The Texans practiced Thursday at the Methodist Training Center and after, head coach Gary Kubiak, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and some of the players answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews. * *
Head Coach Gary KubiakDefensive Coordinator Wade PhillipsT Duane BrownFB James CaseyILB Brian CushingWR Andre Johnson
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on WR Andre Johnson) "He was better today. He told us that he felt better. We kind of approached him in practice the same way. He had his normal day of practice, probably a little bit less than his normal reps he would take on a given Thursday. We took another step forward, but I think we got to continue to look tomorrow and it's probably going to be a game-time decision. Like I said, we'll continue to listen to him."
(on if ILB Brian Cushing is okay) "Yeah, he's fine. He practiced. He's good."
(on what it says about the team that they've been able to win despite injuries) "I was really impressed last week because we were coming off two tough losses and it's easy to get negative and we didn't do that. I think that's a credit to the coaches and the players. We stayed really positive. We worked really good last week and obviously we got some reward out of what we were doing on Sunday. It is a big part of it and this group is a hard-working group, very positive in their approach and it's only getting better. I see us getting better every day we practice, every time we go out, so that's very encouraging. That's the way it should be as you work into the back half of the season. We had another good day today. Guys were really bouncing around. They're really into what they're doing right now."
(on if the success is based on players believing in what's going on) "I think it's like anything else. You got to learn to do something and this group's different. It's a different group than we've had in the past. We got some new faces that are kind of leaders on this team when you talk about (Johnathan) Joseph and you talk about (Danieal) Manning. Like you said, we've lost some players, so we've had to have some new guys step up. You got a guy like Ben Tate pitching in this year. Offensively, we're trying to play without two key players for a few weeks, so a lot of things going on with the team that could either be problems or you work through them and get stronger and it looks like we're trying to get stronger."
(on FB James Casey) "He practiced. He was fine. We kept him out actually a little bit extra just to do a little bit of banging with him to make sure he's going to be ready to go, but all indications are right now that he should be ready to go."
(on if the brace on FB James Casey's shoulder will hinder him) "Well, it's just something that keeps the movement, so he can't get as much movement as he normally does. But no, he practiced with it. He's fine. He practiced good."
(on how important the leadership within the team is) "There's no doubt about that. If it's not the same when you leave the meeting room to the locker, your team's probably in trouble. So that's something you're always searching for and it's even tougher in this league because of the highs and lows in this league, the great wins and the tough losses. But we got a strong group, guys that I think they know what the final product is supposed to look like and they're trying to get there, but they're willing to do the work to get there. Halfway mark this week and everything's been very positive so far."
(on if QB Matt Schaub has looked fresher this week after not taking many hits in last week's game) "Yeah, he benefitted from that. Obviously we threw it 23 times. If we're doing that as a team, we're usually playing pretty good. Hopefully we got a lot more of those games in us as a football team. He needed a week like that and it really helped. You can tell in how he's practicing this week."
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
(on Jacksonville's offense) "They got a young quarterback and you can tell that, but they progressed. I think the guy's getting more and more comfortable with their offense. They got a great running back and a great running game. That always helps your quarterback, especially young quarterbacks."
(on if he's surprised Jacksonville beat Baltimore on Monday) "No, they've lost some close games and they came to play and that's what happens when you play like they play. They played well enough to win and they won."
(on what makes RB Maurice Jones-Drew so hard to bring down) "He's got strong legs. He's got really quick feet. He can move quickly in the hole and he's powerful. He's built low to the ground, which helps him and it makes him harder to tackle. He's got a big heart too. He's small in stature, but he's got a big heart."
(on the plans for the safety position) "We signed Quintin Demps, who was with us in camp and who we like. He can help some for us maybe on third downs. We played most of the game without (Danieal) Manning after he had the interception and got hurt. We just got to go forward."
(on FS Troy Nolan) "We saw Troy a lot in the preseason, made some big plays there. He's got a knack for making big plays. He's a smart guy. He's played on all our third downs. I think we're doing real well on third down and he's part of that group, so we have a lot of confidence in him."
(on how ILB DeMeco Ryans is doing) "DeMeco's a leader. You need leaders on the team. It doesn't always show up in the stats, but a guy that doesn't make mistakes, helps everybody line up. Everybody knows what to do, calls defenses for you. Those things you can't count on stat sheets, but they're important to you."
(on how important DE Antonio Smith's leadership has been) "Well, pressure has been important for us and we've gotten a lot of pressure, especially from Antonio. I don't know how many hits on the quarterback he has, but he has a whole bunch. He's a force out there in the pass rush."
(on if he has a special set of tricks he saves for rookie quarterbacks) "No, we try to play sound. We certainly have a different game plan against each quarterback as to do what we do or don't do. (Matt) Hasselbeck, we had to play him a certain way, (Drew) Brees, so forth. You have to play each quarterback with your strengths and what you think you can do and if there's a limitation that they have, you got to try to attack those."
(on if he knows his career assisted tackles record at the University of Houston is going to get broken tonight) "No way. Let's see, it's only held since 1968 and we only played 10 games a year, so that's 30 games. It's the old home run deal, 162 games or 154, right? We can put an asterisk by it."
(on what it says about the team that they're able to play well despite injuries) "We've got a good group. I think we've got a real sound, solid group. We're still learning as we go. We still make mistakes, but we overcome some of them with effort, with great effort. The guys work hard and it's paying off for them."
(on if he moved OLB Connor Barwin to Will last week) "Yeah, we didn't tell anybody, but we did. We flipped sides with those guys. During the game, we went one way when Mario (Williams) went out and then we felt like Brooks (Reed) had worked so much at… Connor can play either one, so Brooks had worked so much at the Sam, we put him back there and he felt more comfortable there and you could see it in the game."
T Duane Brown
(on Jacksonville's defensive line being tough to move) "I mean it's nothing we haven't seen before. We've been against a big front in Oakland, a big front against Baltimore. You just got to stay committed to it and keep pushing guys around and getting on our blocks."
(on how important it is to string some wins together) "Huge deal. Huge deal coming off of a big win last week. We get a division game at home. Just try to get the ball rolling in the right direction and get going from here. We can't have a setback."
(on if guys were talking about Jacksonville's win in the locker room) "Yeah, I didn't get to see the game, so I was expecting to turn the TV on Tuesday morning and I didn't know what to expect really. Seeing that they came out with the win was a bit surprising. They got a good team, man. The defense won the game for them. As an offensive player, you definitely take notice of that. I got a chance to come in here and watch film on Tuesday. It's a big challenge for us, but we're up for it."
(on how much he relishes the opportunity to go against a good Jacksonville defense) "You got to be excited and being that we're at home I think is another exciting point for us just coming back home after a road victory, having the fans behind us and it's another division game. Like I said, we got to get going in our division. Last week is in the books. This is a new week for us and a new opportunity to get another win in our division."
(on what jumped out to him on film on Jacksonville) "They fly around. They got some big guys. You look up front, their two ends are like 270. They got one D tackle that's about 330, give or take, and a great linebacker core with (Clint) Session, (Paul) Posluszny and (Daryl) Smith. They fly around. They fill their gaps. It's hard to move them, but that's something we got to stay committed to. Our run game is what gets us going. It's going to be a challenge for us, but we'll be fine."
FB James Casey
(on if there are any updates with his injury) "No, we practiced today. Put the pads on, I felt pretty good. I didn't do too much. I kind of was still limited. They didn't have me out there doing too much, but I felt fine. It's still day-to-day. We'll see what happens in tomorrow's practice and I guess we'll see what Coach decides to do on Sunday."
(on if he was an idea of what he'll be doing on Sunday) "No, I don't. I feel good. I feel like I can do everything. I can run. I've been out there practicing Wednesday and Thursday and pretty much doing everything they ask me to do. I'm not really limited in what I'm doing. I feel like I can do everything. It's just their decision on how much to play me or to play at all."
(on if he's been shown the shoulder harness that he will wear) "Yeah, they have like a little strap thing that goes up my arm and it ties to my shoulder pads and keeps my arm from going back too far. That's basically it. It's nothing too bad. I wore it today and I can still run. It's nothing that's too limiting."
(on if he has any problems catching passes) "No, it's not that bad. It's a big thing. It looks pretty bad. It's uncomfortable to wear, but I can still raise my arms up and catch passes high. The only thing it really limits me from doing is bringing my arm back too far, which I don't need to be doing to reinjure my pec."
(on if the harness affects his blocking) "No, it makes it better because it locks me in. I don't have to worry about my arm coming out too far."
(on if contact causes any issues) "No, contact is not an issue at all. As far as running and hitting, I'm fine. The only issue will be if my arm gets out wide blocking and doing those type of things, but the brace helps it out a lot. I feel good. I feel fine."
ILB Brian Cushing
(on if he's playing his best football since he's been in the League) "I think so, but I'm not really the judge of that. As far as how I play and my confidence and my assignments, yeah I am."
(on if the biggest difference is just being healthy) "That's a big difference as well, being healthy and playing all the games and having a scheme down. I'm comfortable and just going at it."
(on RB Maurice Jones-Drew) "He's a good running back. There's no question about it. He's a strong, stout guy. Sometimes he can get lost behind that O-line and he just pops out and he's making big runs. He's a physical runner, definitely a guy you have to play your best game against."
(on how important it is to stop RB Maurice Jones-Drew) "Well, I think if you shut down their main player, it's a blow to their offense. This is going to be the same way this week. He's their best offensive player. If you eliminate him, you eliminate one more problem."
(on how big it will be to start stringing some wins together) "Yeah, we have to, especially divisional games like this. This is huge for us and we got to get it done."
WR Andre Johnson
(on if there is improvement from yesterday) "It was improvement. I felt a lot better at the beginning of practice, but not where I want to be. Like I said, I just hope to keep getting better every day."
(on if he knows what he'll be able to do on Sunday) "I'm not sure yet. We're just taking it day by day and we'll just wait to make a decision."
(on if he's encouraged by what he did today in practice) "Yeah, I was encouraged. You're encouraged, but when you're not where you want to be, that's a little bit discouraging. I'm encouraged. I improved from where I was at yesterday, so that's a good thing."
(on if he still feels tugging in his leg) "Yeah I still feel it at times. I think that's the main thing that I'm trying to get over. Hopefully it will go away soon."
(on if he will reach a point where he might call it off this week to prevent further injury) "I'm not going to go out there and play unless I feel comfortable. If I don't feel like I can play, I'm not going to go out there. I definitely won't do anything to put myself in any danger."
(on if it will be a game-time decision if he plays) "I have a chance to talk to Coach Kubiak in the next day or so. I don't know when the decision will be made, but me and him will talk about it."
(on if he pushed himself more in practice today) "Yeah, I pushed myself a little harder. I did a couple one-on-ones and things like that, something I didn't do yesterday. I got to go against the DBs a little bit more on one-on-one stuff and I pushed it a little bit. But like I said, I'm not where I want to be. That's the only bad thing."
(on how he compares today's practice with one he had before the injury) "I mean, it's totally different. When you have a procedure done, you're not going to come back and feel the same. Tuesday made three weeks. The leg is not the same like it was, so I just have to keep doing my rehab and stuff like that to hopefully get it back to where it was."