The Texans practiced today at the Methodist Training Center and after, head coach Gary Kubiak, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and some players answered questions from the media. Also, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took part in a conference call with the Houston media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Houston Head Coach Gary KubiakHouston Offensive Coordinator Rick DennisonT Duane BrownFB James CaseyNT Shaun CodyILB Brian CushingRB Arian FosterWR Andre JohnsonCB Johnathan JosephNT Earl MitchellFS Troy NolanRB Chris OgbonnayaILB DeMeco RyansDE J.J. Watt
Pittsburgh Head Coach Mike Tomlin Conference CallPittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger Conference Call
Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on RB Arian Foster's health) "He's fine. Like I said, he should be okay heading into the rest of the season now hopefully. We'll keep our fingers crossed. He's chomping at the bit and ready to go, took his full load and we're okay."
(on the importance of getting RB Arian Foster back) "Well, it's very important. He's a hell of a player. We've been missing him in situations in-game, but Ben (Tate) has done a hell of a job too. He's a key player to this football team that we've almost played a month without. I know it's still a long road back. Like I said, it doesn't just go from nothing to everything. I think Arian's played 30, 33 snaps and our other starters have played over 300 this year, so we got to bring him along the right way too."
(on the health of all the guys that got hurt on Sunday) "They're all good today. I changed practice a little bit because had I left it the way we did it last week, those guys would've missed and we couldn't have them missing. We went a little longer and it was more on teaching today, but those guys were all able to practice and hopefully we'll be okay tomorrow to go full-go."
(on if the Steelers' offensive line is the weak point of their team) "I don't know. I see a good football team. They got some guys nicked. Everybody in the League's battling some place, somewhere with nicked players and I know they got the tackle nicked last week, so that's part of something we all got to battle right now. But I see a quarterback back there running around making plays like he always does for his team. They got great team speed and they're making really big plays in the pass game, so we got our hands full."
(on WR Mike Wallace) "Great speed, but he makes all the tough plays, too. Right now he's, if not the leading receiver in football, which I think he may be behind (Wes) Welker or something like that. Hell of a player and you better be on your toes all day because he's making huge plays."
(on the problems SS Troy Polamalu presents to an offense) "Well they've got two defensive MVPs on that defense with him and (James) Harrison. They're an excellent defensive team. They always have been; very well coached. They present a lot of problems for you, so you have to get a lot of reps in the week of the game and you got to do everything you can to stay out of negative football plays. One of the great football players this game's seen in a long time, no doubt."
(on RB Derrick Ward's health) "He did not practice today. I think he'll be close at the end of the week. We'll see."
(on how he plans to exploit the issues on the Steelers' offensive line) "Well defensively, it's not like you say, 'Well we're going to go after the guard or the tackle.' You got to play defense, so we're going to run our defense. We got to get better pressure on the quarterback than we did last week, however that is. Defensively, it's a little bit different as you approach it because people are going to have different blocking schemes, different things going on. It's not like a corner being out there by himself. Offensive lines work together. We just got to play good as a group and play better than we did last week."
(on why QB Ben Roethlisberger is so tough to contain) "Well he's hard to bring down in the pocket. A lot of people will blitz him and stuff and you get there and he throws you down, keeps playing and makes a big play. He's a tough guy to tackle. You got to make sure you almost treat him like a back, back there. That's how hard he is to tackle. Even though you got your hands on him, his arm is very, very strong. He's probably as good an off-schedule player as I've seen in this League since my old roommate, so he's a hell of a player."
(on where the communication to the players got lost on wanting to cover receivers closer) "Well, I don't know if it's a matter of communication or just trusting yourself. We did it earlier in the game. We were more aggressive and they started spreading us out and throwing it a great deal. Then we had them backed up on the eight and we just didn't play with the same aggression. You may give up a big play, but get up there and challenge the slant, challenge the short route. That's confidence and believing no matter whether you're up 16-10 or 33-32, you got to play with confidence, so I think that's more of what we're talking about here."
(on if guys are less confident because of last season) "You have to ask players. I think they go from week to week and it's a new game. This is a new year. They've been very, very good. We were very, very good for the majority of that football game and just needed to be better at the end, so I don't think so."
(on how the team becomes tougher going up against a tough Steelers team) "Well, you lineup and play them, number one. You get your opportunities to play them. You're right. They've earned all the respect they get in this league and they're two plays away from being the world champions last year, so got a lot of respect for what they do and how they do it. We got to line up and man up and play as good as we can play. We got to prepare to do that and have a good week of work and go back as a football team. It'll take everybody we got. We'll have to play better than we played last week. We did some good things last week, but it'll have to be better to be this group."
(on if he feels like his team is developing an identity) I don't know. I feel like I know my guys. Identity-wise, I don't know. That'll be developed over the course of 16 weeks. For two games and three quarters, we had a nice identity and it wasn't very good the last quarter, so we got to go change it this week."
(on if how the team bounces back from a loss will show him their identity) "Yeah, that's part of this business, being able to bounce back from a bad play, a bad quarter, losing a game, being tough enough when you win to be just as good the next week. That's why they call this league a marathon. I know that's kind of boring, but that's the truth. It's a tough league."
(on RB Arian Foster's gift as a runner) "Vision, big body, always falling forward. He plays block for three, he gets five. He's just got a knack for that. Hopefully he's back full strength here."
(on how it helps in the red zone to have RB Arian Foster) "Just what I just said. If you got to play block for two, he'll find a way to get three or four. He's always been that way and he's tough to tackle down there and make somebody tackle him three times. He's usually pretty successful down there. He was a big difference last year, but yet we can play a lot better down there too. It's not all about just Arian."
Houston Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison(on the great players on the Pittsburgh Steelers defense) "Well, they have two MVPs and a lot of really good players, too. It's a really great defense; they've done it for a long time. (Pittsburgh defensive coordinator ) Coach (Dick) LeBeau does a great job organizing them. We're going to grind away and see if we can find a seam here and there, a crack here and there."
(on RB Arian Foster helping the offense in the red zone) "Arian's (Foster) a great player. He obviously got all those yards (last year) and we're hoping he'll do the same thing (this year). Certainly, consistency in the run game; we've kind of been up and down a little bit and we know throughout last year that's what he did very well. That'll help us out in that regard."
(on if he can game plan for a player like Pittsburgh S Troy Polamalu) "You can kind of block people when they're there and then they're not. He does a lot of different things. We're trying to do what we do best and because they do so much, pretty much stay on our side of the ball and hopefully we can make some plays with our guys."
(on if the fact that the Texans did so well on offense against the Saints at certain points makes their performance that much more frustrating) "Yeah, we executed throughout the field. We just didn't execute when we really needed to a couple times and that's just one of those things, a consistency thing. Obviously, when you do so well moving the ball up and down, you want to make sure you do well when it's time to score. We're focusing on that."
(on overcoming mistakes on offense at the start of the game at New Orleans) "Sure. Good players make things happen. We had a good team and they're a really good team and they played at home and we just didn't get it done at the end."
(on if the Texans are just scratching the surface with what they can do with FB James Casey) "Yeah. He had a great game, moving around, catching the ball. We'll continue to experiment with things and use him in that regard, but he still does what we need him to as a fullback, too."
(on playing against a unit led by Pittsburgh Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau) "We've got a great deal of respect for him, obviously. He's been around. He's done it for a long time. He's got a lot of great defenses and this is one of them. Like I said, we're expecting him to give us a lot of different things and trying to stay on our side of the ball and get our players the ball when they can make something happen."
(on how disruptive NT Casey Hampton is for the Steelers) "He's a really good player, obviously. He's big, square, takes up a lot of room, keeps everybody off backwards. He's one of the very good players that they have besides the two MVPs."
(on taking advantage on offense at home against the Steelers) "I think very week is an opportunity to win. We could have taken advantage of last week but we didn't get it done. Whether we're on the road or at home, it's an opportunity to execute and perform and shine and hopefully we'll get to that point."
(on RB Chris Ogbonnaya) "Chris (Ogbonnaya) is a very consistent player. He's a tough player, he's a bigger guy. Hopefully we'll see what goes on with our rotation but he knows what we're doing and he had a lot of carries in preseason. He knows what we want done; he's good at protections. He'll contribute if and when the chance comes."
T Duane Brown(on the red zone problems) "Coach Kube (Gary Kubiak) made that a point of emphasis Monday when we came in. We tried to make sure we got that handled coming into the season and it was obvious that we couldn't get it done on Sunday, so just a bigger point of emphasis this week. We know that Pittsburgh has a great defense, so if we get down in the red zone, we got to finish those drives out. Three points is not going to get it done. We got to get seven points when we get down there. We'll get it done this week."
(on having RB Arian Foster back this week) "That's awesome, man. Last year, leading rusher in the League, he brings a lot to the table. While we're grateful for the backs that we do have, we definitely want to get him back full speed and get him out there with us."
(on what makes RB Arian Foster so good in the red zone) "I think that one thing you just can't coach is vision. He has great vision and he makes one cut and he has deceptive speed and power. He gets downhill and it's hard for guys to tackle him."
FB James Casey(on what the team has talked about after what happened on Sunday) "We're all just disappointed that we couldn't get the job done in New Orleans, but you can't let the one loss affect your next game. We got to be honest with ourselves, know what we didn't get done and make sure we get that fixed. When it gets to crunch time, we got to make sure we're making those plays. Every game's going to be tough like that. I think a lot of people are hearing about last year and we got to make sure it's not the same as it was last year. We got to bounce back. We've got a really tough task, tough game with Pittsburgh, an elite AFC team. It's a good challenge for us and I think we're all glad that we're playing a tough team like that."
(on how much last week got them ready for Pittsburgh's defense) "Last week, it gets us a little bit ready because it gets us used to the backs, used to picking up blitzing linebackers and secondary players, but this is a different defense. They run a 3-4. We're kind of bouncing back, going 4-3, 3-4, 4-3, 3-4, so it's a little bit different because they got the two really good outside linebackers that rush most of the time, so it will change a little bit of the stuff that we do protection-wise. It's another team that we got to be ready because they're going to be blitzing and we got to make sure our running backs and myself is ready to pick it up. You've always got to be on guard when you play teams like that because you know (Troy) Polamalu could come anytime from anywhere."
(on staying level headed after the loss even though he made a lot of plays) "Absolutely, it's a lot different when you make some plays and people around the city start recognizing you when you're going just doing whatever, going to get something to eat or whatever. It's a little different, but yeah, it's bittersweet because we lost, so it's hard to enjoy too much of it. I wish it would've came with a win. I had kind of a breakout game. I wish it would've came with a win, but we didn't get it done. I feel like I did a good job. I got some opportunities, took advantage of some of them and hopefully there will be more to come and just continue to make plays and make even better plays and help us get wins because it's all for nothing if you don't get a W. Of course, the old cliché thing, I would much rather have zero catches if we could have won the game."
NT Shaun Cody(on Pittsburgh SS Troy Polamalu) "He's a stud. Troy (Polamalu) works hard every day, practices hard. He's a very intellectual player. He knows when he can gamble and when he can't, so he's a stud of a player."
(on how difficult Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger is to tackle) "I mean, he's probably the best in the League at escaping plays and then making plays happen, not just getting out of a sack, but then making a 20-, 25-yard pass happen, so it's definitely something that we have to deal with and address as a defense."
(on whether he feels like the team has to pressure Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger this week) "Oh, yeah. That's one of our keys to victory, like we talked about, is being able to get him down and corral him and not let him make those big plays."
ILB Brian Cushing(on how the Texans can put four good quarters together) "There's no question about that. You go back and watch the game film, and it's 26-17 with 10 minutes left in the game. It's extremely frustrating. The way you play four quarters is you correct those mistakes that you made in the fourth quarter, so we went back and we looked at the little things. We're going to iron out the small details and we're going to play a full game."
(on whether last week's loss is still on his mind) "There's negatives and positives that come out of it. There's definitely no question about the frustration that comes away with losing that ballgame, but at the same time, you look at how good of a team the Saints are and how you played them through three quarters. You've just got to finish out that fourth. I think it says something about our defense and the way we've been playing, but like I said, it really is nothing if you don't play the full game."
(on how difficult Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger is to tackle) "Absolutely. He's a big quarterback who makes a lot of plays that aren't even drawn up just by being a playmaker and just a guy who shows up on Sunday. There's no question about it. He makes a lot of good plays, a lot of smart plays, but at the same time, he makes a lot of plays that are broken plays out of him just making a smart move or just something out of the ordinary and extend the play or get a first down or a touchdown."
(on the mindset when trying to tackle Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger) "Really, just attack him. Attack him as if he almost isn't a quarterback when you're going to tackle him and tackle him as if he's a running back or a bigger guy. As far as linebackers, we'll be attacking him the same because we feel one-on-one we can take him down, but watching film, he definitely breaks a lot of tackles and makes more plays than the ordinary quarterback."
(on using last week's loss as motivation for this week's game) "It is. I definitely think we're eager to play and eager to get back out there; there's no question about that. The guys are hungry and we're just looking forward to the next matchup."
RB Arian Foster(on being healthy again and back for the season) "That's what it looks like. That's what it feels like, so good to be back out there."
(on how excited he is to get back out there) "Yeah, I'm eager. I haven't played football this year that much. I'm excited to get the opportunity to do so."
(on QB Matt Schaub and WR Andre Johnson being excited to have him back) "Well if Andre (Johnson) and Matthew Schaub said that, then that's a high compliment. They're the face of the franchise and to be regarded that high in their eyes, that's an honor."
(on how much he can help with the red zone issues) "I think it's a collective effort. I'm not sure how much I can contribute. We're all working towards fixing those woes and it's early in the season, but it's not too late to right the ship."
(on if the hamstring feels better than it has in a long time) "Yeah, I have no issues with it anymore. Like I said, I could've played last week, but they just wanted to reassure that it wasn't going to be reoccurring and that's where it is."
(on if he's past the mental part of the injury) "I am. I'm past that."
(on what he anticipates a physical team like the Steelers will bring) "They're about as good as it gets in this League. It's what you signed up for. You play the game to play against the top competition and I'm excited."
WR Andre Johnson(on if the team is ready to bounce back) "Yeah, I think we are. We're just working to get prepared for this upcoming Sunday. It's another big game. We're playing against another great football team and it's going to be another big challenge for us. I just think week by week, every game is going to get bigger for us. We just have to stay focused at the task at hand and just take it one game at a time."
(on his health situation) "I'm fine. My knee was just a little bit sore from the game Sunday. I didn't do nothing today, but I'll practice tomorrow."
(on how much he has to know where SS Troy Polamalu is during the game) "You definitely have to know where he's at every play. You try to look at things on film to find tips, what makes him blitz on some plays that he blitzes and things like that. Some of the stuff, it looks like he just has a knack for it and he just blitzes when he wants to, so you definitely have to know where he's at, at all times."
(on how difficult it is that SS Troy Polamalu can freelance when he wants to) "You just have to know where he's at. That's pretty much it. When he does it, the crazy thing about it, when he does it, it always seems to work out in his favor. He always makes a great play behind it, but the thing about it, like Coach (Gary) Kubiak said, we have to try to keep him and James Harrison off the stat sheet. It'll be hard to do that, but at the same time, they're both great players and they have a great defense as a whole. It'll be a big test for us, but if we go out and do the things that we know how to do as a team, we'll be fine."
(on having a much better team than last year) "The one thing about this game, bad things are going to happen. It's just how you respond to it. Of course, you want to go out and try to win every game. That's everybody's goal, but that's hard to do. We're just going to take it one game at a time. We go out and get a victory Sunday, win or lose, we're going to come back and approach the next game with the same intensity and prepare the same and try to get better as a football team. No matter if you win or lose, you always want to come back the next week and try to win again. This game is all about winning and that's what we're going to try to do on Sunday."
(on how difficult it is that he's always a target for opposing defenses) "I don't want to say it's frustrating. I just think that it makes it more challenging for you to go out and make plays. You just have to try to find holes in the defense and things like that. Sometimes you may break a route off or something like that, just find a spot in the defense to get you a catch here and there. I don't want to say that it gets frustrating. It's part of the game."
(on how much help FB James Casey provides after his last performance) "I think it's great. (James) Casey's playing fullback, but we can do some different things moving him around and it kind of puts us at an advantage. I think it's working out a lot in our favor."
(on how frustrating it is to talk about games that got away at the end) "I mean it gets old, but I've been here pretty much since day one. I've seen it all. I've been through it all. I don't think anything can get any worse than what it's been in the past years around here. I'm always thinking positive. I think that things can only get better for us. I don't think anything can get any worse than it's ever been around here. I'm always thinking positive."
(on if he thinks this year's 2-1 team is better than last year) "Yeah, I agree. I think that just the atmosphere period around here, in practice, in the locker room, the way guys are just carrying themselves, I think it's totally different. Even after we won our first two games, even after the loss, guys were upset. We felt like we should have won the game, but at the same time, it wasn't a time where I think in the past, guys would've been so down to where it may have affected them the following week or something like that. Guys were motivated. We were on the bus coming back home and guys were just like 'Hey man, we got to come back and bounce back next week.' Guys were excited. You want to get that next opportunity to go out and win your next game. I can definitely say the attitude is definitely different."
(on how big it is for the offense that RB Arian Foster will be back) "That's very big. He's a big part of our offense, so I've been waiting for him to get back just like everybody else. He plays a big part in our offense and I think having him back will be a great help for us."
(on how confident he is that they can make adjustments to be better in the red zone) "I think that we'll get those things fixed. We had a meeting where we watched every play we've had in the red zone over the last three games just to see what we were doing as an offense, all the mistakes and mental errors that were made. We'll get those things fixed. After that meeting, guys were very pumped up about just getting those things fixed and knowing what we need to do to put more points on the board."
(on if it's been a lack of execution in the red zone) "It's not a lack of execution. I think it's just more of, you have one guy mess up here, one guy mess up there. It's not just one guy. It's everybody. You may have a guy may miss a block or a pass that may have been dropped in the flat or something like that that a guy could have turned up. You just have to make those plays and like Coach Kubiak said in the meeting, when you get down in the red zone, every time you catch a ball or run a ball, you want to make you're going forward and not going backwards. Even in practice today, they were stressing that. When you catch the ball or the running back was running the ball, make sure you get your pads going forward. That's just something we have to just take in and apply it on the field."
(on if scoring in the red zone involves imposing your will and winning individual battles) "I'm pretty sure on every team when you get in the red zone, guys are probably in the huddle, 'Hey man, we need to get seven points here,' but that's what makes this game so challenging because you have a defense out there trying to make you go three-and-out. Unfortunately we haven't been able to score as many touchdowns as we would like, but I think we'll get it fixed."
(on if he's confident that they can fix their red zone problems) "Yeah, we have a lot of football games left. Like I said, we had a meeting about it. Hopefully we get it fixed this Sunday."
(on if it was unusual to have a meeting to discuss the red zone) "No, it's not unusual. When you have things that you feel like you need to be fixed, you go back and watch things. That's just part of it. I wouldn't say it's unusual. We all watched it, every red zone play this year."
(on what makes RB Arian Foster gifted as a runner) "I think that just looking at him, he's very patient. I think he lets things develop. I think he really understands our running scheme. That's a big up to him, but just from watching him and when I see him on film and things, I just think that he's very patient as a running back. I think he's not going to go out and force anything. I think he really lets the game come to him. When you do that, you normally go out and perform well."
CB Johnathan Joseph(on the challenge of defending Pittsburgh WR Mike Wallace) "It's a challenge every week. Whatever guy you put out there is hard. Mike Wallace is a big-play threat and has been that guy since he got in this League. It's our job to go out and limit those plays and take those plays away from them, so for us, it's always a challenge week-in and week-out. Whoever the other guys are on the other side of the ball with the big plays or whatever it may be, we have to eliminate those guys."
(on whether it's more frustrating to lose a game late like last Sunday at New Orleans) "You just have to look at a loss as it is what it is. At the end of the day, it's only one loss. It's a 16-game season and for us, you have to move on past it. You can't let it carry over to Pittsburgh Week because we still have a game to go out and win this week."
(on Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips' comments that he wanted the defensive backs to cover tighter in man-to-man coverage) "Like I said after the game, it comes down to making plays. When you have the opportunity, you have to make plays. For us at the end of the game last week, I'm still here talking about it a little bit, but we didn't make those plays. In this League, you have to make plays to win games and last week, we didn't make those plays to win that game."
NT Earl Mitchell(on stopping the runs up the middle) "It's just all about leverage, just outworking these guys. At the end of the day, you just have to finish the game and just continue to play lower than these guys. That's pretty much the name of the game."
(on how tough QB Ben Roethlisberger is to get down) "It's crazy just watching him. He's able to elongate plays and he's able to break all these sacks and stuff. Once you get your hands on him, you have to do all you can to take him down. You have to bring everybody with you to get him down because that's what I've been watching on film so far. That's all you can do is just hope that everybody's coming around when one person gets a wrap up on him."
FS Troy Nolan(on if it's a confidence issue of worrying about receivers getting past the secondary) "No, it's not confidence. I think our teammates, we're all confident playing man-to-man coverage. It's just one of those things, we didn't have a lot of work during camp, the offseason and the lockout and things like that. There's a couple adjustments we could have made at that point in the game. We never went through that because of the lockout and things like that. We made the adjustments this week and we will be playing tighter coverage."
(on WR Mike Wallace) "It can surprise you, but you can't be surprised. Just watching film, you got to know what routes the guy runs and know he can run past you. You just got to play smart and just play mentally. You got to be in the game."
RB Chris Ogbonnaya(on if he thought he'd be signed to the active roster this early in the season) "I don't know. I told myself just to keep working after cut day. You never know how this League works and it's just an opportunity for me to continue to get better. Just take it in stride and see what happens."
(on if all his preseason reps will help him) "Absolutely. I think that getting all those reps was a blessing for me. I know a lot of the guys were hurt, but for me it allowed me to grow as a player; you know, learn the system a lot better, just to get better."
(on if his preseason reps gave him confidence) "Absolutely. Whenever you get a lot of plays during camp or OTAs, whenever that time is, it gives you a chance to get better, as I said. You continue to learn the little things about our offense and the defenses that we play."
(on if it's bittersweet to be on the active roster knowing someone else was released by the team) "Somewhat, just because our room was very close. So it was a little bittersweet. Also, to understand the nature of this business. I've had great support from the City of Houston, a lot of friends, hearing from a lot of family and everything. So I'm very appreciative, very thankful for the opportunity and I just plan to keep working."
(on how much he's heard from fans, friends and family in the last day) "A lot; random numbers, random texts. But that's just a part of the territory. I'm just blessed to have that kind of support and I just want to keep this train moving."
(on being on the field in his hometown) "It's a blessing to be a hometown guy. I grew up here when the Texans' conception began. It's great. It's an honor to be a part of it and we look like we're going in the right direction. No other place I'd rather be than right here."
ILB DeMeco Ryans(on the defense's mindset as they prepare for Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger) "You know he's a tough guy to bring down. You watch him on film constantly breaking tackles, so when guys go up to him, they're going to have to approach him differently. You're going to have to approach him like he's a big tight end or running back. You're going to have to try to wrap up on him and definitely make sure you secure the tackle and put him down to the ground."
(on whether it's easier said than done when talking about tackling Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger) "Yeah, you can say that, but you definitely have to still go out and do it. He's a strong guy, so he's going to be some work. It's not going to be easy bringing him down."
(on how his elbow feels without the brace on it) "It felt pretty good this past Sunday taking the brace off. (I'm) just looking forward to getting better and better each week."
(on whether he feels like his old self without the elbow brace) "It felt pretty good. I felt closer to myself than I have in the past."
(on what stands out to him about Pittsburgh's offense) "(QB) Ben (Roethlisberger) is the key, really. When we watch it, they're always off schedule. It's nothing like Drew's (New Orleans QB Drew Brees) just quick and the ball's coming out right now. He moves around the pocket and finds a way to make a play. A lot of broken routes and a lot of things, so we really have to stay on our guys when we're in man coverage, and when we're in zone, we really have to plaster to the receivers and really stay on them because there's no telling if Ben's going down or if he's still up making moves, throwing the ball, so it's going to be tough for us."
(on the difficulty of preparing for an offense that is off schedule as much as Pittsburgh's) "It's not hard, you just have to hold your coverage a little longer than normal."
(on whether QB Ben Roethlisberger's mobility negates Pittsburgh's struggles along the offensive line) "No, they still are a solid offensive line, but I think we can definitely still get pressure on them, but Ben, he does make it a little harder when you have a quarterback that can move, O-line really doesn't matter if somebody gets back there; they still have to bring him down."
QB Matt Schaub(on the challenge of going against the Steelers) "We have a huge challenge ahead of us, one that we're excited about and getting ready for, mentally and physically during the week here. It's obviously a big challenge for us. Their defense has been one of the best for a number of years and they're physical and very talented, so we got to be ready for a dog fight."
(on SS Troy Polamalu) "Yeah, he takes you to a lot of what they do and he is catalyst that makes them go, him and 92 (James Harrison). We got to understand where he is and where he's going to be because he might look like he's in one spot, but then he might end up in another. You just got to identify pre-snap and post-snap what he's doing."
(on how much of an issue it is that SS Troy Polamalu freelances on the field) "Well it is. Just based on what our plays are, what our calls are, understanding where he is and whether it's in protections or in the run game getting a hat on him, but obviously he does a lot for them and he has a lot of flexibility in what he's allowed to do. We just have to be on top of our game."
(on how big it is to have RB Arian Foster back) "Well, it'd be big for us. He's a big piece to our puzzle offensively and can do a lot of things for us, very versatile. Hopefully he can get back out there for us."
(on if RB Arian Foster will help the team in the red zone) "I think he definitely can. It's good to have all our weapons at your disposal."
(on if he was kicking himself after having to kick field goals in the red zone) "Well any time you get down there and don't get seven and settle for three, especially when you're inside the 10-yard line, I think it was three times we got short field goals, no matter what the outcome of the drive, if you get three, you're obviously disappointed, no matter what it was. I was definitely kicking myself and I know everyone on our offense was doing the same, so we just have to find a way to get those things in there and we'll be in good shape."
(on why RB Arian Foster is a good runner in the red zone) "He's elusive, he runs with power, he stays low. He just has a nose for the end zone. I wish I could dissect it or tell you why. I'm not a runner by nature, so to get the answer to that, you'd have to ask him."
(on if the meeting to discuss the red zone was productive) "I did because so many times you go in your position rooms and you watch clips and you watch the game film, but to watch it together and to see everyone working and where to improve, it's the accountability side of football that sets this game apart from so many other sports. You're dependant on what the guy next to you does and you depend on them to do their job. For that aspect of it, it was very important."
(on if having success in the red zone has to do with imposing your will on the other side) "Yeah, that and execution. When you're in the run game and there's not a lot of space and there's 22 bodies within three yards of space, it's going to be about who wants it more and a battle of will. It's all about execution too and being smart with what you're trying to get done."
(on how much T Duane Brown has grown since the last meeting with the Steelers) "Duane's (Brown) night and day. He's come so far. He's an extremely hard worker. It's not even close that day to this day. Our team's not even close that day to this day. Myself personally, I'm a much better player and quarterback than I was that day. It's hard to even look back at that day, but Duane's made such a huge amount of progress that he's such a different player. He's excited to go out there and strap it on this week and I'm excited for him."
(on how they become a team that can close football games) "We go out and do it this week and be a team that you don't let things happen twice and when you go out there this week, we got to find a way to make those plays and we're going to do it. We're going to learn from what we didn't do last week and we'll get it done this week."
(on RB Arian Foster's receiving skills) "We saw it last year so many times on third downs. We'd get him the ball in space and that first guy rarely makes a tackle. I think if we can get him the ball in space, he can make some yards after the catch for us and convert some of those third downs and that will again loosen up some coverage in other spaces because teams will be worried about him."
(on when he put his hands on his helmet and rubbed his neck after the sack at the end of last game) "Well, I was just trying to; A, there was a little bit of a guy that came in there with his leg that kind of shocked me a little bit, but at the same time, that's a point in the game that if you have something like that, that you're trying to maybe get a flag come out and get a call, trying to do anything you can to move the chains."
(on what's lacking when they lose games like they did to the Saints) "We got to execute. We were in some situations there where we had a first down pass that we didn't get executed. It was dropped and then we got ourselves in a long yardage situation and we're trying to make a play to move the chains because obviously you can't just run the clock out and hold on against a team like that. New Orleans' offense is too good. Regardless of how good your defense is, their offense is just as potent. It's about trying to make the play to go win."
(on how important it is to establish the run against a physical team like the Steelers) "I think it's big for us against any team, but especially against a team like this because it keeps them off balance. It keeps you balanced, unpredictable and it opens up the playbook."
(on how much of a weapon FB James Casey can be) "Well, I think we saw that this past week. He can be a huge piece to our offense, just being able to run the ball from having him in the backfield to moving him out and putting him in different spots because he's so versatile and he creates so many mismatches which we saw last week. He can be a big part to what we do."
(on if FB James Casey has always been able to perform like he did last week) "Well it's a progression. This is the first year in his career where he's starting at fullback. He's getting a lot of time and getting a lot of looks and we're seeing what he can do in training camp, so it's a natural progression for a guy."
(on if this year's 2-1 team is better than last year) "Yeah, I definitely feel that way, but it's one thing to say it. We got to go out and prove it and we got to go do it on Sundays."
(on if how they lost is night and day from last year) "I think we're a better football team, but I can think it, but we got to go out and do it. We got to go out and execute, play against a good football team this Sunday and go out and get a W. I think we're much better than we were this time last year."
(on how important it is to the fans to get over the hump with a win against the Steelers) "It's huge for us too. It's not just the fans. It's huge for our organization, for our team to go out and come out of the first quarter of the season 3-1. That's the only way I can put it."
DE J.J. Watt(on Sunday being his first experience going against the Pittsburgh Steelers) "Obviously they're a team with great tradition and great history. Being a rookie, I'm excited to be playing against them. All I'm looking at is what they've done these last couple weeks and watching the film, so they're a good team. I'm excited about the challenge."
(on if the defense will look to take advantage of injuries to Pittsburgh's offensive line) "I think any time you're put in a situation like that, you have to try and capitalize on it. Obviously, they're a little bit banged up so we want to go out there as a defensive line and try and do everything we can to take advantage of that situation."
(on the pass rush against the Saints) "I don't think it was sufficient enough. We had two sacks, but at the end of the game, we just didn't have enough pressure. We would obviously like to bring more pressure to make (the quarterback's) decisions more difficult."
(on how a defensive lineman prepares for a big quarterback who can escape tackles like Ben Roethlisberger) "He is one of the best at kind of escaping. He's also very good on the run; he can throw the ball down the field while on the move. We just need to wrap him up, try to make sure his arm's not free so he can throw. Really, just good tackling techniques. I mean, that's what it comes down to. You just need to have good tackling techniques on him."
Pittsburgh Head Coach Mike Tomlin Conference Call(on how much of a concern the offensive line is) "It's just a philosophical approach that we have. We believe that everybody on our football team can be the reason why we win. They're competent and capable men. We try to hold them to that standard. We acknowledge that injury is as much a part of the game of football as blocking and tackling. This group has had more opportunities than others to display that, but it's not our first rodeo in that regard. We expect these guys to step up, if given the opportunity, and play winning football for us."
(on if the turnovers are caused by the inconsistency on the offensive line) "No, we take responsibility for our ineptness at times and our inability to maintain possession of the ball. We don't make excuses."
(on how he plans to be more consistent week to week) "I think that we're all teams in development this time of year. I think we're bold enough to acknowledge it. We need to continue to work to get better, but in the meanwhile, we better do enough to get out of the stadiums with wins. We are not a finished product by any stretch, but I like the way our guys work on a daily basis in preparation."
(on if three games is enough to get a grasp on defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' defense) "A guy with a reputation like Wade's, you know, he has a personality, so there's less questions about an experienced guy like Coach Phillips in a new city than it may be with a new guy that's getting his first opportunity. I think anybody that's been in this League any length of time understands his approach to defense and the fact that they're going to be very sound, they're going to play extremely hard and those are the things that have showed up on the tape thus far."
(on RB Arian Foster playing again on Sunday along with RB Ben Tate) "Well, obviously we respect him and what he's capable of doing on the football field, but I think that Tate and others have also shown us that these guys are going to be very capable of running the football and doing what it is they want to do offensively even if he's not available. We respect Arian Foster, but we also respect the Houston Texans run game in general and any back they choose to give it to. We better prepare ourselves to defend it."
(on if he's overly concerned with how many hits QB Ben Roethlisberger has taken) "No, I'm not overly concerned. No."
(on if he's impressed by DE J.J. Watt) "I'm impressed. I wouldn't say that I'm surprised. I was at his pro day. Of course I studied him leading up to the draft. He's displaying the same things down there that made him a great player in Madison. He's very instinctual. He plays with a high motor. He's taking advantage of the opportunities presented."
(on if the Steelers have established their identity for the season) "I think that we're in development in that regard, like most teams."
(on how familiar he is with Head Coach Gary Kubiak) "Of course, I'm familiar with him in terms of us being in this profession, but I don't know him personally, no."
(on if there's anything he wants to see his offense do this week that he hasn't seen yet) "Nothing particular. I want to see us progress and take a step forward in the areas that we identified that we need to improve and most importantly, I want them to do enough to win the football game."
(on if he sees signs that the running game is going to improve) "I expect it to continue to improve because I like the way that our men work."
(on QB Matt Schaub) "I just think that he's tailor-made to do what it is that they do. The way they mix the play action pass and mix the direction pass in with the run game, his ability to throw the ball from a variety of launch points, the rapport that he has of course with Andre Johnson. He needs no endorsement from me. They've been doing it at a high level down there for a number of years and I think the statistics and the video bears that out."
Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger Conference Call(on what he's looking forward to with the Texans defense) "I don't know if I'm looking forward to it. They're a really good defense. It starts up front obviously, great D-line and the linebackers really get after it. (I've) got to watch some more film and get ready because they present some problems."
(on going up against OLB Mario Williams) "Yeah, a little different than the outside linebackers I see every day. (He's) just a freak; one of the, if not the best. It'll be a great challenge for our tackles. Last week, they had to go against two of the best that are speed guys and have a lot of moves and this guy's just an absolute beast, so heck of a challenge."
(on if the Steelers are still trying to establish an identity for the season) "I don't think so. I think we've been all over the board a little bit - played a terrible game, played a pretty good game, had a good half, bad half, so we're working. We're finding ways to get the wins when we need them. It's still early."
(on the key to playing more consistently) "Well, I think turnovers is our number one bugaboo right now. We've got to cut back on the turnovers, and that starts with me."
(on if he's concerned with the injuries on the offensive line) "Well, you're always concerned when you lose guys up front. You like to get some cohesiveness up there. It seems like our team, we always lose linemen. It doesn't seem like anyone else loses linemen like we do. I'm not sure why. I've got confidence in those guys that they'll be able to bounce back and whoever fills in will fill in and will do a great job."
(on if the turnovers are caused by the injuries to the offensive line) "Well, I think each turnover you have to look at in a different way, how it happened. Last week, I just missed a wide receiver, overthrew him. It is what it is. Then the two sack-fumbles, I mean that's tough when you've got those speed rushers coming off the back side and you don't see them coming. That's the hardest time. I take a lot of hits and don't lose the ball, but when you don't see them coming and they are professionals at swiping that ball out, they get it out. Just take care of it and not throw it away and try to hold on to it."
(on where the confidence in the offensive line is coming from) "Well actually the guys we've signed off the street are guys that have been here before. (G) Trai Essex is a guy that's been here a long time. (T) Ramon Foster's been here a long time. (C) Doug Legursky's been here a long time. We do have a rookie that's playing. (C Maurkice) Pouncey's still in there, (T) Jonathan Scott, so it's not like we're just pulling guys off every week and putting them in the starting lineup. The confidence comes from seeing them playing and being around them."
(on if there's any concern with how well the guys who are injured will be able to play) "I think they'll be just great. They're some of the toughest guys in the game and if they can't go, they'll let us know and we'll fill guys in."
(on the biggest key for success on offense this week) "Identifying the defense, the fronts, finding out where the big boy's (OLB Mario Williams) at and trying to block him."
(on how tough it is to go against defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who disguises his defense) "Well, it's different. It depends on what you call a disguise. You go against the Steelers defense, that's a disguise. Baltimore Ravens throw disguises at you. The Jets throw disguises at you. The Titans and Wade from when he was with the Cowboys and stuff, the disguise for them is more, 'Is this a three-down defense? Is it a four down defense?' It's not like there's guys moving all over the place and it's a mixer look and you've got linebackers in the secondary and you've got cornerbacks up on the line. It's not that kind of a disguise. It's just a matter of getting the looks and going with it."
(on the key to running the ball successfully) "Well, not being a run game guru, but I guess we just have to block the guys, stay on our blocks longer, give it to the backs and let them do what they do best."
(on how he's feeling this year and if he's where he wants to be right now) "Well, it's early. We're 2-1. We'd like to be 3-0, obviously. We're making strides and we're slowly getting better."
(on if the offense has talked about what they need to do to get where they want to be) "It's not panic. We're not panicked. I think you guys and the media and people and fans try and panic for us and that's fine. We're a veteran enough group that we don't do that and we just talk about what we need to do and get it done."
(on if it's going to be incremental steps to improve the run game) "Yeah, we just have to run it more efficiently. We like to average over four yards a run, so we got to get back to that."
(on how much potential WR Emmanuel Sanders has) "All the potential in the world. He can be as good as he wants to be. He's a smart player, very, very talented and gifted, has come a long way and is going to continue to grow I believe."
(on if there's anything that's surprised him about his team so far) "Nope, not that I know of."