Texans head coach Gary Kubiak and some players answered questions from the media on Wednesday at Reliant Stadium. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakOLB Connor BarwinILB Brian CushingCB Johnathan JosephILB DeMeco Ryans
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on practice) "We had one guy not practice today, (Bryan) Braman. Other than that, everybody's back on the field and practiced today, so we're close to full strength."
(on OLB Bryan Braman's status) "Oh, his neck is bothering him still from his collision the other day. I think he will practice tomorrow. Our expectations are for him to play, so we'll see."
(on G Mike Brisiel's status) "He's good. He's better today. I talked to y'all yesterday about how we like to play at the end of games, whether it's 70-30, 60-40, or whatever, we'd like to play them both, but all indications are through the first two days of practice that Mike will be ready to start and carry his load. Barring any setbacks tomorrow, that's the way we will go."
(on if CB Johnathan Joseph's ankle is an issue) "No, he practiced. He took everything today. He was fine. We don't really know where that came from yesterday. Just got sore, so we were cautious in what we were doing, but he came back today and took everything, practiced good, real good."
(on if the team will be more aggressive during the playoff games) "Probably play it just like we play it any other Sunday. It's the same game. The game doesn't change. Obviously, the stakes get a little bigger, those type of things, but we need to be aggressive as a team, continue to do that. There are still things that we need to do well for us to have the best chance to win. That formula for us with a young quarterback's been key with running the ball, playing good defense, those type of things, but it's nice to get Andre (Johnson) back. Obviously, that picture looks different for us out there on the practice field, so it's nice to have him back, and OD's (Owen Daniels) running like himself here this week. It's good from that standpoint for us offensively to have those guys fresh and back on the field."
(on if he expects defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to use more zone defense to contain TE Owen Daniels rather than man-to-man coverage) "Well, Zimm will play it all. He's one of the best in the business, has been for a long time. He can come get you, will always come get you. He did that that day against us. He did it quite a bit and got us some. We made a few plays, but I'd imagine they're no different than us. They're going to do what they do best, and that's one thing as a coach this time of year, even though it is a playoff game, you don't get carried away and take the game out of your players' hands so to speak. We need to go do what we do best and make sure our players play fast. They've been very in tune to what we're doing the last two days, and now it's time for us to isolate and let them go cut it loose."
(on if they have gotten what they expected from P Matt Turk this season) "Yeah, I think so. For us, it was a comfortable move, especially from a kicking standpoint to go in there and hold for Neil (Rackers), so that was a concern. I think Matt's done a good job. He's had a couple of excellent games. He's very capable of having some big, big games for you. Actually in Tennessee, I mean in Cincinnati, he only punted twice if I recall, and he pinned them one time and had a big punt the next time. I've been pleased to be put in that situation and for us to be able to pick him up I think has been good."
(on K Neil Rackers' performance) "I didn't call him out. He struggled for a few weeks. There's a lot of parts of our football team that have struggled in the past five weeks from a consistency standpoint. He was one of those guys. He has been very solid the last two weeks. One of the good things about Neil, he's kicked in playoff games, he's kicked in the Super Bowl. He knows what it's like to go out there. Usually in these type of games, those guys can be difference makers, so I'm expecting those two to continue to do their job."
(on QB T.J. Yates at practice) "He's good. He's fine. Yeah, he hasn't missed a beat. He'll probably take every rep tomorrow, so everything's been good."
(on the importance of QB T.J. Yates' performance against Tennessee) "He played very good. He played fast. You start the game with a sack and then make up a big third down and take us down the field the way he did. He's been very impressive. The thing I saw where (offensive coordinator) Rick (Dennison) talked to you guys yesterday and the thing that's impressive for us is when T.J. makes mistakes, they don't happen again. He corrects things and moves on. He's a young buck playing in a playoff game. I know it's a big, big deal for him. We got to go help him, but I know he'll prepare. He's done a good job. He'll be ready to do his part."
(on if he's seen a better young receiver than WR A.J. Green) "No, I'll tell you, I haven't seen one this year. He's excellent. Obviously, the young man in Atlanta is a great player too. He's had some injuries, but one thing about A.J., they're comfortable regardless of what position you have on him just to put the ball up, and we found that out because J-Joe (Johnathan Joseph) was in great position on him many times, and they still put it up, and he came down with the ball. It's something we've been concentrating on this week, making sure we finish plays, making sure we go to the ball and finish, so that will be a big key. I know they'll try to get him the ball. I mean I know I would."
(on defensive coordinator Wade Phillips) "It's a very difficult surgery he went through and just to watch him battle back for the team and I know he's not feeling great by any means and a portion of the practice he's in a chair, but it's important to him for him to be there for us last week. We will use the same routine this week and it's been special and it's been fun for all of us to work with him. He's really shown a lot of toughness to be able to work through these three weeks."
(on if the team feels defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' presence) "They feel his presence. I think we all do. Our defense is our defense regardless of who calls it and right now it's going from Wade through (linebackers coach) Reggie (Herring) from the press box, so there's all kinds of ways to do things and you've got to make sure you do them good, but I know from a confidence standpoint for everybody it's nice to have him back in the locker room last weekend, his presence throughout the course of the week so that's been a good thing, but you know, like I said we've got to make sure Wade gets good and healthy and everything goes okay."
(on the strength of the Texans defense this season) "First off, you've got to start with number 99 (J.J. Watt). For us to draft him and play the way he's played this year it's been exceptional, but you're right. We had six defensive linemen on our football team and that's not many. Obviously, we are a 3-4 team, but we've been lucky other than Tim (Jamison) who has missed a little bit of time so they've been very consistent. Shaun (Cody) has been consistent. Antonio (Smith) has played exceptional, he played very well last weekend and he's ready to go. Other than Mario (Williams) we've been pretty darn lucky on the defensive side of the ball. You sit there and play with Brooks (Reed) and play with Connor (Barwin) all year long. I was scared to death last weekend with Brooks having to go back in the game and (Bryan) Braman getting hurt, but we're back to full strength other than Mario (Williams) and ready to go."
(on overcoming all the injuries this year) "It's happened at a lot of spots. Not just defensively, it's happened offensively all year long. It's been special. Brooks (Reed) has played above and beyond a rookie. J.J. (Watt) has played above and beyond a rookie, so those things have been huge to our team. You add Danieal (Manning) in there, you add Johnathon (Joseph) in there and that's been the key and like I said, we've been a little lucky since Mario (Williams) got hurt. We've stayed relatively healthy and that's been a big key for us."
(on when he realized the defense could be something special) "If I have to go back to one game I'll go back to Pittsburgh. What did we beat them here, 17-10, and I think they had to stand up and stop them three or four times in the fourth quarter. That was special against a great quarterback in Ben (Roethlisberger). So you could see the confidence starting to grow right there and they've been very consistent all year long. You know, we needed to finish a game a couple weeks ago and had a few things going on, but that's the consistency of our whole team, but they've been pretty darn good. As a matter of fact they've been darn good and hopefully they will continue to be, because we will need to play great defense to continue to move on."
(on if he has a sense of how important the playoffs are to WR Andre Johnson) "Yeah, I get a sense, just to watch him out there the past two days practice. Think about how long he's stuck it out here in Houston. A lot of guys in this day and time move along, go somewhere else, lose their patience. Andre has never done that. He's been a rock around here even though it's been a very, very difficult year for him. How special is it going to be to see him walk out of that tunnel this weekend and get to see him play in a playoff game? So, myself, the coaches, this whole organization and his teammates, we're all excited for him. He's had two good days and I know he's just hoping to get through one more and go play so he'll be ready to go."
(on if having WR Andre Johnson back gives him more confidence calling plays) "Yeah, obviously, with the plays that he can make. It doesn't change what you call all that much but it does change how we get played at times offensively. So, our guys get a lot of confidence when they see him in that huddle and you can just tell the series he played last week, the first series, he played two more after T.J. (Yates) left the game, but guys can sense it and me as well. So, like I said, it's great to have him in there."
(on if he has a sense that something is brewing here in Houston as compared to when he was younger when the playoffs were here) "Well, we've got to go make it brew. You know, we've got to go win a game here, a playoff game. I was a very young man back then and I remember those days. It was exceptional. I think back when I came here, what was it, five years ago, six years ago? It can go by quick. Just to think of how far we've come and to be working this week, be putting in a game plan and going in those meetings and getting ready to line-up, that's what we came here to do, so let's go do it. We're looking forward to it."
(on what his family has to say about the team being in the playoffs) "I really don't talk to them that much. I see them after the ball game, but my wife puts up with all that. I have to coach. They're excited."
OLB Connor Barwin
(on what he thought when defensive coordinator Wade Phillips joined the team) "I knew right away that was good news for me. Back in the offseason when I found out he was going to be our DC, I knew that I would move to outside linebacker and I knew that would fit my skill set better than playing D end."
(on how much fun the defense is having) "Well you guys all know it's been great. It's been a huge opportunity for me. Our whole defense has played well all season just moving from 30th in the League last year to finishing the season at number two this year has been fun for everybody. Like you said, it's been good for me just because this is probably the biggest and best position change of my career and I think I'll stay here for the rest of my career."
(on how the crowd noise will help them on Saturday) "It's going to be a huge advantage for us, no doubt. I think it will be the loudest it's ever been. Like DeMeco (Ryans) said, I think they kind of set the standard in Atlanta and that was a really meaningful game here at home. Obviously this one means a lot more, so I think everybody's going to be loud the entire game every time we're on the field."
(on how much the defense has fed off DE J.J. Watt's energy) "Yeah, J.J.'s played well all year. He definitely plays hard all the time, but I think that's something that guys like him, guys like (Brian) Cushing, guys like DeMeco (Ryans) have kind of held everybody accountable on this defense because everybody plays hard. If you put on the film, you don't see people not playing hard and I think the reason is because so many guys do play hard that you don't want to be on film being the guy that's not playing hard every single snap."
(on how far he's come since his injury last season) "Yeah, I was barely running in the summer, so even to come from this summer just starting to run again in the summer, to go through all of training camp, to play every single game, to not miss a snap really speaks for Dr. Varner who did my surgery, for the training staff here in Houston, for the training staff back at my college in Cincinnati who I worked with all offseason. So there's a lot of people who deserve a lot of credit for me being healthy this whole year."
(on what it is about defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' system that allows them to get so much pressure on quarterbacks) "Well I think he said, I remember one quote when he came in the beginning of the year and he said 'Your job is to be in your gap, but you're responsibility is to be to the ball.' Most defensive coaches say you got to be in your gap, you got to be sound, but Wade kind of challenges you and takes you to another level right at the beginning and he said 'You got to do your job, but the bottom line, unless you're getting to the football, that's what you're really here for is to get the football. So, I think that carried over in stopping the run and definitely has carried over in putting pressure on the quarterback."
(on how it works with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips being so calm) "I don't know exactly how it works, but Wade comes in with some gems. They might be short and quick, but just he's wise. He comes in and just hits you with a little gem, a little 15-second, 20 words and you're just like 'Okay, alright' and that's all you need. It's a different kind of motivation than probably most of us grew up with our football coaches, but it definitely works."
(on what's the best gem he's heard from defensive coordinator Wade Phillips) "I remember one this week. We went out to practice and Wade's obviously quiet most of the time. You try to get everybody motivated for practice to pay attention to detail and we hadn't heard from Wade. We get out to the first period, run the run period and he walks out and he says really mellow like he does, 'Every single play is the playoffs now. Every single play is the playoffs.' We're all just like 'Yep, that's right.' So, every play we do in practice is so important just because we're in the playoffs now."
(on how fun it is to be a part of 'On the Nose' with NT Shaun Cody) "Well, that's been fun all year long. Shaun's had a great show with that 'On the Nose' and just to be a part of it has been fun for me all year. It's been fun for the whole team. I think the whole locker room enjoys it and I guess maybe a little bit somewhere it kind of brings the team closer together."
(on what he takes from the first game against Cincinnati) "Well, hopefully we can play like we did in the second half the whole game. They were able to run the ball on us. They're a good team. They're going to come with some new plays and different things and hopefully we can slow them down early and not wait until the second half before we can start to slow them down."
(on Bengals QB Andy Dalton) "Just what I expected what we saw on tape going into the game. The guy is an NFL quarterback and he can make every single throw. He can stand back there and throw it 30 yards across the field to the other hash or throw it deep. He can make all those kind of throws, so definitely really impressive."
(on how much he thinks they can take advantage of Bengals QB Andy Dalton being a rookie) "I think at this point, he's started every game for them. I don't know so much about taking advantage of his experience. He's been out there all season. I'm not thinking about him being a rookie. I'm just thinking about him being a solid NFL quarterback and just trying to attack him as much as possible."
(on if he's surprised how well the defense has played without OLB Mario Williams) "I think we might have a little more if we had Mario, that's for sure. It's just been guys stepping up all season long. Whenever something happens, you guys all know, it's just been guys stepping up and coming together."
(on how much he needs the crowd to be loud on Saturday) "It's so important when the crowd is loud for us because it doesn't allow the offense to have a cadence. That means when you see us jumping offsides, that's because we can hear the quarterback yapping cadences. But when it's that loud, he not only can't have a cadence to get us to jump offsides, but his tackles can't hear. They're reacting as fast as we are, so we have a jump on them. It's extremely important when the crowd is loud."
(on if there's any significance in playing Cincinnati this weekend) "Not really, it's kind of fun to be playing against the Bengals just because I know a bunch of guys. I trained with a lot of those guys back in Cincinnati, but it's a playoff game so it doesn't matter who we're playing. I think everybody's going to be jacked up."
(on if he's gotten any interesting text messages from anyone he knows in Cincinnati) "No, not really. I think everybody's pretty serious right now. There's not any trash talking right now."
ILB Brian Cushing
(on winning the team MVP award) "It was a very big honor. That's really something you really work for and hopefully you can win one day. When I was voted that, that was special. Just to have the respect from the teammates like that, that means a lot. That's something that you play for."
(on what defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has meant to the defense) "He's been huge. For what he's done and turned this defense around as a unit, it's just been unbelievable. So much credit is towards him and what he's done from scheme to the coaches he's brought and just the personality of the team that he's really brought over the guys. He's been unbelievable, and in a certain amount of time he's done into has been extremely impressive."
(on if it means a lot that defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has continued to coach in spite of his illness) "Oh, sure, sure. I think that just shows the dedication he has and really how much he loves this game. It's very important for him to be out here. It just makes us want to play more for him on top of it."
(on if winning the team MVP award has made up for not making the Pro Bowl) "Well, they're two separate things. You play for the respect from your teammates, and that's the most important thing because those are the guys that you battle with every single week and you go for every game with. They're two different things, but the team MVP was a great honor. It really was."
(on the importance of the cohesion of the front seven) "Yeah, I think practicing together and staying healthy for the most part has been important as well, and really going out there and knowing where each guy is going to be and consistently playing and being a group together has definitely helped."
(on stepping up after losing ILB Darryl Sharpton) "He was, he was. He's a very good number three linebacker, and on top of it, a very good special teams player too, so we lost him in two facets of the game. To not have him in the room, it's been tough. Same with Mario (Williams), but I think Tim Dobbins did an unbelievable job stepping in as well."
(on his thoughts about Bengals QB Andy Dalton) "I see a quarterback that's played well beyond a rookie. I think he's got very good weapons around him, a good scheme, but I think he's smart. He doesn't make a lot of rookie mistakes or young mistakes, and he's done a really good job of controlling the ball and moving the ball and getting it to the right receivers at the right time. I think that's what's important to him, and he's got a lot of confidence as well."
(on his thoughts about Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham) "Yeah, he's big. He's very big. He's fast. He's physical. He's really got all the tools. From coming from Oklahoma, he was a real big weapon, and now I see him in the league, and I think he's a very, very big weapon for them."
(on the proper way of tackling a high flipper like WR Jerome Simpson) "I don't know. I guess just hit him while he's trying to flip. Then, I don't think he'll be doing that anymore."
(on if clinching the division title so early cost the team some momentum) "No, because I know it was very important for everyone to clinch. It was huge for the city and everything, but our focus the next week was right back on football. We've had some really good practices. We had a little bit of a skid where we weren't playing our best football, and we know that, but to get the momentum back, it could take one game, and we know that. Now it's win or go home. We just got to play our best football, and we will."
(on if it's as simple as flipping a switch to gain momentum back) "If you win and if you play well, I think so. It's amazing what confidence can do for a sport and when you're playing well and having fun, you're just playing a lot better too."
(on the key to shutting down Cincinnati in the second half during the regular season) "I think we just executed. I don't want to say we came out flat in the first half. We just weren't playing the best football we could. We really honed in on everything and the little stuff. We didn't make any crazy adjustments at halftime, but we just played harder, and we played smarter. We really shut them down the second half, and we were able to come away with a win."
(on what it means to the team to achieve one of their goals in playing in a playoff game) "It's special, and it's definitely got a special feeling to it as well. We're just sitting around in meetings, we're anxious to go to practice, and we're anxious for tomorrow to come back. This game can't come soon enough, and we know that, and we're excited to play in Reliant. The atmosphere is going to be wild, so we're just extremely thrilled about this opportunity."
(on how the loud atmosphere helps the defense) "Sure, I mean, playing on the road for an offense is tough because you're trying to communicate, you're trying to check plays if you have to, and the communication is really kind of messed up when the whole crowd is that loud and you can't hear your own players. We're going to use that to our advantage. I think one of the loudest games was Atlanta when we saw Matt Ryan walking to each individual player and trying to tell him what the play was. Try to duplicate that. That was a special day, and it really helped our defense."
(on the key to how the defense overcame the loss of OLB Mario Williams and ILB Darryl Sharpton) "I think we've just been resilient, I think we really have. I think a lot of guys around here are sick of going home in January and not making the playoffs, and it was time for us to step up, and we knew that. We had our backs against the wall, and we really wanted to be the organization that we knew we could. We knew it was time to win and put the scheme forward of what we have, and we have the talent, the coaches, and everything around us, so it was just time to go do it. It was a next man up kind of attitude, whether one of the star players went down or not, next guy is going have to step up and we weren't going have a drop off."
(on if he's surprised how quick they filled the gap for injured players) "Right, well, I mean, back to just being resilient, and going about our job. We know we have a job to the team and that's to go out and execute and do what we can to the best of our abilities, so we just try to do that, and really push through them. It's a long season. It's a grind, but for the most part, I think it's for people who want it the most."
(on looking back on the defense's accomplishments now that regular season has ended) "Yeah, well, I think we really looked at it after the bye week on the down time that we've had. We've just pushed forward to Cincinnati ever since last game and really put our focus really on this playoff game. I think that's more of a after-the-season kind of thing, and I'm sure we'll look back on it, but right now we're just going keep pushing."
(on if he's having fun, especially after being injured last year) "It's been fun. It's definitely been fun. Any time you're winning, any time you're really shutting offenses down, it's a lot of fun, and that's what you play for to go out there and enjoy yourself. It's not really a job if you love what you're doing, and that's what it's kind of felt like."
(on if it's motivating that everyone is underestimating the team's chances at the Super Bowl despite having the number two defense in the league) "Well, everyone's got their judgments. They're going to say what want to say and predict this, but for the most part, we know what we have in our room, and we know what we've done this year, and we'll just continue to execute."
(on news of Bengals QB Andy Dalton having the flu) "I hope he feels better. I really do. No, I don't know, I mean he'll be fine. I'm sure he'll be there Saturday."
(on his confidence knowing that it may be easier to get into Bengals QB Andy Dalton's head more so than other quarterbacks) "Well, going back to watching him earlier this year, he's really done a good job and I think he's played beyond a rookie. I'm sure there will be some things that he'll experience in the game that he'll do well with. This atmosphere is pretty special here, especially of late, and we hope to continue that and to alter their game plan."
(on if he will bring up the fact that Bengals QB Andy Dalton is from Katy to try and get into his head) "No, no. I won't mention that to him. He knows where he's from, so I'll leave it at that."
CB Johnathan Joseph
(on if he foresaw making the playoffs this year) "To be honest, I didn't have an idea what was going to happen to be honest. I knew we had a lot of great players here and to get here, this fast and to accomplish what we have accomplished so far, I wouldn't say that I knew that coming in here, you know, just with the way things happened with the lockout. But overall, I knew we had the talent to get where we are today. I didn't think it would happen this fast."
(on how good it feels to have such an impact on the team) "It makes you feel good from that standpoint I guess, coming in as a free agent signing, you're going to have a red dot on your back throughout your time here. Just to come in and be embraced the way I was embraced by the guys here and just to have an impact and to be counted and looked upon as a leader here and just to help the young guys that we have has been a tremendous experience for me altogether."
(on playing his former team Cincinnati for the first playoff appearance) "I guess going into game one, I guess the way they rotate these schedules you only get that chance every few years and to get it twice in one year, it's going to be an exciting weekend with me and my family and everyone else, especially for this city. So I'm just looking forward to going out and just getting another W."
(on if he thinks WR A.J. Green is becoming one of the more elite wide receivers in the NFL) "I think to a certain degree. You see him, he was voted into the pro bowl and that says a lot and speaks a lot. You know, you have your peers voting you in and they look at him as an elite receiver just by him being voted in and he did a tremendous job this year coming in as a rookie with a lot of pressure on him in a situation with no quarterback and a rookie quarterback coming in with him as well. So, I think they did a tremendous job over there."
(on what WR A.J. Green's biggest strength is) "I think if you had to ask what he does best out of any of his traits, it would be tracking the football and going up and playing the football. He did that throughout his time at high school. I watched him throughout high school, throughout college. He's a South Carolina native like me and he did the same thing since he was a kid so he hasn't changed."
(on what his impression of WR A.J. Green was when he went against him) "Mature young kid. You know, he's only twenty-one years old, mature, and I talked to him for a second and I told him I wanted to credit the way he handled himself on and off the field, because you have a lot of guys in his position that don't handle things the way that they should and go about their business the way they should. From everyone I've spoken with, he's acted like a pro on and off the field and did everything they've asked him to do and it's paid off for them on the field."
(on any comments he's received from his previous teammates) "Yes, they've been calling about tickets all week. You know, I got a lot of texts last week after our game and after that game kind of telling me we both have bad days a little bit as far as in the loss column, but we'll be seeing each other coming next week and those guys are excited to see me and just the opportunity for both of us to just try and go out and get better on our season and just move further into the playoffs."
(on defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and what he has meant to the Texans as a team) "He's brought a lot of confidence to the group overall and what we're doing back there. Just to have him missing for a little time, you know, when he was dealing with her personal issues, no one ever got down. We were just worried about him more so as a person and about his personal health overall, because just having him back in the room with us, you know, he lights everyone up. He acts like he's twenty-one years old, you know, he jokes with us on the plane coming back from the game and just to have his overall knowledge of the game and the way that he translates and puts everyone in a position to have success, whether it's a pass rusher or a guy back in coverage or as a run fit. So as far as a team, we can only go out and put our best effort forth, because he puts us in the best situations to be successful."
(on the irony there is to playing against his old team) "I guess it doesn't get any better than this, you know, for me and us. We have another chance to build on the season that we've had so far and for me, coming from Cincinnati, now they have a chance to come down to Houston. You know we traveled there earlier in the year, and to come back here and play in front of our home crowd's first playoff game ever, it will be a great atmosphere overall."
(on if it's strange for him to play the Bengals again) "Like I said, I kind of said earlier, the way the schedule plays out you only have, you know, you only play a division a few times a year, every other so years and all, so to play them twice in one year, that seems a little strange to me."
(on if it's strange to be playing the Bengals since that's where he used to play) "For me, it probably can't get anymore spicier, just because I'm a Texan coming from Cincinnati. For us, overall, it's our first time going to the playoffs and I think for me, it means more about us as a Texan, first time going to the playoffs, than me coming from Cincinnati. Overall, I just think so."
(on if there's any extra communication from his friends in Cincinnati this week) "Oh yeah. You know, I was there with most of those guys when they came in, you know, I was kind of the older guy in the room and then by the time I left there, it was a bunch of younger guys. So, it's kind of good for me to see those guys doing good and coming along the way they have come along, because there were a lot of question marks when I was there and when I was departing to come here. So, to see they've turned things around and are moving in the right direction, you know, it's hats off to those guys."
(on contacting former teammates at Cincinnati) "I talk to all the defensive backs, Reggie Nelson, Chris Crocker, Leon Hall, who's down on injured reserve right now, Adam Jones, all those guys, but every guy on the roster pretty much. We all had like a brotherhood there, so I can't pinpoint one guy in particular, but probably about 20-25 guys to be honest with you."
(on if there is banter going on this week between his former teammates and him) "Not at all, not at all. That never was my M.O., and those guys over there are pretty much the same way as I was. It's all about just moving forward and just playing football and having fun on Sundays."
(on how he feels) "Oh, man, I had a chance to go out today in practice, and I think I did good overall. Come Saturday, I think it'll be even better than it was today. If I had to put a percentage, I'd probably say I was 95 percent."
(on if he has limited mobility) "No, it was just a little sore, and it caught me off-guard to be honest because coming into practice, I felt perfectly fine, and just to have a little soreness kind of threw me for a loop there, and I just wanted to make sure things were right moving, so we could get things taken care of accordingly."
(on adjustments he sees QB Andy Dalton making) "He's not turning the ball over. I think he has maybe one interception in the last five games. In this league, whether you're a rookie or a vet, you know keeping the ball in your own possession, not turning over the ball, that's gonna keep you in games alone itself. To see him mature in that aspect of his game, I think it speaks volume about the way he's prepared, the way he's handling himself, and taking the command of that team. Overall, you see a lot of games like last week with Baltimore. Up until the finish, end of that game, they was into that game all the way and had their chances. He's going up against a guy like (Joe) Flacco who's been in the league four years and been stellar pretty much throughout his time in this league. To say that about the kid, I think it speaks volume about Andy Dalton."
(on how excited they are about having a lot of guys back) "Yeah, for a lot of guys, it's their first time going into the postseason, so they kind of don't know what to expect. They just excited about it all alone, and it creates new energy itself. You don't have to get pumped up about going out to play. Everything is on the line. If you don't go out and win on Saturday, you'll be packing your bags on Sunday and find out the next thing you gonna do in the offseason, so everyone knows what's at stake, and we just wanna go out and relax and just have fun and play. However the outcome comes, it comes."
(on the decrease in turnovers forced by the defense and the key to changing that) "Just capitalizing on when you have opportunities. To get interceptions in this league, it's a hard thing to come by to be honest. You may start the season off hot, and you may go on a little dead spell for a little while because I was always told they come in bunches sometimes, and that's the way I've seen throughout this season. For us, we just have to capitalize on when we have chances. When balls hit us in our hands, we have to make the catch and come up with the hard and tough catch sometimes."
(on what he hopes from the crowd on Saturday) "That they remove the roof early with their noise. Get as loud as possible. You got a rookie quarterback coming in here. It's gonna be a pretty loud environment just being the first playoff game here and the fans are excited. The city's excited, and we can only go out and just add to that playing good football, and they will feed off us as long as we feeding off them."
(on his thoughts about Andy Dalton) "Oh, absolutely. I'm sure he's preparing and doing everything he has to do mentally-wise because this game is probably about ninety percent played mentally and ten percent physically from every position and the quarterback position probably more so than any other position. I'm sure he'll be prepared, and he'll be on top of things by time Saturday comes."
(on taking advantage of the playoff experience of the defense versus the inexperience of Cincinnati's offense) "Just showing them different looks, throwing different things at them, and just putting pressure on them as many ways as possible. Whether it's guys coming up with the big sack on first or second down and getting them in third and long, we can't get them in manageable situations with third down and two, third down and three where it's easy to convert and get a first down. We gotta kind of let them manage the game and make tough plays themselves to beat us."
(on how much he is looking forward to getting to Saturday) "I'm not really a media guy at all. If I could have my way, nothing against you guys, I wouldn't do any interviews at all, but to me, I think the media only adds to the hype a little bit because it gives the outside people a little feeling about what's being said and what's going on. You want to give other people a view of how things are being viewed throughout the week leading into the game, but that's part of the game. Once Saturday gets here, everything that was said throughout the week will be thrown out the window. They can't play out there on those green lines, so we have to go out there and line up ourselves."
(on the shorter six-day week) "Yes, absolutely, absolutely. If I had to say, I just like the shorter week altogether because I don't have to wait until Sunday to play, to be honest."
ILB DeMeco Ryans
(on what making it to the playoffs means after being with the Texans for so long) "It means everything. It's what you work for as a player. You work to get in the post-season and have the opportunity to play in the big game and for me working so many years towards that and seeing how far our team has come along and how (much) better our team has gotten. It's a special moment, a special year for us and I'm definitely excited and pumped about having the opportunity to play in a playoff game."
(on what the biggest key in the teams turn around this year) "The biggest key is I think first and foremost, is I think all the guys, from the first day just bought in to the Wade (Phillips) system and how we were going to do things. Guys bought in automatically and everyone in our room wanted to excel and wants to be great in our defense room. I think that's been the key. All eleven guys are buying into what we are doing and going out and performing and playing at a high level each and every week and that's been the key for us defensively."
(on when he realized his defensive team could be really special) "I think around the middle of the season I think it felt like we gelled together well as a defense, as a team I feel like we truly became a team and everyone was playing and you never knew who was going to make a big play to win the game. Everybody was pitching in, everybody was doing their job, no one was slacking, guys just having fun together, the camaraderie in our locker room and on the field. It just gelled together and that's what you look for in a team and that's what we had and I knew it was something special around the middle of the year."
(on his defensive teammates helping in the three four games) "I mean in the three four game those guys are key. Those three guys, J.J. (Watt), Antonio (Smith) and Shaun , they play well for us and those are the guys that allow (Brian) Cushing and myself to be able to float around and make plays so our credit goes to those three guys and it starts with those guys in stopping the run and allowing us to make plays. Also, in the back end, those guys play so well and kind of get pushed under the radar because they're not the glory guys making a lot of plays, but they do a lot of dirty work for the defense to be successful."
(on the continuity of his defensive team) "Yea, it is. It helps when your interior guys can stay healthy all sixteen games, that's impressive, you don't see that a lot. You know, those guys since they bang so much down inside, a lot of times when guys have a lot of nicks, but those (guys), they just keep going. You know, those guys can be hurt but you wouldn't know it and they don't complain about it, they just continue to go out and put it on the line for us."
(on teammate J.J. Watt) "J.J. has been phenomenal. I mean, you see a guy come in and seeing a guy work the way J.J. works and the plays J.J. makes, it's just so impressive. Sometimes when we're watching films and watching the plays J.J. makes you're just in awe. You're just like, how can this guy make those plays but J.J. give great effort every play and every down you're going to get his best every week and it shows out on the field. He works hard at practice and it shows up in the game."
(on what the season has been like with his injury) "it's been slow and frustrating with braces and trying to get back into the game but I just kept my eye on the prize and kept pushing each week. Each week I started to feel better and better, my body started to heal up and feel a lot better as the season went along so I just continued to stick with it and grind it out. "
(on how he is feeling currently) "Right now is the best I've felt and it's kind of weird to be feeling the best at the end of the season, but it's coming at a good time that I'm feeling great and we're getting ready to start the playoffs."
(on whether clenching early made the team lose a bit of their drive) "No. I don't feel like we lost an edge. There were of course some plays we would love to have back, but the edge was still there. It's just that we didn't make as many plays and as many turnovers and I think that was the key those couple of games we dropped there at the end where we were getting those turnovers, winning the turnover battle and we didn't get those in those last couple of weeks. That's what cost us those games, but the edge, the intensity, it's still there."
(on why they had trouble forcing turnovers) "I'm not sure why. I wish I knew and we would have got them."
(on how to take advantage of rookie QB Andy Dalton's inexperience) "It's kind of weird with Andy, because sometimes I watch the film and I forget that he's a rookie with some of the plays. Still anytime, with any quarterback's we're going to try to put pressure on him, make him make quick decisions, make him make the right throw, put the ball in the right spot and make him be perfect. That's our job defensively is be tight coverage, put the pressure on him and make him make the right throws."
(on if he has a lot of "rookie" anticipation since this is his first playoff appearance) "No. It's still football. It's still a game, so it's nothing different for us. You know, I don't buy into you having to have experience or having this be the first time. We know what's at stake and everybody is pumped up and ready to go."
(on the extra excitement the team seems to have regarding all the healed injuries) "It's good. First off, coach Kub (Kubiak) has just took good care of us throughout the season and guys just have been taking care of their bodies and this is the right time to be feeling good. It is just refreshing just to know that, first and foremost, we're not packing up our lockers and heading home. Just to know that we're in an elite group of teams that are still playing and still have the opportunity to go win a championship. So, I think having that in the back of your mind, that refreshes you. It's just the excitement around town, the excitement around this building, all that excitement from the outside it just gets us excited also. Guys are running around at practice and we've had two of the best practices so far this year the past couple of days and I think we're preparing well and I feel like we'll be ready to go on Saturday."
(on his pregame huddles and if he prepares for them or it just comes naturally) "No, it just comes natural. I don't like to write anything or rehearse anything. It's just whatever I'm feeling at the time, I just feed of whatever comes to my mind at that time."
(on what he's hoping to see and hear in terms of the crowd on Saturday) "Well, I always look back to the Atlanta game. That's the standard and I just feel like it will be on a whole other level than the Atlanta game. I just feel like it will be the best we've ever seen our crowd."
(on his thoughts about QB Andy Dalton missing his second practice with the flu) "He'll show up Saturday so I'm not really worried about it. I didn't even know that he had the flu or anything, but we still, our preparation doesn't change if he's practiced if he doesn't practice. We're preparing for him to be out there Saturday and that's really all that matters to us."