Head coach Gary Kubiak and some of the Texans answered questions from the media after Tuesday's practice at the Methodist Training Center. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakILB Brian CushingTE Owen DanielsTE Joel DreessenRB Arian FosterWR Andre JohnsonWR Bryant JohnsonWR Jacoby JonesQB Matt LeinartWR Derrick MasonILB DeMeco RyansRB Ben TateWR Kevin WalterT Eric WinstonQB T.J. Yates
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on QB Matt Leinart) "He's been working. He's been working extremely hard with our team. Obviously his role changes right now, but he's excited and I'm excited for him. It's a great opportunity for him. I know it also helps that Andre's (Johnson) fixing to come back with him. We'll get him going next week and get to work."
(on how much the first team reps QB Matt Leinart has been getting in practice will help him) "He's been doing it a lot. The last month, Matt (Schaub) had a hip bothering him, had a shoulder bothering him, so we changed his routine in practice for about the last four or five weeks so Leinart's been getting a lot of first team reps. That'll help him, but now it's time for him to get them all. We've also got to get T.J. (Yates) ready to play, too. That'll change, but his workload picks up and it needs to because we need him out there doing a hell of a job."
(on how he will know about QB Matt Leinart's decision making before he starts playing) "Well first off, he's got to get back into playing. He hasn't played a lot of football in the last couple years, so just getting back in the rhythm. I think it's our job to go back and see what he does best. That's kind of what I've been studying here the last two days. I've been going back in some of his career and what he's done and what he's done here with me. I got to do what he's comfortable with. It gives us the best chance to be successful, so between the coaches and him and everybody, we got to put the best possible product we can on the field offensively, so that will have a lot to do with how far he comes."
(on what kind of improvements QB Matt Leinart has made this season) "He's made great improvements, just his footwork. He understands our system. He studies real hard. He knows where the ball's supposed to go, but you got to get game reps. Until all those start flying, that's the hard part. I expect him to catch up real quick. Like I said, I'm excited for him."
(on QB Matt Schaub's injury) "Like I said before, everything I'm being told is we're still evaluating the injury. That's going to go on for probably about a week and then at some point next week, we'll know whether he has a chance to come back or he doesn't. That's where I'm at right now with him and we'll see what happens, so I'll have more for you next week."
(on how big of an opportunity this is for QB Matt Leinart) "I'll say this, a lot of guys that are big, high draft choices and all of a sudden things don't work out, it runs them out of football. Here's a guy who said, 'Okay, I'll start over and I'll fight the good fight. I'll start back at the bottom and work my way up.' I'm impressed with him as a person and I'm impressed with him as a player. This is a great opportunity for him. I'm here to help him. This team's here to help him and we want to see him succeed. But I'm impressed at how he's fought the fight to get back into position to have a chance to play."
(on if anything changes with QB Matt Leinart being left-handed) "Well, you don't change anything. You change the way you call games a little bit because of some of the things you do play action-wise and that stuff, but we got to go do what he does best. Left-handed, right-handed, it doesn't matter. It's just got to be good."
(on how much of a good fit QB Matt Leinart is in the bootleg system) "Yeah, he does do that well. He does that well in practice for us. Like I said, we'll just continue to work with him, watch what he's doing and go into the game to make sure he's good and comfortable with everything we're doing."
(on how much he can take from QB Matt Leinart's performance in the preseason this year) "I watched that a bunch. I watched it this morning again. But he did play well for us in the preseason and now it's been a 10-week span since he's been on the field, so that's the hard part when you're a backup, but we're all here to help him. Everybody else is going to have to do a good job."
ILB Brian Cushing
(on WR Andre Johnson saying that the Texans will be in games no matter what because of their defense) "It's special and it means a lot. I think, if you look at any real good team, who we've tried to become for a bunch of years now, they play good defense. And no matter what happens, as long as they play good defense, it means a lot and takes care of a lot of things."
(on how he felt after he learned that QB Matt Schaub would be out with injury) "It was a little bit of a shock, especially that he played the whole game and I talked to him after the game and I wasn't really sure about the whole situation. It was just one of this things, it's football. We understand that injuries obviously come with the game but it was a little bit of a shock."
(on if there is any more pressure on the defense to perform because the team's starting quarterback is out) "No. The team's haven't changed that we're playing. They're still on the schedule. We're going to play the same kind of defense and like I said, I think we're only going to get better as the season goes on."
(on how the team is handling the loss of QB Matt Schaub to injury) "The guys are confident. It's a 'next-guy-up' kind of attitude. We know we're going to step up and we know we're going to play better football. We lost a hell of a leader, a hell of a football player. But at the same time, new guys are going to have to play and everyone's play is going to rise."
(on what it means to go into the bye week having the best record in the AFC) "It's a good feeling, there's no question about that. To be on top like that is special. We know that we can only continue to grow, play better football. We feel the sky is the limit for us. We've got six games left. We're going to try and take care of it."
(on how he views how the team has played) "I feel good. We did the whole review today about playing and how we've developed. Just looking at my film from the first game to Tampa, I think I've grown a lot in the defense. I feel like I'm making a lot more plays. I just feel that for everyone, being such a new scheme with a new defensive coordinator, not having much time to work on it, I think we're getting rolling just about now."
(on if he played one season with QB Matt Leinart at USC) "I did, yeah."
(on if QB Matt Leinart has the mentality to come in and handle being Houston's starting quarterback) "No question. Even playing with Matt (Leinart) for that one year and just seeing the kind of pressure and things he dealt with; how smooth, calm and collected he was with everything was just astonishing. He's a great football player and I think we all have confidence in what he's going to do."
(on how QB Matt Leinart looks different skill-wise since his USC days) "I think, coming in last year and being in a completely new offense than he was in Arizona was kind of an adjustment period. But seeing him in preseason, seeing him in practice every day, I think he's done a great job, I really do. If any guy's ready for it, it'll be him."
(on if QB Matt Leinart has the "mystique leadership" ability quarterbacks have to have) "Yeah, definitely. Playing with him my freshman year of college and just seeing him as he's adapted to the locker room and guys have responded to him, I absolutely think so. If anyone is to step up, I wish it was him and it is."
(on if its fortuitous that QB Matt Schaub's injury came before a bye week) "It is unfortunate. It's going to be a time of adversity for this team. I think the teams that aren't going to do anything are teams that would pout about it and worry about it. But I think this team will come back from the bye week stronger and ready to go. We're not going to think too much about it. Like I said, it's the next man up. I Matt's (Leinart) our quarterback, and he is, we're excited for him and we're ready to go."
(on if it's good that the team has a week to absorb the change at quarterback) "I think that gives Matt (Leinart) a little bit more time to really adjust and work a little bit more. I definitely think it will benefit us physically and mentally. I just think the bye is coming up in time for kind of everything."
(on if it's amazing how much the defense has had to absorb this year) "No because I think it's been about Wade (Phillips) and how we'll he's taught us defensively and just everything. He's kept it simple. But I think how he's got us playing so fast and playing so well is completely because of his coaching."
(on how the team has had success despite suffering injuries this year) "That's what the good teams do. We understand that. It's football. It's a physical, hard-nosed game. Injuries are a part of it and we just have to accept it."
(on QB Matt Leinart stepping in for injured QB Matt Schaub) "It's a great opportunity for him, there's no question about it. He's going to come in and I think he's going to do a great job."
TE Owen Daniels
(on QB Matt Leinart as the new quarterback) "I mean we're excited. Matt's (Leinart) been preparing with us all season and has been doing a great job in practice. I know he's been waiting for this opportunity for a handful of years now and I think he's going to make the most of it."
(on how much everything changes with QB Matt Leinart) "I honestly don't think it's going to change a whole lot. We're going to run our system. We're going to do what we do and I don't think too much is going to change. We're going to keep running the ball and we get 'Dre (Andre Johnson) back, which is a huge thing. We're just going to keep doing what we've been doing."
(on if the mood in the locker room is business as usual) "Yeah, when you lose a big-time player for any amount of time, that hurts a little bit, but we've been having guys get injured all year long and we've been bouncing back and having guys step up. I don't think that's going to be any different. It is a really high-profile position, but Matt's (Leinart) done this before and he's got a lot of support around him. I think everyone's just going to have to step up and do a little bit more, but we'll be okay."
(on if the situation could be any better for QB Matt Leinart with as many targets as we has to throw to) "We're going to try to make it easy for him. We're not going to try to put him in too many positions where he's got to make any type of crazy plays. We're going to continue to run the ball. It's great that our defense is playing as well as they are right now. That helps out a lot. We'll try to make it as easy as possible for Matt (Leinart)."
(on if it makes a difference that QB Matt Leinart throws left-handed) "You know what, if it was a guy coming in and we had never seen a lefty all year, it might be different, but we've been catching passes from Matt (Leinart) all year, so it shouldn't be an issue at all."
TE Joel Dreessen
(on the mood of the team entering the bye) "We're 7-3, we're going into the bye week. It's tough to lose (Matt) Schaub, for however long it may be because he was playing so well. He's been such a great leader from the lockout until now, basically the whole time he's been here. You feel terrible for him because he was having such an amazing year. At the same time, we've been dealing with this all season. Whether it is Mario (Williams) or Danieal Manning or missing Andre (Johnson) or Dominique Barber, we've been dealing with it. This is no different."
(on how things will change with the transition to Matt Leinart) "I really don't know. That's what the NFL is all about. Your guys behind the starters cannot have that much of a drop-off in performance, talent and effort and anything. That's going to be no different for the quarterback position."
(on the team's confidence in Matt Leinart) "We've got all the confidence in the world in him. I'm not just saying that either. I'm very excited for him and his opportunity. He's a professional. He's started games in this league before. He's led a team. He's been on teams that have been in the playoffs and gone to the Super Bowl so I think we're in very good hands with Matt Leinart. I'm very excited for his opportunity."
(on if he feels this team can't seem to catch a break) "As far as the injury bug and guys getting hurt and going down with season-ending injuries, yeah, it's been unique from that standpoint. At the same time, we have the capability to make our own breaks going forward. We're in good position now and we've got to keep taking it one week at a time. This week is rest; next week is Jacksonville."
(on being the top seed in the AFC right now) "We're just having so much fun right now as a football team. I remember back to that Baltimore game, the last time we lost. We had a guest speaker yesterday, a Navy Seal, and he said, 'When you suffer, that's when you learn the most about each other and yourselves. That's when you become a team.' I remember coming in here Monday after that Baltimore game and we were suffering, everybody was hurting. We felt like that just wasn't us. I feel like we've gotten a lot closer. Every week since then, we've just played really, really good football and come out on top in big ways a lot of time."
RB Arian Foster
(on if the Texans have more depth which has allowed them to weather injuries better than in years past) "I don't know. I don't like to look in the rear-view mirror too much, so all we can do is look forward and whatever hurdles stand in front of us, we just have to continue to try and get past those."
(on how much he and the rest of the running backs need to step up after QB Matt Schaub was injured) "Not any more than we already have. We always expect big things out of us, and we're going to continue to try to play well. This is not any added or additional pressure. (WR) Andre (Johnson) has been missing for some weeks, and that definitely puts a hamper on your offense when you don't have the best player in the game in there, and now our quarterback is down. Matt's (Leinart) going to step in and I think he's going to do just as well for us."
(on the team's confidence in QB Matt Leinart's ability to step into the starting lineup smoothly) "Yeah. He knows what he's doing out there, and I have all the confidence in the world in him. I think one of the great things about this organization is they have a good eye for talent, and I think he's going to fit in just fine."
WR Andre Johnson
(on how he's feeling) "Yeah, I feel like I'm ready. Right now, I have no doubt that I'll be out on the field next Sunday. I plan on playing."
(on his reaction to QB Matt Schaub's injury) "I was very excited about me being able to get back out on the field with my teammates and to hear something like that was kind of devastating. It was just kind of like, 'Where did that come from?' During the game I saw him limping a little bit. I asked him was he okay. He told me, 'Yeah.' He kept playing, so you wouldn't have thought anything like this was going on. When I saw him yesterday, I looked at his foot and was like, 'Wow.' It's part of it, man. Matt Leinart's going to step in and like I said before, we have to keep Schaub positive throughout this situation and we just have to pick up the slack."
(on if there are any doubts the team can rally around QB Matt Leinart) "No, there's no doubt. Like I said, Matt (Leinart) can't go out and do it by himself. We all have to go out and continue to play football. Like I said, I have to come back for myself and play at a high level. This team has been playing at a high level since I've been gone, so I have to catch up and play at the level those guys are playing. We all have to just step our game up and like I said, just pick up the slack and just keep Schaub positive throughout this situation. Hopefully we can get him back later on during the season."
(on what he's seen from QB Matt Leinart that gives him confidence in him) "Well I think from when he first got here until now, it's just his confidence. I think that when he was in Arizona, he took a lot of criticism and when he first got here, I think some of that stuff he went through in Arizona was still affecting him a little bit. But as time went along and you adjust to a new place, he seemed to have got his confidence back and that's a good thing. I'm very excited, man. I get to go back on the field and get to work with Matt (Leinart) and just try to keep this thing heading in the right direction like it is. We're all positive about it, so we're going to try to keep this thing rolling."
(on if they feel more confident now that QB Matt Leinart has been here for over a year) "Yeah, it definitely helps when you've had a guy that's been around here and knows the offense. I think that's going to help out a whole lot. Like I said, we still have to go out and play the game and continue to make the plays and continue to run the ball well like we've been doing and our defense continue to play the way they've been playing. Like I said, injuries happen. When I went down, Mario (Williams) went down, nobody thought we'd be 7-3 and we surprised a lot of people. We lost another teammate for some time, but we have to pick up the slack."
(on how bad he feels for QB Matt Schaub) "Well, it's very frustrating. I can only imagine the way he feels because I was on the sideline for the past five, six games. I was frustrated because I saw the team doing well and this is something I've been waiting for, for nine seasons. You're a part of the team, but when you're not out there playing, you really don't feel like you're a part of it. That's the most frustrating part. For him to do what he's done since he's been here and trying to get this organization to the place that it's in now is frustrating. I'm pretty sure he's very frustrated and it's going to be hard, but at the same time, they did a good job of keeping me positive throughout my situation, so we, the guys, just have to do a good job of trying to keep him positive."
(on what he can do to get on the same page with QB Matt Leinart quickly) "Just try to do the same things that I did with Matt (Schaub). Just communicating a lot, I think that's one great thing that me and Matt had. We just kind of see the same things when we were out on the field together. Hopefully throughout these next couple of weeks, I can get that same bond with Leinart and we won't miss a beat."
(on what he says to people saying it's the same old Texans when another key player goes down) "Well if they've been watching football, I don't think they would say it's the same old Texans. I went down. Mario (Williams) went down. Danieal Manning went down and right now we're sitting at the top of the AFC. If they feel that way, they were bandwagoners anyway, so that's the way I feel about it."
(on what he's going to do during the bye week) "I'll be here still working for the next couple days. I'm going to go to my great grandmother's birthday party on Friday. She'll be 91 years old, so that'll be something good to do for the bye week."
WR Bryant Johnson
(on the difference in QB Matt Leinart's opportunity in Houston compared to when they were in Arizona together) "I definitely think it's a new situation for him, it's a different offense, a different organization, and I definitely think he's matured since then and he's looking forward to this opportunity."
(on what he likes about QB Matt Leinart) "Matt is a playmaker. You could see it when he was at SC (Southern California); he made plays when he was at Arizona, and I definitely think he can make plays with us."
(on the keys for QB Matt Leinart to make a smooth transition into the starting role) "Just try not to overdo it. I definitely think we have tons of playmakers on this offense. The game plan is just right there for him. He just has to go out there and start the car and start driving."
(on how different QB Matt Leinart seems now compared to when they played in Arizona together) "Like I said, I definitely think he's matured, and I definitely think this is a moment he's been waiting for; and it's unfortunate that it had to happen through the injury to (QB Matt) Schaub, but I definitely think he's poised and ready for this opportunity."
(on if Leinart is a different quarterback than he was in Arizona) "He has to be a different quarterback. When you're talking about a couple years ago, he's reached a level of maturity now, becoming a vet and being a part of this team and being able to watch how Schaub handles things. This offense is totally different than the one in Arizona so I think that definitely plays into his favor. There are tons of playmakers on this offense and he, himself, is also a playmaker so I definitely I think he's looking and chomping at the bit for this opportunity. It's just unfortunate that it had to come as a result of Schaub's injury. I definitely think he's ready for this opportunity he has."
(on if he's seen any change in Leinart since he played with him in Arizona) "Yeah, like I said, I definitely think he has matured a lot. He's definitely more of a student of the game. It's still different because the offense that we ran in Arizona was different. I definitely think him being here, he's learned the offense and he's poised to show people what he can do."
(on if he's talked much with Leinart since the news came down) "Not really. He just said, 'Hey man, it's just like Arizona.' I have familiarity with him and he has familiarity with me. I definitely think we have enough playmakers surrounding him to make him feel comfortable."
WR Jacoby Jones
(on his reaction to learning about Matt Schaub's injury) "It's tough. You never want to lose a guy on your team, but I don't know what the whole situation is. Hopefully we get him back, but Matt Leinart is going to step up. That's the thing about having a team, you have to put puzzle pieces together. You've got guys on the team that have got to step up, take roles and play their role well."
(on how hard it is to change a quarterback situation with so much on the line) "I don't think we're going to miss a beat or step. Not much is going to change. Only thing that'll change is that he's just left-handed. That's it. So there ain't nothing wrong with that. You've got to catch it baby."
(on Leinart's familiarity with the system and players) "Yeah, like I said, when we're in practice and training camp, you get your reps in and the quarterbacks rotate. You get your work in with him, so we'll be alright."
(on if it helps with the transition coming during the bye week) "You get a break. Everybody gets their bodies to be able to heal and rest. Like you said, Matt has been in the system and I guarantee he'll probably be in that playbook more than anybody."
QB Matt Leinart
(on how it feels to be the focal point) "My whole thing is I just got a job to do and just be efficient, get the guys and get this team in the right situation. I'm excited for the opportunity. I'm extremely bummed for Matt (Schaub) just because of what he's put into this organization and to get us to this point. But at the same time, it's an opportunity for myself to step up. It's a great opportunity."
(on the keys to making a smooth transition) "The great thing is we have such a great team. We emphasize that around here that it's such a great team on both sides of the ball. With the running game and the guys that we have, it's important for me not to feel like I have to put everything on my shoulders. Just go out there and manage the game. You look at the numbers in the last couple games, Matt (Schaub) has just gotten us into the right plays and he's throwing the ball a little here and there and we've won the games the old fashioned way, running the ball and playing great defense. That's all I'm asked to do and I'm excited about that opportunity."
(on how much the coaching staff will help him) "It's been huge. I've been working with Knapper (quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp) daily for the last year and every day this year so far and just really focusing on my footwork, timing my footwork with my progression reads. I've been working every day after practice as you guys see, myself and T.J. (Yates) and the young receivers, Saturday, three hours before the game. It's just a lot of time just to get it down if this opportunity were to come that I would be ready. Knapper's done a great job with me and I expect we'll just continue to grind that out and continue to get better at that, so come game day, it's just second nature."
(on the feedback he's gotten from his teammates) "Like I said, everyone's bummed for Matt (Schaub), but everyone's been real supportive and positive of me. I think they've seen just the hard work I've put in last year and being here. It's exciting. It's just time to go play ball now. They just said, 'Be yourself. You've been in a lot of games.' I've been around in the League for a while. Obviously I haven't had a lot of playing time, but I've been around this game. I've played with some great quarterbacks and been on some winning teams. I understand what that takes. I understand what it takes to lead a football team. I keep emphasizing just the team aspect. Everyone has stepped up and made plays on this team and I know everyone's going to continue to do that."
(on the priorities before the next game) "Well, really just I think we all need to get away. I've been talking to Coach Kubiak and everyone just get away and just relax and kind of let this sink in and once we get back going on Monday, it's a grind. We got a six-week season, one game at a time. We've put ourselves in a great position for this last stretch and that's all. Obviously it's been kind of a crazy 24 hours, but I'm just going to relax, be with my son this week and enjoy Southern California weather a little bit and get back here and ready to go."
(on if he's gotten any interesting text messages over the past day) "I've gotten a lot of text messages from a lot of people, but a lot of support, showing their support for me. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but everyone's excited for this opportunity and this chance."
(on how he slept last night) "I slept like a baby last night. I slept wonderfully, actually."
(on if his play in the preseason helps) "I think that helps just with getting the reps with this offense in a game situation and played some good defenses. It is preseason, whether it's the second unit or whatever, you're still live. We played the Jets and the Saints, who have two great defenses. They do a lot of stuff, so that was good experience. I finished the preseason pretty well my last two games, but it's different. Preseason and regular season is a different beast out there and I'm aware of that, but I do feel comfortable with our offense. I feel really comfortable with what we do. I feel like it's a style of offense that fits what I've done in the past and in college and a little bit in Arizona. That's exciting."
(on having WR Andre Johnson back from injury) "Yeah, obviously the great thing is how efficient we've been and how many guys have stepped up in his place that he's missed the last few weeks. Everyone has made plays, every single body on this offense. The offensive line is blocking for the pass and run game, all the receivers, tight ends, all the backs. It's a great offense to be a part of and now we get the best receiver in the NFL back, which is awesome to have, especially how we've been playing the last three or four weeks. That's going to be great."
(on what kind of support he's getting from his teammates) "Like I just said, everyone's excited for the opportunity. They believe in me and that's the big thing. I know my teammates believe in me and the coaches believe I can get the job done and that goes a long way in this profession. I believe in myself to get the job done and it's going to be fun. I'm excited just to be playing ball again. It's been a long time and it's just a great situation to be a part of. I just told Matt (Schaub) that I'm going to make him proud and just win games for this team because he got us to this point."
(on what's different about him now compared to the last time he started a game) "Well, I said on a call yesterday everything is different from where I was three years ago to now, whether it's a new offense or me just growing as a quarterback learning. I feel like I kind of found myself here as far as what makes me a decent quarterback and a good quarterback, even though I haven't gotten the reps. That's what I feel like. This offense is suited to what I can do and I've just worked really hard. I'm just excited. I'm 28 now. I've just grown up a lot on the football field and studied my butt off. There's so much attention to detail here that they demand a lot of us as a quarterback, so it's forced us and you get us into those good habits of studying and trying to translate that from the practice field to the game field. I feel fully prepared."
(on how eager he is to show he can still be a starter in the NFL) "Yeah, that's always been my goal. Things haven't gone the way that was planned, but I've worked extremely hard to get to this point. I've put in a lot of work in the offseason just to always be ready and be prepared. This is why I came back here because I love it here. I love this team. I love this organization. I love this offense. Now I'm going to get a chance to go out there and prove that and that's exciting."
(on if the way things ended in Arizona fuels him to show everybody he can still play) "Everything happens for a reason and I'm thankful for what happened there because I came in here and I learned so much last year and now I'm in this situation. The past is the past. I've moved on from there and I'm just focused on being here and getting this job done."
(on if he's talked to QB Matt Schaub today) "I've talked to him all the time. We're in meetings together and went to dinner last night. He's having a tough time, obviously. It's a tough injury, but I know he'll just work his butt off to get back. He's expressed a lot of confidence and support in me and we've become real close over the past year and half. It's going to be good to have him to lean on with reads or whatever it is because he's been in this offense and he's been a very good player, a high level player for a long time in this League."
(on if anything that QB Matt Schaub has said to him has stood out) "No, not yet. We've been in this League a long time. He knows that I know what needs to get done. It's a job and it's a good opportunity. It's just exciting to be on this team and be a part of this. I got full faith in everyone on this team that we're just going to continue to move in the right direction."
(on how comforting it is to have a good running game) "It's awesome with the guys, how they're blocking up front and what they're doing and then having I think a trio of awesome backs. Any three of those guys can do a great job in there as we've all seen and that helps our play pass game and our bootleg game, which is something that we do so well here, Matt's (Schaub) done so well. That's obviously a great luxury to have is the effectiveness of our running game and how that opens up our passing game."
(on him not being asked to step in and do a lot) "Yeah, that's the thing and I know that. I have the mindset that I know I don't have to go in there and try to be a hero week in and week out or every play. I just got to go in there and get us in the right situation, the right run game, take the check down, move the chains because of how effective we are running the ball and our defense. Like I said, it's a very good situation for me to come into. If anything were to ever happen, that's a great situation to come into."
(on what he needs to improve on before the next game) "I don't know. I think it's just continue to get the reps. Continue just to keep working after practice. The more reps you get, the more comfortable you get. I've gotten a lot of reps over the last three or four weeks, more than normal and like I said, with Coach Knapp, I'm always continuing after practice just to get extra work in and just continue to get my footwork down. I think that's paid off and we'll see. We'll see if it's paid off or not. I have confidence that it has."
WR Derrick Mason
(on how Matt Schaub's injury will affect the team) "It's unfortunate, but this team has been through a lot of injuries this year, uncharacteristic of the NFL, especially the key players. You have injuries, but a lot of times, you might get one or two key players, but we've had a few key players go down, more than two or three. The next man has just gone in and done the job. The good think about it is that Matt (Leinart) has been a starting quarterback in this league. He understands what it takes to win. He's been in tough positions. To have him under center, we're just going to keep on going. Our running game is working really well. I think that's going to help us out a lot. I believe when Matt needs to make a play, he's going to make it. I don't think anybody in the building is worried. We're just going to keep on playing football the way we've been playing."
(on how hard it is to change quarterbacks in the middle of the year with so much on the line) "It's as hard as you're going to make it. I think the part that's really going to help us out is that our running game is going. We have a very good offensive line and our three backs are really running the ball well so that takes a lot of pressure off the quarterback. Not many times are you going to a situation where your starting quarterback gets hurt midstream and he (the backup) feels comfortable coming in because the running game is well. Usually, it's the other way around. He comes in and things are a little frantic for him. Like I said, for Matt, he's been a starter. He's played a bunch of games. He's thrown the ball plenty of times. He's handed it off many times. It'll be business as usual. I know he just wants to come in and play football the way he's accustomed to playing football."
(on going to the bye as the top seed in the AFC) "It's great, but it means nothing if we can't come back and finish it off. I know that's what we will do. We'll take a break, get away from here and get our bodies and minds refreshed to come back and pick up right where we left off. I'm very optimistic and happy about where this team is headed."
ILB DeMeco Ryans
(on his reaction to QB Matt Schaub's injury) "It's very, of course, sad news to hear about Schaub. I feel sorry for him, having a great year and having a tough injury like that. We all know the train has to keep rolling and it's next man up. It's the same thing as when Mario (Williams) went down. The guy has to step in and just hold his weight, do his job, come in, not expect to do too much. This whole team has to pick their game up. Everybody around them has to pick their game up and play well."
(on being No. 1 in the AFC right now) "It feels great being in the position we're in right now knowing that we're playing good ball going into the bye week, coming off a winning streak there. It's a good time for a break and it feels good to be in first place."
(on showing support for QB Matt Leinart) "That's the biggest thing is it's a team. It's not about just one guy. It's not what our team is about. It's all about all of us collectively together going out there on Sunday getting it done because I told the guys Saturday night, you never know which player it's going to take to make a difference in the game. It's all of us in it together."
(on if they feel more confident this year than in the past that they can overcome injuries) "The past, it really don't matter. Right now, where we are right now is next man up. Matt (Leinart) is going to step in and do a fine job for us. I have no doubt about it."
(on what he's going to do during the bye week) "Go back home to Alabama for a little bit. I'm the honorary captain at this weekend's game. They're playing Georgia Southern, so I get to go back to Tuscaloosa and hang out a little bit."
(on if the defense has to play even better now) "Not just because of Matt (Schaub) going down, I think we're very comfortable where we are defensively right now. Everyone knows the scheme what we're doing, but there's still little technique things that everybody feels like they can become better at. Defensively, we're just looking to be better because there's room for improvement. We're looking to turn it up another notch because there's room to be turned up another level, so that's why we're doing it."
RB Ben Tate
(on his reaction when he heard about QB Matt Schaub's injury) "Of course it was tough. That's our leader; that's the guy you're used to seeing every time you go back to the huddle and things like that, but at the same time, we all have faith in (QB Matt) Leinart. He's a good quarterback and has a great opportunity to come up here and, I guess, revive his career from what he did in Arizona, so it's a great opportunity for him and I think he's going to do a great job."
(on the importance of the running game with QB Matt Schaub out) "However long Matt is going to be out, we're all just going to have to step our game up even that much more. We're just going to continue to do what we're doing, but at a higher level to help (QB) Matt (Leinart) out. I think he'll be fine at the end of the day and I think our offense will be running normal."
(on the Texans having success as a run-oriented team while the NFL has become more of a passing league) "I really don't think about it. Just getting a 'W,' that's the most important thing. As long as we're winning, I don't care how we're doing it."
(on what it means for the Texans to go into the bye week as the no. 1 seed in the AFC) "It means a lot. It means that our hard work so far has paid off, but at the same time, the season's not over. We've still got six games left and we're still going to have to keep grinding away to try to keep that seed."
WR Kevin Walter
(on the biggest adjustment for a receiver catching passes from a left-handed quarterback) "Not many adjustments. As a receiver, it doesn't matter who's throwing you the ball. You can throw me the ball, or anybody. As long as the ball's in the air, I've got to catch it. It doesn't matter if it's from a lefty or a righty."
(on the difference in the cadence from QB Matt Schaub to Matt Leinart) "They're pretty similar. We work on our cadence each week and we continue to do that, and it's not going to change."
(on the keys to making the transition from QB Matt Schaub to QB Matt Leinart as smooth as possible) "Keep executing. Rally around Matt (Leinart), and we have confidence in him, and he knows that. We're excited about the opportunity for him to come in. It's tough for Schaub, it's tough losing him. He was playing at a high level, but we're going to get it done. We've fought through adversity this year. We're going to continue to make plays, we're going to continue to run the ball well, and just make plays. That's what it's about."
(on going into the bye week tied for the best record in the AFC) "It's great going into the bye week. We said to go into the bye week at 7-3 is huge. That's where we want to be, and we've got to continue to win and we'll be exactly where we want to be."
T Eric Winston
(on the keys to making the transition from QB Matt Schaub to QB Matt Leinart as smooth as possible) "Well, I think I can only do my part. I think the worst thing we can do is go out there and try to do more than we're supposed to. Everyone's just got to what we need to do. Matt's (Leinart) more than capable to play the position. He wouldn't be here if he wasn't, and the train stays on the tracks and we're going to keep rolling. (Matt) Schaub did a lot of great things while he was here, and we're hoping he comes back at some point, but at the same time, Leinart's here, too. He's got to be a guy that comes in and plays well for us, and like I said, things keep moving."
(on how he reacted when he found out about QB Matt Schaub's injury) "Obviously, surprised. You realize how gutty Matt (Schaub) is to finish the game and to do those things. I know guys that have had that and can't even walk, and Matt's out there doing what he's doing, so hopefully it's not as serious as everyone's reporting. Hopefully at some point he will be able to be back, but at the same time, like I said, we've got to keep this going. We've got too good of a thing to let it slip, and I know we won't. I know all the guys around here won't let it."
(on going into the bye week tied for the best record in the AFC) "It's pretty special. There have been a lot of dark days here, too, so it's been awesome to go through this and to be where we've been, and to really see the team getting better and better every week. I think you've seen that. I know I've seen it, so that's been the fun part, and I'm looking forward to now having a different challenge and proving some more people wrong."
(on the team's resilience in fighting through so many significant injuries this season) "I think that's what has made this season so special already, and I think if we close it out the right way and close it out the way I think we will, I think it will make it even that much more special. (There are) a lot of resilient players here, and a lot of guys working hard to make sure that happens."
QB T.J. Yates
(on how his role has changed) "Not much, other than I'm going to be getting a little more reps in practice. Coach Knapp does a great job of getting all of us prepared mentally for every single game. I get quizzed just as much as Matt and Matt do every single week. Obviously, as a third-string guy, the reps are hard to come by, so I try to take scout team very seriously. I try to tie it in to our concepts and try to make it as much like our offense to get as many reps as possible."
(on if he'll get more work with the starters) "Yeah, I'll probably get a few reps here and there. I know the main focus is to get Matt ready to play and get him up to speed with the first-string guys. I'll take any reps I can get."
(on the cliché that he's only a play away) "You definitely have to prepare just like you're going to be playing in that game. You're going to be suiting up, going through the whole gameday experience like I haven't done since preseason. I definitely have to get myself ready and then physically to play."
(on how special will be to be suiting up in the regular season) "It's obviously under unfortunate circumstances, but I'm going to be ready to play as much as possible. It's going to be fun for me. I'm going to take it on and have some fun with it."
(on how much can he build on his preseason success) "I think I'm a lot more comfortable with the offense from that point, because it was so long ago and we stay after every day at practice, getting reps and getting footwork down and everything. Obviously, I feel a lot more comfortable than I did during the preseason. I'm excited to get out there."