The Texans practiced Wednesday at the Methodist Training Center and after, chairman/CEO Bob McNair, head coach Gary Kubiak, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and some players answered questions from the media. Also, Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio and running back Maurice Jones-Drew answered spoke with the Houston media during a conference call. The following is a transcript of all those interviews.
Texans Owner Bob McNairHead Coach Gary KubiakOffensive Coordinator Rick DennisonQB Kellen ClemensNT Shaun CodyILB Brian CushingRB Arian FosterWR Andre JohnsonQB Matt LeinartFS Danieal ManningILB DeMeco RyansWR Kevin Walter
Texans Owner Bob McNair
(on the thought that the Texans handled the NFL lockout better than other teams) "I think we've got really good guys on our team and we've got some good leaders. It takes time to develop that leadership. A couple years ago, they were all young. So we didn't have anybody who was that veteran, who could step up and lead and now we do. We have it on offense and defense. Matt (Schaub) and DeMeco (Ryans) stepped up on offense and defense and got their guys together and did a lot of good work."
(on how disappointed he is that QB Matt Schaub has to be put on the Reserve/Injured List) "I'm really disappointed, especially for Matt (Schaub) because he was having a great year, probably his best year. He's worked so hard with our team and been such a great leader. It's difficult for him to be on the sidelines and watch his team succeed and not being a part of it, not being out on the field. So I'm sorry about that. Matt Leinart is ready to play. He's been working hard. If you've noticed, he stays out after practice. He and T.J. (Yates) have been throwing after every practice all this year and last year. He's ready to go and everybody's got confidence in him."
(on if there is any doubt in his mind that the Texans will respond during the final stretch of the season given the adversity they've already faced this year) "I think they've proven that they can handle adversity. In the past, we would probably have gotten our heads down and 'Woe is me' kind of thing. No, they're not doing that. They're just saying, 'Well, let's go out and get the next one.' That's all we worry about, is who we play this week."
(on how exciting the season is for him with the team being where it is at this point of the season) "Well, it is (exciting) but it's also a great feeling to see the way they've handled adversity, as you were asking earlier. I mean, not a lot of people can do that. That's what we've been looking for. We've been talking about the fact that physically, our team has been very tough. Mentally, we haven't been tough enough. Well, now what you're seeing is behavior that indicates that this team is mentally tough. I'm really pleased about that."
(on what head coach Gary Kubiak does to get his team to respond) "Well, he's steady. He doesn't have ups and downs. Some people, I get it from fans all the time, well, 'So-and-so coach is not emotional and he doesn't get upset when a play is handled poorly. He's no good because he doesn't scream and holler.' Players don't want all that screaming and hollering. It's a distraction. There is so much going on during a game. You need somebody that's cool, calm and collected, is thinking clearly and can provide leadership under pressure. I think the team has seen that with Gary. That's what he does. He doesn't have to go in and give them a lot of speeches, or what have you. They see that he handles adversity well, so why shouldn't they?"
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on the quarterback situation) "Matt's (Schaub) going to have surgery next week. He's going to go to IR, actually, today is my understanding. We signed Kellen Clemens. We held out hope. He went down there last night and met this morning with the doctor very early. I think it was before 8 that I had talked to him. Disappointing. It hurt for him because he's having a Pro Bowl season, but he'll be back and he'll play a long time at a high level."
(on if he's talked to QB Matt Schaub) "Yeah, we visited this morning. Not very good as you can well imagine. I was talking to him right after he got through, but I'm expecting him to come back here and help me. He'll be back here tomorrow."
(on why he signed QB Kellen Clemens) "Well, he knows our terminology. I liked his workout, to be honest with you, of all the guys that we brought in last week. I think he can catch up probably quicker than anybody that we worked out and he practiced good today."
(on if he knows the Texans terminology) "Yeah, he does being in Redskins camp, so we speak the same verbiage and that helps real quick. He looked good in his workout, too. I liked the way he worked and moved around, so we'll give him a chance."
(on if QB Kellen Clemens will move up to the No. 2 quarterback) "No, T.J.'s (Yates) our two. I got a lot of confidence in T.J. I think he's getting better every day and Kellen's here to be a three right now. If things hold true, I'm probably only going to suit two anyway. I'm impressed with T.J. and how far he's come."
(on FS Danieal Manning) "I expect him to play. He took a limited number of reps today, not the full load, but I expect him to play in the game. We will have to monitor, I would imagine, the amount that he plays, but everything looks like we'll be ready to go. It's amazing."
(on how important it is to get FS Danieal Manning back) "It's very important. He's a leader of the group. It frees up some guys. If he's out there playing, it frees up Troy (Nolan) to play some special teams. We've got some issues right there with (Lawrence) Vickers not practicing today. If he's available, it helps us in some other areas."
(on FB Lawrence Vickers) "He looked pretty good working with Kap (Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Geoff Kaplan) today. I would say that he has a chance. It'll probably be the end of the week before we know, but hopefully he'll be able to make it. He's done a good job for us the last month."
(on if FB James Casey is the starting fullback if he's healthy) "No, if Lawrence (Vickers) was 100 percent, Lawrence would keep playing. He took advantage of an opportunity and played his tail off. Obviously, there's things I do with Casey, so I see them both as starters. But James works as a starter right now with Lawrence being out."
(on what he's done to keep the team together after all the injuries) "I don't know that I've done anything specifically. I think they're challenged by it. I think that's the key. They're very challenged by what's happened to their team and some of their teammates and yet, not a lot of people think they can continue to play at that level and they believe they can and I believe they can. I think it's their personal challenge and I think we're getting better. Every day we've practiced, to me we get better and every day we've played in the last month, we've gotten better. We're excited about the last six weeks."
(on if he's not a big pep talk guy) "I don't have to give them pep talks. They hear from me enough. They understand where they're at. They understand the opportunity that they have. It gets to be that time of year in this League where good teams' players take over and they should. That's the way a good team does it. I see our guys doing that right now, so just got to keep them going."
(on how efficiently QB Matt Schaub played this season) "Hell, he was the second-ranked AFC quarterback, I think. It's not his fault we weren't throwing it that much, but when we threw it, he was throwing it as good as anybody and he made probably as many big plays as anybody in the League. He cut down his turnovers. Everything he was doing, he was a better play this year than he'd been for me the previous four years. I think Matt's (Schaub) going to have a great career."
(on if WR Andre Johnson's endurance will be an issue when he plays this Sunday) "No, I don't. He's been working. We're not going to throw him out there and play him 70 plays, so that's on us as coaches. I don't see that being a factor."
(on how WR Andre Johnson has looked in practice) "He looks fine. You got to get back into football shape. I know that sounds crazy, but just running plays, putting your pads on, so we'll put our pads on a little bit tomorrow. He looks good. We got to bring him along the right way. You don't just, a guy who's missed that much time, just throw him out there for the whole load, but he's chomping at the bit, I can tell you that. He's missed some time and he's ready to go."
(on QB Matt Schaub's injury) "Well, that there's no way that any rest would allow him the opportunity to go play. It was just too risky. It's something he needs to get fixed for his future, so that's what we got to go do. We got to go do what's best for him. He's going to play a long time and so it's just disappointing. We were kind of holding out hope that maybe they saw a way he might rest and come back at the end, but they didn't think that was going to happen."
(on if QB Matt Schaub could be back for the playoffs) "No, he's going to IR. He's done."
Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison
(on QB Matt Schaub being out for the rest of the season) "Yeah, I feel real bad for Matt. He put in a lot of hard work. He really, between the offseason when we weren't around, he did a lot of things; you could tell coming back, because he corrected some things that we asked him to do. He did a great job. I feel bad for him, but that's what it is and we got to move on. We can't fold up the tent. We'll get Matt (Leinart) in there and move on, do what we do best."
(on his first impressions of QB Kellen Clemens) "You know, he's got a really strong arm. He's been around the game for a while. I really liked him when he came out. We weren't in the quarterback business when I was in Denver at the point in time, but I liked him and there's a reason why. I think he's athletic. He's got some good things. He's been in camp with Washington, so the terminology is somewhat similar to him. Just get him trained and see what happens."
(on what adjustments the offense will make with QB Matt Leinart) "We hope none. We're going to try to do the same thing that we do and modify with what we think he can get done, which right now we're working with it. It may be everything, we're doing everything. We maybe cut some things down. We don't know. That's what we practice for."
(on if QB Matt Leinart being left-handed is irrelevant) "Yeah, we've done all our play fakes and play action stuff right and left-handed. It's one of the things he's worked either way. I think Matt's obviously done some great things. That's why he's in here."
(on how WR Andre Johnson is looking in practice) "He looked great, but he was over here jogging two weeks ago and he looked great to me. Such a good looking football player."
(on how Jacksonville's defense changes without LB Clint Session) "Well, I think he was having a tremendous year. He made some plays against us the first time. He does a great job blitzing, always running to the ball. I don't know how that affects them. For us, he's a really good player, but they've got players and everybody adjusts to injuries like we've had to and will continue to, so I know they will."
(on if he thinks the Jaguars will try to retaliate after their comments from last game) "I have no idea. I don't even know where that came from. I watched the game. Our guys know how to play. We teach them how to play the game right. From my viewpoint, I think they did a nice job. I don't know. They'll do what they got to do and we'll do what we need to do."
(on if he's bothered by some of the things the Jaguars said about the Texans playing dirty) "No, I've heard that for many years. It's all a part of the game. It's all within the rules. We're taught the rules and then we teach them to our players."
QB Kellen Clemens
(on what he sees his role being as a Texans) "Whatever they tell me at this point. I've only been official for a few hours. I got to sneak into practice today and get a few reps. It's cram right now, understand as much as I can, get the game plan down and whatever my role is, whatever they need me to do. It's Matt's (Leinart) show and he's gonna hopefully have a lot of success. Heaven forbid anything else happens, just be ready at this point."
(on how he's stayed prepared) "Just lift, run, throw. It's been a unique situation for me over the last 10 weeks. Just trying to stay in shape, trying to stay ready. I've been lifting, running, throwing, like I said. I'm in Washington State, that's where we have kind of a home base. Besides that, it's been great. I've got two little kids, so I've spent some really good time with my wife and kids."
(on if he feels he has a pretty good grasp of things despite it being his first day) "You know, it wouldn't be chaos if I was in there (a game). It wouldn't be complete chaos. It'd be organized chaos. I can get us in and out of the huddle at this point and hopefully complete some balls but there's going to be a process of getting used to how we do things as Texans and just getting to know some of my teammates."
(on what he was doing when he got the call from the Texans) "I think I was making my kids breakfast. I think it was in the morning sometime."
(on if he thought he would be playing again this season) "I was optimistic. I got invited down to the Miami workout when (Chad) Henne went down. I was in Oakland when Jason Campbell went down, when they actually did the whole trade for Carson (Palmer) right in the middle of our workout, so that was a unique experience."
(on if he felt like that was the end of his season when Oakland traded for Carson Palmer) "I'm going 'Uh, it's obviously over.' But I remained optimistic. Obviously with six weeks left in the season, that optimism was starting to fade a little bit. I feel bad for (Matt) Schaub. I mean, he was having a great year. The Texans obviously are sitting with a two-game lead in the division and hopefully turn the corner this year. I've been there."
(on if he had followed the Texans before signing with the team) "Not really. Sundays were go to church and family days and I'd generally get on and watch the clicker and see what the scores were. I didn't watch a lot of games with anybody."
(on not having a reason to see an opportunity for him here before last Sunday) "Right and it's such a unique situation. You never want anybody else to get hurt. There's limited roster spots. That's the only way you're going to get a job, is if somebody gets hurt. I'd feel guilty watching games seeing if anybody was getting hurt. That's just not right. That's bad karma."
(on if he stayed in Houston or went back home following his workout with the Texans) "I stayed in town."
(on if the Texans gave him any indication that he had an inside track on being signed as a free agent following his workout) "They asked me to stay in town."
NT Shaun Cody
(on if the bye week came at the right time for the team) "Yeah, to get guys like Andre (Johnson) back and guys like Danieal (Manning) back. To have those guys at full strength and going again I think is big for us. For myself, I feel a lot better coming back. It felt like the first day of training camp on Monday, so I feel good."
(on the mindset of the team) "We got big division games coming up and we got to win those and try to string together some more wins. I think we're on a roll up to the bye and I think last year, we were on a roll going into the bye and look what happened. So, we definitely have to be focused on what we want to accomplish and where our goals are set."
(on what it's like to have FS Danieal Manning back) "Good, he's a leader on this team. He plays hard and I think you can see it out there in practice. He's a vocal guy, he's a leader and we need him out there for our defense."
(on the Texans evaluating themselves during the bye week) "Yeah, I think that's what we did a good job of. We had some extra days there where we could work on really self evaluate what we were doing, what guys were doing, what each individual player can get better at and I think we did a good job of looking at those issues."
(on where the defense can improve) "Any time a team gets yards and first downs, you can get better. Unless you're holding a team to zero yards a game, as a defense, you can get better. We left a lot of stuff out there that I think we wish we could have back and we can be even better at it, so that's what we're looking for in the next six games."
ILB Brian Cushing
(on Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew playing well even with opposing defenses stacking the box) "Oh yeah, there's no question he's a good running back. I think he always has been and no matter what's thrown at him, what defense he's playing, he's going to get some yards. He's a tough, stout kind of runner. I think it does say a lot about him."
(on getting FS Danieal Manning back) "Well, it's exciting that he'll be back. If it's not this week, I'm sure it's next. He's practiced all week. He's looked good. But the guys that have stepped into his place have done a great job. It's just kind of the attitude we've adapted around here is the next guy up and there's been no drop off."
(on the mindset of the team after the bye week) "It's exciting. Just to sit back last Sunday, it was nice rest, but at the same time, it kind of felt weird just watching football. We know what our job is and we're just excited to go out there this Sunday again and just execute."
(on if there's any added emphasis with this game after the comments from the Jaguars on the Texans playing dirty) "No, it's about us and we understand that. We're playing the Jacksonville Jaguars this week, but the focus is on Houston Texans taking care of what we can do and we feel that will take care of itself if we do."
(on if they throw the records out the window when they play Jacksonville) "No, I don't know. I think maybe that's their attitude, but our focus is on ourselves and just getting the next win."
(on evaluating themselves over the bye week) "There has been a little bit. Most last week was about looking over the film, trying to improve, trying to play better. I think as a team, there's always room for improvement. You can never be good enough. We'll just continue to try to play better defense, better against the pass, better against the rush and really just exemplify the little things."
(on if it was good to have the bye week so late) "Sure, it definitely benefitted. Sometimes if it's too early, it's almost like you're not even really broke down or sore yet. You see that a lot with the guys that have the earlier byes, but I think being later, getting some time off and coming back with six games left, it's the final push."
RB Arian Foster
(on how different the offense is with QB Matt Leinart instead of QB Matt Schaub) "They are two totally different people. They sound different. They walk different. You don't really get to know until you see them under the lights in game time. I'm excited to see (Matt Leinart) because he's been preparing a long time for this. Can't wait."
(on how much QB Matt Leinart has impressed him on the practice field) "He hasn't really changed much in his demeanor. He's always prepared like he was the No. 1, to me. Watching him at practice, he took (No.) 1 reps when Matt (Schaub) was here. So not much has changed. He's getting more reps and he's playing well in practice. I think the biggest thing for him is just be relaxed and understand you're going to make mistakes. We all make mistakes. It's just about how you rebound."
(on how bad he feels for QB Matt Schaub now that he is on the Reserve/Injured List) "I felt bad for him from day one. I kind of knew what was going to happen. The Lisfranc, or whatever it was, those tend to be season-ending injuries every time I've seen one. I've kind of felt for him initially. Now that it's official; he's going to be around here and rooting for us and helping the quarterbacks out with what he sees and what he knows."
(on if there is more pressure on Houston's ground game with an inexperienced quarterback) "No. We continue to run the ball. I don't care who's at quarterback, as long as you have 80 (WR Andre Johnson) out there, you have to respect him. We continue to run the ball the way we do, I think we'll be okay."
(on how important it will be for the offense to have QB Matt Schaub still be around the team) "He's still the leader of our team. He's going to be here for us and our back doesn't turn on him just because he got injured. That's part of the game. We're still cheering for him. I'm cheering for his recovery because he's still a human to me; he's not just a quarterback. So I want him to get healthy for himself and for his career."
(on ILB DeMeco Ryans saying that being 7-3 means nothing unless the team takes care of business) "That's exactly what our captain said, DeMeco (Ryans); 7-3 won't get you into the playoffs. We have to keep doing what we've been doing."
(on Fuse Science and how fast he can tie a bow tie) "Fuse Science is a corporation that I signed on with. They make a product called EnerJel and it helps with recovery before and during workouts for energy; just muscle soreness and fatigue. Before, during and after and I use it all the time, so it's been great for me. How fast can I tie a bow tie? I would say give me a good 57.3 seconds."
(on if he was able to evaluate his play during his time off) "We watched a lot of the cut-ups and yeah, we watched a lot of film. But I think most importantly, I got away from the game and I think that's what everybody did here and that's what (Head Coach Gary) Kubiak is really good at, is letting us know that we have to get away from the game during the season. That's basically what I did."
(on the bye week coming so late in the season) "I think I liked it better than last year's bye week, which came kind of early. This one, you can kind of recuperate from the previous games and get your mind right for the next six games. I think it fell in a good place."
(on what not having LB Clint Sessions does to Jacksonville's defense) "I don't know. We'll have to see. I haven't seen them without him, but I know he's a big part of what they do. I think he's one of the better linebackers in the League, he's one of the better Will linebackers in the League. He's very stout, physical. He'll come up and hit you and he's very consistent and I think without him, we'll see. I'm really not sure."
(on if there will be any carryover the bad blood from the last meeting against Jacksonville) "I don't know. Not really, not from me. They might. I don't. New team. Every time you play a team, it's a new team."
(on if he still expects Jacksonville's best shot) "Yeah, man. They still have a job to do. You don't want to lose your job because of whatever reason, so they're going to play."
(on the emotions seeing WR Andre Johnson back on the field) "It's wonderful."
WR Andre Johnson
(on being back out on the field with his teammates this weekend) "It feels good to be back on the field with my teammates, running around and making plays with Matt (Leinart). I'm excited. I'm pumped. I'm ready to go."
(on Matt Schaub officially being out for the season) "It's not a good feeling. It's something that we really didn't want to hear. We knew that there was a possibility that he could miss the rest of the season. It's not good news for us, but at the same time, what we have going on here as a team, I think we need to keep this headed in the right direction for him. He's played a big part in it. We need to keep doing what we're doing for Matt."
(on how it will feel to get back on the field) "It's going to feel good. I've been sitting down for six weeks, not playing and sitting on the sidelines. A lot of frustrating times, but now I'm back on the field and feeling good. I've been out there running around and having fun. I'm excited."
(on how long it will take to shake off the rust) "It's funny; I was just talking to a couple guys about that. On Monday, we came in and I felt like I hadn't played for years. I just felt like I was running around out there like a chicken with my head cut off, just running around. I felt like I had a lost a lot. When I went out to practice today, it was kind of night and day between Monday and today. I felt a lot better today. I felt a lot more comfortable just being out there and going through plays and stuff like that. I think day-by-day it'll get better."
(on what it feels like finally being in the position of first place) "It's a great feeling. At the same time, we have to stay focused on the task at hand. The biggest thing is just winning this game Sunday. The motto hasn't changed. We're trying to go 1-0 every week and so that's what we're going to try to do on Sunday."
(on if he has any hesitation when he's running) "No, a lot of times when I'm out there practicing, I'll go to the trainers and tell them to let me know if I'm favoring my leg or anything like that. Compared from Monday to today, it's a big difference. That's a good thing. I think as the week goes on, it'll continue to get better and better. Like I said, I'm feeling good. I'm excited. I get a chance to get back out and play football. I'll be ready to go."
(on what he can do to help Leinart feel more comfortable) "I don't really know if there is anything else I can really do. I talk to him. Me and him, we talk and I just try to see what he's thinking when he goes through plays and things like that. I think that's the only way that I can really try to help him feel comfortable. Other than that, you just have to go out there and play the game."
(on if there will be any issues with Leinart being left-handed) "No, it's still football and you have to catch it. Everybody knows the spin is different. It's a little different but it's not a big deal. If you were out there watching practice today, you could see guys running out there and catching the ball like it's nothing. I don't really think it's a big deal. I think everybody is making a big deal about it, but I don't think it will affect us at all."
(on if there are any differences to how Leinart and Schaub throw) "I don't know. At times, (Leinart) seems to have a little bit more spin on it. I've been able to catch balls from both of them, so I'm pretty comfortable with both of the quarterbacks."
(on if he's had time to come up with an end zone dance) "No, that won't change."
(on what level of importance does he put on this game with it being Leinart's first start) "I think the biggest thing is everybody is making it as if Matt has to go out and win the game by himself. I think that's the thing everybody is getting caught up into, but we have to help Matt. It's not a one-player game. We all have to be on one page as a team in order for us to win. We all have to go out there and play well for us to win. It just doesn't have to be Matt. If Matt goes out and plays well, then one of the linemen or receivers are not making plays, then you don't win games. We all just have to be on one accord when we're out there on Sunday."
(on if there is anything he can do to mimic the speed of the game for him) "You really can't simulate a game. The game is different from practice. You can practice all you want to. We practice at very high pace but the game is always different. You can do whatever you want to do but the game is always going to be much faster than you are in practice. You can try to simulate it as much as you can, but it's going to be a little bit different because in a game everything is live. A quarterback doesn't get hit in practice so a game is going to be different, regardless of what you do."
(on if he was surprised that Schaub was out for the season) "No, I wouldn't say surprised. You're just sitting there hoping that he doesn't have to miss the rest of the season. I'm not a foot specialist so I don't know exactly what it was. I just heard different possibilities of what it could be and we were just hoping that it wasn't that, where he would have to miss the rest of the season."
(on if he has had time to reflect on the fact they will have only played a couple times together this year) "As soon as I heard the news that I was hurt, that's the first thing that I thought. I was just like, 'Man, I get the chance to come back and now he's out.' It's just another obstacle that we have to try and overcome. We're going to rally behind Matt (Leinart), like I said before."
(on the special combination between him and Schaub) "It's different when you're dealing with a guy for that long. You kind of know each other. You could be out for a few games and when you come back, it's just like riding a bike because you know what each other are thinking. That's what I have to try to do with Leinart."
(on this situation being a little harder with Leinart) "Of course it would've been different if Schaub was out there, but like I said, I don't think anything has changed just because Schaub went down. We're very confident in Matt (Leinart). You don't see anybody walking around here hanging their heads. We'll go out and we expect to win on Sunday. That's what we're going to go out and try to do."
(on the team's success despite him, Matt Schaub and Arian Foster only playing two halves together) "I think in the past, when things like that happen where you have a guy go down, we weren't very successful. I think, this year, adding the new pieces that we've added to the team and the whole attitude of the team is just different than it has been the past few years. Guys that have not starters that have been backups, they wait for their opportunity and when they get their opportunity they take advantage of it. That's something that Coach Kubiak always talks about. You could be one play away. I think that says a lot about the guys that we have in this locker room."
(on if he expects to be on any kind of play count) "I don't know. You can say that now, but when it comes down to the game being real crucial, nobody is counting plays. You're trying to do everything you can do to win. I don't know what's going to happen with that."
(on if there are any similarities to other times he's come back from long absences due to injury) "I could say that I was able to do it a little bit more running this time than last time. I think that's the big thing that could help me out this time over last time."
(on if he feels more fit now than when he came back from his knee injury) "Yeah, when I came off my knee injury, I couldn't run as much as I've ran with this hamstring injury. I think all the running I was able to do during the time I was out, it will help me out."
(on scoring on an 80-yard touchdown on the third or fourth play back last time and if he expects that to happen again) "I don't know. Hopefully, the opportunity is there."
(on his hamstring injury not being as frightening as the knee injury) "They are both different. Hamstrings kind of linger. Knee injuries are something you can go in and kind of fix. At the same time, I still didn't think I would miss this much time."
(on if he was surprised he missed six weeks) "Yeah, I thought I would be back sooner because there were times where I felt good and I would come in the next day and I was sore and I didn't feel the same way that I felt before. I think sometimes we would probably go a little harder than we should have been, just trying to hurry up and get back. Now I'm fine. I don't feel anything. I feel pretty good."
(on the team being winning games enabling him to fully recover) "We're in a great position. Everybody knows that. We're going to try and do everything we can to make sure we are the top team in the AFC when it's all over."
(on if it would've been a lot harder to sit out if they were losing without him) "Nobody wants to lose. It definitely makes you impatient. I was getting impatient when we were winning so you would definitely be impatient when you're losing. Like I said, we want to be the top team in the AFC when it's all over. That's pretty much it."
QB Matt Leinart
(on how he feels going into his first start with the Texans) "I'm excited. It's a great opportunity, like I've been saying all week, and I'm just excited to get this chance. I had a good practice today and I've just got to keep getting better, prepare and study like I always do, and just get ready to go."
(on what concerns him the most about the Jacksonville defense) "They've played very good defense all year. They're big, they're physical, they know us well from being in the same division, so it's just one of those games; just like the first time, it was a grind-out game and we ran the ball. I expect it to be, obviously, a tough game, and like I said, they're familiar with us, we're familiar with them, so we'll just have to stick with what we've been doing and grind the game out."
(on how the extra preparation time during the bye week has helped him) "It's been good, just to get the timing down a little bit with the receivers and really just to get the extra reps (at) Monday's practice, just to get the extra reps in the huddle. Now we're full go. I feel good. I've been getting more reps, as everyone's been saying around here, the last month, so I feel good. I'm just going to prepare, keep studying my butt off, and just get ready come Sunday."
(on QB Matt Schaub being officially placed on the reserve/injured list today) "We were all kind of keeping our fingers crossed. I didn't want him to go on IR, obviously. It's a tough blow to the team, it's been a tough blow to him, but he's been great in supporting me. He's been a great player here for a long time and we're just going to pick up. I'm going to pick up where he left off and just get us into good situations and do what he was doing. I know he's going to be there every day supporting me and helping me out. I'm sure I'll turn to him in a bunch of things, just with reads, because he's been in this offense for a while. It's tough. We all know he'll do everything that he can to get back as soon as he can, but he's going to be here helping big-time."
(on the importance of taking mental reps in practice as a backup) "Yeah, there's always mental reps every play. Now, kind of getting throw into the fire with every play, there's going to be a little bit of mistakes, just getting the timing down on some of the stuff we do, but that's why we practice. That's why we practice, so we'll be ready come game time."
(on managing his emotions on Sunday) "I think I'll be fine. I'm a pretty even-keeled guy, pretty calm, but I'm excited. Obviously, I don't want to let my emotions get the best of me and go out there and just be too excited because it's a job. I know I have a job to do, and that's to lead this football team and to run this offense and get us in the right situation, and that's my main focus. I'm not letting the big picture and, 'Oh, I haven't played in so long and I have to prove all these people wrong.' I'm just going out there and playing my game. I've been very focused and trying to do that every day."
(on what he's hearing from his teammates) "Everyone has been real positive and real supportive of me, which is nice. It just continues to help me in this process. They've had my back since I've been here, and that's all you can ask for from teammates and from coaches, so it's exciting to know that and it helps me in all my decision-making and just being out there in the huddle and everything."
(on having WR Andre Johnson back on the field) "It's huge, and we've missed Andre. It's been nice, though, because so many guys have stepped up in his place, from receivers to tight ends to whatever it may be. Now that we get him back, who's a Hall of Fame player, we get him back, it's going to make us that much tougher to stop, and that's exciting. We're trying to get our timing down, and he's probably a little rusty coming off of a bunch of weeks, but I know that he's been anxious to get back and help this team, and I expect him to be the same old Andre he's been for a long time."
(on the luxury for him of having such a strong rushing attack to work with) "Any time you have a great running game like we do, it does take a lot of pressure off the quarterback; and then what we do so well in this offense, the play-action stuff and having a good running game, those kind of counter each other, so that helps big-time. We have a great offensive line that does a great job protecting and opening holes, and we have a trio of running backs that I believe are the best in the business at what they do, so for me it's just kind of hand the ball off and get us in the right run checks and get us in the right plays and let them do everything."
(on if he's anxious to take his first snap as the starter on Sunday) "I'm excited. I'm excited for the chance, for the opportunity. My mindset has been pretty much the same. Like I just said, I have a job to do and I have to be held accountable for my part of what we do. I've done that every day as a backup and I'll just keep doing the same thing now as the starter. Obviously, the role's changed a little bit, but I still have the same focus. I know what needs to be done."
(on whether QB Matt Schaub will be on the sidelines on Sunday) "Yeah, I'm sure. I haven't talked to him yet. I'm sure I'll talk to him today, but he's going to be here every day. He knows that I need him, that we need him around. He's our leader. He's our leader of this team, and whether he's on IR or not, he's going to be here and definitely have his input and definitely be supporting us."
(on what questions he asks QB Matt Schaub) "Really, it's just in the flow of the game, what we're looking for, certain reads, because it's a very detailed offense and there's a lot of things that go on. Like just out there today, I haven't run a lot of the things that we've done, which he's done hundreds of times, so it's just footwork stuff, it's just timing down, and he just offers his little advice on what he would do or his footwork and stuff, and it goes a long way. I've been a sponge to him, just trying to soak up and absorb everything that he's taught me just in case this opportunity were to come."
(on whether he thought that QB Matt Schaub was holding out hope that he could return this year) "Yeah, absolutely. I think we all were. I think anytime you just never know, I think that's why he had a few opinions and had a few doctors look at it. I think we kind of suspected that it might be that, but you're always holding out hope and you're always keeping your fingers crossed. Unfortunately, it wasn't the best news, but like I said, we're all going to step up our game and we're all going to move forward, and he's going to be right there with us, helping me out and helping everyone out."
(on whether Head Coach Gary Kubiak told him individually that he was officially the starter) "No, it was just announced to the team. He knows that I know what I need to do and what's my responsibility, so we've just got to go forward."
(on Quarterbacks Coach Greg Knapp's familiarity with what Leinart did at USC under then-Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin) "The terminology's different, but some of the plays and the reads are the same, but Knapper has done a great job with all of us, and especially me; just progressions, progressions; what we're doing; what are our feet telling us. That's just something that for us, we get frustrated sometimes because it's every day, but that's why he's such a good coach and that's why I feel like all three of us (quarterbacks), including T.J. (Yates) and Matt (Schaub), we're always very well-prepared and studying, our study habits and stuff. Knapper's done a great job."
(on Quarterbacks Coach Greg Knapp asking him what worked for him at USC and incorporating it at the Texans) "Yeah, absolutely. Me and Coach Knapp have a great relationship and open communication with what we both feel comfortable with, what he thinks I'm comfortable with, what I'm comfortable with, and that gets relayed to the head coach and with Rico (Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison). We all want to be on the same page come game time so we can execute our game plan to the best of our abilities."
(on Quarterbacks Coach Greg Knapp being familiar with left-handed quarterbacks) "Oh yeah. He's coached a few."
(on if he's talked to RT Eric Winston about protecting his blind side) "Yeah, a little bit. It's no different. It's a little bit different but mainly just with dropbacks and, 'What is my landmark on some of the dropbacks,' whether he has to set further out or whatever, but all that is just a couple of days watching film. I've already told him where I'm expecting to be in a certain type drop. We'll be fine. Eric's done a great job, and I think I read something or he told me, 'You've got to block your guy regardless,' and he's done a great job. He's been a solid player here for a long time, so I have absolutely no worries about that."
FS Danieal Manning
(on how it feels to be back on the practice field) "It's exciting. For the four weeks I was out, I couldn't wait to get back on the field and be around those guys and just being able to be on my feet running around like I am. I truly am blessed."
(on the mental strain of having to watch from the sidelines while he was rehabilitating) "I had my good and bad days. I've been here every day those four weeks, just working out. Guys were having their days off, guys enjoying their Tuesdays, I'm up here working, but it was all worth it. Now I'm able to get out there and hopefully play this Sunday."
(on whether he's surprised that he's back on the field already) "No, because the trainers put in work with me, I put in work, and I've just been praying over it. Like I said, it's truly a blessing that I'm able to get out here as fast as I am."
(on if he drank extra milk to rehab his broken bone) "You could say that. Milk, a lot of protein, and pretty much just rehabbing it. Taking small little rehab steps as far as just getting my muscles around my bone stronger, things like that just to work around my little plate I've got on top of my bone."
(on watching the defense become the top-ranked unit in the NFL) "Well, mixed emotions as far as just I envisioned this happening with our defense. The confidence that these guys have, and then again just seeing it first-hand how well this defense is playing is shocking. But again, I always knew that this could happen with this team and with this defense."
(on if he's surprised that the defense has improved so quickly) "No. We put in the work. If you put in the work and you believe, it's always going to happen."
(on what he expects his role to be when he returns) "Well, right now in practice, I'm out there getting the first snaps with the 1's, so it may be a game-time decision that the coaches make. I don't know if they're trying to give me a lot of reps just to see and gradually put me in and see how well I'm playing. I don't see myself playing as much in the game. I really don't know. They haven't told me much about that, so as I said, maybe I'll have an opportunity to play."
(on the team putting itself in a good position with a 7-3 record) "That's good, but again, you've got a lot of game things that can go a lot of different ways. I've seen it so many times. The thing is just guys have got to stay focused around here, and it's up to the veteran guys to keep these guys focused around here."
(on whether he pushed himself harder today than he did during Monday's practice) "I pushed myself a little more. I was able to do more planting off this foot than I have before. Again, just running with those linemen and making plays on runs, I questioned myself about that – just how well I was going to play around bodies instead of just covering guys on demand. Now it's just reacting and dodging bodies out there."
(on whether he feels like nothing ever happened to him) "It feels just like that nothing ever happened. Hopefully I'm better than I was before."
(on if there is a mental barrier he has to get over after suffering an injury) "It does, but as practice went on today, I found myself not worrying about it or thinking about it as much. I was trying to make plays on balls and plays in the run game. I totally forgot about it."
ILB DeMeco Ryans
(on focusing on getting better during the bye week) "It was good. You have a lot of people talking about how good you are, but of course one thing you can't do is let that go to your head because 7-3 doesn't get us anything right now. It is what it is, 7-3. We know we have to come back and finish out strong to have a great season."
(on Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew playing well even with opposing defenses stacking the box) "He's a good runner. He's the top playmaker on their team. When people stack the box and he still makes plays, of course it's special because he's a special player."
(on if he was surprised when he found out QB Matt Schaub was out for the season) "I was still waiting to see what would happen, but I think we all kind of figured that we knew he wouldn't be playing this week. We move on with (Matt) Leinart and I think Leinart will step in and do a good job for us."
(on if it's a bigger challenge losing a quarterback compared to other players) "We'll have to see. I think (Matt) Leinart will step in and do a good job just as those other guys. 'Dre (Andre Johnson) and Mario (Williams) went down, guys stepped up and performed their position. We expect the same thing out of Leinart."
(on if it's more impactful when losing a quarterback compared to other players) "Of course it's a very important position, but every position is."
WR Kevin Walter
(on whether there is any carry-over effect from the first time the Texans and Jaguars played) "I wouldn't say carry-over. I know they're upset, they said some things the last time we played them, that we're dirty. That's OK. It's an emotional game, an emotional sport, so if people want to talk, we've got to go out there and do our thing. We're not worried about them."
(on what it will mean to the offense to have WR Andre Johnson back) "It's great. It's huge. I told him today, 'Hey, it's great seeing you in the huddle.' It's been a long time waiting. He's our man of this franchise and we need him back, and he's back this week and he's looking great, feeling great. It's going to be exciting to watch him play this weekend."
(on the team's mindset this week that 7-3 means nothing) "It really doesn't. There's a lot of football to be played. There's a lot of teams that are 7-3 right now, too. We've got to go out and take care of business and worry about this weekend and get a good win on the road. We can't really worry about what the record is and this and that. A lot can change in six games."
Jacksonville Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio Conference Call
(on what comes to mind after playing the Texans once this season) "You know, some of the things that you need to be prepared for. I think anytime you play somebody for the second time, especially in such a short time frame, it was a month ago I believe, it's fresh in terms of some of the things that were good and some of the things that weren't so good."
(on how he handles a transition at the quarterback position) "Well, little bit different situation for us. We're growing a rookie and he's our guy, so we're growing as a football team around him. I think they're (Houston Texans) in a situation where they lost their starter, but they've got a guy there that has been in this system, has been a backup, is being groomed for an opportunity to play whenever he's called upon and so a little bit different situation. I think in the end, both teams are going to need to be able to run the ball, take a little bit of pressure off those guys and that'll help the cause."
(on how important RB Maurice Jones-Drew's success has been to the development of QB Blaine Gabbert) "Well Maurice has been the one constant for us on offense. He's been strong through the first 10 games. From the beginning of the year until now, he's been a force for us. He's been very strong running the ball, game-in and game-out."
(on the play of the free agents they acquired on defense) "Yeah, I think in both cases, the Texans and the Jaguars both needed to improve defensively and both have. Obviously, they added some guys through the draft and had some guys they'd had there develop. For us, we added primarily through free agency to the core of guys that we were returning. Guys like Dwight Lowery and Dawan Landry and Drew Coleman have helped solidify the secondary. Guys like Matt Roth and Paul Posluszny have helped solidify the front seven."
(on QB Matt Leinart) "Well, the biggest thing is that what they're doing in Houston is very similar to what they did in Southern Cal when he played so well. I think his comfort level should be such that he's taking advantage of that. Run the ball, bootleg, play-pass, some of the quick game, there's just some similarities, some carryover in some of the things he did very well in college."
(on the Texans offensive line) "Well they're doing a good job and their football team's playing well. To me, it always starts with the trenches offensively and defensively, how you're doing in the trenches. I think their line has done a nice job creating running lanes and giving the quarterback time."
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew Conference Call
(on the key to his success this season) "I really think obviously, our offensive line is doing a great job. Obviously, we're leaning more on the run game with Blaine (Gabbert) being there and kind of trying to let him develop, which he's developed into a pretty decent quarterback for us right now. He's only going to get better. Obviously a lot of things have happened for us to be able to convert on third downs and being in games allows us to run more. Obviously, our defense playing well, those things help a bunch. We're really running the ball well right now and for us, that's big to run the ball while we've played I think the top six defenses in the League and we're still able to run the ball. Those things are definitely going to help us out in the long run. We just got to continue to grow as an offense and become more balanced."
(on the Texans defense) "Obviously, they've switched their front. You guys have added some new players there that are playing at a high level right now. A new D Coordinator, my man, Wade Phillips, comes over and does a great job. He has those guys flying around. Even with Mario Williams going down, you guys have them flying around and playing fast and playing at a high level. Those things are big. I think the way they're attacking teams by blitzing (Brian) Cushing and creating confusion in the running game is big, creating a lot of one on one blocks, putting their guys in situations to be on the attack inside and not necessarily on their heels is something that they're doing well and that's allowed them to play fast and play with confidence."
(on the challenges ILB Brian Cushing presents) "It's always a challenge. He's always been a challenge for us since he's been there. I hate to talk positive about USC guys, so you can tell him that. It's just killing me. But he's been doing a great job. We actually just got done watching the Cleveland Browns game and then the Tampa Bay game and he's playing at a high level. That defense feeds off him. He does do a great job of making tackles. He's flying around to the ball. Obviously we saw him the first time we played him flying to the ball, always around the ball and so he's doing a great job of leading that defense. DeMeco Ryans is playing at a high level again shedding blocks, getting to the ball, causing fumbles. Connor Barwin's doing a great job rushing the passer, so is (Brooks) Reed. Watt, J.J. Watt's playing at a high level, so is (Antonio) Smith. Shaun Cody, another SC guy I don't like to talk about, but he's doing well at the nose tackle taking on double teams, keeping guys off Cushing and DeMeco Ryans and then getting after the quarterback as well. They're front seven's playing at a high level. Then when you get on the backs, those guys are flying around well with Johnathan Joseph being that guy that they said they've been looking for a corner and they found him in Johnathan Joseph who can pretty much lock down anybody. Kareem Jackson's growing and becoming a great player. Obviously they picked him in the first round last year right or two years ago or whenever it was, but he's playing much better. You've seen him grow throughout these last couple games. Then Jason Allen coming over, obviously a first round pick out of Miami, he's playing at a high level again. We don't know if Danieal Manning's going to be back, but Troy Nolan's playing great right now and so is Glover Quin, coming from the corner, so now they have a mismatch now. Well it's not a mismatch, but it's tougher for a tight end with Glover covering them or running back with the corner covering you than a linebacker. They do a great job of putting guys in situations to be successful and Glover's doing a great job of fitting the run as well. We were watching tape, he's been fitting the run game well this year and that's big for a corner to move to safety and do that. He's been doing a great job."
(on QB Matt Leinart) "I definitely think he's capable. I think a big sign of the comfort he had in Houston and the confidence the coaching staff had in him or has in him is that he turned down going to Seattle with his old coach and to stay in Houston and be a backup and continue to learn and continue to grow. That's huge and now he has his opportunity. I really hope he does well, not this week, but the weeks after. I hope he does well and plays at a high level, just not against us."
(on what they will have to improve upon playing the Texans for the second time this season) "We just have to win our one on one battles as an offense. Our defense did a great job. Houston's always had an explosive offense. You have two great runners now. Before, you used to have one. Now you have two great runners. Obviously, Andre Johnson's coming back. Obviously, with (Matt) Schaub going down, that's a little tough, but they have a lot of players around Matt Leinart that can make plays. They've always been an explosive offense. They've always been tough on our defense. For us as an offense, we feel like we have to win our one on one battles. Whoever we're going against blocking, running, receiving, whatever it may be, we have to try to win it. That's pretty much what it is because they're playing cover one all game. They're playing tight man the whole game, so you have to be able to either defeat man or it's going to defeat you."