The Texans practiced outside Friday at the Methodist Training Center and after, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and some players answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Defensive Coordinator Wade PhillipsWR Andre JohnsonFS Danieal ManningWR Derrick Mason
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips(opening statement) "Mario's (Williams) surgery went well. We talked to the doctor, he had it today and they said everything went well and he's in good spirits. That's good news for him for the long term. Short term, certainly we got to get ready to play. We know it's going to be a tough game, but we prepared well and we worked hard and we're ready to go."
(on if there are any other health issues) "No, you know obviously our receiver is out, but I think everybody's probable for the game that had been held out a little bit."
(on if QB Matt Schaub is fully healthy for Sunday) "Matt (Schaub) practiced today and took the full practice again today, so it looks good for him."
(on the Ravens offense) "Well you look at the running back first. I mean Ray Rice has had a tremendous year so far and their running game has been spectacular. They've got (Joe) Flacco. They've got Anquan Boldin. They've got all the pieces that can give you problems. They have an excellent group."
(on if they have to scale anything back without having OLB Mario Williams) "As far as scaling things back, Brooks Reed has been working the whole time. In fact, he played all but nine plays of the last game and I thought he played pretty well. There's going to be a drop off obviously. There's going to be some things you can't do that you could do with the other guy, but people are going to have to step up."
(on if there is still a decision to made between cornerbacks Jason Allen and Kareem Jackson) "Well Kareem should be full speed this week, so that helps as far as our depth's concerned and guys playing in the ball game."
(on if OLB Brooks Reed replacing OLB Mario Williams changes his thinking) "Well there were certain things that we would run that Mario was going to rush no matter what. Now we have some versatility that they don't who's going to rush and who isn't. That helps a little bit, but we'd rather have Mario. We just had some special things that we did with Mario and you're not going to be able to do those things, but the rest of the stuff, like I said, we played in the ball game and I thought our group overall played pretty well."
(on how hard it is to develop synergy between players on the fly) "Well on the fly, it's a little tougher. It took us four or five weeks to get it done with Mario (Williams) in a new position. Hopefully it doesn't take four or five more weeks for those two (Brooks Reed and Antonio Smith), but there's going to be some uncertainty as to where the other guy's going to be because you just haven't played together that long."
(on what excites him about outside linebackers Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed) "Well, that's why we drafted Brooks Reed. We feel like he can come in and play this year, which he's done. Connor, we feel like a lot of people didn't know if he was going to be an outside backer or not, but I think he's played pretty well too. It's good that we have both those guys."
(on S Ed Reed) "Ed Reed's spectacular. He's a Hall of Fame safety. There's not many Hall of Fame players playing right now and he's one of them. He's an outstanding player that has great instincts. He can be in the deep middle and intercept a play in the curl and then run it all the way back for a touchdown. You got to be very aware of where he is."
(on ILB Ray Lewis) "Ray Lewis is the same way. The guy's been playing for a long, long time, but he's been playing a tremendously high level for a long time, which is really hard to do. He continues to play that well and he's certainly a leader of the time. The other thing they have is they've had this guy calling the defenses and calling audibles for a long, long time too, which helps."
WR Andre Johnson(on if he made progress this week) "I feel like I made some progress. I feel like I've been getting better every day. I've been running for the past couple days, so just trying to get back to where I was."
(on if he knows when he will return) "No, we still don't have a timetable on it. We're just taking it day by day. I've just been working. I'm just trying to do everything I can to get back out on the field."
(on if he had his stitches removed this week) "Yeah, I had those taken out earlier during the week, so those have been out."
(on how good it's felt to run at practice) "Well, I think not only am I surprising myself, I think I've surprised a lot of people because for them to see me over there just moving around a week after having the procedure was done. I'm just taking it a day at a time trying to get better every day, trying not to have any setbacks. We haven't had any setbacks so far, so that's a positive thing. I'll do more treatment tomorrow, but I won't run tomorrow and we'll get back out on the field Monday and run again and see how I feel. We just keep trying to progress."
(on if he has a better feel for when he might return) "No, I don't know. I don't really have a set point at anything. I just hope to be back as soon as possible. That's my main goal, but at the same time, you want to me smart about it. I'm just taking it one day at a time. That's pretty much it."
(on if there's anything he's been able to do that's surprised him so far) "I just think the way I've been moving around out on the field has been surprising to everybody. I have a lot of the coaches come by and say 'Hey man, we can't believe that you just had this done a week ago and you're out there moving around.' I don't know. I'm just hoping that it heals faster than what it's been healing so I can get back out there with my teammates."
(on if he has to be careful to not do too much too soon) "Yeah, you definitely have to be very careful. When I'm out there on the field doing little drills or things like that, they're always asking me how I'm feeling. Am I feeling any pulling or anything like that? The biggest thing is not having any setbacks, so that's the thing we're trying to stay away from."
(on if he's ever had any hamstring issues in the past) "No, this is my first time ever dealing with anything hamstring-wise. It's different, but at the same time, it's just a little process I have to work through. I'll get through it and I'll be back out on the field."
(on how well he knew WR Derrick Mason before he joined the Texans) "Well I actually didn't know him very well. I just knew him from playing against him, but I didn't really know him. Just from talking to him in the past few days, he seems like a real good guy, very knowledgeable of the game and I think he's going to come in and help out a whole lot. I'm very excited about having him in."
(on if WR Derrick Mason asks him a lot of questions about the offense) "He asks a few questions, but I mean he's seen it all. He's been in the game 15 years, so he's seen it all. He pretty much knows what to expect."
(on how hard it is to not be able to play) "It's very frustrating just to sit there and watch your team out on the field and knowing that if you can be out there and help, maybe things could be different. That's probably the most frustrating part, especially sitting there watching the Raiders game last week. That was a real frustrating point for me."
(on if he has much interaction with the coaches and players during the game to offer advice) "I mean if I see something, I'll say something, but they're calling the game. I can't call the game. But definitely if you see something, you may give a suggestion or whatever. If they agree with what you see, then maybe they'll call it. It's just like if I was out on the field and I'd seen something. It's the same thing. If you see something, you definitely want to try to bring it to their attention."
(on if he can see himself playing 15 years like WR Derrick Mason) "15? Man, I don't know. I always said I was going to get to 10 and see how I felt, see how my body felt and that's one year away. It came pretty fast, but I don't know. Hopefully. For him to be playing 15 years, you look at the way he's running around out there, he looks like he has fresh legs. Most guys that play 15 years, they're not out there running like he's running. He's been doing a great job taking of care of his body and making sure he's healthy when he's out there. Hopefully if I could stay healthy like him, maybe I could."
(on how his body feels after nine years) "It's alright. It's not bad, but I've been banged up here and there. I still feel like I have a lot of years left to play."
(on if he's going to Baltimore) "Yeah, with the knee I didn't, but I'll be travelling. I didn't travel with my knee because I was in a brace, but I'm fine. I can move around and everything, so I'll be travelling with the team."
(on if he would rather be at the game than stay at home) "Yeah, I can't sit home and watch it. Even when the game I got hurt, I was in here trying to watch the game. They didn't want me to come out and I couldn't help it. I was just like 'Man, I'm going out there.' You definitely want to be there. Even though you can't play, you definitely want to be there to support your teammates."
FS Danieal Manning
(on what the Texans will need to do in order to beat Baltimore) "If we stop them from running; they're definitely going to try and come in, and we match their physical (play) or even be more physical than those guys, we're definitely going to come out of this game with a win."
(on how to be more physical than Baltimore) "You don't let up. You just keep going. It's like a UFC fight or a boxing match, 12 rounds, you've got to continue to take those licks and you put those licks on them."
(on returning kicks and playing full-time on defense) "I don't look at that because I feel like I want to help the team win as much as I can. If I could do more, that's what I would like to do. Quite naturally, you're going to get tired, but we've got great guys that can come in and back up and do what they need to do to get you out there for that next down, so as much as I can do to help this team win, that's what I want to do."
(on whether he talked to Head Coach Gary Kubiak about being on the field too much) "No, I never said anything about it. I don't have a problem with it, but at the same time, I've got to be coachable and got to be able to let the coaches sort some things out. If he asks me a question if I get winded or anything, I'll just be truthful with him, but I haven't been winded."
(on Baltimore FS Ed Reed) "Since he came into the League, the guy's always been making plays. He's just a ball hawking safety. He's just got a knack for the ball, and he also comes across as one of those guys that want to always make plays. He's definitely a great teacher of the game and a great student of the game. You can tell the way he watches film, certain defenses he's lined up in that you know he's supposed to play a certain responsibility and he goes and makes a play somewhere else, that's just being a great player. At this point in my career, you're not allowed to do those certain things, so I wouldn't go that far with it. I take my hat off to Ed (for) the plays that he makes and just being a good football player."
WR Derrick Mason(on all the players he's played with throughout his career) "I've played with a lot of good people, a lot of good players. I've never played alongside with a receiver of 'Dre's (Andre Johnson) caliber. I think playing with 'Quan (Anquan Boldin) was great. He's a very good player. I played with a guy by the name of Kevin Dyson, a first round draft pick in Tennessee, very good player, but his career ended short because of injuries. He was going to be a good one. But someone of 'Dre's caliber, I've never played with. It's good. Santonio (Holmes) was great. Plaxico (Burress) was great, but I think he's probably the best receiver in the League right now. But I've had a lot of fun in 15 years. Three teams, has it been three teams or four teams or something like that? Three or four teams and have had a lot of fun, so I'm just hoping this year can end up where I want it to end up and that's in the Super Bowl."
(on what the key has been to his longevity in the NFL) "I've been blessed. I work hard in the offseason, but I think a lot of other players work as well. I try to beat my body up as much as I can in an offseason, so when I get in the season, it's pretty easy. I've just been blessed. I haven't had any major injuries and I think that's what kind of curtails a lot of players' careers. They get an injury in year four or five and can't quite get over it. They're not the same players, but I've been blessed that I haven't had any injuries to my knees and that's always a good thing."
(on what he brings to the offense) "Some veteran leadership. Not to say they don't have it, but it's always good to have an extra guy, especially on offense, and that reliability factor. I've been reliable and consistent over my career, so I think that's what I bring to the table, consistency. You can't put enough money a person that's consistent, so hopefully I can continue it for the season."
(on what he was doing when he got the call that he would be traded to the Texans) "I had just come back from Nashville visiting my family. I got back to New Jersey and my agent called and said 'There's a possibility that you will be traded to Houston and it'd be a win-win situation for you. You get to go to an organization that's making a strong push towards the playoffs and you'd be going into an offense that loves to utilize their wide outs.' I said okay and then I got a call from (New York Jets Head Coach) Rex (Ryan) and he told me what was going on and I said 'Hey, I'm good with it. I can pick up the pieces and roll with anything.'"
(on if it's strange that he started off in Houston and is now back in Houston) "Yeah, it came full circle. I started off here in Houston for two weeks with the number 82. Then we moved to Nashville and it changed to 85, not because I wanted to, but because I was forced to. But I've always said, it's not the number that makes the man; it's the man that makes the number. To come back full circle to Houston and have 82 on again, I think it's a good thing. There's a lot of good that I know will come out of all this."
(on the importance of having playoff experience) "It's very important because the caliber of play jumps in the playoffs. You've might have beat a team twice in the regular season, but it's hard to, especially if you don't have that experience, to beat a team in the playoffs because teams get very specific with what they're doing and it's a one-game elimination. So as a veteran, you understand what it takes to win in the playoffs and some young guys that you have, you're able to talk to them and let them know and understand that 'Hey, today you have to play your best football. There's no next week. You got to be able to put your best foot forward and hopefully it gets you into that next following week.'"