Members of the Houston Texans spoke with the media following Thursday's practice.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
ILB Brian Cushing
CB Kareem Jackson
WR Lestar Jean
FS Danieal Manning
OLB Whitney Mercilus
DE Antonio Smith
DE J.J. Watt
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on the team's health) "First off, other than (WR) Lestar (Jean) everybody else is back to work today except (Johnathan Joseph). (Johnathan Joseph) did not practice today. We did expect him to practice a little bit, but it was still sore so we'll be back in routine tomorrow, see where he's at."
(on how he will determine if CB Johnathan Joseph will play Sunday) "Well I strictly just listen to our trainers, once you get going in a season in this league, you're going to always use the word 'nursing' guys to Sunday, a lot of them because they play a lot of snaps. He played over 80 some snaps last week, and he's had some soreness (with) this issue before and he's been able to play through it and stuff. I'm sitting here thinking he's going to be ready to go. As far as making the final decision, I got to listen to our doctors. If they think we're risking something when we wake up on Sunday morning then you've got to move on."
(on the lockout ending for the officials) "Well I'm glad they got it done. I had confidence that they would so it's good to have those guys back. They know our game. They know our team. They know our coaches, know our players. I'm glad that it got worked out. At the same time, I'd say I have a lot of respect for those guys that worked their tail off these past three weeks. They were put in a very tough situation and I think they did the best they possibly could so glad to see things get back to normal."
(on if the officials lockout caused him to have more appreciation for them) "I've had one all along. I'll be honest with you, being a former player and now in coaching, the relationship that you form with those guys, it's pretty strong. We see some of those guys two or three times a year. I know as a player, as a quarterback you're sitting there in the pocket you get to know those referees pretty good. Everybody is important to this game regardless of where you want to start. It's what makes it the greatest game there is in my opinion. I'm just glad that they'll be back out there and we keep going to work."
(on penalties and adjustments) "I don't know. There is not an adjustment for us. We got to go play. As a coach when you're getting penalties, you always have to address them. If you think you're doing something and you're not getting penalties, you better address those too. We try to do that every week, every Monday when we get together. That's kind of part of the game each week."
(on this upcoming Titans game) "I think they played a very tough schedule. I think they're a very explosive team, capable of making big plays. They did that on defense last week also. Special teams, they always give us problems. They tend to come up with a wrinkle or two that gives people problems and the fact that it's a division game. We always have some really good games with them. Our biggest concern right now is getting ready to play, getting back on the positive side of the turnover battle which we did not win last week. If we do that and play good football then we'll have our chance."
(on the Titans' big-play potential) "This is a league where you'd like to have some big plays because it is so hard to inch your way down the field. Sometimes you got to do it, but you're always looking for big plays, big chunks of yardage and they've got the people. I think I said this yesterday, I think their weapons offensively when you look at their wide receivers or tight ends, their back, probably the biggest test for our defense this year. What they did on special teams or have always done under Alan (Lowry), I coached with Alan (Lowry) in San Francisco, to me gives you problems."
(on who will step in if CB Johnathan Joseph can't play on Sunday) "(CB) Alan Ball, his rotation picks up. Alan (Ball) can go outside. (CB) Brice (McCain) can go outside, but then (CB) Brandon Harris becomes part of your game plan and probably suits up so we'll see, see where we're at."
(on WR DeVier Posey) "Yeah, I have. I have been very impressed. He's been really good the past three weeks. The biggest I had with him coming out of camp is he probably wasn't as far along as (WR) Keshawn (Martin) as far as understanding what we do. That has improved a great day. He's got a lot of ability. I think he can help (Special Teams Coordinator) Joe (Marciano) on special teams. He's had two good practices so he's going to play. We're going to rotate those guys. He will play."
(on TE Garrett Graham) "He's a good player. First off, he's sharp. We do a lot of things with our tight ends. I consider those three guys all tight ends. (FB) James (Casey) plays there a bunch, too. We run a bunch of three tight end sets and two tight end sets so we're able to balance the field. We have just as much offense in (TE) Garrett (Graham) as we do (TE Owen Daniels) so it helps us give (Owen Daniels) a break, keep playing, not get predictable where the football wants to go or where it should go and just keep attacking coverage, so far so good with him."
(on division games) "I think they're always difficult. I think they are because you know each other so good. You're going to play each other again at some point. Sometimes you end up playing each other back within a three or four week period. This particular group for us is going to be pretty spread out during the course of the season. When you're playing divisional opponents you can go back a long ways, you can go back and how did they play you three years ago, two years ago. I'm sure they look at it the same way so it does make things more interesting. Sometimes it makes you do too much if anything else."
(on what impresses him most about Titans QB Jake Locker) "His ability to make plays off schedule to me, that's the thing. If something breaks down, he can beat you running around, pick up a big third down, run around, make a big throw. We put a big emphasis on it today to keep playing defense, stay locked in your coverage. When guys can make plays off schedule, it sure as heck helps coaches and teams."
(on team's adjusting to DE J.J. Watt) "I think that's tough to do. I wouldn't say that I've seen that. I think that's tough to do because the way we play defense. We're pretty balanced. We've played a couple of teams that have had us nickel a bunch so when we go to nickel there is no telling where (DE) J.J. (Watt) is going to play so it makes it difficult. You got to give Wade (Phillips) the credit for the way they move him around. J.J. a lot of credit for being sharp enough to get moved around and still be a very effective player. If they start doing that, we feel good about our other ones too. We'll find a way to make some plays with them."
(on this weekend's Bayou Bucket at Reliant Stadium between Rice and the University of Houston) "It'll be here right? 2:30, that's my prediction. I hope to catch a half. No predictions. That's it. I got my 'Give a Hoot' band on though. I got that. Actually I walked into a meeting this morning and all the quarterbacks had a U of H hat on in the front of the meeting room. I told them I got my Give a Hoot band."
(on how he feels personally at this point about the Texans' recent success) "I don't feel any different today than I ever feel. I feel good about the fact that we could show up every week and win a football game. We've got our organization in that position now. I've said that to you for a few years is the thing you want to do in this business is have a good enough organization, good enough football team that every Sunday when you show up you've got a legitimate chance to win. We worked really hard to get ourselves in that position. That doesn't guarantee a darn thing. We've won three games. That doesn't' mean anything. I've seen both ends of the stick in this league. I've seen the good end that ends in late January or early February and I've seen the bad end, too. You've just got to stay focused on what you're doing, but we got a good football team. If I keep them focused and they keep working, then we should be able to find a way to win some more games here along the way."
(on if he's concerned about the field condition on Sunday ) "Our guys usually do a pretty good job with that. Yeah, that'll be two games within a 24-hour period on that field, but I think what they do is they evaluate if they could possibly replace the inside of it. That's the way they do it."
(on Texans Owner Bob McNair not making snap judgments) "He could've made a snap judgment on a lot of people a couple years ago not just this guy. That's part of the business and you understand that, but we felt like we had a program that was heading in the right direction. We had some tough losses a few years ago. In this league, you can get position to win those games, but you've got to find a way to win them and we didn't that year. He gave us an opportunity to stay with our program so we're all very fortunate for that not just this guy."
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
(on CB Johnathan Joseph's status) "(CB Johnathan Joseph) J-Joe didn't practice again today, we know that. He said he's feeling better, but we're going to have to wait until Sunday. Hopefully he'll be able to play. That's our hope, obviously."
(on the Titans' passing game) "They're in the top 10 in passing in the league. You didn't expect that really with their running back having a 2,000-yard year one year and the coach being an offensive line guy. They've got a real good passing game and because they have real good receivers, the second-year quarterback has been playing outstanding for them. They had some help, but they got 44 points in the game. We've only given up 42 ourselves so they've got a pretty strong passing game."
(on the Titans' running game struggles) "It just hasn't come through for them yet. I know they're still working on it, and we're going to still work against it, try to keep them from breaking out. The running back obviously the ability to do it. We've just got to keep him contained."
(on if he views Tennessee as a running team still) "No, I see them as a passing team right now. When you're in the top ten in passing and then you're not in running that's what you got to stop, from what we've seen so far. Again, they're capable of obviously with that kind of running back to have a big game rushing. Reggie Bush didn't have much game against us and then had 172 yards the next week. Those good backs can come up with big yardage if you don't hold them down."
(on Tennessee RB Chris Johnson's running woes) "I don't' have any control over what they do. We just try to stop what they do. We know what kind of back he is. We know the problems that you can face if you let him start making big yards on you. We got to play the running game. That's what we've done the first three games. Be able to play the running game well enough to force teams into passing situations."
(on keeping up with the referee situation on Twitter) "Since I'm on Twitter now? I'm a Twitter vet. I got three years I think."
(on his reaction to the ending of the referee lockout) "I think I said it before, I always think the guys that are in there are trying to do their best. I think the guys that we had tried to do their best. I know the guys that are coming in. I know a lot of them have been around the league for a long time, familiar with a lot of these guys. I think they really do a good job with what they do. There is always going to be calls. There is always going to be things that we're going to think is not, but they do a good job overall and they're professionals. I think they're passionate about what they do also."
(on Head Coach Gary Kubiak) "I've been lucky. The head coaches I've worked for have been all really great ones. Marty Schottenheimer has 200 wins. Dan Reeves has 200 wins. The guy, (Bum) Phillips, whatever his name is, I thought he was a heck of a coach. Buddy Ryan, we did real well, won the division there in Philadelphia when I was with him. I've been with successful guys and (Head Coach) Gary (Kubiak) is right up with all those guys, the way he handles the team. I told him and I think I told everybody; last year, almost every team, in fact I've been let go a couple times because my quarterback got hurt and we weren't able to win. (John) Elway was out four games the year that I got let go there. Same thing at Dallas, (Tony) Romo was out four or five games out of the eight that I was there. Gary did a great job of getting the team to win when those kind of circumstances came up and that showed me what kind of coach you are."
(on not being blessed with owners who have great patience wherever he's coached) "Well I don't know. They should have gotten rid of me everywhere I've been, I'm sure."
(on OLB Whitney Mercilus) "(OLB) Whitney (Mercilus) is doing fine. It's just we've got really good players at those positions. We're trying to bring him in slowly. We tried to do the same thing with (OLB) Brooks Reed last year and all of the sudden he had to play all the time. I think Whitney is getting ready to play and we'll play him more and more as we go."
(on getting creative to get DE J.J. Watt in one-on-one situations) "We try to get our best players one on one as much as we can. You're not going to get guys free all the time. You try to get matchups. Pro football is matchups where there are receivers, cornerbacks or d-linemen and offensive linemen and pass rushers, put them on guys that you think they match up well with. (DE) J.J. (Watt) if we can just keep somebody else off of him, he's got a chance to make plays as do some of our other guys."
(on OLB Connor Barwin) "(OLB) Connor (Barwin) has played the run extremely well which has helped us a lot. He's played against three of the top tackles in the league I think the last three games and he's given them all they wanted. I'm pleased where we are, as long as you win and you play well then that's fine. Sacks or not sacks, doesn't make any difference. The pressure is important."
(on the 3-4 defensive end) "First of all we play a different 3-4 than everybody else or most other people, although several of them play it the same one we do now because those guys have coached with me. When I started out it was a two-gap defense, the defensive ends had to play two-gap and be able to rush the passer. Well that's a hard thing to do. We had a guy here with the Houston Oilers named Elvin Bethea. We said, 'Wait a minute. We don't want to do that with that guy.' We started stunting the guys and moving them and let them do what they do well, playing a 3-4, but playing a different way, Phillips 3-4 if you want to call it that. I had another guy named Bruce Smith that wasn't bad at in a 3-4. You can do it with guys, if they have the abilities, then you let them go more. If they don't then you play a two-gap and just hold your ground all you can and let the linebackers make the plays. It's all about what kind of players you have and let them do what they do best."
(on the Music City Miracle) "I remember the forward lateral they threw against us. I can't forget that one. This one was by far, I was standing there on the other one so I knew they were going to call it back but they didn't. They changed the tuck rule. They've done a lot of things."
(on the Bayou Bucket Game at Reliant Stadium between the University of Houston and Rice this Saturday) "Obviously I went to U of H and I'm pulling for them although (Rice Head Coach) David Bailiff does a great job at Rice. I think they're doing a heck of a job. King Hill was a real close friend of mine who was a Rice graduate and all-time Rice player that passed away this year and I'll think about King on that game too. It's a football game. I hope both teams play well and do well."
(on Titans' QB Jake Locker) "Jake Locker has only been sacked twice this season. That presents a big challenge and part of it is he gets rid of the ball quickly. They taught him that, but when he doesn't he can get away from the rush. He might be their leading rusher. I think he is. In fact I know he is, but anyway. I pay attention to some of those things. But anyway, he can run with the football but he also escapes the rush. The thing he does that a lot of young quarterbacks don't do is he gets away from the rush and then he looks downfield to throw it so they've made a lot of big plays that way. Whereas a lot of those young quarterbacks will get away and they're just going to run with it. He's kind of a double threat there. He's a good looking young quarterback."
(on protecting leads late in games) "Unfortunately, this last game we said, 'Hey we've got to play deeper and stay back,' and then they hit us for a touchdown. We talked about that during the game. It should make it easier. We know we're not going to blow one of those leads because I think we're strong enough to not let a team just quick touchdowns like we did that one. You learn from those things. Hey, the more we're ahead, the better it is."
(on CB Alan Ball) "(CB) Alan (Ball) can play. That's what we brought him in for. He hasn't played corner in a couple years so getting the technique stuff and I think he's really getting it down better and better. He had two or three interceptions in practice today. Alan looks good. We're confident that he can play."
(on if they've put any more emphasis on ball security or catching interceptions ) "We work a lot on that. We use the jugs machine. They catch 50 balls a day just like receivers do. We put a lot of emphasis on it. It's a difficult thing to do or everybody would be getting a lot of interceptions every week, but we work on it. We work on it in practice. We make plays and try to make plays in practice. Like I said, we had several interceptions today in practice. You just keep working at it. They'll come for us. With a strong rush, guys seeing the football, now we play a lot of man which you're not going to get quite as many interceptions in man except in over throws and things like that, but you're also not going to get very many completions. To hold (Peyton) Manning to 50 percent or around 50 percent, for the season and real good on third downs which aren't turnovers but it's close to a turnover. We keep working at it."
ILB Brian Cushing
(on the officials lockout ending) "Obviously I'm happy for them, but hopefully we're in situations in games where we don't have to rely on the last play or anything anyway. It's good for them. I'm sure everyone is happy for them to be back."
(on if it makes a big difference to him) "I think calls will be more consistent. I think the calls will be more consistent, more accurate. Obviously the new refs aren't perfect either. I think a lot of people forget that. For the most part, I think everyone is just pleased that they're back."
(on facing a running quarterback) "It's just one of those things where you're going to have to contain. He's going to want to get out and run a lot. We're going to have to limit it as best as we can, force him to throw the football. If he does try to run, contain him."
(on if he sees some of the old RB Chris Johnson on tape) "I see some plays. He's still the same guy that made all those runs and all those plays. It wasn't too long ago he was doing that so obviously he's still very capable of doing it. It's just one of those things that you don't want him to have his breakout game against us."
CB Kareem Jackson
(on if he has a reaction to the officials lockout ending) "Not really, it's good that they're back. It'll keep some of the fuss down I think. I don't really think that that played a big part in us going out and competing and making plays. Like I said, it keeps some of the fuss down so it's good that they're back."
(on what will happen when the regular referees make a disputed call) "I think the same thing will happen. Somebody is going to have an opinion about a call. They could make a bad call, coach is going to be on them just like the replacement refs. I just think the emphasis was placed on them because they were the replacements. Like I said, I don't think any of those calls may determine the game. It's not in my hands."
(on if the integrity of the game was hurt over the last three weeks) "I don't think so. The NFL is going to be what it's going to be regardless of replacement refs, replacement players, whoever. That logo is stamped and it's going to be that regardless of who's calling the games, who is playing now or a year from now so I don't think it hurt the integrity of the game at all."
WR Lestar Jean
(on his injury after playing well lasst week) "It's disappointing but it's part of the game. The ups and the downs, you just got move forward from here and just try to get back as soon as possible."
(on what he did exactly to hurt himself) "My lateral meniscus, a little piece of it was torn. It's not that bad."
(on if he'll return soon) "Yeah, it won't be that long. I don't know exactly how long, but it's not going to be a long time."
(on trying to get healthy as quickly as he can) "Yeah, just came in and got started right away on rehab. Just attacking it, just trying to get back as soon as possible because I spent enough time in rehab last year on IR so I have to get back on the field."
FS Danieal Manning
(on facing Titans QB Jake Locker) "This is a game we're going to have to play sound technique then you have to plaster because he's going to buy some time. What I mean by plaster is staying on those receivers from guys running deep, you want them to come back to the ball and guys that are short you want to run deep."
(on the Titans' offense presenting a dangerous test) "They got a great tight end, the skill receivers, and the running back, of course. They can definitely put problems on us with their speed and matchups. The quarterback, again, he can just scramble. He can see guys covered. He'll take off with the ball."
OLB Whitney Mercilus
(on the officials lockout ending) "It's a good thing. It's going to be a lot more fair officiating out there I suppose. The guys before, they were doing their best, but finally the lockout is over for the refs and all that. They're coming in and handling the job and making sure the right calls are being called."
(on playing on special teams) "Not too bad, been improving week to week, getting a few tackles here and there and the thing is just getting more repetition at practice as to looking at what the opposing team does. I think I've been getting better at that."
(on his big hits in Denver) "In Denver, they were trying to do a couple twists or whatever, double blocks, or blind-side blocks. I was able to read it fast and then kind of juke the guy and get down and make a special hit on the returner. I'm just trying to do more of that and eventually, hopefully I do the same thing in this game."
DE Antonio Smith
(on the officials lockout ending) "That's good. Any time somebody is able to get what they do, I'm glad. I'm happy for them. Their families get their pensions and hopefully some calls and just go in the right direction now."
(on if having the regular officials out there makes him more confident) "Yeah, with no disrespect, these refs are just like how we are in football. They're the best at what they do. They're the best of the best. Obviously things are going to be better. Calls are going to be better. I think a lot of things people get in the way with is finally getting nipped in the butt, but still they cleaned the game up a little bit. Like I said, they're good at what they do. You can't take that away from them. This game tonight should be better than some of games we've had."
(on if he could tell the difference between the original referees and the replacements) "I think everybody could tell the difference. Like I said, no disrespect again, but everybody could tell the difference. Like I said, these guys have been doing it for years upon years and they mastered their craft and then got better. All of them are going to make bad calls at some point in time depending on who you are and which end of the call you're on. Somebody say it's a good call when you know other team says it's a bad call. I think it'll be less controversial calls than there has been these past couple of weeks."
(on QB Jake Locker's mobility) "Whenever you got a quarterback who can run, it's like a defensive lineman's worst nightmare because rushing the passer, especially when you're getting third down and the quarterback can scramble and pick up a first down and keep you out there on the field and keep drives alive is one of the most dangerous things out there to have. With that, it also can give you the opportunities to have more sacks because they're going to scramble around. They're going to hold the ball because they're used to running. So nine times out of ten quarterbacks that scramble give up more sacks than quarterbacks that stay in the pocket."
DE J.J. Watt
(on the resolved referee situation) "It's great. It's good to have them. Hopefully the focus goes back to football."
(on if the returning referees will be scrutinized now more than ever) "That's probably true for a little bit. I think the fans are probably going to look at it that way, but I'm sure a lot of the refs will get big cheers when they go out there too. It'll be good to just focus on football again."
(on containing Titans' QB Jake Locker) "He's a good quarterback. He has great legs. He can run fast. We just want to make sure we keep him contained, make him do the work and hopefully pressure him into some bad situations where he throws our guys the ball."
(on Titans' RB Chris Johnson) "We know what he is capable of. He can always bust out a big run so you have to be careful with him. As long as we play our defense and do what we do, we'll be just fine."