Members of the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars spoke to media following Wednesday's practice.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison
LB Bryan Braman
T Duane Brown
G Antoine Caldwell
LB Brian Cushing
KR Trindon Holliday
WR Andre Johnson
QB Matt Schaub
DE J.J. Watt
Jacksonville Head Coach Mike Mularkey Conference Call
Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones-Drew Conference Call
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on today's practice) "We were missing one guy at practice. (Arian Foster) started practice, did not finish practice, not feeling well today. Other than that everybody was back to work."
(on RB Arian Foster's ailment) "Yeah totally different, we got something going on with our team a little. (Johnathan Joseph) got sick on Sunday second half of the game, been sick for a couple days. We got a few guys not feeling well. He came out and started practiced and about a quarter of the way into it started feeling very poorly so obviously we got some little bug going on or something so hopefully it doesn't get too bad."
(on if RB Arian Foster's illness affects his status Sunday) "No. Like I said, just feeling really bad and so we just stopped him and actually (Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Geoff Kaplan) Kap took him to see Dr. Muntz."
(on other injuries) "No. (OLB Bryan) Braman is back to work today so the expectations if he has a clean week he can be back ready to play. That was it. (ILB Brian Cushing) practiced. (NT Shaun) Cody, everybody who has missed a little time is back."
(on ILB Brian Cushing's health ) "He's been sore from what he went through earlier and then he took a good shot on the interception the other day when he caught that ball. That guard hit him pretty good and took him to the ground. It's just that time of year. Everybody's got something going on. The way he plays he's usually got a few aches and pains during the week. He took his full load of practice. Obviously we don't beat on him on Thursday's or those types of things, but he'll be ready to go."
(on if ILB Brian Cushing broke his ribs) "No. He's fine. He's just battling through, (ILB Brian Cushing) Cush being Cush."
(on if he's surprised to see Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew come back so quickly) "I'm not and maybe I answer that question different if I hadn't spent the week with him in Hawaii. I didn't know him personally or what he was all about. In Hawaii, I just watched him work. I know it was the Pro Bowl, watch how he handled himself. You know he's a guy that takes great care of himself and he'd be ready to go when he came back. It's a big challenge for us. He's obviously a great player. He's going to get his touches. He's very difficult to tackle so we got to put a big emphasis this week on tackling and finishing plays defensively."
(on what he sees differently in Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert this year) "Well I think what Mike (Mularkey) has done just me looking at it is you know Mike's had good quarterbacks play for him. He's built his confidence through their scheme and how they're throwing the ball and what they're trying to get done. I think they're bringing the process along to get him confidence as an NFL player. What he went through last year is obviously difficult, but the snaps are still very very valuable and now you see it paying off. He's had a good preseason, played well last week, should've got out of there with the 'W.' So obviously a lot different player than he was last year and that's a credit to Mike and their staff."
(on doing things differently in the running game this Sunday) "No. I think that'd be the worst thing we can do is start branching out for something we haven't done. Like I said before, we started the game doing what we wanted to do and running the ball pretty good. We didn't finish the game good with the type of things we do against eight man fronts. We got to stay committed to it. The positives were we threw the ball extremely well. Before it's all said and done, we got to be a good running football team. We got a couple guys back there that we need to make sure they touch the ball every week so just got to be better somehow."
(on if he thought WR Lestar Jean scored when looking at the game video) "We thought he was in bounds but he didn't finish the play with the ball, bonehead mistake. We thought he had finished the play with the ball. The question on our minds was, 'Was he inbounds?' We thought he was but when you go to the ground in the end zone you got to finish the play with control of the ball and he did not. When he rolled over, it came out."
(on the dangers of losing a long snapper during a game ) "Those things really concern you. Us getting Tyler (Clutts) from Chicago, actually he snaps for us every week. Joe (Marciano) gives him reps. Things like that scare you, losing a punter, losing a kicker. How do you survive? What do you do? In this league you only suit 46 players so you better have some guys that go in there and try to function. You can really get caught short some of those situations. It's like suiting two quarterbacks and something happening and (Owen Daniels) having to go take a snap. We always go make him do it. I don't know how he would do it or how well he'd do it but we make him do it in case it happens."
(on if the team has a backup kicker or punter) "Well we can switch them out. It's the best thing we can do. One of them would have to take both. That's part of the game in the NFL so you may have to go for two every time, that's probably something you'd do."
(on improving special teams) "We worked good last week. The things we did not like is our core guys Mister (Alexander), (Tim) Dobbins, now Whitney (Mercilus) is part of our core, those guys have got to play big on special teams not just average. I take a lot of the blame because during the preseason you try to protect some guys that you know what they can do so to speak. I want to see what this young guy can do. Can he make our team? We looked a little rusty and some guys on special teams. We'll get a good week of work this week but we'll have to be a lot better."
(on having OLB Bryan Braman back) "I think he's got a chance to be one of the better special teams players in football. How he grows from year one to two, we'll see. (Bryan) Braman used to have to sit up in Joe's (Marciano) office quite a few hours to get things right and get ready to go. He's passed that. He knows what is going on so his talent should take over even more. He made it through today, looked good so glad to have him back."
(on field position ) "If you look at the game we corrected it. We got it from our own five and went right back to their 35 so that's a good thing. But then when you miss a long kick, when you miss a 52-53 yard kick, the field position gets flipped again. It was poor from that standpoint. It was poor at the end of the game for all the right reasons because we stopped them on fourth down a few times. With our kicking game and our return game, we should win the field position game. That's what we feel like is a strength of our team so had to dig out of a hole a little bit last week."
(on the Jaguars' size ) "That's tough. It's a new challenge for Brooks (Reed) and Connor (Barwin) too because that's the biggest group of guys they'll play against. They play against tackles so they'll play against big players. This team can go one back sets with two big tight ends widening you out, make it very difficult. Then when they do go out, they're tough not only to cover but in jump ball or competitive situations they get even tougher. It's a strength of their team. We know that so we'll have to hopefully don't let them clean off the ball, make them work to get out."
(on teams attempting to prevent DE J.J. Watt from deflecting passes) "You got to teach guys to do things to get players hands down. We got to do it on offense. The thing J.J. (Watt) does a such a great job of is when he can't get there as a rusher, he'll find the quarterbacks' eyes and does a really good job of moving to his yes and getting his hands up. He's been exceptional. We're not going to change anything he does. We got to keep doing it. I would think that's a positive thing. We have people worried about getting our hands down, that's got to be a positive for us defensively."
(on teaching offensive linemen to keep defenders' hands down) "We do some cutting on some things to get their hands down, make them defend their legs. The biggest thing to do is get your hands on people. When your hands are on them it's hard for them to get their hands up. We get balls knocked down too. I'll tell you a quick story since you asked that question. You all want to hear a story? Okay. My first job in San Francisco I was coaching Steve Young. George Seifert, we had about six, seven balls knocked down the first two weeks, he sends him in the office with all these tapes. He said you go figure out why Steve Young gets all these balls knocked down. The result of my study was that he was 6'0" tall so he's going to get the ball knocked down coach. It happens."
Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison
(on how concerned he is with their rushing game) "We certainly could've done things a little better, but I think we'll be okay. I think we have a very good back and we have guys that can do what we need to do up front. We'll go back to the grindstone and work at it and get better at it. You have to give Miami a great deal of credit too. They did a nice job there."
(on if the problems with the running game were because of the offensive line) "I think everybody in the building needs to do a better job in the run game, me included."
(on how RG Antoine Caldwell and RT Derek Newton played) "They had their moments. They did a good job, just like everybody else. We did well enough to win the game. We all have a spot to improve and those two are right on the list. Like I said, even I. Not even I, but especially I. In my view, I have to get better in what I do. If we all keep working towards those ends, we should be okay."
(on if Miami did anything different to slow down the running game) "No, I think they're just talented. They're a big group up front. They're a talented group up front. Jacksonville is the same. They have big people and they're very talented. It will certainly be a challenge for us again this week. Their schemes are different, but I think we just have to keep working. We have to do what we do best and not worry about the other side of the ball. Let's just worry about what we do best and we should be in good shape."
(on working out kinks with two new starters on the line) "Well, it didn't matter (that they were two new starters). It's the first of the year. We're not in panic mode. We're just going to play better. Whether it was their first game ever or their first game of the year, I think we just have to keep working and get better. I think those two guys, they did some good things in the game. It's certainly something to build on."
(on how FB James Casey played vs. Miami) "I think he played well. We certainly ask (FB) James (Casey) to do quite a different variety of things, not just play fullback, but do a lot of movement. In each of the facets that we had him do, he did a fine job. I think he continues to amaze us with how much we can put on his shoulders and he won't make mistakes."
(on if he foresees FB James Casey getting more balls thrown his way) "I think that's up to the defense because the quarterback finds the open guy, generally. We tell them to go through a certain progression on each play, based on the coverage and (QB) Matt (Schaub) continues to do that very well. If they leave James alone, then he'll get the ball."
(on Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones-Drew and RB Arian Foster) "Having only seen (RB Maurice) Jones-Drew on film, he is a very hard runner, but so is (RB) Arian (Foster). They both have their strengths and weaknesses. That guy plays a tight zone and Arian, we run a little bit of a wide zone. His cuts are a little different than Arian's. Arian's are a little bit more dramatic, where he rolls. They're both fine players. He does a great job in what they ask their line to do. He tucks right in behind them and pushes and they are a big, big front. They do a nice job of knocking people around and off the ball."
(on how impressive Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones-Drew's power is) "Certainly, he's a very compact player, but he does have a lot of lower body strength and he's hard to get down. Tackling somebody with a lower center of gravity is hard. Your leverage points are a lot different. I imagine that, not ever have had to tackle him, I imagine it's very difficult. You have to get a lot of guys to the ball I would imagine. It's the same with Arian (Foster) though because Arian makes the first guy miss generally. We try to think that if we can keep just one around there, try and keep most of them occupied, he'll do a good job."
(on if the Jaguars defensive scheme has changed at all) "They played the same scheme that we've seen for years around here. They have the same coordinator and I think they do what they do very, very well. I think they've had some guys out and so they kind have been vanilla a little bit more with some of the coverages. There are a couple things more base than we've seen. We expect pretty much the same thing, even with their regular guys. We have a pretty good feel for what they're going to do. They just do things very well, so we have to execute well."
(on what the makes Jacksonville's different from other big defensive groups) "The difference is you have big people everywhere. The way they play their outside guys, it makes it difficult to put doubles on them and so they keep the edges a little tight, so we have our work cut out for that. We've base a lot of the things of trying to get two people on the downs and work our way to the linebackers. That makes it a little more difficult."
(on TE Owen Daniels) "(TE) Owen (Daniels) came up with some big plays. He continues to make first downs. He's hard to cover inside with people. He grinds away in the run game. He does a great job with keeping on his guy and finishing blocks. That's a big thing that Owen has really improved on. Like I said with (FB) James (Casey), if he gets open, the quarterback will find him with the matchups and such."
(on how TE Owen Daniels always gets open) "You have a lot of moving parts. If you ever watch him, it's really hard to determine for a defensive guy to know where he's going because he does a nice job with his moves. He threatens more than one part of the field. They don't know where he's going. He could be going anywhere. They have to defend more of the grass than just one way."
(on if he sees TE Owen Daniels as an underrated player) "I really don't look at what other people think. I know how much value he is to us. He does a great job for us and especially with the guys we have outside. It makes it really hard and difficult; they've got a lot of people that they've got to cover."
OLB Bryan Braman
(on his status) "I'm a little rusty. That's about it, getting back into the swing of things."
(on Head Coach Gary Kubiak saying he could be one of the best special teams players in the NFL when he's healthy) "It's pretty big-time. Honestly, I don't know how to take it. Hopefully I go out there and live up to what he says."
(on his ability to be an impact guy on special teams) "I feel like I can. The coaches believe I can. It's just the matter of me having the confidence and going out there and doing it."
(on the mindset of a successful special teams player) "It's kind of like a junkyard attitude. It's were everybody ends up when they're near the end or the beginning of their career, getting used to playing on defense and stuff. The basic standpoint about it is not too many people want to play special teams. They all want to play defense or offense. They want to be starters. So I kind of look at it as the job that nobody else wants but I'm going to be the best at it."
T Duane Brown
(on the first road game this season) "It's going to be a big challenge for us, first road game, first division game, going against a pretty tough opponent from an offensive standpoint. Their defense, they have a very physical, talented front seven. It's a big challenge for us, but we're excited about it."
(on if Jaguars look improved) "Yeah definitely you look at what we did against (Blaine Gabbert) last year. I think he's really improved since then. You also got to look at Maurice Jones-Drew who sat out all training camp but still looks like he's in pretty good form. They have a very talented team over there. It's going to be a big challenge for us."
(on the team's desire to improve the running game)
"I wasn't satisfied either. We really hang our hat on our running game. We have to get the game started establishing the run. We weren't able to do that in the Miami game. It's important that we really put a point of emphasis on this week. Like I said, they have a very talented front seven who's going to look to stop that. But it's our job up front to get it going regardless and spread our passing game from there."
RG Antoine Caldwell
(on how the offensive line and offense can improve) "I think it's just a consistent thing. We got to get that chemistry right. I feel like everybody kind of took their turns on Sunday. I don't think it was one individual group. I think it's across the board. Today we had a great day of practice. I think everybody is on the same page. We just got to go out there and be more consistent."
(on if consistency can be improved in practice) "I think so because a lot of things that we're doing is some guys were in the right plays, the right spots. It's finishing here, doing the little things that we did all week. I think it's something that can be corrected and guys are definitely focused on it this week."
(on the importance of fixing inconsistencies) "Utmost important, like I said, Jacksonville's got a great defense. They have a great defense every year; they play us physical. They've got a good run defense so it's going to be important for us to go out there and be on top of our game."
ILB Brian Cushing
(on being banged up) "Yeah and it was just overall a pretty physical game. I think anytime you go out there for the first full game and play a full four quarters you're a little sorer than you would be in preseason."
(on being accustomed to have nagging aches and pains) "This is just typical football, typical playing linebacker."
(on the jump from opening week to week two) "I think for the most part you get a lot of the jitters out in week one and get back to playing football, get back in that groove. This will be the first time on the road too so kind of traveling as a team and getting that rhythm of a season."
(on the challenges of facing the Jaguars) "They're a definitely a physical football team. They got one of the best running backs in the game and they use him. They use him a lot. We're going to expect that. They're going to try to come downhill."
(on QB Blaine Gabbert's differences this season) "I think they're protecting him a lot better. He's getting a lot more time back there. I think with the scheme that they're using, coming from Atlanta, offensive coordinator from Cincinnati, they're protecting him really well. He's got a lot of confidence back there. He's not getting hit a lot and he's got open receivers."
WR Trindon Holliday
(on working to do more for the team) "I've been working hard all camp, all preseason, and now I'm working hard at the receiver position. I'm just trying to come out and help the team as best as possible."
(on what it meant to him to play on Opening Day in the NFL) "It felt good to be able to come out and be a part of the 53-man roster."
(on helping improve the team's field position) "Yeah I think that's the most important part. I think I was more anxious than anything last week. The team, we had our ups and downs and I wanted to just try to come out and make something happen on special teams."
WR Andre Johnson
(on challenge of competing on the road) "It's always a tough game when we play against Jacksonville. Always comes down to one or two plays in the game for some reason. You know that it's going to be a tough challenge, first game on the road. We'll be up for it."
(on the emphasis on improving the running game) "I just think that we need to start faster than we started last week. That's probably the biggest thing that stands out in my mind. There were mistakes made throughout the game, which nobody is perfect. We just try to work on those things and correct those things and execute our game plan."
(on what goings into starting faster offensively) "Like I said before, it takes 11 guys to make a play work. You just can't go out and do it with one person. It's just everybody being the same page, making sure that everything is communicated down the offensive line as far as protection and in the run game and things like that. As far as the wide receivers, going out, blocking if it's the run plays or going out getting your right route, things like that. It just takes a collective effort by everybody."
(on what it felt like to play with QB Matt Schaub and RB Arian Foster again) "It was a lot of fun just to be back out on the field period, missed a lot of time last year. To be back out there with Matt and Arian is, just to be back out there is a great feeling. After the game, me and Matt walked up to each and were like 'It's one down. We got 15 more.' We looking forward to playing these 15 games and we just take it one step at a time."
(on the progress from Week 1 to Week 2) "I think everybody makes a big deal about the first game of the season. You have people coming out saying, 'This team is going to win the Super Bowl,' and everybody comes out with these rankings about who is the best team in the NFL. I don't really think the first game really means much. I think you want to go out and win it. That's the goal of every time is go out and win the game. But it's a long season, I remember my rookie year the Patriots going out and getting beat 30-something to nothing or seven by the Buffalo Bills. They probably were saying the Patriots doing have it, but the Patriots go on and win the Super Bowl. So I think a lot of people look too deep into the first game. I think it's just about getting your team on the same page and you start to see that as the season goes along. You see steams get hot at certain times in the season and it just takes over into the playoffs and things like that. The thing about is when your team gets hot is maintaining it throughout the season."
(on if he talked to the young receivers after Sunday) "I didn't necessarily just put them in a group and talk to them. Things that happen throughout the game you just go and say something to them. I don't think that you need to jump down their throat or anything because they're human. Mistakes happen. I think if you threw that ball to Keshawn (Martin) 20 times, he's going to catch it 20 times. Things like that happen; you just have to let them go. That's the biggest thing. You just go up to them and tell them 'Hey it happened. It's over with Let it go. Go on to the next play.' That's all you can do. All you want to do is keep their confidence up as much as possible because you don't want them to get down on themselves."
(on the importance of run blocking) "You definitely have to be involved in it here. It was new for me once the offense changed. I was always taught to run block when I was in college my receivers coach was real hard on us about it. When Coach Kubiak and the rest of the staff got here it went to another level as far as the receivers and the running game. After you go through it you understand why. It works both ways. That's just part of our offense. If you're going to play it, that's something you have to do."
(on the differences in run blocking ) "Sometimes you have to seal the edges. Sometimes you have to block defensive linemen and linebackers. That's just part of it. It just depends on what play is called. Sometimes you have to come down and block safeties that's freeing Arian (Foster), Ben (Tate), and Justin (Forsett) on those long runs. That's just part of the offense."
QB Matt Schaub
(on what he sees when studying Jacksonville) "They're a physical group. They're very stout. They got some veterans in the secondary that have been playing a lot of football. It's always a tough test for us running the ball and throwing so we always have 60-minute battles with them. We got to be sharp with what we're doing, executing, and playing smart, clean football."
(on everyone improving the running game) "I think it's a standard of ours. It's something we hang our hat on. Over the last few years we've been pretty good at it and we weren't' up to our standard and our expectations last week. That's across the board, not just in the run game. We got to be a little sharper. We got to execute a little bit better especially against this group that is physical and plays hardnosed football to be successful."
(on reuniting with WR Andre Johnson and RB Arian Foster on the field) "It's been a lot of fun to just be back in the huddle all of us together working toward one goal. To be out there on the field this past Sunday with our full complement of guys was a lot of fun."
(on the challenges of the road) "It's fun to do in this league and it's hard to do. It's just you guys in the locker room against their teams and all their fans. It's fun to go on the hard and go out and quiet an opposing team's stadium. It's a tough test and you get eight shots at it a year. You got to be ready to go. You got to play smart, clean, fundamentally sound football in order to win. You can't give another team any opportunities, give them short fields. You got to go out and execute your plan. If you do that, you'll like the result but it's a tough thing to do in this business but you got to be willing to go do it for 60 minutes."
(on the Jaguars' defense) "Well like you said their defensive coordinator is still there, a lot of their guys are still there that are back from last year. I think there are a couple new faces but they still do the similar stuff. It's a divisional game so there's going to be something that you haven't seen before especially week two, something they've been holding and they haven't shown. Just like last week with the Dolphins, there was some stuff that they hadn't shown all preseason that we saw. We just got to be able to handle it, take a look at the pictures on the sidelines in between series and be able to adjust to things that they're doing in game."
(on the rivalry with Jacksonville) "It's a divisional game so obviously we face them twice a year. It's a rivalry just for that fact. It's always a hardnosed game. It's always a battle against these guys on both sides of the football so we got to be up to the task and go out and play good ball."
(on having a balanced offense) "It's part of our identity. It's part of what we do. It complements what we do in our play action game as well as our boot leg game. It's how we operate. It's something that keeps our defense fresh. We can control the ball and put drives together as well as our ability to get big plays down the field in the pass game off of it. With our running backs that we have and our play action game, it's a vital part to it. So it's just something that we need to stay true to our plan and who we are."
DE J.J. Watt
(on the challenge of facing Jaguars RB Maurice-Jones Drew) "He's a really good running back. He's tough to bring down. He's not easily tackled by one player and that's what makes him so good so I'm excited about the challenge."
(on the nickname 'J.J. Swatt') "I like it. I just don't like that it doesn't incorporate anything else.. I don't want to just be known for batting balls. I want to be known for sacks, tfl's and all of that."
(on Jaguars' QB Blaine Gabbert's improvement) "Last year we had a good game. You have to give credit to the defense, too. Connor (Barwin) had four sacks. Anytime a defensive end has four sacks that's a good game for him. But watching the game tape, Blaine (Gabbert) played well last week. He led the team well. That had a tough loss, but he's a good quarterback and he'll be a good quarterback. He's settling in. It's only his second year and that's a tough position to play so I think he'll be just fine."
(on if he sees areas were the Texans defense can rattle Blaine Gabbert) "Yeah, I think we see that in every quarterback. With our defense, with as many playmakers as we have it's so much fun to fly around, to make plays. We have so many guys that can come from some many angles. It's tough for any quarterback and it's tough for any offense to try to block us all."
(on being the 'hunter' in division games) "It's good. It's good to be the hunted that means people have respect for you, but we go into it with the mentality that we are always the hunters. You have to. You have to go out there every single week like you're fighting for your food like you're hungry because if you sit back and rest on your laurels that's when you get beat and we'll never do that."
(on the timing of his batted balls) "It's something I worked on a lot in college, something we work on here every day. (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line) Coach (Bill) Kollar runs us through a drill every day and then in our team periods we do it. Basically when you know you're not going to get to the quarterback, you watch his eyes, you watch his arm, you see when he starts to cock his arm and that's when you put your hands up. Obviously I had a little bit of success with it on Sunday. It's something that really I feel frustrates the offense and that's a big deal. He thinks he has a receiver open. The receiver thinks he is open and then all of a sudden you block the pass and the play is over so I think it's a big play for us."
(on being disappointed when opposing quarterbacks throw the other way) "Yeah, I get a couple batted balls but you'll also see me jumping and looking like a fool sometimes when he's not even throwing it anywhere near me."
(on younger quarterbacks not adjusting to his batted balls) "I think there are definitely some quarterbacks that are harder to get than others. Some quarterbacks have a knack for finding the hole; some throw it right through your arm, around, over. Obviously I got lucky, had a couple of them on a rookie on Sunday. Every quarterback is different. It just depends on if they're able to make that adjustment."
(on disengaging an offensive linemen) "You either push off or you just jump straight up. Sometimes you get hit in the stomach, sometimes you get hit in the chest, it hurts but that's part of the job. We aren't in it for a pillow fight so I understand I might get hit sometimes."
(on getting hit in the chest) "Trust me it's happened many times. It's not the first time and it's not the last time if I get hit in the chest. I'm a big, strong guy. I think I can handle it."
(on Jacksonville's offensive system) "They run some different plays, but obviously they're going to give the ball to (Maurice Jones-Drew). He's a good running back. They feel confident in the quarterback. He's going to throw the ball a little bit. We know, for our key to success, we need to play our game, stop the run, and attack the passer."
(on the defense's lack of satisfaction) "We didn't stop the run the way we wanted to in the first quarter. Obviously we want to get that corrected and what better challenge than a good running back this week. Once we made the adjustments on Sunday, we came to the sideline, we got it fixed, then we were pleased with our play. We just want to start faster, earlier. We didn't start the way we wanted to."
Jacksonville Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey Conference Call
(on what jumps out at him about the Texans) "Well they're well-coached, very disciplined in what they do. You don't see a lot of mistakes. You can see things on tape on teams. They know what they're doing and confident in what they're doing. They're certainly confident in what they're doing. I think they're a very good football team."
(on QB Blaine Gabbert's improvement this year) "Last year was a difficult year for him with the situation when he came in here with no offseason and really not being the starter, so he didn't get the reps in training camp. You're talking about a young player, third-year junior that came in and really was put into a tough situation. There's things going on here within the organization with the sale of the team; there's just a lot going on on his plate. That was not the case this year. It was a fresh start for everybody, brought in Greg Olson to help with some of his fundamentals and techniques and then hopefully use those 14 games he got to start as valuable experience. I really just liked how he's improved since we've been here. He really works at it and I think it shows up in games. I think he'll tell you and we'll tell you he's still working at it, but very happy with his progress."
(on RB Maurice Jones-Drew's 19 carries on Sunday) "Well Rashad Jennings was injured. That was one reason he had 19 carries. Montell Owens had a couple days where a knee was sore on him. I wasn't planning on 19. I'm glad he was there available to us. I didn't really have a number going into the game. We had specific packages we were going to get him involved with. Obviously he was going to return punts for us, and it just so happens with Rashad being injured that he got that many carries."
(on addressing DE J.J. Watt's ability to deflect passes with QB Blaine Gabbert) "Yeah, very good at it, did it to us last year. I remember talking about it last year when I was with Atlanta. That's an issue. We've got to be alert for it. Our line's got to do a good job. That is definitely a strength of this defense. Obviously the results of it can be catastrophic."
(on how he coaches his offensive line to address an end who can deflect passes so well) "Punch his chest in. That's obviously a reaction and then doing it all it in the split second when the hand goes up. That's the response and that's what you'd like to have happen and it can. But that's what we'd like to have happen. That's anybody. That's not just this team. That's any team, any player."
(on DE J.J. Watt) "I like his desire. I love his motor. You can do a lot of things when you play with that relentless type mindset. That's what I believe in. You have two things you're in complete control over: your effort and your physical play. He's talented, so all that together makes him a tough guy to block."
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew Conference Call
(on how he felt in his first game back) "I felt great. All the pressure of learning the playbook, getting comfortable with the plays, the terminology, I thought that it went well. Guys did a great job blocking. Obviously, we had a chance at the end to win it. We had some other opportunities that we squandered, but it's a learning experience for us. I thought we played well, especially with all the injuries and everything that happened in this past game."
(on if he came into the first game after his holdout 100 percent) "Oh yeah. I was healthy, fast, fresh. I felt great. I obviously played a little bit more than we thought I would. At the same time, my conditioning was there. Obviously, you still have to work. Everybody was a little gassed on some of those 18-play drives we had. We still have to keep working on that and as the season goes on you'll get in better game shape. We felt great. I know I did and a lot of other guys said they felt well as well."
(on him saying that he felt healthier this year than last year) "Well yeah, last year I had to teach myself how to run after eight months of not being able to run or condition or any type of activity with my leg, so that kind of sucked a little bit. I have a full offseason under my belt. Obviously with the holdout, I wasn't really getting hit or doing as much cutting as I would have during camp and OTAs. It definitely kept my legs a little fresh and when it was time for us to end it, I ended it. Then to come back and be fresh and we welcomed in and to learn the playbook, I felt good."
(on if there was a mental release to ending the holdout and getting into the season) "No, not at all. Every week I watched the Jaguars but I knew going into this thing, it was going to be a long shot and it would take a while to try and get it figured out. You prepare yourself for those things. Every time I went to work out, which was pretty much every day; it was with the mindset of trying to make it as tough as it could be. Two hour running sessions, two hour lift sessions, coming back and getting extra cardio—whatever it might have been, just to have that mental toughness once I got back."
(on how QB Blaine Gabbert has changed from last year to this year) "His command of the offense, I think, with a full year under his belt. Last year we tried to make him understand the offense instead of vice versa. It's hard to explain. This offense is tailored towards Blaine instead of Blaine being tailored towards the offense. He knows everything and he commands. Obviously the first couple of days, I was making some mistakes, but he would be right there to run the play over and tell me what I had to do. With a lot of other guys, if there is something they don't know or understand, he's telling guys. He's the one directing where the protection goes. Like I said, last year was the total opposite. That, in itself, has made him a much better player. He's more comfortable back there. We have a lot of guys around making plays for him. I think he still has a long way to go but he's come so far already."
(on the differences between Jack Del Rio and Mike Mularkey as head coaches) "I really don't know. They're both former players, so they have that mindset. I think Coach Mularkey is more of an offensive minded coach, where I guess you could say Coach Del Rio had his hand all over everything. He was defensive, a little bit of offense and special teams. Coach Mularkey has the sole control of the offense. He's really making sure that we're doing things the right way. Coach (Mel) Tucker has the defense. From there on, we kind of spread it out that way, but I think that's mainly it. He has a different tone of voice when he talks. He tries to keep everything melancholy, kind of just straight instead of going up and down a little bit. For me, for the most part, former players are people you want to play for because they understand how you feel when it comes to after games and they understand how taxing this game can be on you."
(on his relationship with Mike Mularkey right now) "It's great. I think a lot of people thought with the holdout and everything, that it was a bad relationship. It wasn't bad at all. We would talk over the phone a bunch, but we had a disagreement about compensation and that was it. I don't think when you disagree with someone that you're not ever going to like them and you're not going to talk to them. It was never that. He understood where I was coming from. I understood his point on it as well. In this business and in this game, your career could end so quickly, so you have to try. When you deserve something, you have to go fight for it."
(on if the offseason would have gone differently if not for a new owner and head coach for the Jaguars) "I really don't know and really don't care. They didn't plan it out that a new owner came in and a new head coach came in when all these things went down, but that's neither here nor there. Right now, we're focused on the Texans and we have a tough task ahead of us."
(on what jumps out to him about the Texans defense) "The best thing was that I got to hang out with some of their coaches and try and pick their brains a little bit at the Pro Bowl. I think they thought I was being nice, but I was trying to get everything I could out of them. I didn't get much, so they did a good job with that. They're a great group of guys, very competitive. They instill that in their players. With that, you know they are very simple. They run certain coverages and they are going to play man. They're going to press you. They're going to send five (rushers). You just have to block it up and try and make plays. They do a great job at that. I think Coach (Wade) Phillips came in with a new identity and new attitude and the guys are kind of adapting to that and taking it on."
(on if he's noticed the Texans' issues with the run defense) "I didn't watch the Texans in the preseason. I was watching the Jaguars making sure these guys were playing well. We just started watching tape and it seems like what they do against everyone else, this is more of a rivalry game so we kind of take that and throw that out the window. We know they're going to be ready and stout for us. We just got to try to go out there and be a balanced offense like we always try to be. If we can do that, we feel we have an opportunity."
(on how well he's gotten to know RB Arian Foster) "Very well, he's a good friend of mine, very good friend of mine. He definitely deserved that big contract he got. He's doing a great job with it. I think he's probably the, I'm a little biased and I know Andre (Johnson) real well, but Arian with his ability to run between the tackles, outside, catch the ball, make plays, he's kind of turned himself into that threat that the Texans have been looking for. Obviously you have Andre Johnson on the outside that helps out a bunch and then (Matt) Schaub being healthy. He's done a great job. You add that defense in there and the returner (Trindon) Holliday. It's a tough team, so we have a lot on our plate right now that we have to worry about and try to contain."
(on how he and RB Arian Foster have become good friends) "Just running backs in general, we tend to do a lot of the same things, appearances in the offseason. Obviously I'm the one who told you all and the world about Arian a long time ago. I think he was like, 'I appreciate it,' and I'm like 'Hey you did your thing until you went against UCLA'. But that's neither here or there, he's just a great kid. He enjoys life. He takes it one day at a time. He works hard. This offseason he wanted to work out. He thought I lived in LA. I actually live in San Francisco. I told him maybe next offseason we'll get a chance to work out and train together. It's just little things like that that you rarely find in this world, somebody that's genuinely kind to you just for no reason."
(on the Jaguars' offensive line) "They're doing okay. We had a couple nicks and bruises, but it's part of the game. People get hurt and it's the next man up. We're definitely trying to heal up a little bit. I think (Mike) Brewster came in and did a heck of a job for us going against to Kevin Williams, Minnesota. We just want to see how guys heal up and we'll see how it pans out on Sunday."