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Houston Texans

Quotes: Monday practice


Head Coach Gary Kubiak
OLB Connor Barwin
OLB Bryan Braman
NT Shaun Cody
ILB Bradie James
CB Johnathan Joseph
OLB Whitney Mercilus
OLB Brooks Reed
ILB Barrett Ruud
RB Ben Tate
DE J.J. Watt

Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on the team's health) "The most significant guy we have is (OLB) Brooks (Reed). He's got a significant groin (injury). He's going to miss some time. Is that two weeks? I don't know, but he's going to miss some time right now so that's where we're at with him. Everybody else is really going to be a day-to-day situation. (RB Ben) Tate and (WR DeVier) Posey are expected back on the practice field Wednesday full speed. (NT) Shaun Cody is back at it. He's fine. (CB Johnathan Joseph) J-Joe did work today with the trainers so he's day-to-day and (ILB) Bradie (James), same way. (RT Derek) Newton, I'd say Bradie and Newton are in the same boat. We've got hopes for all of them toward the end of the week, but it's going to be a day-to-day process. Brooks is the most concerning right now."

(on ILB Tim Dobbins' health) "(ILB Tim) Dobbins is back today. He's just battling through a shoulder (injury); expect him to definitely be available. We actually made that decision this past week strictly on the shortness of the week, but we expect him back next week and ready to contribute."

(on the league not suspending Lions DT Ndamukong Suh) "They make a decision, really we've moved on getting ready for Tennessee. I want everybody worrying about Tennessee. That one's over."

(on OLB Whitney Mercilus' opportunity) "He played 70 plays in the game. (OLB) Connor (Barwin) flipped over, played the SAM for us. (OLB) Whitney (Mercilus) went in and played a great deal. It's one of those situations where that's why you drafted him. You hoped that growth period would take place over a period of time and not be pressed into the duty he's being pressed into but that's why he's here. He will start for us at WILL. Connor will go over to the SAM linebacker position. (OLB Bryan) Braman will play both positions and play a great deal. Whitney did some good things in the game. He has played his best football for us the past month and we need that to continue."

(on OLB Bryan Braman) "(OLB Bryan) Braman will be part of the rotation. We're going to play all three of those guys. We had just as much issue going on inside with (ILB Darryl) Sharpton just coming back, if (ILB) Bradie (James) is going to miss some time, then all of a sudden (ILB) Barrett's (Ruud) playing a great deal. (ILB) Tim (Dobbins) will be back, so we could have a rotation going on at both inside and outside."

(on ILB Barrett Ruud's big plays on Thursday) "He only played like 15 plays but none bigger than in regulation time, they throw a post route on us, the guys catches the ball, and (ILB) Barrett (Ruud) knocks it out there. They're in field goal range if he makes that play. He made a couple of very nice plays. He's a veteran guy. He knows what's going on. The game's not too big for him so he'll step in and he'll do fine. I'll have to find some ways to maybe lighten the load on him special teams-wise if he's playing a great deal of defense, so that's probably the biggest thing we got going on right now. Obviously, we've got issues defensively moving some people around, but I've got to take a look at our special teams, too. I'm going to have to protect some guys that are fixing to play a lot of football."

(on possibly making roster adjustments) "We always look at that. The issue we have right now, all the guys we're talking about, we expect back. When you're expecting guys back, those roster spots stay intact. For us to go make a move and get some help, somebody would have to go. It's a scramble. Every week is a scramble right now. I would expect us to probably stand pat, at least through this week."

(on the nature of injuries this time of the season in the NFL) "You're always going to have issues, but what happens sometimes you get light at a spot. Right now, linebacker seems to be our biggest issue. We went from suiting nine linebackers up, contributing to special teams, playing defensively, to now if we played a game today there would be seven available players. That affects us in a lot of areas right now. It's just something we're going to have to work through."

(on these injuries also affecting special teams) "Exactly, all of a sudden, you've got (OLB) Whitney (Mercilus) who's been a 100 percent special teams player, (OLB Bryan) Braman, (ILB) Barettt (Ruud), (ILB Darryl) Sharpton came back playing all special teams, so now all of a sudden, these guys playing as starters, somehow I've got to make sure they're not playing too many plays."

(on expecting OLB Whitney Mercilus to step in and play well) "No doubt, we expect (OLB) Whitney (Mercilus) to go in. We expect him to play well. We've got to adjust as coaches. The train keeps rolling, so to speak. We just got to have new guys step up, make some plays."

(on OLB Bryan Braman's development) "(OLB Bryan) Braman's been an exceptional special teams player for us. This will be the first time we've asked him to play a lot of extensive defense for us. But he's very talented. He can rush the passer. He can run. It's going to be a big opportunity for him in his career. We were able to get a little head start today and have a little practice out there this afternoon, so going to need all the reps we can get for those guys."

(on RB Ben Tate's status) "(RB) Ben (Tate) worked with the trainers today, actually those guys that worked with the trainers probably worked harder than the guys that practiced. The thing for me is I want to see Ben work with them, work hard, come out of it the next day and say, 'I feel good and I'm ready to go.' That hasn't taken place up until this point, but I'm expecting that to take place tomorrow and he's back on the field Wednesday."

(on RB Justin Forsett continuing in his role) "No doubt, he's playing. He's going to work behind (RB) Arian (Foster) right now. The key for (RB) Ben (Tate) is we've got to get Ben back to playing, to working with the team, practicing all week, contributing. I've got to probably get him going on some special teams. We've got to get his play back going. (RB) Justin's (Forsett) done too good a job, been too productive for us as a football player both backing up Arian and as a special teams player for his role not to continue. But that's a nice problem to have if we've got them all available, so hopefully Ben has a good week of work and that's the case come Sunday."

(on if he's concerned about K Shayne Graham and the kicking game) "Yeah, I am. I thought (K) Shayne (Graham) was kicking from a field goal standpoint pretty good for us. Obviously, the last two weeks he's had a chance to end games for us and got a second try. That's probably not going to happen very often, so that concerns me a little bit. His kickoffs, I think when his kickoffs are good, then we're covering kicks pretty good. It's those mishits that are really affecting our football team. It's something he's got to work on. There are a lot of things that concern you, but yeah that concerns us a little bit right now. Our team is such right now that there is not a luxury to go get a kickoff guy or something like that because we've got so many other things going on injury-wise. You don't want to sit here and start tweaking your roster too early and you make some big mistakes and you get in trouble at the tail end of the season. We've got to keep going. He's got to get better and he has. I think he has gotten better, but obviously we need him perfect."

(on tweaking the roster at this point in the season) "I think we always look at toward the end of the season how we get better. You talk about specialty guys, whether they're a kickoff guy or a rush guy, I think we have to visit all those things the deeper we get into this. The thing that's keeping us from visiting it really hard is the fact that we're waiting on some guys to come back. There are some roster spots being used by some injured football players right now that we have to work our way through."

(on if he's concerned about the lack of pass rush other than DE J.J. Watt) "It's a concern. I could understand why some of it's going on. I think. We've had some issues up front. We've been playing with five guys. (DE) J.J. (Watt), (DE) Antonio (Smith), they've been playing a tremendous amount of plays. We've got to get some of those plays off of them. I think (NT) Shaun (Cody) coming back helps the whole group because now (NT) Earl (Mitchell) can play some end as well as nose. J.J. can get off the field 10 more plays. Antonio can get off the field. I think there are some issues going on there, moving (OLB) Connor (Barwin), it's been hard on Connor. To sit there and ask him to do what he did in that game, he's an unselfish player and flips from one side to the other, plays a totally different position, where there is a lot of pass drop involved. Right now, it's a matter of settling everybody down and getting the healthy guys lined up and ready to go. Then I think we'll improve."

(on T Ryan Harris playing a lot against Detroit) "Well, (RT Derek) Newton was out. Newton only played 11 plays and left the game. He's got a patella tendon issue going on. He's in a day-to-day process, but basically (T Ryan) Harris played the whole game and did a good job. He gave up some plays, but you're going to give up against those guys. Right now, if we lined up he would start for us at right tackle, so we've got to get Newton healthy again."

(on if the Texans became a different team after last year's win in Tennessee) "I don't know. That was one of those days, actually the game started really slow, if I recall. I think it's late in the first quarter, I think it's 0-0. Then, all of a sudden, we got some turnovers. (RB) Arian (Foster) made some big plays in the pass game, (TE Owen Daniels) OD. I think we scored defensively, if I recall, (CB) Brice (McCain) scored. It's one of those things that got going our way. We always have tough games with them up there. They're coming off a really, tough one yesterday. I sat there and watched the whole thing. We know what we're going to play. We know what type of team we're going to play, but our focus right now is so much on ourselves because the things we got going on with our team. As coaches, trying to settle down as a group and make sure we got everybody in the right spot ready to go compete again."

(on if last year's game at Tennessee was a turning point for QB Matt Schaub) "I can't say that it was that game. I just think he's been playing very consistent. If you put his work together last year and his work this year, it's pretty darn impressive. What he's done these last two weeks has been extremely impressive to pull those two off. (QB) Matt's (Schaub) playing well. I think we're going to call on Matt, (WR) Andre (Johnson), (RB) Arian (Foster), to do even more. When you have some problems on your team, which we've got some issues defensively, especially at linebacker, then those other guys that are healthy on the other side of the ball need to play better than they have. They've played much better the last two weeks."

(on getting back to what the team does best) "Yeah, I think we really don't want to play the way we played the last two weeks. We've thrown it 55 and 48 times. That's not us. That's not what we do best. I'm not going to change what we do best if that's what you're asking. We're going to run the ball. We need to get back to what we are. I know we can line up and throw it if we have to, but you're right. I think we turned the ball over six times in the first three games in the second half of the season and we had eight throughout the whole first half of the season. We're not going to get away with that. The last two weeks we've gotten away with that, but probably won't get away with that."

(on if getting RB Ben Tate back will help the team return to its run-first ways) "I think (RB) Arian (Foster) touched it 20 times the other day. That's probably good, but we threw it a bunch. I don't know if getting (RB) Ben (Tate) so much as the type of games we got stuck in the last two weeks has a lot to do with it."

(on his concerns about the team) "Well, I'm concerned about the health of the team right now so that's got some issues going on across the board with our guys. That's part of this business this time of year. We got to figure out a way to be as good as we can be on Sunday. It's just something we got to deal with. The players understand it. The coaches understand it, but we got ourselves in good position. We got to figure out a way to keep stepping to the plate."

OLB Connor Barwin
(on OLB Whitney Mercilus seeing more time because of the injury to OLB Brooks Reed) "I think we're all going to see a little bit more of him now. He's going to have to step up. He's going to have to play probably about 90 percent of the snaps on defense now. This is what happens. You never know when your opportunity is going to come but at one point, somebody's going to get hurt and you're going to have to step up."

(on what he thought about the play between Detroit DT Ndamokung Suh and Texans QB Matt Schaub on Thanksgiving) "I just thought it was unnecessary. I didn't think it was a malicious or a real violent thing but it was definitely unnecessary."

(on the NFL not suspending Detroit DT Ndamokung Suh) "I don't think he should be suspended. Like I said, it didn't seem malicious to me or that violent. I just thought it was very Suh-like to give an extension there at the end."

(on if he thought the kick from Detroit DT Ndamokung Suh to Texans QB Matt Schaub was intentional) "Honestly, I think we've all moved on. It wasn't that big of a deal to me. Obviously, those guys on offense and (QB Matt) Schaub, it's different. I'm a defensive player. You don't like seeing that happen to your teammate. But I think we've all moved past that."

(on if it is hard to know both the SAM or WILL linebacker positions in Houston's defense) "No. SAM is a harder position. I mean, mentally it's a harder position. WILL, I mean, you set the edge and you go. There's not much. You drop three or four times a game. But SAM, there's more studying in the week leading up to it. It's a harder position. But again, it's not that much harder. I mean, it's not that complicated, there's just a couple little more things you need to know going into the week."

(on if working at the SAM linebacker position during camp last year will help him make that transition) "Yeah, it definitely helps a lot. I still know the fundamentals of the position and I haven't forgotten them. I had to go in and do it 70 snaps against the Lions and was able to know what I was doing."

OLB Bryan Braman
(on being expected to contributing to this team in a big way) "Just knowing that the time has come, you get here and the coaches talk a lot about you being prepared for that. That you're one man away. They try to do their best to prepare you for it. They can only do so much. It's a big part of what you have to do to prepare and make sure that you're ready to go. I think they've done a good job and given me the best opportunity. Hopefully I can make the most of it."

(on his mindset when he's out on the field playing) "I guess it's just the way I play. I don't really notice it. I get a lot of compliments on it. I love to play the game and having the opportunity to do it at this level is definitely a blessing. I'm very thankful. I like to be able to go out there and show people that I'm not taking it for granted and that I'm taking advantage of the opportunity."

(on if he'll try to keep his helmet on this time) "Anything goes, it doesn't really matter. I'll do my best. I got the chin strap on pretty tight so hopefully I'll be able to make plays with it on, but I won't argue about making plays without it."

NT Shaun Cody
(on working towards playing this week) "Yeah, just trying to play. That's the goal, so hopefully this will be the week."

(on how excited he is to get back out and play this week) "We have a lot of guys down, so hopefully I can help out and get back in there and cause a little havoc."

(on how tough it's been to not play ) "It's tough, especially playing against Detroit, the team I used to play for. We had our struggles on defense so hopefully I can get in there and help out."

ILB Bradie James
(on other linebackers stepping up due to the injuries) "That's the way this game is. I've never been around a team that had that many injuries in one position like we've had this year. But we're big boys. That's the NFL. Guys will step up, I'm sure. That's what makes this game so great, people just waiting for the opportunity to get their chance, but we've got a good group. We've got a good, veteran group. I think guys will be ready."

(on his health) "I'm still sore from a hamstring standpoint. I guess I was running a little bit too fast. I'm just waiting and getting treatment, trying to get this thing right."

(on if he'll play Sunday) "Every player would tell you today that they could play. I don't know. I'm going to let the guys from the training room do their job and we'll see."

(on if he returned to treatment ) "You've got to come in and get assessed and see what it is and go from there. That's all I've been doing, just getting right and getting my body ready."

CB Johnathan Joseph
(on his health) "Obviously, this is a day I went out and ran around pretty good. I think we're moving in the right direction. Of course, it's still a full week ahead. If I had to make my call, I think I'll be ready to go Sunday."

(on how important it is to him to be ready to play) "It's definitely important to me. Right now, we've got a goal. Our goal is to win as many games as possible and get the best seeding. Of course, we're looking forward for the playoffs and things like that. You want to stay healthy for the playoffs, of course, but right now, it's about winning as many games as possible."

(on if he's made good progress recovering from his hamstring injury since last week) "Absolutely. From Thursday until today, I've made tremendous progress. Right now, we expect things to continue moving forward. If I had to make a call, I think I'd be ready to go Sunday."

(on if the recent injuries to his teammates has motivated him more to be ready for Sunday) "You think about it, but at the same time, you have to kind of take care of your own situation. When it comes to injuries, everybody's a little different. But for me, it's just about getting back out there and helping my team any way possible."

(on how difficult it was to watch last Thursday's game from the sideline) "Anytime you're not out there with your guys, you know, win, lose or draw, great or not great play, you're going to feel the same way. Disappointed. For me, if I'm just not having a chance to suit up with my guys, I prepare with these guys all year long and I'm happy to suit up with those guys each and every time, whether it's a Thanksgiving game or a regular preseason game, I'm going to feel the same way about it because that's the way I feel about playing the game of football each and every week."

(on CB Kareem Jackson's coverage of Detroit WR Calvin Johnson in the second half of last Thursday's game) "He did a great job. I think he held him to thirty-something yards, I believe, if I'm correct. Obviously, that's big for (CB) Kareem (Jackson). We know what he's capable of but overall, from a team standpoint, it's just about getting guys making more plays and things like that, myself included. We know the challenge that we have ahead. We know the duration of the season and we're up for the task. It's just about going out and playing great football."    

OLB Whitney Mercilus
(on if he's ready for more playing time) "Yeah, I'm ready for it. I've been coached up and all that. It's what I've been preparing for, what I've been training for. The time has come now for me to step up and show the coaches that I've taken all the coaching and I'm ready to play."

(on how much it helps him prepare knowing that he's starting instead of coming off the bench) "It's pretty exciting. For me personally, it gets me a lot more focused. You've just got to be perfect on every play. I'm not having a few plays here and there. I'll be playing maybe about 70 snaps in a game, things like that. It's a big opportunity to step up, too."

OLB Brooks Reed
(on what kind of injury he is dealing with) "I suffered a pretty significant groin injury on Thursday. I'm just looking to get better and get back on the field as fast as possible."

(on how long they are telling him he'll be out) "A couple weeks. I'm not exactly sure with this injury. It has a wide range of dates to come back, so the average is probably two to three."

(on how disappointing it is to miss time) "Pretty disappointing, but these things happen and I'm just trying to rehab as much as possible and be back for the end of the regular season."

(on if he has ever had an injury like this before) "I've had groin issues before, but this one is probably a little bit worse. It's nothing too serious. It's something I can bounce back pretty easily from."

(on if it's an injury he just has to be careful not to push himself too hard for) "Yeah, at first. You just have to ease into it and do a little bit at a time to gradually work yourself into it. It's something that's not going to drag on for a long time. I'm just concentrating on rehab and getting better."

(on OLB Whitney Mercilus starting in his place) "I'm fully confident in (OLB) Whitney (Mercilus). He works very hard and now he's going to get his chance to show why we drafted him in the first round. I think it will be fun to watch to see what he can do."

ILB Barrett Ruud
(on if it's difficult to prepare when you don't know how much you'll play) "You can't lie and say it's not. It's definitely easier when you know you're going to be playing a lot. When you have no idea you're going to be in the game, and then you get thrown in it, it's definitely tougher. That's something that's new for me this year because you truly do. You never know. You're always one play away. If you think it's the week where you're not going to play, usually that's when you get called and you got to be ready."

(on his big plays against Detroit) "It's always good when you can make a few plays when you get in the game. It doesn't matter if it's your first year or your eighth or ninth year. It always feels good to make a few plays, especially when it counts, too. It definitely was good to go in and help your team at least make a few plays when it did matter."

RB Ben Tate
(on how much time he has put in to his rehab) "I'm here early in the morning, an hour and a half to two hours before anyone else really gets here. We're just here early, here late, here on the weekends. It's time. I was here Friday and Saturday putting in work. It's not fun. Nobody likes being hurt. It's not fun and I don't want to be hurt. I want to be out there helping my teammates."

(on if he's ready to go) "If we played yesterday, I felt like I would be able to play."

(on if he's hoping to work with the team on Wednesday instead of with the trainers) "Yeah, that's what I'm hoping, but I have no control over it. I just do what I'm told."

(on how important it is to get back on the field) "It's very important for me I feel like. I've missed four games now so I'm chomping at the bit to get out there and help my teammates. That's the toughest thing of just sitting back there and watching. You want to be out there to help your team win."

DE J.J. Watt
(on whether he is concerned about the collective health of the Texans defense) "Yeah. Obviously, we want everybody healthy and we hope the guys get back as quick as they can, but there's nothing you can do about it. We need to go out there and play with the guys we have and win games, so all we can do is prepare the way we always prepare."

(on if he had a comment on the play in last Thursday's game when Detroit DT Ndamukong Suh's foot hit Texans QB Matt Schaub in the groin) "Nope."

(on where the team stands as it begins to prepare to play Tennessee this Sunday) "I think we're 10-1. We're in a good position. Obviously, we control our own destiny, and that's the biggest thing moving forward is if we keep taking care of our business, we don't need to worry about what everybody else does. So I think that's the biggest thing for us, to just keep going 1-0."

(on whether it's tough not to look ahead) "I think for us, it doesn't get much tougher than 10 quarters in five days. Now we have 10 days off here and we get to go into a game very fresh. I know I feel great already, so we're really looking forward to this Sunday."

(on what it will mean for the defensive line to have NT Shaun Cody back on the field) "It's great to have Shaun back. We're really looking forward to having him on the field. He's a great asset to our team. He's very good in the run game, and it's great to have him out there. And obviously a little comic relief, too, so I'm looking forward to that as always."

(on if his body feels more fresh after having several days off to rest) "I feel great. My body feels really fresh. I'm really excited to go here into these last five weeks and into the playoffs. The body feels great; I couldn't ask for much more."

(on players having to step up to replace the starters who have been injured) "You've got to rally. Whether we've been dealing with it last year or this year, injuries are a part of the game, so it's next man up, guys need to step in and play big, and obviously we all need to do it by committee. We're just looking forward to another opportunity on Sunday."

(on OLB Whitney Mercilus stepping into a starting role in place of OLB Brooks Reed) "It's going to be a good opportunity for him. He's a great young player. He works extremely hard; he's made some plays already this year, as you saw, so it's an opportunity for him and I'm really excited for him and looking forward to big things."

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