Head Coach Gary Kubiak
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
CB Kareem Jackson
WR Andre Johnson
CB Johnathan Joseph
OLB Whitney Mercilus
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on the team's health) "Let's see. Who didn't practice today? (G Antoine) Caldwell didn't practice today and (ILB Tim) Dobbins didn't practice today. Other than that, everybody was back at work."
(on ILB Tim Dobbins' status for Saturday) "I think he's still a game-time decision. Today we wanted the reps to go to (ILB) Barrett (Ruud), and obviously we've got (ILB) Mister (Alexander) that we picked up who needs a ton of reps to get ready to play real quick. We'll see where we're at tomorrow, but we knew it was a concern going into the week. I'll hold out a promise here yet. He's been beat up throughout the course of the year, but he's always found some way to kind of answer the bell, so we'll see. We'll give him every bit of time we can."
(on whether ILB Barrett Ruud would start if ILB Tim Dobbins can't play) "Barrett would play a great deal, yes. We've got a lot of combinations that we could use, but Barrett would play a great deal."
(on the play of ILB Barrett Ruud) "The good thing is Barrett is a veteran player who has been in this league for a while. He's been in different types of schemes. He was a big Tampa 2 "Mike" linebacker for a long time, but he's picked up on what we're doing. He's very smart. He has played quite a bit since he got here, and obviously he played a lot last week with the situation that we got in. We've got a lot of confidence in him, and I don't think anything is too big for him. He's played in a lot of football games."
(on how important the acquisition of ILB Bradie James was) "It was important from the get-go because he took over for a guy (former Texans ILB DeMeco Ryans) who had been a big leader around here. That's how that came about and the fact that he had been with (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) and knew the system made it a smooth transition. Bradie has been everything we thought we would get and then some, in my opinion. I think he's done a heck of a job and he's been an excellent leader for us, too."
(on how ILB Bradie James has helped along the young inside linebackers) "He helps them a great deal. He's the guy who is basically an expert on (Defensive Coordinator) Wade's (Phillips) scheme. There's been a little bit of a revolving door there with Sharp (ILB Darryl Sharpton) coming off of injury and with (ILB Tim) Dobbins being beat up a great deal of the time; and he's played with Cush (ILB Brian Cushing) for a while and now he plays with (ILB) Barrett (Ruud). He's kind of been a rock. He's been the one guy who has been consistent and been there all year long, even though I think he missed a game or two. It's important that he's out there."
(on OLB Brooks Reed's health and CB Alan Ball's health) "Brooks is fine. He took his portion of the reps. Everything is working toward game day. It looks good right now. I think Alan is moving good. We kind of had him on a play count yesterday [but] we took him off of it today. He went back to work full-time. He'd be a big addition. It looks like he's going to be ready to go, but he's a big addition, not only defensively, but special teams-wise because he's played so well for us."
(on the team needing to raise its level of play in the postseason) "Well, we did last year, so we had a little practice last year. This time of the year, this new season, these guys have a lot of energy. It's hard to get to where you're one of those 12, and in our case, AFC-wise, you're one of six. That's a hard thing to accomplish in this business, and when you get there, I think this time of year players take over, to be honest with you. Coaches, we're always on these guys week to week. I think playoff football is their time of the year, it's their opportunity that they've put themselves, given themselves a great opportunity. We've had great energy this week. They're excited about their opportunity to play, but at the same time we know we're going to have to play a lot better than we've been playing."
(on if he would take a 12-win season every year) "I think if any team went into every season and said, 'You're going to win 12 games,' I think you'd be a pretty successful organization for a long, long time. It's hard to do. This league is funny. It all depends how it's going. We were playing really good when we were an 11-1 football team. We struggled the last month. If you start 0-4 and you win 12 in a row, you're a rolling football team. It's always something. And we've had our struggles this month and we understand that, but we have a lot of confidence in what we can do and what we're capable of doing and we're working toward getting that done this weekend."
(on the offensive line and its young players) "Our o-line all year has kind of been – I probably talk to you the same every week. We've had three very consistent players, veteran players that have been in our system, been with us for a while. The right side, from the get-go this year, we went young and we've played a lot of people, but I think they've done a good job. I think with (Offensive Line Coach) John (Benton) knowing that situation we had and what we were going to have to get done offensively throughout the course of the year with those young players, I think he's done a damn good job with them. (G) Ben (Jones) is playing well. He has his rookie moments, which you know you're going to have. Now (G) Brandon (Brooks) has come on and played a great deal. And I think (T Derek) Newton has become a much better player, and he has played hurt, so he's grown up from that standpoint; things that you have to do. Those guys are going to be much better players as they move forward because of all the tough football they've been in this year, which includes what we've got coming."
(on QB Matt Schaub's play and preparation) "Just go play. First off, you have to prepare like it's any other game. It's no different, so the preparation stays the same. Matt's team has to play good for Matt to win. This is a team game and that's what we're focused on right now, playing better as a football team, but Matt has his job to do too. I just want him to be himself. I've always been proud of how he prepares, how he gets ready to play games, how he goes about his job, and I just want him to do it again this week."
(on QB Matt Schaub's first time playing in the playoffs) "It means a great deal. I think we do forget this is his first time to step on the field in the playoffs; and he's, what, a nine-year player or something like that? He's worked really hard. We were in the playoffs last year because of him, too. He put his team in that position, and obviously (QB) T.J. (Yates) took over, but Matt had a lot to do with why we were playing last year. We're proud of him from that standpoint, but this is a big opportunity for him."
(on concentrating on what's going on now, not the past or future) "That's life, and that's part of football. How'd you play last week? How have you played the last few weeks? What have you done lately? That's our world. We understand that, and it hasn't been good the last few weeks, so hopefully we get it better."
(on if RB Arian Foster reaches another level in the postseason) "There's no doubt. You can watch the intensity go up just watching practice today. To me, the intensity was definitely raised a level. But Arian has been pretty consistent. When we can give him the good opportunities, he's been pretty consistent. It's like last week, as much as we struggled, I thought in the third quarter the run he made was amazing – the 35-yard run he made. I don't know; it looked like it was going to be a five-yard loss and he makes two people miss. It's what you've grow to expect from him and that's why he's become a three-time Pro Bowler. We're going to give him a chance to do it again, so we need him to step up and play well."
(on Cincinnati's kick return game) "They have two returners, actually. Pac Man (CB Adam Jones) and (WR Brandon) Tate. They'll actually rotate those guys. They're a little bit different types of guys, but there's two big-play possibilities right there. And us coming off what we had happen to us last week, which kind of changed the game, it's obviously attention to detail for us. I think we have a chance to make some big plays, too, special teams-wise. I think (WR) Keshawn (Martin) has been close a few times, so we need to step up. We've made some big plays before, and it's time to do it again."
(on putting SS Danieal Manning in the kick return spot last week) "Yeah, we're kind of getting him ready. Y'all know he's a heck of a kick returner. Throughout the course of the season, we did not have him doing that, but it is something that we're prepared to do. There's a couple of different things, once you get to this point, as far as maybe a few corners starting on special teams and stuff that you may try to protect a little bit during the season, but right now it's time to go and give them all opportunities to do everything they can do. That's what this time of year is, so that's why you saw it."
(on if SS Danieal Manning needs a rhythm to get back into) "He's done it good before, just putting him out there. He did in the playoffs last year at Baltimore. He's been special from that standpoint, but he's a lot on his plate, too. He plays 70, 75 plays a football game and is very, very valuable to our football team. But like I said, if it can make us better this weekend, then we'll give him an opportunity to do it."
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips
(on injuries in the defensive backfield) "It's more like a normal year. Some years you don't have many people banged up. We've had a few this year, so we had to make adjustments as we went. But we feel good where we are now."
(on the play of NT Earl Mitchell) "(NT) Earl Mitchell is consistent for us all the time. He plays tremendously hard. He's got good ability and everything we ask him to do, he does well. He has had a good year for us."
(on the role of NT Earl Mitchell and his number of snaps) "We have five defensive linemen. We've suited up five instead of six this year, almost every game. He's been in the rotation. All those guys have been in the rotation. We've played a lot of sub defense this year because of what teams are doing, so sometimes (NT) Earl (Mitchell) and (NT Shaun) Cody don't get to play quite as much.
(on what he likes about what Cincinnati does defensively) "They're a solid defensive team. They're aggressive, kind of like we are. I think their stats are pretty similar to us. They are similar to us in style of play. They're in the top of the league in a lot of things. Mike Zimmer is a good coach. He's always been a good coach and does a good job with those guys."
(on the growth of QB Andy Dalton since the last time he saw him) "Just more experience. You can tell, last year he did some rookie things and this year he's not doing those things. He's very poised. He was last year, too, but I just think he sees probably more things than he did last year. He recognizes blitzes a little quicker, those kind of things."
(on DE J.J. Watt has done this season to be more dominant than he was as a rookie) "(DE) J.J. (Watt) has just learned to use his ability, and we saw it last year in the two playoff games. He was dominant in those two games and he's carried it over to this year. I was amazed by the way he played at the end of last year, because usually a rookie kind of fades off at the end of the year and he kept getting better and better. Everybody remembers the interception for a touchdown, but he also had 12 tackles in the Baltimore game and three or four tackles for a loss in that game and a couple sacks. The last two playoff games against really good football teams, playoff teams, he played tremendously well and he's carried it over this year. He has had the best year I've ever seen out of a defensive lineman, bar none. To make as many plays, he had 10 tackles for loss in the last three games. He is playing at a tremendously high level."
(on if DE J.J. Watt is really the best he's ever seen) "Yeah, this is the best defensive line play of anybody since I've been in football. You just go by the stats. I mean, nobody's ever done anything like that. Nobody's had 20 sacks, 16 whatever its, knockdowns, twenty-something tackles for loss, 95 plays where they had no gain. Nobody's had a year like that. He is by far the best defensive player. He should obviously be the defensive player of the year in the league."
(on the strategy going into the playoffs) "It comes down to players, too. It's how you play that ball game. That's what I said before. People are talking about, well, we lost three out of four. We lost three out of four last year. I thought we played tremendously well going into the playoffs and we expect to do the same thing. You're playing better teams. You're playing playoff teams, which we've been lately. We haven't played well enough against (them). We've played five games against AFC playoff teams this year and we've won three out of those five. That's the kind of competition you're playing against."
(on ILB Tim Dobbins) "(ILB) Tim Dobbins has played through a lot of injuries this year. He went in and got shot up at halftime a couple times to come back and play again. He has done everything we've asked him to do. He's still banged up pretty good this week, so I'm worried about that."
(on if he's worried about ILB Tim Dobbins' history this year) "No. I'm worried about him being able to play this week."
(on CB Alan Ball) "(CB) Alan (Ball) played tremendously well on special teams, everybody's seen that and be a real help to our special teams. Also he can come in and play when they put in four wide receivers in the game, which we're starting to see a lot of. He gives us a lot of help there."
(on if CB Alan Ball will possibly play more than he did earlier in the year now that CB Brice McCain is out) "(CB Brandon) Harris obviously takes McCain's place. But there are combinations that we have that (CB) Alan (Ball) would play more."
(on DE J.J Watt's pick-six last year in the playoffs) "Wow. I saw him make the play and just, like everybody, 'Wow,' all the sudden and he's running into the end zone. We have seen him do it in practice. So we have seen him do it in practice before, so it wasn't as amazing as everybody else thought it was because he had done it in practice. And he's done it a couple times this year in practice. You just don't see players make plays like that, and he makes plays like that all the time."
(on if he re-watched DE J.J. Watt's interception against Cincinnati in the playoffs last year) "Yeah and when we go over the tape, we go back through the video, you slow it down and it's point-blank. The guy is throwing the ball from me to you and to be able to react that quickly and catch it, I don't know why they changed him from tight end, really."
(on if he is pleased at the way he has attacked being better on third down in practice) "We're practicing well in that. And you have to go on the whole season where we're the third-best in the NFL on third downs. It's something that a couple games, and there were several third-and-ones last game, where they ran quarterback sneaks and those things. It's something that we take pride in and it makes a difference in ball games. You turn a ball over a lot of different ways, and one of them is to stop them on third down and to at least make them give up the football. It's a big play. All plays are big plays, but you know that's a big play, that's what we tell them. You know third down is a big play. First down is certainly a big play, could be a big play. Second down could be a big play. But third down for sure is. It's something we emphasize. We work hard on that. We've spent extra time on it this week."
(on ILB Barrett Ruud possibly getting some playing time) "Yeah (ILB) Barrett (Ruud), he's a solid guy. He's played for a long time in the league. He started for six years. He's a smart guy. He knows what to do. And athletically he can still do those things. We feel comfortable with him. And he came in last game and they ran what we call a swap boot, or an unusual play and he made the play. So he's got some instincts that are good. So if he has to play, we feel like he can come in and do the job for us."
(on if he tells players the team releases to stay in shape in case the team might call on them again) "Most of the guys that you release during the season are that way, because of injuries. You can always recall them if they're ready to go."
(on if he is comfortable if he has to call on ILB Mister Alexander) "Well, he wasn't at that point where (ILB) Barrett (Ruud) is. Barrett has obviously started and played a lot in the league and (ILB) Mister (Alexander) wasn't at that point yet. It's a big difference. Barrett would be the guy we hope stays healthy in the game."
(on ILB Ray Lewis retiring and what he has done) "He's one of the all-time best. Great player but also a great leader. That's obvious. And that's hard to do. There's a lot of guys that have been in this league that have been great players, but not all of them have been great leaders, and he's certainly both of those."
CB Kareem Jackson
(on DE J.J. Watt's interception in the playoff game against Cincinnati last season) "Anytime the crowd goes crazy like they did, something definitely happened and it's definitely in our favor, so at that point, that's when I realized something big had happened."
(on what he remembers about the crowd last year) "The atmosphere kind of reminded me of college. In college, the stadium is always sold out, so everybody is on their feet the whole game. It kind of reminded me of Bryant-Denny Stadium."
(on if he knew when DE J.J. Watt intercepted the pass against the Bengals that it was a huge moment for the franchise) "I knew the play would change the game for us, definitely put the momentum on our side. After that play, we went into the half and we came out and we didn't look back, so I'd say it definitely changed the momentum for us."
(on the secondary giving up big plays, how concerned he is) "I'm not concerned because there are just little things here and there that we're not doing, but at the same time, I'd be more concerned if we were just physically getting beat or guys were just physically outrunning us or whatever the case may be. But there are little things that we're doing that are putting us in bad situations, self-inflicted wounds. Those things can be fixed, so I'm not worried at all."
WR Andre Johnson
(on ILB Ray Lewis retiring) "He's probably one of the best to ever play. I knew eventually it was coming, but you just never know when. But deep down, I thought that this year would probably be his last year. And I think the injury is probably what came down to be the final decision for him wanting to leave. Seventeen years – what he's done over the past 17 years and the level he has done it at, I don't think words can really describe it."
(on if he will reach out to ILB Ray Lewis) "Yeah, at some point I'll get the chance to talk to him. It's just guys like that that you look up to. He gives you great advice about things and stuff like that. He's a guy that you can sit down and talk to about anything. He's a guy you hate to see leave the game, but there comes a point in time for everybody when you have to; it's time for you to leave it. It's something you hate to see, but I think his legacy speaks for itself."
(on if ILB Ray Lewis retiring reminds players that playoff games are precious) "Yeah, it took me nine years to get my first opportunity, so it's not something you take for granted. There's always a time when things come to an end and we all know that. But the thing about it is you just have to try to enjoy every moment of it that you have while you can. You'll never experience anything like this as far as being around a team, being around the guys. Once you retire, you'll never get that experience again. This is days, even I can remember Little League, all the way up to now, the things you think about and guys you remember you played with. Those are the stories you sit around and talk about and stuff like that. You never take for granted the opportunity that you have on the football field."
(on if he has talked to ILB Ray Lewis about retirement) "No, I never had a chance to talk to him about retirement because you never look...(interrupted)…But he talks, if you just listen to him, some of his talks to his teammates before games and stuff like that, you see on the highlights, he always talks about not cheating one of his teammates. And if you look at the way he plays the game, with so much passion, it's a great thing to see. It'll be hard to replace a guy like that because I don't think he only meant a lot to his teammates; I think he meant a lot to a lot of the guys around the League. He was like an open book: it didn't matter who you were, you could go to him and talk to him."
CB Johnathan Joseph
(on making a clean slate in the playoffs) "Obviously right now, everybody is sitting with a 0-0 record, a clean slate. Everybody has a chance to be the No. 1 defense. Everybody has a chance to be all those different things throughout the postseason, so that's all we're focused on."
(on if QB Andy Dalton looks different from last year) "I think he took some steps forward from last year. Obviously I think last year he was a pretty good quarterback as a rookie. He made the Pro Bowl last year, so that says something about him. And this year, you look and he's doing the same thing, and you have back-to-back winning seasons over there in their franchise. That's something they haven't had in a while. So it says a lot about the way he's got those guys moving in the right direction."
(on if WR A.J. Green is one of the toughest players to cover in the NFL) "I think so, because he has a big catch radius. Anytime you have that big catch radius with a guy throwing it to you, and those guys came in at the same time so they have good chemistry together, so I think that helps out a lot as well. And he works hard also on and off the field. I just think he's developed himself into not only catching the deep ball but catching the short ball and making guys stay honest."
OLB Whitney Mercilus
(on how excited he is for his first playoff game) "I'm pretty fired up. Not a lot of rookies get a chance to be part of a team that makes it to a playoff team. Here, the vets say a lot of guys, they spend a lot of time in the League and never make it to a playoff, so it's definitely an honor."
(on what is different between this and a regular season game) "This is like overtime, basically. You're going to be playing against teams that are going to come humming, and the thing is that it's a different mentality and you've got to be solid."
(on if the long season has affected him physically) "About this time they say that you should be
hitting the wall and things like that, but there's no time to hit a wall, especially going into the playoffs. They're going to depend on rookies to step up and give the vets a blow and things like that. That's what's going to happen this weekend and you've got to be ready to go."
(on if this week has been enough time to get problems fixed for the team) "Yeah, I think so. The thing is, we just go out there and practice and try to be sound. If we make a mistake at practice, get it corrected as soon as possible so that we don't make it in the game. Mistakes are going to happen during the game, it's inevitable, it happens. It's just playing through that adversity."