The Texans practiced Thursday at the Methodist Training Center, and after, head coach Gary Kubiak and some of the players answered questions from the media. Also, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and linebacker Ray Lewis answered questions from the Houston media via a conference call. The following is a transcript of all those interviews.
Texans Head Coach Gary KubiakCB Jason AllenLB Brian CushingRB Arian FosterWR Andre JohnsonQB Matt SchaubDE Antonio SmithRB Derrick WardT Eric Winston
Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh Conference CallRavens LB Ray Lewis Conference Call
Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on any injury updates) "(DE) Mario (Williams), (WR) Andre (Johnson) and (TE) Garrett Graham did not practice. Mario and Andre are on their usual route this week, I guess is the way to put. They should be out tomorrow to do something. Garrett Graham strained a hamstring Monday or Tuesday, I can't remember which day we were practicing. He looks pretty iffy this week."
(on the status of TE Owen Daniels) "He looks good. He practiced Monday, Tuesday and took a bigger dose today. All systems look like they're go so we'll put the pads on a little bit tomorrow and see, but it's good to have them back."
(on if TE Owen Daniels is as well as he could be) "Yeah, after all he's been through. We wanted to make sure we got him as healthy as he possibly could. I don't know how long it's been with this hamstring. It's been at least four or five weeks. I just didn't want to put out there and go through the same thing. He looks good and he has held up through the three practices that we've had."
(on how important is TE Owen Daniels to the offense) "He's important to this team. (LB) DeMeco Ryans is important to this team, too. I think when DeMeco left the field we were 4-2, if I recall. Anytime you lose players that adjustment period is tough, but in this league you're going to lose players and you'll have to adjust. The new guys will have to step up and that's part of it. It's been a tough go for (TE) Owen (Daniels). It's been a tough deal as far as coming back and everything that he's done. I'm looking forward to have him back and being a part of the football team. I know the guys are excited to see him back out there."
(on the missing leadership from injured players like LB DeMeco Ryans and TE Owen Daniels) "Those guys are leaders. You're talking about two Pro Bowl players. That tells you what they stand for and they're guys that everybody goes to. When you're struggling, those are the guys you go lean on. Growing up and knowing they are not there and somebody else finding a way to do it, that's part of being a team too."
(on the Ravens defense) "I've been going against them for awhile. This defense has been damn good for a long time. I think they've had five different coordinators in the last 10 or 12 years. You're talking about Marvin Lewis. You're talking about Rex Ryan. You're talking about of course (Greg) Mattison now, Mike Nolan. Regardless of who's coordinating the defense and who's there, this defense has been unbelievable. To me, it's centered around three big-time players. One in the back end, one at middle linebacker and one playing left end. They've been constant. They've added (DT) Haloti (Ngata) to the mix. He is huge. They are very consistent. When you look at their team, you ask what their identity is you go right to their defensive side of the ball. That's where it's always been."
(on how is T Eric Winston is progressing with his shoulder injury) "He's okay. He could've practiced Monday or Tuesday. I just didn't practice him. He's fine. He practiced full today. He's okay."
(on how likely S Quintin Demps could return kicks this week) "I don't know. I don't know if he'll be up. We'll have to see. He could do it. That is something he's done."
(on how important will be for QB Matt Schaub to make the right reads facing the pressure from the Ravens defense) "This is a lot like playing the Jets. You better start with protecting your quarterback because they could get after him. They got a variety of things they do. For us to be good (QB) Matt (Schaub) will have to be on top of his game every week, not just this week. It's a tough defense to play against. Your quarterback has got to lead the way, but it'll still get back to we'll still have to run the ball. They've been shutting down the run, but we've got a pretty good runner and we got a lot of confidence in what we are doing. We got to stay on schedule. So we'll give our guy a chance to build on it. I think that'll be very important."
*CB Jason Allen *(on head coach Gary Kubiak being impressed on how quickly he has adapted) "I still have a lot of work to do and a lot of room for improvement. I want to continue to getting better. I think more than anything I think it's just practicing good habits. I'm the type of player that just wants to compete each and every play. I don't like getting beat. I just want to continue on practicing hard and learn as much as I can and get that good grasp of what's going on and what the coaches are looking for. Just do my best to help this football team to win."
(on what it is like to join a secondary group that has had so many problems on the field) "In a sense, it's kind of tough, but at the same time it's football. It is what it is. It's a great situation for me, I think, because I look at it as the only thing now for us to go up. I feel like that I could contribute to not just the team, but the defense as well to do better That's what I'm going to do each and every day in practice. In the games I'm going to do all that I can do within my power to make sure that we're improving and we're getting better."
*LB Brian Cushing *(on the Baltimore Ravens) "They've got a tremendous team. To be honest with you, they've got playmakers at every position. I think most importantly, they're a physical team that will test you."
(on if he studies the Ravens' defense) "I always like watching their defense. I always like watching them and Pittsburgh and teams that do a great job of attacking people. The mindset and the style they play with."
(on what the Ravens defense does so well) "I just think they just had a scheme for a long time and they are really good at executing it and do a really good job of getting after the quarterback."
RB Arian Foster(on Monday Night Football being lopsided the last two weeks) "Hopefully we could bring some entertainment to the viewer. We just got to focus on what we got to do and that's making sure that the offense stays on the field. I think that's a big part of beating this team, is keeping their defense on the field and try to wear them out."
(on LB Ray Lewis' comparison of him to NFL great RB Roger Craig) "It means a lot. I've watched (LB) Ray Lewis ever since I was like 10 years old. For him to even think of me in that light, Roger Craig was one of the most versatile backs in the history of the NFL. So for him to make that comparison, it means a lot. Once again, I'm humbled."
(on what a primetime victory would mean for the team's morale) "I know when you win in the limelight in this league, you get the national scene talking about you and that gives the city momentum. It gives your team momentum and it kind of just gets the ball rolling for you. We need a win regardless of what day we're playing on, but since it's a national spotlight, it would be great for us to start a winning streak on Monday."
*WR Andre Johnson *(on receiving praise from LB Ray Lewis) "It's a tremendous compliment, especially coming from a guy like him. He's definitely a hall-of-famer. It just goes to show the things that you do out on the field you get recognized from some guys. To have that come from him, and I'm pretty sure he's just not saying it just because I'm a UM (University of Miami) guy, I think that he's giving credit where credit is due. I feel the same way about him. His track record speaks for itself. It's a tremendous compliment coming from him."
(on leading the Pro Bowl voting among wide receivers) "It means a lot, but you know at the same time I'm focused on trying to win games and get this organization to what it wants to be. You could go to all the Pro Bowls you want to, but if you're not winning I don't really think it matters."
(on what makes a player from the University of Miami so different from other players) "If you were to go somewhere and see a bunch of guys from the U (University of Miami) there, you'll see all of us sitting together. I think that's something that you really don't see from guys from other schools. It doesn't matter the year. It doesn't matter your age. It's like a brotherhood, we are all going to be together. We are all going to talk. Guys are going to know about your family and what's going on with you, if any way they could help you with anything. I think that's the biggest thing that makes the U so special. When you see those guys, you're very excited to see them because you don't get to see them very much. That's pretty much it in a nutshell."
*QB Matt Schaub *(on the Baltimore Ravens) "They're great team with a great defense, have been for a few years. They are physical, but we have to prepare well and be on top of our game and go out and play well."
(on what separates Baltimore's physical play from everyone else) "It's just the way they play. They are a hard-nosed defense. It starts with their linebacker group and their guys up front. They fly around the secondary and make plays. They have a sound plan, but we need to be on top of our game and be ready to go execute."
(on not making any mistakes on the Ravens defense) "You got to keep your third downs manageable and take care of the football. Avoid penalties. You can't hurt yourself against a team like this. You got to go out and play a flawless game and that's what we're preparing to do."
(on if he plans on this Monday matchup to be exciting or boring) "I plan on it being exciting. It's going to be here. The place is going to be rocking. It's a home game for us and Reliant will be loud and we're going to go out and put on a show."
(on what a win on primetime will do for the morale of the team) "It would be huge. At this point it will be huge for us. Especially going into the month of December with the last four games here coming down the stretch. We need to win. We need to go out and get our sixth win and get back on track."
(on if running the table last year through December gives him confidence that it could be done again this year) "It does. It gives you the confidence that when your back is against the wall and you're facing adversity. You could come back and make goo d things happen. We could definitely draw from those experiences, but we still have to go out there and do it."
(on how surprising is it that the Ravens defense is ranked 30th in the league in defending the deep pass with S Ed Reed) "He's only been playing for a few weeks. He missed some time earlier in the year, but he's a guy that likes to read the quarterback and likes to try and read patterns and make plays. There are plays to be made, but you have to be sound in what you're doing."
*DE Antonio Smith *(on how big Monday night is for the Texans) "I think this game is a huge game. Probably the biggest game thus far for the franchise because we need to win a game just like this to have the confidence and build the confidence to make a push in these last four games so that we could have a chance to get into the playoffs."
(on defeating a playoff caliber-team like Baltimore) "This is the type of team that you will play in the playoffs. A solid team. When you get in the playoffs it's about who make the least mistakes. Getting there, I think we should play all out Texans football. Have fun and just play loose. You can't hold anything back these games because we put ourselves up against the wall. In every game give everything you got because you might not be playing for nothing if you lose."
RB Derrick Ward(on what kind of challenges the Ravens defensive line offers) "Physical. They are going to be very physical. They are going to try to play with our minds as far as defensive fronts. We just got to be on our game and study real hard the rest of this week and go in there on Monday night and play with them."
(on playing against Ravens DT Haloti Ngata) "He's a big strong physical guy. What's crazy about him is that he could actually drop into coverage. That's something these guys haven't really seen. This is my third time playing against him. They're always one of the best defenses in the NFL year-in and year-out. We are just going to have to be on our A-game and bring that physical play that we have on our offense to their defense and hopefully we could have a nice clash."
(on Ravens LBs Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and S Ed Reed) "(LB) Ray (Lewis) is still playing light out football. It doesn't even feel like he's been in the league for 15 years. He's the captain of that defense. He makes the ship go with him. He brings his own physical presence for the defense and he makes all the calls. It's going to be a chess match for us. We are one of the top rushing and passing teams in the NFL and one of the best run-stopping teams in the NFL. It's going to be a battle for us."
*T Eric Winston *(on how huge this game is for the team) "It is what it is. It's definitely a must-win for us. We got to go out there and find a way to win it. We've had a lot of close games and we've been in a lot of tight games with a lot of good teams this year and this is going to be no different. I think it's finally going to come down to the fourth quarter and we'll going to have to make a play on offense or defense to get it done."
(on if things can still fall the Texans way) "That's the thing that'll get you scratching your head. If you have any type of year when things are falling your way you would think that it would be perfect this year and now we still have to fight and claw to get into it. It's only going to happen one win at a time. I'm not going to entertain any scenarios until we beat Baltimore. That's the way I think everyone's looking around here is that we got to get one and work from there."
(on different scenarios happening the last four weeks of the season) "So many things could happen the last four weeks of the year that to try to put the 'what ifs' in a tight division like this. There have been times a couple of years ago where Denver was 8-4 and lost their last four and went 8-8 and San Diego was 4-8 and won their last four and they got in. That's the crazy type, but this is because it's so tight, it's so many 'what ifs' and it's not even worth it. It's about fighting to get a couple of wins and start looking at that picture with a couple of weeks out. Then I think you'll have a better chance at nailing something."
Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh(on the biggest challenge of facing the Texans offense) "I think they got weapons everywhere, basically. They got really good playmakers. A very well-coached and very effective offensive line with zone-run system that they've put in there with coach (Gary) Kubiak and coach (Rick) Dennison, that combination is very efficient at what they do."
(on how anxious his team is for Monday night after losing to Pittsburgh) "I think they do a good job of taking it one day at a time. We've got a lot of preparation to put in before we can be prepared to play that game. That's our focus."
(on the season RB Arian Foster is having and what he sees on film) "I think he's been very well-schooled in that run scheme. He's running it as well as any of those guys have ever run it in that system. He's very explosive, very fluid and very strong. He has really good vision. He does a nice job."
(on the Ravens defense preventing RB Arian Foster from averaging five yards per carry) "We have to tackle him before he gets to five yards on a regular basis."
(on the consistency of WR Andre Johnson despite the sprained ankle) "We had him in the Pro Bowl a couple of years ago and I thought he was just a tremendous person and obviously has great talent. He's a heck of a competitor, you can see that in everything that he does. He's just one of the premiere receivers in this league, if not the premiere receiver."
(on what makes WR Andre Johnson so special) "He's just talented. He's big, fast and got great hands. He runs great routes. He very knowledgeable about coverages and the things he's going against. He knows that system inside and out. He's the total package."
(on if he's seen subtle improvement on the Texans defense over the past few weeks) "I think they are a really good defense. Upfront, they got two great defensive ends. They fly around. They're young. I think their secondary continues to improve. They cause you a lot of problems with their scheme. They play good technique. It's a big challenge for us."
(on what does he think the average person doesn't know about LB Ray Lewis) "He's a very humble person. He's a guy that puts others first. He's a service-oriented person. He's a man of great faith. Those are the things that stand out to me."
(on how impressive QB Joe Flacco's confidence is at such a young age) "He's confident, but he's obviously not at the caliber of a (QB) Matt Schaub, as far as that type of experience. I think he's on his way and hopefully continue to improve."
(on LB Ray Lewis being a constant on the Baltimore defense throughout the years) "I think first of all, if you want to be a great football team you got to play great defense. That's what we think and that will be the Ravens personality. (LB) Ray (Lewis) has been here since the beginning of the franchise. He's the face of the defense. He's the guy that set the tone through many coordinators and through three head coaches. I think that Ray Lewis is the personality of that defense and obviously he's a real good player still. He sets the tone that way."
(on what makes LB Ray Lewis so effective) "I think that he's just a complete player. You got a guy who is very knowledgeable of what he's doing, but he's also extremely talented. He knows that position, I would assume, better than anybody who ever played that position."
(on how impressive he is with DT Haloti Ngata) "We are moving him around more than we did in the past. He pretty much plays every position along the front. In all the different packages at one time or another, it just goes to his versatility and his talent. He's another guy that is really a smart player, very explosive. He's taking it to another level. I think from a pass rush perspective he's taking it to another level in his career. Also from a playing every snap with a strong emphasis on technique and detail, he's done an even better job than that."
(on what experiences he has had with head coach Gary Kubiak) "We get together at the owner's meetings. I had dinner with him once or twice. We got a chance to talk about family. I know that he's a great family man and a man of faith. He's just a ball coach and that's kind of why this league gets a lot of attention, but when it gets down to it we're just all football coaches. Coaching in high school, college or whatever you just respect that in a person. He just seems like an honest person and a humble guy and a hard-working guy. I've always respected him a great deal."
(on what one thing his father taught him growing up that still sticks with him today) "Two things mainly, the first is about the team. Everything revolves around the team. Your focus as a coach is that. It's not all the peripheral that's going into it. It's not concerns that people have outside. It's the team. My Dad would always say, 'Your job is to coach the team.' Concern yourself with that and everything else would take care of itself."
Ravens LB Ray Lewis(on hearing admiration from Texans WR Andre Johnson and RB Arian Foster) "Honestly, I just think a lot of times the game just takes care of itself. I think the highest respect you could ever have from anybody is that type of respect. I've always admired Dre (Texans WR Andre Johnson) from a far. I'm a little bias because he's from UM (University of Miami). You try to set a reputation and build a reputation that guys really want to emulate and follow. I just think it's the highest compliment that you could ask for when guys do compliment you like that."
(on WR Andre Johnson) "When he was in college, I just sat back from afar being from there. I watched his growth and everything he has done and I told him when we finally got together and really sit down that no matter, what it is or no matter how it is, no matter what you need, bro, I'm always there. The game is always going to take care of itself, but we all got to take care of each other. That was kind of what the conversation was about. It's always good when those young kids really grab it. (RB) Arian (Foster), trust me, I have watched him from afar as well. To receive that type of respect is the ultimate compliment."
(on WR Andre Johnson, the player) "From the first time I saw him, I saw somebody that was hungry to be great at his craft and he's never shied away from it. He's a very quiet and mild-mannered dude. To see him on the field to play like that, he's just an animal. I've rooted for him for so many years with UM (University of Miami) and when he got into the league I've always root for my Hurricanes no matter where they are across the league. To see his talent, it's something that you rarely see. When guys like that come around."
(on watching RB Arian Foster on tape) "He's very shifty and very smooth. He kind of reminds you of a Roger Craig back in the day, very shifty with high knees and runs way faster than people think. He's more of a glider with good hands out of the backfield. The kid has the total package when it comes to an all-purpose back."
(on how physical last week's game against the Steelers was) "I think all of them turn out to be that way. It's just the way it is. We've known each other for so long and we know each other very well. It's not about tricking nobody. It's about lining up and beating the man in front of you and that's why I think the game turns out to be so physical at times."
(on how he responds the following week after playing such a physical game against the Steelers) "Every game during the week is physical. No matter what game you play, because it's a division foe, it just makes it with a little more emphasis. You just stay with your regular treatments. That's one thing I try to tell these young kids, 'Take care of your body. Stay off your feet. Go home and rest. Really appreciate what your body can do for you if you give it the proper rest.' I'll tell anybody that. Just make sure you stay up on your therapies and treatments. No matter how physical a game you play, if it's not an injury, nine times out of 10 you'll bounce back quickly."
(on if he watches other team's defenses) "I can't tell you that I particularly watch them. The only time I get to watch them is when we are playing an opponent and who's ever playing them that week, then I'll see things maybe they've done well or the mistakes they made that I've said that I don't want to make or my defense to make. I'm strictly on formations and working on offensive game-planning."
(on what is his impression on the Texans) "They are a team that obviously scares you the most because they are capable with so much talent on every side of the ball. That's the thing that sticks out the most, which is how much talent they do have at almost every position. When you do see that, then you'll understand what they are going through. Losing all these on defense injury-wise and fighting and losing these close games. You just tip your hat to them that they are still fighting. Those are the scary teams in the NFL, the ones that have nothing to lose and just really want to go out there to play."
(on what the Baltimore defense was able to shut down on the Texans offense the last time they met) "I think we had some turnovers. Anytime where you can create turnovers, the thing could get lop-sided. As soon as that started to happen I just started to think aggressively we didn't give up too many plays. Offensively, we did a great job managing the clock and really keeping them at bay so when they did come back they had to do a lot of passing and really get away from their run game."
(on how important passion is to a defense) "I think passion is the reason why you have to play. That is the only way you could play defense. I don't think you could play defense with a lackadaisical attitude because defense is different. We're more kind of dictators, reacting on what offenses give us, or things like that. You got to always have to have a chip on your shoulder. Kind of be pissed off. I think, from my side, that's what the passion comes from. Like always just having a chip, whether it's offensive coordinators drawing up game plans to trick him or manipulate him on this play or that play or whether somebody is saying, 'I'm going to come knock him out.' That's what I think passion has to come from."
(on playing in the NFL for 15 years and how many years he feels he has left in him) "The ending is only up to God Himself. As long as I stay healthy and that's the number one thing, I preach to guys day-in and day-out about health and taking care of your body. Not just from the outside, but from the inside. Staying away from all that fast food eating the right things and making sure right amount of water you're supposed to be drinking. I credit a lot of that to that. Once you realize that you're not dealing with the injuries, when I'm healthy no matter how many years I've been in the league, the game of football will never change. If you want to watch what any veteran does, you look at the Charles Woodsons and all these guys who's playing at such an high level in the later part of their career because the game slows down to them. To me, the game slows down. I love it too much. I love the game too much. I enjoy it too much. The camaraderie with my teammates and educating these babies coming in and out, I love playing the game. My ultimate goal is to go back and win another ring and till that happens then I'll figure out what I'll do from there."
(on QB Matt Schaub) "(QB) Matt Schaub is a very consistent and very patient quarterback with the football. He's very decisive of where he wants to go with the ball. He is really the sparkplug to their offense. If he gets going, then you could have problems and vice-versa. If you can get to him, you could pretty much slow the offense down. I think Matt has great abilities to do some great things in a very long career. Definitely being surrounded with the talent he has."
(on what makes a player so different coming from the University of Miami) "I really think it's the brotherhood of what happens after the game is over. After your career is done or you're in college and you look on the sideline and see this person coming back to talk to you and that's it. The competition never stops. The older guys always came back. When I was there and we still do the same thing now."
(on how much has Ravens S Ed Reed returned back to his old self) "(S) Ed (Reed) of course had a very difficult surgery, but seeing the way he's bounced back made it look very smart of him to sit out those first six (games) because he's come back and he's totally healthy. He's back doing what he does, patrolling the back end and making the plays that he always makes. That's one thing about having him back, the communication definitely changes for our back end because he's our leader back there. When you talk about a safety and the way they play the game, he and Troy (Polamalu) are definitely the two best safeties in the game for a long time to come. So having him back is a great thing to have back."
(on his first couple of years in the NFL, did he take the leadership role immediately) "My first couple of years Marvin Lewis kind of pushed that on me. When I came in 1996 a couple of days after me playing weak-side linebacker he came to me and when I told him that I couldn't play weak-side linebacker he came to me and said, 'Alright, we just released Pepper Johnson.' And me, being able to watch Pepper for so many years, I was like, 'What?' The next thing was, he looked at me and said, 'This is your team now. It's your defense. You run it.' From that point, he grabbed whatever knowledge he had to share with me, I grabbed it. I grabbed it from him and I was sitting in meetings with him and started to understand it. 'Coach, why this? Why that? Why this? Why that?' Then it came to a point to where their job became to give us the game plan and my job became run my team. Let my players know what our mentality should be. That's why, kind of, still to this day, I still give the speeches before the games the night before. I just think that started years and years ago."