Texans head coach Gary Kubiak answered questions from the media Monday at Reliant Stadium. The following is a transcript of the press conference.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on why some players call the Texans dirty and if it bothers him) "It doesn't bother me. We're going to put 46 guys out there and play as hard as we can play. Other than that, I've got no comment on it."
(on cut blocking) "It's just part of what we do. We think to be good running the football, you've got to do the little things in the run game, especially on the back side that create space for your players. It's just something that we think is important to being successful."
(on if there are any new injuries) "No, just Sharp (Darryl Sharpton). He'll have surgery sometime this week, guys. I'll let you know. It'll probably be midweek. Other than that, we came out okay. Andre (Johnson) did work out today, so we'll see where he's at Wednesday and then James (Casey) came through the game with no setbacks. Other than the big loss of Sharp, everybody else seemed to come out okay."
(on how important the depth on the team has been) "Well throughout the course of an NFL season because it is such a difficult season, you're going to get tested and some years are better than others. Some years you stay clean. Other years, you get really tested. That's why you're always trying to build depth and competition on your roster. We've got our issues right now. That's five guys in five weeks that we're having to replace and have guys step in and do a good job. But I think the confidence of your football team can lift those guys up. When they get put in position to go play like Troy Nolan yesterday, for Kevin (Walter) and Jacoby (Jones) to have to take over for Andre (Johnson), the confidence of your team and people believing in those guys, that helps them respond to the challenges that they have. I think just the confidence of the group overall in all three phases, we feel like, 'Hey, if we lose a guy, then we've got guys working that will step in and do their job. Let's help them out.' I think it's something you… I always tell you guys, you don't replace a player with a player. You kind of just got to get better as a group around the football team and I think that's what we've been able to do."
(on ILB Tim Dobbins' role with ILB Darryl Sharpton out) "Well, Tim can basically kind of be our backup at both inside spots. Tim is a veteran player. We went and got Tim because he knows (Defensive Coordinator) Wade's (Phillips) defense, has been with Wade before, so he'll give us the ability to come in and play two spots. But we've got to fill that spot and we'll do that probably tomorrow at some point. We've got to bring that next body in that can go in there and play behind those guys and also be another asset to (Special Teams Coordinator) Joe (Marciano) because Sharp did play so many special teams, so we've got a move to make here."
(on how hopeful he is that WR Andre Johnson will be able to play this week) "Well I think the key right here for us is to keep Andre positive. It has only been four weeks. We knew that's what we were dealing with. You got to understand how Andre works. He wanted to be back out there two weeks ago. He had a good week of work last week. He did work today. There's still some tightness, some stiffness and that type of thing, but we're very encouraged by the progress that he has made and we'll see where he's at this week. We will not force the issue. We will put Andre back out there when he's totally ready to go and feels comfortable doing that and hopefully that's this week. I think it's still a day at a time."
(on FBs James Casey and Lawrence Vickers) "I was a little concerned. We brought James back this week. We needed him. He really helped us in special teams before the day was over. But I think it was important we got through this game with him clean because he was still playing a little nicked up. I got to be smart with James as I bring him along, but he will continue to be a big part of what we're doing. He is overcoming a tough injury himself, but he fought through for the team yesterday, so I think you should only see him get better is what I'm saying."
(on third-and-1 situations) "We had a couple. I think we had two yesterday where we didn't make it, but then we had a huge one in fourth quarter where we lined up and scored a touchdown on a big third-and-1. That's a mindset. They had nine people down there in the box. That's a lot of people to try to run the ball, but you got to believe you can do that. You don't get that belief or get good at it if you run away from that situation, so we'll keep lining up, taking our shot and we just got to do a better job coaching, putting them in a little better position. But we got to do a better job blocking and running too. If we're going to make a statement as a team, we got to believe we can get a yard against anyone anywhere, so we're going to continue to do that."
(on the secondary) "The whole group played well. J-Joe (Johnathan Joseph) didn't get a lot of work yesterday, but he played 60-something plays. He's playing extremely well. Kareem (Jackson) and Jason (Allen) both played very well. Jason factored huge in the game. I think he had three pass breakups, had a big interception. GQ (Glover Quin) continues to play well. Troy (Nolan) came in and played well and Troy tackled well. That's what we were very encouraged by, Brice (McCain). The group has been working well together. We went to work yesterday without Danieal (Manning) so I was encouraged that we kept playing well. We kept communicating well. That's a big step forward."
(on the key to the mentality of 'keep moving forward' despite injuries) "Well I think it is. It's just a mentality. They don't stop things. You got to go play the next week and you've got to stay upbeat. I think what I was trying to say a while ago when they were asking me, other players lift those guys. Troy Nolan starts. They take him under their week. 'Troy, we're going to be fine. Just get out there. We got your back. It's going to be fine' and that's been our mentality as a football team. We've had to deal with losing Andre (Johnson) before a couple times and that's a really difficult process for us, but we've been able to continue to push. I think it's just the team's mentality and not giving themselves reasons not to succeed, but saying we're going to succeed, so to speak."
(on the long opening drive in yesterday's game) "We started the game excellent. We were three-for-three on third downs, made some big plays, struggled the next three times we touched the ball, had the big turnover. I have to give them some credit. They're good up front. They're a very good football team. We knew it would be a battle against their defense. I think they were sixth going into the game, but we kept grinding. I was disappointed how we played in the second quarter. Came back out in the third quarter and did the same thing, struggled to make a couple short yardage plays, but played like a champion in the last six minutes. The NFL is full of big swings in the game, big momentum swings. Usually that's how it works and how you respond to those things has a lot to do with whether you win or lose. We got a lot that we can get better off of from the game yesterday, but there's an awful lot of good things that we need to hang on to and keep working."
(on the challenge process and how it can get better) "Need to win some, huh? Well, two tough plays yesterday and big plays. Kevin's (Walter) is a first-and-10 at the 10 if he is in. We got a seven-point lead. We thought we saw enough evidence to give it a shot. I got to make that decision. I'm wrong, so it's on me. The last one, thought there was a good chance that he was down before the ball came out. That play wins or loses a game. If we don't fumble the dang ball right there, the game's over, so I got to take a shot right there, but I'm 0-for-2, so it's all on me. Hopefully we get better."
(on RB Arian Foster saying FB Lawrence Vickers has become more comfortable in the offense as the weeks progress) "He's right. He keeps getting better. He was better yesterday. There's a lot of things we can help Lawrence with from a teaching standpoint or the way he's been taught to play this position before and what we ask our fullback to do. He's responding to that, so I see him getting better every week. He played very good on special teams. They're a good special teams unit. We had problems on the edge when we were punting. We moved Lawrence to the edge in the game and he did a heck of a job on one of the top special teams players in football. Lawrence is helping this team more each and every week."
(on TE Joel Dreessen) "Well, he's not unheralded in this room. I can tell you that. He and OD (Owen Daniels) were excellent in the football game. They continue to make big plays. OD was the offensive player of the game, but I tell you Joel always steps up and does good things for us, blocking well, plays a lot of plays of offense, plays for (Special Teams Coordinator) Joe (Marciano). Joel's one of those grinders, just a true pro. You get the same thing every week from him."
(on if he plans to revisit the team's challenge process based on the lack of success) "No, we just got a bunch of eyes looking at it and I get all their opinions, but I'm the guy that's got to throw the flag, so it's all on me. It's a quick process and hopefully we get better at it, but I thought we needed to challenge those two plays."
(on if he will continue to play CB Kareem Jackson for two series and CB Jason Allen for one) "Well if you look at our playtime right now, they're 55 and 50, so they're split right down the middle. A lot of that probably comes from the fact that Kareem missed two games, but we think we got two guys playing extremely well. Like I said, I think they're both starters. They'll continue to contribute and both continue to play."
(on if he plans on using CBs Kareem Jackson and Jason Allen the same way he's been using them) "I don't know. It's week-to-week. We prepare. We watch them prepare. Kareem's the starter. Jason's going to play. Sometimes Johnathan (Joseph) comes out of games, so that may end up getting Jason more plays. But the bottom line, we got to play good whoever we play."
(on if CB Johnathan Joseph comes out to keep everyone fresh) "Yeah, he's obviously the guy that plays the most plays. He played 63 football plays in the game. That's a lot of plays to play, but that is encouraging that he's able to do that. You're always looking for balance. It's kind of like Arian (Foster) and (Ben) Tate yesterday. I don't like the way the numbers came out. I think they would have come out different if we don't fumble the ball because I think Ben's fixing to get probably five, six, seven more carries right there late in the game. But when you come out of it, you wish you'd been a little bit more balanced in what you were doing. You always go in trying to get it to a certain point depending on how the games go. Sometimes it's not going to happen, but being successful is the key of the day if we're able to do that."
(on how much more CB Johnathan Joseph means for leadership with FS Danieal Manning out) "He's a leader. He and Danieal are leaders, but I think GQ (Glover Quin) has taken on that responsibility too. GQ has got a lot of confidence in what he's doing. Just defensively right now, we've got a lot of confidence as a group, so when that's going on and we're playing as well as we're playing there, I think more and more guys have a tendency to lead in their own way. I think our leadership is growing on that side of the ball."
(on ILB Brian Cushing's performance this season) "I'll just repeat myself. Like I told you guys, he's playing as good as anybody I've seen on film. I think he's taken his knowledge of the game right now to a new level and his study habits and his work habits. He's cheating really well and what I mean by that is when you study hard and you know what's going on, he's able to really cheat to make plays. Just really proud of Brian's effort right now. His teammates see it. He was the defensive player of the game. He's all over the field yesterday, but that's been very consistent."
(on if he thought about going for it on fourth-and-7 at the Jacksonville 36-yard line) "No, in that ball game, I would punt the ball every time. I just that before the day was over, we needed to keep them pinned back there and not flip the field position that early in the game. I told Neil (Rackers) I had confidence he'd make the kick, but I just think the game we were in and who we were playing, we needed to pin them back there. It was a mindset going into the game."
(on the Cleveland Browns) "I haven't really gotten started. I just got through with the guys a few minutes ago. It looks like on paper a lot like what we just faced last week, a team I think they're fifth or sixth in defense. They've been playing very good defense. They got a good young quarterback who we all know around here very well, who's very athletic. They had some issues at running back, I know that here over the course of the last couple weeks. Then one of the best return men the game has seen in a while, so we'll have a big challenge on special teams. I got to get started on the other part. AFC North teams are always very physical."
(on if he is concerned about what RB Chris Ogbonnaya can share with the Browns) "Yeah, I'm sure he can share a lot. Ray Bob's (Ray Rhodes) there too, my buddy Ray Bob. There's not many secrets in this business. Guys kind of move around and stuff and it's just going to depend on how we play. But we're happy for Chris. We were unable to find room for him and for them to come get him, that says he's doing a heck of a job, so we're all happy to see him playing. That's good for him."
(on QB Matt Schaub's performance yesterday) "Well, any time you win, he had a winning performance, so we found a way to win yesterday. But he can play better and that goes for a lot of guys. There's a lot of corrections to be made week in and week out. Two weeks ago, we played extremely well and there were still corrections to be made. I was disappointed offensively that we missed some big plays. We had four or five opportunities for some huge plays in the game and we didn't make them, so we got to step up and make those plays."
(on if TE Owen Daniels' catch in the fourth quarter was the same one from the game against Pittsburgh) "No, it was not the same play. The route was a lot the same, but not the same play. Yeah, Matt (Schaub) put the ball down there and OD went down there and made a huge play. He made a big play the first drive of the second half, went down and made a great play on third down. He's been playing well guys."