Members of the Houston Texans spoke to the media following Thursday's practice.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
ILB Brian Cushing
RB Arian Foster
CB Kareem Jackson
CB Johnathan Joseph
SS Danieal Manning
RT Derek Newton
OLB Brooks Reed
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on health at practice) "Everybody's accounted for today except for (ILB Tim) Dobbins. Like I said, he will be a straight game-time decision. I know he won't practice. We'll work him out before the game on Sunday and see where he's at."
(on today's practice) "It was good. It's our big workday on Thursday. We're in pads. As well as they throw it, we're going to have to stop the run because they've run the ball pretty darn well and Peyton (Manning) gets them in all the perfect runs and does a great job. So big emphasis today there, and then offensively for us we do about everything today. I like our intensity. I like the way we practiced. We got a good mature group. They know when it's time to go to work and they understand what they're facing so we're having a good week so far. We just need to keep plugging to tomorrow."
(on if the early season success carries into practice) "You're confidence level, you know you got good things going on, but that's where I think we've grown up a lot. I think our guys understand the key to winning is preparation and always use the words playing good football protecting the ball, doing those type of things. I think our guys are really in tune to that and have figured that out that it doesn't matter who we're playing. It's like this week. We got a tough place to play, a good opponent. But our biggest focus really needs to be on playing our type of football and doing what we do. That's what we try to stay focused on and we've got a good grip on that. All of our guys do a good job of being there when they can in practice. It's the time of year as you get going weeks three through ten, guys get nicked up and miss time. We're fortunate right now we're 100 percent out there except for one player today so that's some good work."
(on who can fill the role of ILB Tim Dobbins on special teams if he can't play on Sunday) "(OLB Bryan) Braman coming back takes a role. (OLB) Jesse (Nading) has kind of been taking Braman's role so I guess Jesse would take (ILB Tim) Dobbins' role. They're all interchangeable. Jesse has been doing a really good job for us. He's always been kind of a catch all guy for us as a player. He can play all the linebacker spots when we get in trouble. He can play everywhere for (Special Teams Coordinator) Joe (Marciano) and has played well for us the first two weeks. The expectations are for him to be up if Dobbins can't."
(on Denver's running game) "They run it well because he does such a good job at the line of scrimmage getting them in the right play and none bigger than the trap they ran on fourth down. They've got two darn good backs. They're a little bit unconventional as far as how they do it, out of the shotgun most of the time and those types of things. They lean on that, and they've had a lot of confidence in running the football and you can tell. To me, that's a carryover from last year they ran the ball I think better than anybody in football. Of course, they were a little different."
(on the differences between QB Peyton Manning's offense in Denver and the offense he ran with the Colts) "The Colts run the ball on you too when (Joseph) Addai and they were going back a few years ago. That's what was tough, because if you sat there and played them in two deep coverages or quarters coverages to try to eliminate big plays, they would sit there and be patient and hold the ball on you. I think this team is built a little bit that way. Like I said, they're running the offense that Peyton (Manning) knows. It's only fair to say that he's going to get them in the right calls."
(on the special teams work this week) "The only change would be (ILB Tim) Dobbins coming back. Our practice has been good. It's not like our practice has been disappointing. (Special Teams Coordinator) Joe (Marciano) is working hard with them. They're working hard. We haven't been very smart in special teams, and I'll go back to discipline. That's my job and Joe's job. We've had some really poor penalties. I think we had three just blatant blocks in the back last week in the return game. That's just selfish football. You got to think of your team, and you're hurting the return. You're hurting offensive field position and those type of things. That's what we've had to address, and that's got to get cleaned up. Hopefully we're working toward doing that."
(on Denver's run defense) "Well they do a lot of stunting. They're not as big as the group we played last week, but they cause you problems because they're always moving around, stunting, zone pressures a little bit like our guys and what we do defensively. They get those guys on the edges and those tight ends go to reach them and they jump inside, make a play in the backfield. They tackle very well on the back end. They're pretty darn good on defense. You think about a four turnover game and they gave up 270 yards to a hell of an offensive team in their stadium. They're very capable and we've got our work cut out for us as a team, both sides of the ball, special teams wise."
(on the challenge RT Derek Newton will face on Sunday) "It's a new challenge for him. Really that's why we started (RT Derek) Newton in New Orleans because we wanted him to start to respond to something like that back in the preseason. Either guy is a great pass rusher. Wherever they line up they both line up all over the place. He's going to face the quickest guys he's seen off the ball, and he's probably going to be a little late off the ball because of the noise. I always tell him that's a built-in truth right there, so there are no excuses. We actually let our guys line up offsides in practice. That's the way we try to give them a look. He's got his hands full and so does (LT) Duane (Brown) on the other side."
(on the progress RT Derek Newton has made) "Well just watching him go from week one to two was a reason we made the decision we did early in the preseason because we see growth. You saw him correct things from week one to two. He's a better player, and that's the path we want him on all year long. I just liked his effort. He played 85 plays last week. That's pretty darn good for a guy his second time out. Like I said, here is a new challenge, a new place to go do it."
(on any altitude issues in Denver) "I don't think it's an issue. We play a lot of people. We're kind of built that way as a team. We got two tight ends that play all the time. We got receivers that we're rotating. We got backs that we rotate, defensive line we rotate guys. Our guys, first off, we feel very confident in our conditioning level. Second off, we also know that we're going to rotate people and keep fresh people on the field so that's not an issue. We got to go there and play good football."
(on if when he was a player in Denver he thought the altitude made a difference) "I know that people talked about it a lot. I don't know. I'm not a doctor."
(on the progress that RB Ben Tate has made) "He's come a long way. He's grown up a great deal. You watch him practice today, he practices tremendously. He practices very hard. He pushes Arian (Foster). Arian (Foster) pushes him. I always tell you guys the biggest difference with Ben (Tate) is Ben over a period of time went from a two down player to a three down player. Ben (Tate) understands protection. He can pass protect so that's great for his future."
(on the RB Ben Tate's abilities adding value to the running game) "No doubt, when you got a fresh guy in there that's capable of making big plays, they're both capable of making big plays, they both have good hands. I don't look up on third down when we might get some pressure, a blitz and worry about who is in the game protecting. They can both protect."
(on if Denver LB Von Miller and DE Elvis Dumervil are the two best pass rushers they'll play this year) "We'll face a lot of good ones, but talking about two Pro Bowl football players. Their specialty is getting to the quarterback. We run the ball, they do a great job of chasing the backside and making plays and two guys that tend to get their hands on the ball too. We've been fortunate we've protected the ball pretty good. We need to hang on and do that again."
(on Denver's Rod Smith getting inducted into the Ring of Honor) "I sent him a little note the other day and a little gift. First off, self-made player. When I came to Denver, he was on the practice squad. We looked at some tape and said, 'What's this guy doing on the practice squad?' He went on to be a great player; but a great football player. He was a leader on our team, great man, great person. He might make it to the big Hall of Fame someday. That is the type of player I thought he was so very proud of him, happy for him and he knows that."
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
(on Denver QB Peyton Manning) "First of all I know it's going to be asked so I'm going to go ahead and make my statement. Peyton Manning looks like the same guy he's always been. He's a great quarterback. He looks like a guy that hadn't played in a while and was a new team, but he's still productive. He still calls the right plays, gets them in the right situations. Everybody in the world, every great quarterback doesn't have a cannon for an arm. I don't think that comes into it. It's how productive they are, and I think some of the production certainly is being with a new team. He can explode at any time. He can make the throws that count. He makes touchdown throws. He calls the right audibles when they're not up there for the run. Their running back made a 100-something yards last week. They made almost 400 yards last week against a pretty good defense at home. I think once he got adjusted after the first quarter he played like Peyton Manning so I don't see a whole lot of difference."
(on what makes Peyton Manning, Peyton Manning) "Well most of it is production. He makes plays and finds receivers. He finds the second, third, and fourth receiver. He did that last week. That and he has command of an offense. He hadn't played with them long enough to know exactly, those receivers he had before he knew where (Marvin) Harrison was going to be all the time. He knew where those guys were going to be, know where the back shoulder. They knew it was coming, those kind of things, those finer points. He's got some young guys there, different guys there. I see him do the same things he's done."
(on why his teams have had success against Peyton Manning in the past) "I've been lucky to be with some good teams that had really good players and I'm fortunate to be with this team right here who has really good players. I think we'll play hard against these guys, and it gives us an opportunity. This guy can make plays and win games. That's what bothers you about it."
(on Peyton Manning possibly still getting fully adapted into the Denver offense) "It's probably better to play him earlier than it is later this year. That's about the only advantage because he's going to get better and better you know that. Smart players get better. That's what we always say about our team. The guy is really a smart player plus he's got a great family. His mother and dad are great, his two brothers. He's come from solid people and he's a great worker."
(on Texans defense's clean slate against QB Peyton Manning) "This is this year's team. They said a lot of things about last year's team during last year, 'You never won a championship and you've never won a playoff game,' and all those things. You make things happen for yourself. This is a big, big game for our football team. We need to go up there and play well because of our season and this year's team. They're all different from year to year. We won the first playoff game that Dallas won in 13 years and eight games we weren't good enough and I was gone. It's year-to-year; sometimes it's year-to-half-a-year. What I'm saying is we had the same nucleus, same kind of team, but you still got to go out and do it every year."
(on this year's defense not having experience against QB Peyton Manning) "This year's team never played him, yet."
(on returning to Denver) "If I had a grudge against all the teams that I've been with I could pretty much get up for every game. We had a great six years in Denver and we went to the Super Bowl. We did a lot of great things, my first year I got in the playoffs as a head coach. Pat Bowlen, I think a whole lot of. We got great friends, in fact my wife is there today. We got great friends there. I have good memories about Denver, but certainly I want to go up and win the ball game. I want our team to win."
(on game officiating this season) "I think the officials, whoever they are, try to do the best they can do. I've never felt like they were prejudiced one way or the other. The officials we had previously are the ones now that are trying to do the best they can do. I appreciate that. I get upset certainly if I think it's a bad call or whatever. I think you start going into officials and saying 'Hey!' That gives your team an excuse, say, 'Hey they called it wrong or this wrong or that.' There aren't excuses. We're going to play our best and we're going to win and we're going to overcome whatever it takes. If it's' turnovers, which Denver almost overcame four turnovers in one quarter and won a game on the road. That tells you what kind of team they have."
ILB Brian Cushing
(on Peyton Manning talking about his rare athletic ability) "It's a special compliment, coming from him. He's one of the best quarterbacks to ever play, if not the best. That's what you play for. You play for respect amongst your peers."
(on how much of a chess match it is going against Peyton Manning and all the adjustments at the line) "It will be. There's no question about it. He's special at what he does. This is his first year in the system and with how far he's got the guys going already, as far as Denver, it's pretty special. I don't think any other quarterback could really be as advanced as he is right now."
(on his first matchup against Peyton Manning and the Colts) "I remember rookie year, we were really preparing for his signals and trying to get down any things he says at the line or checks or whatever. We were trying to kind of script everything he was saying. Eventually, we went into the game and he didn't say a word. That's just kind of the guy he is. I think he changes weekly. He knows that people scout him and try and get a beat on him. That's what makes him Peyton and how good he is. He's always progressing and getting better."
(on going up against former teammate TE Joel Dreessen) "It will be fun. Joel (Dreessen) is a guy who really battled over the past couple of years. A lot of Sundays, we were teammates and striving to be great together. Now seeing him in Denver and playing against him will be fun, but it will be a good challenge. He's a very good player."
(on if TE Joel Dreessen has kept any tendencies that he had while in Houston) "Joel (Dreessen) is a very similar player to when he was here. He's a very good special teams player, good blocker, good route runner. We're going to expect all of those things out of him on Sunday."
(on if it's difficult to not get distracted by everything that Peyton Manning does at the line) "I think you just have to worry about the alignment and how they come out, the formation. Besides that, you have to figure that a lot of that stuff is probably just dummy calls anyway. He's going to be doing a lot of stuff, but we just have to run our defense and stick to our plan. That's what's important."
(on Peyton Manning's ability to throw the ball plus stay balanced with run game) "He's got a really good running back in Willis McGahee. I think that has a large part to do with it. It seems like a very balanced team as far as that and when you have a spread offense like they do, with as many receivers and weapons as they do, they can catch you off guard sometimes with the run game. I think they've done that with a couple teams so far. I'm sure they're going to try to instill it on our game plan as well."
(on the Texans defense's ability to keep the opposing team one-dimensional the first two weeks) "I think the offense that we're playing this week is a little different than the past two opponents. With the quarterback we're playing and overall with their scheme. I think the game is going to be a little different than those two."
(on if he's more comfortable facing Peyton Manning with Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips' prior success against him) "I just feel better playing football with (Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips). He's one of the best defensive coaches there is, in my opinion. The confidence that he gives us and the game plan, it's really so simple for us. He doesn't try to overdo anything. He knows who his playmakers are. He just has everyone in the right position and it just makes everyone have fun out there and have confidence and go out and just enjoy the game. He's made football a lot more fun, I guess you could say."
RB Arian Foster
(on the challenges against the Denver Broncos) "They are very good pass rushers. Especially Von Miller, last year was used to rushing every down, he was known as an outside linebacker-type but he was rushing every down with the occasional drop. So this year he's playing in a 4-3, so he has that same mentality when he comes in the rush. He's used to going up against tackles and so it's obviously a big challenge in pass protection. He's obviously got a lot of respect around the league so we're going to show him the same."
(on the altitude in Denver) "It's a little tougher to breathe up there. I was born in Albuquerque and it's actually higher than Denver. So I know that it is a factor, but I feel like we're well-conditioned athletes and we'll handle it just fine."
(on the progress he's seen in RB Ben Tate) "I feel like he's always had ability. He's always been able to make plays, and it's just about getting the opportunities in this league. The more plays you make, the more opportunities you get."
(on how RB Ben Tate's presence changed the game for him) "Obviously, if you have a guy that's capable of getting the job done, coming in for you, it's easy to take breaks and not rushing back in there."
(on if RB Ben Tate affects the flow of the offense) "It can but it depends on how the game goes. Sometimes it can, sometimes it doesn't."
(on if he thinks he'll have the same opportunities as he had in the Jacksonville game this weekend as far as coverages) "They do run a lot of similarities; have a lot of similar structure on their defense. You can't say that it's the same defense because it's different players and they do different things. There are some tendencies that they show but you can't really know if you're going to capitalize on them until you play them. You just got to take them as a whole new team, because it is."
(on if schematically he feels like the same opportunities may present themselves to follow up the Jacksonville performance) "That's what I'm saying; you don't ever know. You could play the same team in the same year and come out with a totally different outcome. The opportunity's there, they came from the same sister system so it's kind of structurally the same thing, but you don't bank on that."
CB Johnathan Joseph
(on if he keeps in touch with Denver CB Champ Bailey) "Always, actually that's funny that you say that. He gave me a text yesterday, told me that we'll probably hook up once I get in town. That's a guy I always follow throughout my career. I kind of emulate my career after him. This guy is in his 14th year, still playing at the top level, one of the top guys at his position so it's always an honor."
(on what makes CB Champ Bailey such a great player) "The first thing would probably be just his competitive nature. He's always up for the challenge each and every week. Throughout his career he's followed the best guy. He's been in 11 Pro Bowls. I think he's tied all-time. You can go down a number of different things. He's super athletic, fast, quick, tough, tackles, plays through injuries so it's a number of things."
(on following football) "Absolutely, I always follow football. I follow all the guys that play my position. If there's any time you can pick up something new or any new craft that may work for yourself or if it's something that you may see that could possibly help you and just talking to the guys throughout the league during the offseason about different things always helps."
(on watching Monday night's game) "I never watch the game socially actually. Sometimes I may go out but most of the times I like to stay at home because I tend to want to watch the game and see can pick up on something that could obviously help myself."
(on if he was surprised to see QB Peyton Manning throw interceptions on Monday) "Obviously it's something that we're not accustomed to seeing with Peyton (Manning) but throughout this league things change. Sometimes you get off to a bad start and obviously he cleaned it up throughout the second half and brought them back and had a chance to win the game down the stretch."
CB Kareem Jackson
(on how QB Peyton Manning looks at this stage) "He's like the same Peyton Manning to me. The brainiac out there you know. He's making checks. He's seeing things other guys aren't seeing. He's putting his guys in the right position to make plays and that's the same Peyton Manning he's always been. For us, we just got to try to be a step ahead of him and try to make some of those plays."
(on if the Texans can take anything away from what Atlanta did defensively Monday against Denver) "My thing is those guys did a lot of disguising. That's something that we'll try to do. Another thing is we just got to make plays. He could put them in the right plays. I know (Defensive Coordinator) Coach Wade (Phillips) is going to call the right defense for us to be in. We'll be in the position to make plays. We just got to go out and make them."
(on QB Peyton Manning's ability to find secondary receivers) "One of the things we preach is play to the whistle. From the beginning of the play to the end, a guy like that finding his second, third reads down the field, you just got to keep the guy covered up the entire time. So for us, we've made some big emphasis on that throughout the week. We just got to play through the whistle."
SS Danieal Manning
(on playing against QB Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl) "Just how he was calling out so much, we played going through that season, we weren't playing quarterbacks like that. They could pick up the whole defense and pretty much we were playing out of his hand and he was putting us in different coverages that we didn't want to play in. He could move his guys around. They were all on the same page, kept certain personnel on the field. We couldn't bring any other guys to match in with their personnel. Other than that, that's pretty much one of the biggest things. He kept those guys around and allowed his defense to make plays there at the end and beat us."
(on keeping QB Peyton Manning from controlling the Texans' defense) "Well we got to try to make him play in our end. We've got to do more disguising and show some blitzes and show some soft coverages back there. Other than that, we just got to play our ball."
(on QB Peyton Manning's ability at going through progressions) "Timing is big in this league. If you can hold the ball longer, you can find those open receivers. For us, our d-linemen got to be able to get pressure on those guys and we got to stay tight, locked down on the receivers. That's how you make plays on the ball. Peyton (Manning) for the most part has been able to get a lot of protection and get the ball well. Again, when you tip your hand and he can pull you out, he gets the ball to his receiver."
RT Derek Newton
(on if anyone has informed him of the challenges of playing in Denver) "No, I've heard a couple things but I really haven't thought about it too much."
(on what the crowd noise and defense lining up offsides has been like in practice) "It hasn't been that bad, but it gets us ready for the game so we got to go with it to prepare for the game. It'll be very helpful for us."
(on if the Broncos use speed or athleticism and strength to their advantage) "They're a bunch of good guys. I think they use a little bit of both. So, we just got to go out there and play our game."
OLB Brooks Reed
(on Denver's running game) "They're kind of a complete package. Last year they showed that they had good defense and now they have a great quarterback and so it kind of seems like they have the total package. They don't really have weaknesses. It's going to be tough. It's going to be a great test for us. It will give us a great point to see where we're at."
(on what he sees when he watches QB Peyton Manning on tape) "Just his movement in the pocket, he's unlike a lot of quarterbacks where if he feels pressure he escapes out the back, but he goes forward. It's hard for the edge rushers to get to him because he's really shallow."
(on QB Peyton Manning's mobility in the pocket) "He knows where to go. He knows where the pressure is coming from pretty much at all times. He gets rid of the ball quick, his quick release so it's hard to get to him."
(on knowing it's tough to get to QB Peyton Manning) "You just got try to reach in and get that ball out quicker. He's kind of like (Joe) Flacco in that he doesn't like to give up sacks. He kind of just flips the ball away if he feels like going to get sacked. It's tough on a D-lineman when you see that happen, when he just gets rid of it as he is falling down and gets a completion downfield."