continue to work on."
(on how important it is to be consistent and put together four quarters of football) "It's huge for us to go out there as three units, offense, defense, special teams, to play for a full 60 minutes and play well and to control the clock and the momentum of the game. Our defense played exceptionally well, especially in the second half, shutting their offense down. Our special teams provided some big plays. We hurt ourselves in every phase with some penalties and a couple turnovers, but we didn't let it bother us or affect us. We just kept playing football."
(on trying to put two games together) "We've got concentrate, much like we did going into last week, the same way. We've got to keep climbing that wall, as Coach says, and we're right back there at the wall and we just have to take the next step and put back-to-back wins together and play well. So that's what we've got to do."
(on if his unselfish receivers make it easier for him to pass) "Definitely, we've got a bunch of guys that are team-first guys and whatever it takes to help this team and whatever it takes to win. So it just makes my job easy knowing, hey, I've got a bunch of guys who are smart. They know where the holes are in the coverages and how to get open. It's my job to just deliver the football."
(on if he takes pride in having thrown the most touchdown passes by an NFL quarterback so far) "No, it's a team thing. We're 3-3 and we very much should be better than that, if we play our football and play good for four quarters. We just need to keep playing well and getting more wins and the rest of that stuff will take care of itself. If I was last and we were 6-0, we wouldn't be saying anything."
T Eric Winston(on if Houston's success with the play-action pass is surprising with the team's struggles running the ball) "No, because I think everyone still respects it (the run) and I think everyone knows what we're capable of, and I think they know if they weren't packing the box what would be going on. So I think we're doing it enough and we're staying with it enough and we're breaking enough runs where they still have to honor it, and they're kind of picking their poison."
(on trying to win back-to-back games for the first time this season) "Yeah, it's kind of important if you don't want to be .500. There's nothing really to talk about; we've got to go do it and that's really the bottom line. We can talk about it all day, but the fact is we've got to go out there and we've got to win a game at home."
(on the team putting together four quarters of good play) "It's a good feeling, especially since they're (Cincinnati) winning the AFC North right now. To beat a division leader like that is always big, especially at their place. I still think we left some points out there on offense – I really do. I feel like we could've put close to 40 on them, probably, but that's the things we've got to strive for. We've got to keep improving; we've got to keep getting better."
(on the offense's confidence level) "I feel like our quarterback (Matt Schaub) is playing about as good as any quarterback out there is playing right now. He's throwing touchdowns, he's been pretty accurate, he's not making any mistakes, making very few if that. So that's big. I think with our receiving corps and how fast they are and how dangerous they are, it's hard to really cover everybody. And now we're putting (RB Steve) Slaton in the flat, getting him out there on screens, slipping him in there, it's tough. I think if we can spread people out, we're tough to cover."
(on if the offensive linemen like screen plays and getting out and running) "Yeah, but that's the kind of offense we are. We've got a lot of different screens, we can run them a lot of different ways, and we can run them to a lot of different people, and that's kind of what we're made for. We're made to go out and run. We're not big burly guys, so we've got to use our speed to our advantage, and that's just one way to do it."
(on how QB Matt Schaub is different this year from last year) "You can just tell. Last year, I think Matt knew mostly everything, and now he definitely knows everything. And it's not, sometimes I think you're like, 'Oh, yeah, I don't think he knew where to go with the ball that time.' He knows every time when he's coming up to the line it seems like, and I don't know this for a fact, but that's the feeling you get when you're out there watching him throw and you're out there, you're with him in the meetings and stuff, that he knows exactly what to do with the ball on every play against every coverage."
(on if QB Matt Schaub's increased confidence gives the rest of the offense more confidence as well) "Oh, absolutely. I think anytime that you know that you have a hot hand back there, a guy who all you have to do is give him some time and he's going to pick someone apart, that's a great feeling. And that makes you want to do your job even more, knowing that, hey, if we just give him the time that he needs, he's going to be throwing some strikes down the field."
(on if he is surprised by the pace that QB Matt Schaub is on this season) "No, I'm not surprised in the sense that you could kind of see where it was going and the fact that I saw all of these receivers playing in OTA's, playing in camp and you started thinking. You're like, 'Well, we've got that guy and we've got this guy,' and, 'If they're going to cover those guys, how are they going to cover those guys?' That's the feeling you started getting and I'm glad we're spreading them out and letting him just pick them apart."