Head Coach Gary Kubiak
ILB Mister Alexander
TE Owen Daniels
RB Arian Foster
SS Danieal Manning
C Chris Myers
DE Antonio Smith
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on the team's health) "Practice-wise, (G Antoine) Caldwell and (ILB Tim) Dobbins did not practice. Other than that, everybody was at practice."
(on how important it is to have young receivers step up) "Yeah it's important. (WR) Andre (Johnson) has played huge, had his biggest year he's ever had offensively. It seems like the last eight weeks, the ball has been circled around him a bunch. But I think we play our best when it gets spread out, once some other guys are making some plays. (WR DeVier) Posey made a couple last week, but we have to have some other guys step up in this game for us to be successful. So I think it's very important."
(on being able to be consistent in the red zone) "It's really big. Especially when you're playing a team that's giving up 12 a game in the last eight weeks. This team has been in a lot of close football games and when we get opportunities down there it's going to be extremely important. And usually that gets back to us running the ball pretty good. We were a pretty good red zone team, haven't done it very well in the last few weeks. But it's usually predicated on us running the ball well."
(on K Shayne Graham's season) "Yeah, he's done a good job for us. We obviously drafted a young kicker to come in here, which was a direction we possibly could have went. We went into the season, (K Randy Bullock) has the injury, so (K) Shayne (Graham) gets an opportunity with us. I think he's done a good job. He's kicked in a lot of big games. I think he's improved his kickoffs for us, especially in the last month or so. He could be put in some big spots here. So we're counting on him and we appreciate the work he has done this year."
(on playing the run well with injuries to the linebackers) "Well I think it's a credit to just how quick (Linebackers Coach) Reggie (Herring) and (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) have been able to get those guys going. I think you have to give (ILB) Bradie (James) a lot of credit for whoever they put in there with him, or whoever has been in there with him, Bradie has done a good job with them. We've been fortunate, as much trouble as we've had inside, we've been able to really have some professionals, as far as like with (ILB) Barrett (Ruud). Us being able to pick up Barrett, that's unusual to pick up a guy who can play that much football for you. So we've been lucky there. And then Bradie has held up pretty good. So, we're back in the same situation with losing (ILB Darryl) Sharpton, so have to have some new faces step up. And with (OLB) Brooks (Reed) being healthy now, he's capable of playing a lot of places for us, too. So that does give us other options."
(on Cincinnati WR A.J. Green's ability and size) "I had him at the Pro Bowl. He reminds me of (WR) Andre (Johnson) a lot. I think he's even taller than Andre. But great length. He's one of those guys even when he's covered, he's not covered. When the ball goes up, jump balls, those type of things, he makes plays. They're built a lot like us. They're going to try to get him the ball. They're going to try to get him to make plays. So it's a big challenge for us on the back end. But, hell of a player."
(on Cincinnati WR A.J. Green being similar to WR Calvin Johnson in size and ability) "I don't know if I've ever seen anybody as big as (Detroit WR) Calvin (Johnson). That was the first time I saw him in person when we played them. But you're right. It's such size and such length, too. I don't know how long his arms are, but they're very long. And like I said, even if you're there and you're doing a good job and you're in your coverage and the ball comes up, he's just tough to finish plays on. I think he's going to be difficult to cover. Those guys are going to make plays in the game. I think the key for us defensively is making them get rid of the ball very, very quickly, so I think our pass rush will be huge."
(on if gets a sense of how much being in the playoffs means to WR Andre Johnson) "Yeah, you're never gaining on time. That's life. It's important. I think (WR Andre Johnson) is definitely got some good years left in him, but every opportunity you get like this, you want to take advantage of it. They are rare. You can't take them for granted. And I think if anybody knows that, he does."
(on if he's talked with WR Andre Johnson about taking advantage of being in the playoffs) "You know, (WR) Andre (Johnson) doesn't talk much at all to anybody. We kind of pass on the field and stuff. I can just tell. Andre talked. I let him talk to the team a bunch, they respect him so much. When he says something, everybody is just locked in. He's let them know. He's let them know how important it is to him. The thing I like about Andre, Andre lets you know you can count on me for this. Andre will stand up in that room and tell you, 'I'm going to make four or five big plays in this game, you can count on it.' And that's just the type of player he is. And that's what you want to be around. And I tell our guys all the time, 'You're playing with a special player. You're not going to realize it until he's gone and you're gone, but you're watching something special every day.'"
(on WR Andre Johnson having his biggest season at this point in his career) "Yeah, it is amazing. When you look at where we were five weeks into the season, when he had missed training camp and I think we came out of the Jets game and it looked like he had his training camp legs, there was some concern. Then he goes on a tear. I walked by the desk, and I had no idea you had your biggest year ever. I thought he had reached 1,600, but he had come up a couple of yards short. And that's special. I've told y'all all along that I've been fortunate to be around some special players, and I really count my blessings with this one. He's a heck of a player, but a great kid, too. Wonderful kid."
(on QB Matt Schaub's leadership style, if fans see his leadership) "I think fans see the good stuff, too. I think they see a guy who's won a lot of games and he led this team last year toward the playoffs, was playing extremely well. He led his team this year to a 12-win season. But I think obviously when you play that position and things don't go good for a few weeks or something, you're going to get a lot of blame from that. That's part of playing the position, and that's okay. That's part of the job and he understands that. This team respects him. We know we can count on him and he's done a heck of a job. And we need him to do a heck of a job for us moving forward."
(on if fans expect QB Matt Schaub to be demonstrative all the time) "Well, you can't go out there and act like the fans want you to act. You have to be yourself. It's like asking (WR) Andre (Johnson) to go out there and holler at everybody. He's not going to do that. He's going to play the way he plays. And (QB) Matt (Schaub) does speak up a lot. And I've been around quarterbacks quieter than him, I can tell you that. He leads in his own way. He's a fiery guy. But you have to be yourself. If you try to be somebody other than yourself, people will see right through that and you probably won't lead anybody anywhere."
(on RB Arian Foster playing well in big moments) "I think the thing I respect the most about (RB) Arian (Foster), it looks like the bigger the moment, the better he runs. And that's a quality in a player that's special. I'm watching him work right now, watching him get ready to play this game. And even last week, we struggled running the ball and he makes a 35-yard run that in all honesty should have been a 5-yard loss. That's the type of player he's become. He's accountable. We talk about guys stepping up and saying, 'You can count on me to make plays.' You can always count on Arian to make plays."
(on RB Arian Foster's receiving numbers being down) "Last year, he caught a lot of balls in our play-action pass that turned into some big plays. I can think of a few that were really, really big. He hasn't touched the ball that much in some of those play-action situations. But, I don't know. Circumstance, play, route, progression, what happens defensively, but you're right. The catches have been down, but obviously his production is still good."
(on what message he wants to give to his team over the next 48 hours) "I don't think I have to tell them a whole heck of a lot. They understand. They were right here last year. They understand the situation. You play good, you win, or you go home. That's the way this thing works. I think the biggest thing that I'll be talking about over the next 48 hours is I don't want them to worry about making mistakes. I want them to play with a reckless abandon. I want them to cut it loose because I think that's the most important thing. I don't want to see any apprehension on anybody's part."
ILB Mister Alexander
(on how it felt being away from the game for a little bit) "Being away from the game, the veterans, they told me that it was going to be pretty bad, but I didn't really take it too hard. You just carry on with life. I love football, but you can't dwell on it, so really, I was just living my life. I just happened to get a call when I was about to go play a pickup game of football with my friends, and then I had to cancel that and head to the stadium right then, but it was a pretty good feeling though."
(on if it was comforting coming back to the team he was already on) "Oh, yeah. I didn't have to start all the way over from scratch getting to know people and getting in another comfort zone or whatever, so it was cool. There was no adjustment needed, so it was good."
TE Owen Daniels
(on getting players other than WR Andre Johnson involved in the passing game more often) "I think it's really important. I think we've played our best ball when it's balanced across the board, in terms of distributing the rock to everyone. Obviously when we're running the ball well, it's easier to do that and when Dre (WR Andre Johnson) is out there it's up to us. Most of the time, we're in man-to-man situations. I think we play our best ball when it's getting spread around to all the guys. We've got a lot of playmakers out there, so that keeps defenses off balance. It's a lot more to prepare for. We'll try to get balanced and get back to doing that."
(on if getting the ball early in the game helps him get going) "That's always nice. I don't really think it affects how I play, per se. I'll get opportunities throughout the game, whether its early, second quarter, third quarter, late, whatever it is, I'm always ready. So, I just like to get into a flow and get the game going and get some first downs and then everything kind of seems to pick up from there if we can do that."
(on if he's noticed that he's not getting the ball dumped down to him as often in the past few weeks) "I don't know, we don't really have dump-down routes. We have routes that we run to win and concepts that we run to win and, (QB) Matt (Schaub) throws it where the coverage isn't. So, it's up to, obviously, up to Matt to make the right reads, and he always has. Sometimes it just goes like that. Dre (WR Andre Johnson) has had an unbelievable second half of the season and he has deserved the ball every time it's come to his hands. We'll see what happens on Saturday though."
RB Arian Foster
(on if the team is ready to roll) "Yeah we are. We are ready to roll."
(on if he can expand on that) "We are ready to play a football game at the highest of our level."
(on the focus level in practice) "It has ramped up a little bit this week. It is the playoffs, and so you just start to feel that energy and feed off of it."
(on Head Coach Gary Kubiak saying not to worry about making mistakes and to cut loose) "Throughout the season and training camp, it's a lot of teaching. It's a lot of disciplinary action if you mess up on a play or whatever. But there is nothing after this if you don't play well. It's more or less telling us, 'Don't worry about if you mess up, whatever, let's go on.' You have to move on because if we don't rebound off of our mistakes, then it will be our last mistakes."
(on the importance of playing in the playoffs) "That's what you play the game for. Playoffs. Super Bowl. That's what you grow up watching as a kid. Regular season is preparation to get there. But I think the allure of the playoffs, and the Super Bowl is the most watched event in American television I believe. Don't quote me on that. But that's what you play for. You play to play in that big game and win that big game. And it's a part of it."
(on what makes him successful on the big stage) "I don't know, man. I just work hard. I show up."
(on people on television saying it's important to have momentum going into the playoffs) "I don't really watch TV that much. I've been reading a lot of books lately. They don't have any opinions on the Texans."
(on how important he thinks momentum is going into the playoffs) "I was never really a big believer in that momentum carries into each game, myself. That's just never been my opinion of football. I think each game has its own identity and each game has its own, because you look at, and I hate to use them as an excuse, you look at the New England Patriots the year they won every game and then lost the Super Bowl. I mean, how much does momentum have to do with - I don't know. That's why I was never a believer. I believe that you play well on each Sunday, each Sunday, or in this case, Saturday. I mean it's a different game, different atmosphere. Two teams squaring off that haven't seen each other all year. I don't really see what the past games have anything to do with that. I think you can learn from your mistakes and then move on but each game is new to me."
(on what he's been reading) "A wide variety of subjects. I've been digging in my library. A lot of different things."
(on anything he's been reading has been inspiring to him in the last month or so) "I just lost this book, but I was in the middle of it. It's called 'The Shaman,' and I think it's called 'Ayahuasca.' It's about, do you really want to know? It's about a plant in, I think it's the Amazon rain forest, that when you ingest it, it's supposed to take you to a spiritual experience similar to DMT. I don't know if you want to get that deep, but that's what I was reading."
(on Cincinnati's defense) "They're a very aggressive defense. So I think to combat that, you have to be on point. You have to know where the blitz is coming from. You have to know what area they want to attack and when they want to attack. And you have to be physical with them because they're physical, they make plays, they sack the quarterback, they get turnovers. It's a fast defense, so you have to play fast."
(on if he has any concerns going in) "I think if you have any concerns going in, you're not going to play well. I'm not concerned about anything. To me this game always has been and always will be about fun. You have to go out and play. And if you're worried about – I'm not sure there's a player in the NFL that goes into the red zone if their team has been struggling and says, 'You know, we've been struggling here guys.' Throw it out the window. You just have to go play ball."
(on if he wants his team to be in the red zone) "I would like to think so, yes."
(on how important it is to be able to run the ball) "I think that's the core of what we do, is running the ball. And I think when we're effective running the ball, it opens up our offense. It keeps our defense off of the field. That's what we like to do."
(on the importance of the playoffs to WR Andre Johnson at this point in his career) "I think that Dre (WR Andre Johnson) knows that father time catches up with everybody. It hasn't caught up with him yet, but he know she's not going to play this game for a whole lot longer. Me personally, I remember telling him when I was a rookie. And this is mighty brave of me to say, but I remember emailing him and I said, 'I'm going to help you get to the stage where you can shine.' I told him that when I was a rookie. And last year I told him, 'We got here.' And he did, he shined on that stage. We didn't get to go to the big dance, but we were in the dance. It was one of my goals as a player, as an NFL player, it's written down, to help Andre Johnson get into the playoffs and maybe one day get into the Super Bowl. Because I've been a fan of his for years, even back when he was p[laying for Miami. And now that I get to know him, and I got to be around him, I could see his work ethic. I see how he goes about his business and just the kind of man that he is. And I've learned a lot from him and he's inspired me to be a better football player, a better human being. It's one of my goals to make sure he gets that opportunity. And we're all in this together, I have a lot of teammates that I feel that about. But he's obviously one of my better friends on the team and he's the baller, man."
(on if he thinks he can be used better in the passing game) 'You trying to, you want some sound bites, huh? I think if you ask any offensive NFL player, they're going to say 'Yeah, I could be used more effectively.' But I mean, what we do here is what we do here. And I've said it a lot of times, I'm a chess piece. I don't call the plays and I don't try to. I don't try to understand why we call certain plays. When we call a play and my number is called, I'm going to do the best I can for my team. I don't really get into the whole 'I could be you,' that doesn't matter."
(on Head Coach Gary Kubiak saying he plays better the bigger the moment is) "He said that? That's heart-warming."
(on if he has a sense of the moment or if something draws him and helps him in big moments) "I think it's a combination of both that happens. You're not out there thinking, 'Okay, this is the playoffs, I have to make a play.' But you kind of get a sense when your team needs you. I've been preparing my entire life for these moments to play in the National Football League. To me every single moment on an NFL stage is big. It's just something you grow up dreaming about. You watch the little kids run around and throw the football after games or before games or in the back yard and they're making that spectacular catch on the sidelines. We used to do that all the time. I took that mentality from when I was a child and applied it to my work ethic and I think a lot of players in this league do that and that's why you see a lot of players make special plays when it's time to make a play. They always say, there's an old saying in football, they say, 'Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games.' And that's what I try to do."
(on what he expects from the fans on Saturday) "I expect the same thing man. We have some good fans here in Houston and they were booing us last home game, but I forgive them."
(on how much the fan support helps) "It helps a whole bunch. I'm a strong believer in energy. And when everybody's energy is focused on one thing towards a positive thing, you can feel that. And you can also feel the opposite, when everybody is booing."
(on what confidence he has going into this game) "I think, last year, obviously the hype and the build-up around the first playoff game in this city for a long time, it's a different feel now. Everybody is still excited and energized, but it was expected this year. And that's why expectations are such a tricky thing. Because no one expected it last year and we did what we did and everybody was happy. And then this year everybody was really upset that we went 12-4. You want to win every game, but you're not going to. So going into these playoffs, I think we are a little bit more mature and we understand the stage and we understand what's at stake. And any time you have that experience under your belt, it gives you a little notch of confidence."
SS Danieal Manning
(on being put in as kickoff returner last game) "I was excited when he told me I could go back there. I know in the game he didn't, I don't think he knew I went back there and that was something me and J-Joe (CB Johnathan Joseph) discussed that he wanted me to get a rep and get a return and I went back there. I don't know if Kubs (Head Coach Gary Kubiak) knew. He didn't really like it at first. I guess he was waiting for me to get back there in playoffs. So now that I'm back there, I think I'm going to get a lot of reps in those games."
(on if he enjoys returning kickoffs) "Personally, I get a kick out of returning balls. I mean that's one of my things that I think I'm really good at. Any way that I can help the team, and one way is playing on special teams I can help the teams and I guess I'm doing my job on defense, but I feel like I can continue to do more when I play more on special teams."
(on if he has practiced much at returning kicks this year) "I feel pretty confident. I get in the game or get in practice and field balls, stuff like that, but you definitely have to get your feel in the game. So I guess last week I got a chance to get a little feel of it. It's still not the same. I've got to get some more things done, get a feel with my, adjusted with the guys that are blocking up front for me, but other than that it's just like riding a bike."
(on being a difference-maker on the team) "I mean, that's what I said since I got here. I was always going to try to be one of the spark setters, somebody that was going to set the tempo of this team, and that's what I am, an emotional guy when I'm playing on the field and that's what I try to bring here."
(on what starters playing on special teams means in the playoffs) "As far as reps and getting tired? Well I mean at this point you can't concede anything. When you've got some spots that need to be filled, you've got some starters that can play special teams that can contribute and then get us in a chance to win or give us that edge, I mean that's what we try to do. And I'm all down for it. I told (Special Teams Coordinator) Joe (Marciano), 'Whatever you want to use me, I can do it. You want me to kick? I'll try kicking as well.'"
(on if he missed being able to return kicks) "I did but I got used to it. I think (WR) Keshawn (Johnson) has done a great job back there and he's shown some signs that he definitely can pop one. Just Kubs (Head Coach Gary Kubiak) made the decision that he wanted to put us back there and maybe take some reps here and there, I mean, interchanging. Last year, I think I did well in the return game in the playoffs, so Kubs said why not put you back there now so that's what I'm doing."
(on what he tries to do when he returns kicks) "Number one, always trying to get the long run in there and put points on the board. But other than that, man, I always try to get our offense in the best position where they can do what they've got to and when you put pressure on defenses that way it's always easy and being in your advantage."
(on the play of Cincinnati WR A.J. Green) "He's going to be tough. I mean he's a great football player. I mean he has the size, he has the height, he can run. He's got a good quarterback that can throw the ball to him in certain spots that he can make catches and I feel like we've got a good matchup in J-Joe (CB Johnathan Joseph). We can play him and cover him as well. It's going to be a good game. Those guys played against each other twice last year, and you know getting ready to play them again in the playoffs. It's going to definitely be a good game. We have our work cut out for us."
C Chris Myers
(on what it's like to play with an intense running back like Arian Foster) "I mean, (RB) Arian (Foster) is Arian. He's been that way for three years now, three and a half years going back to his rookie year, but he's going to be that guy. He's going to be there for you in every single game and he shows up big in these big games and stuff like that and you know we've had some up-and-down weeks this year with the rushing attack. We've been successful, but we've also had our down points. Us knowing that everything goes back down to zero here with the playoffs, it's going to be a real big test for us."
(on the comfort level of having a back that plays better in big games) "It's a comfort level for the offensive line, I'll tell you that. You know, when you're able to not get your guy exactly where you want to get him, for him to be able to make a quick move and get some yards, it makes you look a little better than you are, but it's going to be a huge test. They're a talented and vaunted defense and you know we're going to have a big test in front of us."
(on what it will feel like playing at home in the playoffs) "Playing in front of our home fans is the thing we want to do the most. And obviously we let up having the home field advantage throughout, but having this first home game here, it's big. I mean, the aura and the feeling of the stadium last year was unbelievable and I'm anticipating the fans being the same exact way this year so it's pretty exciting and everyone's anxious for it."
(on if the team believes the mentality that everybody is now 0-0) "It's not about believing in it. It's true. Everyone is 0-0 right now. You know, you lose one and you go home, so it's not about believing it or not. Its reality. So, you've got to understand that everyone has a shot in these playoffs and you see teams that are top seeds go down every single year in the first round or after their bye so you never know what's going to happen. You've always got to be prepared.
DE Antonio Smith
(on heading into the game on Saturday) "I'm excited. Everybody on this team is excited. I think this is one of the best weeks of practice we've had – so much excitement, so much hoo-rah and having fun again. I'm just excited to see what we're going to do on the field come Saturday."
(on Head Coach Gary Kubiak telling the team to play care-free and not worry about making mistakes) "I view that message as, 'This is it.' After this game, if you lose, there's tomorrow, so you've got to burn the ships and go take what you want. That's just it. And when you do that, you have to enjoy what you do. You can't be out there being timid or worrying about, 'What if,' or worrying about doing your job to the point to where it kind of slows you down. You've just got to go out there and let it all go. The time for second-guessing is gone. Just go out there and have fun and let it all go."
(on what's different about this team practicing this week) "It was back to having fun, back to being confident, back to having the swagger back. Everybody did their soul-searching and checking themselves, and after you did that, you've got to move on because it's the playoffs. We're in the playoffs, we've got a home game, so that obviously means you won your division, and we have a lot to be thankful for. We had a lot to be excited about. We chose the road we chose by not completing some of the tasks that we had, so you just have to take it how it is. If it's going be the tough road, it's going to be the tough road. I, frankly, have had it that way forever, so I like it that way. It makes a better story."
(on what he told the team to get its swagger back) "I don't have to tell them anything. From what I saw this week in practice, they got it. They got it. They've just got to let it go. You have to go out there and apply it now. You have it in your mind, it's there mentally, you've been practicing hard, so you know what to do. The muscle memory is there. Now you just have to go out there and have fun. It's one-on-one battles. Beat your man. He's going to be trying to beat you. That's what people tend to forget: you have a perfect game plan, but sometimes, it comes down to one-on-one matches. It's mano y mano."
(on how important it is to not let QB Andy Dalton get comfortable) "That's important to me because that is my job. That's what I love to do. Me and (DE) J.J. (Watt) are taking it very serious on making him not be comfortable. Because the more comfortable the quarterback is, the better plays he can make. He's just like, I think, the past three quarterbacks we faced where he can buy himself time with using his feet; and those are the most dangerous quarterbacks who are giving their receivers more time to get open and cause big plays to happen. So we have to be careful for that. He's really good at it."
(on DE J.J. Watt being named defensive player of the Month) "Frankly, I think that's too small for J.J. I'm still campaigning for MVP, and until it's set in stone, I'm not going to be excited for just AFC Player of the Month. To me, he's the best player in the League."
(on what he expects from the fans on Saturday) "I'm expecting them to be louder, without any boos or any disappointments. To just stick in there and to cheer as much as they can, because we feed off of them, they feed off of us. This is our house – together. We're a part of them; they're a part of us. Little do they know, they help us out a lot with how loud they get, especially in the defense. That's what comes with home field advantage as defensive players and a defensive team is it takes away a whole other team's cadence, the way they communicate. So the louder we are, the less their opportunity is to be on the field and make plays. We need to have one of those statistics like other teams have where they have how many false starts the crowd started and all that."