The Texans practiced Tuesday at the Methodist Training Center and after, head coach Gary Kubiak, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and some of the players answered questions from the media. Also, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and quarterback Andy Dalton answered questions from the Houston media via a conference call. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakOffensive Coordinator Rick DennisonOLB Connor BarwinG Mike BrisielLT Duane Brown
RB Arian FosterWR Andre JohnsonFS Danieal ManningC Chris MyersSS Glover QuinILB DeMeco RyansDE J.J WattT Eric WinstonQB T.J. Yates
Bengals Head Coach Marvin LewisBengals QB Andy Dalton
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on the injuries) "First off, guys that did not practice today, (Derek) Newton did not practice, (Troy) Nolan did not practice, (Bryan) Braman, Jason Allen. T.J. (Yates) was fine, took a full load in practice today, looked very good. (Mike) Brisiel was back practicing. Let's see who else. (Sherrick) McManis was back practicing today and Johnathan Joseph was limited, has a sore ankle and did individual stuff and then we kind of pulled him later in practice, so he was limited. That's where we ended up today."
(on QB T.J. Yates) "He looked good. He practiced well and took his full arsenal of reps. At the same time, we are getting Jake (Delhomme) reps and that's kind of been part of the routine the last three weeks. But he was fine. He did everything he would be asked to do any other Wednesday during the season."
(on CB Johnathan Joseph's ankle injury) "We thought rest last week would do him some good. He came out today and was moving around fine going into the individual. Got a little sore on him and he changed his tape a couple times and was still sore, so after the first period, we pulled him. I think it's more of a precaution than anything. My expectation is that he's back on the field tomorrow, but we'll see."
(on G Mike Brisiel's status for Saturday) "I would love to think that he and (Antoine) Caldwell went at it 60-40, 70-30, somewhere in there if Mike's able to come back and play that much, but I'll have to watch him practice. I would say today that Mike probably took about half the reps of practice. But that's an amazing recovery. Danieal (Manning) did the same thing. We'll see how he comes out of each day, but we sure hope he's ready to go."
(on if G Mike Brisiel will start on Saturday if he's healthy) "Yeah, Mike's played very well for us, been the starter all year long and there would be no reason for him not to go back there if he can handle it."
(on if the offensive line was starting to play better last week) "Yeah, I thought so. We can go to each spot the last month and we just haven't been consistent as a football team. They're part of that too. We've been a little inconsistent in protecting our quarterback, but I did like the way we played early in the game last week or throughout the first half. We miss Mike (Brisiel). Gump's (Antoine Caldwell) played a lot of football. Caldwell's played a lot of football, but we did miss Mike. Mike's a big part of what we're doing and hopefully we get him back."
(on if the offensive line is the best unit on the team) "I think they obviously have been consistent for this team for a while. I think that's two years in a row until Mike (Brisiel) got hurt, if I'm right, that I don't know if we've had a lineman miss any time at all. We've been very fortunate from that standpoint and them playing that many snaps together is what has made them better each and every week."
(on the intensity in practice) "Really like it, very, very focused today. I kind of went back to my Week 1 schedule as far as how we do things time-wise. We probably needed as much time in the meeting room this week as anything, so we've added some there. Our focus was very good. We're pretty fresh because most of our starters played somewhere between 25 and 30 plays. Even though it's a two-day window that we've went from game-time to back to the field, we've moved around pretty good."
(on how much QB T.J. Yates has grown since his first game) "It's been a great deal. The biggest thing is to watch us give him a game plan Wednesday morning, watch him go from a meeting at 11 o'clock to the field at 12 o'clock and perform that game plan and that's hard to do. It takes a good night for a guy to study, but a good veteran player can usually do that pretty quick. He's starting to show signs of doing that. He practiced very well today. His preparation's been excellent. He's got a lot of guys helping him, but his preparation is very good."
(on WR Andre Johnson) "He looked real good. He looked like himself today. He took a big load at practice. He feels himself getting stronger and obviously upbeat and excited about his opportunity this weekend. He looked good."
(on if QB T.J. Yates has been limited at all with his shoulder injury) "No, he did everything today. As a matter of fact, it was an excellent practice today, practiced very well."
(on the turnover difference in the first half of the season compared to the second half) "Well the good part is I think we ended up in the top five or six in the League, so that's why we're getting the chance to play this weekend. The big picture has been good. The last five weeks have been disappointing. I think last week was zero. We cancelled each other out. The key to our team has been winning turnover battles, protecting the football, those type of things and if we're ever going to get back to it, this would be a nice time to do it. We emphasized that at practice, trying to work really hard on it and hopefully we can get back to getting that done."
(on how important the opening drive was last week) "It was important for the team, the fast starts that we've been getting off to throughout the course of the year. We looked like ourselves there from an energy standpoint and those type of things, but bottom line is you got to play four quarters. That was something we could build upon."
(on ILB Brian Cushing being voted as the team MVP) "I wasn't surprised. He's been a leader all year long and statistically what he's done has been tremendous. If you throw away the statistics, what he's done for our defense has been exceptional. There's no doubt from a player's standpoint. I think we've had a lot of guys that have had some great years, but he's really stood out in our room all year long."
(on what the difference has been for ILB Brian Cushing from last year to this year) "To me, it's practice. Certain players, when they miss a lot of time, it's hard to go out there and transfer it. It's difficult. Cush is one of those guys when he practices well, he plays well and most great players are that way. So, his health, being there every day at practice with (linebackers coach) Reggie (Herring) and (defensive coordinator) Wade (Phillips) I think has transferred into him playing extremely well."
(on defensive coordinator Wade Phillips calling ILB Brian Cushing a 'holy phenom') "He's been that way for us. I don't know what that is, but he's been that way for us. He's been exceptional. He's been all over the field. About the only thing that hasn't come Cush's way are the turnovers, those type of things. When you have those, you get even more credit, but I think they're going to come. He's worked extremely hard. He's been a leader. He's calling defenses and stuff. That's something he hasn't done in the past. He's really grown as a player a great deal."
(on what the crowd noise can do to an opposing team) "It's huge. They've got to operate offensively with our crowd type of thing. It's a big boost for us as a football team. It's just something we need to use to our advantage. Obviously, this place will be rocking. We know that. It's been excellent all year long and I'm sure it'll be even better this weekend."
(on the most important piece of advice for QB T.J. Yates) "Oh, I just want him to play – just go out and play the game. I want him to be aggressive. He's very well prepared. He knows what he's doing. I think we all understand the magnitude of the game, but you got to be willing to go cut it loose, and I want our whole team to be there right now, not just T.J."
(on CB Jason Allen's status for this weekend) "We'll see. He's had back spasms. He did some jogging around the field today. Obviously, he wouldn't be ready to go today, but we got a long way to go. There are some things they can do to help him out, so hopefully he's out there doing something tomorrow."
(on overcoming the team's lack of playoff experience) "I don't know that answer. I mean, I've been asked so many times. It is what it is. From that standpoint, as far as our players, maybe that's a good thing that they don't have a lot of things to pull from. It's just go play it like any other game. They know that the result – the biggest factor –you can move on. If you don't play well, you're not moving on, you're going home. They all understand that, but this is the Houston Texans' first taste of a playoff game. We've got some guys that are helping them out, and there's a lot of great information being passed along from Antonio Smith and Danieal Manning. Watching Danieal Manning practice today and watching him prepare – if you're his teammate, you know there was something different about it today. You just ask those guys to lead the way, and we got a lot of good players that need to jump in there and go with them, so we'll find out."
(on the team's confidence in him due to his playoff experience) "I hope they look at our staff and pull from everybody. (Defensive coordinator) Wade's (Phillips) been in a lot of big football games, (offensive coordinator) Rico (Rick Dennison), guys have been in a lot of playoff games, have been around those type of things. They got to look to everybody, and like I said, there's a lot of information to be passed along this week, whether it's from me, coaches, players who've played in playoff games, but the bottom line is we're going to play with the same ball, we're going play on the same fields. That was my message to them this morning, 'Hey, whatever you did during the season, you did a hell of a job. You make sure you're doing the same thing this week as we prepare for Saturday.'"
Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison
(on the offensive line playing like they were earlier in the season last week) "Obviously we missed a part of the five with Mike (Brisiel) being down and hopefully he will be back full force this week. He practiced today. They've just done a nice job because you keep the cohesiveness. All five are working together and that's important. You have to know what the guy next to you is going to do at all times. You have to be able to communicate quickly and I think they've done a nice job. It's just a matter of keep doing the little things. There was a couple of times where we didn't quite do all the little things we needed to, but they got focused and they're a very dedicated group. They study hard and they work hard."
(on the adjustments made with the quarterback situation) "There's a little bit. Mostly with cadence but through practice and just working with them, I think we're fine. Obviously T.J. (Yates) has worked hard too so I think we will be good."
(on how much WR Andre Johnson's presence affects what the team does offensively) "Well, it makes us smile a little bit more if that helps you out. As much of a presence that he is, a great football player, we'll still do things within the structure of our offense, but knowing what he can do out at wide out and how he can press, he can create some problems for people one on one certainly. That may change their coverage and may do some things, but we don't know. He's been off for awhile so it's just great to have him back. He doesn't say anything. He just works hard. Having a guy out there work that hard and do everything you tell him is great for the team to see that as a leader by example for sure."
(on what impresses him most about QB T.J. Yates) "I think his resilience. He's tougher than nails. If something that doesn't come right away for him he keeps working at it, you know, you never have to correct him about the same thing twice. If you do it one time then he understands. He studies very hard. He's taken the example that Matt (Schaub) and the other Matt (Leinart) have done before him and he knows how well you have to be prepared to play the game and I think that's the thing is he really, really prepares well."
(on whether there was any question as to how QB T.J. Yates would respond when he became the starter) "No, we kind of saw that through our study of him in college. When he was in some adverse situations he handled them really well and really responded. I think we had a pretty good indication that he was going to do that."
(on Head Coach Gary Kubiak's comment that G Mike Brisiel may be able to play about sixty or seventy percent of the snaps in Saturday's game) "Well anytime you have guys that have played a lot of football like Mike and is a solid player like Mike, it's not that Antoine (Caldwell) isn't, it's just the more people you have ready to play and have played a lot of snaps, the better off. It would be great if they rotated and keep the fresh guy in. Whatever he can give us we are looking forward to it."
(on whether the switching of G Antoine Caldwell and G Mike Brisiel will alternate the chemistry of the offensive line) "No, we do that at practice so much and those guys are all trained by the same guy, (offensive line coach) John (Benton) does a great job with them. They're next to two solid guys in Eric (Winston) and Chris (Myers). Chris keeps them all on the same page, so we don't have any doubt. Just like the past couple of weeks, we will be ok."
(on what can be said about G Mike Brisiel's toughness regarding his injury) "I think it says a lot about him. I mean, he played a doggone half a game with that thing. He's always shown to be very resilient and very tough and he doesn't say much, he just keeps working."
(on having depth in the offensive line) "Well, we'll just see need to see how the game plays out. Certainly it helps to have all of them in the arrow in the quiver I guess you would say and if that works out, it works. If we keep fresh guys out we are great. We will just see how it plays out, see what our match-ups are and see how each guy is doing."
(on the offense looking different with QB T.J. Yates against a zone as opposed to a man to man against the Bengals) "They play a lot of defense. They play a lot of good defense too, so they can do a little bit of everything. They've got corners that can cover. They're good up front. They're really good upfront. They can bring you blitzes. They can play zone. There's a lot of things they can do and hopefully we have enough to cover that or defeat that. We've got to be ready for everything, because they've done a little bit of everything in every realm of the game, so with all the defenses they play we have to have enough fire power to get after it."
(on taking advantage of the Bengals thinking the Texans would be limited with QB T.J. Yates in the last game) "Well, to a certain extent. It took every minute of that game to win that thing, because they are a good football team. We don't know how they're going to play us, but whatever it is we have to be able to match it."
(on if they are expanding the playbook more for this game than the last for QB T.J. Yates) "I can't tell you that. There's a lot of different things that they do and we're going to try and do everything we can to take advantage of every guy on our team. I think T.J. (Yates) has done a great job of handling everything we've given him thus far and we just keep stretching him and as much as it will go, it will go."
OLB Connor Barwin
(on what extra spice he needs to bring to the game Saturday) "Well, I don't think there needs to be any extra spice. You know, it's a playoff game now, the first playoff game here in Houston since '93, so I don't think there's anywhere to add extra spice, but it is fun for me to be playing the Bengals, where I went to college."
(on if it's ironic to be playing the Bengals since he went to college in Cincinnati) "Yea, it really is kind of crazy that we're playing them in my first NFL football game, or first NFL playoff game."
(on how much of a Bengals fan he was during college) "When I was playing there I wasn't a big Bengals fan. I think I was still a Lions fan, but I know some of those guys from being back in Cincinnati. I still train there during the off season, so it's fun to play against guys that you have a good relationship with."
G Mike Brisiel
(on his teammates expressing great confidence in him and what that means) "Well, it makes me feel good. I try to come out and work hard every day and keep moving forward everyday and for them to say that, it means a lot."
(on whether he was worried coming into practice today after recovering from a broken leg) "You know, I've been working with the rehab staff and I ran last week and I've been getting better everyday, so I really wasn't worried that much."
(on how he managed to play half of a game with a broken leg) "I can't tell you. That was awhile ago, I don't even remember to tell you the truth."
T Duane Brown
(on the Bengals giving up so many rushing yards this season and if the Texans plan on trying to take advantage of that early in Saturday's game) "That's always the point of emphasis every week is to get our rushing game going. You know, for the most part watching them over the past few weeks they did pretty good against the run and then you see some teams break some big runs against them. They're still a very stout defense so we have to respect that, but that's always the first point of emphasis is to get our running game going and then open up offense from there."
(on his thoughts about ILB Brian Cushing being voted team MVP) "I totally agree looking at what he's about to our defense and to the team. This year he's done some great things and made some huge plays for us and he's been a leader on that side of the ball. From an intensity standpoint, he's been pretty vocal and I expect him to do a lot more things before the season ends."
(on who the leader is in the offensive line) "I'll probably have to say Chris Myers. Chris has been the center of the group and he's the most vocal. He gets us all in the right position to make our blocks and assignments and things like that and he's a leader. He does everything right and he's the first one here every morning and he's our leader."
(on if the offensive line is the most important group on the team) "I mean everyone plays their part, but week in and week out we feel like we play a very important role in our success. I think that we think if we can control the line of scrimmage from week to week we will have a pretty good chance of winning those games."
(on how QB T.J. Yates is in the huddle and whether he seems like a rookie) "Not at all. He's very calm, very poised, very even-keeled and big plays and big downs when we need to make a play he comes in with a good confidence about him and challenges people to make the plays to keep us on the field. He definitely doesn't seem like a rookie."
(on G Mike Brisiel coming back from injury this week) "It means a lot. Brisiel has probably been the most consistent player from week to week in our room. He always goes out hard and he's always has assignment checks. He's been a big part of our success throughout the season and I'm glad we have him back this week."
(on having his fine rescinded by the NFL) "It meant a lot. It was good for me to get the fine rescinded. I'm glad it happened, but I'm not dwelling on it too much."
(on G Mike Brisiel's consistency) "We get graded from week to week and from a grading standpoint he's been the highest grader from week-in and week-out. We've all played pretty well but watching film out there, he's probably been one of the most consistent."
(on how vocal G Mike Brisiel is outside of the game) "He doesn't talk much at all and that's one thing you like about Brisiel is he goes about his business very quietly, but when he gets on the field he means business."
(on what issues the Texans face this weekend when playing a team they have already played) "You have a good feel for what you're trying to do and they played pretty well the last game. It was pretty hard to get our run game the way we wanted to, but there's also advantages and benefits to that, just because in turn, you know what they want to do and know what kind of player you're going against so there are pro's and con's."
(on how he played individually against the Bengals their last meeting) "As a total game I played okay, but the final drive wasn't as good as I wanted it to be as far as pass protection."
(on putting the last few games behind and how the Texans can take this week to the next level in playoff play) "We didn't finish the way we wanted to and we feel like we didn't play the kind of football we were capable of playing, but all of that's in the past now. You can't dwell on it and can't look back at all. We are starting a new season now and you have to win week-to-week to keep the season going. We know what it takes to get the job done and like I said, playing this team once already, we know exactly what they are going to try and do so you just have to turn it up. Everyone tells me there are three speeds to a season, the preseason, the regular season, and the postseason so everyone has to turn it up a notch."
(on what it means to him to have played as well as he has this season) "I thought I played pretty well. Every year, I feel like I've stepped up my play a little bit. This year more than ever I felt a certain confidence about my ability, and it feels good to be able to play at that level. I feel like I still have a lot more to achieve though."
(on the importance of how well the Texans' offense played in the first half of the game against the Titans and the concern over the struggle in the second) "Oh, I think it was very important considering that we had a lot of guys step in in the second half to fill roles. You know in that first half, especially the first drive, we got back to playing the way we thought we could play. We were the most physical team out there. We ran the ball when we wanted to, and even when T.J. (Yates) went down, he had a heck of a drive and got us in a scoring position. That was important for us."
(on if he sees something in QB T.J. Yates after the game against Tennessee) "Definitely, definitely. I had no idea he was hurt. He didn't say anything. You couldn't tell any different. He just went out there and got the job done, and that just says more about him. He's not a rookie in my eyes."
(on the benefit of playing a team in the first round of the playoffs that they had defeated in the regular season) "I think that will help us out a lot. We had some disappointing losses, but knowing your opponent like we know the Bengals, I'm sure they have some different wrinkles here and there to throw us off, but as a group we know what they're going to try to accomplish. A lot of people that wrote us off that game, but we all found a way to man up and get the job done. Getting that victory that week I think will give us maybe a little bit of momentum heading into this game, but it's a playoff game for both of us. We know they're going come with a different game plan and a different intensity."
(on having a chance to beat Tennessee with so many backup players in the game) "Yeah, definitely. The first half, we came up with great intensity, a great tempo and played the way we thought we were capable of. Then, you have some guys step in who haven't played all year and did some great things. To look up, and you're down, you score with a chance with a 2-point conversion to win the game. There's no disappointment after the game. You like to win, but the fact that we were even in position to win that game helped us a lot as far as our morale is concerned."
(on if he could tell it was playoff time during practice) "Oh, yeah, it started this morning when everyone got to the building just stepping in the first meeting. Everyone was attentive and focused, knowing what's at stake here and knowing that everyone has to turn up their level of play. The coaches know they have to turn it up a notch. It's all or nothing this week."
(on what making the playoffs means to the team) "It means a lot because you look around the League, and you see people getting their exit physicals, things like that, and here you are with a chance to play and all. This is a lot of our first times ever experiencing this kind of feeling. It means a lot for us as a group. Everyone doesn't get the chance to get in this position, and some people, this is what you work your whole career for to get here. For us to be in this position, the no. 3 seed in the AFC, we're definitely taking advantage of it."
(on what caused the changes in the way the offense looked in the first half of the game against Tennessee) "Attitude, tempo. We didn't want to come out and be counterpunches, and we didn't want to come out and feel our way into the game. We wanted to come out and dictate how the first drive was going to go, and that's the mentality we have to have, week-in and week-out. We kind of got away from that for a few weeks, but we got back to it."
(on the team's confidence in Head Coach Gary Kubiak due to his postseason experience) "It gives us a certain confidence. He's been great for us every week. The things he tries to instill into us, his philosophy, everyone's bought into it. He's had a few talks with us about getting to this point and how you can't take it for granted. Some people may never get back here, and you just have to seize the moment. We feel that way, and we're practicing this week, preparing this week. It's show time on Saturday."
RB Arian Foster
(on the team's morale) "The atmosphere is going well so far. It's fun to be a part of. We go out to practice today, nobody's ever practiced on that grass this time of year before, so it always fun to be a part of something for the first time. We're excited, but we're still focused."
(on if there have been differences in preparation for this game) "No, that's one thing Kub (Head Coach Gary Kubiak) told us is, 'Do everything the same as you would in a regular game week.' Obviously, the intensity picks up, but don't break your routine. If you do something throughout the week that you usually do, do it again. We're just going to approach it like that. It's a game. It's a very important game, but it's a game."
(on what it means to have played a pivotal role in the team's road to the playoffs) "It's an honor. This city hasn't seen a playoff game for so many years, and just to be a part of something that a city hasn't seen for a while, it brings a lot of hope to a lot of people. It means a lot to a lot of people, so I take my job serious, and I'm going to play my heart on the line for my teammates, myself, and our city."
(on his thoughts about ILB Brian Cushing's earning team MVP) "I thought I should have had it easy. I'm just playing. I'm just joking with you. He's been the heart of the defense really. He's been the heart of the defense, and if you just watch the way he plays the game, you can't help but get inspired. I think that's what the MVP does is he inspires the guys to play better around him. He makes me want to be a better player, a better athlete, not only with the things he does on the field, but with the things he does off the field, like from his nutrition, the things he does to take care of his body. He's an inspiring person. He gives me a little motivation to be better."
(on what it means to him that he and RB Ben Tate almost became the seventh running back combo to both rush for 1,000 yards) "I think anytime you have two running backs that can carry the load, it just takes additional pressure off you. Also, it just shows you that this league is all about opportunity and he took advantage of his opportunities when he had a chance to do it. That's how I came into the league was off an opportunity, so it just goes to show what this League is all about."
(on how DE Antonio Smith and FS Danieal Manning's playoff experience will help the team) "Well, yeah. I'm not going to be able to tell you that until after the game Saturday, but I think that you can kind of see them taking initiative during practice or just any opportunity they get to talk to guys about the playoffs. Guys are asking about it. I'm asking about it, and everybody says the same thing. It's a different speed. It's a different focus. Everything is different, so that's how you have to approach the game. We're lucky to have guys on the team that have been to the playoffs because this organization never has before, but we also have a coaching staff that have won Super Bowls, multiple Super Bowls. We're excited, and we're confident about what we're doing."
(on asking players that have been to the playoffs about the playoffs) "Well, I haven't asked them. Other guys have asked them, but you kind of hear them talking about it. You kind of hear, 'What's the atmosphere like? What's the play feel like? Do guys really play that much harder?' You know, things like that. I think it's just the adrenaline of the game and the crowd. Everything is intensified. Everybody's a little quicker, a little faster, a little sharper."
(on if it means anything that the team beat Cincinnati a few weeks ago) "Nah. Nah, it means nothing. It's a different game."
(on his expectations of Cincinnati's game plan against the run) "I'll tell you what, Cincinnati's a very disciplined ball club. They stay in their lanes very well. They're coming off a game where they gave up a lot of rushing yards, and obviously you don't want that to be a focus. Anytime you show any kind of tendencies in a game, the next opponent always takes advantage of that, so I think they're going to be of a heightened sense of awareness of what we're going to be trying to be doing to them. We have a game plan. If you study our offense, you know what's coming. They know what's coming, and we know what to expect from them. It's just who's going to execute the best."
(on his confidence in the team's chances after WR Andre Johnson's return) "Well, anytime you see 80 in there, it's just a comforting feeling. He got to play a little bit last week to get him that feel back in. Mike's (Brisiel) been a part of the core of our team for the majority of the season, and to get him back is big. I think that our offense never really lacks confidence because I think that comes from the head down. He's confident in everybody who he has on his team, and it kind of bleeds and trickles down to everybody that plays."
(on if the team's confidence in QB T.J. Yates has increased) "I don't really think it was ever not there. I remember when he first came in against Jacksonville and the two-minute drive. That was his first NFL action was the two-minute drill. He's leading us down to try to score before the half, and I never saw any kind of chink in his armor. He's young. He's going to make mistakes. I'm going to make mistakes. It's all about how you bounce back, and he always seems to bounce back very well, so it was never really not there.
(on if Head Coach Gary Kubiak has talked to the team about his postseason experience) "Well, he kind of reiterated what some of the players were telling us that it just picks up a notch. It's a little faster, a little quicker. Everybody has to be a little bit sharper, and every play, it means something. He just tries to get us aware of that and get us playing good ball."
(on what he liked about the offensive line's performance against the Titans) "Just aggression. They had a lot of aggression, and they were playing like it. I think that we were playing really well that first half as an offense, and we just have to look to continue that because the playoffs is a new season. The regular season doesn't matter anymore to anybody, well, not to me anyway. It's 0-0, and may the best man win."
WR Andre Johnson
(on what it means to him to have played a pivotal role in getting to the playoffs) "That was my goal. You know, I always said that I wanted to be a part to help this organization get to their first playoff appearance and hopefully win their first Super Bowl. I didn't think it would take this long, but we're here now."
(on how happy he is for owner Bob McNair) "I'm really happy for him. It's something that he's been working for, for 10 years. Everybody is excited, but at the same time we aren't happy with just being here. We want to go out and try to win this game on Sunday (Saturday)."
(on how missing part of the season and now being back for playoffs affects him) "You know, during the time I was injured, I had a lot of people around me just telling me, 'Don't get frustrated. Don't get down on yourself, because when you get healthy, it's going to be at the right time' and they must be psychics or something. It all worked out. I didn't get to play much this year, but to be able to be back healthy and get ready for the playoffs is pretty exciting so I'm going to go out there and give it all I've got."
(on the intensity seen in the Texans preparing for playoff time) "I think if anybody was out there watching us practice today, it was at a pretty fast pace. It was pretty quick and you can tell that the guys are ready to go. I really think that if we had to play a game today we probably could do it. Everybody was just in the practice. The focus level was at an all-time high. The guys are into what they are doing and we are doing everything we can to make sure we are ready to go on Saturday."
(on how important it is for the team to keep their focus until Saturday) "Yeah, I don't think it will be tough to do. I think the adrenaline will be going. The adrenaline is always going in this game. I think it will be going a bit more, because it's the first time for us in the playoffs and experiencing everything, but we have been playing this game for a long time so guys know how to play football and I think they know how to contain themselves."
(on what he likes about how QB T.J. Yates has played so far) "Just his confidence. You know, the first time he came in the huddle after (Matt) Leinart went down, he came into the huddle with a smile on his face and was like, 'Hey guys, let's go.' Most rookies would come in nervous and that's something you don't see in him. If he is nervous, he does a great job hiding it, but I have a lot of confidence in his ability and what he can do and he's been doing a great job of studying and things like that. Most third-string quarterbacks aren't able to come in and play like he's played, especially him being a rookie so I think he'll be ready to go on Saturday."
(on whether or not it has sunk in that his team has made it to the playoffs for the first time) "Yeah, actually it hit me this morning. Just because normally, I was telling some of the guys today, normally in the past years I would have cleaned out my locker two weeks ago. So I got up this morning and I was like 'Man, I'm still going to work. I'm not getting ready to get on an airplane and go back to Miami.' It's a great feeling, but at the same time we're not happy with just being here."
(on thinking forward to having the opportunity to make a game-changing play in Saturday's game) "A lot of times that's what games come down to is just a play or a certain series in the game so I don't know. Everyone always has the opportunity to make that play to help your team win. I always dream about being the guy to make that play. That's the attitude I have. When the game is on the line I want the football and that's just the way I've always been."
(on what he thinks the atmosphere will be like on Saturday) "I can't really describe it because I know it's going to be really crazy. I know it's going to be really loud. If you look at the game here after we clinched, the intensity from the fans was awesome. I think that by the playoffs being here now I think it will be louder than ever than it's ever been in this stadium and I'm pretty sure they will be here real early. I even have some of my family tailgating and they don't ever tailgate."
(on if he has heard from friends around the League who have cleaned out their lockers and didn't make it to the playoffs) "No, I haven't. Actually, when we clinched I had a few guys text me congratulations. After we played the Colts I talked to Reggie (Wayne) for a little while after the game and he gave me a lot of words of encouragement. You know, he's been there, won the Super Bowl, played in two Super Bowls, so he just was telling me to get back healthy and make sure you're ready to go. He was just telling me how important I was to the team and not to get down on myself, and things like that while going through the injury. I've heard from a few friends, but most of them have just been congratulations and stuff like that."
(on having a lot of support from players in the League despite playing for different teams) "You don't really get a chance to know that until you get to talk to them after the game and stuff like that. It's kind of weird. I didn't know I had that many people who really root for me and stuff like that. I think when you go out and play the game the right way and do the right things, people look to that so I think that has a lot to do with it."
(on ILB Brian Cushing being voted on as team MVP) "I don't think that was really a debate. The way he's played this year, it's been awesome, the way our whole defense has played. Sometimes I watch him and I don't know, he has a whole 'nother energy level or something when he's out there playing. He plays the game real hard and the thing I think that's great about him is he wants to be the best so I think that is what drives him. He's very confident in what he can do and like I said, I don't really think that was a debate."
(on ILB Brian Cushing not making the Pro Bowl and DE Antonio Smith saying "people would pay") "Yeah, I can understand that. Like I said before, a lot of times, some guys make the Pro Bowl just because of name. Somehow you kind of have to find a way to put the guys in it that really deserve it. Somebody better watch out because I talked to him after the votes and everything came out and he wasn't very happy about that so somebody's going to pay for it. "
(on if someone is going to pay since he had been injured for a few games and is now back) "Well I've got some slack I've got to make up. I'm not going to sit here and say that somebody is going to pay for it but I'll be playing at a high level and I can promise you that."
(on being compared to Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald when he played in the postseason and if he can see himself doing what he did taking the playoffs like it's his own) "It just all comes with opportunity. He had his opportunities and he made the best of them. With the opportunities I get on Saturday I'm going to go out and try to make every play I can. I think that's pretty much it. You just have to do the best you can with your opportunities and he did a great job with his."
(on if the last time he had a postseason was a bowl game) "Yeah, in college."
(on if it was the game he broke a few records) "No, the year we lost to Ohio State."
(on anyone who was encouraging to him during the tough years of losing with the Texans) "No, there wasn't really anybody I went to talk to about anything. I was just more motivated myself to get to that point and just sitting there watching playoff games it used to be frustrating at times, but I used it as motivation because I knew that was where I wanted to be. So, I didn't really lean on anybody or anything like that."
(on if he's happy he stuck it out with the Texans despite not making the playoffs until now) "Yeah, I've had people come at me and say I should leave and things like that, but like I said, I wanted to be a part of something special so I'm here, I'm happy. I have no problem with my decisions. We have a big goal and the goal is well within reach and we just have to take it one game at a time."
(on how much he thinks he needs to make QB T.J. Yates give him an opportunity at certain times in the game) "You know what, I don't like to really get in the quarterbacks head because I know he has a thousand other things to think about when he's out on the field, but T.J. knows where I'm at."
(on how important it was to play the last game) "It was very important. I wanted to at least try to play in two games before the playoffs, but unfortunately it didn't work out that way. I at least wanted to get a game in and I think it helped out a whole lot."
(on if owner Bob McNair ever spoke with him about sticking it out with the Texans) "Not really, not that I can really remember. I do remember talking to him when I was going through the contract situation and he was just talking about the team and we were just talking about what we thought about the team. You know, that was a year ago and now it's all worked out so, like I said, everybody is excited and we're just going to take advantage of the opportunity."
(on if he had a feeling from the start of the season that this could be the year the Texans made the playoffs) "Well we knew we had a good football team. Nobody knew how good our defense was going to be because being in the lockout and we didn't have the OTA's so bringing in (defensive coordinator) Wade (Phillips). When I saw how good our defense was playing compared to the other years, I knew we had a chance. I think the way our defense has played just gave our team so much confidence because there were times in the past where we lost games right at the end with our defense on the field, but that's all changed, that's all in the past. We have a great defense now and they've been doing a great job for us."
FS Danieal Manning
(on what he can contribute to the players who have not been to the playoffs before) "I feel like I can contribute and help a lot just by the experience and just paying attention to detail and not taking anything off. Practice starts there in the meeting room. I feel like each and every day, each and every time you have a chance to do something, like knocking balls down, don't take this stuff for granted."
(on his view of how they're handling this week) "I think we're handling it well. It starts from top-down. The coaches are definitely standing on As and Bs and see if they're gonna check down the list on everything we need to do from special team meetings – I was in there – and all the way throughout the whole game plan. We're sticking with it, and we're not changing from anything. I mean of course we've played this team before, but they're not looking at it like that. We're picking up everything we can with this team. We got only one shot to play this team. We can't play them again."
(on if he likes the team's reaction to the build-up to the game) "Oh, yeah. Again, we've been talked about, 'You guys went on this losing streak,' but that's over with. That's past, almost last year if you wanna say it, but here we are in the playoffs. Everybody's zero and even record, and all we have right now is the rest of these days until Saturday comes."
C Chris Myers
(on what it means to him being named the leader of the offensive line) "It means a lot. We've been working together for a long time, pretty much the whole nucleus of us, and Wade (Smith) the last couple of years, but it means a lot coming from a guy like him."
(on what he thinks makes him a leader) "I don't know. I don't view myself as too much of that, just go about my business and handle day-to-day. It's a job, and at the end of the day, you gotta do it."
(on how he views the team getting ready for playoffs for the first time in franchise history) "Just like any other game. Obviously, you're not dumb to the fact that it's the playoffs, and it's the first time in franchise history, all that stuff, but you gotta go in and approach this like every other game. It's same preparation, same type of study, game film, nothing special, but the package is that much bigger. At the end of the week, you're either going home or you're advancing."
SS Glover Quin
(on what stands out about the Bengals' offense) "They do a lot things, they run the ball well. They have a great receiver, a great quarterback and he does a great job of throwing it up and giving them an opportunity to make plays and he's been making a lot of plays this year and so he has some weapons. They have a big tight end, they have some guys that can catch the ball and make plays with it and so we really have to do a good job of making plays and playing with our fundamentals, and we'll be just fine."
(on whether or not the familiarity of playing them four weeks ago will help) "I think it helps a lot, just knowing who you're playing against, knowing what they like to do, things that they've done on you that were successful last game. They're probably going to try to do some more of that this game. I think the biggest part of that is knowing the personnel. Kind of like the division games, where you play that team so much you know the personnel. Just knowing the guy you go against, know his speed, know how he likes to run his routes, things like that can't do anything but help you."
(on the chemistry between QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green) "It's kind of how it works, a lot of the time, rookies come in and they're just trying to work. In this situation it was the quarterback and the receiver. Anytime the quarterback is probably staying after later to throw passes he is probably throwing to the rookie receiver, who is staying late to work on his game, and so it worked out great for them and they had a good year."
ILB DeMeco Ryans
(on how it feels to be in the playoffs) "We're excited to be playing now. For us we're still treating it like a regular week. We know that now truly everything is at stake. It's win or go home so of course the stakes are raised a little bit but we have to keep our same effort and focus what we've been doing all year. There was no difference today at practice, we had a good practice. The guys are into what we are doing and going about it like a normal week."
(on being a part of franchise history) "That's cool, but that's not our goal. We made the playoffs, but that's not the end of it. We aren't just satisfied with just making the playoffs. It's not the type of team we have here. That's not our goal to just make the playoffs."
(on if he is impressed with QB Andy Dalton and A.J. Green's chemistry) "They play well, you look at the film and you don't really see them as rookies. They make a lot of plays, A.J. makes a lot of plays and Andy gets the ball to him pretty well so those guys play well together."
DE J.J Watt
(on getting rookie of the year) "That's what you work towards; you work for the respect of your teammates, the respect from the guys around the League, so I appreciate my teammates giving me that honor, but winning is much more important. So, I'm just trying to do everything I can to help the team."
(on coming in his first year and being able to create a niche for himself on this club) "It's big, that's what I wanted to do coming here. I wanted to be able to make an impact. I wanted to be able to help this team get to the playoffs and help us win games. I left college early and that was a big decision for me. I knew I needed to have a big rookie year because I didn't want to be that guy who came out and then faded off. I wanted to come in here and have a big impact and start off my career the right way, so I'm very excited about where it started and can't wait to work to get better."
(on what he has found out about himself his first year here) "I found new ways to fight through adversity. The thing about the NFL, there is a lot of ups and downs. You go through a lot of different things throughout the course of the season and the guys in this locker room have helped me find overcome adversity and really find myself as a player."
T Eric Winston
(on sticking with what the Texans have been doing through the new season) "Sure, you know we have so much success doing what we've done, it doesn't make much sense for me to all of a sudden start deviating from that. We've put a lot of wins together in a row and we've done this way for a reason. We got to stay with it."
(on having superstitions and whether or not he is superstitious) "No, I have a routine but I wouldn't say I'm superstitious about it. If I miss something, it's not desperation times. So, I'm not worried about it."
(on his game day routine) "I try to get here on time. I try to do everything on a certain time but like I said, if I'm a couple minutes late, I'm not devastated about it that's for sure."
QB T.J. Yates
(on if he's still able to do what he wants despite his shoulder injury) "Yeah, absolutely. I took the full load at practice today. I didn't take any reps off and it feels good. I went out there and was able to throw the ball just fine, no pain."
(on if he wanted to continue playing on Sunday "No, I didn't want to come out. We looked at it and thought it was the best thing for me to play it safe and go out of the game and let Jake (Delhomme) take the rest of the game."
(on if he's had time to reflect on how crazy the season has been) "Yeah, I've had a little bit of time, but I've been trying to take it one day at a time. This has been obviously an unfortunate situation with the two guys in front of me going down, but you got to take advantage of every opportunity you get in this League and my coaches and all the other players have been great helping me do that."
(on if the most important thing for him is to maintain his focus) "Yeah, there's a lot of stuff going on in and around the organization as far as the hype and everything with the playoffs and how we've been playing recently, but this team is ready to play. We had a great day at practice today and everybody has one focus right now and that's winning that game on Saturday."
(on how important the touchdown on the opening drive was last week) "It was good. We came out very aggressive, moved the ball right down the field, just kind of like we wanted to, a mixed bag of running the ball and throwing the ball and doing what we needed to do to get the ball in the end zone."
(on whether playing a team he has already defeated will help his confidence in Saturday's game) "Yeah, having success against them before is definitely going to do a lot for our confidence offensively knowing that we can move the ball. In that game we did a lot of things where we put ourselves in bad situations with turnovers and negative plays, but we knew we were moving the ball great that day and it was kind of on us as far as making some of those mistakes, but they're a very good defensive football team that causes a lot of problems and forced us into those mistakes."
(on if this is the best team to start his first playoff game since he had a game winning drive against them late in the fourth quarter) "Yeah, it will definitely help, kind of seeing what they do to us and how they played us in that first game is definitely going to give us an idea of what we have to come and being able to see them and know the personnel makes you a little bit more comfortable the second time around when you play them."
(on what the most difficult part about being a rookie and coming into the situation has been) "You know, it's been a lot of stuff. Having to go through some of those growing pains that you know you're going to have as a quarterback, going through the learning process and while this team was on a run having some of those growing pains at kind of the wrong time is kind of hurtful to the team. But every single game that I've played whether we played bad or good or whether we've won or lost I've been learning every week, learning from my mistakes and just trying to get better."
(on whether he feels like a rookie after all he's been through) "It's been a long season and even though I haven't been playing the entire season, I don't really feel like a rookie anymore. I've had a long time to get comfortable with this offense and comfortable with the teammates around me, so hopefully going into these playoffs I don't have those rookie feelings anymore."
(on having WR Andre Johnson back is reassuring) "Yeah, it's going to be huge for us. Not only for the fact that Andre is a great player and he's going to make plays out there, but you know, just how much defenses play us differently with that threat we have outside. A lot of the times, those defenses kind of stack up the box and play against us the run pretty hard, but having Andre out there is going to make the defense do something a little different and hopefully open up different things."
(on whether WR Andre Johnson's absence has been the reason for throwing less) "Yeah, we knew that he is a great player and it's hard to replace somebody that has the ability to go down field like that so we definitely had to find other ways to get productivity out of our run game and out of the other guys on the field."
(on WR Andre Johnson's comment that Yates "knows where he is" and he doesn't need to tell him when to give him the ball) "Absolutely, I'll definitely know where 80 is the entire game and, you know, Andre is not that type of guy. He won't even say much no matter what, but he's definitely someone I'll be looking for in that game to throw to."
(on if having WR Andre Johnson back gives him confidence to take more chances on difficult throws) "Yeah, absolutely. He's a big, strong, physical guy and you know when you throw it up to him, either, like you said, he's going to come down with it or nobody is and he gives you a lot of confidence as a quarterback, because no matter where you put it he's going to go get it."
(on if there has been a time this season where he has almost lost his confidence) "No, not really. You know, there's been some times where I've made some mistakes out there, but having this coaching staff and all the players on the team believe in me helps out a lot with my confidence. Sometimes it gets shaken a little bit when you make some mistakes out there on the field that cause you to lose some ball games, but this team has been great for me."
(on advice he has received since starting) "Yeah, I'm extremely blessed that I have so much quarterback experience in the quarterback room that I'm in. All the guys that have played here, and then Jake (Delhomme) and Jeff (Garcia) coming in with their years of experience, it has been huge for me. They do a good job. They know that I'm hearing it from all angles, and they do a good job of not giving me too much information or too much advice. Having them to be able to go through the experiences with me and they can kind of reflect on what they've done in the past. It helps me a lot."
(on the most pain he tolerated while playing in college) "I was pretty fortunate in college not to have too many injuries and have to play through too much stuff, but I'll be ready on Saturday to play."
(on if he was in a lot of pain after the sack during the game against the Titans) "No, not really. I knew it was affecting me a little bit, and I knew the pain was there, but going through that drive, I was pretty focused on just moving us down the field. Once we got off the field, we evaluated it."
(on how he will avoid the pressure of Cincinnati's pass rush) "Make quick decisions, get the ball out fast, be able to recognize when their blitzes are coming, and knowing when I have to throw hot and just try to protect myself."
(on the playoff drought of Houston NFL franchises) "Yeah, they asked me how much I knew about the Oilers and I told them I was pretty young back in those days. It was '93 the last time, so that was when I was six years old. Hopefully we can start a new playoff run in Houston."
(on his thoughts about QB Andy Dalton) "He's a great football player. I got a chance to know him over the past year or so and he's a smart football player. He knows where to go with the football, and they have some great weapons on offense. A.J. Green's a phenomenal wide receiver and he does a good job of getting him the ball and also spreading it around. He's not playing like a rookie and he's playing great."
(on how he and QB Andy Dalton got to know each other) "Yeah, we were at Peyton Manning Passing Academy two summers ago. That's where I first met him. A lot of college quarterbacks go to that, and I got a chance to spend a few days with him there and I got to know him pretty well. Then, I saw him at the combine. He's a great guy. He's doing a great job in Cincinnati, and I'm proud of him."
(on Head Coach Gary Kubiak's confidence in him even after making mistakes) "Yeah, absolutely, he's a great guy to play for because he played quarterback and he kind of calls the plays as a quarterback. Especially, for example, in Cincinnati when I had that interception, he pulled me over, gave me an earful, but deservedly so. He told me to be ready because we're going to come back firing the ball. Having that kind of confidence in me right after I make a mistake is huge for me going out there on that field."
(on his family's seating arrangements in comparison to the regular season game against Cincinnati) "Yes, they will definitely be a little closer."
(on if he's having fun) "Absolutely, I'm having a really good time. The guys on this team are great. The coaching staff is great. We're very confident in our abilities to go out there and play. We had a great practice today, and our energy is extremely high."
Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis
(on both teams moving past last week's losses) "The key element of that now is it's a new deal. You want to finish and do everything on a high note, and we've been in the situation before like they were in. It's a difficult thing sometimes to finish that last one off like that when everybody has different meetings and different ambitions about how the last game should be played. But now, it's a new season, and you've got to move forward."
(on his thoughts about two rookie quarterbacks starting in a playoff game) "Well, I don't think either one of the young guys has really gone out there and acted like they're rookies, so I think it's both guys have got experience. Obviously, Andy's (Dalton) got 16 games of experience, and T.J.'s (Yates) got what, six or seven? So, I think that in the case of both players, they're kind of a little bit ahead of their time. The focus has got to be on how they prepare and how the rest of the guys play up to these guys' ability."
(on the differences he sees between how QB T.J. Yates looked in the first game against Cincinnati and now) "Well, I think he's settled in, he's confident in what he's doing and they're confident with what they're doing with him. I'm sure the rest of the team has really rallied around that and feels good about the things that he's doing."
(on if it is beneficial to play a team so closely in the regular season as the first game in the postseason) "Well, it is what it is. I don't have an opinion one way or another that really matters. This is the way it played out and this is a game that's important for us to continue on what we feel like our journey is."
Bengals QB Andy Dalton
(on his feelings about coming back to Houston for the playoffs) "Yeah, it's a lot of fun to get to go home, and everybody's excited. It's their chance for people who weren't able to make it up here for any games to come out and watch me play."
(on memories of playing at Reliant Stadium having never lost a game here) "Yeah, I had some good games. Katy played in the first high school game that was ever played in Reliant Stadium, so that was a lot of fun. In high school, it's something that you want to do – get a chance to play in an NFL stadium, get to be on that field and stuff. It makes for a cool atmosphere. And then in college to get the bowl win over Houston, that was another fun thing, so I've had some fun games I've played in there."
(on his feelings about two rookie QBs starting in a playoff game and what he knows about QB T.J. Yates) "Yeah, I've got to know him just through the whole process of everything, and he's a good guy. He's done a really good job for them and he's been playing well. It's going to be fun to get to go against the guy I watched play in college and kind of going through the same thing being rookies, so it's going to be a lot of fun."
(on how he has accomplished throwing only one interception in the last five games) "I think it just comes down to understanding that turnovers usually decide a game. For me, it's knowing when to take my chances and when to check it down or throw the ball away. I think that's something that I've just realized that I can't be just throwing the ball around and hoping it doesn't get picked or something like that. I've got to just be smart with it."
(on how long it feels like since working at Plex in preparation for the draft) "I know. It's crazy. I had so much go on in a year, so it does feel like a long time ago."
(on his favorite memory of playing at Katy High School) "Yeah, I think it's just getting to play with a lot of my good friends. I think Katy is one of the best high school programs in the state, and to have the following that we do and all that, it definitely makes it for a great high school experience and playing football there."
(on what he can do to improve against the Texans) "It just comes down to being really efficient, you know, getting completions, keeping drives alive, and being able to convert third downs. If we can do that then I think it will give us a good chance."
(on how mentally tough he had to be at the start of the season knowing he would be starting as a rookie) "I wasn't worried about anything Carson (Palmer) was doing. He wasn't here, so I had to step in and step up and prove to everybody that they can trust me. I was given every opportunity to come in and win the starting quarterback job and the guys around me made it easy for me. I think they just made it easy for me to step in and have a leadership role and I didn't really get treated like a rookie."
(on the Bengals mindset coming into the game after losing against the Texans) "It was unfortunate the way we lost. To go down and lose with two seconds left, three seconds left or whatever it was, that's unfortunate. For us I think it's whatever it takes to win this game. It's the playoffs now. It doesn't matter what we have done in the past or what anybody has done in the past. If you win you stay in and if you lose you're out."
(on any advice that has stuck out to him this week concerning playoffs) "I mean, we just can't do too much. We can't put too much pressure on ourselves. We just have to go out and play our game. "
(on whether playing his first playoff game in Houston is a settling or nerve-racking feeling) "It's not nerve-racking. It's just another game."
(on whether him and QB T.J. Yates have traded pointers about playing as rookies) "I've talked to him I think once or twice but as a rookie I think you're hearing enough from everybody else."
(on the most important thing he has learned this season) "The biggest thing is just going out and playing football and just to trust yourself. I feel like the way I prepare and the way I have an understanding of what's going on I just have to trust myself and trust the guys around me."
(on what has surprised him about himself this season) "I feel like if I just came in and learned the offense and had control how I did in college I felt like I could be successful. I've been able to do that and have a lot of great talent around me that makes my job easier."
(on leaving behind a reputation of being not only a great athlete but a great person as well) "It means a lot. I think that football is one thing but how people see me as a person means a lot. I feel like that's what I try to do. I try to be a good example for everyone and it's great that they're seeing that."