Head Coach Gary Kubiak
Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison
OLB Connor Barwin
LT Duane Brown
TE Owen Daniels
WR Andre Johnson
P Donnie Jones
CB Johnathan Joseph
OLB Whitney Mercilus
OLB Brooks Reed
QB Matt Schaub
RB Ben Tate
DE J.J. Watt
Indianapolis Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians Conference Call
Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck Conference Call
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on the team's health in practice today) "We had four guys that did not practice, (P) Donnie Jones, (ILB) Darryl Sharpton, (CB) Alan Ball, and (OLB) Brooks Reed. Donnie's got a knee contusion coming out of the game, more preventative than anything. Sharpton's got a toe that he had swell up on him, so giving him a break. Alan is still in the same boat he was last week at this point and then obviously Brooks is still working his way back. Other than that, everybody was back to practice. We were pretty light, so all those guys that have missed some time and stuff we'll probably know really more about them tomorrow. We were pretty light today."
(on if P Donnie Jones hurt his kicking leg) "No, it's the plant leg. When he made the tackle on the punt return, got it banged pretty good. I think if we needed him to punt today he'd punt, but we rested him."
(on OLB Brooks Reed) "He's working with the trainers. He's running. He's doing pretty darn good. We knew we were looking at a period of time at least a few weeks. What has it been now? At least two if I'm right. He's getting closer. Until he starts doing some drill-specific stuff then that's still another step he's got to take to get back on the field. We know we're going to get him back. He's definitely going to be back and we're working in that direction."
(on CB Johnathan Joseph's health and what he saw from him in Monday's game) "He moved fine, came out of the game fine. Practiced today, what we took today, like I said it was very limited. A lot of teaching, kind of a lower tempo-type of practice. He's doing good. Good thing is I don't think any of those guys took any steps backwards last week that played."
(on how he'd play out the last few weeks if they clinch the division this Sunday) "I haven't thought about that one. I'm thinking about figuring out a way to play good this week. Those are nice problems to have. We've got our hands full. This team is playing extremely well. We're coming off a disappointment for us and got to get back to playing a lot better football regardless of what the situation is. So really just focused right now on what we got to do this week."
(on the mood of the locker room after the loss) "It was a tough loss, tough trip, too. For a very short period of time getting back, all we had yesterday was to give them a break and that's why I kind of did a lot of teaching today, but pretty somber, which you are when you go through something like that. Very focused on what they're doing, they understand what's at stake. We've all got to play a lot better. We've got to coach a lot better and play a lot better so we're focused on getting that done. We've got to take it one day at a time and today was a good day."
(on RB Ben Tate's status) "I think he's pretty close. We'll see how he practices this week. His conditioning level to me when you haven't played in a while, I didn't like it in Tennessee. I liked it better the time he played in New England. Of course, you're in a different game. We're throwing the heck out of the ball. He has taken steps forward the last two weeks and I would say he's very close to being ready to go back in there for (RB) Arian (Foster) and maybe carry the ball 15 times, that type of thing. We'll see how he works this week, but he's taken positive steps."
(on if shutting down WR Wes Welker was a bright spot moving forward) "Yeah, but you know it never fails. You pay so much attention to somebody and you get hurt by other people. That's part of it. That's why they're so good. I think every week you've got a guy you've got to stop or guys you've got to contain. It really gets back to playing good defense or playing good offense or special teams across the board. We didn't' do that as a team last week. He doesn't get his catches, but they came from someplace else. We've just got to be better across the board."
(on Colts QB Andrew Luck) "I think he's exceptional. I think I've said this a couple times. He's as good a player as I've seen come out since (QB) Peyton (Manning) in all my years of studying. He's sure as heck hasn't disappointed. He's been excellent this year. I told the team today he's playing like an eight-, nine-year football player when you watch him play. He's handling a ton of offense. He makes plays off-schedule and the bigger the situation, the bigger he makes. I'm extremely impressed with him. I know our football team is, too, after watching him. Good, young, fast, football team that's coming in here. They've built this thing really, really quick. (Interim Head Coach) Bruce (Arians) has done an amazing job with them. Defensively, we're kind of facing the same stuff we've faced. We've got two great players on the edges that we've got to handle that have kind of been a thorn in our side for many years. A very quality football team, they're very consistent and playing very consistent every week."
(on the offense's third-down struggles) "It's always a focus. If you're making third downs, you're staying on the field. You've got possession time. You're helping your defense, all those things. We've been pretty good at it for about nine weeks somewhere in there. We have not been very good at that the last three or four weeks. You've got to make those plays. You've got to come down with the ball, beat tough coverage, make the tough run, those types of things. Then on the other side we've given up some third downs, whether it be penalty or whatever that we've been as good as anybody in football on third down defensively. I think it's been something that we're addressing that we're disappointed in and it's going to have to get a lot better if we're going to play better here down the stretch."
(on the running game) "It's not good enough right now across the board. We've had some adjustments going on. Losing (T Derek) Newton, (T) Ryan's (Harris) come in and played a lot. We lost (TE) Garrett (Graham) last week. I think some of that consistency can make us better, but being in a situation where we can run it, too, I think is very important. We ran the ball well early, our first drive of the game and after that we turn around and we're down 14-0 I think before we run it again. It's something we got to get back to, something we got to do better. Its' everybody, but it has not been good enough."
(on T Derek Newton) "He's doing much better. Today's been his best day. He's back at practice. Like I said, it was light. I'll feel much better about him going through tomorrow our work day, but he's definitely headed toward being ready to go."
(on if the team loses their confidence after a tough loss) "I don't worry about that. In the NFL everybody is good. You're going to show up some days and it's not going to go that well, but probably not in this league. If you're not a very confident person in what you're doing and your talents. You've probably been through that stuff before. It's a humbling game and we obviously got humbled the other day, but they're very focused today. They know they got to play a lot better. I don't worry about that. I think we're a mentally tough football team that's ready to go play again."
Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison
(on the defensive front seven of the Indianapolis Colts) "It's a very good front. It's a challenge for us. The outside guys have been playing a long time and do a great job pressuring. Inside, it's a different structure than perhaps they've played before but they do a great job inside also. It's a very talented group, speed at linebackers, DBs do well. It's a different challenge, but it is a challenge."
(on RB Ben Tate's play at New England) "Got him in during the second half and he showed a burst and did some good things. It's progress. It's progress, but it's a process. Like anybody else, you get hurt and you get rusty and it takes a while to get exactly where you want to be or where we want him to be. You just keep working and certainly nothing has gone wrong with how (RB) Justin (Forsett) has done and how (RB) Arian (Foster) has done. So we'll just keep working with him. And the more hands we can have the better off we are."
(on how the split-up of the backfield will be) "Well, certainly as many people out there as we can get. As much speed. (RB) Ben (Tate) is Ben; an explosive back. Obviously he's shown that. It'll be great to have whomever back."
(on the Texans' struggles on third down) "We aren't making them. It's a lot of different things that have happened. It's hard to say, 'Well this is it, exactly,' and go out on a witch hunt and say we're not doing this right and this right. We're not getting out third downs, even if it's a short-yardage situation, a third and five or six. It's a cumulative group of a lot of different things. We just as a group have to refocus and make sure we get those, whether it's the system we're using or the play calls or what we're trying to beat. Just being effective and efficient with what we do. Just to operate. We certainly have operated in third downs very well in the past. We have to find that focus and get it done."
(on missing TE Garrett Graham on the field) "Obviously (TE) Garrett (Graham) has done a great job and we missed him the other night. Hoping to have him back. Like we said, anytime you have a guy that's done well in your system, the more hands out you can have, he does great things in our packages. He's a physical player, he does well on the line of scrimmage, but he can also beat man (coverage). He's scored. He's done things. He's been a vital cog. If we get him back, the better off we're going to be."
(on RB Arian Foster not getting 100 yards rushing Monday night and the run game in general) "Well, he was on track the other night. Had a couple good runs early and didn't get it done. Nobody doubts that he can't do what he needs to do. We as a group, as a focus, as an offense, coaches included, just have to keep working to help that, the run game. Everybody in the building has to be better in the run game. That kind of motivates our offense, too. If that's working, the rest of it is working. Because (QB) Matt (Schaub) does a great job with our play fakes and any of our play action and our movement game, it all works off the run game. Certainly important for us."
(on T Derek Newton returning to the lineup) "(T) Derek (Newton) has certainly played well, and I don't know if you can qualify one or another, but just to have extra guys in there. I think Derek has got a bright future, so getting him well will be important for us."
(on if there was a reason for QB Matt Schaub not scanning the field) "I don't think that there is any way I can say that he did that all night. There may have been one or two that he didn't make the right reads, but there are a lot of things that didn't go right the other night, obviously. Not any one aspect. We believe in (QB) Matt (Schaub). We believe that he'll do a great job for us. We keep working with him. As far as our information, what we gave him, I'm disappointed in myself that I didn't get us in the right adjustments, particularly at halftime. Our first half, we moved the ball but didn't score. The second half we didn't do very well. I think everybody has got a little bit to learn from the other night. But we rebound, and we're a good football team. We've got great players and great focus and we're going to work hard at it."
OLB Connor Barwin
(on if he has any concerns about the defense the past few games) "No. Obviously we're not happy about the way we played in the last game, but I think we're all moving forward. We looked at the tape, we saw the mistakes we made and we made the corrections."
(on where the area of improvement needs to come from) "Well, you can always do everything better, but I think the biggest thing is just the mental thing. There were mistakes across the board mentally, not physically, that we made and the Patriots were able to take advantage of."
(on what it would mean to clinch the division at home) "It would be huge. We have an opportunity, obviously. All of our goals are ahead of us. But to do it here at home against the Colts would kind of be perfect."
(on how anxious the team is to forget the game Monday night) "Yeah, we're hoping this week goes by as fast as possible. It seems like when you're winning, the weeks go by fast and after you lose, they take forever to get back to Sunday. We were all happy to get back to work today, obviously, and I can't wait to get to Sunday."
(on why beating the Colts to win the division would be "perfect") "Yeah, people that have been around here obviously know the Colts ran the AFC South for a while. To beat them again, we got it last year, and to get it again this year against them would be nice."
(on what he's seen so far with Andrew Luck) "Yeah, he looks like a veteran quarterback. He's been very impressive. Obviously, today we worked on first and second down. But just from what we saw today, a lot of play-action bootlegs, making plays off-schedule, which you guys will probably hear all week long. Just a big, solid guy that can make the throws and he's hard to bring down."
(on how surprising it is to see rookie quarterbacks be successful) "It's surprising obviously, but this is a trend that's been happening since I've been in the league. You see a lot of the rookies now having success faster than they used to."
(on if QB Andrew Luck is similar to QB Ben Roethlisberger) "Yeah, he's not quite as big, well I haven't played him yet. I don't think he's quite as big as (QB Ben) Roethlisberger. But that's kind of what people say, the same kind of deal. He's a big, solid kid, faster than you think. And like I said, he can get outside the pocket and make plays off schedule."
(on why rookie quarterbacks experience success earlier in the league now) "I think that, I don't think this is the right answer, but this is just my opinion. Maybe it's because they're getting thrown in there quicker than they used to. And I think the college offenses are more advanced than they used to be. College quarterbacks have to know a lot more than they used to. And do a lot more. So I think that gives him a better shot early on in the NFL."
(on what the film session is like after a big loss) "It's not nearly as fun as when you win. But you have to be objective. You have to be, the guys in this locker room, we're all hard on ourselves, and even the coaches are, you guys are, on us. The coaches are hard on us. You just have to look at yourself, see what you did wrong, and make sure you get it fixed."
(on seeing mental mistakes pile up even when you know what to do) "It's frustrating because it's very disappointing. You disappoint yourself, your coaches obviously, your teammates, because those are the thing that there's no excuse for."
(on what has to happen to improve the pass rush) "Well the pass rush can always get better. There's been opportunities, we just haven't been able to take advantage of them. There's been some mental decisions that we haven't been able to make the right decision in that sudden split-second where you have to make the right decision. You just have to keep working. You just have to try to move forward, look at the film, see what you did wrong and try to get it fixed the next week."
LT Duane Brown
(on facing Colts OLB Dwight Freeney and OLB Robert Mathis) "They're probably the best duo that the league has ever seen that play together. Both present great challenges, different rushes in their own right. I'm pretty familiar with both of them. It's always a challenge, but I'm pretty comfortable in this point of my career to be able to face that challenge."
(on what the differences are in Colts OLB Dwight Freeney and OLB Robert Mathis) "(Dwight) Freeney is a little bit bigger, so he's a little stronger. Whereas (Robert) Mathis is more agile and he can bend the corner a little bit better. But both have outstanding spin moves and love to pressure the quarterback. It's our job up front to hold down the edge and keep (QB) Matt (Schaub) comfortable and up right."
(on the difference in the Colts' defensive front in their new scheme) "It's not much different. Their defense is similar to ours where (OLB Dwight) Freeney gets down in a three-point stance probably 80 percent of the time. They rarely ask him to drop in coverage, so you pretty much know he's going to be rushing a majority of the time. But occasionally they will drop him back. When it happens, I'll be ready for it."
(on how the years of playing against OLB Dwight Freeney have helped him) "It's helped me a lot. My first year, (OLB Dwight Freeney) handed it to me. My first couple of years. I started to really get a key on his moves and his tendencies and last year I had my best year against him. I didn't face (OLB Robert) Mathis last year. So I'm looking to have a better outing this time around."
(on what it would mean to clinch here at home in front of the fans) "It would mean a lot. We've put ourselves in a great position. But more than anything, we're looking to go out and have a great game. If we play the way we're supposed to play, that will happen."
(on how motivated this team is after Monday night) "We're very motivated, and like you said, a lot of mistakes that we made was the most frustrating part. Not so much getting outplayed, but beating ourselves up more than we should have. We had a pretty good practice today. We didn't do much physically, but a lot of mental reps and stuff to get locked in. Tomorrow the work load will pick up a little bit more. We're just looking to execute. That's all we can do is go out there and execute. Coach will give us a great game plan and it's up to us as players to go out there and execute it and hopefully come out with a 'W.'"
(on being frustrated with the inconsistency of the run game) "It's pretty frustrating. We left a lot of yards out there Monday night. We had some big ones that broke out, but in this league you have to be consistent. You can't have a 15-yard run and then two negative plays. You have to be able to get five here, get eight there, to make the defense respect it and set up the rest of your offense. It's something we're definitely focused on up front. It's something our running backs are definitely focused on. We just have to continue to push up front and it will work out."
(on if improving the run consistency will help with the third-down conversion rate) "Absolutely. If you put yourself in third and two, third and three as opposed to third and eight, third and nine, you have a better chance at converting those. Even when we get down to those third-and-short situations, that's when the run game really has to be relied on. You should not be blocked with the ball on third and two, third and one. First and second down, if we can run the ball effectively, it will definitely help us out."
TE Owen Daniels
(on the mood at practice today) "It was good. We were really focused on our game plan, what we were doing and ready to go, ready to get ready for Indy."
(on WR Andre Johnson saying he has no doubt about how the team will respond on Sunday) "I'm with (WR Andre Johnson) Dre. We responded very well when we had the situation like this earlier this year. We've really got no choice but to bounce back. Obviously, it's a really big game, a chance to win the division. We're really, really excited about that and doing what we can this week to get ready."
(on possibly clinching the division at home) "It'd be awesome. It'd be great to be able to celebrate in this locker room and with our fans helping us along the way. You'd like the opportunity to do it at home. That's the most fun. It's the best place to do it. We have a great opportunity."
(on some things that need to be done offensively) "We just need to make plays. That's what it really comes down to. You're going to face third downs. You're going to face third downs when maybe you shouldn't be able to convert, but those situations you need to. You need to build big plays in some situations, keep drives alive. You're not going to get anything. Nothing is given to you so they're not going to let you stay on the field. They're not going to let you get first downs. We need to earn them and make big plays all day first quarter, fourth quarter."
WR Andre Johnson
(on the team's third down struggles) "We just ain't converting. I think there are plays out there to be made, but we just ain't converting. That's pretty much it."
(on the offense's trouble finishing drives) "Well, when you don't convert on third down you don't have long drives. When you don't convert, you have to come off the field. (We) just have to figure out a way to make plays on third down."
(on the team's mood at practice today) "I feel fine. I can't speak for everybody else. I'm fine. I'll be ready to go on Sunday. It's one game, wish it didn't happen the way it happened, but that one game doesn't make your season. I don't know. Hopefully, down the road we run into them again. We'll see what happens."
(on possibly clinching the division at home) "It'd be good just to do it, period. It really doesn't matter where you do it at. It'd probably be better for the fans if you do it at home, but just as long as you get it done, that's all that matters."
(on possibly clinching the division against the Colts) "I don't know. I just think the biggest thing is just getting it done. It doesn't matter who it comes against; just about getting it done."
(on if he thinks Monday's loss is going to make the team better) "I think you learn from any loss that you have. I'm sure what happened Monday night there is a lot to learn from. Like I said, I'm not worried. I'm fine. I can't speak for everybody else. You'll have to ask them. I'll be ready to go on Sunday. That's pretty much it."
(on the team responding from Monday's loss) "I have no doubt on how we will respond on Sunday. Period. You guys can say what you want, think what you want, just watch us on Sunday and see what happens."
(on if this is an angry football team right now) "I'm not going to necessarily say angry, but when you lose a game you have to come back and respond. We'll be ready."
P Donnie Jones
(on the injury to his knee) "It's just swollen and stiff. It's not that it will affect me playing. I'd have to have a broken leg not to play on Sunday. It's part of it. We don't usually tackle often and when we do it's, all the guys give me a little grief. It's nothing major though."
(on if the injury affected him during the game) "No, like I said, it was swollen and stiff. Pushing off, because it was the plant leg, I thought maybe pushing off wouldn't be able to get as much power under the ball. But it didn't really bother me."
(on if he will go on Sunday) "Yeah, I'll definitely play. Like I said again, I probably would have to have a broken leg not to play. But yeah, nothing major."
(on if his teammates are giving him a hard time) "Yeah, but I told those guys, I said, 'Look, you guys are NFL football players, I'm not.' So when I get a little bruise or something, it is what it is. I know my role. But it's all in good fun."
(on what his teammates thought of his form tackling) "Well, he went to the ground, so I don't know if it was great."
(on saying he was not an NFL player) "Yeah, I mean I'm not an actual NFL 'football' player. I mean, come on. We know our roles. I had the same type thing in 2008. I had to push (WR) DeSean Jackson out of bounds. Somehow I chased him down, don't know how I did it, and I fell and my knee blew up. Every now and then you get one. We're punters and kickers. We're a different breed."
(on if he would be found sneaking over into position drills) "I enjoy what I do. I'll keep to punting."
CB Jonathan Joseph
(on Colts QB Andrew Luck's ability to make big plays on broken plays) "You have to stay with your guy, it's easy. You either have the guy in coverage or you got the guy in zone. If the guy is in your zone and the play breaks down, just run and find that guy and stay with him until the whistle blows. There's nothing hard about that. Just staying with your guy until the whistle blows."
(on shutting down WR Reggie Wayne) "(WR) Reggie (Wayne) is in the top of the league, I think the top-3 in those categories, in receiving yards and receptions. It'll be a tough task, but we have the guys here. (CB) Brandon Harris played a great game last week for his second game getting a full start. I think he did a great job against his guy (WR) Wes Welker, who is probably the greatest at his position in the slot. This will be a big task for him going against Reggie Wayne, who is a crafty veteran as well. But he's got a lot of veterans around him who are picking him up throughout the week. He's up for the task and we think he'll do a great job."
(on the communication getting easier in the secondary) "In the secondary it's just about getting comfortable and communication is probably the biggest thing because if you don't have communication, one slip up and the ball could be ahead for a 70-yard touchdown. So we think back and the biggest thing is communication."
OLB Whitney Mercilus
(on having six sacks and what his performance means to him) "It's awesome. It just shows that I'm allowing my body to take over and use my athleticism to go in there, make plays, make things happen like the coaches expect me to do. That's why they picked me. There is still plenty of football left to play and all that so I'll just continue doing the same thing I'm doing."
(on making plays when he gets to play) "It's very special. It makes you feel like you're part of the team more. You're being able to help your team and contribute and just go out there and be one of the guys that can be depended on if need be you're one of the guys who can make a play."
(on how angry this team is right now) "We're mad, disappointed in what happened on Monday night. That wasn't us. We play much better than what we have in the past and things like that. The thing is it's a teaching moment for us. That right there had to happen. There is a reason why it happened because once we get into the stretch into the playoffs we're going to be facing teams like that. It teaches us that we can't slack off. We've just got to be good all around as a unit."
OLB Brooks Reed
(on his progress) "I've been running and cutting. So based on how I feel, I'm gradually working the practice. Probably not this week. But we'll see coming, it's just day-to-day kind of for me."
(on if he is ruling out playing this week) "I'm not ruling it out. It's day-to-day. I'm feeling a lot better every day. All I can do is just do treatment and rehab here all day."
(on if he is rid of the pain and swelling in his groin) "Yeah, it's all gone. It's just basically getting rid of the scar tissue and what's left. It's just a progression and something that just takes time. Something can't really rush into or else it will happen again."
(on how hard it is to be patient) "It's tough, man. Knowing that we have a huge divisional game coming up and not knowing if I'm going to be able to participate in that or not is pretty tough."
QB Matt Schaub
(on playing at home) "It's going to be great to be back here in front of our home crowd at Reliant after a few week road trip. It'll be good to get back at home."
(on the possibility of clinching the division at home) "It'd be great. It'd be great to able to do that in front of our home crowd for our fans who have been so good to us over the years, especially the past few. It's a chance to go out and win another game and we're refocusing our sights on that and doing whatever it takes to get a win on Sunday."
(on the offense's third down struggles) "We've just got to execute. We've got to be on top of every situation, every play, every defense that they could throw at us and be able to make adjustments in the game and handle those situations because it's those critical points in the game that we've got to be at our best."
(on the need to extend drives) "Absolutely. We've got to finish drives, whether it be on third down or in the red zone. We've got to be able to convert those situations into points because we have opportunities to make plays, especially on third down, those critical points in the game. We've got to convert."
(on the running game) "I think it's just a bunch of different things. Our attention to detail has to be there, because there are some teams over the last month that we've played that have given us a variety of fronts, and just being able to handle those adjustments against our blocking schemes. I think we've just got to stay the course and keep grinding those things out."
(on Colts OLB's Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney) "They're as good as they've always been. They're just aligned in different places than they used to be with (OLB Robert) Mathis being an outside 'backer type, but they still rush the passer. They still bring it off the edge and they're as good as they've ever been at doing that."
(on if he thinks the team will respond well) "I absolutely do. Knowing our type of team and the guys in that locker room, we're excited to get right back out on the field and get this taste out of our month from the other night. I have no doubt that we're going to go do that."
(on if the short week is good to help put Monday behind them) "It's great it's a short week because of the fact of what happened the other night you got to let it go. Good or bad in this league, you've got to be able to let those things go and move on to the next one. The fact that we can get right back out on the field in a short week, we'll be fine. Physically, once we get to the game, guys are taking care of themselves, and mentally, getting on top of our game plan, so we'll be fine."
(on moving on from Monday's loss) "I think we are. We dug ourselves a hole the other day and it was too much for us to get out of. But I have no doubt that our team has enough guys that have played enough football that no matter how things are going, good or bad, we're able to put what's happened behind us and move on. It's still about execution and being able to make ourself go."
(on if the team's lack of experience in playing from behind hurts them) "No. No it's not. We've just got to go play football."
(on the Colts) "They're playing well. They're fighting. They're a young team that's really playing well together. They're finding a way to make the plays to put their team over the edge and win the game. They've been in a ton of close games, but they're finding a way to win. That's contagious. When you start to do that, you find a way to win each week. They've been impressive to watch."
(on Colts QB Andrew Luck) "I've seen a little bit of what they've been doing. He's making plays. He's relying on the guys around him and they're doing a good job of running the football and making plays for him in the secondary."
(on learning from Monday's loss) "Well, you have to. Good or bad, you learn what you did well or not, but you have to be able to file that away and move on. You can't sit there and think about what happened and the bad stuff and everything. You got to be able to process that information, but keep pushing forward. That's the nature of this business."
(on if the Colts defensive front is different this year) "It's different because they're not necessarily a four-down (linemen) defense. They're basing out of a three-down, but their linebackers are d-end types on the edge with (OLB Dwight) Freeney and (OLB Robert) Mathis. It comes at you a little bit differently, but they're still a very physical front, very fast, very athletic."
(on the Colts finding ways to win late in games) "They find a way in those critical points in the game to make a play, whether it's a defensive stop or their offense moving the football in a two-minute type situation to score at the end. They're just finding a way to be in the game and have a chance to win at the end. They're finding a way to do it."
RB Ben Tate
(on if he felt like he did better Monday night than in Tennessee) "I had like four plays in the Tennessee game. It's tough to say. You can't judge a performance. It's tough to judge my performance in Tennessee to my one last night because my reps were totally different. I felt like I did pretty good in both games in the opportunity that I got. That's what it's all about. I'm just here to help out the team and just maximize my opportunities."
(on if he felt the same physically in both games) "I felt better last week than I did the week before."
(on where he is in his recovery) "I'm fine. I feel like I'm fine. Every week with the injury that I had, a hamstring, every week it's going to get better and better and better. Now it's to the point where I think it's pretty much back to 100 percent."
(on how his conditioning is right now) "You would like to think that my conditioning is great, but adrenaline is going and it's turned up a whole other level on game day. As far as practicing and stuff like that I'll get out there and I'm fine. But on Monday, I got a little gassed after going five, six, seven plays in a row."
(on if he thought he was going to have to work his way back into the rotation) "I didn't have an idea. Honestly, I wasn't really worried about it. I just know that as long as I go out and do what I needed to do, whatever the team, whatever the coaches ask me to do, that was the only important thing."
(on how important it was to be back on the field) "It just felt good to get back out there and to get enough time out there to not just get a carry and go back to the sideline for a while. It was just good to get back out there again and kind of get back in the groove of things. I had fun."
(on if the coaches have told him where he will be in the running back rotation) "When they call 44, I go. I'm not worried about everything else. I just know that whenever they call 44 I'm ready to go. I give them all I got every time I step out there in between those lines."
DE J.J. Watt
(on the fan support in Pro Bowl voting) "It means a lot. You're always looking to be respected. I appreciate the fan's support. I love the fan's support all over the country. Obviously, here in Houston, I love our fans, really appreciate everything they do for us. I have to say thank you. All year, everybody's been unbelievable and we're looking forward to giving them a great show here the last couple weeks and the playoffs."
(on if he's ever amazed by his popularity now) "Yeah, it's really cool. It's crazy. It's an honor. I truly am appreciative. I think as players we don't always get a chance to say thank you to our fans and to everyone, but I really do appreciate every single fan out there. I know that a lot of people spend their hard-earned money on my jersey and on our jerseys and on tickets to come see us play and everything. We just want to take a quick second and say thank you to all those people, especially in this holiday season, for supporting us."
(on Colts QB Andrew Luck calling him a monster) "Thank you. That's my job. That's what I do. Off the field, I'm a nice guy, but on the field you have to turn into a monster. You have to be able to turn into someone else, into a beast, into a monster. That's what I try and do every game day."
(on Colts QB Andrew Luck) "He's a great player. He's a heck of a football player. You watch the tape (and) you wouldn't think he was even close to being a rookie. He's a great football player. He has a great head on his shoulders. He can run. He can pass. He's very smart. They've got a heck of a quarterback up there. It's going to be a good challenge for us."
(on the magnitude of Sunday's game) "We can clinch the division. Like we've said all along, we have everything in front of us. We're still on top of the AFC. We have everything in front of us. We can go clinch the division this weekend, which is a big goal of ours and then we'll move on to the next goal."
(on having a short memory) "I can't wait to play again, get in front of our home fans, get out there, play the game and just get back to it. It was one game. We lost the game and we're going to get back to work. That's all we can do so we're out here putting in our time. We're going to be ready."
(on possibly clinching the division at home) "It would be great. These fans have been with us through and through, and I know they've been here for ten years and we really want to do it in front of them here at home because that would be special."
(on the Colts' offense turning the ball over frequently) "It's our goal always to create turnovers. We know what that does for momentum. We know how good our offense is, so we want to get them the ball as many times as possible so we're always looking to create turnovers."
(on some of the problems Colts QB Andrew Luck creates as a quarterback and if he's mobile) "He is. Obviously, first he has a good arm. He's a good passer, but he also can do things with his feet that many wouldn't expect. He's a fast guy. He's elusive. He can get out of the pocket. He can get away from tackles, so you have to be weary of where he is at all times. You got to make sure you keep him in there."
(on Colts QB Andrew Luck not being afraid to stay in the pocket) "I think he does both things well. I just watched the tape today and all of his scrambles, he can do some good things, but he is still a young quarterback and we can still do some things. We're not backing down from anybody. We're looking forward to the challenge."
(on what he expects to see on Sunday) "They're a great football team. We're looking forward to the game. Obviously, we're looking to bounce back. We had a tough game Monday night. We're looking to bounce back, but division rivalries are always good and this is a big one, our first chance to play them this year, so we're excited."
(on if he got a sense of how this team responds ) "We're back to work. We're focused. Everybody is very focused and we're ready to get back out there and get this taste out of our mouths."
(on the issues with the Texans' pass defense) "From my perspective, we need more sacks. I need to rush the passer better. As a defensive line, we need more pressure and we need to bat some more balls. We'll put it on us up front."
(on how they can get more pressure) "Pass rush better. You win up front; just work on it. We need to do better."
(on the mood at practice) "I think we're very focused. I think everybody in this building, every guy here is very, very focused on what's ahead and what the goal is this week. Division opponent, chance to clinch, we know what's at stake and we know what it's going to take. We're here very focused to get it done."
(on how much longer he'll have to wear his elbow brace) "I'm going to wear it all year as a preventative issue, just to make sure nothing happens because it is more likely to happen again once it's happened before. I was hoping to get it off earlier in the year, but from where we're at and where we stand now, I'm going to wear it the rest of the season."
(on if his elbow is still healing at all) "It's not to the point where I can take the brace off, so I guess that's what I would say. It's not."
(on getting comfortable with his elbow brace) "The brace doesn't bother me at all. It's annoying that I have to put it on at the game. I hate the way it looks, but it's something that I have to do."
Indianapolis Colts Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians Conference Call
(on what jumps out at him when he looks at the Texans on film) "I think talent, first and foremost. Extremely talented group. Play extremely hard and physical. They're exactly what you want your football team to be."
(on if he expected the Colts to be where they are now) "At that point of time, and what we have tried to do is stay day-to-day. When we got the devastating news about coach, we just tried to get to the next day and keep everything on a weekly basis. As we started winning, people wanted to start projecting and we needed to just continue with the process, with Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. It's been hard because the story is becoming a story now. And more distractions as people try to talk about scenarios, for us to just stay in the moment, but that's what we talk about each week."
(on how well QB Andrew Luck has been able to stay in the moment) "Extremely well. And when your top guys do, (OLB Dwight) Freeney, (OLB Robert) Mathis, (DE Cory) Redding, (FS Antoine) Bethea, (QB) Andrew (Luck), (WR) Reggie Wayne, they keep everybody else in the moment. There's always a rookie or two that's dreaming and you just have to cuss him out and get him straight."
(on QB Andrew Luck's ability to handle pressure) "We knew when he first came in, he was a very cerebral player and a very athletic player. As we've all been together, we found out how great he is, and he's a determined winner. That's what usually separates guys at that position. They have a passion for winning and they hate losing and they have an ability to will it on the guys in the huddle with them."
(on if QB Andrew Luck has managed to exceed expectations) "Yeah I think so, in a lot of ways. You never know how tough a guy is until you have him. You can judge everything except the heart muscle when you're out there evaluating guys. He's got a heart and he's got a great grit."
(on his initial reaction after the Texans' game against the Patriots Monday night) "I saw Déjà vu from when we were up there. You cannot make mistakes when you're playing at Gillette Stadium. I've been there too many times. You have to keep it early; you have to keep the game close. They got behind them and lost what they like to do best, and that's run the football. It's very hard to create turnovers against (QB) Tom (Brady) to get your football team back in the game. If you make a mistake or two, they have a way of capitalizing on them. It surprised me in a lot of ways because I thought that would be a much closer ball game."
(On if he has seen many defensive players like DE J.J. Watt) "No, man, he's a coaches' dream. High energy, high motor and great talent you put all that stuff together. Usually hard work will beat talent when talent doesn't work hard. But when you got a talented guy working hard it's tough to beat him. I really like watching him play."
(on the winning culture of the Colts and it being a part of where they are today) "It's a huge part. (OLB Dwight) Freeney, (OLB Robert) Mathis, (DE Cory) Redding came from Baltimore, but (FS) Antoine Bethea, (WR) Reggie Wayne on offense. All those guys, they have one losing season in their careers. They weren't used to it. It was an aberration to them. It's a credit to them to grab these young guys and mold them as fast as they have because they knew we were going to need a lot of young guys, especially on offense. And Reggie has done an unbelievable job with them."
(on having lower expectations this year) "I think every year is different. Nobody stays the same anymore. There are so many new faces. We have an entire new building, coaching staff, general manager, 37 new players. Really, last year is over and it was just about 'let's build this team this spring, this training camp, this preseason and let's go.'"
(on still being the offensive coordinator and the added heavy hours) "We've got a great staff and the hours really haven't been that bad. The first two weeks were kind of hectic. But the biggest part of my job is to make sure the offense continued to improve. I saw our defense improving. I saw our special teams improving, so we had to maintain these young kids on offense getting better. The head coaching part of it, I think it got easier as time went on and the hours have gotten better. But at first, it was just the shock of what had happened and how you're going to find so many hours in the day. But it's really come out okay."
(on if QB Andrew Luck's intelligence helped the process) "Yeah, I mean, he is a blessing. It's those other seven rookies that are playing on offense that you have to watch out for. Clyde Christensen has done a great job with (QB Andrew Luck). You know, whenever there is a philosophical thing that we're trying to get done. This is why we're trying to do this, the three of us will meet and those guys will hammer it out. But yeah, I think a head coach and a coordinator has to have a relationship with his quarterback that's built on trust."
(on if he has to say anything to QB Andrew Luck about coming back to Houston) "I haven't said a thing. I don't think it would need to be (said). He's a very grounded young man who knows what's at stake and, if anything, he'll prepare even more without anybody saying anything to him."
Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck Conference Call
(on facing the Texans) "It's a huge game. Obviously, we're fighting for a spot. The Texans are one of the premier teams in the AFC. I don't think the division is sewn up yet so biggest game of the year."
(on when he last played at Reliant Stadium) "It must have been 2007. That's my last game of high school. It was a fairly high scoring game so bitter memories of Reliant Stadium. It was the third round so the regional semifinals I think it would be right."
(on winning come from behind games this season) "I think it's a great locker room to be a part of. We know we haven't played our best football for 60 minutes straight. I think guys just keep on playing football regardless of circumstance, up by X amount of points, down by X amount of points, guys just keep on playing. We obviously wish we didn't have to be down so much and come back and win some games, which would be a little easier. We'll take the wins as they come. We also realize we have to improve if we're going to have a chance to beat good, quality teams like the Texans."
(on his expectations when the year began) "I didn't know. I didn't know what to expect. I didn't want to say 'We got to go undefeated or it's okay for a rookie quarterback and this team not to win any games or whatever.' I approached it as all the guys did in the locker room as try to win every game. Obviously, it doesn't happen, but we weren't allowed to say the 'R' word or the rebuilding word during training camp. That's not what this team was about. It's nice that we're in the thick of things and playing meaningful games in December. As far as expectations, I really didn't know what to expect. I don't think I can quantify it."
(on his conversation with Dwight Freeney before the season) "It was the first day of camp. He was sitting in his locker. He called me over and just told me, 'One, don't worry too much just take it day-by-day, play football. And two, do you're thing. Guys are all behind you. If we take it day-by-day, we'll have a chance to be a decent football team.'"
(on if Dwight Freeney told him that the old guys didn't have time to rebuild) "That message was there as well."
(on if he's had to buy a lot of tickets for Sunday's game in Houston) "No, it hasn't been too hectic. Maybe people are respectfully keeping their distance, yeah a couple tickets."
(on if he circled this game when he saw the schedule before the season) "Absolutely, it's a chance one for my grandparents to come to the game and a lot of my family still lives out in West Houston so a chance for them to come see me, which is fun. Then it's always, I think, nice to go back to your hometown and obviously play a great team. I think everybody figured the Texans were going to be a heck of a team at the beginning of the year as they've shown. It'll be a big game."
(on his thoughts watching the Texans game on Monday) "It's no fun to go down early in Foxborough. They make you pay. I didn't watch all of it. I caught a quarter, the first quarter, and some of the end. I think it's hard to gleam much information from the TV broadcast as opposed to the coaches film."
(on if he's surprised himself this season) "I think as an athlete you're going to have high expectations for yourself. I obviously wish you could go out and win every game and be undefeated and break every passing record out there and not throw any interceptions. What I've sort of focused on is making sure one: giving the team a chance to win and two: improving every week, which I do think I have improved week to week. Yeah I'll still make mistakes obviously and still make mistakes that'll hurt the team, but trying to limit those so that's what I've been focusing on."
(on the toughest adjustment to the NFL defenses) "Just the speed and then speed coupled with the complexities of some of the defenses, especially a defense like the Texans. How fast they play and how many different looks they present, to process that is something that I think I am struggling with, trying to get better though."
(on Texans DE J.J. Watt ) "He's a monster. He gets sacks. If he's not sacking the quarterback he's hitting the running back behind the line of scrimmage. If he's not doing that he's batting balls down so he's definitely a premier player in this league."
(on how the Texans' ability to bat passes affects him) "I don't think you can let it affect your mindset. That's one more thing to worry about. You've got enough to worry about playing the Texans. Just like focusing on one player, you never want to focus on one guy on the defense the whole time. I think it takes you out of your rhythm. I don't think you want to focus on 'Oh they do a good job of batting balls down.' We'll just have to play the game."
(on how joining a team with a winning culture has helped turned things around this year) "Yeah, I think a big part. We may be a young team, but I think our veteran leadership is outstanding. Especially as a rookie, coming in and learning from a guy like (WR) Reggie Wayne. Who was been a part of how many fourth-quarter comebacks. However many straight 10-win seasons and playoff berths. (DE) Dwight Freeney and (DE) Robert Mathis, (FS) Antoine Bethea. Those guys have won and won consistently. They just seem calm in all situations, which I think the guys who maybe haven't been around for that long or are new this year."
(on if he has felt the ghost of Peyton Manning) "No, no I haven't. Which was not to say it's taboo to talk about Peyton or try to learn from things he did. He is playing at an incredibly high level, so you figure you can find some things that he did that helped him out. But no, I have not felt the presence of the ghost."
(on someone in Houston that has affected his career) "Yeah, I think head coach out at Stratford, Elliot Allen. He was great, he's still there. I think they lost in the second round of playoffs to Dawson, the new school down in Pearland. But he had a tremendous impact on how to approach an offseason. I remember as a sophomore, you end up starting on varsity, you're a young kid and you got guys who have already gone through puberty and all that. He helped out in understanding how to be yourself and how to be a leader, I guess."
(on getting lineman's pads in middle school, being excited to play football) "Yeah, I did. I think it was one of the first days we had moved to Houston and it was pad pickups before the season starts. They gave me a pair of lineman pads. Like every kid, I think I went home and wore them around for about three hours at the house and wanted to sleep in them. I realized they were a little big and was a little disconcerted. I talked to my dad and was like, 'Oh, I'm in lineman pads, I'll never get to play quarterback.' And he said, 'Ah, don't worry,' in his typical fashion. And it worked out the next day."
(on rookie quarterbacks' success being linked to Texas football camps) "I don't know the exact answer, but I do think it has to do with how sophisticated 7-on-7 leagues in Texas are. And how many reps you get throwing and maybe the approach that some college coaches are taking in teaching football to their quarterbacks. I think I've been blessed with great coaches all the way. High school, out at Stanford with coach (Jim) Harbaugh and coach (David) Shaw, Greg Roman who's coordinating at the 49ers. So I think that does help prepare younger quarterbacks for that transition."
(on his role as a leader)"I think we all on offense definitely defer to (WR) Reggie Wayne as the leader. And I do 100 percent as well as sort of leader of our unit. But as a quarterback by default, you're going to be talking in the huddle you're going to assume some sort of leadership role. And I think that role is worked on every day. To me, something that coach (Jim) Harbaugh at Stanford used to say, you don't have to change your personality to be a leader. If you're not a yeller, don't yell just to yell. If you're a quiet guy, do it that way. So not trying to change your personality to lead, it takes time. I don't think it happens on day one."
(on WR Donnie Avery's play this season) "Yeah, he's been great. I think obviously with the amount of attention (WR) Reggie (Wayne) gets, (WR) Donnie (Avery) is in good situations and takes advantage of those. You can tell his love for football is there. His drive, his motivation. He's a great guy. It's fun to be around guys from the Houston area as well. But he has been phenomenal this year and a big boost to this offense."
(on communicating with his father) "It's fun. He definitely gets taken back to some of his own memories. I remember driving out to Anderson, Indiana, for the first training camp. I gave him a call and he went on a 20 minute story about driving to San Angelo and listening to a U2 album that came out on repeat or something. I think it he goes back to some of the experiences he had. I think he's probably getting more of a kick out of it than I am."
(on which family members will be here for the game) "Yeah, I don't know completely all of them. A lot of my mom's side of the family, they are from Houston and live there. A couple of her brothers, my cousins from them, my aunts that are married to them. And then my mom's parents."
(on if there will be a family meet-up after meetings on Saturday night before the game) "No, I think try to take it easy. I've had a chance to make it back to Houston and I will so in the future as well, so it's not the only time I'll be back in the next year or something."
(on if he feels like a Hoosier now) "I do. I do feel acclimated. The more you learn about the Hoosiers, the more you come to love them."
(on surviving and thriving in the coaching situation in Indianapolis) "The credit goes to (Bruce) Arians in wearing both hats. I know we had a talk right after the situation unfolded where he said 'nothing concerning my offensive coordinator duties will be sacrificed. If anything, I'm going to have to stay in for five extra hours doing the head coaching job.' So our communication hasn't changed and I think it's accustomed to him putting in however many extra hours. And I think he also has a great relationship with coach Pagano and probably knows best what coach Pagano's plan is and how he wants us to follow that plan."
(on the influence of the back-story with Coach Pagano) "Yeah it is, and I don't think as players we fully grasp the situation fully still. I'm sure after the season we'll look back on it and maybe get a clearer picture. But it is different and unprecedented I guess."