Head Coach Gary Kubiak** Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison
WR Andre Johnson
CB Johnathan Joseph
RB Deji Karim
QB Case Keenum
RB Ben Tate
DE J.J. Watt
Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano
Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(opening statement) "(Arian) Foster did not practice, Wade Smith did not practice and Darryl Sharpton did not practice."
(on RB Ben Tate's status) "He practiced, kind of like a trail run going through the week seeing how he's going to feel. But he took his normal reps with what we did today."
(on RB Ben Tate's status for Sunday) "I think it's still going to be end of the week. We'll see how he comes out tomorrow, how sore is he. What we're trying to dis gauge it by getting him a head start today. So we'll see what happens."
(on RB Arian Foster's status) "Arian went out and stretched, did some stuff and did some walkthrough. And then he worked with the trainers. I think he's going to do everything he can to be there. But I think it'll be an end of the week decision, so we'll see. He did do some things, just not with the team once we got going."
(on if QB Case Keenum has asserted himself more this week) "Well, I think he's very confident, whether it was last week, this week. He's a very confident young man. He's got a new game plan. We tried to get him to it very early since we've had some extra time, so he's had some time to spend with it. But I think every time you go out and practice, first off, when you're put in that situation, you become a starter, I think every time out, every practice, everything you do gives you a little more confidence in what you're doing. He'll get a good full week under his belt. Much like he did last week. So we'll get him as comfortable as we can before we get going."
(on if any of the three young running backs have stepped up) "No, I wouldn't say that. But I would say it's a tough decision on my part who's going to be the guy after the other two, depending on what happens. I think Deji Karim has a little bit more experience than the other two obviously and he can kick return for us. I think DJ (Dennis Johnson) has come back, he's in very good shape. He looks just like he did when he left. He's caught up very quickly and Ray (Graham) has been practicing well for us on the practice squad. It'll be a tough decision, but there will definitely be three of them with a uniform on. I can tell you that."
(on Colts QB Andrew Luck's progress) "He's been tremendous. Look at their football team, they play very clean. I think they might be tops in the league in protecting the ball, if not, they're right up there. Excellent third down team. And give him a lot of credit. He extends plays. He's tough to bring down. I see a guy that looks like he's been playing eight or nine years, not a year-and-a-half. But I felt that way coming out, tremendous young man, tremendous football player, tremendous person. He's going to be doing it for a long time, so we've got our hands full."
(on what he likes best about QB Case Keenum) "I think we're growing. I liked him or I wouldn't have brought him here in the first place. I think he has all of the physical ability to do what you need to do in this league to be successful. There is a growth period there, which he is going through. I like his confidence in himself. That's a very big factor with me when I talk to him and watch him prepare and watch him hit the field, just how he goes about his business. You can't be successful in this league unless you've got confidence out there in what you're doing. He's got a big head start in that direction."
(on if he's surprised that FS Ed Reed hasn't made any big plays yet) "Defensively, we haven't gotten a lot of turnovers regardless of who it is. I think it has to do a little bit with some of the games we've been in. We got our hands on a couple two weeks ago. That's important. We need it from every place, not just Ed."
(on if he talked to Kevin Sumlin about QB Case Keenum before signing him) "I know (Texas Tech head coach and former University of Houston quarterbacks coach) Kliff Kingsbury real good and obviously Kevin. My son worked with Kliff for a long time, so I know a lot of people that knew him, knew a lot about him. And just a lot of his friends around town and what he stands for. I had one conversation before the Draft and through that conversation I was convinced that he would have an excellent chance to make it in this league. I didn't know if he would get drafted, which he ended up not getting drafted. But there's all kind of ways to get there. It's a good start for him and hopefully we continue to improve."
(on how QB Matt Schaub is handling not being the starter) "Matt's a pro. He's extremely disappointed. He's a competitor. He wants to be out there running the football team and I totally understand that. I expressed my feelings to him. He expressed his to me. We're both grown men. But it's a tough decision. But he's preparing to play. He had a good practice today. I know he'll help Case (Keenum). I also know he'll be ready to go when his opportunity comes back. So that's part of what we do. It's part of the business. It's part of what we do. It's tough on everybody."
(on how SS D.J. Swearinger is looking) "He's looking good. He's working as a starter, full-time starter. He really was starting in dime anyway. He's a very confident young man. He's been doing it since the first day he walked in at camp. When you look at him and (DeAndre) Hopkins from the draft class, those guys have been put to work right away and have done a good job."
(on if there are any extra concerns about G Wade Smith or if it's the same routine) "No, it's just the routine. He'll only practice two days a week, whether he likes it or not and he doesn't like it. He's playing really good. He's played really good football the last three or four weeks. So we'll keep him on the routine."
(on the linebacker situation and if it's a case where OLB Brooks Reed needs to step up from a leadership perspective) "I think I could kind of sense Monday when we went back to work that (Brian) Cushing wasn't on the field from an emotional standpoint. But we had to adjust to that last year. So we'll have to do that again. J.J. (Watt's) already a leader, but I think it's going to call for some other guys to be vocal. I think Joe Mays has got more confidence in what he's doing. Unfortunately, we've been down this road before and some guys will have to step up."
(on the importance of playing one game at a time when you're trying to dig out of a hole like this) "I think that's important all of the time. I think the most important thing right now is that we stay focused on ourselves, that we stay positive in what we're doing and keep our energy and our work every day. Nobody can feel sorry for themselves. We've got to work through it and we went out and practiced in a flood today and had good energy, pushing through trying to get better as a football team, that's what I expect them to do."
Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison
(on if he's noticed a difference between QB Case Keenum from last week to this week) "Not really. He's always worked very hard, studied, lots of questions. That's going to continue I think. I think his preparation is always good."
(on how he has seen QB Case Keenum progress in terms of reading defenses) "I think he's always read defenses pretty well. You can't throw for that many yards without understanding what's going on on the other side of the ball. It's just a matter of the transition of everything that we do under center, with the two backs and whatnot, and the checks at the line of scrimmage and things that we ask the quarterback to do. I don't think he's really been late with any of that. I think he's really progressed pretty well with anything that he's doing, everything that we've asked him to do anyway."
(on if he is concerned they may be without RBs Arian Foster and Ben Tate on Sunday) "I have no idea. Whoever is out there we're working with. We expect all of our guys to step up and play. We have some backs and we'll play with the guys that are out there. That's (head athletic trainer) Geoff (Kaplan's) job and Geoff does a great job with that, getting them out there. If guys are well, they're well. Whoever is out there playing, we'll play with."
(on the three new running backs) "We've had them all in camp and I thought they all had great running skills, especially for guys that we did not draft. It's amazing what we've accomplished with those guys in camp. After Monday and today, I think they have a lot of recall for what we do. I feel pretty good about putting them in there and understanding what we got done."
(on if T Derek Newton has struggled or if he is progressing) "Derek, it's one of those things, like most of us, including myself on offense, have had some consistency problems. I don't think that Derek is out of that either. Obviously when somebody has a problem, it's noticeable, especially up front when he's not than when he's doing his job, you don't notice as much. I think that's just a part of playing offensive line. I think, just like I said, most everybody, including me, has had some problems with consistency and we've got to keep working towards that. Knowing that you have a problem and working towards that are part of the solutions and I think we all are. I think Derek is included in that. he continues to work. He continues to make strides in certain areas. We'll keep working with him and knowing that we have a ways to go. Certainly we enjoy our opportunity. I mentioned to the players today, I was fortunate enough to attend Bum Phillips' thing last night and I thought it was a great event. Just listening to those guys from the old Houston Oilers, remembering with a lot of the players and coaches that I've worked with in the past made me feel how fortunate I am to work with these guys and I think that has given me a renewed type of lookout of my job. It was just amazing to listen to those guys and the rapport they have and the togetherness they had. That's what I'm looking forward to. It's a great job. It's a great opportunity each week. It's a great challenge for us. These guys present a great challenge for us, so we look forward to it."
(on the way that QB Case Keenum carries himself) "I don't know. It's hard for me to say because he's Case. He carries himself in the huddle as he carries himself everywhere. He's full of energy and very positive with everything he does. You can tell he has confidence, not in a cocky sense, but he has confidence, self-confidence. He knows what he needs to do and when he needs to do it. I think he handles himself that way on and off the field. I don't see it any different, you know? People tend to gravitate towards people like that."
WR Andre Johnson
(on practicing in the rain today) "I think it was good that it happened. I think we had a good practice even though the circumstances weren't so (good). I think it made guys focus in more. The energy level was awesome. I think it was good we went tout and practiced in that."
(on how much QB Case Keenum has asserted himself as each practice goes on) "He's out there working to get ready to win a game. That's pretty much it. I know that's the big talk around town and on every radio station, television station. But he's just working and trying to win the game. That's pretty much it."
(on his memories of the Miami-Florida State rivalry) "Some of the best football games I ever played in. A ton of talent. I was just telling the guys, I think when we played them in 2000 and they were ranked No. 1, the same weather we practiced in today, we practiced in that weather the whole week. And we still ended up going out and beating them. Hopefully, that'll rub off a little bit this weekend."
(on if he's happy to see the Miami and Florida State back to being top teams) "Yeah, it's fun because it was kind of dead for a minute, the rivalry. I'm glad that it's back to where it's at now, where both teams are undefeated, both teams are highly ranked. That was what UM and Florida State was all about in the past. I think the kids there at both programs have done a great job of getting those programs back to where they used to be. Just looking forward to Saturday."
(on the rivalry with the Colts) "Every time we play them, it's a great game. They have a lot of talent over there, they're playing really good right now as a team. Defensively, they have a great pass rush. I think he's leading the lead in sacks right now. The whole secondary, they play great as a whole. It'll be a challenge for us, but we'll be up for it."
(on what he thinks about RB Ben Tate trying to play through cracked ribs) "It's not anything that surprises me about him. You can tell by the way he runs the ball what type of guys he is. He runs the ball real hard and is always fighting for extra yards. Some people wouldn't go out and play with four cracked ribs. That's just football. Sometimes, you have injuries and you just have to play with them. You don't think about the long haul. You just think about right now. That's something that, as football players, we do. We love the game and you want to get out there and play."
(on what kind of concerns he has about both RBs Arian Foster and Ben Tate being injured for this game) "I think the biggest thing is you don't want to have any setbacks. Every game we have right now is very important. It's very key that we have those guys on the field as much as possible in order for us to get to where we want to go. I just think that's the biggest thing is you're hoping that you don't have any setbacks."
(on CB Johnathan Joseph saying the team's mindset for the rest of the season has to be must win) "I feel the same way. Every game's important. Every time you win, the next one's going to become more important. That's just the biggest thing right now is we have to find a way to win. Kick, scratch, bite, claw, do whatever we've got to do to win this game Sunday. Every game is important."
CB Johnathan Joseph
(on the Colts QB Andrew Luck) "Obviously, he's one of those guys that can beat you with his arm. He's shown that the past two years. He can do it with his legs as well. I think he's the total package and he makes them go on offense. Each year, he's tended to prove to get better. This year, he's playing lights out."
(on the tools around Colts QB Andrew Luck) "He's blessed with a lot of tools. Obviously, Reggie (Wayne) went down, but he still has the young guy, T.Y. (Hilton), (Darrius) Heyward-Bey, and those guys, the tight end, the young guy. I think he's got enough weapons around him to make the offense continue to go at the same level they've been going all year."
(on if this game is a must win) "Without a doubt. From here on out, if you want to prove good on your word and try to get into postseason play, from here on out, every game has to be a must win, at least that mindset going into the game. I'm sure the guys where will go out and play hard each and every game. Just the mindset going forward, it is."
RB Deji Karim
(on if returning is something he'd want to do) "Trust me, that's the way I got into the NFL, is to return. I'm willing to do whatever they ask of me. Whenever my number is called, I'll be ready."
(on how special it was to get a shot again here) "It just feels like I never left. Just came right back in here and was able to continue where I left off."
(on the hardest part about getting back into the swing of things this week) "Football shape, I guess. You can work out and do everything you want in your off time, but, at the same time, football reps are just different than running outside by yourself. So football shape is different."
QB Case Keenum
(on his hometown of Abilene being so supportive of him) "It means a lot. Keep in touch with a lot of people there. I always say that Abilene is kind of the biggest small town in America. It's still got three colleges, over 100,000 people, but everywhere you go, you're going to see some people you know. The mom network is in full effect. So you're always being watched by somebody. I love Abilene. I love going back. I have a lot friends still there and it means a lot. The school, the coaches I had there were great and still keep in touch with a lot of them. They're still there, which is something you don't see very often. I go back and visit any time I can. Every time I go back, I usually play golf with some of the coaches, some of my friends."
(on if he understands more now of what some of his coaches taught him) "Yeah, I still use quotes from my head coach. He was cliché guy as far as using a lot of clichés. I'm sure I've used them with you guys before and I'm sure I'll use them again. A lot of life lessons learned through football, especially in high school. I appreciate those guys and what they did. I definitely look back and realize more and more every day how blessed I was to have the family and just community support that I had."
(on playing with a chip on his shoulder his whole life and if he's embraced that) "Yeah, I haven't had a choice. It's kind of stuck with me the entire way, coming out of high school, coming out of college, pretty similar story. It's like I've said before, it's not the ultimate motivation, but playing with a chip on my shoulder has always helped get me a little bit of an edge that most people get. That's how I've always been. I've always tried to play with something to prove. Every time I go out, be the same guy and know that nothing's ever been handed to me. I have to earn everything I get with hard work and being the best I can be every play and every snap."
(on what he's learned since his debut) "I really couldn't tell you just sitting here right now what all I've learned because it's been exponential as far as the growth over the last two weeks and eve during the game. Even game reps is learning experience for me, just learning not only what defenses are, just our own offense, our own players and getting timing and syncing up with receivers and tight ends and running back, and even offensive line with protections. I couldn't tell you one specific thing that's been more than the other or really just give you a list because it could go on and on."
(on the different path he's taken from Colts QB Andrew Luck) "I know that he had a lot of different things go on as far as coming out high school. I'm not real familiar with his story. Obviously, everybody was talking about him coming in the Draft. He's obviously a very talented player and I've got a lot of respect for him and what he's been able to do coming out of the gate. He's a very talented quarterback, not only leader, but just physical skills as far as throwing the ball, moving in the pocket and being able to run. Somebody that you watch and learn from. Definitely anybody that's playing like he can play, how he has played, somebody that you can learn from."
(on what Kevin Sumlin has meant to him) "I've had a lot of coaches that have been a tremendous part of my life, and Coach Sumlin is definitely one of those guys. Just the other coaches that he brought into place and just the impact he had on me off the field, first of all. Just being the leader and being the person that he was. His wife, from being there and supporting me and my wife, because we were there our last couple of years. I'm absolutely pumped for all of the success that he's had and always watch those guys whenever I get a chance to. Yeah, he's meant a lot to me though and more than just on the football field."
(on if there's a difference in how he feels at this point in the week compared to preparing for his first start) "Yeah, definitely. I'd say there's a lot less unknown. I hadn't even dressed out for a game before last week. Now, I know more about even like pre-game schedule as far as when to go out, what's happening there. To in game, just how kind of the swing of the game goes, how the rhythm goes, just the sideline operation, to on the field stuff, too. There's a lot more that I feel comfortable going through this week. And just preparing as the starter has been a big help too."
(on his past conversation with RB Arian Foster about going from practice squad to starter) "Yeah, I remember that conversation. It's something I want to have more conversations about. Yeah, he's somebody that everybody can look to, look up to. And just the path that he's blazed and the path that he's still on because I don't think he's satisfied with where he's at and what he's done. Obviously, he's done a whole lot. I think having that hunger and that drive that he has is something that you can model after. Yeah, I think it's definitely something that I'm looking to."
(on not being at full strength at running back for a lot of the Chiefs game and possibly being at full strength this week and how that will help) "Yeah, it's going to help a lot. I think, especially our offense, we base out of the run game. Last week, when I turned around and handed the ball off to Greg Jones, it kind of surprised me that he was back there. But he obviously did a great job coming and filling a spot for us that we needed to. I thought all of our backs battled hard last week. Having a few more on the depth chart, I think it will take the pressure of guys of trying to push themselves a little too far. I feel confident in all of those guys and I think they're going to do a great job. The new guys picking up the system because a lot of them have been here before and being ready to go. I think that it'll definitely help all aspects of the game because I think that's kind of our foundation is being able to run the ball."
(on the irony of him being undrafted and Colts QB Andrew Luck going number one overall) "I haven't thought of it until you just said that. I guess that's kind of neat. I think that's kind of the cool thing about this league is after it's all said and done, it's about football. And it's not about all of the externals that come with it, the whole Draft and all of that stuff. Everything that comes down to off the field as far as the business side. When the whistle blows and that ball is snapped, it's just football. It's who can block and tackle and complete passes and make first downs and turn them into touchdowns. Drafted first overall or undrafted, I think, it's kind of all put to the side when it comes down to it."
(on crossing paths with Colts QB Andrew Luck) "Yeah, we met at the Manning camp and a few other places, different pre-draft and college award shows and stuff. One of the best guys I know as far as that tour we go on before all of that stuff. Obviously, just the player he is, but I think he's a really good guy off the field. I've got a lot of respect for not only him as a player, but what he does and who he stands for as a person."
(on if Colts QB Andrew Luck was on his radar at all when he was at Univ. of Houston and Luck was in high school) "I don't remember. It's been a while."
(on how much he's looking forward to playing his first game at home and in primetime) "I'm very excited for both of those things. Playing at home probably more so. I've played a lot of football here in Houston and it seems like each time is more special than the last. And this is definitely going to be really special. I've always been really proud to wear the name of our city, Houston, on the front of our jersey for a long time now. I think playing in this city here, especially in front of our crowd, I think it's going to be really special."
(on how many friends and family he expects to have at this game) "A lot. It seems like more every week, but it's not a problem, it's an inconvenience. It's a good one to have. I'm not going to be able to get tickets for everybody. I'm sure there's more that I don't even know about."
(on what it means to have the whole city so excited for him to start) "I think, obviously, I'm very excited that everybody is behind me and excited. I'm more excited than everybody else. There's nobody more excited than me. I'm going to go out there and I'm going to do my absolute best. I've worked every day for a long time. It's not just the last couple of weeks for an opportunity like this. I have no reason not to go out there and do my absolute best. But it does feel good that I've got the support of a lot of fans and some not even Houston Cougars. It's nice that we're converting a lot of Houstonians."
RB Ben Tate
(on how he feels) "I'm feeling pretty good. I took my normal reps. So it was all right."
(on if he was surprised to do everything normal today this quickly) "I guess so. I don't know. We'll see how it goes. I'm pretty sore now, but we'll see how it goes."
(on Head Coach Gary Kubiak saying he has to see how he feels tomorrow and how critical that is) "I already know it's not going to feel good tomorrow. I think he's more about just getting ready for Sunday and seeing where I'll be on Sunday. I just kind of wanted to test it today to see where I was at. I'm happy with where I'm at right now. I don't think I want to keep making it any more sore. My thing is just to try to make it Sunday and be ready to go on Sunday."
(on if he still expects to play on Sunday) "Yeah, I expect to be there. I expect to help this team win on Sunday."
(on playing through four cracked ribs and why it's so important for him to be out there) "Because I want to help this team make a turnaround. We haven't been living up to our standards this year and I'm all in and I believe that we can turn this thing around."
DE J.J. Watt
(on QB Andrew Luck) "He's playing really well. Obviously, he's a big strong runner. He has a great arm. He can do a lot of different things and he's a very smart football player. Very good quarterback in this league and looks like he's going to be playing for a long time."
(on playing touch football with his brothers at home during the bye) "I was. We had a great time. It's always good to get back home and there's nothing like playing with your brothers in the yard. It just kind of renews that passion, renews that fie and it reminds you of what got you interested in the game as kid, just tossing the ball around in the front yard. There's nothing better."
(on how special it was to get his jersey retired at his high school) "It was really neat. It was a really cool experience. Every level that you go up, you realize how special this game is and how fortunate you are. There's so many high school players that play and there's a lot less college players that get the chance to play at college level. Obviously, the numbers dwindle as you go up to the NFL. So I'm very fortunate to have made it this far. My hometown means a lot to me. It's very special to me. It's very special to have my jersey retired there and know that I'm a piece of Pewaukee history."
(on what stands out about QB Case Keenum) "Case is an energetic guy. He's a guy who brings that energy, excitement, kind of always bouncing around. But he's also very smart and he's a good football player. It's exciting."
(on CB Johnathan Joseph saying the team's mindset for the rest of the season has to be must win) "Every game for me is a must win. You know me. Every single game is a must win for me. I attack every single game with the exact same mindset and that's do whatever it takes to win the football game."
(on filling ILB Brian Cushing's leadership void) "We've been here before. Obviously, we lost Cushing Week 5 last year. Any time you lose a player, it's a tough situation. I feel like we have the type of guys, we have the type of locker room that we're going to go out there and do what we need to do to get it done."
(on if there's a greater leadership load now that ILB Brian Cushing is out for the year) "I've always been a guy that tries to let my play do the speaking. 56 made some great plays out there. I f I need to make a couple of more plays, I'll make a couple more plays. I'll do whatever it takes to win football games. It's that plain and simple. Just make plays and win football games. I think everything else will take care of itself."
Indianapolis Head Coach Chuck Pagano
(on QB Andrew Luck's growth) "Obviously we feel like he is trending in the right direction. The talent and all that stuff is there and his intangibles are off the chart and the way he's managing the game and managing the ball by taking care of the football this year compared to last. I know the numbers are a little bit different as far as passing yards and things like that, but he's doing a great job of managing the offense."
(on QB Andrew Luck not throwing as much this season and if that is scripted in the offensive gameplan) "We're trying to obviously establish, we feel like you've got to be able to run the ball and stop the run to be able to win at any level, particularly the National Football League. We're trying to take some of the weight off his shoulders in that regard. But when we do need to drop back and throw it, certainly we know he's more than capable."
(on the protection around QB Andrew Luck) "Yeah, the offensive line, and being able to run the football obviously, takes some of that off. The offensive line has improved and doing a good job of protecting him."
(on if he is surprised to see the Texans come into this game with a 2-5 record) "We throw all the records out, talking to our team and our guys are aware of what we're facing come Sunday night. These division games, playing on the road in primetime, all I know is we're facing a dang good football team, well-coached across the board and playmakers everywhere. A turnover here, there, and you know it's a different story. They are the reigning champs of our division and we know we are headed into a tough, tough task to travel and play on the road and go down there and get a victory. Again, throw the record out the window on this one. We're going to have to play our tails off to have an opportunity to even win this game."
(on how he accounts for FS Ed Reed in his offense) "Well don't throw in his direction, first of all. Wherever he's at, just tell the quarterback, 'don't go near him.' That's one way. That's easier said than done. You know Ed; he's been making plays in this league for a long, long time and is still more than capable. It's obviously an awareness thing on everyone's part, particularly the quarterback's part, to understand where he's at and make sure that you manage things and don't give him opportunities to beat you."
(on how surprised he is that WR Andre Johnson has had the longevity that he has in the league) "I just look at guys like Andre and Ed (Reed) and I know Reggie (Wayne), we lost Reggie, but these guys work and the way they take care of their bodies and the way that they train; they don't take time off. For whatever reason, I don't know what you attribute it to but they take great care of themselves. They work year-round. They've got great passion and love for the game. It keeps them motivated and their desire to win championships keeps them grinding and working towards that ultimate goal."
(on OLB Robert Mathis and the keys to his success this season) "Yeah, the second year in (this defense), he's much more comfortable. Obviously, it was a huge transition a year ago for him, going from a 4-3 end to a stand up outside linebacker, and those types of things. Second year in, familiarity, comfort level. Again, he takes great care of himself and stays in great shape. He's been doing great things for his entire career. So we're not at all surprised just because of his work ethic and the work he puts in. We're not surprised that he's putting the numbers up that he is."
(on what QB Case Keenum does well on tape) "Well, he's got moxie. He's got savvy. He's able to extend plays. Going into one of the toughest venues in the National Football League to a play a game as a first-timer, he was as cool as a cucumber. He did a great job of managing that game and that offense, and the big plays that he made. He's able to extend. Of course, we know resume coming out of Houston. He threw for almost 20,000 yards and all of the touchdowns and things like that. He's a smart guy. He knows where to go with the football. Again, like I said, he's athletic enough to get out of trouble, throw it away when he has to throw it away and then find guys down the field for big plays. We thought he did an unbelievable job considering the circumstances."
Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck
(on the difference in him today from a year ago) "I think a year of experience does a world of good for any player. Definitely more comfortable in certain situations. I think situational football, I understand a bit better. I'm still working, still trying to get better."
(on if his comfort level has improved from last year) "Yeah, I think there is. The process of seeing something, diagnosing what it is and understanding how your plays fit into that, against that defense. That process has sped up a bit. I don't think it's where it needs to be, definitely room for improvement. But, yes."
(on his protection improving this year) "The o-line's (offensive line) done a heck of a job this year."
(on if this team can be a Super Bowl team) "I hope so. Every team has that confidence that you think. We also know it's a long season. To us, right now, our Super Bowl is this weekend. This is our game. This is the biggest game on the schedule against the reigning division champs. We want to get where Houston is. To get there, we've got to beat them."
(on if there's something special about playing in Houston since he's from there) "Yeah, there always will be, especially because my grandparents can come watch. It's easy for them and family and friends. I remember going to games at Reliant and sitting down and watching them with my dad. We played a high school playoff game there my junior year. It'll always be special."
(on if his family is coming to this game) "Honestly, I do not know. I would assume. For some reason, I don't know that answer."
(on playing without WR Reggie Wayne for the first time) "Yeah, it'll be odd. That's for sure. He's been such an instrumental part of my personal growth as a football player. Obviously, his worth to this team, as a leader, as a player, is immeasurable. But we understand it's next man up. It'll be weird, but we'll play our butts off and hopefully fill that hole with a collective team effort."
(on if he's surprised by the Texans' record so far) "When you turn on the film and watching their defense, it's the number one defense in the National Football League. It's a phenomenal team. I'm sure they're a bit disappointed at their record right now. We know, offensively, this is an incredible challenge against one of the premier players in the league in J.J. Watt. All of the other guys are phenomenal players. We have our hands full. We know that."
(on if FS Ed Reed is still a guy that he fears) "The respect we have as an offense for him is incredibly high. I hate to use the word 'fear' for any player. I don't think any athlete truly fears any other athlete, but the respect for him is the highest I think it can be. He seems to make plays and have that it factor. We'll be wary of him."
(on if he's ever crossed paths with QB Case Keenum) "Yeah, I did have a chance to cross paths with Case at various sort of quarterback or college football award, him playing at U of H, a couple of times in different functions or whatever it is. I was always very impressed by him. Classy guy. Really enjoyed talking to him. Glad to see that he's doing well."
(on being the top pick last year and QB Case Keenum being undrafted, and that juxtaposition) "Absolutely. I think you realize when you go into an NFL locker room, after a certain period of time, it doesn't matter where you're drafted or how you got there. If you get a chance and you play well, that's what matters."
(on what was the most difficult part of making his first few starts in the NFL) "Just not getting too down or too excited for certain things. Trying to stay consistent, emotionally. Obviously, it's exciting to start your first game. I think I remember I was so pumped even though we lost. We got beat pretty badly and you get real down. Too excited for making a play. Just trying to stay consistent there."
(on anything he's learned specifically from last year) "I'd like to think I've improved situationally. Understanding it's OK maybe to throw it away or avoid a hit. When you really need to force it in there. I'm definitely not perfect at it by any means. I've made some boneheaded errors, but in that area, I think I've done better."
(on QB Case Keenum making his first home start and what it was like for him) "Obviously, I can't speak for him, but I do remember my first home start. It was fun. Great energy. A lot of excitement. But then I think, once that ball is snapped, you just go into just playing football mode and you realize it's the same game you've been playing for a long time."
(on being absent from the GQ fashion shoot with other quarterbacks from his draft class in September) "Definitely not good looking enough (joking). How about that?"
(on if he's not the type of guy to be a part of fashion shoots) "I don't know. Yes, sure."