The Texans practiced Thursday at the Methodist Training Center and after, head coach Gary Kubiak, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and some players answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakDefensive Coordinator Wade PhillipsWR Andre JohnsonWR Bryant JohnsonRB Ben TateT Eric Winston
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on the injuries) "Eric (Winston) did not practice today, but he is doing much better today. I expect him to be on the field tomorrow if there's no setbacks. Andre (Johnson) worked really hard with Kap (Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Geoff Kaplan) today, had his best day. Andre's very, very close, so it will probably be a decision we make tomorrow, whether he comes out here and practices with us or goes again with Kap and then make a decision for the weekend. But he is doing extremely well. Who else? Earl (Mitchell) did not practice. Antonio did not practice. Cush (Brian Cushing) and Connor (Barwin) were back at practice today."
(on if he will decide on Sunday if WR Andre Johnson will play) "We'll probably make it tomorrow. We'll see how his day goes. If he works with us, then the decision will probably go into Sunday. If we make the decision tomorrow that he doesn't work with us, we could be making that decision for the weekend kind of like we've been doing. He was impressive today. I watched him. He was very good, full speed."
(on if there are any concerns with DE Antonio Smith or T Eric Winston) "It's just that point where we're at in the season. It's our 14th -traight football game and we're beat up. We had a hard time practicing yesterday with enough guys, but everybody tries to answer the bell on Sunday. I know that's what they're going to try to do and we're expecting them to do that if there's no setbacks between now and Sunday."
(on if he stresses to the team to close this last game before the bye week strong) "We're not even to the close part yet. We're in the middle. We're just trying to play good football. We've had three good weeks here in a row and need to get some guys back good and healthy, but we got one more ball game to play to try to get another win before we do that. So, we're trying to push everybody as hard as we can right now."
(on if being ranked No. 1 in defense gives the team more confidence) "No doubt. When you're having success in something, confidence just spreads throughout your football team and I know offensively our guys look at what they're doing just so impressed. But it's just confidence in the football team that I hate to repeat myself, but when they show up on Sunday, they think they can win three different ways. That's what you're always searching for and right now that's the case right now. Hopefully we can keep it that way throughout the course of the season."
(on what has struck him about defensive coordinator Wade Phillips after working with him this season) "Just everything I knew about him. First off, he's a tremendous person, great to be around. The credibility he brings to a coaching staff with 30-plus years of experience in the National Football League, that's what you want. Not just me, but we're all benefitting and fortunate to have someone like that to work with on a regular basis. It's kind of like when Ray (Rhodes) was here, when Alex (Gibbs) was here. Those guys have been so successful for so long in this League. To be around them everyday makes you a better coach."
(on if there's something he's learned about defensive coordinator Wade Phillips through working with him) "I had never worked with Wade. I played when Wade was the defensive coordinator in Denver, so my relationship now obviously is different from a coaching standpoint and a scheme standpoint. Just watching him prepare, he and (linebackers coach) Reggie (Herring) and (defensive backs coach) Vance (Joseph), the group of coaches, (assistant head coach/defensive line) Bill (Kollar), watching those guys prepare for their opponents every week is just very impressive to me as an offensive coach. I've known what Wade stood for, for a long time. I've went against him for many years and yet I've known him as a person for a long time. Just doing an exceptional job."
(on if the late bye week impacted how he planned for the season) "No, not really. It's the latest one I've ever been a part of. You got to do what you got to do. Sometimes they fall perfect for you from a health standpoint. I don't mind it that it's happened so late, but we do need to get some guys freshened up. We're also playing very good football right now, so you deal with it and you move on. We got to push through. We got about five or six guys that we really got to push through this weekend and suck it up and go play and then we got to give them a break. We're expecting them to do that."
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
(on if it's tougher to call defenses as a head coach rather than a defensive coordinator) "Well it's a little bit I think because you still have to control game situations and you have to make those decisions, too. But once you've done it for a while, it's not a big problem."
(on Buccaneers RB LeGarrette Blount) "Blount's a big strong runner, a powerful guy. They just really got him back last week and he had a good game last week. We expect them to try to pound the ball with him."
(on Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman) "Freeman doesn't get sacked. He's had some really outstanding games in the League as a young player. He's really talented. Like I said, he's hard to get to, so pressure on him will be one of our objectives. It's a problem."
(on this year compared to previous coaching jobs) "Well when I went to San Diego, they were 4-12, had the first pick in the draft and we won the division that year. It's about wins. It's not really about the stats because late in the game when you're ahead, normally you give up a lot of yards because you need to to win the game. You play a little softer. Our offense controls the ball at the end of the game, so that helps us a lot."
(on if he thought OLB Brooks Reed could make this much impact this quick when he drafted him) "Well you hope your first- and second-round choices can play. Sometimes they have to come along. He was thrown into the fire and has responded real well."
(on if there is something about coaching for the Texans with his connection to Houston) "I don't know. I think you hope you do the same job everywhere you are, try to do the best you can do. Experience means a lot, I think. I've done it quite a few times, so you get used to those kind of situations and kind of what you need to get done."
(on if it is special to him that his hometown community is excited) "Well it's still the team. It's important that the team wins and that's what I've tried to do when I've come in as an assistant coach or a head coach, but especially as an assistant coach to try to help that team win."
(on if it means anything to be the No. 1 ranked defense in the League) "I think it means a lot to our players. I think confidence-wise, certainly it means a lot to them. Again, it's one game at a time and how you do in that game. We had a 40-point game, too in this season defensively, so that wasn't good enough. It's game by game."
(on FS Quintin Demps) "Quintin came back and he had a great attitude all along. He came back and he looked tremendous in practice. I told him we made a mistake letting him go in the first place after I saw him in practice for several days and then made a big play in the game. I think he's going to do real well for us."
(on the key to breaking down an opposing offense's protection scheme) "Well, again that's experience. It's still about tendencies and what they do, but it's what looks you can give them and what they're going to do against that and have something to be able to go well against that. It's a chess game there, really. It's the part of the game I really like too because you have to think on your feet during the game and change what you do and you have to have things that you can go to that the players know what to do."
(on if he's always felt like he could break down an opposing offense's protection scheme) "Yeah, we've had a lot of sacks through the years, but I've had a lot of good players. We've had a lot of good… I started out with Rickey Jackson and Robert Brazile here. I can go down the line, Bruce Smith, Reggie White. A lot of guys have led the League in sacks. We thought Mario (Williams) was going to do that this year. I just had a lot of good players that we tried to utilize."
(on players saying he gets the most out of them) "Don't let me leave out DeMarcus Ware, either, because he's right there with them. That's what you do. You coach and try to help each player do the best they can do and utilize their talents. It sounds easy, but it's not easy to do."
WR Andre Johnson
(on how he's doing) "Doing pretty good. I'm almost close to full speed. Everything's been going very positive, so I'm pretty excited about that."
(on if he knows if he'll play on Sunday) "No, I'm going to come out and run again tomorrow. I ran today. I ran pretty good. We'll run again tomorrow and then we'll see what happens from there."
(on what percentage of his health he is now) "Today, I was almost close to full speed. Like I said, we'll come out and run again tomorrow, see how it feels, just make that I'm comfortable and we'll go from there."
(on if he should wait another week so that he can get have the bye week to rest too) "A decision hasn't been made. Me and Coach Kubiak will talk about it probably tomorrow and we'll make a decision from there and just go from there."
(on what he was able to do today) "I think everybody was just impressed at how I was moving compared to the other times that they've seen me run, especially when I had the little pull last week and then I had to sit out for a couple days. I think that's probably the thing that they saw that they were impressed about."
(on if he still feels a pull in his leg) "No. That was the main thing that was holding me back. I haven't been feeling it the past couple days that I've been running. I guess the main thing now is just me getting confidence back in my leg. Sometimes when I'm running, I'm so used to feeling it that sometimes I'm waiting on it to happen. The main thing right now is just getting that confidence back in running."
(on if his injury is more mental than anything right now) "Yeah, I think it's more mental. Other than that, like I said, I'll run again tomorrow, see how it goes and then we'll make a decision from there."
WR Bryant Johnson
(on what's impressed him the most about the Texans) "What's very impressive about this team is having a 'never die' attitude. Regardless of what happens in the game, we find a way to bounce back. We found a way to bounce back and we're playing well in all phases of the game, offense, defense and special teams."
(on how the Texans have learned how to win this season) "I don't know. I got here on August 27 and I just knew it was a special bunch of guys on this team, the coaches and everything about the Texans right now is a very special time to be a part of this organization."
(on having to take momentum on the road) "Yeah, we definitely know what's at stake. Regardless of whether we're playing at home or we're playing on the road, we have to play well. Turnovers is a huge part of the game, got to protect the ball on offense. Defense is going to go out there and fly around and force turnovers and special teams got to play tough, got to play well."
RB Ben Tate
(on if he feels fresh with him and RB Arian Foster splitting carries) "Yeah, like I said, if you're not getting the ball 20, 25 times a game, then it's definitely helping your body out for the long haul."
(on if he feels like he's making the most out of his opportunity this year) "I guess, but it's not something I really think about because I have high expectations for myself and I have high goals so I'm always striving to get better, no matter what my numbers are."
(on if he feels like he has to seize his opportunity) "I definitely feel like I got to seize the moment and try to every time I step on to the field because something I learned from last year is just you can't take any of this for granted because you never know when your career could be over, just that one play. That's something before I may have taken for granted until my injury and now that's something that I definitely don't take for granted at all, even just practicing."
(on if he feels like he has a healthy competition with RB Arian Foster) "Yeah, we're both competitors. It's friendly competition. It doesn't really get too much better than that. Like I said, we're both competitors at heart. We're both pretty good running backs, so you got to compete and it's only going to help the team."
(on what the nature of his competiveness is with RB Arian Foster) "I don't think we really talk about it. It's just something that you kind of know that he's a competitor and he knows I'm a competitor. It's not anything that really has to be said. You just go out there and show it by when you touch the ball, try to outdo the guy who just touched it before you."
(on the Buccaneers' defense) "Fast, they're a fast defense. Their linebackers are fast. They move well. Corners, they got a good vet in Ronde Barber. He does well in the slot and he blitzes, come off the slot, things like that. They're a pretty solid defense."
T Eric Winston
(on his back injury) "I'm fine. It just tightened up and I think more precaution than anything. I'll be out there tomorrow. I feel fine. I'll play. No big deal. Just kind of a freaky thing."
(on his back injury) "You know, it just happened. It just randomly happened early Wednesday and then obviously during practice the last two days. I felt a lot better today. Maybe felt like I could do some limited stuff, but didn't want to push it. Like I said, I'll go tomorrow and I'll be ready for Sunday."
(on if it's been more of grind this season with the bye week so late) "Oh yeah, I think for a lot of us. You see a lot of guys with tape on all the time. You see a lot of guys with a little extra padding even for practices that I think usually you wouldn't have. It's been tough, but I've been impressed with everyone here. Everyone's just had that single focus of every week and 1-0 and this week's really been no different. To be this late in the year and haven't had a break in four months, I think everyone's really pushing to make sure we finish this off going into the bye the right way."
(on how important it is to win before the bye week) "There's a huge difference between 7-3 and 6-4. There's a really big difference, so I think everyone knows that. I think we're preparing like that. I think everyone's doing the right thing right now."
(on the Buccaneers' defense) "Well, they do a lot of things. Originally going into this game, you think Tampa two. You think over cover two. You think safeties, two high safeties. They're doing a lot more things than they have in the past, a lot of fronts. You see it all. You see everything. They give you everything, so we got to be on our game. We just got to be able to communicate. Obviously we've been together for a long time and seen a lot of things too, so I don't think anything's going to catch us by surprise, but at the same time, you do have to prepare for a lot of things."