After being selected to the Pro Bowl, Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson, running back Arian Foster and fullback Vonta Leach answered questions from the media via a conference call. The following is a transcript of their repsective interviews.
Running back Arian FosterWide receiver Andre JohnsonFullback Vonta Leach
RB Arian Foster(on his initial feelings when he learned that he had been selected to the Pro Bowl) "I'm just humbled. It's a surreal feeling. It's a good feeling to see that this league and the fans think that highly of you."
(on whether he dreamt this could happen when he was working out at 5:30 a.m. each day in the offseason) "Absolutely. That's why I was showing up at 5:30 in the morning."
(on how hard it was for him to reach this level of success) "A lot of blood, a lot of sweat and a lot of tears."
(on whether the effort was worth it) "Absolutely."
(on Texans FB Vonta Leach making the Pro Bowl alongside him) "I'm excited for him. His work goes unnoticed a lot of the time. Even last year when we didn't have a very successful rushing season, he had a great year. He was doing his job; it's just you don't get recognized because you don't get a lot of stats as a fullback, so the fact that he's going, I couldn't say more. I'm happier for him than I am for me."
(on the tradition of veterans making first-time Pro Bowlers spend a lot of money) "Yeah, but I don't have a lot, so they're going to have to cut that short."
(on how important winning the rushing title is to him) "I think our team goal right now is to win this game. It's not lost on the fact that we still have a job to do, and that's to try to win games. Yeah, we're not in the playoff picture, but we're still playing for the city of Houston, for everybody that has put in the work and time this year since training camp, and for each other and for the names on our backs. So it's not lost. We're going to try to finish out with a win and the rushing title, it's an accomplishment that every running back wants at least one under their belt when their career is finished."
(on what it would mean to him to win the NFL rushing title) "It would mean a lot. It means that hard work pays off. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen; and if it does, it does, so I'm just going to take it like that."
(on whether he was disappointed that he is the starter at running back in the Pro Bowl) "I guess next year I'll have to do a little better. That's all."
(on whether it matters to him if RB Maurice Jones-Drew plays on Sunday) "I want to see any player play. We go against each other, but there's kind of an unwritten rule and an unspoken respect that everybody throughout the league carries to each other: we all wish health upon each other. I always want to see everybody do their best because I know how tough a business this is and I know how tough it is staying healthy. I wish no ill on any player trying to play this game because I know what everybody puts into it, so of course I hope he plays."
(on what personal goals he had during the offseason) "My initial goal is to try and help my team win and doing everything I can to help my team win, and the ultimate goal is to win a championship. That's my initial goal and that's what you play this game for is to win. The individual accolades, they all come if you're doing your job how you're supposed to do. That's my initial goal is to try to win and that's what we play this game for."
(on whether he has surprised himself this year) "No, I haven't surprised myself. I hold myself to high expectations and I'm going to keep it like that. I think we are what we think we are and if you think you're mediocre and you're average, then that's what you're going to be."
(on how much running backs coach Chick Harris helped his development) "I'm pretty sure he's having a little drink tonight. That's a great accomplishment as a coach to have two of your guys going to the Pro Bowl. He's helped me out a lot, not only on the field but off the field. He's helped teach me what it is to be a pro and the expectations of myself and the expectations for me coming in. He just kind of guided me through the way along with teaching me a lot of things and intricacies about the game that I didn't know. So I'm very grateful to have him as a coach."
(on whether he and FB Vonta Leach will take running backs coach Chick Harris to the Pro Bowl) "Oh yeah. That's a must. He has to enjoy the Hawaii beaches."
(on whether he took any days off from getting up at 5:30 a.m. during the offseason) "Yeah, you take days off, but I remember how many days in a row."
(on how many days in a row he woke up at 5:30 a.m. during the offseason) "Oh, man. I can't tell you my secrets! If I told you that, everybody would do it."
(on whether he'll keep getting up early to work out after this season) "Yeah. Absolutely."
(on how tiring it was to wake up that early every day) "It's fatiguing, but at the end of the day, we all get up and we all go to work to provide a better life for ourselves and our family around us. My daughter is one year old and she was born August 9, 2009, so in the middle of the training camp of that season, of me being an undrafted rookie, so that's probably my main motivation is to try to do the best I can at what I do in order to provide for her. Whether that be in any endeavor that I have as a man, it doesn't matter what I did, I was going to do it to the best of my abilities. It just so happens that I'm blessed enough to play this game, so I'm going to give what I can to this game."
(his daughter's name) "Zeniah."
(on what his daughter would say about him if she were old enough to talk) "She can talk a little bit. She's trying. I don't know. Hopefully one day when I'm old and gray, she can look back and say, 'My dad did it. He did what he could and he made a little easier life for me.' Hopefully she can take what I teach her and grow with it and be better than me."
WR Andre Johnson(on if making it to the Pro Bowl for the fifth time is getting old for him) "I don't think it ever gets old. It's always a tremendous honor to be mentioned as one of the top guys in the league at your position. So I don't think that never gets old."
(on if he will be able to play in the Pro Bowl) "I'm not sure. I still have an evaluation to get from the doctor and once I get my final evaluation then I'll decide from there."
(on teammates FB Vonta Leach and RB Arian Foster joining him at the 2011 Pro Bowl) "It's awesome. For us to have three guys on offense going is a tremendous honor. I'm pretty sure it will be a lot of fun with (FB) Vonta (Leach) and (RB) Arian (Foster) over there. I'm really looking forward to it."
(on his timetable on getting his evaluation from the doctors) "He said that he wanted me to wait for three to four weeks. He wanted my ankle to calm down a little bit because I have been banging it up for most of the season. Maybe right after the season sometime I will be able to get it looked at again."
(on if there is a part of him that wants to play it safe and skip the Pro Bowl to avoid further injury) "More than likely, I'm kind of leaning that way. Like I said, once I see the evaluation from the doctor then I could make a final decision."
(on RB Arian Foster not being named a starter in the 2011 Pro Bowl) "A lot of times you see guys go who a lot of people don't think they deserve to go. That's part of it. (RB) Arian (Foster) did a lot for this team this year. He's leading the league in every category. You would want for him to be the starter, but at the same time I'm glad that he's at least going."
(on how difficult it is for him to play through injury all season) "It's difficult, but when I'm out there playing I really don't think about it. I just go out and play. I kind of got to a point this year where I was pretty much used to it and been able to deal with it and I just went out and kept playing."
(on if he's going to loan rookie-Pro Bowler RB Arian Foster money to cover the tab for the veterans) "I don't know about loaning (money to him). I don't know. Maybe we'll take it easy on him."
(on FB Vonta Leach being a silent contributor to the running game and making a name for himself) "Yeah, he has. I think he did that from the first game of the season. He went out and showed people what type of year it was going to be for him. I'm very happy that he was able to go. He deserves it. He works his butt off every day and I'm very happy for him."
FB Vonta Leach(opening comments) "I'm very happy. Obviously, this season didn't happen the way I wanted it to go with a lot of disappointment. Our running game has been going pretty good and I'm excited that people were paying attention to what we were doing."
(on RB Arian Foster going to the Pro Bowl) "I feel real good. For a guy like (RB) Arian (Foster) to come off the practice squad and help us our last year and then come on strong this year for us and leading the league in rushing. That's great for both of us to get the chance to go over there together."
(on how much pride does he take in RB Arian Foster making the Pro Bowl) "I take a lot of pride. (RB) Arian (Foster) is the third 1,000-yard back that I've blocked for and the second I've blocked for here. The running game took a lot of hits last year. That was supposed to be our weakest thing going into this season, was our running game and it's been one of our strong suits."
(on how it feels to get recognized and go to a Pro Bowl in his seventh season at fullback) "The people don't pay attention to you at fullback, but when your peers and coaches across the league know what you're doing, you're just glad to be recognized."
(on if his Pro Bowl appearance this year will help him on his contract negotiation this offseason) "Yes, I think it will. I want to stay with the Texans. I want to be here, but we'll see how everything goes."
(on if he's ever been to Hawaii) "No, I have never been to Hawaii. This will be my first time and I'm taking a lot of my family members. We'll have a Leach vacation over there."
(on his "Leach to the Beach" Pro Bowl campaign and if he could campaign for other players in the future) "I think it was good when my teammates went out there and helped campaign with me. I remember three years ago, when I made my own shirt. Now, I've came a long way. I'm glad there were a lot of people campaigning for me, the Texans, the Texans marketing people and my teammates. I'm just happy everybody campaigned for me."
(on how did he find out he made the Pro Bowl) "I got a call earlier today. We are just sitting here. I got the guys over to the house and we are just sitting here watching on NFL Network."
(on the job Texans running backs coach Chick Harris has done this year sending two players to the Pro Bowl) "(running backs) Chick (Harris) has been coaching in the NFL for 30 years. He's coached a lot of good running backs. He has helped us whether it's with protection or anything. It's a great accomplishment for him. Our running game has been taking a lot of hits and he just stuck by us and stuck with us. So I'm happy for him also."
(on if he has any plans to take anybody from the team with him) "We are taking our coach, (running backs coach) Chick Harris, he's going to go and a couple more guys. We've got plans to take a couple of guys with us. I think all of our running backs are going to be going. We are a small group and I think all of us will be going over there."