Texans head coach Gary Kubiak answered questions from the media during a Monday press conference at Reliant Stadium. The following is a transcript of his interview.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on the injury updates on P Brett Hartmann and WR Andre Johnson) "Brett is going to be lost for the season. He's going to have to have his knee fixed. He has a torn ACL, so it's very unfortunate for him. He was really having a good year. The young man was really doing a good job, so we'll have to replace him here in the next couple days. Andre, first off ya'll know it is the other leg. It is a mild hamstring, so we're very fortunate. I'll tell you today he's day-to-day. I probably can give you a better answer once we give him a couple days here and get to Wednesday, but we do expect him back and hopefully sooner than later. To answer today, we feel very fortunate."
(on if P Matt Turk is a possibility to come back) "Yeah, we're going to work out a couple guys tomorrow, but he's a possibility because he's been here. He's familiar with Neil (Rackers) from that standpoint. We're going to work out a few guys tomorrow and make a decision."
(on if he's worried about the field with three players going down untouched) "No, I think that's been a topic today. I've heard that a couple times, but I think our field looked excellent to me yesterday. It's obviously a field that's put together different than most fields, but they do a great job of rolling that thing and putting it together. The injuries, what he saw took place on the film yesterday, especially with Brett (Hartmann) had nothing to do with any part of the field or anything. He just got out of control and stuck his foot in the ground. That's happened on many fields, not just our field. So, I don't see that. I think our guys do a good job and I think our field has been good."
(on if WR Andre Johnson will be able to play this Sunday) "I'm not going to go there today. Obviously, we just got an MRI back today and they're working with him, so give me a couple days."
(on ILB Brian Cushing's injury) "He's just got a sore knee. He's banged up. Cush is at that time of year, a lot of players are at that time of year, where it's just week-to-week getting yourself to Sunday. He played very, very well in the game, factored very well in the game, but he's just beat up and we just got to work with him, but I expect him to be there next Sunday also."
(on if K Neil Rackers will kick off on Sunday) "Yeah, unless we sign a punter who has kickoff experience. We'll see, but Neil has done it some this year."
(on if it was encouraging to see QB T.J. Yates moving around in the pocket and still looking downfield) "Yeah, just his play in particular was encouraging. He can get a lot better and there's so many things he'll get to learn from throughout the course of the game and watching himself on tape play that many plays, but the things that were very positive were when we had some bad plays or he got caught in some bad situations, he kept us out of them getting really bad. He avoided probably three or four sacks on his own with his ability and made smart decisions with the ball. He missed a couple throws, but he made some great throws that we didn't handle, too. I think it's a big step forward and we're all very encouraged and probably the most encouraging thing is to know after he watches this thing, how much better he can be moving forward, so good first step."
(on what he saw on the fumble by QB T.J. Yates) "Well, I just thought his arm was going forward and I watched it today, I still think that. But obviously, they're seeing something different, so we'll turn it in and ask them to explain to us which view they have that would deem them correct, so we'll see."
(on QB T.J. Yates' poise on the fourth quarter drive to take the lead) "We got a big break with the holding call that we got, so we got a big break. From that point on, he made some big plays, third down to Kevin (Walter), coming out of the pocket on the third down, getting us to where we went for it on fourth down. He just played with a great deal of poise, kept the team under control. We put him through a tough situation with that fourth-and-one, something that we work on all year long and he handled that very well. We did not handle that earlier in the game. He handled himself. There were no problems in the huddle. There were no problems with time as far as getting plays off, so that's very encouraging."
(on what QB T.J. Yates needs to improve on this week) "There was a couple reads that I didn't like that we'll get fixed between he and I, (quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp) Knapper and (offensive coordinator Rick Dennison) Rico. Early in the game, he missed a couple throws, but one of the things that really impressed me early in the game, I can think of a scenario here, we've got Andre (Johnson) open on a big play, he overthrows Andre, misses him pretty bad, but he comes right back the next play and sticks it on OD (Owen Daniels) for about a 15-yard gain. So, that shows you he's got a short memory and you got to have that when you play quarterback in this League. But it's just the big picture, just him playing more football and he's fixing to play a bunch."
(on some of the coverage problems in the game yesterday) "We had a couple busts early in the game. I really think we were emotionally so charged up and ready to play that we made some mistakes offensively and defensively, mentally early in the game, but we settled down. Boy, I tell you what, when that group (Atlanta) breaks the huddle, there's not a better looking offensive group with that quarterback, the back, the tight end, the receivers. I thought defensively, we played exceptional. To have him (Matt Ryan) go, what was he, 20-of-47? You're right, they missed a few plays, but hopefully you're playing well enough where you make them miss some of those plays too. But I thought overall, defensively we continued our superb play. We played very well."
(on OLB Connor Barwin's performance) "First off, give (Matt) Ryan credit. He doesn't go down with the ball. He gets rid of the ball, but Connor was exceptional in the game once again, was a big, big candidate for the player of the game, him and Brooks (Reed). Brooks played very well, but our player of the game ended up being Kareem (Jackson). Kareem played extremely well in the game, probably had his best game as a pro since he's been here. But Connor does continue to get better each and every week."
(on if he plans to talk to the players about playoff scenarios this week) "No, I don't think so. Those things, you're going to hear about all that stuff as the end of the season nears, but our focus has just got to be Cincinnati. It will be a tough place to play. They're a playoff football team right now, playing very well. We've got to go do it at their place. This time of year, weather might be a factor. We've got enough things to worry about and so we just have to stay focused on ourselves."
(on the offensive line being able to stay together avoiding injuries) "That's been very important. You know how much I expect from them. I don't think we're playing as well right now, up front, as we were playing before we went on the bye. I think we're out of sync in a few things we're doing, but we're playing pretty darn good. What I'm saying is I think we're going to even play better before this year is over. I think we'll get back to the way we were doing things a couple weeks ago. We've made a big improvement from Jacksonville to this week. I thought we played much better, so I'm expecting those guys to continue to move forward. I think all five of those guys have taken every snap, except for maybe a little bit in that Tampa game."
(on how great was the home crowd yesterday) "Me talking to some of the players that have been here since I've been here, DeMeco (Ryans), Owen (Daniels), some of the guys that have been here with me the whole time—I was walking out of the tunnel with DeMeco after the game, with him and his mom. He looked at me and we started talking about the game. He said, 'Coach, that's as electric as I've ever seen our stadium' and it really was. From warm-ups, it felt like playoff football. It was a hell of a football team, just two good teams going at each other. Our fans were just tremendous yesterday and we fed off of that as a team and our energy was there all day long. It was nice to see."
(on if the change in quarterbacks has affected the offensive line's ability to be in sync) "That's a factor with the whole group. We had a couple of false starts yesterday, which we don't normally have. That's probably T.J.'s cadence. Our crowd was loud, even though it was our home stadium. Them getting in rhythm and getting in sync with T.J. and those type of things, that's a factor, but you've got to fix those things real quick because you don't' have time to sit here and try to adjust those things. They have to be automatic."
(on T Eric Winston's play from the beginning of the season to this point and how he played against John Abraham yesterday) "Eric has played very well. He's had a solid season, he and Duane (Brown) on the other side. I could talk about all five of them. They've played extremely well from the standpoint of what we've been able to do offensively. Eric has gotten better every year he's been here. That was a great player he went against yesterday. Eric got him some. Duane got him some. He plays both sides of the ball. He's a hell of a player. Eric has held his own. He's had a fine year. He got a little nicked up a few weeks ago and played through a nick. I'm proud of the way he's played. The whole group, very proud of the way the whole group has played."
(on how far CB Kareem Jackson has come from last year) "Well, you've gotta go to V.J. (defensive backs coach Vance Joseph) first. Vance has done a great job with him. He's playing with a lot of confidence. You're right, he has had a lot of ups and downs. He had the expectations of a first round pick and what we went through last year. His toughness has shown, mentally and physically. I think Johnathan (Joseph) coming here has helped him. He's kind of got a little mentor back there—Danieal Manning, all that stuff has added up to Kareem growing up a little bit, not only as a player but as a person too. He's a very young man. Remember, he was an early-out junior, so I'm very excited to see him playing well."
(on the prospects of FB Lawrence Vickers playing against Cincinnati) "I think they're pretty good. I think if we went out there today, Lawrence would practice. We've got a couple days here but we've been missing him. He played really well for us in that stretch. We were running the ball so well. James (Casey), coming off of that pec injury, he's held up for us but it would be good to get Lawrence back, not only from an offensive standpoint but from a special teams standpoint."
(on how FB James Casey graded out yesterday) "James has been fine. He's had an adjustment period. He had the peck and obviously you use your arms and upper body to sit there and iso people and block. We brought him back early from that because we needed him. He played hurt for us for about a two- or three-week period. He is feeling better. He's closer to 100 percent right now, if not 100 percent. He's worked hard and held up for the team through some tough times. James can continue to get better as a fullback, but he's playing well on special teams and he'll continue to work at it. He'll be a factor down the stretch. We need him to make some plays."
(on CB Kareem Jackson's play on the final play of the game against WR Julio Jones) "Kareem did a good job. He had the ball initially and I think Kareem got his arm hooked around his left hand so he couldn't grip the ball. He did a good job of pulling it away. That's a big player. I imagine those guys went against each other a few times (at Alabama)."
(on going up to Cincinnati this week) "They're very impressive. I think their defense is fifth or sixth in the league. They've been exceptional all year long. The young quarterback (Andy Dalton) is a heck of a player. It is a tough place to play. It's very loud. I think they've been through a stretch, correct me if I'm wrong, where I think they've went Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Pittsburgh or something like that. Anybody would have a tough time with that stretch but they're right in the middle of a playoff race. They are a playoff football team as of right now. It will be a lot like what we just played in yesterday. We'll have to do it on the road."
(on how important is the running game with potentially cold weather) "Well it's important to our success every week that we play. When we run the ball good, our team usually plays good. Regardless, any place we play, we're going to have to find a way to run the ball."