The Texans practiced Thursday at the Methodist Training Center. After, head coach Gary Kubiak and some players answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakCB Jason AllenG Antoine CaldwellTE Joel DreessenDE Antonio Smith
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on how defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' surgery went today) "I just found out here about a half hour ago the surgery actually started a little later this morning than they had planned and he is, as we speak, still in surgery. Everything they told us, everything's going well and we're just checking with them periodically from time to time and Dr. (James) Muntz is keeping us abreast of what's going on. I got nothing more than that for ya'll right now. I just know he's not out of surgery yet."
(on if there's any update on defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' surgery) "No, there's no update at all. I just know it started later than they thought. I was hoping to maybe let ya'll know he was out by now, but that's not the case."
(on if any players missed practice today) "Missing today? Just other than Andre (Johnson), no, we're okay."
(on how WR Andre Johnson looked today) "You know what, I didn't watch him run. I was over here with the guys, so I didn't watch him. (Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Geoff Kaplan) Kap will keep me up-to-date, but the fact that he's out here, that's a big step in the right direction."
(on if he liked the tempo of practice today) "Yeah, I really liked the way we practiced today. We bounced around. We were on top of our stuff. I thought defensively, really on top of our stuff in what we're doing, so that's what we got to do. We got to just keep doing our job, keep stepping to the plate and playing good football and find a way to get better every day out here."
(on how things went with linebackers coach Reggie Herring running the defense) "I think our guys, they showed such maturity all year long through adversity and any issues and they know we've got some more. If anything, I'm watching guys pick it up a notch. They want to help Reggie, help any way they can and they understand the situation and also want (defensive coordinator) Wade (Phillips) to be sitting there watching them play Sunday and make them proud. So, if anything, I just watch guys continue to find a little bit more in themselves week in and week out and that's what our team's been all about."
(on if it's just a question of executing the defense since the system is in place) "Yeah, (linebackers coach) Reggie's (Herring) been (defensive coordinator) Wade's (Phillips) right-hand man for four, five years now, so we're going to go run the defense. Wade was part of the game plan process as we got ready for this game. Reggie's got to make the call, but they got to go run the defense, so nothing has changed from that standpoint."
(on if WR Andre Johnson will be able to play this weekend) "I don't know. Obviously, he'd have to make a lot of improvement, but the fact that we have him out here this week means that we're getting closer to him being on the field. I would not expect him to practice tomorrow, probably give you a decision after that, but we're heading in the right direction."
(on G Antoine Caldwell) "He's been good. He's played a lot of football, so Gump will be fine. He's just got to get in there with his buddies and go to work. That thins us out a little bit, so we're having to work a second center in there. That's been a little bit of an issue this week in practice, but it's part of the adjustment with Mike (Brisiel) out."
(on who the second string center is) "Wade (Smith) would probably be. Yeah, we'd probably slide Wade."
(on if there are any other injuries) "No, we're okay as of today, so keep our fingers crossed though. It's exciting around here."
(on how TE Joel Dreessen is doing) "You know what, ya'll are right, Joel did not practice today. I'm sorry. Joel Dreessen did not practice today. His knee is still swollen. Joel doesn't need to practice to play, so that was the decision that we made to make sure that we get the swelling down before Sunday, but I would expect him to be there."
(on how important it is to get one of the top two seeds in the AFC) "You know what, my history in this League, I would tell you the most important thing for us is that we're playing good football. It doesn't matter if you're a one or a sick, the fact that you're in is what it's all about and how well you play once you get there will determine what happens. I'm just worried about how we play. I don't get too caught up in that stuff."
(on if he would prefer to have a first round bye week in the playoffs) "No, like I said, I've been through this thing every kind of way. I've been a part of winning Super Bowls as a wild card team. I've been a part of winning one as a home field advantage team, a one seed, but those teams were playing good. It had nothing to do with where they were seeded. They were just playing good football, so that'll be my focus."
(on if he envisioned Panthers QB Cam Newton catching on as quickly as he has after seeing him at the NFL Scouting Combine) "Yeah, he was very impressive for a guy who really only played that one year at Auburn. When you put him on the board and talked to him, you knew this guy was going to catch up real quick and that his skills, they're off the charts. The only guy I saw do what he's doing right now is my old roommate (John Elway) when he was about in his 20s. This guy's an extreme talent. We can't even give these guys a look today that we're going to get Sunday, so we just got to respect what he's all about as an athlete."
(on what he does since he can't simulate Panthers QB Cam Newton in practice) "You just keep talking about it. They're watching the film, keep talking about it, keep showing them, 'He could have done this to you. He could have done that' because we don't have anybody out here with those kind of skills from a standpoint of moving around. Jake (Delhomme) has done his best to run the option, but he can only go so far at 36."
(on the crowd being a factor on Sunday) "Well, our crowd's been tremendous all year long. I know they're excited. I told our guys, coming in here this week, having accomplished a goal and we need to go out there and play like that type of football team. We just need to keep battling, keep going. A lot of football's going to be played here in a very short period of time over the course of the next few weeks, so need to play well."
(on what makes QB Cam Newton so difficult to contain) "Well, you got to play the whole field. This kid can throw it 70, 75 yards. If you're not disciplined when he's dropping back to throw, he can get out of the pocket, take the ball the distance on you. They got two excellent backs too and they're running an unconventional type offense, so everything we've worked on all year long, this might be as big a challenge as we've had defensively because it is so unconventional. That's probably the biggest challenge."
(on why he's confident the team won't allow this game to be a trap game) "Well, we're going to see. I was asked about momentum and I said momentum's an issue every week, not just this week. It's a tough League. Every week's a new week. They have a lot to be proud of, but we're going to find out how hungry we are. We need to stay hungry if we're going to continue to move forward as a team."
(on what's unconventional about the Panthers) "Well, you get the option out of the shotgun. You get under center, normal offense. You get a lot of empties, a lot of quarterback run situations, things that we haven't seen much of, so it makes you really adjust."
(on how much Panthers TEs Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey have helped QB Cam Newton's growth) "Oh, a great deal. He's got a lot of weapons across the board. The receiver's one of the best in football, has been for a long time. Shockey's a hell of a player, but like I said, those two backs can line up and pound you too. They can get it to a lot of places, so we'll have to respect everybody."
(on if the Panthers have one of the best running back tandems in the League) "Yeah, they're pretty darn good. I don't know where they're ranked offensively. I want to say they're in the top five. I want to say they're third or fourth, but they put up points and they put up yardage every week. They consistently move the ball, so it'll be important that our two guys step up, play well and we can hold on to the ball a little bit."
(on if FS Danieal Manning is all the way back healthy) "Yeah, he's fine. He's doing just fine."
(on the play that was ruled a fumble by RB Arian Foster) "It wasn't. The League told us it wasn't, but it was in that game. Chris Myers did a great job of getting it back for us."
(on if he's concerned about the fumbles in the last few weeks) "Yeah, I'm concerned. Actually, I put the backs in their pads today and made them work through the gauntlet because we've put four balls on the ground in the last three weeks. We're built to run the ball and if we put it on the ground, we're going to hurt our team, so special attention paid to that this week."
CB Jason Allen
(on how it was with linebackers coach Reggie Herring calling plays today) "It was well. Sounded a little bit different, but it was well. I feel like Reggie is more than capable of doing the job. He's been in this League for a long time and he's seen a lot of football, so we feel real comfortable in him and we just got to get the job done."
(on how happy he is that defensive coordinator Wade Phillips had a successful surgery) "We're happy to hear that he's doing well. We're going to keep him in our prayers and wish him a speedy recovery. We definitely want to play well for him in his absence. Like I said, we definitely want to keep him in our prayers and uplift him."
(on if he knew much about defensive coordinator Wade Phillips before he came to Houston) "I always knew and heard about him, his defenses and the type of players he coached and he's produced with his defense that he has. I was excited once I heard the news that he was coming here."
(on the Panthers' offense) "We understand that Carolina is one of the top five offenses in the League. They have a lot of weapons. They have Cam Newton, one of the premier players in this League right now with the way he's playing. He's capable of running the ball, throwing the ball and beating you in a lot of phases. We just got to play disciplined, prepare ourselves throughout the week, practice hard and do the things we've been doing."
G Antoine Caldwell
(on being a starter now) "It feels good, I can't lie. You work hard and you work hard all year and to be able to get another opportunity, it definitely feels good. It's a crucial time now for this team. I feel like I'm blessed to be a part of it. I'm ready for this opportunity."
(on if it was tough for him to see G Mike Brisiel go down) "It is and Mike has worked his tail off all year. The starting five has probably played better than anybody in the League. Seeing him go down and tough it out in that last game, it's something that's special and this team needs guys like Mike. Mike's going to be back, but until then, I'm definitely going to take this opportunity and make the most of it."
(on what he brings to the right guard position) "Just a guy that's going to be confident, a guy that knows assignments. These guys know I've played here and started before. They know that I'm going to go in and be ready to play. There won't be a lot of missed assignments, things like that. Definitely I'll be confident and I know guys will have confidence in me."
(on what's impressed him about QB T.J. Yates) "Just his poise and I've seen it all year even in practice. He's got a lot of command in the huddle and that's the same way he's been out there on the field. He's taking it play-by-play and it's probably the best thing you can ask for in a young quarterback. He's been so poised and a lot of guys have really rallied around him. We're just excited to see what he's doing right now."
TE Joel Dreessen
(on if there's any concern with his knee injury) "Any time you feel pain like that or you can't practice, there's a little bit of concern, but I'm doing everything I can in the training room to get ready to play."
(on if he will be ready to play on Sunday) "Yeah, I'm just working as hard as I possibly can to get ready for Sunday and we're all hoping it works out that way."
(on Head Coach Gary Kubiak saying he will be fine to play on Sunday) "It feels good and that's what I expect from myself. He's just being honest with you guys. I expect myself to play. We're having too much fun right now to possibly miss any time, but at the same time, I've got to be smart with my body. I got to get it right and like I said, I'm working as hard as I possibly can to do that."
(on what's been the secret to his success this season) "I don't know. It's just worked out that way. It's been a blessing. It's been a lot of fun and hopefully it continues, right?"
(on if anybody on the team has been giving him a hard time) "No, it's all been positive. The awesome thing about this team is we all support each other really, no jealousy, nothing like that. Everyone's been very, very kind."
DE Antonio Smith
(on the mood of the locker room) "The mood is awesome. I think that this is a beautiful thing. I'm glad my teammates are getting to enjoy some of the same things I've enjoyed before. I love watching them. I feel like an old dad right now because they're just happy and jumping around the locker room and I'm just looking at them like, 'I told ya'll.' The feeling is awesome and the vibe is awesome. The city, the way the city is backing us is awesome and they're getting a taste of it and everybody's talking about it. It's a topic that's on everybody's tongue. No more than 10 minutes in between each guy talking about championship or something else like that. I'm starting to get tired of hearing it."
(on the team not being satisfied right now) "Not satisfied at all. We're playing, like I said before, we're playing for another championship and that is the AFC Championship. If you're not playing for that, what else are you playing for? I think we're focused. Like I said, it surprises me that each and every week, we go about our business the same and each and every body is buying into the 1-0 thing and just because we won our division championship doesn't turn it off. It's still on and I still see it, so I'm happy and I'm proud of that."
(on what it was like having linebackers coach Reggie Herring calling the plays today) "Crazy. Reggie has a lot of fire in him. He reminds me of me when I get older or (Brian Cushing) Cush when he gets older, just fiery. It's funny sometimes on the sidelines watching him do some of the things he does, but you know he knows his stuff and he's serious about it and he's serious about the defense, just as serious as (defensive coordinator) Wade (Phillips) is. To me, I don't think there's going to be any drop off at all."