TEXANS HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN
On QB Tom Savage's performance
"We put him in there in the fourth quarter and he's been getting better every week and every day in practice. We put him in a few two-minute situations in practice, but not nearly as many as [QB] Ryan [Fitzpatrick] and [QB] Case [Keenum], obviously. I think he's probably a little behind there. Again, at the end of the day he led us on a nice little drive. Like I just told the team, preseason, or no preseason, it's always good to win, especially against a really good football team. It was good for that unit there on offense to finish it off out there like that."
On the defense's performance against QB Peyton Manning in the final minutes of the first half
"We've got to go back and fix that. That was not good situational football and I would not put that all on the defense. It was a combination of offensively not being able to get a first down—a three-and-out I think on both drives. On the first drive we couldn't even get it to the two-minute warning. On the first play we had to run two plays before we even got it to the two-minute warning. We have to really improve there because with the exception of those two minutes, we played a decent football game overall. There's a lot of things to clean up, but I thought we fought and competed. Those situational moments we have to get a lot better at over the next couple of weeks."
On getting ILB Brian Cushing and WR Andre Johnson back
"It's big. Anytime you get two of your top players back, that means a lot to our team; two guys that
really mean a lot to the city of Houston. It was great to have them in there. I know [WR] Andre [Johnson] touched the ball a couple of times, probably is going to touch the ball a lot more than that. [ILB] [Brian] Cushing when in there, and from what I saw, played tough and played aggressive and it was good to see him back out there."
On getting G Brandon Brooks playing time
"We felt that he practiced pretty well. He passed the conditioning test last week, which was good to see. He went out there and ran 16 gassers and he did it in the allotted time and so we felt that he had stayed in decent shape, so we want to play him and get him in there. He's played a lot of good football for this team so it was the plan to try and play him a lot tonight."
On the penalty that S D.J. Swearinger took on the hit to WR Wes Welker
"I have to go back and see that. The referees do a great job; the officials do a great job. They call what they see. I'm sure we'll learn from all our mistakes."
On the week of preparation and its effects on the game
"The week was a good week. We competed well against each other. [Broncos Head] Coach [John] Fox is a great guy to work with. I thought both teams really competed and we got a lot out of the week. It didn't really affect the game plan. Maybe both of us did a little something that maybe we didn't do in practice, but I would say overall we both played pretty vanilla and just competed well."
On what he's looking for in evaluating Cushing's performance
"I think one of the things I'll look for with all the linebackers is proper fits, alignment, how they're reading the blocking schemes and that it's just not one versus the other. With Brian I've already seen him a lot in practice this week and he's moving well. He's got confidence in his legs and that's a good thing. We'll just continue to look for that on film. I just talk to those guys a lot. I ask them how they're feeling and Brian is a guy that's a straight-up guy and he tells me every day that he's getting better and better and that's good to hear."
On Savage's poise
Savage is a poised guy. That was something that really stood out to us before the draft, that he was a
guy that was honest, he was up front. He looked like a guy that had a calmness to him. I think you saw that tonight. Sometimes you want those guys to be a little bit more fiery at times. Overall he's come in and not let the nerves get to him. He's improved every day like I've said. Hopefully he continues to get better."
On Savage's ability to learn different systems
"I think he's learned a lot. I think, in his own words when we talked to him before the draft, he talked about growing up and that he made some mistakes. He felt like he was better off for the learning experience that he went through, and I think that's something that impressed both myself and [Quarterbacks Coach] George Godsey and [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Rick Smith, that he was a guy that was straight up ab out those things. He's come in here and he's worked real hard. He's worked extremely hard, and like all the rookies, he's kept his mouth shut and tried to learn and get better every day."
On if Savage is the football-junkie that he was looking for
"All three of these guys, Ryan [Fitzpatrick], Case [Keenum] and Tom work extremely hard. They are three football junkies. They all three of them are in there early. They are meeting on their own. The other night we gave them the night off and I know Ryan sat in there and met for a while with those guys. They watch tape on their own. They come in at six in the morning and watch tape on their own. They stay late after practice. They stay after practice on the field and throw; all of them. As far as that goes, you can't ask for more as far as what they're doing and how they prepare."
On what he's learned about Savage so far that was not known before
"In the draft process you get to know them a little bit. But I don't think you really get to know them until you're meeting with them every day and around them all the time. I'm learning something new about all these guys. I've been around these guys for a while, but I've been around them in true-competition now for only the last three games. I learn a lot about everybody every time we go out."
On all three quarterbacks**
"They are all three competitive. I don't think I would say anything different about any of them when it comes to the competition. I think they are all three really good teammates. They communicate well. They support each other, which is pretty cool to see. They compete against each other on the field. They all want to do well. They all want to win the number two job or win the number one job. They are all competitors. They all work very hard. But off the field, they seem to fit well together in a meeting room. I think a lot of that has to do with Ryan Fitzpatrick. He's a really good person, good teammate, works extremely hard, he's taken a leadership role on this team and I think that helps the whole room."
On Keenum's performance
"I thought he did some decent things. We moved the ball, probably not the way he wanted too. We didn't finish with a touchdown there. But I think he did some good things. I think he's a guy that just really wants to be good. He works hard to be good and it's fun to coach a guy like that. I saw, just like with all the players out there, some good and some not so good. I think he's improving also."
On the chance of three quarterbacks making the cut
"There's a good chance that we would carry all three. There's a good chance for that."
TEXANS LB BRIAN CUSHING
On if he had any problems with his knee
"No. If anything, it just feels like it's been a little bit of time since the last time I played. That will come with more experience and more reps; I'm just glad I got some game reps before the actual season starts."
On if he felt rusty
The Houston Texans take on the Denver Broncos in Denver for Preseason Game 3.
"I don't know. If anything it just felt like it's been a little bit of time. I don't know if it was rusty or just time. I felt good, and most of all just the experience getting back out there, new system, making the calls, the checks all of that was important."
*On the mental part being the easy part *
"Yeah, I think so. I don't think there was a real difficult part. Just walking away from the game, just more happy to have even played."
On if it felt like old times when he had the tackle in the first half for a one yard loss
"Yeah, anytime I go out there I expect to make some plays. I didn't obviously play too long, but happy I was able to make that and some other stuff so it was good."
TEXANS TE RYAN GRIFFIN
On the magnitude of the win
"I think this whole week has been tough for us. We were away from Reliant [Stadium] and we were against a different team, but we were able to come out and get a win and I think that says a lot about us."
On the touchdown at the end of the game**
"We were running seams, I think. The ends ran right by me and [QB] Tom [Savage] did a great job of putting the ball right on me. I had time to get by the safety."
On the feeling after scoring the touchdown
"It was good, but the job wasn't done yet. We still had to get the two-point conversion. But after we scored the two-point [conversion], we were feeling pretty good to get the win."
TEXANS WR TRAVIS LABHART
On his overall performance
"I was very fortunate tonight and I am very blessed for the opportunity to get out there."
On QB Tom Savage
"I'm not a quarterback's coach. I don't really know anything about quarterbacks. I can say that Tom was very calm and composed in the huddle. His leadership was very good for us tonight on the field. Some of the other veteran guys were helping him out in the huddle. It was just a great group effort and I think he would say the same thing. He did just an outstanding job of leading us down the field and staying calm and completing passes. He's a very coachable guy."
On his progression as a player
"You work hard to get yourself in positions like tonight and you just have to be ready when your number is called. I didn't get to play every series, but I took advantage of the opportunities that I was presented with. I think that is the big story line for younger guys trying to fight for a spot here. Just be ready when your number is called."
On their quarterbacks
"Once again, I'm not a quarterback, but I like the way all three of them spin it. I love catching passes from them and I love catching passes from anybody."
On the two-point conversion at the end of the game
"We were joking at the end of the game with the referee as soon as the drive started. He told us we had to go for two if we scored. We told him we were obviously going for two. It was fun and it was a good opportunity for us. We enjoyed it."
TEXANS LB WHITNEY MERCILUS
On his personal performance
"Better. I wasn't thinking as much. My preparation was much better, but there are still plenty of areas to improve, especially with the pass rush."
On how important it was to get live reps
"Oh, it was very important and it will help us get into the swing of things. It's just the preseason, but it allows us to see where we are as a team."
On having ILB Brian Cushing back in the lineup
"It was great having him back. He was definitely looking good out there. He wasn't playing timid. He was just playing like he always does. 'Cush' was just playing like 'Cush.'
On the overall defensive performance
"Overall, it was good. But there are still areas we can improve. They were just cutting up the middle on us. We just have to improve in practice. We have been improving each week."
TEXANS QB TOM SAVAGE
On the winning drive
"It felt good. It felt good to get the win. That was our team's main goal in these preseason games. It was an awesome feeling. I know a lot of the younger guys were out there and I think we all did a pretty good job."
On his ability to stay calm during the game
"After I got that first completion out of the way, I was able to stay calm. It goes back to just backyard football. We have a lot of great guys out there and you just have to trust your receivers and hope they make a play for you."
On the game-winning two-point conversion
"It was [WR Travis] Labhart all the way. I'll have to take a look at film, but maybe. I was ecstatic when we got the two. I was really pumped. It was awesome to get the win. Some of the older guys go out there and play their tails off the first half and they can't really contribute. We wanted to go out there and make an impact and get a win for the team."
On playing in pressure situations
"Really, you just have to trust the process and I think the coaches did a good job. Especially 'Fitz' (QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and [QB] Case [Keenum] did a great job of helping me out from the sidelines. It was good. It's great to have a good supporting cast here and everyone really wants the team to succeed. They were all giving me points and tips throughout the game."
On his relationship with Keenum
"It's great to have his support, even though we are competing. We really work together and at the end of the day it's trying to get the team to win. That's all that really matters."
TEXANS S D.J. SWEARINGER
On what Broncos' QB Peyton Manning was upset about leading up to the taunting penalty
"Yeah, he was mad from [Broncos WR Wes] Welker."
On if he was shocked to see Manning's reaction
"I wasn't shocked at all. Just because he said something to me earlier after I made the hit. It was what it was. He was mad from the hit before and it is what it is."
On if the competitive atmosphere spilled over from practice this past week
"Most definitely. Like I said, the week had something to do with it. The hit right before that had something to do with it, so it's all football, bro."
On the play when Welker got injured
"The NFL is the NFL. Rules are the rules. I laid with my shoulder, that's the only thing it could do; he's a short guy. I laid with my shoulder and the results were the results. That's all I could do on the play."
On if he was surprised that he was penalized
"I was surprised. The NFL is the NFL. They want it how they want it, and I have to play ball how I play ball."
On what Manning said when he approached him
"Yeah, Peyton was mad and he gave me some choice words on that play and then he came in and said something to me afterwards, some choice words, but I'll leave it at that."
On if he was surprised that Manning did that
"I mean, I'm not really surprised. He really was like, 'Alright, bro.' It's whatever."
On if he could paraphrase what was said
"Peyton can say what he wants to say, it really doesn't matter, all that I care about is the 'W.' We got the 'W' and that's what we said we were going to do when we got into an altercation during practice. I'm happy."
On what message they sent on the type of football they want to play
"Physical football. I think we played physical. My hit was a physical hit and besides two minutes of the game our defense played very well; we forced turnovers in the second half, they had some drives that we had them short, we just have to fix those two minutes."
TEXANS DE J.J. WATT
On evaluating what this team will look like without all the starters playing
"Any team will tell you that once you get you full squad together, that's really what you're looking for; but it's the preseason and the main thing is getting to the regular season healthy and making sure everyone is ready to play in the first game."
On what he's seen out of OLB Jadeveon Clowney and how good their defensive line can be
"We'll see. When the regular season rolls around, that's when you'll really be able to tell. Preseason is the preseason, so we'll be able to see when the regular season starts."
On if it's fun practicing with Clowney
"I love practice every day, it doesn't matter to me who's on the field and who's not. I love playing this game every single day and I think our team enjoys being around each other."
On Broncos QB Peyton Manning's taunting penalty
"I didn't see it happen so I can't comment on it."
BRONCOS HEAD COACH JOHN FOX
"I will just update you injury-wise, really we had one injury, [WR] Wes Welker left the game. It was determined it was a concussion and he'll go through the protocol, obviously. The biggest thing on him is of course player safety. He'll go through the protocol and our guys do a fantastic job."
On if Welker's protocol different since he's had multiple concussions
"I don't know about multiple ones a year ago but, again, not being a doctor, I will leave that to the medical people and he won't come back until he's ready to come back."
On the hit on Welker
"I didn't see the tape, I really didn't even see the hit but I can't comment on it."
On QB Peyton Manning's taunting penalty
"You guys obviously get a chance to see a lot more trivial stuff than I get to look at but I didn't."
On if he is he glad Texans are gone
"Not really, I thought it was great work. They're a good football team, it was a good organization, we had a good three days and good game today."
On how well Manning and WR Emmanuel Sanders connected tonight
"We have seen them in practice and it has been a little frustrating I know for Emmanuel that he's been nagged by that thigh strain he had. It was good to get him back out there in practice little bit late in the week and I thought he looked good tonight."
On if was there no plan to take the first team out of the game earlier if they weren't behind
"Not really. We typically go into the third quarter with our first in the third game. I think because of the extra work this week against the opponent in practice we were pretty much going to play them through the half."
On getting reps for both RB Montee Ball and LB Von Miller
"They were two guys we had little setbacks with. Obviously with Von this was the target game to get him some time. He would've preferred to go longer but we gave him I think eight plays, six to eight I don't know for sure but then got him out. Same with Montee. He's practiced this week a little bit but to get him some carries in live football-type situations and it was good to see how he handled that."
On Ball's touches
"We got him in and out quickly."
On Sanders and his two touchdowns
"He is a guy that we acquired in free agency and obviously we thought very highly of. It was good to get him back out there and see how explosive he really is."
On CB Bradley Roby
"I think he's really progressed. Like any rookie they come in the National Football League the passing games are pretty good and the execution of the passing games so it was a little bit of struggle early like most rookie corners and he has progressively gotten better each week. So he's definitely improved."
On if the team will carry more running backs on the roster due to the talent at the position
"It is hard to say right now. We will evaluate and we'll pick the best 53 that we think will give us the best chance to win and because we don't play with a fullback per say, in fact the kind of guy that plays fullback for us did not play tonight, [TE] Virgil Green. I think it is a good young group and we will have some tough decisions."
BRONCOS RB RONNIE HILLMAN
On if he is more comfortable with the offense than before
"When you go into year three, it kind of becomes a repetitive thing. Second year you get it, but now you're third year, you see other things, too. It just comes along with maturing and becoming a pro."
On if his teammates are more comfortable with him lining up in the backfield
"I think it's more of getting your opportunity to do what you've got do. I think they did a great job of putting this team together to where even if you're not playing a lot, you feel like you are comfortable with your surroundings. I think it's more of just when the opportunity comes."
On his mentality of having a successful preseason
"How I was raised, you kind of go through adversity all the time; I'm used to it. People talking, whether it's negative or positive, I couldn't care less. As long as I'm good with where I'm at, and me and the coaches are on the same page, spectators [will be] spectators."
BRONCOS DT TERRANCE KNIGHTON
On the game
"We made the plays we had to make and it's about getting better right now. It's about to be the fourth preseason game and a lot of our starters probably won't play. We're starting to turn our focus to Indianapolis (in the Week 1 matchup)."
On whether the first-string defense is ready to go for the season
"Yeah, we're ready to go, everybody is healthy. It felt good to have [SLB] Von [Miller] and [DT Kevin] Vickerson back out there today. Right now, like I said, we're focusing on Indianapolis and as much film as we can watch, we'll watch. We will obviously cheer our teammates on in Dallas and you always want to win, but the regular season is right around the corner and we have to get ready."
BRONCOS QB PEYTON MANNING
On getting on the same page with WR Emmanuel Sanders
"It was good to get Emmanuel out there. I had not completed a pass to Emmanuel in a game yet. He didn't have any catches against Seattle. He of course didn't play against San Francisco, and he didn't practice the majority of the week against Houston. The fact that he was able to practice on a Thursday and go in the game I thought was significant. I wanted to get some completions to him. I think you want to complete some passes to a first-year receiver in this offense going into the season opener. Obviously being able to complete some passes to him early and then get the two touchdowns to him, it certainly makes me feel a lot better going into the opener, as opposed to before."
On if he got upset about the hit on WR Wes Welker
"I concur with that."
On if he was frustrated with the start of the game
"We had a good start to the first drive and got down there, had a negative play and got in third-and-long and had to settle for a field goal. We always like to get touchdowns. We had a couple possessions where we didn't get anything going. I made a bad throw and bad decision on the turnover. I thought we had a couple good drives and ended up with a field goal and had a missed field goal, as well. We're always looking to finish. It was nice to finish those last two drives of the first half with touchdowns."
On if the hit to Welker led to his taunting penalty
"I guess so. I'm obviously concerned about Wes and never like seeing him come out of the game with a potential blow to the head. He had one of those last year that kept him out a while. Fifteen yards with five seconds left in the half—it can't hurt you that much, right?"
On if he thought about the importance of the penalty at that time
"I think if you're going to get one, that's a good time to get one."
On if he can say what he said to Texans S D.J. Swearinger
On if Swearinger appreciated what he said
"Yeah, he said, 'Thanks. I appreciate it. Good luck to you, as well.'"
On if he feels ready for the season
"I thought it was good that we kind of went through some of that in this game. I think part of me wants to go three drives, three touchdown and get out perfect, but in some ways, maybe it's a good thing that we had a three-and-out there. Of course, you never like to turn it over, but I think you like to see how you respond after that. I thought we responded with a good drive after the turnover, ended up missing the field goal, but it was a good drive to get down there. To get two two-minute drills—we were thinking one touchdown, but to get two [scores] out of it, I thought was good. I was proud of the way we responded through some not-ideal drives, and I think that was actually better than going out and being three-for-three and nothing really going wrong. I thought we saw a lot this preseason—different looks, different scenarios, different situations—I thought that was good."
On the first touchdown throw to Sanders
"He ran a good route. He got on top of the cornerback and then over the top of the safety. He has that type of speed. You just throw it as far as you can, and it's hard to out-throw that guy. He went and got it and finished in the end zone. On the other one, he did a good job against zone coverage. He got inside of the cornerback and then got outside away from the safety and made a great extended catch. A lot of times that ball comes out when it hits the ground. The fact that he kept it in his possession I thought was a pretty good play by him."
On his interception
"That was bad throw—a bad throw and a bad decision. It wasn't open. Poor throw and poor decision by me."
On if the Texans defense is the best he's faced this preseason
"It's hard to say. I don't really have a good comparison to compare it to the other teams. I thought it was good—the work we did against them during the week, and I think we'll learn a lot from this film, as well."
On if this was a beneficial week against the Texans
"I thought the practices that we had against them were helpful to us, going against good players. They have excellent players. Of course, going against their defense is a great test. I thought we learned a lot about our offense and different situations during the week, and we'll learn a lot from this film as well."
BRONCOS LB VON MILLER
On feeling more like himself
"I've been feeling like myself, but being in a game is totally different. It felt great."
On game speed feeling different from practice
"Yeah, the game is totally different. You always want to [play] a little bit more, with your adrenaline going and everything. We already had these types of situations in practice, but the game is totally different. From the reps I got, I feel confident in everything I'm doing."
On if he thinks about his injured knee anymore
"No, I don't, not at all. I wasn't thinking about my knee at all."
On playing at a lighter weight
"I feel really great."
BRONCOS CB BRADLEY ROBY
On if he feels the defensive starters are ready for the regular season
"I think so. [Houston] had some decent drives. It's a long game; one game isn't decided by one drive. I think as a defense we're playing well right now, we're getting some of the guys back, so I'm excited for the season."
On if he feels like he is passing the 'eye test' with the organization and its fan base
"I don't really worry about those things. At the end of the day, everything is going to handle itself if I do what I need to do. I can't be putting more pressure on myself thinking, 'What's this guy think? What's he think?' You can't do it like that. You just have to go out and do you. If you're working hard, it's going to show."
BRONCOS WR EMMANUEL SANDERS
On Broncos QB Peyton Manning responding to Houston SS D.J. Swearinger's on-field conduct
"Peyton doesn't like that, no one likes that—it's bad sportsmanship. Peyton gave him a little, and then he threw the ball to me and we scored. It all worked itself out."
On what Manning's 15-yard taunting penalty does for the team
"The fact that if Peyton is addressing the situation, that means he's got the backs of his teammates. [No.] 36 (Swearinger), he's been a competitor all week at practice. We've been competing against him, and sometimes he lets his attitude get the most of him. But at the end of the day, I've got nothing but respect for those guys at the Houston Texans. They came out here and helped us get better as a football squad."
On catching his first touchdown with Manning
"He definitely made it easy for me; he hit me in stride, and I just had to catch it and keep running. I'm extremely optimistic about this offense and the potential of it. We have next week, of course we're going to Dallas, and the starters probably won't play, but we've got to explode on the scene like we did today."
BRONCOS WR DEMARYIUS THOMAS
On WR Emmanuel Sanders
"I think he is one of the best at his position in the game, so that's big for us. He has been fighting a little injury, but he came out today and played well and hopefully will continue that the whole season."
On Sanders demonstrating a deep threat ability
"I knew he had it in him. I watched him in college; I watched him at Pittsburgh. We came out [in the same draft class] together, so I knew he had it in him and it was great to see him go out and catch the deep ball and then go score it."
On his performance today
"It was fine. You never know what is going to happen with [QB] Peyton [Manning]. We'll go back and watch film and see what I can do to get better, and I'll go from there."
On being ready for the season opener
"I feel great. This is my fifth year, I'm fine now. I've been with Peyton for three years now, and it's nothing new."
BRONCOS DT KEVIN VICKERSON
On pushing hard to get back on the field following a hip injury
"I was just trying to lead by example, but at the same time, I'm going out and playing hard, too. That was my whole thing today: just seize the moment. I was happy to be back on the field, but at the same time, [I wanted to] make an impact, make some kind of disruption and dominate inside."
On if he was tentative considering his injury
"If I'm on the field, I'm all out. I wasn't tentative at all."
On what Broncos QB Peyton Manning's taunting penalty did for the team
"It fires us up because we have our leader fired up. He came down and he answered; [Manning] backed up what he told [Houston SS D.J. Swearinger]."
BRONCOS DE DEMARCUS WARE
On his play today
"I feel like I'm ready to go into the regular season right now, but there is some stuff I need to critique myself on, little small things. But overall, I feel like I'm ready to start that first game."
On being comfortable in Denver
"Football is football at the end of the day, just a new color (uniform). I'm comfortable here; the guys really welcomed me here. It's like a 3-4 [defensive] system to me; they call it defensive end, but I still feel like an outside linebacker. It's comfortable; it's a good fit for me."
On the young players on defense
"That is what [preseason] is about. The guys that they brought in are doing really well; they are young and trying to get the job done and be fundamentally sound and incorporating with the older guys that are here. That's what a team is about, mixing and matching."
On what he likes about CB Bradley Roby's play
"I like the way he plays the game, and how he has really increased his play from coming in as a rookie all the way until now. It's been really good with how focused he is."