The Texans practiced Wednesday at the Methodist Training Center and after, head coach Gary Kubiak, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and some players answered questions from the media. Also, Browns head coach Pat Shurmur and quarterback Colt McCoy spoke with the Houston media via a conference call. The following is a transcript of all those respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary KubiakOffensive Coordinator Rick DennisonCB Jason AllenOLB Connor BarwinT Duane BrownNT Shaun CodyILB Brian CushingTE Joel DreessenRB Arian FosterOLB Brooks ReedILB DeMeco RyansQB Matt SchaubLG Wade SmithRB Ben TateDE J.J. Watt
Browns Head Coach Pat Shurmur Conference CallBrowns QB Colt McCoy Conference Call
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on WR Andre Johnson) "We gave him a day of rest. I think I said to you guys on Monday, we pushed Andre on Monday. He came out and had a real strong workout, pushed him. He got sore on us and so that means for us to slow down a little bit, so we gave him the day off today. We'll see where we're at tomorrow. We're still in a day to day process, but I think every day it tells us something. If he feels good, then we come and we get going again. If he doesn't, then hey, hold on. It's not ready yet. We're just going to continue to listen, but everything's still positive. We just gave him a day off."
(on if he has made any decision on WR Andre Johnson for Sunday) "No, I think we still go day to day and see where we're at. But like I tell ya'll all the time, obviously until a guy is out here on the field practicing, it's hard to sit here and give you guys some type of answer. We'll see where he's at tomorrow."
(on if he's thought about keeping WR Andre Johnson out until after the bye week) "Well looking at the big picture, if Andre can come back today, no we need him back. I mean we need to be as good as we can be. The thing here is we got to do what's best for him as a player. He's going to play a lot more football in this League and he's going to play a lot more this year, but we just got to be smart when that is. That was the procedure he had done. We knew. They talked to us from the beginning about four weeks, but Andre's such a competitor. I know he was sitting there thinking two or three. I just know how he is. We just got to keep his chin up and keep going because we still feel very good about the direction we're heading. We just got to make sure he's ready to go."
(on the linebacker situation) "Mister Alexander is the young man that we will bring up. Then we signed Derrell Smith from Syracuse to our practice squad. (Tim) Dobbins goes into more of an active role as far as backing up those two guys inside and we've like Mister since we've had him, so it's time for him to go out there and do some stuff. We think he can be a good special teams player, too."
(on if he has confidence in LB Mister Alexander) "Oh yeah, no doubt. He'll fit good in the scheme. He's young, but I think it's also going to make (Special Teams Coordinator) Joe (Marciano) a little better right away. That's sometimes how that works. Joe gets a good young player that's been working for him the past eight weeks anyway, so we're going to put him to work on special teams right away."
(on how FB Lawrence Vickers has developed) "Yeah, he's done a good job. The first week, he played about 20 plays. He came back last week, played better. I think Lawrence really is starting to buy in to what we try to teach our fullbacks and I think there's a great future for him the way we ask the guy to play the game. I've been impressed and he's done a good job for (Special Teams Coordinator) Joe (Marciano), plays with a lot of energy, a lot of passion, so that's what you need."
(on what makes Cleveland's defense tough) "Well first off, their coordinator (Dick Jauron) to me is one of the most respected men in football. He's been at it a long time and been very successful doing it. They play very hard and very sound. They've been excellent against the pass. They've been rushing the passer very, very well. I think it starts with him. He's got a good young group and he's got them playing well."
(on FB James Casey) "He's okay. He played at less than 100 percent the other day and we needed him to do that, so I give him a lot of credit for that. I think every day, James gets better and we continue to work him back into his bigger role with the team, but he had a good practice today."
(on how the four-minute offense has been this season) "That's been pretty darn good. We had to close some games and it's been pretty good. I can think of Miami. I can think of this past weekend here. If you're a good team, when everybody knows you're going to run it and the way you got to play football the last few minutes, everybody knows what you have to do and you're still able to go do it, then that's a good thing. Hopefully we keep that up."
(on if OLB Brooks Reed is up to speed on everything) "Oh yeah, Brooks is fine. He's very sharp. The thing I was impressed about him last week, not only with Sharp (Darryl Sharpton) going down in the game, we had a problem special teams-wise and Brooks went and played four or five plays on special teams. That's what it's all about. This time of year, you need everybody, so I was impressed."
(on if there's anything that has surprised him about ILB Brian Cushing) "It really doesn't. I'm going to go back to what I always tell you guys. When I watch him have a good training camp, I knew, 'Watch out,' it's going to be a great year. That's been the only thing that's kind of held him back last year was missing time. It's just hard to play this game in this League at a high level when you're missing a lot of time and he hasn't missed a day. He's been exceptional at practice, was again today, he'll play good again this week. You watch."
(on QB Colt McCoy and Cleveland's offense) "Obviously, you have a good young quarterback and he's moving around a bunch. They've been throwing the ball a great deal. They've had a couple running back issues going on, but Colt's capable of holding the ball, moving to make off-schedule football plays, which everybody in this League wants players like that because it makes it very, very difficult. He's a good player. We've got our hands full from that standpoint. Special teams-wise, we've got the biggest challenge we've had all year."
(on how impressed he is with the Texans defense) "Just very impressed with the whole group. The job that (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) and the coaches have done in such a short period of time and that we continue to do through some problems. We've got injuries on both sides of the ball, but the football team's got a lot of confidence and we keep having guys step up or the team's helping them step up is a good way to put it. Just very impressed with the job they've done and hopefully we can continue to keep it going."
(on if the Texans look like a defensive-oriented team) "Yeah, we're playing very good defense right now, but we play some pretty good offense too and our special teams the other day were excellent in the game. It's just nice when you start to put a football team together that's got a chance to win three ways. If we're missing on one cylinder one day, the other one's got to find a way to get it done and that's a great feeling to have going into Sundays."
(on the big improvement in defense this season) "Yeah it is. The biggest thing is we've gotten after the quarterback this year and much better against the pass. The confidence level continues to grow. When you have a couple weeks like we've had the last two weeks, it just gets everybody's head up and confidence-wise. We're playing good as a football team. We're finding ways. If one group's down, the other group plays their tail off and vice versa. I like the way we're playing special teams-wise. I think we got a chance to win a couple games on special teams before this thing's done."
(on Cleveland's special teams) "When you play (Josh) Cribbs, he can beat you by himself. We've got to have a plan for him. You can't keep the ball out of his hands. He'll bring it out of the end zone nine yards deep. He's done it many times. This guy's capable of putting 14 points on the board on you as a returner. Big problem this week."
(on if K Neil Rackers and P Brett Hartmann will split time kicking off) "We're going to continue to work them both and we got to get better at it. Let me just say that. We got a little competition going on."
Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison
(on Cleveland's defense) "Watching them on tape all day the last couple days, they're a great group. They play hard. They're not asked to do a lot, but they do what they do very well. Having gone against (Cleveland offensive coordinator) Coach (Dick) Jauron a few times, I know that he is a very good coordinator and they're well-coached and they're good athletes. Up front, their two inside guys are as good as we've seen, if not better. It's hard for me to rate them. Their corners do a great job, so it's going to be a good challenge for us."
(on Houston's fullback situation) "We feel like we got a couple guys that can do some things. They're both a little bit different, so we're moving in and out play-by-play and seeing what happens. I think Lawrence (Vickers) has done a great job the last couple weeks. James (Casey) is coming off that deal (chest injury) and look better and better every day. We'll just see, like everything else, whoever's got things going the right way and doing what we ask, which both of them are; we may play them both, play a little bit. We'll just see how it goes."
(on if he has reached a comfort level game-planning without WR Andre Johnson) "I don't think you'll ever reach that. You know, we're still going to do what we do and try and get everything we do, the concepts and schemes we learned in training camp without Andre there, everybody else takes up the slack, which they've done a good job with."
(on FB Lawrence Vickers) "He's a physical presence. He's doing a nice job doing that. He had to catch up a little bit; we got him here so late. Without training camp, it makes it a little bit hard, but he seems to be grasping things as we go along. Some of the things are day-by-day adjustments that we do, that a guy that's been around, it's easy for them to understand and he has picked it up and I think last game was his best game."
(on if FB Lawrence Vickers can help with the game plan this week since he played for the Browns) "Well, we got enough to do. I'll talk to him about personnel probably, because it was a whole different concept. Different coaches and everything. We'll probably talk to him about personnel, but we can see a lot of that on tape.
(on if it's overrated when a guy comes from a team that he is playing against) "Well, I'm sure there's something to be said. I don't put a whole lot of stock in it. I kind of believe my eyes more than anything and see what I can see up front. We get together as coaches and figure out what we can figure out. Like I said, if there's something he can tell us personality-wise, I don't know that we can use it."
(on if the team is building momentum with its wins) "I don't about that. That's a part of the mental toughness. If things aren't going your way, then you don't worry about what's happened in the past. We go ahead and take strides and keep going. I'm not really worried about momentum, I'm just saying, 'Alright, let's go to the next play.' Even if you made a great play, you can't hang your hat on, 'Well, I just made a great play.' You got to make the next one. So that's kind of part of what we believe in and just keep moving forward and not worry about momentum or this team or that team. It's all about us and trying to do our things the way we know how to do it."
(on the value of TE Joel Dreessen) "Joel will do anything you ask him. He does all the things, like you said, off the camera. You ask him to go block somebody, he'll block them to his utmost. If you ask him to run a route, he's running that thing full-speed, even in practice. If you ask him to go do a scout team, he'll try to do it better than the guy on Sunday. Guys like Joel are so underrated as far as how they help the entire team. He's a great team player."
CB Jason Allen
(on the challenges of QB Colt McCoy) "We might have to cover just a second longer at times and we just got to do our job. I feel like if we prepare ourselves through the week and practice hard, then we'll prepare ourselves for him."
(on the Texans defense improving every week) "Well, we feel like we haven't reached our potential. We feel like we're definitely making some strides to where we want to be at. We're just preparing each and every week and having the attitude that we want to get better. Guys are practicing hard, being mentally and physically ready every day in practice and I think it's definitely paying off for us."
(on Head Coach Gary Kubiak saying he has three starting cornerbacks) "That's what it is. We've got three starting quarterbacks. Johnathan (Joseph), Kareem (Jackson), myself, Brice (McCain), all the corners, we're practicing real hard. We're focused and we're preparing ourselves. I prepare myself just as if I'm a starter, just as if I'll play every rep. That's the way our, not just mine, but our mental approach to the game."
(on if he considers himself a starting cornerback) "Oh, why not? We're all going out preparing ourselves like I said and being mentally and physically ready each and every week."
(on playing well while overcoming injuries) "Well it's something, like I said, during the preparation of the week, if one guy goes down, the next man's got to step up. We can't lose the beat. We got to continue beating like a heart. We just got to keep going and the next man has got to step up and not necessarily fill in the next spot, but we just got to keep moving, just continue doing it."
OLB Connor Barwin
(on if he knew how much the Texans defense would improve this season) "I knew we'd be better. I didn't know the numbers where we'd be. Obviously we're happy with some of the things we're doing on defense right now, but they keep telling us we can do better. I know we're seeing things on film that we can do better. Hopefully next week we can continue to improve on what we've been doing."
(on if it's a "next man up" mentality after losing players to injury weekly) "Well, I don't know about weekly. That may be a little bit of a stretch, but yeah, we've lost some key guys on defense, but every team has to deal with that. But yeah, that's the mentality is it's always the next man is has to step up and do what their job is. So far, everybody's been doing that."
(on if it's surprising that there hasn't been any drop off with all the injuries) "No, it doesn't surprise me. The guys that are in backup roles are paid to be here. They're good players and they're just waiting for opportunities. The guys that have had those opportunities have stepped up and done it."
(on if the defense trusted in defensive coordinator Wade Phillips from the beginning) "Yeah, I think so because everybody knows who Wade Phillips is. Everybody knew who he was coming into this and then it's just kind of grown. The more time we've spent with him, the more we continue to learn more and more about the system."
(on what it's like to have people view the Texans defense differently this year) "It's really encouraging and that's what we said at the beginning of the year that we want to be a team that could win games on defense. We still got a lot of football left to prove that, but so far, we've been happy with what we've been able to do."
T Duane Brown
(on if he punched Jaguars OLB Clint Session) "I did not punch the guy. You know, I'll walk you through the play. He got the fumble recovery. I tackled him on the sideline. As I was getting up, one of his teammates came and pushed me and in attempt to not fall back on top of him, my left hand came down, hit him in the stomach area to stop myself from falling on top of him. I immediately got up and as you saw from the tape, he had no reaction to it. He got up and we went on and continued to play."
(on how everyone else is viewing the incident) "It is what it is. I have no reason to apologize for anything because I didn't punch him. I'm just moving on."
(on how the team feels about accusations coming from Jacksonville players) "We play hard, man. We play within the rules. I have the utmost respect for anybody that plays this game. I don't consider myself or anyone on my team a dirty player, anyone that tries to take cheap shots to hurt anyone. We all realize this is our livelihood and we want each and every player in this League to play every Sunday. We play hard and we want to win and we finish our plays out. That's all we do."
(on if there will be any retaliation when the Texans play the Jaguars in Jacksonville) "I'm not worried about that. When we play, we'll line up and try to win."
(on if he was shocked when the incident started to become news) "Yeah, I was pretty shocked because that play didn't even stick out in my mind when it happened because I didn't feel like anything happened. Then when I was approached with it, I saw the clip and it is what it is."
(on if it's coincidence that the Texans are being considered dirty now that they're in first place in their division) "The zone scheme has been in the NFL for years, long before I came in the NFL, long before anybody was here. Cut blocking is within the rules. It's part of the scheme. We're not the only team that does it. Like I said, we just play hard, man. If we weren't winning, it probably wouldn't be news."
(on Cleveland's defense) "Cleveland has a pretty good defense. They're very stout up front. They have big guys all across the board. They don't do a lot of blitzing. They just have faith in their front seven and getting done there. We have a pretty good game plan going into it and I expect us to be successful."
(on if there is anyone that stands out to him on Cleveland's defense) "They play well collectively. There's not one person you can pinpoint that you have to stop, but you have to account for everyone."
NT Shaun Cody
(on Cleveland QB Colt McCoy) "Yeah. Anytime you have a quarterback that can scramble like he does – he does a great job of it – and make some plays, you're always concerned as a defensive front; how to get to him and make sure he doesn't get out of the pocket, so we've got to do a good job of that and contain their run game."
(on how important it is to win games at home) "It's important to win every game, home (or) away. That's the way we look at it. We don't look at it like we're going to lose away games. We want to win all of them. We don't want to win just home games."
(on there now being an expectation from fans that the defense is going to make a big play) "We've created that environment, I think. We've been able to put teams away on third down – I think our third-down efficiency has been great this year – and you can feel the energy in the stands. They believe we're going to make a play, and we believe as a defense that we're going to make a play."
(on whether he thought the defense could improve as much as it has this quickly) "Statistically, we don't really pay attention as a defense to that kind of stuff. We're worried about making the plays we should make and not letting teams break big plays and those kind of things. I don't it's necessary to break down where we're at every week."
ILB Brian Cushing
(on people talking about how well he's playing this season) "First, it's a heck of a compliment, but something I don't rest upon and something I don't really feed or read too much into because I know there's room for plenty of improvement for me, so I think I can just build upon that."
(on Cleveland's offense) "They got a good offense. They do. They got a young, talented quarterback. I think it all starts with him. I think it's up in the air who's going to be the running back this week, but I think they definitely have some talent there too. Good, solid offensive line and we expect a physical game."
(on what has changed this year that's allowing him to play so well) "Well, I think I'm comfortable. I really do. I think I'm not thinking as much as I was the previous years as far as my assignments or anything. I'm more confident now. I know we got a lot of talent surrounding us and with Coach Phillips, I think he's just done a great job of putting guys in the right positions and I think that's what's really a reason why myself and we have played this way. It's not just me. I think a lot of guys are playing at their top level."
(on how he's mastered the defense without any offseason practice) "Well, I think he's (Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips), like I said, found the talent that he has and found the talent that he wants and puts it at the right spots. It's me playing a position I've really never played before, but I think he's seen the kind of talent and physical tools I have and he's put me in a position where he thinks I'll be best. I think he's done that with other guys as well with playing Mario (Williams) at outside linebacker and him having five sacks in five games and Connor (Barwin) moving to outside linebacker and how well he's done. When you have a coach like Wade Phillips, he's done it for so long and he knows where guys fit and he calls the right defenses accordingly."
(on how he's reached a comfort level without any offseason practice) "Well, I think he's (Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips) kept it simple too. His playbook's not too diverse. He uses a certain amount of plays and instead of just overloading things every week, we've kept it limited and we've really instead of trying to load it up, tried to perfect it the plays that he has given us."
TE Joel Dreessen
(on the 'next man up' mentality on the team when players get injured) "I think that's been going on around here for a long, long time, actually. We've been building our depth for years now, and honestly, that's what makes good teams is that competitiveness and the depth at every position. This is the NFL. You've got great players at every position and there just can't be that much drop-off from a starter to a guy who's not a starter, and honestly on this team, I don't think there is."
(on whether the 'next man up' mentality kicked in when WR Andre Johnson was injured) "I think there's just a mentality of this whole season that nothing, absolutely nothing, no matter what happens, is going to derail our plans and our expectations from winning football games and going somewhere this season. I think that's the mentality you're talking about."
RB Arian Foster
(on the Cleveland defense) "They're one of the better defenses in the National Football League today. Very big, very physical. Even their corners like to come up and hit, so it is going to be a challenging football game."
(on whether Cleveland's defense is similar to Jacksonville's) "Very similar, and very astute of you to say so. We are looking forward to the challenge."
(on what it means to the offense to have three healthy running backs) "Well, I don't think there is a team in the league that has one running back and only one running back. You have to get your workhorse some wind, and we have guys here that can step up and fill any role."
(on the importance of continuity on the offensive line for the success of the rushing attack) "I think any time your starting linemen remain your starting linemen, it's a good thing."
(on the Cleveland defense) "Yeah, they are tough guys. This is a league full of tough guys, and we have tough guys, too, so it's just who's going to be the tougher of the tough guys."
(on the reasons for the offense's success the last two weeks) "I think it's just what winning ball clubs do is they make plays when you need to make plays. That's what good ball clubs do."
(on the offense's confidence in the defense this year) "Well, I think that's what another good team does is they have balance on offense and defense and special teams, because sometimes you're not going to have a great day on offense and your defense has to make up for you and vice-versa. That's what good football teams do – they play with each other."
(on other teams calling the Texans dirty) "They didn't punch anybody. I think it's just a lot of hoopla and it's a story, man. It's the NFL. It's the ongoing drama of the NFL. It's a storyline, and you guys have fun with that one."
ILB Brooks Reed
(on the next man up mentality) "That's been an important piece for this team to be successful. It just goes along with great coaching."
(on how familiar he is with the defense) "Yeah, there is always something different that a team is going to throw at me or the defense in general. I'm learning every week and there is always something new that I'm trying to learn this week and always something that I'm trying to work on to get better."
(on the veterans stepping up to help the younger players getting their first playing time) "DeMeco (Ryans) has always kind of been that guy, for me at least, even through camp. Those older guys know how hard it is for a rookie to come in and learn a new defense, in Houston, away from your hometown, to come in and learn a new defense and try to contribute to the team."
(on having to step in has accelerated the learning process) "Game experience has been the most hopeful so far."
(on being part of a resurgent defense) "It's really cool. I came in at a great time. I'm really happy to be a part of it and I'm just glad that I'm contributing."
(on playing with Brian Cushing) "He brings intensity. We all try to match that."
(on if it's tough to match Cushing's intensity) "Yeah, it is. He leads the way with that."
(on if Cushing says anything wild and crazy in the heat of the moment during games) "I haven't heard anything but everyone at some point is talking, but nothing crazy."
(on high scoring college games compared to the NFL) "It seems like every game is close. It comes down to the last few minutes. Games are a lot closer, no matter how much you get up on them early on. It seems like a team will always come back. You always have to be on your toes and you can't ever relax."
(on Mario Williams saying he liked the way Reed has been playing) "I learn from the best. I'm just trying to fill a spot and trying to get better at my pass rush. I feel like I can still improve a lot and hopefully there are more sacks and production to come."
(on Mario saying they need to get more sacks) "Yeah, the sack master himself. I'm just playing as hard as I can and that has gotten me by so far and has helped me a lot, just by playing hard and hustling to the ball."
ILB DeMeco Ryans
(on if he's proud of the Texans defense being ranked third right now) "Yeah, I'm happy with the way we're playing. Of course, we're playing a lot better than we played last year. I'm definitely happy about that."
(on how he sees his own level of play) "I'm doing alright. I'm feeling better each week. I'm still out there so I'm doing fine."
(on it being a season long challenge to bounce back from his injury) "Yeah, it's football. You battle through things. You battle through injuries. It's football. There are no excuses or anything. It's just something that you battle through. Football is a grind. It's a tough sport as expected."
(on if he's surprised the Texans have been able to play well on defense despite injuries ) "I'm not surprised. 'Next man up.' That's our motto. The next guy just has to step in and do his job. We're not expecting him to come in and do something miraculous. Just step in and do your part along with everyone else doing their job, the defense gels together well."
(on how ready he is to take on more responsibility and playing time) "I've been ready to go. It's been Coach's decision to rotate us, so I've been ready to go."
(on being 5-3 and how it's different from being 5-3 in 2009) "I don't even remember what 5-3 previously felt like for us. Like I say every year, each year is a new team with new challenges. We have a very good team this year and I'm excited where we are right now. We just have to continue to build off what we're doing and continue to get better. I think the sky is the limit for this team."
(on if it is nice that the defense is being counted on by the team) "We had to change that mentality around here. It was always the offense first, to score more points than the other teams and score a lot of points. Now we have to step up and stop someone defensively and now we have a better team because of it."
(on the offense saying the defense is fun to watch) "Yeah, the sides have flipped. We used to stand over there and watch the offense. It was fun to watch those guys work. Now, they're talking about watching us. I'm just excited and happy that we have a good, solid defense that I know, when we step on the field, no one is concerned about anyone moving the ball on us. If someone breaks a play on us, no one gets down or frustrated. We all know that we can stand up and stop them, no matter where they get the ball on us."
QB Matt Schaub
(on the Cleveland defense) "They're very athletic, they're very physical, they like to hit. They're tough against the run and they defend the pass well. They've got some good cover guys, so it's a team that we've got to execute and keep ourselves on schedule like always."
(on the offense starting fast in most games) "Yeah, you know, guys have really been locked in early in the game into what we're doing and executing plays, converting third downs, staying on the field and then converting in the red zone. That's been working for us and we need to continue to do that."
(on other teams calling the Texans dirty) "I'm not worried about that. We just go out to execute our plan and do what we do, execute our offense and play the way we know how."
(on whether he saw the play where LT Duane Brown was accused of punching a Jacksonville player) "No."
(on whether the offense has developed a comfort level without WR Andre Johnson) "I don't know if there's a comfort level with it. We just know what we have to do as an offense. We know how to execute our stuff. We have guys that have been in this position and had to step up. (WRs) Kevin (Walter) and Jacoby (Jones) are no strangers to getting in the game and playing, and they're doing extremely well, and our tight ends are playing extremely well. So we just continue to do what we do as an offense, and when 80's (Andre Johnson) ready to go, we'll welcome back in the huddle."
(on if the offense is getting used to overcoming the absence of WR Andre Johnson) "Like I said, we just go, we just move forward. Everyone picks up the slack and we go play."
(on having confidence in the Texans defense to make a stop if the offense turns the ball over) "We never want to turn the football over, but it's been fun to watch our defense when they're out there on the field giving us good field position, getting off the field on third down. We saw that through training camp. We knew what was about to happen this season with that side of the football, and it's fun to watch them fly around and make plays, hit people and get turnovers themselves and give us opportunities with the football."
(on how quickly the defense adapted to the new system despite having a limited offseason) "We weren't thinking that way. That was all about what you guys were talking about because you guys needed something to talk about. But we knew that the players, once we came into training camp and free agency started and the guys we brought in with the scheme and how it all matched up, and then going through training camp, seeing those guys grab hold of the system, it's been fun to watch."
(on what he's seen from the Cleveland defense on tape) "Just how well they're playing together. They've got a good linebacking group. Their front seven is physical; they play the run and get after the passer a little bit. And then their secondary, they have good cover guys and play their scheme real well."
(on former Texans RB Chris Ogbonnaya possibly starting for Cleveland) "I don't really know much about their offense, but it's a great chance for Chris and for his career. He had a great training camp with us this year, everyone knows that, and it was just a matter of time before he got an opportunity. I'm happy for him that he's getting that chance."
(on the reasons for the offense's success the last two weeks) "I just think it's guys making plays. I just think it's guys' ability to say when someone needs to make a play, they're going to make it, whether it's the throw, whether it's the catch, whether it's the block, the run, we have enough guys on this offense that have played enough football together and been around this game enough that we're standing up and saying, 'We're going to make that play.' Late in the game when we need it, we're going to make it."
(on TE Joel Dreessen) "Joel's one of the most consistent guys. What he's asked to do and what you tell him to do, he goes out and executes it to the utmost of his ability. He's always going to be in the right spot, do the right thing, and he's a workhorse for us."
(on having a number of different options to throw the ball to) "It's great. It's a luxury as a quarterback in the type of offense that we have, to have the ability to go to multiple guys and get everyone involved, because then teams can't key on one guy and say, 'If we take this guy away, they're not going to move the football.' That's really been our M.O. and with (WR) Andre (Johnson) being out, everyone has to pick up the slack, everyone has to do a little bit more. That's what we're doing."
(on how much it helps to have a strong running game in the red zone) "You know, that was kind of the theme last year, too, with (RB) Arian's (Foster) ability in the red zone, his nose for the goal line, the yards he was getting, how the offensive line was playing, so it started last year for us with the ability to run the ball. We started slow this season in September and early October in the red zone, but we've been playing better now. The past few weeks, we've been more efficient down there. I think that helps to be able to run the ball because the field's condensed, there's not as much space to defend in the pass game, and to keep gaining yards and get closer to that goal line with the run game has helped."
(on what he's been pleased with and what needs to be improved from the first half of the season) "You know, it's hard to really evaluate that right now because we're just on to the next game and we've got to find a way to win. We've got to find a way to get our sixth win this week, and really the bye week in a couple weeks is when the evaluation process really starts. I know the coaches and people upstairs have probably done a self scout through eight weeks, but as players, we've got to move on to the next one and figure out a way to win the next game. We'll take a look at things in the bye week and try to evaluate our season to that point."
(on the importance of managing the down-and-distance situations against Cleveland's defense) "It's just a matter of doing our offense, running our scheme, executing our plays, and just staying on schedule and not putting ourselves in any tough down and distances, just executing on third down and moving the football."
(on how much the Texans' defensive improvements have helped the offense) "We knew what we had going through training camp. We knew we were much improved over there. We knew that we had a team that was going to go out and hit people, get after them and create some turnovers, get their hands on some footballs, and it's translating over to Sundays. It's just been fun to watch them. I don't get to see a whole lot of it because we're over doing stuff, looking at pictures and everything, but it's just been fun to watch them and fun to see their growth and development, especially handling some of the adversity with (OLB) Mario (Williams) out and some of the other injuries and just guys stepping up to the plate and saying, 'You know what? We're going to get the job done as a group.' They're doing a heck of a job over there."
(on whether the defense's improvement takes some pressure off of the offense to have to score) "I don't know if it takes any pressure off of us. We demand a lot out of ourselves as an offense. We want to go out and score points every time we have the ball. We're built that way, so if we don't do that, we're obviously disappointed in our production as far as points go, but sometimes punting the ball's not all that bad; especially on third down, if something's not there, don't force it. Punt it over, let the defense play. Maybe they get a turnover and give us a short field and we'll play from there, but it's been great to be able to have that."
LG Wade Smith
(on what's different about the team this season) "We always feel as an offense we should be able to score every time out on the field and when we don't, we tend to pick each other up on the sideline, if it's the coach or each other; whatever we feel like. Our defense is playing at the top of their game. We feel like the offense has to do the same. We had some lulls in the past week and what we did was we came together and made the plays when we needed to make them."
(on what it means to be a physical team in the NFL) "Playing through the whistle. Physical is just coming off, hitting guys, finishing your blocks and doing what it takes to get the job done. Every player."
(on if the team has always felt like it played physical football) "This is only my second year. Since I've been here, this is only my second year, I've felt like that we've played like that as an offensive line. So I can't speak on anything that happened before that."
(on seeing the running backs he blocks for have success) "We got great running backs. You look back to the Pittsburgh game, and the move that Arian (Foster) made on (Troy) Polamalu. Not many guys can make that move on that good of a player. As an offensive lineman, it makes your job that much easier and it makes you want to push that much harder because if you know if you give him a seam, he's going to find it."
RB Ben Tate
(on if it's surprising how well he and RB Arian Foster are playing) "It's not surprising to me. I feel like he's a great running back, I'm a great running back and when I get my opportunities, I'm going to make the best of them."
(on the fumble last week and what he hopes to do better moving forward) "Well, I was caught up in the moment. I had seen the end zone. I was trying my best to get there. I was really just trying to make a big play. I just have to be more conscious of the time and where we're at in the game and the situation. That was my fault. I should have known better than that, but at the same time, I know I got to the open field, I got to protect the ball."
(on what he was thinking after the fumble) "I was my mad. I was really upset that I had done that and it cost the team. They scored on that drive, so I was pretty upset about that. I just had to get away from everyone because I didn't want anyone saying anything to me at the time because I was pretty upset. I just had to let myself calm down, get over it and then go back over."
(on if he's over the fumble yet) "I'm over it. I got to be. It's another week. We got the Browns up."
(on if he's been carrying a football around all week) "No, I should have though."
(on how much the fumble will help him grow) "It can help a great deal. This is my first real year of actually getting a chance to play. You just learn from those mistakes. I just know in that situation, I got to be more cautious of the ball more so than making a big play. I already got a first down."
(on if he's worried that the coaches will have less confidence in him after the fumble) "I think they'll still have good confidence in me. I think it was just more of a guy made a great play on the ball. He made a great play on the ball, but at the same time, I still have to be more cautious. But I still think the coaches still have all the confidence in the world in me."
DE J.J. Watt
(on the Cleveland Browns) "They're a good football team. The quarterback (Colt McCoy) runs around a little bit, so we're going to try to keep him contained. He's a good scrambler, so we want to keep him contained."
(on Cleveland QB Colt McCoy) "That's the biggest thing that I've noticed on film is he gets away. I mean, there's a lot of guys where you're watching the film and you think, 'Wow, they got a good sack here,' and all of a sudden he squirts out, so that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to make sure we get him wrapped up. We're trying to make sure we keep him contained and get those sacks that other guys might have missed."
(on other teams calling the Texans dirty) "I don't know. I watch the game film, so I don't know what the TV cameras catch and what they don't catch. I don't think we're dirty; I think we play hard. I think our team plays extremely hard, and hey, it's football. We're out here playing hard. At the end of the day, football is football, so stuff's going to happen."
(on whether being called 'dirty' is a back-handed compliment to the team) "I suppose. I know a lot of people thought of the old Raiders as dirty and all of those teams like you just said. People can call us what they want, as long as they call us a good defense. That's what we're going to do: we're just going to keep playing defense and we'll let them judge as they may."
(on how it feels for the defense to be ranked third in the NFL) "It feels good. It feels real good. It's a testament to guys like Coach (Defensive Coordinator Wade) Phillips, guys like Cush (ILB Brian Cushing), (ILB) DeMeco (Ryans) , J-Joe (CB Johnathan Joseph) in the back. There's so many good guys on this defense, it's just fun to be a part of. It'll feel real good if we can stay there and move up, but as we go on in the season, as long as we're staying consistently in that spot."
(on OLB Mario Williams saying yesterday that the defense needs to get more sacks) "Amen. Amen. That's our goal. We want more sacks. I want more sacks. I don't want to sit here with two sacks at the end of next week; I want to continue to up my sack totals, and I think we're just trying to do that as a whole."
(on how impressive the defense's improvement from last year is) "Yeah. I hope the fans are enjoying it, because we're having fun playing it. It's fun when you can come in and look at the rankings and see that your defense is playing so well. We have a good offense, a good defense and our special teams are playing well, so it's a lot of fun when you're playing for a team that's clicking on all cylinders. We just need to keep it going."
(on whether he worries about this week being a potential 'trap' game) "No. We're very, very focused, and that's one thing our coaches and teammates are doing real well is everybody's focused, everybody's ready for the task at hand. It doesn't matter who's coming in to play, we're going to study the film, we're going to study the tendencies just like we do every week, and we're going to come out playing hard."
(on if the defense is focused on stopping Cleveland's running attack) "Yeah, we'd like to do that. Last week, they had a great running attack, Jacksonville did, and we tried to bottle that up, and so we're going to do the same thing this week. We'd like to put the ball in the quarterback's hands and then pressure him and get to him as much as we can."
Browns Head Coach Pat Shurmur Conference Call
(on the challenges at the running back position) "Well, we're like some teams. We've sustained some injuries all in one group there with the running backs so the challenge is obviously getting new guys ready to go and play winning football. As you know, we have Chris Ogbonnaya, who you are very familiar with and then we signed Thomas Clayton and then we have Owen Marecic. It's too early to tell whether we'll have Peyton (Hillis) or his availability for Sunday."
(on RB Chris Ogbonnaya) "I think he's a very smart, aware player. I think he's a steady runner. He understands pass protection and he's a tough guy. For all those reasons, he had the ability to come in and play for us and really have an impact in our first game against Seattle and then basically play the whole game for us with the early game injury to Montario (Hardesty) last week."
(on why they played so well defensively in the second half against San Francisco) "Well, I don't know in terms of, I can't speak for the Niners. I think our guys up front battled from the first snap to the last. We find a way to neutralize their run game and that's what they want to do is run the football. Once you start doing that, then they start coming after you a little bit with the play action passes. We found ways to then defend those. Then we did a good job of getting off the field on third down, which then, as we all know, limits the amount of yards the team's going to make."
(on the Browns defense) "I think first of all (Defensive Coordinator) Dick Jauron and the staff on defense are doing an excellent job of getting them prepared. I feel like we've got some young players in there, lots of first, second and third-year guys that are getting better each week. They're getting more and more comfortable with the scheme. They're finding ways to get pressure and then I think the guys in the backend are challenging the receivers. Those are all the components of a good formula for a good team defense."
(on possibly going up against WR Andre Johnson this week) "Yeah, when you have a threat like him on the outside and I've played against him a couple times, you got to really sit down and decide how you want to defend inside out making sure that the coverage is good on him. We're going to be well aware of whether he's in the game or not. We may have to adjust certain things just to make sure that he doesn't pop a big one on us."
(on what defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has brought to the Texans defense) "Yeah, I thought Wade Phillips did an excellent job his years in Dallas and so it's not a surprise and then of course his years prior to that in San Diego and everywhere he's been. So, it's no surprise to me that he injected a little energy and enthusiasm into what was a very talented defense and is playing at a very high level. Their scheme is sound. They don't mind bringing pressure, but yet they can stand there and play coverage as well. They appear like they're playing extremely well and they've done that all year."
(on Head Coach Gary Kubiak saying ILB Brian Cushing is playing as well as any linebacker in the NFL right now) "I would agree. I think D'Qwell Jackson, our guy, is another inside backer that's having an outstanding year and they're both very similar. They're team leaders. They add leadership and enthusiasm. They run around and make plays and you can tell they're getting the rest of the guys lined up. I think when I watch their defense, he's obviously the guy that helps make it go. Yeah, I'm impressed with his level of play and he'll be a big challenge for us to get him blocked."
Browns QB Colt McCoy Conference Call
(on if it's going to be special for him coming to Houston) "Yeah, I think it will. I'll have a lot of family and friends coming up from Austin or in Texas somewhere who aren't able to come up to Cleveland for games. They'll probably all be there. I had to request a lot of tickets, so I'm excited about coming down. It'll be a lot of fun to know that there's a lot of people in the stands watching you play."
(on how much harder it is to read NFL defenses compared to college) "I mean, it's still football at the end of the day. You're going to see some more complex schemes, but playing for four years in college, you saw a lot. I think the adjustments now are just with your teammates and figuring out what works for you and for your offense. There certainly have been some adjustments, but it's still football at the end of the day."
(on Texas and Texas A&M getting ready to play their last game and if he thinks they will get together at some point in the future) "Yeah, absolutely. I'm really kind of frustrated that they're not going to continue that rivalry. That's one of the best games all year and we're so close. It's a Thanksgiving tradition. I know I'm not the only one frustrated about it."
(on his best memories from playing Texas A&M) "Just that it was on Thanksgiving. My junior and senior year will obviously be my best memories. We kind of got after them both years and played well in both games and won at home and won at their place. It was a lot of fun."
(on how he's dealt with injuries this season) "Well, you never know what's going to happen throughout the season, who's going to go down and who's going to have to step up and replace those guys and make plays for you. We certainly had our share of injuries, whether it meant receiver or running back and it's hurt us, but we've also had guys step in and do nice jobs. Chris (Ogbonnaya) came up from Houston and has played two really good games for us. He's doing a really good job for us. Hopefully we can get most everybody back and be playing at a high level."
(on the familiarity he has with RB Chris Ogbonnaya after playing with him at Texas) "Yeah, it was good to reunite with him. He's a very smart guy, picked up things really quick and has really done a nice job. I think he was our leading receiver two weeks ago and he played the whole game at running back last week because Montario (Hardesty) went out. He's really had to learn on the fly and he's picked it up really fast and done really good for us."
(on the toughest adjustment to the NFL) "Well, I think you're right. That's a good way to put it being a redshirt last year and then having to play. I got a lot of experience that way, but I think the hardest adjustment has been you learn one system as a rookie and you play six or seven games and then you come back with no offseason and you're learning a whole new offense. Really it's not only you; it's the whole team. I think that, more than anything else, has been the hardest adjustment, is learning on the fly and learning how things work and playing with your receivers who one of them is a rookie and two of them haven't played before. We're all young together and we're all kind of learning and trying to figure it out. Above anything else, above studying defenses or worrying about schemes, it's really learning what we do and play fast and try to win football games."
(on the Texans defense) "I think number one, they're really good and they have really good guys at each position. You look at the secondary, big pickup with (Johnathan) Joseph. He's playing really well. Their safeties are playing well. Then you look at inside linebackers, (Brian) Cushing and (DeMeco) Ryans, those two guys are the leaders of the defense. They get guys lined up. They fly around. They make plays. Then their front seven as a whole. The guys down on the line I think when you watch the tape, you see them flying around not making mistakes and you see them making tackles. I think it'll be a huge test for us, especially going there. It'll probably be pretty loud and they're playing well. They're on a roll. It'll be a test for us for sure."
(on ILB Brian Cushing) "He's playing as good as anybody we've faced. We talked about that this morning. He's flying around making plays and he's doing a really nice job for them."
(on if Cleveland Browns President Mike Holmgren has worked with him at all) "Yeah, he has a voice around the building. He's not there day to day coaching you, but I know that he'll put his input in in what he sees and what he likes and things he'd like you to work on. I talk to him a lot and I don't think you'll ever be able to take the coach out of him, even though he's not one of the coaches. He does a good job of kind of playing that role and helping out."
(on if he has anything planned for his trip back to Texas) "Well, we won't get there until Saturday evening, play on Sunday and then come home. I don't have a lot of time to schedule anything, but hopefully I'll get to see some friends and family that I wouldn't get to see normally in a year. That'll be pretty neat."
(on what stood out to him about Head Coach Gary Kubiak when he went through the NFL Combine) "I don't think I actually met with him. I met with a few guys, scouts that were involved there, but I know Coach Kubiak through my relationship with Coach Davis, who was my offensive coordinator at UT. Coach Davis and Coach Kubiak coached together at A&M for a while, so I know a lot of what they do and kind of what he's like. I've met him several times. They run a very nice offense. I talked to Chris (Ogbonnaya). Even when he was there, we've been friends for a long time. I know they do a lot of neat stuff, a version of the West Coast and they're fun to watch."
(on if he would encourage Texas and Texas A&M to iron out their differences and play each other every year again) "Yeah, for sure. I really would. That's a great game, the Lone Star showdown. It'll be a bummer if they don't get to continue that rivalry."
(on if he was more nervous about his first start in college or the NFL) "I don't know. I think I would probably say the NFL. In college, you haven't experienced anything. You've played high school football and if you know where I played high school football, I didn't play in front of a big crowd, so going into college, I didn't know what to expect. That ultimately turned out to be a fun ride there for four years. Then coming into the NFL, my first game was on the road at Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is our rival up here and they're a rowdy crowd. Both of them, you're kind of unsure. You don't really know, but once you take the first snap and kind of get going, all that stuff flies out the window."
(on if he's glad he didn't have to play during all the college conference realignment) "It's crazy all the realignment and if we're going to leave and go to the Pac-10 or if we're going to stay in the Big 12 and keep it all together. I'm glad that the conference stayed together. I think it's a really good conference. I think the OU rivalry will always be there. It's a great game. I think both teams on normal years will have a chance to compete for a national championship. I'm glad they decided to stick it together."