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Quotes: Thursday practice


Head Coach Gary Kubiak
Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison
OLB Connor Barwin
LT Duane Brown
ILB Bradie James
WR Andre Johnson
SS Danieal Manning
OLB Whitney Mercilus
QB Matt Schaub
DE J.J. Watt

Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on the team's health in practice today) "As far as our health the two guys that did not work at all today where (CB) Alan Ball and (OLB) Brooks Reed. Other than that, everybody was back to work, some guys on a limited basis but everybody else was back to work."

(on CB Johnathan Joseph today) "He looked good. He took a third to a half of the reps today in practice and looked very explosive, looked good. We'll be smart as we work through the week. I think all those guys that group of guys are all going to be game time decisions and how they come out of their practice reps here over the course of the next couple of days will probably have a lot to do with where we're at. So, step in the right direction for all of those guys that went back to work today."

(on new CB Stanford Routt) "Well, he's got a lot of skill. He can run. In our situation right now, he's a veteran player that could come in and help us quickly and pick up what we're doing pretty quickly. We'll see where we're at when we get to the end of the week. He's played a lot of football, covered a lot of good players in this league. I guess the biggest thing I say is it's a hell of an opportunity for him and his career. Went to school here, so want to see him make the most of this opportunity."

(on if he expects CB Stanford Routt) "He's got no choice. That's part of it this time of year. I think to ask a guy to collect your whole playbook in a week is kind of tough, but as far as getting a game plan down and the things that you're going to do. We'll get him comfortable with that if he's put in a position to play this week that he's ready to play. But there is a lot of carryover too, from a coverage standpoint and knowledge that he has. (Defensive Backs Coach Vance Joseph) VJ's been working with him, him and (Assistant Defensive Backs Coach) Perry (Carter). They got a head start yesterday, so we'll catch him up as quick as we can."

(on Defensive Backs Coach Vance Joseph) "He's an exceptional coach. First off, he brings a lot of confidence to players, in my opinion. I watched him really turn (CB) Brice (McCain) around as a player over the course of the last two years. The job he's done with the young guys like (CB Brandon) Harris and (CB) Roc (Carmichael), who got pressed into duty last week and to watch them play. He's an excellent teacher and like I said, there is a big emphasis in this league right now with the salary cap and stuff and a lot of changeover in this league in losing players and those types of things. You better be able to teach real quick, especially to the depth of your football team, so I think the job he's done speaks for itself."

(on the leaders in the secondary) "I think (SS Danieal Manning) D-Man and (FS Glover Quin) GQ, (CB Johnathan Joseph) J-Joe they've always been leaders since they've been here. It's a strong group. Like I said, it's headed by their coach. He does a hell of a job. It's a group of guys that played a lot of football. D-Man's played a lot. J-Joe's played a lot. GQ's played a lot for us and played a couple spots. You've got a lot of confidence in what they're doing. They play hard. That's the biggest thing."

(on CB Brandon Harris and CB Roc Carmichael going against the Patriots) "It's a challenge for everybody. These guys spread the field as good as anybody. They get the ball out as quick as anybody. The guy that gets that out is as good as anybody that's ever played. It's a tremendous challenge for our team. We understand that. It's going to be about team defense for us. If we don't make them get rid of the ball quick, we're going to struggle on the back end. It's going to all go together. We're going to have to be ready to play quick from a hurry-up standpoint and those types of things, but we're trying to limit big plays and be consistent in what we're doing."

(on CB Brandon Harris ) "He's been good. I think that's why you saw us improve last week. We had struggled defensively there for a couple weeks, but (ILB Darryl) Sharpton got a bunch of reps under his belt, (CB) Brandon Harris, (CB) Roc (Carmichael). You could see the difference, getting (NT Shaun) Cody back was a big difference, which I talked about. It's one thing for young guys to play to get forced into duty on a given Sunday. It's another thing if they've got a whole week to prepare. You usually see a difference in the player so they're getting a lot of reps right now."

(on RB Ben Tate's status) "I think he's still coming. I'm hoping he's better this week than he was last week. I think there is still another level for him to reach. He struggled a little bit getting loose. I turned around on the bench last week. He's got sweats on you know and it's 75 degrees. He's coming. We need him to keep coming for our team. He's got a guy, (RB) Justin (Forsett), playing extremely well ahead of him, so he needs to keep pushing. If he does that, he'll get his opportunities to help us."

(on if the majority of the Patriots' forced turnovers have come late in games) "I wouldn't say that. I think they've been excellent. They've always been a great red zone team, those types of things. They're just a big-play football team. It seems like the bigger the opportunity, bigger situations in games, they step up and make huge plays. All I know is everybody who's went in there and helped them by turning the ball over has been in some big trouble. We got back to protecting the ball last week, which we've done pretty good. It's going to be extremely important this week."

(on Patriots QB Tom Brady) "I've been against him so many times. When I was in Denver for years, been in some big games against him, the utmost respect. He's a Hall of Fame player. You're watching something special whether you're coaching, you're a fan, or whatever you do. They don't come around like that very often and great person, loves ball, great leader."

(on the pace of the Patriots' offense) "They're going to get their snaps. They find a way. They're pushing the snap limit in the NFL probably as much as anybody right now. That's due to him. He gets so many things done so quickly. He's had some situations with his team where he's got a lot of young guys going out there with him. He's lost a couple players, but yet you give him whoever and he'll find a way to make him successful and that's the mark of a great quarterback. He's the reason they're pushing the limits and they do it very well."

(on Patriots WR Wes Welker) "First off, he's a tremendous student of the game. You can watch him when he plays. You don't see the same thing every week as far as how he runs routes, how he attacks people, how he goes against certain people he plays, tough as nails. He'll go across the middle, for his size and stuff, and make big catches. Heck of a guy with the ball in his hands. On a little right he'll catch a bubble or something and if you don't go do your job tackling, he's going to make you pay. He's been special playing that position for a long time with (QB) Tom (Brady)."

(on ILB Bradie James) "(ILB) Bradie (James) looked good. I would say the same thing about him I did with (CB Johnathan Joseph) J-Joe, probably took about a third of the reps today and seemed like he was fine. So how these guys come out tomorrow will probably be a big indicator where we're going."

(on if RT Derek Newton is in the same category ) "Yeah, all those guys that worked today. We'll see how they come out. We didn't just throw them back out there and go full board with them. We kind of limited all of them today and how many snaps they could take."

(on OLB Brooks Reed ) "No, he's doing good though. He's actually been running in the pool in the training room. He's out on the field today doing a little field work, so he's coming fast. He's going to get there, but he's the one that's going to take a little more time."

(on QB Matt Schaub's play this season) "He's played really well. He's been pretty consistent all season long. Some weeks we ask him to throw it a bunch and sometimes we don't. It just kind of all depends on how we're playing. (QB) Matt's (Schaub) handling our football team extremely well. When we go on the road, he's protected the ball extremely well and that's why he's been able to find some W's for us, in my opinion. He's really grown up. He's become a fine player."

(on the opportunity for QB Matt Schaub to go on the road against Tom Brady on Monday night ) "He would have to answer that for you. I think every week is an opportunity for him. When you've done what he's done since he's been with this organization, which is played very darn good and you have to sit there and watch the last five weeks last week and watch two playoff games. It was extremely difficult on him. I think right now (QB) Matt (Schaub) really cherishes every opportunity to play. We're doing everything we can to keep him upright and healthy and he's been rising to the occasion. We're happy we got him."

(on players handling the high expectations and success this season) "They've been good. We have a relatively young group of guys when it comes to playoff experience. About all the experience we have is what we got out of last year, but we have a very hungry group. We've been able to add a few guys to this team who have some experience when you talk about (SS Danieal) Manning and (CB Johnathan) Joseph, those types of things. One thing about playoff football in this business, once you taste it a little bit, it'll drive you for a long time. Hopefully that's the case right here because we're still a relatively young football team. They've been good. They've been all business."

(on the right side of the line this season) "Yeah, I would say that's a pleasant situation with what we've been through, starting a rookie guard, really starting a rookie right tackle for the majority of the season, a second-year player. The key to us protecting our quarterback is running the ball. If we run the football we should be able to protect (QB) Matt (Schaub). I've been pleased. (Offensive Line Coach) John's (Benton) done a hell of a job. He lost two out of five starters and the job he's done with our young offensive line rebuilding it this year and protecting (QB) Matt (Schaub) has been exceptional."

(on New England Head Coach Bill Belichick discussing the importance of DE Antonio Smith to DE J.J. Watt) "I saw where Bill (Belichick) said that. This guy has felt that way all along. (DE) J.J's (Watt) having a tremendous year. The numbers he's putting up, but really when you go back and look at the film the job that (DE) Antonio (Smith) has done opposite of him has really opened the door for him in a lot of ways. Antonio's been exceptional for us since he's been here. He's an effort player. You better pay a lot of attention to him or he's going to do the same type of things. I totally agree with Bill. It's been about two guys really for us. It's just one guy seems to get a lot of the numbers, which are very well deserved."

(on the fan following on the road) "Yeah it's been really neat for us an organization, relatively young organization, certain teams go on the road and they've always got their following. Obviously, ours has gotten better and hopefully the football has gotten better. Last week was nice. We had a lot of fans down in Nashville and that means a lot to the players."

(on the Patriots consistency as an organization) "I think everybody would like to do what they've done over a long period of time. This league is about consistency and I think I learned a lot of that in my time in San Francisco and Denver. It's doing things right all the time not some of the time. We're trying to become a very consistent organization here and put a consistent product on the field week in and week out and do things the right way. We're very young in the process, but we have a lot of respect for what they've done."

Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison
(on what QB T.J. Yates proved  to him last year) "He proved that he's got a great work ethic. He can handle pressure, adversity. He can handle good things because he keeps working and he operates well. He's got a lot of talent and he's continued to do that. In the spring, he was the only veteran we had because (QB) Matt (Schaub) had some time off so he did a great job there too as far as running a team. It's not easy for anybody to run a team, let alone a young guy so he did a good job with that handling everything that we asked him to do."

(on the Patriots' ability to create turnovers) "They do a lot of things. That's what it is. They tend to get you a little cautious because they can do a lot of defense and anytime you're cautious then the ball is at risk. They're very talented obviously. They've spent some time and effort to accumulate the guys on defense I guess you'd say. They do a lot of things and they do them well."

(on WR Andre Johnson this season) "I think (WR Andre Johnson) Dre has usually taken really good care of himself, just looking at him. He spends a lot of time working out. I think he's really focused in-season a lot more. He had a little couple nicks early on in camp. We had to give him some time off, but once he stayed on the field earlier in the year, I think that's really helped him to continue to work. There is never a day that he doesn't put in a full day's work. I think (WR) Andre (Johnson) just has focused on what he needs to do to keep healthy and certainly we're benefitting from the results of that."

(on if he's still impressed with what WR Andre Johnson does every day) "Every day is a marvel. To me, it's amazing to see somebody work that hard and do that many things because usually you break down or a guy will ask for a day off, but he never does that. I think that's very, very impressive about (WR) Andre (Johnson)."

(on WR Andre Johnson leading by example) "Yeah, he'll do so many things out there that he leads by example. When (WR Andre Johnson) Dre does say something everybody certainly listens."

(on the Patriots' use of the tight ends) "Everywhere I've been, we've tried to use the tight ends. (Shannon Sharpe) Sharpie back in the 80s was very productive for us. (TE) Owen (Daniels) obviously doing some good things here. I don't know if it's a blueprint, but it certainly puts a lot of pressure on the internal part of the defense. They can't play zone all the time because he can find the holes. Even when they play man, it's a matchup problem. If it's back or a safety, he has to come and even that becomes a problem."

(on using multiple tight ends like the Patriots) "I think we've done that, too. Changing personnel and moving around always puts a little pressure on the defense. You put two receivers next two each other, what do they have to do when they overload that then they have a problem on the other side. I think just the multiple formations and what our guys can do is just a little bit different. We asked them to learn the concepts. We just have to call the route and whether it's a wide out or a tight end or even a back motioning out of the backfield, you've just got to understand he's a part of that combination so that we can attack the defense or the coverage in that regard. I think our guys we start in camp and spring teaching them that way concept-wise and our guys have really done a great job with that."

(on if G Brandon Brooks is seeing time because of his progress or simply because G Antoine Caldwell is out) "I think it's a little bit of both. Certainly, when the numbers get thin, you try to keep people rolling around, but he has done such a good job and progressing in camp and in practices, I should say. We're trying to find spots for him to play because he has a talent. We're going to see him develop. We're just trying to make that process a little faster for us by putting him in the game."

(on if QB Matt Schaub deserves more attention) "I'm not worried about deserves. We're very comfortable with (QB) Matt (Schaub). We love what he does for our team. He leads our team. He gets us in the right spot. He manages the game so well. Whether he deserves more or not, I let him do that. The way he plays and the way he has played this year, I think he's doing great things for us. He's a huge reason why we've been successful on offense."

OLB Connor Barwin
(on going up against Patriots QB Tom Brady) "Just obviously excited to go against one of the best ever. We're excited about the game. They throw the ball around a lot so it'll be important for us to make sure we put pressure on him all day."

(on what the Texans need to do to put pressure on the Patriots) "You've got to be smart. When you have an opportunity, you have to get there. You need to cover well on the back end, and you just need to win your one-on-one matchups. They put a lot of guys out so it's not a lot of chipping and block ups, stuff we see sometimes. You'll be up against the offensive line, you've got to win your one-on-one matchups.

(on what has been the key to winning so many games on the road) "I think the leadership from (Head) Coach Kubs (Gary Kubiak) and (Defensive Coordinator) Wade Phillips. We've got a mature group of guys, we prepare well during the week and we just carry that over to whether the game's here or on the road."

LT Duane Brown
(on if the team appreciates being where they are at this point in the season) "Absolutely, being that people have been here a few years understand how far we've come and appreciate the position we've put ourselves in and also appreciate how great an organization and team like New England is. Playing on a Monday night stage and realizing what we can get accomplished with a win this week, it means a lot to us and we definitely don't take it for granted. We're preparing with the understanding of how big this game is."

(on how he keeps focused despite the national attention) "It's easy. (Head) Coach (Gary) Kubiak, we've really bought into his philosophy of taking it one week at a time and going 1-0 every week. That's our motto. We don't look past this week at all. We realize how great of a team this is that we're playing. We realize how hostile of an environment Foxborough is and that's all we're focused about. We're not worrying about Super Bowl talk or anything like that. We're taking it one week at a time."

(on if QB Matt Schaub will ever be on the cover of GQ) "No, that's not his personality at all. He won't hear the end of it if we ever makes it to GQ. I'll make sure I have my copy hanging up in my locker. That would be awesome if (QB) Matt (Schaub) was to make it on GQ though."

(on what QB Matt Schaub is like in the huddle) "He definitely is a great leader. He's very vocal at times. For the most part, he's pretty reserved, but when he feels the need to step up and talk and address the team, address the offense, he definitely does it and everyone listens. He's a great leader. He leads by example. He's one of the first guys in here every morning and one of the last guys to leave. We understand how great of a player he is. The last four weeks, knowing what type of games we've been in, having the overtime games, he definitely took control of the huddle, telling everyone to lock in, be accountable. If we had a chance to finish games, he told us let's finish the game right here and put it in our defense's hands. He tells us things like that. He's a great leader and very vocal."

ILB Bradie James
(on being back) "It's great to be out there with the guys. We're on the brink of doing something very special, and you want to be a part of that. So health-wise, I'm back. Feel good and the training staff did a great job of getting me back. I'm looking forward to a great game this week. Nothing's going to keep me out of this one."

(on this being the biggest game in franchise history) "I'm getting the feel for that around here, but we've been doing a lot of firsts around here and that's been great. We've been taking them one game at a time and when you win games, the next one is always bigger. But this is also like a respect deal for us because we know that we are still flying under the radar. You want to go out here and perform, and we had our opportunity to perform in front of a nationwide crowd, so we want to keep stacking these wins up and hopefully that'll get us to where we need to be."

(on being 11-1 and still feeling like the Texans are under the radar) "Oh, without a doubt. We're flying under the radar, we kind of like it that way, but this week it's not flying under the radar after this week."

WR Andre Johnson
(on facing the Patriots on Monday night) "It's big. You know how big it is, biggest game in the history of this franchise. It'll be a big test for us and we'll be ready to go."

(on the implications of calling it the biggest game in team history) "I think as long as we keep winning, every game is going to get bigger and bigger. When you've been somewhere you've never been before, everything gets bigger. It'll be a big game for us. Everybody knows the significance of this game, so just get ready and we'll be ready Monday night."

(on Patriots QB Tom Brady and Texans QB Matt Schaub) "They're both very into what they're doing. You look at (QB) Tom (Brady), he's a fiery player, very intense. You would think he was probably a guy playing defense or something. Everyone has their different approach to it. (QB) Matt (Schaub) has that same focus. I think that's one of the similar things that they have in common. I've been telling people this season. (QB) Matt (Schaub) has a different look in his eye. I think it's just some of the things that he went through last year battling through the injuries and stuff like that. It just lets you know you never know when it'll be your last play out there on the field. You just can't take anything for granted. He's here. He'll be ready to go Monday night. I'm sure he'll definitely have that look in his eyes. He's been having it all year."

(on the team's success on the road and in big games helping on Monday night) "It helps a lot. I think for us we've been able to go out on the road this season and win games. No matter the circumstances, we've been able to come out with Ws and that's all that really matters. When they ask you your record, they ask how many games you won and how many games you lost, not what was the score. Whatever we need to do to go to New England and get that W, that's just what we need to do to win. I think that's the most important thing is just making sure we come out of there with a W."

(on how satisfying this season has been for him personally) "I don't look too much into the injury stuff. I think it's just more it's just a great feeling just because of what I've been through with the organization. This is something we've been working for around here for a long time, to put ourselves in a situation like this. I didn't think it'd take 10 seasons for it to happen, but it did. I'm just enjoying every moment of it. It's a great feeling. It's a great feeling around just the city of Houston, period. Everybody is excited, but at the same time we're not losing focus of what we have to do as a team."

(on if he was ever frustrated during his tough years with the franchise) "There is always frustration. I think that's the thing that makes you grow as a player, as a person. You kind of find out a lot about yourself, if you're going to be loyal or if you're just going to run away from it. My thing was I wanted to stay. I wanted to be a part of something special. I wanted to help this organization to where it is right now and even help it achieve more. Like I said, we still have goals that we have to accomplish. We're still working towards them."

(on what gave him faith that it would be successful here) "You could just see things just kind of coming together. I really don't think things could have got any worse than what they already were. Things were just coming together and you could just see it, especially after last season. After everything we went through, I think we found out a lot about our team and the players we had around here. I think that's what made every player so excited about this upcoming season. We knew we had a good football team."

SS Danieal Manning
(on his personal history with Patriots QB Tom Brady) "I'm two and one with Brady. Beaten him twice and lost once to him in Chicago. It was a real cold, snowy day and they came with it, they balled out on us."

(on the challenge going up against Patriots QB Tom Brady) "It's not a challenge between me and him. We're going to continue to do what we do and that's play sound defense, we're going to get after the quarterback and play sound coverage in the back end. They do have guys that can definitely get open and create space for themselves. They have a couple guys that are down but (WR) Wes (Welker) is still who he is. He can create space. So we've got some packages and we've got to get them in certain situations. They're going to draw up plays and try to get us in certain situations. They know what man-coverage we play, everybody knows it and what we try to do. They're going to do all the things knowing what defense we run. We just got to be sound and make sure we on those guys tight. (QB Tom) Brady can pinpoint balls, so if we on them tight, force him to be great every time."

OLB Whitney Mercilus
(on what the first week of practice after being a starter has been like) "It's awesome. We had three days off or whatnot, and I feel refreshed right now. After the game I was sore of course, playing all those reps, and it's part of being a starter. I'm just learning and I feel more confident, more prepared by going into this week and hopefully I keep continuing, stay on the same pace and just get better."

(on Patriots QB Tom Brady) "The guy's a good quarterback. He's phenomenal, gets the ball out quick. They've got pretty decent protection up front but the guy just knows how to make plays and just make things happen. That's one of the challenges we're going to face."

(on Patriots QB Tom Brady's impact) "Huge. The thing is, we've got to play solid all around. We can't make a lot of mistakes like we did last week with 11 penalties. Going up against a team like that, you've got to be perfect every single phase of the game and you can't give (QB Tom) Brady a chance, if he's behind, to get on top. You got to get on top of him early."

QB Matt Schaub
(on why the Texans have been successful on the road this season) "I think as a group, as a whole, our team has played good road football. We take care of it. Our defense creates turnovers. We execute when we're in the red zone on third down, just do the things necessary to win on the road in tough environments."

(on facing the Patriots) "It's a tough challenge ahead, but one we're excited for. We've got to just go down there and play as good as we can and cut it loose and play our style of football."

(on what he learned about himself during the Texans' come-from-behind wins this season) "I don't know what I necessarily learned. As you're going through a season, it's hard to, I guess sit back and think about those things. You just go and play. I just know as a quarterback of this football team, you just lean on your teammates. We've got a great group of guys to get the ball to and to make plays for you. My job is just to distribute the football to the right guy and to move our team down the field."

(on the offensive line this season) "The group as a whole, no matter who has been in there, they come in and they understand their role and what their responsibilities are. The leaders of that group between (C) Chris (Myers) and (G) Wade Smith, (T) Duane (Brown) getting all those young guys on the same page and understanding what their roles are. They do a great job of getting them ready to play because you never know when you're going to get called on."

(on if it's important to him that he's mentioned among the elite quarterbacks of the NFL) "I don't even spend one second thinking about it. To me, it's about winning football games for this team, getting to the postseason, and winning a championship. All that other stuff will take care of itself after that."

(on going to New England at this time of the year) "You know, they have a good defense and for us to go and win in their place and be successful, everyone has got to raise their level of play, especially this time of year. It's where you get closer to the end of this thing and down the road. This is when you want to be at your best and you want to be playing your best football. As a player, I want to be playing my best football too. I think everyone in that locker room feels that way."

(on the Patriots' defense) "They're very opportunistic, whether it's in the pocket trying to strip the ball out or in the secondary, hey understand concepts and how to play defense. They're very ball aware, so it's something that we've got to recognize what they're doing and be able to get the ball to the right person."

(on being overshadowed by quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers) "It doesn't matter to me. That's for everyone else to talk about, think about. For me, it's just how can I best prepare myself and this team to go win? I have my way of doing that. I just want to go out and find a way to get a win on Sunday or Monday night whatever it might be."

(on what it means to him when teammates call him elite) "It's the ultimate respect when your teammates or other plays in the NFL when they think of you that way. It's awesome. It's great to know that and have that feeling amongst your teammates and your peers. Our whole focus, mine and everyone in that locker room is just to find a way to win."

(on his family getting more fired up for him to face the Patriots and QB Tom Brady) "Probably, they probably do. I'm sure my friends back home, my family, they're ready to go play the game now, I think, and go and be a part of it. We know what we're facing. We know what challenges we're about to face and we're excited for them."

(on if what WR Andre Johnson does still amazes him) "Yeah, he definitely does. It's been six years now I've been watching it up close and personal, but every time I think I've seen it all, he goes and does something even to outdo himself before. He just continues to impress me and wow me as far as what he's able to do on the football field."

(on what it's meant personally to play with WR Andre Johnson) "The ultimate security blanket. I know as a quarterback if push comes to shove and we need a play, I know I'm going to go his direction. We see all types of coverages. I'll still go his way because I know he's going to make a play on the football. I have the utmost confidence in what he can do."

(on the offensive line) "Those guys have just worked tremendously hard at what they're asked to do. We ask our offensive line to do so much, not only in the run game but in pass protections and recognizing fronts and all the blitzes that we face. They've done a great job handling that, especially when you put two young players on the same side next to one another. It all kind of starts with (C) Chris (Myers) at center making all the calls. It works its way out to the tackles. Those guys have just worked extremely hard. You see every game, they get better and understand their role even more. That just goes with time on task with reps and just really proud with how they've played to this point."

(on keeping situations manageable) "I think just keeping your team in manageable situations, keeping your third downs more manageable than third and down-plus. You want to keep them in the third-and-five and less range because then your playbook, you can run, you can throw, you can do all types of things, being good on first down and then executing in the red zone. Just being able to manage the game, understand that punting the football is not the worst thing, not trying to force the football, especially on third down and where you can put your defense in a bad situation or give the other team the ball in plus territory."

(on what he'd like to do better) "I think we can be better on third down. I think looking at the past month, especially the other day in second half, we weren't as sharp on third down as we've been. We pride ourselves on being so. We've got to be better in that area and that will lead to sustaining drives, keeping our defense off the field and then ultimately lead to points."

(on taking advantage of the situation the team is in right now) "I think so. We've put ourselves in a tremendous position right now here for the rest of the season for the last four games. It's about how we take advantage of the position we've put ourselves in so we can be peaking and playing our best football as we get to the late part of December and into January."

(on coming back from last year) "It's what drives me every day. To know where we got to as a football team last year and to not be a part of it, all offseason and throughout the season so far that's what keeps me going and drives me to want to be a part of that and to want to finish this thing off in a special way."

DE JJ Watt
(on the Texans now being one of the top teams in the AFC) "Obviously, we're always trying to move up. I think the Patriots, over the last how many years, have earned the respect that they get. They deserve it. They're a very, very good football team. They are very well coached, great players. I don't know about changing of the guard and all that. They are still a very, very good football team. I know we're on our way up and we're really excited about that."

(on Bill Belichick saying he looks like the defensive player of the year) "I appreciate that. He's a great football coach. It's a compliment and I appreciate the compliment. That's my job. That's what they're paying me to do, to be disruptive and try to be the best in the league. I've always said all along, if your goal is not to be the greatest, then you're kind of wasting your time. I'm going out here every single day trying to be my greatest."

(on all the different coaches praising his play thus far this season) "Yeah, it's great. Obviously, a lot of coaches have said a lot of nice things this year. I'm always very appreciative and very humbled and honored. It's also motivating, you know? You want to live up to everybody's expectations and you want to prove that you're even better than what they think you are. I love it. I appreciate it, but it took a lot of hard work to get here and it's going to take a lot of hard work to stay here. I know what it's going to take and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to stay here and to keep growing as a player. I'm nowhere near my potential yet and I'm really excited about where this game can take me."

(on Bill Belichick comparing him and DE Antonio Smith to former New York Giants LBs Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks) "If I'm not mistaken, L.T. was the last one to win the MVP as a defensive player. It's on the list. That's the goal. (Taylor was) one of the greatest defensive players of all time. There is nothing that I can say. That's a great compliment. I'm very humbled. I'm trying to add that title myself, so we'll see."

(on Bill Belichick talking about how much DE Antonio Smith has helped him do what he's done) "(DE) Antonio (Smith) is great. I have said all season long, you can't double-team me and if you want to double-team me, you have to deal with Antonio. You have to deal with (OLB) Connor (Barwin) and all those guys. Having Antonio on the other side is a huge help to me because like I just said, it's pick your poison. It's a lot of fun. I enjoy it and he's also just a great teammate. He's a guy that's always looking out for everybody. Obviously, he's a vet and I'm only a second-year player. He gives me advice and he's a good guy to have around. He's a guy who genuinely enjoys and cares about his teammates."

(on what makes DE Antonio Smith such a great leader) "He's been around. He's been to a Super Bowl. He's been through the ups and the downs. I think one of the best things about Antonio and what makes him a great leader is he's seen it all from starting off on the practice squad and getting cut to making it to the Super Bowl to being here and being a starter and a captain. He's had so many life lessons throughout this game and he passes them on to us. It's great and he always knows when to be funny, when to be serious, when to joke around. He's just a good guy to have around."

(on being able to get after QB Tom Brady with the pass rush) "We're playing a great quarterback and we need to put pressure on him. As a defensive lineman, you always want to be able to put pressure on him, but with just your front four. That's always our goal. I've put it on myself and we've put it on ourselves as a defensive line to be able to do that. We have a lot of trust in our back-end as well. We know the more we bring blitzes, we can trust them and they're going to do what it takes back there. I'm trying to do it without all that extra help because we like doing it up front. That's our job."

(on QB Tom Brady's ability to pick up the blitz and how they game plan for that) "You'll have to watch the game and find out."

(on the Patriots using tennis rackets to mimic his ability to get his hands up on the defensive line) "I've heard. Somebody just told me that report; I think it was last night. They're smart up there. That's a good tactic and if it helps them, then it's good for them. I know one thing, if you put tennis rackets in your hands, then it's hard to rush the passer.  It's a one-dimensional thing. I think that's what makes our defensive line so dangerous, is you have to defend the batted ball, but you also have to defend the pass rush. It's not just a one-way street or one-trick pony. We're tough to defend and I like that. I think that's why we have success."

(on the biggest challenge of going up against QB Tom Brady) "He's Tom Brady. He's a very, very good quarterback and he's been around for a while. He's been doing it for a long time. He's seen a lot of things and the way he manages the game and the way he handles the offense, he can speed up the tempo or slow down the tempo. He can check into different things. He's very smart and he's very savvy. He's a great football player."

(on what has allowed him and the team to be successful with all the expectations) "Have higher expectations for yourself than anybody has for you. I think that's what, not only myself, but this entire team has. There have been a lot of expectations put on our team. There have been a lot of high hopes for our team this year. Inside our locker room and on a personal level, when I look in the mirror, nobody has higher expectations than myself and this team. I think that's what's led to the success and that's why we're having this success."

(on the autographed Reggie White jersey he was given) "Oh man, it's one of the coolest gifts I've ever received. Growing up, idolizing Reggie, obviously breaking that record this weekend, it was crazy. It was really, really neat. It was a great gesture by Ryan Reichert, a huge thank you to him. That's going to be one of the prized possessions in my house hanging on my wall right next to my football from last year's interception for a touchdown. Like I said on Sunday, it's almost incomprehensible that I'm in a category with that guy and it's an honor."

(on the Patriots ability to work at a quick pace offensively) "Yeah, I think the pace is something they do great. That's one of the ways that they try and tire you out. They try and affect the game that way and like you said, they put a lot of plays into a short amount of time. We're ready for it. I think we're very well-conditioned. We're looking forward to the challenge. It will be a great challenge and we're looking forward to it."

(on Bill Belichick saying it's very difficult to plan for him because of all the various areas he lines up in) "I think it's a big benefit. (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) puts me in many different positions, many different situations. It's going to give you a better chance for success because you get to see different guys and they have to try and adjust for where you are. If they are going to scheme for me, they don't know exactly where I'm going to line up. It's tough to scheme for that."

(on what teams have tried to do to make him less of a factor on the defensive line) "All season they've been trying to hit me in the gut and dive at your feet. They try to grab you by the collar, lots of different things. I've said it all along, it doesn't bother me. I understand they have a job to do too, but it hasn't always worked."

(on former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez coaching the Badgers in the Rose Bowl after Head Coach Bret Bielema left for Arkansas) "I think everybody was surprised. I think it's really cool that Coach Alvarez is going to coach the bowl game. I told my brother yesterday, I said, 'I'm jealous of you.' He's a legend and that's pretty cool to have an opportunity to be coached by a legend. I'm really looking forward to watching that game."

(on how challenging it is to sack QB Tom Brady) "I love challenges. I'm a big fan of challenges. Sacks, batted balls, tackles for loss, everything, any way I can affect the game, I'm going to try to. As the game goes on, I adjust to what's happening and however I can find a way to make an impact. I'm going to try and do it."

(on the league crediting him with an extra sack from the Tennessee game) "Everybody keeps calling it an extra sack. It was a sack that I earned and they gave it to me. I'm glad that they ruled it correctly and I'm glad that I have it because obviously, it's a big deal. I'm really excited about it and I'm glad we got it corrected."

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