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Quotes: Friday practice


Head Coach Gary Kubiak TE Owen Daniels

K Shayne Graham

S Danieal Manning

ILB Barrett Ruud

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Head Coach Gary Kubiak

(on the team's health) "We're 100 percent. All of our guys are fine and accounted for.  It was a good week, (we're) healthy, so we're ready to go. So no problems physically."

(on if that's a new policy) "Policy? Yeah, today it is. It's just been good. We've had a good week."

(on if TE Garrett Graham is good to go) "Yeah, he's good. He's fine. I mean, he practiced all week. He's good to go. He had a really good day today, so he's fine."

(on if TE Garrett Graham's process of going through health protocol) "Yeah, you go through the protocol that he had to go through. I think there's five stages and I think he finished stage five this morning at about seven o'clock. He's been accounted for all week and been a part of practice, but he's cleared to go."

(on how big it is to have TE Garrett Graham healthy) "It's very big, because we use those guys so much and we've went all year really with two tight ends and been very fortunate as a team. We've missed him a couple of times during the season and obviously it affects us. Some of the things. It's good to have him back. He makes a lot of plays. He made a lot of plays last week, so we're counting on him again."

(on having this many guys healthy at this time of the year) "Yeah, I think we've been through the beat up part with the inside linebacker issue and some of those things. But we've got some guys back. And I think the biggest thing for our team, especially last week is (OLB) Brooks (Reed) comes out of the game healthy. That was huge for our linebacking corps. I think (RT Derek) Newton is probably feeling as good as he's felt in the last six weeks because he's played hurt for us. So that's really, really big and we got an extra day this week and we could use it and it really helped in the long haul." 

(on the biggest thing the staff and players learned from the last New England game) "Hopefully you learn from every time you go out. I think the biggest thing is we know what type of effort it's going to take, the level we're going to have to raise ourselves to, to go in there and get a win. Not that you don't know that, but I think our football team, at the time we went in there, had a lot of confidence, was playing good, a lot of people patting them on the back, a lot of good things going on, and all of a sudden, 'Boom.' So we know what we're walking into. We know what type of team we're playing, and the reputation that they've had and earned over a period of time here. But we've had a really good week. We're very confident in ourselves and looking forward to the challenge."

(on making mistakes, but coming back on the next play to make a play) "Yeah, that's been my approach. That was my approach with them last week, it continues to be my approach. I thought after some of the things we went through in the last month, I thought I saw a little apprehension in some things that we were doing. Obviously we had some penalties, we were worried about that. We had this going on, that going on. I just think sometimes we weren't playing as fast as we've normally played, so our message last week was about speed overcoming mistakes and cutting it loose and it's been the same way this week. For us to win when we go in there, we have to make plays all over the place. There's not one thing we have to do to win this game. We're going to have to make plays all over the place. Young guys are going to have to play well. So that's been our mindset the whole time and continued to be."

(on the opportunity for big plays with Danieal Manning returning kicks) "Well I know we have an excellent chance. He's done it before in this league. He's made some big plays. I think he'll be better this week after getting a few touches last week. He's worked all week. He's ready to go do it again. But to go do something like we're fixing to go try to do, I think we've got to make a big play in a phase like that. We've got to make a big return, whether it's punt return or kick return. Whether we go out there and block a kick or something. We have to have big plays from every area. It's not like we have to survive on special teams, we have to do some great things there, too."

(on what worries him right now) "You know what, I'm excited. I don't know if anything worries me right now. I'm excited about our team. I'm excited about the players. I told the players just now I'm just so impressed with how they prepared this week and went about their business. They're very focused in what's going on. We have a lot of time on our hands between now and game time so we just need to stay locked into what we're doing. But I just want them to cut it loose, go have some fun and make some plays. If we're going to get it done, that's what we've got to do."

(on if he said anything to the team about the way the regular season played out) "I'm not sure. I think I keep reminding them. I'm going to try to answer your question. I think in this league it's funny how things happen. We could have maybe lost three or four early in the season then won seven or eight in a row, then the talk is different at the end of the year. What we went through, obviously we didn't play as good at the end of the year. So we were struggling with some of that. My biggest thing as a coach is to remind them of all of the positive things they have done. Why they're there, why they're in this position. Whether we're 16-0 or a Wild Card team, your biggest goal is to be in the final four. And that's this weekend. You'd be playing either way. So they need to understand that, be very proud of that aspect and how hard they've worked to be back there. Now let's go enjoy it and let's be a better football team down there this time than we were, what was it, four or five weeks ago."

(on if he draws from his playoff experience to motivate his team) "You know, I do. But I think every situation is so different. I talk to them sometimes. I've mentioned to the guys this week  I've been a part of a 13-3 team that was a one-seed and the table looked set and we got beat by an 8-8 team. I've been there. I've been on a 10-6 Wild Card team that people didn't think we had any chance to go on the road twice and we did that and won a Super Bowl. I just know it's about the moment. It's about how good you are in the moment so I just try to remind them of that and I think they've gotten that message. I think our guys understand that. They know it's all about how we play. It's not where we play. It's about how we're going to play, how we're going to perform."

(on what are some of the things he took from last year going on the road in the second round of the playoffs) "Yeah it's a lot the same, it is. We're going into a same type of environment. Any environment you go into in the playoffs is going to be. So we have a tough environment, so that's gets down to poise. So we have to handle that. I think going on the road last year, being, we're right there in the fourth quarter, had an excellent chance to win that football game, can you go get yourself right back in the same situation and then make the play or two that's the difference in winning and losing. So hopefully we can draw from some of that. At least we have a locker room full of guys. I shouldn't say full. We have a lot of new faces. But we've got a majority of our locker room who have been in this situation and just recently a year ago, so we should draw from some of that."

(on the rotation of G Brandon Brooks and G Ben Jones and how important it is that they've played alongside RT Derek Newton) "Well, we're going to continue to play the way we've played. We're going to play, (G) Ben (Jones) is going to play. (G) Brandon (Brooks) is going to play. We're going to continue our rotation. Brandon has come a long ways as a young player, as you've noticed, I'm sure. He's played more and more over the course of the last month. We do have a lot of confidence in him. The fact that (RT Derek) Newton has been back healthy and they're getting all those reps side by side I think helps too. With us with Brandon, it's kind of a confidence thing. When he goes in, if it's looking right and he's handling it then he's probably going to play more and more. So just trying not to put him in a bad situation as a coach and bring him along the right way."

(on if he has ever seen a team use two tight ends better than the New England Patriots) "They're interesting. A lot of people will spread the field, but not a lot of people will spread it with two tight ends and two wides, and even in this case, sometimes three tight ends. So they do it a different way. They don't mind the matchup of the tight end against a corner or a safety. They feel so confident in those guys. It is a different dynamic that we're facing defensively and there's no secret. They spread everybody out and let 12 (QB Tom Brady) go to work. So I'm sure we're going to see it again and we're going to have to do a good job against it."

TE Owen Daniels

(on being balanced on offense by spreading the ball) "You know, we're spreading the ball around to a lot of people and it keeps defenses off balance and makes them have to be pretty conscious of a lot of different things going on. We'll do what we do and hopefully we'll stay balanced and things will work out that way."

(on how important it is to have TE Garrett Graham healthy) "Very important. (TE Garrett Graham) is a big part of what we do and we missed him last time we were up there. Hopefully he can add a bit to what we're doing and hopefully he'll get the chance to make some plays. Definitely being able to have us both around and (FB) James (Casey) in there as well is a big part of what we do."

(on the importance of having a backup tight end) "We do so much of that stuff. We do so much two-tight end, three-tight end stuff and we have to start using a tackle as an extra tight end. It's not really conducive to what we're doing offensively in terms of moving guys around and just doing what we typically do. Having two healthy guys, three healthy guys is important. And we work our butts to have those guys available."

(on the excitement of the locker room) "It's pretty exciting. Everybody has kind of got smiles on their faces. We had a really good week of work. We're just ready to go out and play some ball, man. It's one of the bigger games we've ever played in, probably the biggest, but we don't want to make it out to be like that. But I think most of us are just excited to play ball and we feel really good about being in this situation and are ready for a second chance at those guys. We know we're not getting much of a chance, getting much of a chance from outsiders, but we don't really care about that stuff. We're excited about what we got going on this week and moving on this week after we play last week."

(on if it's an advantage that no one is giving them a chance) "It's pressurized, this game is. I feel like we don't have to put much pressure on ourselves. We've been counted out. We've been looked over. It doesn't matter what. We're going to go out there and be physical and do what we do and probably surprise some people."

(on how good it felt to beat Cincinnati last week) "Yeah it felt really good to really contribute like that. At that point in time, obviously it means a lot to me. We just have to take advantage of your opportunities. You don't know how many you're going to get. I couldn't tell you week to week how many opportunities I'm going to get, but it's up to each guy to take advantage of those. We have lots of guys who can make plays, and it just so happened that it found my hand a bunch of times last week."

(on being a great complement to WR Andre Johnson on the field) "Well it's easy to play with Dre (WR Andre Johnson). He gives us so many more opportunities to do stuff. They're always putting a couple of guys on him, which often times leads to man coverages that we enjoy facing and we accept that challenge in terms of beating that. If I can help him out in any way, that's even better. But there are so many guys that can make plays around here that if we get more than just a couple of guys involved, it's so much more to deal with and worry about defensively."

(on doing things that never have been done before) "It's just another one of those things that have come up. It's a year for a lot of firsts. It's not our first time up there this year though. So we've had that experience. We've been on the road in the Divisional round before, so hopefully we can take all of those experiences and apply it to what goes on Sunday."

K Shayne Graham

(on his memories of playing for the Patriots when the lost to the New York Jets in the playoffs after the 2010 season) "I don't think anyone was happy after that game, especially knowing the season was over and we had really high expectations. But that's why games aren't played on paper. You play them over and over, and that's why the playoffs are a completely new season. Everything that happened during the season doesn't matter. It's all what happens now and how we execute now. And being with the Texans, I think we're preparing to play our best game and not have any thoughts about what happened last game." 

(on how his playoff experience helps) "Well, I think really it's just a matter of going about your normal process. You don't really do anything different. If you press or get too tight then you make it easier to make mistakes; so I think if you stay loose, you prepare the same way you always prepare and you keep your normal processes and routines, and I think that's what we've done around here."

(on improving in his kickoff game) "I think a lot of it wasn't necessarily leg strength; I just wasn't hitting the ball the right way. I put some work in my off week and continued to work on my kickoffs and I even continued to work and drill until I started to hit the ball better and figuring out my swing. I feel that I need to continue to work on that for the rest of my career, but hopefully I'll be able to help the team out a little bit more than I had earlier in the year. I've had a lot more touchbacks in the second half of the season, and hopefully that continues."

(on if he keeps a jersey form every team he's played for) "I do have a jersey of every team I've been on and I almost am running out of wall space for them in my house.  Hopefully I won't have to deal with that too much longer."

(on how many teams he has been with) "It's been a lot. A lot of people are like, 'You've had a good career. Why so many teams?' But a lot of it hasn't been, 'You're not good enough to be here anymore.' It's just, 'You were here while somebody else was injured. You did well, but when that injury heals, you played two games and you're out.' And that's just the nature of the game. You see that, and you saw that around the League with a few different kickers this year. You had guys fill in. That's just how it works. Sometimes you just have to play it as you get it. If that's the opportunity you get, that's the opportunity that you get; and you don't look at it as a slight or you're not good enough, you just move onto the next situation."

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S Danieal Manning

(on how to beat a team like the Patriots) "I think for the most part when you're playing a team like this you just want to make sure that you're playing at the best at your game. You can't go in, in this game worried about what that team is good at. You have to make sure you're playing right and staying focused and shoring up on what you do on defense. All your calls, all your checks, make sure we're doing that and putting ourselves in the best position."

(on playing loose and making plays in this game) "That's what we've been doing to get to the playoffs and that's what got us in the playoffs. That's how we've played on offense, defense and special teams. Whenever you're able to be comfortable with what we were running and everybody is into it we play at our best. That's how we play Houston Texans football. And we play our best when we're at that point."

(on if he feels like he's close to making a big play on special teams) "Well I had only two, three returns and the whole time I've been back there has been in the postseason. And there's a lot going into that, but I'm feeling comfortable with the returns and the guys that are blocking. And you have to get comfortable with those guys and they have to get comfortable with the returner back there. Me and (WR) Keshawn (Martin) run differently, we have different running styles. But with all that, I feel like we have time and we mesh together now. And it just takes some reps, and I was able to get some. I feel comfortable back there."

(on what they take from the way the 49ers played New England) "I don't know if we're going to take any of that. I just said earlier I think it's what we do. If we get off and like, 'Look, what the 49ers did,' or 'Look how this team played them.' We're not the 49ers or the other team. This is the way we prepare around here and we have to play our style of ball. And we don't have those players and things like that. We don't' have those coaches. This is the team and this is the team we're with. And this is how we're going to prepare and this is how we're going to play. We're going to play our style of ball."

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ILB Barrett Ruud

(on how the Patriots disrupt defenses) "I think the biggest thing playing against this team is to know your own job very well. The way they get a lot of people is pre-snap, people aren't lined up right or they're confused what to do, and sometimes it's just a matter of overthinking things. So the biggest thing is just pre-snap, get aligned and then just do your job. The Patriots, they're a very smart team and there's a reason. (Bill) Belichick, he prides himself on bringing in a lot of smart players, versatile players that can do a lot of things. So the biggest thing is to not overcomplicate yourself, get lined up and then just do your job, don't overthink things too much."

(on if getting lined up correctly and just doing your job on defense is easier said than done against the Patriots) "Yeah it is. It's very much easier said than done, but it's what you have to do, at least in my mind. I think looking back at the last time we played them, most of the mistakes. They had a couple of deep balls they made some good plays on, but most of it was just us not doing our job and them, they don't make many mistakes. You definitely can't beat yourself if you're going to try to beat them."

(on the importance of getting pressure on QB Tom Brady as well as playing tight coverage) "Yeah, it goes hand-in-hand. You have to cover well and you have to rush well. Against great quarterbacks you definitely can't let them sit back there and go one-two and find his open guy. The way we play coverage, we play tight coverage, so usually he has to hold it a little bit longer, so yeah, it always does tie hand-in-hand though. The rush has to be there and the coverage has to be there against a guy like him. And he's got a veteran receiving corps, too. They know the weaknesses of every defense and they know the ways to cheat things. It's a total defensive effort to stop them."

(on how important it is for the other rushers besides DE J.J. Watt to get hits on the quarterback) "Yeah I think the biggest thing is every time you're a rusher, you have to have a defensive lineman's mentality. I think sometimes maybe a defensive back or a linebacker, a lot of times when they blitz and if they do get blocked a lot of times they kind of just get up and say, 'Well, if I'm here then maybe somebody else is free.' I think everybody has to have the mentality of 'I have to win this down. If I do get blocked, I have to beat my guy and get to him.' Because when you do bring pressure, usually you're leaving yourself out a little bit in the back end. So it's that much more responsibility on the blitzers to get home."

(on how the team shook off the struggles at the end of the regular season to win in the playoffs) "I guess to answer that, I think the good things is we played right away. We had a short week and we didn't have time to really think back to the end of the season. Like you said, once the playoffs come, it is a new season. Everybody wants to have that first round bye and all that, but once the regular season is done, it's one week at a time and you have to figure out how to win one game. I think the best thing for us is we were able to turn around quickly and play. In all honesty we weren't even thinking about the last month, it was, 'How do we beat the Bengals?' And right now we have one team we're thinking about now. So it's basically trying to focus one game at a time because that's all you can do in the playoffs."

(on the team moving on from losing to the Colts in the last game of the regular season) "Obviously we knew going into the last game against the Colts that we had a chance to really control everything. Unfortunately we lost, but there was no moping around, no 'We should be off this week.' It was a big sense of urgency to beat the Bengals. And maybe that was good for us. Obviously everybody fights for the home field bye, but when you don't get it, you can't sit there and dwell on it. You have to figure how to win one game. And we did that the first round and we're trying to do that for the second one."

(on the Patriots' offensive system) "I think that they have a unique system where I think it's sort of like (QB) Peyton Manning where I think it is (QB Tom Brady's) offense. I think he's been around long enough where it's the plays he wants to run, it's the concepts he likes. And what they do differently than anybody is they have a lot of versatile players. They'll have a tight end playing wide receiver one play. They'll have a receiver in the backfield. They'll have a tight end playing fullback. So they take advantage of having versatile players and it creates matchup problems on defense. And if you let that fool you before the snap, you can really get out of whack. That's the biggest thing when you're playing him is he knows his offense better than anybody. You just have to make sure you get lined up and do your job. You can't over think things and don't make it harder than it already is."

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