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Quotes: Thursday practice


Head Coach Gary Kubiak
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
LT Duane Brown
NT Shaun Cody
TE Garrett Graham
QB Case Keenum
SS Daniel Manning
T Derek Newton
DE Antonio Smith

Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on injury updates) "As far as practice goes, the guys that did not participate in practice were (OLB) Brooks Reed, (CB) Alan Ball, and (ILB Darryl) Sharpton so that's our three guys. Other than that, everybody is back to work and full participants in what we did."

(on ILB Darryl Sharpton's status) "I don't know. His toe is bothering him, (swelled) up on him. He will attempt to go tomorrow and then we'll see were he's at. He finds a way to play through these things. He played a lot of football after coming off of a long layoff so I think that's kind of caught up with him a little bit. I think I'll probably have a pretty good idea of where he's at. The expectations are for him to practice tomorrow."

(on TE Garrett Graham and T Derek Newton's status) "He's (TE Garrett Graham) fine. He's ready to go. He's passed all his tests and will be ready to play. (T Derek) Newton had a really good day of practice today, so it looks like all systems are go for him if we get through tomorrow. It's good."

(on if they do anything differently in trying to rattle a rookie quarterback) "We've got to play better defense than we've been playing. The thing about this guy, he reminds me a lot of Ben Roethlisberger from a standpoint even when you get there he's hard to tackle. He's a big guy. He's very athletic, makes a lot of plays with his feet so it's got to be a big conscious effort for us to keep him contained and then when we do have our opportunities you got to really work to bring him down. You can make just an incredible highlight reel of him, people just hanging on to him and him still making plays. It'll be a big point of emphasis, but this guy is not a rookie. He's been playing like I said a yesterday an eight, nine year vet. He's been exceptional."

(on OLB Whitney Mercilus this season) "I think he's progressing. A young player, that the thing about him, he tends to make plays. The sacks he has, he's pretty good for a rookie. He's made some plays on special teams for us also. He made a nice one the other night, but he's progressing. He got thrown in the fire, big-time. His progress has a lot to do with how we're going to go here toward the end of this thing, some of our young players. I like what we've seen. I like his work habits. I think he's very sharp in the meeting room. He handles himself very good."

(on what's behind the trend of rookie quarterbacks starting) "That's a good question. I don't know. Of course I was with John (Elway) and John started from the get-go. It was a hard go there, early. I remember that part. I don't know. I just think nowadays I don't think teams have the luxury of knowing you're going to have a guy for 10 or 12 years. A guy signs his initial contract you get to year four and then you're having to make decisions on a guy. Are they here for the long haul? I think the process has just changed so much so with that new process taking that guy, putting him on the field right away and finding out if he can carry a franchise has become very important. You've seen some of these guys do it. I just think times have changed from that standpoint."

(on if rookie quarterbacks being thrown into the fire hurts their development) "I think it all depends on the situation. I watched John (Elway) get thrown in the fire. I watched how hard it was. Was it the best thing for him? Yeah, I think it was amazing because of his career when I look back at what he had to go through. I think some guys get thrown into the fire on teams that aren't very good and they never come out of it. I think it kind of all depends. These guys that have been thrown there this year they're off to a hell of a start. They got a lot of snaps under their belt. They got a lot of confidence. A lot of guys are in playoff contention from a young standpoint. Those guys should be there doing it a long time."

(on OLB Whitney Mercilus and his three sacks in two starts) "Things tend to happen to him. I talk about (DE) J.J. (Watt) always finding a way to the quarterback or the ball coming to him. (OLB) Whitney (Mercilus) is a lot like that. He's out there playing, working and quarterback scrambles, he's coming which way. There is something to that. Guys just have a knack for plays happening for them. That happened for him in college. It's showing up for us, too. I think getting (OLB) Brooks (Reed) back at some point here is going to help him because we get our rotation going again from a number of snaps. He's done a good job and he's been on some pretty important stages for us defensively and probably none bigger than this week."

(on if OLB Brooks Reed is in the mix this Sunday) "No, I think he's the one player of ours that still has a ways to go, but is very impressive in his workouts with the trainers. The fact that he's going to be back is not even a question. It's just a matter of how quick right now."

(on CB Stanford Routt's progress) "We'll see. If we're totally healthy and everybody is doing their job, then it's probably going to be limited right now. He's a week better in what we're doing. Took a few snaps for (Special Teams Coordinator) Joe (Marciano), he can cover, but really he's there right now in case something happens, (CB Johnathan Joseph) J-Joe's got a problem or if (CB) Brandon's (Harris) got a problem. It'll depend, but we've got confidence when we put him in the game. He knows what we're doing."

(on if WR DeVier Posey showed him something in the game) "He's shown all of us something just the way he's practicing. He's much more comfortable in what we do. (WR) DeVier (Posey) doesn't have to work so hard at game plans anymore. He's more comfortable and you can see his talents taking over. Yes, we need to try to get him a little bit more involved in what we're doing and (WR) Lestar (Jean), too. Lestar has done some good things, had a chance to have a really big game the other night. We've got confidence. We'll come back to him. Those guys, we've got a lot of confidence in those, too."

(on if the defensive struggles are fixable) "Are they fixable? You bet. Everything is fixable. I think there is a combination of things. We've given up some plays. I look at the big picture. If we play better offense and hang on to the ball better then they're not on the field the whole time. I look in terms of everything as a team not just isolating in one area. When we get to the quarterback good they're not going to give up plays. I think we've got some young players playing and we've had to make some adjustments but you keep pushing, you keep going. You don't panic. They're our guys and we believe in them. We've just got to try to improve upon what we're doing. We've got problems in other areas too. Nothing is ever totally right."

(on the defense playing well in the second quarter of Monday's game) "Played very well in the second quarter, we got off the field in the second quarter many a times. As I said before, we penetrated offensively three times very well, but you've got nothing to show for it. That's part of the game. That's why I say it's a team game. Everybody's got to do their job."

(on if he's concerned about the running game) "I don't like it. I don't think it's good enough. It's kind of what we are. When we're doing that well, we're usually playing well as a team. We've definitely got to block it better. We're working hard as coaches to try to get ourselves in better position. We've got to run better, but it has not been up to what we need it to be. I think everybody is working hard. We've got to stay committed and we will."

(on kids who grow up with their fathers playing sports like Oliver and Andrew Luck) "I don't know that I would have an answer. I know my experience with my kids. I would say this, obviously, Oliver (Luck) and his wife have raised a tremendous young man, not only a football player, but a tremendous young man. He's been successful at every level. I watched him at Stratford High School, what he did. You watch him go to Stanford. You watch a kid come in this league and handle what he's handled and go into some of the places he's played and the way he's played. It's extremely impressive, but I don't think it's a surprise. I think it's something he's been doing all along. I think that's happening more often now. I think some of these guys you look at (Robert Griffin III) RGIII. You look at that. You look at (Ryan) Tannehill. You look at some of these guys and how quick they're being successful in this league. It says a lot about their upbringing and the way they're being coached in college, so very impressive."

(on if kids whose parents are in professional sports have an advantage) "I don't know. I don't know what my kids would tell you. I really don't. They were around it their whole life and they enjoyed playing it. It's about the end for all of them here. I've got one that's still playing a little bit. I don't know. You'd probably have to ask the kids. I know as a coach I wanted my kid to be around what I do for a living. It was fortunate that I worked for a guy that let me do that, too. I worked for Mike (Shanahan), who let my boys be a ball boy and be a part of what I did. I don't know if I answered your question."

(on the key for him as a head coach in moving on from Monday's loss) "Well the key is them, not me. They're the ones who got to go out there and play and bounce back. I think as a coach my philosophy is you got to address what happened. We addressed what happened. We addressed what happened five minutes after the game. As a coach, I've been around coaches that say we've got to move on but the coach never moves on throughout the whole week of practice. We've moved on. We're getting ready to play another game. We've got a good football team. We're excited about this weekend. We're looking forward to getting out there and competing again. I think I've got a group of guys who got a lot of confidence and can't wait to get back out there."

(on if the fact that the team bounced back so well after the Green Bay loss is a positive) "We bounced back against a good team that week. We've got to bounce back against a hell of a team this week in a big, big game. I don't know whether that scenario helps us. I think everything you do in the league has got to help you, has got to help you grow up. It's a league where there are going to be setbacks. It's just the way it is. If you can't handle them you're probably not going to last very long. We've got to handle this one. We got to move on and play well."
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
(on moving on to the next game) "That same thing you do every game. You go to the next game. After the 11th win, we went to the next game. After the one loss, we went to the next game. And that's what we'll do here. You can't live in the past. You've got to keep working on what you're doing. Even when you win, certainly, there are things that you could do better. There's always something to work on to get better; you're never perfect. So if you have a bad game, you've got to bounce back from it. The good teams do that, the bad teams don't."

(on if the loss to New England was tough) "Any loss is tough. When you win 11 games already and then you lose one, it's tough. We haven't loss for a month and a half or two months. Losses are tough. They wear on you. But you can't let them wear on you very long. You have to go to the next one." 

(on if he is concerned about the defensive backfield) "No, I'm concerned about our team winning the next ball game, that's what I'm concerned about. The defensive backfield, the linebackers and the d-line are all together on defense and we're all one team. We have to learn to win games and that's what we're trying to do. I think they give a tremendous effort. We're working hard in practice. We have all our goals in front of us. One of them was to make the playoffs. We've done that. The next one was to win our division, so that's our next goal."

(on missed opportunities in the first half against New England) "Yeah, we had a fumble we didn't get and we had two big penalties that hurt us in the first half. That got us behind 21-0. It's tough then when you don't know if they're going to throw the ball or run it. The first half we knew they were going to throw it because they didn't run it very well. We stopped the run and actually we stopped (Wes) Welker good. Those were two things that we wanted to do early.  But we didn't make the third down plays. We had two penalties on third down that really hurt us. And we had a chance on the goal line to get the fumble, so those things hurt us."

(on if he would be confident to play New England again) "Oh, yeah. We don't have anything to say, 'Well, if we played them again, we wouldn't be able to do this well.'"

(on OLB Whitney Mercilus' play and gaining experience) "Well, with young guys, it is experience. It's playing the game and I thought that (OLB) Whitney (Mercilus) played better on the run than he has earlier. I think he's learning to play the run game better. You know, he's got pass rush ability and he's learned to be relentless like (OLB) Connor (Barwin) and (OLB) Brooks (Reed) are. So that's the key."

(on OLB Whitney Mercilus' productivity with limited starts) "Yeah, I mean that shows his ability. Not all of (his sacks) are plain beat-the-guy-around-the-corner, DE Cameron Wake, the way he's playing, or a guy like that. It shows that he's got a lot of spirit. He wants to work hard. He's going to try to keep coming on every play. That's what you learn to do because that's part of being active now. We ran a blitz, and maybe we should have run that blitz more because nobody picked him up. We got (QB Tom Brady) on that one. He's coming along well."

(on QB Andrew Luck and QB Robert Griffin III this year) "(QB) Andrew Luck – those two quarterbacks, everybody said those were the top two guys in the draft and they obviously are. He's brought a team that didn't win any games last year, basically without a quarterback, brought in a quarterback, a young quarterback, and they're right in the playoff hunt. We played against (QB Peyton) Manning when I was at Buffalo his first year and I think they only won two games. This guy has made the team win a lot of games. Six times he's brought them from behind at the end of the game. I can't say enough about how good of a quarterback he is and how good of a future he has."

(on what QB Andrew Luck does well) "Well, they throw the ball well. That's their game. You know they're not a team that's going to grind it out running the ball all the time and play action. They're going to drop back and throw it. That's what is impressive is a guy who can come in the league as a rookie and say, 'I'm going to drop back and throw it and beat you guys,' and that's what he's done."

(on the success of rookie quarterbacks in the league and what has changed) "We've seen them all along, but we haven't had the dramatic players that we've had this year. There's been a lot of early first round picks that are quote 'busts,' because they played early and didn't play well. These guys, not only these two, but (QB Ryan) Tannehill, quite a few of them are playing really well."

(on QB Andrew Luck's ability to scramble and close out wins) "Yeah, I mean they were 12 points behind Detroit with four minutes left in the game. And it wasn't all passing, it was him scrambling and making plays. He won the game at the end for them throwing the ball. He can make plays with his feet or throwing the football. That's a problem."

(on CB Brandon Harris' play in his new role) "Well, it's not a new role for him. He's been a backup player at that position throughout the year. It's an opportunity to play. He's a young player that made some plays. (WR Wes) Welker didn't do that well. We put him on Welker early in the ball game and I thought he did a pretty good job there. We thought Welker was the big threat and he did a good job in that area. But he needed to make some other plays and he didn't, but he'll learn. He's a hard worker, he's very smart and he's a very quick, athletic guy that just needs playing time. And I said that last week going in, that Welker had 92 catches and he's only been involved in 29 plays. It just takes experience."

(on the progress of CB Stanford Routt) "I don't know yet. He's working in. He's, like I said last week, he's sharp as far as knowing what to do. That gives us a chance to utilize him. We'll just have to wait and see. Obviously we're down as far as numbers are concerned."

(on if CB Jonathan Joseph is at full health) "I think so. I really do."

LT Duane Brown
(on improving the offense's run average) "The run game is what we hang our hat on. That's what starts our offense, gets us going. So four yards a carry is okay, but we have a higher standard than that."

(on if improving the run has been a point of emphasis this week) "Yeah, it has. Amongst us in the o-line room and amongst the running backs, we all try to do our part. Do a little bit more to get the running game going this week. Indianapolis has a great defense. They have a great pass rush. So to try to negate that, you have to be able to turn the ball."

(on the return of RT Derek Newton) "It will be big. It was unfortunate that he got hurt. He was really coming along really well. I think he has a chance to be a great player. I'm excited to have him back. He has a big challenge with those two that they have. But he's looking forward to it, and I'm looking forward to watching him."

(on if he prefers run blocking to pass blocking) "Absolutely. You're always going to be able to go forwards and have them back up. And it gives you a chance to be aggressive and you get to wear down on a defense a little bit. If you're able to run the ball strong for three quarters, by the fourth quarter they're tired."

NT Shaun Cody
(on practice today and bouncing back this week) "We had a tough loss earlier in the season, too, the Green Bay Packers, so I think hopefully we have a formula that helps us get back on the right track. We took a beating so you can't stay down for too long. We make some corrections and then like we do as a team, we like to have fun and run around and practice hard. We had a good one today."

(on if he takes heart in how the team bounced back from the Packers loss) "There are some things to learn from that, I think. We have a really good team in the Colts here coming to our place. We've been away for a while. It's going to be good to be back in our place and play some Texans football. It's exciting."

(on if Colts QB Andrew Luck reminds him of anyone) "He makes a lot of plays off-time and he's tough to bring down. I think that's why you compare him to Ben Roethlisberger. He can move around. The guy can run a little bit so it's definitely a challenge for us. We've had some quarterbacks that can run around get some yards on us so it's definitely a good challenge for us."

(on trying to rattle a rookie quarterback) "That's what we want to do. You always want to try to rattle the quarterback. Like I said, you see how his progression has been so fast where he started the year and where he is now. He's obviously better. We want to rattle him and get to him, but I think he's learned from the mistakes he's made in the past. It'll definitely be a challenge for us."

TE Garrett Graham
(on how it feels to return to the field) "It feels great. I got back to practice last couple days so I'm ready to go."

(on how difficult it was getting over the hit) "It was more difficult with the tests and everything they put you through. I didn't feel that bad last week, but it's something you got to comply with. It's good to be back on the field."

(on what it means to him to be an important weapon in the offense) "There are a lot of guys on this offense that are important, just looking, doing my job, help out any way I can. It was unfortunate I couldn't play last week, but we're moving forward and getting ready to play this week."

(on his role increasing this year) "Yeah, I hoped it would. I wasn't sure. I knew I had to prove myself in camp and obviously in the preseason games I was able to do that. It's been a nice transition so far moving into the offense."

(on if he's surprised himself in anyway and if he thought he was capable of playing like he has) "No, not really, I just kind of waited patiently for my opportunity and just trying to make plays whichever way I can."

QB Case Keenum
(on his tweets regarding Texas Tech's new head coach Kliff Kingsbury) "It's just the persona that Kliff (Kingsbury) has gotten over the few years he's been around, but he's done a great job. Obviously, it's paying off. I'm extremely happy for him and couldn't be happening to a better guy. Not only a great coach, but a really good guy."

(on Kliff Kingsbury being a head coach) "I'm pumped. I love it. I think he deserves it from what he's been able to do in the very short time with just the two teams he's been on. I think it's pretty incredible."

(on what makes Kliff Kingsbury a great coach) "It's a lot of things. It's what makes a good coach and I think he's a great coach. The fact that he's young and he's not that far removed from playing. I think that helps him relate to players and being a player's coach. I think that's awesome."

(on if he had a feeling Kliff Kingsbury would get the Texas Tech job) "I didn't really have a feeling, you know? I'm not surprised at all. I think he deserves it and I think he's a great coach. I think it was a matter of time before he was a head coach so I'm extremely happy."

SS Daniel Manning
(on how much 24 touchdown passes against the Texans bothers him) "I mean, it's a tough thing to swallow being a defensive back. Teams are finding ways to get the end zone through the air, and we need to be able to capitalize on those things and minimize that, as well. Right now, we have to get back to the drawing board, that's all we can worry about. We try to look at those mistakes all the time, but we need to learn what we've been so successful at and continue to do those things."

(on what the difference is between now and last year) "If you watch us over and over and over, we can be predictable. Teams can see more and more film work and that's what they'll try to attack. If you come off as being a great defense, they'll try to expose some of the weaknesses you keep putting them on tape. You need to get those things off the tape."

(on the defense improving being a team effort) "We talked about that earlier. The front seven's got to give pressure and we've got to cover longer and better. If we can cover better, they can give pressure. That just goes hand-in-hand."

RT Derek Newton
(on if he is limited in any way) "It's still slow motion getting back in it. But you know, when it comes up to game time, I'll be ready to go."

(on how important it is to get back on the field) "It's very important. Just a point of not being out there with my teammates kind of hurt me for a minute. I had to get in rehab and work extra hard to get back out there. I must say, it feels good to be back."

(on what he's been doing to stay on top of his game) "Looking at lots of film, studying my playbook. Getting lots of rest."

(on how he was injured) "It was on a pass play. I was kicking back and I felt a sharp pain in my knee. I finished the play and whatever, but when I got ready to go to the sideline I couldn't hardly walk or anything. I went to the sideline, tried to get back down in a stance and my knee was hurting real bad."

(on how he is able to perform in practice). "Yeah, practice is going good. Two days into it and I feel like I have made it through a long process. When Sunday gets here, I'm going to be 100 percent and ready to go."

(on how frustrating it was to have a setback last week during rehab) "I wouldn't say it was a setback. I felt like I was prepared to go for the Monday night game but when I went to practice, I was still having lots of pain. So it was best that I continue to get rehab and more treatment to get ready for this week."

(on how frustrating it was to watch the loss to New England) "It was bad. A game like that, I wanted to be out there. But at the same time, had faith in my teammates that they were going to go out and do their part. I just watched it on TV and hoped for the best."

DE Antonio Smith
(on putting the loss to the Patriots behind him) "Yeah, you've got to work towards that every day. I don't want to really put it behind me, I just want to store it for a little bit. Just so it can fester and cook as long as I need it to cook; to turn to what I need it to turn to."

(on QB Andrew Luck's play) "Before now, I didn't really watch him much on tape. And the more and more I watch him on tape the more and more I started to like the kid. He isn't your stereotypical quarterback. He runs and makes blocks for his teammates. He doesn't slide when he's running the ball. He fights to get that extra yard. You can tell by his play on film that he's playing to win for his teammates. He's putting himself on the line and you don't see that out of most quarterbacks. They don't care about getting that extra yard. They want to stay healthy other than to fight to get that extra yard. What you see with him is he's going to do whatever it takes to win."

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