The Texans practiced Thursday at the Methodist Training Center. After, head coach Gary Kubiak, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and defensive end Antonio Smith answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakDefensive Coordinator Wade PhillipsDE Antonio Smith
Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on being better in the red zone on Sunday with RB Arian Foster back) "Hell, it hadn't been good enough, so we got to do something different, something better. I got to call things better. We got to block better, run better, throw better, so I'm probably answering your question in the same way I answered it yesterday. That's part of football. Some things you're doing good; some things you're not doing good and you work hard to fix them."
(on the meeting to discuss the red zone problems on Monday) "Well, I don't think it's that out of the norm, but it was something we needed to go back. Sometimes when you're not doing things good, people develop, in my opinion, coaches, players develop their own opinion on why and you need to get in there as a group and say 'Here's the real reason why.' Film doesn't lie, so you got to take your responsibility and a lot of times it just boils down to making plays, guys making plays. Like I said, hopefully we're down there just as much this week and do a lot better job."
(on wide receivers Mike Wallace and Hines Ward) "Well, you got one guy who's been probably one of the top players in this league for a long time, tremendous slot player, smart player, physical player. Then you got probably the best speed in football right now outside, so it's a big combination with Ben (Roethlisberger). They've been making big plays. That's what's been so scary about them right now, just big, big plays and their offensive football team. We'll have our work cut out for us from that standpoint. It probably starts with us doing a better job of putting a little pressure on the quarterback."
(on the health situation) "Today, everybody was back. Kareem (Jackson) did not practice. He started practice, did not finish. His knee's a little sore. (Sherrick) McManis and (Derrick) Ward were the only two that were out. Other than that, we're all back to work."
(on CB Kareem Jackson's status) "We expected him to probably do a little bit more today than he did, but I wouldn't read anything into it. We'll see where he's at tomorrow. We're just smart with him during practice and since he was sore, pulled him and let Jason (Allen) and Brice (McCain) take all the reps."
(on OLB Mario Williams' progress this week) "Yeah, he was good. I think yesterday really helped him. He needed those reps. We needed him out here and he practiced fine today."
(on OLB Brooks Reed's progress) "He played about 12 plays and he did a good job. We want more, but he's working that way. He hasn't been getting a lot of reps. He's playing well for us on special teams and I think as this thing moves forward, you'll see him play more and more, but he's doing a good job. He's a good rookie player and it's still early in his rookie year, but I think he'll be a big factor before we're done."
(on if he's surprised by how much Pittsburgh goes four or five wide) "No, because the guy that they have. He's such a playmaker, so it gives them opportunities to make plays and that's what they've been doing, but yet I think we all know they can line up any given day and just run it right at you. They're physical as a football team. You know their defense is physical. Offensively, Hines Ward, receivers, the way they work in the run game, that's the way we ask our guys to play. They're just physical across the board."
(on what issues Pittsburgh's defensive front seven causes) "A bunch of issues, don't have enough time. They do a great job. You know, you're looking at a group of guys in this day and age of football with free agency and guys bouncing around all the time, here's a group that's been playing together for a long time and they got probably one of the greatest defensive minds in football leading them for a long, long time. They just continue to grow off of that. They play with great passion, emotion and they make you make negative plays. That's what you got to do everything you can to stay away from."
(on how much he emphasizes that the Steelers have been turnover prone this season) "Oh, it'll be huge. Any time you play a team like this, it's such a battle and one big play here or there can be a difference in the football game. It will be just as important this week. We had that one last week that really hurts us in my opinion. We were clean throughout the game and we were able to get a couple, so it will be a factor."
(on if being successful in the red zone is about imposing your will on the opponent) "Yeah, my point I was trying to make, I think the last two weeks, first-and-10, we'd run the ball, second-and-10, second-and-nine, second-and-11, so you're off schedule. Against New Orleans, we had three second-and-less-than-three-yards and we went backwards. We ended up with third downs. You can't have negative football plays and our offense is built not to have them with our zone scheme and stuff. It's just something we got to eliminate as a group and do a better job from a standpoint of if I don't have a good run, that I still get a yard or two. Find a way to save the play, so to speak."
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips(on Pittsburgh WR Mike Wallace and WR Hines Ward) "I feel like every week, we have a group that's really good. (Mike) Wallace is going, I think for the record for most hundred yard games and Hines Ward has just been a great player for them. He still is and (Heath) Miller, the tight end, is a really good receiver. The quarterback, we all know, can get them the football. They've made a lot of big explosive plays. They've got some other receivers that are really fast, so it's another challenge for us."
(on what makes WR Mike Wallace so tough) "(Mike) Wallace can run well after the catch. Usually, the guys that are speed guys are only speed guys. He's speed and movement and I think that makes a difference."
(on QB Ben Roethlisberger being able to break tackles) "Yeah, it's the old Terry Bradshaw deal. Bradshaw was the same way. You get back there and hit him and you would just bounce off and he would make a play. This guy does the same thing and of course they've had the same kind of results."
(on what the mindset is going against QB Ben Roethlisberger) "Some quarterbacks prolong plays by, like Michael Vick, by running around and getting away from people. This guy just knocks you down and knocks down defensive linemen, just throws them off of him and goes ahead and makes a play."
(on what the defense has learned from late in last week's game against New Orleans) "We just needed to play well one quarter and we didn't do that well. We learned a lot of things. We're still putting in things and I think the things that we didn't do well were more technique things than assignment, so if there's anything good, it's that."
(on if he thinks the defense is going to continue to get better as the season goes on) "Yeah, I don't know if you know where they were last year. We're going to have a pretty good group, but it's still a work in progress. They fight hard, play hard. We just got to play better technique in some cases and we got to be able to put in our whole package as we go and that's part of what's going on this year."
(on DE Antonio Smith) "Antonio's (Smith) a vital part of this defense. He's a really good pass rusher and we try to put him in positions where he can get one-on-one and the time's he's been one-on-one, he's really done well. I like the way he plays. I like his attitude. He was voted one of the captains of the defense this year, so I think he's got a lot of respect from his peers."
(on if DE Antonio Smith is better than he realized before coming to Houston) "No, I don't think he's better than I realized. When they got him from Arizona, everybody knew he was a good player and he's continued that. Besides being an athlete, he's an all out player. He plays as hard as you can play every play and that's the kind of player you want."
DE Antonio Smith(on if he's excited about facing a Pittsburgh offensive line that may be starting untested players because of injury) "I'm going to approach the game the same. I said that in an interview that that's the exact same way I got my chance and got my chance to shine. I've never got to see any of these guys play that's supposed to be starting, so I don't know if they're good or not. At one point in time, it was an offensive lineman when I first got my first snap that probably took it for granted who I was. I think I got a sack that game, too."
(on how important it is to get pressure on QB Ben Roethlisberger) "It's always important. I think that that was one thing that we could've did better last week and could've helped the game a little bit more, especially to close out games. Coach mentioned that today that when you want to close out a game, it's always more than not the defensive line that gets you off the field that last drive. I think that is very important, especially in this game because if you don't get him down, he's going to do some kind of special spin move, throw the ball, you don't even know where he's throwing it and it's a touchdown."
(on how important the next game is because it's the Steelers) "Me personally, I got to say it, I just don't like them. They took my Super Bowl from me. They got my rings in their back pocket. I ain't ever going to forget that. There's a couple snaps out there I wish I could have had back, so every time I play them, they going to get the ninja and the dog, two in one."