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, Falcons head coach Mike Smith and cornerback Dunta Robinson took part in a conference call with the Houston media. The following is a transcript of all those respective interviews.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
Offensive Coordinator Rick DennisonOLB Connor BarwinLT Duane BrownNT Shaun CodyQB Jake DelhommeTE Joel DreessenRB Arian FosterWR Andre JohnsonFS Danieal ManningOLB Brooks ReedDE Antonio SmithDE J.J. WattQB T.J. Yates
Atlanta Head Coach Mike Smith Conference CallAtlanta CB Dunta Robinson Conference Call
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on how QB T.J. Yates looked today) "Oh, he did fine. It's a new world for him. Last week, he's getting more reps because he's the backup. All of a sudden, he's running the team today and got a lot on his plate, mentally from leaving the classroom to coming out here, but he did fine. He'll get better every day out here and that's the most important thing. The key is everybody else making sure they do their job."
(on if QBs Jake Delhomme and Kellen Clemens will be able to play this week) "Well I'm going to work them both and then at the end of the week, I'll decide who's going to be the backup going into the game. Jake came a long way just from the first play of practice to the last play of practice. I'll wait and see and just make sure who I think can handle the situation for this week."
(on how the quarterback situation is going to work) "Hopefully it's going to work real good. It's interesting. I've been doing this a long time and I've never been through this, but I tell you what, this team is very upbeat and understands its challenges. It feels good about its football team and everybody that's on it. It works well together and we plan on doing that again this week."
(on if QB T.J. Yates' demeanor reminds him of anybody he's seen) "They're all different. I've had so many guys, but I got to make sure we take a picture of this group because it's the biggest group I've ever had. He's a confident young man and he's played a lot of football. How many games did he start at North Carolina, 44 or something like that? That's a lot of major college football games to start, so he's comfortable in what he's doing. Everybody understands what he's got to take on here, but we got to all help him do it."
(on if Atlanta is one of the better offenses he's seen this season) "Yeah, it may be as good a football team we've played all year. They're sound across the board, top 10 defense. Offensively, I think they're right there too. Very good on special teams, a lot of speed, a lot of weapons. We'll have to play as good as we've played all year. That's good. We need that test."
(on how QB Jake Delhomme can help QB T.J. Yates) "Well I think just probably it's more from a confidence standpoint, being in the room with him, just talking to him about the game and situations and handling himself that way. T.J.'s having to help him get ready mentally, so it's different from that standpoint. But Jake's just a very positive guy and he's good for our situation right now and he's throwing the ball well, so we'll see what happens."
(on if it will help QB T.J. Yates to help QB Jake Delhomme learn the playbook) "Well this time of year, it's more game plan. It's not about the playbook. It's about getting the next game plan down and going and playing the game. They know. They've been through enough games. They understand what's going on. They're working hard together. I think that's the first two quarterbacks I had eat dinner with me on Tuesday night last night with those guys. That usually doesn't happen, so we got a little different dynamic going on, but we got to make it work."
(on if QBs Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart will be on the sideline on Sunday) "Well, Matt's (Schaub) having surgery as we speak, guys, so he should be getting out of surgery here pretty quick. I expect him back Friday. Lefty's going to have surgery on Thursday, it's my understanding, back in LA. I would think that would be a tough turnaround for him, so if anybody, I expect Schauby to be here."
(on any other injury updates) "(Brian) Cushing did not practice, just beat up, we held him. There were a lot of guys limited, but that's where we're at this time of year. We'll just take it day-to-day. Lawrence (Vickers) practiced a little bit, very little, so he's still got a ways to go to be ready to play."
(on if eating dinner with the quarterbacks was to give him more time with them) "No, they just happened to be in the building, so we offered them dinner. They were working a little late last night. I'm just teasing. They had dinner with us, yes."
(on what overcoming injuries does for the team's confidence) "Well, it keeps reminding them what it's all about. It's about the team. When we line up this Sunday, we're going to have three ways we can win – offense, defense and special teams. They got a lot of confidence in that and they're excited to be back home. They know how big the challenge is this weekend, but very upbeat group, very positive group."
(on if the defense is up to the task of defending the Falcons) "Well, we're going to find out. They are a very good group with a quarterback who's playing at an extremely high level and weapons across the board, Hall of Fame tight end, receivers, a back that can beat you. It will be a big, big test for them, but it will be for the whole team."
(on how much QB Jake Delhomme had worked out before he was brought in) "Obviously, he had been taking care of himself. He's what, 36 I think? He moved around good today. There's nothing like getting back to work though. That's going to take some time. We're in a situation where we just got to push through it and find out what he can do best if we do need him, so that's what we're trying to do right now."
Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison
(on how QB Jake Delhomme did at practice today) "He did a good job for what we asked him to do. I think he's played a lot of football. It's a matter of understanding what we call things; I know he's probably run the same routes or the same protections, just called it something different."
(on how hard it is to integrate a new quarterback into the offense so late in the season) "I've never done it before, so I couldn't tell you."
(on if it is a challenge to integrate QB Jake Delhomme into the offense so late in the season) "Like I said, he's played a lot of football. He's a smart guy, he's won a lot of games. I think he did a good job."
(on what QB Jake Delhomme has done to stay in shape) "I don't know. He said something about going to Disney with his kids. That's about all I know and then messing around with horses. He's got horses. That's about all I know that he's done."
(on if QB T.J. Yates is ready for the full playbook) "Well, that's what we'll find out this week. We practiced everything just like a normal week and we'll see."
(on his confidence in QB T.J. Yates) "Right now, we're really confident. We did the same thing we'd do any other Wednesday today, so we'll just keep working with him."
(on if it was important to get QB T.J. Yates immediately into the normal routine of practice) "No, I think he's been around. He knows what to expect. He's just taking more snaps on our side than scout team. I think he'll do fine."
(on how impressed he was with QB T.J. Yates' play when he entered the game in the first half at Jacksonville) "He did a fine job and just the cool demeanor he had, nothing seemed to rattle him. He did a nice job, a very nice job for us."
(on if QB T.J. Yates' play against Jacksonville gave him confidence going into this week) "Well, we were pretty confident about him. We'd been around him. It doesn't take a couple plays in a game. We were here every day with him and know what he brings to the table and feel real good about it."
(on what he needs to see from QBs Kellen Clemens and Jake Delhomme in deciding who will be the backup quarterback) "Just see them work and handling the cadence and the huddle and everything we're asking them to do. We'll have them pick out some plays that they like; the same thing we'd do with anybody else."
(on what Atlanta's defense does well) "Well, they don't play a whole lot of things and they do it very well. They're good up front; linebackers flow hard. They create some problems with what they do up front and their personnel; another challenge and see if we can put a couple things in and find a crease."
(on if the Atlanta defense is good because it's fancy) "No. They're good players. That's all there is."
(on why the Texans didn't run the ball well against Jacksonville) "Well, I think you have to give Jacksonville some credit. You have to say we didn't do things as well as we should have and then we learn from mistakes and move on."
OLB Connor Barwin
(on being named AFC Defensive Player of the Month) "I'm very excited and very thankful about the award, happy for me and for the rest of the defense."
(on what it means for the Texans to have a Defensive Player of the Month) "I think it's good for our whole defense, but it's kind of a funny award. If you put together a couple of games like Cush (ILB Brian Cushing) has had or a couple of other guys have had, they could easily have gotten it. It's just kind of how things line up."
(on how his role has changed since OLB Mario Williams was injured) "There's still the opportunities out there with (Defensive Coordinator) Wade Phillips' defense. I mean, (OLB) Brooks (Reed) has created opportunities; he's got six sacks himself, so people are worried about us on each side."
(on whether opponents have started changing their blocking schemes to account for him) "No, I think the defense is so sound, it's hard to kind of do that because you really don't know who's coming and who's dropping."
(on whether he and OLB Brooks Reed have started to feed off of one another's success) "You always think you're playing your hardest and you always want to get pressure on the quarterback, but whenever I see him get a sack, I'm like, 'Alright, I've got to get one,' and he's got to feel the same way. So I think the last couple of weeks, the one week he got one and the very next play, I got one. This Jacksonville game, I got one or two and then he wound up getting one, so we're definitely kind of going back and forth."
(on which of his four sacks last Sunday was most impressive to him) "The last one was probably my best individual effort, but the first one, when I crawled, Antonio deserves a lot of credit on that because we ran a game and that's the reason why I kind of had an opportunity to come free inside."
(on the difficulty in playing against Atlanta's offense) "We all believe we can keep it going. I'm happy we're playing him (Atlanta QB Matt Ryan) here at home with our crowd, but as you guys all know, this will probably be the biggest challenge we've faced in the last month or two."
(on how important having the home crowd can be) "Well, for a pass rusher, it's huge. When they have to go on a silent count and those offensive linemen can't hear the quarterback, it's huge for us in getting after the quarterback."
(on how much confidence he has in QB T.J. Yates) "I think he'll be fine. He looked great out there today, so he'll be fine."
(on whether there is any additional pressure on the defense with the offense having a new quarterback) "No. I don't look at it as pressure; I look at it as you kind of have to elevate your game a little bit and kind of play better, but no matter what's happening during the season, as the season goes on, as these games become more important, I think you always want to think you need to elevate your game."
LT Duane Brown
(on having a different starting quarterback for the third consecutive game) "Yeah, it's very unfortunate, but we won't miss a beat. T.J.'s confident, he's ready to go, but it's up to us to all do our jobs and play to the best or our ability to keep this thing going."
(on whether it frustrates the offensive line that their quarterbacks have been getting injured) "Yeah, like I said, it's very unfortunate. Freakish deals, the way both of them (QBs Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart) were injured, but that's the nature of the beast."
(on how the team developed such strong chemistry) "Everybody just being accountable and not paying too much attention to everything else that's gone on. Just stay focused on what you have going and just do your job. Just do your job every play, every week, and everything else will work out."
(on how to get the running game going again) "Yeah, we just got a little bit out of sync [against Jacksonville]. The line and the running backs got a little out of sync our last game with where a hole should've opened up at. We didn't get on our blocks as cleanly as we could have, and we kind of forced some cutbacks that shouldn't have been cut back there. Just keep working at it and every day, just keep trying to polish this thing up. We've still got a lot of confidence in the running game. The coaches do, too, and that's our first goal, to establish it, so we'll be fine."
(on how much it will help to be playing at home this week) "It'll help out a lot. Atlanta has a great defense, and this is the first time I've gotten to watch them was on film today, and they're pretty good. Watching them at the Georgia Dome, they're even better, so I think us being at home, being able to communicate properly will help us out a lot."
(on dealing with a new cadence rhythm from a new quarterback) "It's not too bad. The coaches try to teach them to try to be similar. Of course, it's not going to be exactly the same, but it's just something you've got to work at and practice is the best way. (QB) T.J.'s (Yates) been getting reps since early in the year, so we're kind of used to what he has going."
(on whether today was much different with a new quarterback) "It was routine. Everything seemed fine out there. Like I said, he's (QB T.J. Yates) prepared and ready to go."
(on if QB T.J. Yates seems like he's not a rookie anymore) "His demeanor. He seems like a seasoned vet, doesn't get too high or too low on things, and that's great. That's great for any position, especially at the quarterback position."
NT Shaun Cody
(on going up against Atlanta this week) "Yeah, we got to go against a great offense. They move the ball well. They got a good young quarterback and definitely got a good running back and a good tail back and some weapons outside. Our challenge is cut out for us and as a defense, I think we've always talked about stopping the run first and that's what my job is, so hopefully we can get that done."
(on if there is any more pressure on the defense now) "As a defense, you try to play as hard and well as you can every time. I think you don't want to make it seem like two different teams on one team, but really when you're on defense, you try to do as well as you can and you're trying to put the offense in the best position as possible to do what they can. As an offense, you're trying to score points and move the ball."
(on if anything changes with the way the defense plays) "We're not going to play any harder if you're trying to say that. We've been trying to play as hard as we can for Matt Schaub, for Matt Leinart, whoever's in there. We're going to play defense as hard as we can."
(on DE Antonio Smith saying Atlanta's offense is very balanced) "Yeah, I think so. I think we've gone against some teams that have some big tendencies. We got to think Atlanta. With Atlanta, their run game's very balanced. Their pass and run attack is very balanced, so they don't have many tendencies to pick up on, so it's going to be a challenge."
(on DE Antonio Smith saying there's a target on the defense's back now) "I'm sure that other offenses want to prove that they can go against us and be successful because we've been successful this year as a defense."
(on QB T.J. Yates' chances to have a great performance against Atlanta) "Great. He's a good quarterback and he throws the ball hard. He's real accurate and I'm sure he's going to be successful."
QB Jake Delhomme
(on how practice went today) "You know what, it went well. I'm not going to lie, it's been a whirlwind the last two days. Certainly, it's like learning a new language. I don't think there's any doubt. Concepts are somewhat familiar, but still it's speaking the verbiage and it's a lot of work, but it's good to be here. It's some kind of sense around this team. It's kind of nice."
(on having success not long ago) "Yeah, I really and truly wasn't sure if I was ever going to play again and I was okay with that. I was fine with that. I was at peace. This opportunity kind of came about and when you can come, just to be part of a team that's making a push, there's nothing like it. That's why you play the game. This is my 15th year and I can vividly remember all the times you're making a push in November and December. There's just nothing like it as a player, it's the best."
(on the feeling around the Texans) "For me, it's eerily similar to a lot of the teams we had in Carolina and I think we had some solid teams there. We had a bunch of guys that came to work every day, practiced fast and it was important to them. That's something that if the game's not important to you, you're doing a disservice. It has to be important. You got to prepare like it's important. You got to practice like it's important because for what we do, it is. Don't get me wrong, I've been here for one day around these guys. To say I know 30 percent of the guys names, I don't know. It's just a sense. They practice the right way."
(on if he had any other opportunities to come back this year) "Yes, I did. I had a couple of opportunities in camp, teams contacting me. It was a little different for me. We moved back home, my wife and my two daughters. From Cleveland, we moved back to Breaux Bridge, Louisiana in early August. We wanted to get our kids in school. I have two daughters, eight and four, almost nine and five. We wanted to get them back home and if I was to go anywhere, it was only going to be me. I had some opportunities, but I can't say they were things… At that point, I just went with my gut and I had another opportunity along the way during the course of the season. My whole thing was I've been very blessed. I don't have to go and play. I did enjoy it. I did miss it, but I watched every game on Sunday. It wasn't like I tried to stay away from it. I watched every single game on Sunday, so I still loved it. I think I was in the situation that if the right situation came about, I would look into and I thought this was a very nice situation."
(on what he was doing to stay in shape) "I kind of try to stay in shape regardless. I do work out. I would try to throw once a week or something like that. I'm not going to try to lie and say I've been throwing a ton. That's just something I think with age, a lot of guys won't throw as much. I stay pretty active. I'm not one that kind of sits down. I'm not a big hunter, fisher or golfer. We stay pretty active. We have race horses, my family and that's something I dearly enjoy. I get to the barn early in the morning. That's what I really enjoy and we stay really busy with that and kids and being a dad. It's good."
(on being injured last year and not knowing what he had left in the tank) "Well, you know what, it was unfortunate. I've been very blessed throughout my career to be somewhat healthy, I will say that. I had a high ankle sprain in the second quarter of the first game and it happened again later on when another one of our quarterbacks went down with a high ankle. It was just one of those deals I spent more time in a walking boot last year than I did in cleats. Very disappointing, but things happen for a reason. You just have to battle through it and I was able to start a couple of games later and we were able to get a couple of wins. I was somewhat proud of the fact that of the four games I started, I was able to help lead the team to two wins and we didn't win too many last year. That's just the way things happen."
(on QB T.J. Yates) "I met him early this morning for the first time. A sense of calm, I think that's something that you kind of pick up on. Surely it seems like he's a really good kid, very intelligent, works hard. I thought he did a great job out there at practice today. There's not a sense of panic and don't get me wrong, it's Wednesday, it's not Sunday, but you can just tell the way guys kind of handle themselves. I've been around some young guys. Last year with Colt (McCoy), Colt didn't get many opportunities at all, all through camp and early on in the season and when he had his opportunity to prepare, he was opening up against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the kid played with moxie. He had some things about him and I still think he's a very good football player. They're just going through some tough times. When you see young guys that the game's not too big for them, I think that's the big thing."
(on his role of helping QB T.J. Yates develop) "I want to be a mentor, but honestly, he's a mentor to me right now. I think for me, a sounding board is something that I've always appreciated when I had a veteran quarterback. I firmly believe if you can teach one little thing, you pass it on, that's a legacy to leave. We're going to be spending a lot of time together and as I get more familiar with this system and we get more familiar with each other, there will be little things I'll tell him. But he has some very good coaches also. I think there's a fine line. I think a sounding board might be the best thing for me to say."
(on if he would have been content if he didn't get another opportunity to play) "One hundred percent. The NFL's been great to me. Being undrafted and playing 14 years is… I wanted to play one. That's the truth. I wanted to play one and then the next year, I wanted to play the next one. That's how I kind of looked at it. You always have that chip. Absolutely, I would have been fine and happy and content, but I think no matter how old you get, you don't do this because you might have been good at it at some point. There's a burning desire and I think we all have that. Everybody has that and I don't think that ever goes away. I think physically guys whittle away. I think that's life, but I would have been perfectly happy."
(on if he felt like he had unfinished business after not winning the Super Bowl) "I think you always think you're going to get back to another one. It was my first year starting in Carolina and I was I think 28 years old at the time. I think you always feel you'll get back to another one, but those memories are things that I can vividly remember our week here and it was one of the best weeks of my life. The game, you remember everything leading up to it from the warm ups to the smell of the stadium to I remember Muhsin Muhammad going in motion on the first play of the game and I could kind of feel the ground move a little bit with how the grass is on those skids in here. It was a great experience except for the last four seconds."
(on if he sees any similarities between QB T.J. Yates and when he took over in Carolina) "You know what, I think it's very premature for me to say. I'll be honest with you, I think this team has kind of been built along the way through the draft and building. I think Carolina did that and they added some pieces through the free agency that everything kind of mixed. The little I've seen so far today, it's a good mix. It's a good blend."
(on how much the style of offense and the coaches appealed to him) "It appealed a great deal to me because I think one thing for me growing up, watching Denver and the system where (Head Coach Gary Kubiak) Kubs was at and all that and certainly watching Matt (Schaub). I got to know Matt when he was a backup in Atlanta. Seeing his progression and the way they play here and the run game and the play actions off that, it was something that was very intriguing. This team has some ability."
(on the process of getting to Houston) "I got a phone call I want to say early Monday morning and it was a possibility we could have talked. (General Manager) Rick Smith and I, we did speak. We had a good talk and I was blunt with him and extremely honest and told him the whole situation about me. He said, 'Well, we'd like to bring you in' so I said, 'That'd be great.' I embraced it. I was hopeful. This was something I was hopeful and I drove on up Monday night and we had a workout yesterday."
(on if he's ready to play this week) "Yeah, I don't know what kind of situation we'll be in, but I'm going to prepare extremely, extremely hard. I'm here by myself. I have no place to go, so I'll be in the facility a good bit. You prepare and you get ready to go. That's what you have to do. I think I would assume at some point, as the week goes on, I would have to maybe compile a list of what I feel comfortable with, but I'm trying to get through today. We got through today. Today was okay and I'm just trying to get better for tomorrow and get a little more verbiage down."
(on how long the drive was on Monday night) "Three hours and about 15, 20 minutes."
(on what went through his mind on the drive) "It was great. I just drove on up. I didn't really tell too many people. My close members of my family knew and I was excited. It wasn't something that more than excitement, hey an opportunity. I didn't know if I was going to sign. They're going to work me out. Let's see what I can do. Let's see if it works out. That's exactly how I took it."
(on how special it is to get another chance) "It is great. The NFL retires you. You don't retire from the NFL. This is the only job in the world where you don't want to retire, they make you. It's great."
(on if he cheated retirement for the moment) "Who knows? Maybe so, but I'm a member of the Texans and I'm very proud and very happy."
(on if he was in the Texans locker room during the Super Bowl) "No, we were in the other one. We did go into the bubble. We had one practice in the bubble I want to say maybe the Friday afternoon we had one."
(on having a lot of success in the Super Bowl) "Yeah, it was a good game. It wasn't enough though. It wasn't enough. I think as a quarterback, that's how you have to look at it. You need one more point. We had fun. It was awesome. It was great. Long time ago, but it was nice."
(on if he's been to Houston since the Super Bowl) "That's a good question. I think I had to come back for something. What? I'd be lying to you. No, I've kind of been in Carolina and Cleveland for the most part, living there."
TE Joel Dreessen
(on the attitude of the team) "We're ready to go. We've won five in a row, got to make it six, right? That's the attitude."
(on how much playing at home will help QB T.J. Yates) "You know, I think T.J.'s going to be awesome. I'm going to do my best to be the best tight end and special teams player I can be to help him out."
(on what convinced him that QB T.J. Yates will be successful) "It started off when we drafted him. I remember when we were locked out and he moved to Houston right away. I remember there were some days where it was just me, him, Owen (Daniels) and James Casey. We were the only ones left out there at Rice just throwing to each other. He's got that hunger. He wants to be good and I think that's what you're going to see."
(on how QB T.J. Yates handled the game last Sunday) "Outstandingly. He was thrown into the two-minute drill and he led us down to a field goal. He did a very good job."
(on how QB Jake Delhomme did today and his memories are of him) "He looked good to me. He threw the ball very well. I remember him obviously leading Carolina to the Super Bowl and playing in the Super Bowl. I think it was in this stadium. Those are my memories of him."
(on if he's surprised how calm QB T.J. Yates is) "No, I think he understands that's what he has to be. He's been around here for a short time, but he's watched a very good one do it in both (Matt) Leinart and (Matt) Schaub. He's learned a lot and he's putting it into action."
RB Arian Foster
(on the challenge the Atlanta Falcons present) "Well, they're a very good defense. Very good against the run and they've been playing well all year and they're fighting for a playoff berth. Every win in this League is important, so it's going to be a tough challenge. But we have to step up."
(on the Texans having confidence in QB T.J. Yates) "Yeah. I mean, he's a good football player. From everything I've seen of him, I have the most confidence that you can in a quarterback because he has all the tools. I think more than anything, from an individual standpoint, I've got to make sure I play the best that I can for him and for our team. I think if everybody takes that mind frame and just doesn't worry about who's at quarterback and just worry about doing your job, it's going to make his job that much easier."
(on the chemistry within the Texans and how tight-knit the team is) "I think it starts from the head down. We get along great here; a lot of good times, a lot of smiles. But we also get work done. It's just a real cohesive unit and it's fun to be a part of."
(on what QB T.J. Yates is like in the huddle) "He's himself. He doesn't seem nervous. He seems really composed. In timeouts, he kind of talks amongst the group and just kind of enjoys football, like we all do."
WR Andre Johnson
(on Falcons CB Dunta Robinson saying he's looking forward to seeing him on Sunday) "It'll be fun. As you guys know, me and him are good friends. I talked to him Saturday. It'll be fun. It'll be different, but it'll be fun."
(on how weird it will be to play against Falcons CB Dunta Robinson) "I don't know. It'll be different because you know, I'm used to having him as a teammate. It'll be different, but at the same time, we both have a goal we're trying to achieve and that's to help our team win a football game. The friendship will go out the window."
(on if Falcons CB Dunta Robinson will be talking a lot during the game) "No, I doubt it. I seriously doubt it because that's not part of my game. I wouldn't be out there doing any talking."
(on how everything is going with QB T.J. Yates) "Everything's good. I don't know. Everybody's running around here like things are supposed to be bad, but the team is fine. We're fine. We're trying to win a game on Sunday. Hasn't much changed."
(on how much it will help that he knows Falcons CB Dunta Robinson so well) "I mean, when he was here, we went against each other in practice a lot, so I think it will help out some, but at the same time, he's in a different defense now that they run and different scheme. It's just not really one player that you have to worry about."
(on how his conditioning level is right now) "I feel fine. I feel normal. I don't really feel anything bad going on. I feel normal. I'm just trying to really just get back to the explosive player that I used to be. That's what I'm striving for every day when I'm out there on the practice field."
(on the Falcons defense) "They have a great front. They're very good against the run and they're pretty physical, so we'll have our work cut out for us if we're going to go out there and play the way that we know how to play. We definitely can't go out there and play like we played on Sunday. They're a good football team. They're a playoff football team and it's going to be a challenge for us."
(on if the level of play from last week will be enough for this week's game) "No, we definitely have to improve on the way we played last week. We all know that, but the biggest thing was last week, we did get the win. We can fix our mistakes."
(on Falcons WRs Roddy White and Julio Jones) "I think that's a great combination, I think the (Harry) Douglas kid also that plays slot for them. I think they have a great receiving core, very explosive. All three of those guys can make plays for them. You know, it's going to be a challenging game for us. They're a very good football team."
(on the mood of the team after all the quarterback injuries) "Nothing's changed. We've been dealing with injuries all year. Everybody's going to have their opinion, but nobody thinks we were going to be where we're at right now. What everybody else thinks really doesn't matter. It doesn't matter to me. I'm pretty sure it doesn't matter to anybody else in this locker room. We're just going out, trying to win football games. That's the big goal."
(on how confident he is in QB T.J. Yates) "Everybody keeps talking about T.J. T.J.'s going to be fine. T.J. can't do it by himself. We have to all go out and play and step our play up. T.J.'s going to be fine. He'll get the job done."
(on what it's like working with QB T.J. Yates) "It's fun. He's excited. He has a big opportunity. He's very poised, has a lot of confidence and I think he's going to make the best of it."
(on what's impressed him the most about QB T.J. Yates) "Just his poise, confidence. A lot of times when you have rookie guys come in, they kind of be in a little panic mode or whatever but he's very comfortable with what he's doing. Like I said, T.J. will be ready. We have to worry about ourselves and step our game up. We can't really worry about T.J. We just have to do our part."
FS Danieal Manning
(on if it will a gradual progression for him to increase his number of plays as weeks go on, coming off injury) "I sure hope so. I got more practice and more snaps in practice, so I think it's looking toward that."
(on if the defense feels the need to step up after losing two quarterbacks) "We're going to continue to prepare like we've always been. We know what we need to do on defense and that's the way we're going to stick with it. I've got to continue to prepare well and I know everybody else on this team is going to continue to try to prepare well so we can play."
(on if the Atlanta Falcons present another level of challenge) "It does. They are a well-rounded team, all the way around; defense, offense and special teams. We got to be able to contain the quarterback, contain the running back and the receivers look great. We're going to be tested all over the place."
(on the challenge of facing Atlanta's receivers) "They pose a threat on all of our positions in the secondary. Safeties, we got to come down and cover (TE Tony) Gonzalez. You got the outside with the corners, so they've got to play well. It's going to be a match up. And the front seven, they've got to play well against the run game. So we're going to be stressed and matched up well to beat this team."
OLB Brooks Reed
(on if the team will lean on the defense more to win games) "Yeah, the defense will adjust to how the offense plays. You know, it's kind of an experimentation stage, I guess. I don't know how it's going to go, so we're just going to see, go to play to play or series to series and see how it goes, but either way, when the defense is out there, we're going to be giving it our best."
(on the Falcons offense) "They have a lot of weapons at every position, wide receiver, running back, obviously quarterback. We're going to have to play our best ball. We're going to have to step up on defense and create turnovers and score on defense."
(on the Falcons offensive line playing well) "Yeah, I haven't seen much tape yet, but that's what I've heard. We're playing a much better quality opponent this week and guys are just going to have to step up and make plays, simple as that, in order to win."
(on how important it will be to get to the quarterback early) "Well, I mean, every week it's important to get in the quarterback's face, especially this guy. We know he's going to stay in the pocket and we have to get in his face and we have to be on top of receivers."
ILB DeMeco Ryans
(on if there is any added pressure on the defense with the offense having a new quarterback) "It doesn't matter to me. There's no added pressure on the defense. Of course, we just want to play better because we want to improve on what we've already done. We just want to get better each week, so that's our mindset as a defense, to go out and be better than we were last week."
(on the challenges that Atlanta's offense presents) "They're a solid team, a good football team, and it's going to be a good match for us going against a really good team. We're really looking forward to it."
(on OLB Connor Barwin's improvement this year) "Barwin? He's working hard in practice and the techniques and things he's doing in his pass rush, the way he works them in practice, they're transferring over to the game, and he's just playing with great effort and making big plays for us."
(on if OLB Connor Barwin is more suited to linebacker than defensive end) "Yeah, I think that's a natural position for Connor at outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme where he's coming off the ball rushing. He can also drop, too, and cover well, so he's a perfect fit for that position."
(on the defense's ability to get pressure on the quarterback this season) "We're playing good defense all over, so of course it feels good to be able to get out there and stop some people. You're definitely not worried about people scoring on you because you know everybody is being accountable. Everybody's holding up their end and knowing what they're supposed to do, so you're comfortable when you're out there."
(on what CB Dunta Robinson brings to Atlanta's defense and what it will be like playing against him Sunday) "It's going to be fun seeing Dunta on the other side. Dunta, he's always been a 'big hit' guy, so he's always done that. He was a great teammate for us, so it'll be good to see him playing with Atlanta now."
(on what he sees from Atlanta QB Matt Ryan) "Matt Ryan, he's a solid quarterback in this League, a young guy who makes a lot of plays."
(on Atlanta RB Michael Turner) "Again, a solid running back, a fast guy. You can't let him get out on the edge because he is a fast guy and can make plays on you."
(on what makes Atlanta RB Michael Turner different than other fast running backs) "I'm not sure. I really don't put one above the others. It really doesn't matter to me who carries the ball."
(on if the defense needs to play better to stop Atlanta's offense) "Like I said, of course we have to play better each week. We have to just do what we do as a defense. There's nothing extra or more that we have to do, we just have to be consistent in what we're doing and make plays when the opportunity presents itself. I think our offense will do fine. (QB) T.J. (Yates) has been doing fine at practice today. He looks good out there. He looks comfortable with what he's doing, so we're not worried about that."
DE Antonio Smith
(on all the obstacles the team has had to clear) "Throughout the season, things are going to come and things are going to go. I don't think that this is like some tremendous obstacle. I think that this is what the game of football is. Things like this happen. People have to step in and do their job. That's just football. I'm not worried about that. I'm worried about playing the best defense we can play and trying to go out and dominate on the defensive standpoint. I think that the offense is going to take care of itself. I said it last week and that's exactly what happened. I have faith in them and that's just what I believe."
(on at what point you say 'This is ridiculous' after all the injuries) "You say that because you get so close to each and every person on the team. When another guy goes down, it's kind of like 'Ah man, like what happened?' You get that. That feeling does come. I've said it probably a couple times and you wonder, but like I said again, it's the game and you got to keep trucking. It hurts and you hate to see a friend go down, especially having the success that we're having and a lot of guys just wanting to be a part of it. Sometimes when you're not playing, you don't feel like you are, but I think they still are. They helped us to get here and this team is one big family. Something special is happening here and I think it's just going to keep rolling."
(on if there is any more pressure on the defense now) "No, I wouldn't say because of the situation on offense. It's more pressure on the defense that I'm feeling because everybody's starting to talk about us being number one and with that comes offenses trying to exploit that and people are going to get more pumped up to play you, so you got to get more amped up to play them. I think that's the most pressure that's on us. Like I said, offense is going to handle their business. I guarantee that's just who they are. That's what they're going to do and we got to handle ours."
(on if there is a target on their back now) "I'm saying that if I'm going to the game and somebody tells me that this is the number one tackle in the League, oh yeah, it's a target on them. I figure that, since everybody's saying that we're the number one defense, it's definitely a target on you. It's just the name of the game."
(on if the team has better chemistry than ever before) "I think so, man. I've said it before. I think that it's something special going on here. This is another tale of it. I've been in situations past where things like this happen and you come into a locker room and you can just feel the down vibe like 'Oh, what are we going to do?' It's positive. It hasn't dropped a beat. Practice ain't dropped a beat. The steps that we're taking into preparation and going into the game, nothing feels different. This team, it's a special team to me. I think that everybody knows their responsibilities as soon as it's their time to step in."
DE J.J. Watt
(on rookie QB T.J. Yates) "I really don't know. Quarterback is such a different animal. He's really poised and ready for the job, though. All I know is that as a defense, we're going to do our job, I'm going to do my job, and we're going to step up and try and play as well as we can."
(on what he's seen from the Atlanta defense) "They're a very good football team. They have a very good quarterback, a very good running game – (RB Michael) Turner's a very good back – and obviously they have some very good receivers in (WR) Julio Jones and (TE) Tony Gonzalez. They're a very well-balanced offense and we just need to play our game. We've been playing well all year on defense; we just need to execute our assignments."
(on the importance of getting to Atlanta QB Matt Ryan quickly) "It's very important. Obviously, any quarterback, you want to get there quick, but Matt Ryan does a good job of getting the ball of fast, so we want to get to him as quick as we can, put some pressure on him and force him into some throws that he doesn't want to make and give our guys on the back end some chances to make picks."
(on if the defense takes pride when one of their teammates wins AFC Defensive Player of the Month as OLB Connor Barwin did) "Definitely. Anytime one of your guys gets an award like that, it's big. Connor's most definitely deserving, and as a defense, anytime one of your players gets recognized, it's awesome. It just goes to show you that our defense is playing well and anyone can get it at any time."
QB T.J. Yates
(on how it feels to go into the week as the starting quarterback) "It feels good. It feels good to get reps in practice. I haven't had pretty much any reps all season long except for a tidbit last week, so it feels good to be able to go through and get reps for the things I've been looking at for the past however many months."
(on what is the biggest issue for him in becoming more comfortable) "It takes a little bit of time to get used to the receivers I haven't been throwing to. I'm used to the twos and the threes. Getting used to (WR) Andre (Johnson) and Kev (WR Kevin Walter) and (WR) Jacoby (Jones) is a thing that I'll work at during the week, but it went good today."
(on if he agrees with QB Jake Delhomme's characterization of him as being calm) "Yeah, I think so. I'm not really a guy that gets too up and down. I stay pretty even-keeled the majority of the time. Even when I got thrown into the game in Jacksonville, it was during halftime, I was just kind of sitting there in my locker, just kind of hanging out and somebody came over and was like, 'Are you alright?' 'Yeah, I'm fine. I'm just hanging out.' So that's kind of how I am all the time."
(on if he expects to have butterflies before his first start) "Of course there's going to be some butterflies, but I'm going to keep my routine exactly the same throughout the week just so I can stay as normal as possible."
(on feeling like he's prepared for this his whole football career) "Yeah. I wasn't expecting for it to come under these circumstances and this quick in my career, but I've been preparing for it all season long just in case something like this was going to happen, so I'm prepared."
(on how his experience at North Carolina helped prepare him to be the starter) "At some point, it's going to help. The one thing that we did have to go through at North Carolina was a whole bunch of adversity, and the same here. All season long, we've been hit with somebody one week or the next going down and the next guy having to step up, so this team is ready for this type of thing."
(on what happened when Head Coach Gary Kubiak told him he was going into the Jacksonville game) "I watched when Lefty (QB Matt Leinart) went down and I saw him and said, 'That hit looked pretty bad.' Then he got back up and got back in the huddle and I thought he was OK. The next thing you know, I'm searching for my helmet, trying to take my earpiece off and running right onto the field. I hadn't thrown the ball in like 30 minutes or something like that, so when he (Kubiak) called that next time out, I was trying to at least get a couple throws in and he was in my ear making sure I knew what we were doing on the field. So it was kind of funny. I was getting kind of tugged on while I was throwing the ball."
(on what ILB Brian Cushing said to him as he went on the field) "Who knows what Cush said. It was some form of pumping me up."
(on whether ILB Brian Cushing's pep talk worked) "Yeah, it worked. A lot of guys were saying stuff to me during halftime, [and] right after I came off the field. It was good to have all my teammates behind me as far as encouraging words."
(on what it means to him to have the support of the team's veterans) "It feels good that guys around me are saying those type of things, guys that have been here and been doing this for a long time. I hope it gives them a little more confidence in me; and with them saying stuff like that, it gives me confidence knowing that they know that."
(on what this experience is like for him) "I'm trying my best not to think of it from outside the box. I'm just trying to every day make sure I'm prepared to go out there at practice and make sure I'm doing the right things on and off the field to get me ready for Sunday. I'm trying my best not to think or talk to too many outside sources that will get my head in the wrong place."
(on how much his coaches are doing with him to get him ready for Sunday) "A little bit more meetings, obviously, to go over a few more things, to make sure I'm on point with the entire game plan. They've coached me extremely hard all season long. Now I'm getting some more reps, I'm getting coached harder because I have some more stuff on film and everything, but they're doing a good job. They've been coaching me the exact same way all year long, even from training camp the first day I stepped on here, but it's awesome to have all of them coaching me as well as when (QBs) Matt (Schaub) and Matt (Leinart) were here, they were helping out, and even the first five minutes I stepped in the film room with Jake, he's already telling me stuff about when he was playing Atlanta when he was in Carolina all those years, so I've got so many guys around me that are helping me out in different ways."
(on what it's meant to have QB Matt Schaub around him this year) "It's meant a lot. When I was here in the summer working out with all the guys at Rice, he took time out of his day to help me out and help me learn the offense when he didn't have to, and he's done that all throughout training camp. Whenever he has a second to teach me anything or tell me something on the field or something in the film room, he's never hesitated to do that, and it's starting to pay off now."
(on why he's been able to pick up the offense so quickly) "It probably had something to do with it was a lot of the same terminology coming out of college. I got a head start from being here with the guys all summer long. I didn't just jump into training camp and not have any idea what was going on. At that time, it was (QBs) Matt (Schaub) and Dan (Orlovsky). They were helping me out all summer long, trying to learn the offense as much as possible so when I got to training camp it would be a smooth transition."
(on having the team rally around him like they have) "It feels good. Everybody around me is very confident. You can tell this team hasn't really skipped a beat as far as intensity or tempo at practice. Nothing seems different except for it's just a different guy at quarterback."
(on making his first start against the Atlanta Falcons after going to high school in Marietta, Ga.) "It's pretty cool. When I lived in Atlanta for a little over 10 years, I was definitely a Falcons fan, but that all changed when I came here. Just having all of my friends and family back home be able to see it on TV will be pretty cool, and my family is coming here as well."
(on being more mobile than QBs Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart and how that can help him) "I think Matt and Matt are very sneaky with their athleticism. They just don't have a really good chance to show it out there on the field, but they don't get as much credit as they should, and I think I'm actually getting a little too much credit for my athleticism. That'll definitely help out a little bit when we're in all of our keepers and stuff that can get outside the pocket, it'll definitely add a little something to the offense."
(on whether it's ironic that his first NFL start is against the team he grew up watching) "Yeah, it's a little ironic. I've got a lot of friends back home that are die-hard Falcons fans and they're all saying that they're going to cheer against them one game this year, so it's kind of cool and it's definitely ironic."
(on if his parents will be at the game this Sunday) "Yeah, that was their first game being there last week, and it just happened to be that I got in the game. I was really glad that they were there. I saw my mom after the game and I could tell she'd been crying her eyes out, so they're driving up here all the way from Atlanta to come see the game, so it'll be cool."
(on if he only played one year of high school football) "No. I didn't play my junior year. I only played one year of varsity high school football."
(on if it's amazing how far he's come in a short amount of time) "Yeah, I think so. As far as knowing what was going on, when I was out there at Rice, I had zero clue what was going on as far as the playbook and knowing all the little intricacies of the offense, and from them to now, it's just night and day."
Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith Conference Call
(on how the approach changes with a new starting quarterback for the Texans) "Well, I really think that it's not hard to get the attention of your team. When you put the tape on, you see that it is a system offense. Coach Kubiak's offense has a system and it's really based, in my mind, around the running game and the running game sets up everything else. The way that they've thrown the ball, it's all predicated off the run game. Even though it's not going to be the quarterback that we thought it was going to be three weeks ago, I don't anticipate seeing any changes in terms of what they're going to try to do offensively. When you have injuries, guys got to step up and T.J.'s going to get his opportunity this week."
(on the key to being good against the run and being 8-0 against rookie quarterbacks) "I think our guys have done a nice job with their run fits week in and week out. There's different dynamics that you have to deal with in a run game and this week, it's a two-headed monster, in my mind, when you talk about (Arian) Foster and (Ben) Tate. They're big strong running backs that we're going to have to make sure we're gap-sound. On your second question, I really don't know the reasoning behind that because we don't prepare any differently based on how many years or how many games a guy's played. Our preparation is the same each and every week."
(on if he looks at film from QB T.J. Yates' college career to prepare for the game) "Well we're going to try to watch all the tape that we can get on T.J. T.J.'s from here in Atlanta, played at Hope High School, had a great career at North Carolina in the ACC. We were doing our due diligence in preparing for the draft and had an opportunity to, of course, evaluate T.J. going through our process and preparation for the draft. There's lots of film on lots of guys, but I thought he did a really nice job coming in there in tough circumstances last week against Jacksonville."
(on the Texans offensive line) "They work very well in unison. This, to me, is a very solid line schematically with what they're doing and they work very well in unison. Not only are they a good zone blocking team, but when they run the gap scheme, which they are doing some gap blocking and pulling, there's not a lot of holes or chinks in their armor. You can tell that they're very confident in what they're doing offensively, especially their ability to run the football with those two big backs."
(on the improvement in the Texans defense and the job defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is doing) "Well I think Wade Phillips is one of the top coordinators, defensive coordinators, in the history of the NFL. When you look at what he's done at all the places he's been, they always are very sound in what they do. I've been very impressed with the two rookies. 99 stands out, J.J. Watt, and then from Arizona, Brooks Reed. They've been very productive. They're sound in what they do. Their front seven, I think, is outstanding. It will be a big challenge for our offense because they are very sound and not necessarily over complicated, but man, do they give you fits. The defense, statistically, as you look at them, they're one and two almost in every statistic that we look at that we put any weight on, in terms of points allowed, rushing yards, passing yards, passing yards per attempt. They're second in the League in sacks, producing sacks. It's going to be a big challenge. When you get done watching that tape, you can see why they're 8-3 and the number one team in the AFC with the best record."
(on OLB Connor Barwin) "Well he's made a great transition to playing outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense. He's very long, has great reach and I think he's really morphed into what you would want in an ideal outside linebacker. He's got great size. He can rush the passer and that was a bang up game that he played last week."
(on DE J.J. Watt and OLB Brooks Reed) "I tell you, you can see, when we were doing our due diligence and our preparation for the draft last year, you could see that these guys play with a lot of passion. Reed has got six sacks. Watt has four-and-a-half sacks. Those are phenomenal numbers for a player that's got a lot of experience. For a guy through 11 games, for rookies to have those types of numbers, they're just unbelievable. I think Watt, the thing that stands out to me is his tackle production. He's been in on, I think, almost 40 tackles through the first 11 games and for a defensive tackle in a 3-4 defense, those numbers are unheard of and that's not even mentioning Brian Cushing, who I think has made a really good transition into their middle linebacker or their Mike linebacker in their 3-4 defense."
(on CB Dunta Robinson saying WR Julio Jones looks like a young WR Andre Johnson) "Well we certainly hope that he has the same skill set as Andre Johnson because Andre's, in my mind, one of the toughest guys to defend. Of course with my time in Jacksonville, we're very familiar with him. He creates a lot of issues and we've been pleased with the progress of Julio Jones through the first 11 games."
Atlanta Falcons CB Dunta Robinson Conference Call
(on if this is just another game for him) "It's just another game, man. It's going to be good to come back to Houston though, play in the city where it all started. A lot of guys that I played with are still a part of that football team. You never know how you're going to feel until you step out on to that field for the first time. It's something I've never been through, so we'll see what kind of emotions, we'll see what kind of feelings come out when I come out of the locker room for the first time, but it's going to be a little strange. I walked out of the home locker room for six years and wasn't too familiar with the visiting locker room, so it's going to be a little strange coming out of the visiting locker room for the first time."
(on what kind of reception he thinks he'll get in Houston) "I don't know. I guess we'll have to wait and see on that. Hopefully, the city respects what I did there for years. We didn't, myself with the management, we didn't end on a bad note. We communicated and we moved on. Hopefully, whatever happened with the new contract, with me trying to get a contract there, they respect and understand that it was strictly business and just look at my body of work and what I did for the organization over the years. I really don't know what kind of reception I'll get, but as long as they stay in the stands and don't come out and jump on me, I think we'll be fine."
(on if he will have any messages on the back of his shoes) "No, I'm paid, so I don't have to put any more messages on the back of my shoes. For me, that was a young, immature mistake and it is what it is. I'm here in Atlanta now and that's really all that matters."
(on what he thought when he saw Houston on the schedule) "You know what, I was like, 'Man, that's game 12. That's a long ways away.' That's what it seemed like when I first looked at the schedule. Family and friends, I was still in Houston at the time during the offseason, so I had a lot of people saying, 'Hey, I want tickets for this game when ya'll play Houston.' I was like, 'Man, that's Week 12.' I mean, I really couldn't even see that far. It's come up on me so fast. It's like, 'Wow, now this time is here.' It's definitely a game that you look at and you think about because like I said, I played there for six years, so I'm going back to where it all started. It's funny, I'm from Georgia, but my teammates here, they walk around saying, 'Hey man, you're going back home.' So it's like, 'Well, actually, you know I'm from Georgia.' But I guess because I played there so long, to them it's like, 'Hey, you're going back home this week.'"
(on his fonder memories from his time in Houston) "My fondest would be beating New England Patriots to get our first winning season, to go 9-7. I would say another memory was my rookie year and just being introduced to professional football, making plays and just getting the fan support. The 2-14 season, I can go all over the place with things that happened during my time there from the 2-14 team, to my rookie year, to the first winning season, to the major knee injury and not being sure if I was going to be able to play again. Just everything I went through, it was a learning experience. I learned a lot, I grew up a lot and those fans, they were able to witness that firsthand. They were able to witness the growth and the maturity and the goods and the bads. It was kind of like a family situation. You have good situations, you have bad situations. It's a little bit all over the place."
(on how the Texans' change in quarterbacks affects him) "(Matt) Schaub is a great quarterback. It's going to be a little bit different, but the way that their offense works, it really doesn't matter who they have at quarterback. You still have Arian Foster. You still have Ben Tate. You still have Andre (Johnson). You still have Jacoby (Jones), Kevin Walter. All he (T.J. Yates) has to do is take care of the football and not really try to do too much, not make any mistakes. But they still have all of their weapons and we're more focused on those guys than we are who's playing quarterback and what's going to happen at quarterback."
(on if he has any interesting text messages with current Texans players) "No, actually I don't. Andre (Johnson) and I talked a couple days ago, but it wasn't about football. It was about how he was doing. He asked me how I was doing. Some of those guys I talked to during the offseason, but no, there's really not a lot going on. On both sides, we understand hey, this is business. They have a job to do and I have a job to do here and we have to come out and make the best of it."
(on going up against WR Andre Johnson) "It'll be different. This is a guy I faced every day in practice for six years, so he knows me and I know him. As a receiver, he knows me as a defensive back, but it will be different. For the first time, we're trying to stop each other from making plays. Like I said, this whole situation, I came out of that locker room for a lot of years, so it'll be a different feeling, but at the same time, we're all professionals and we have jobs to do."
(on RB Arian Foster in 2009 compared to now) "Well he was young and still learning at that time. Back then, we even thought we had a secret weapon, but he had to learn the offense. He had to get familiar with what was going on, but through practice and him being a part of the practice squad, you knew man, this guy's going to be a hell of a running back one day. Nothing he's done this year through last year, it didn't surprise me because those last two games in 2009 against Miami Dolphins and against the New England Patriots, we probably had a 100-yard rusher once or twice that season and he came in and almost rushed for 100 in one game and did rush for 100 in the other game. We knew it was a matter of time before, we knew the only thing he had to do was get his opportunity and he was going to be a good running back and he's showing that now."
(on what makes WR Andre Johnson so great as a receiver) "Well, first of all you talk about athletically and physically. He's big, fast, he's strong and then he can run every route. You don't get a lot of receivers… A lot of receivers in this League specialize in different things. Some are not able to run routes. Maybe, they're just able to go deep and Andre can run any route that's called for him. I remember coming out earlier, they were saying he wasn't a good route runner, but he worked on that and worked on that and became a very good route runner. I think what makes him so difficult is he can do everything. You can't say, 'Well we got to focus on this with Andre' because he's not a one-dimensional player. I think that's why he's considered one of the tops in this League."
(on if some of the flak he's received for hits on receivers has changed the way he's played) "No, it hasn't changed the way I play the game. I've played this way my entire life. I had many opportunities. I had a lot of plays like this when I was in Houston, so I guess it's something that's under the microscope now, but it's the way I've always played the game. I can't step out on to the field wondering what's going to happen. I have to go out and play my style of football, play the style that I've always played and that's play hard, that's play fast and that's play physical. I've continued to do that since that point in time and I'll continue to do that."
(on the success the Texans are having this season) "You knew it was a matter of time. You knew this team was going to be successful. We got better and better every year. We're doing what we do here, so I really don't get the opportunity to watch them play a lot, but just from studying this week and watching game film and doing things like that, they're gelling on all cylinders. I think signing Johnathan Joseph on the defensive side of the ball, I think that was big for them. He's a playmaker and is doing a great job, so I think they're a team with not a lot of holes. There's not a lot of weaknesses on this team, period. We got our hands full this week."
(on how much it helps to go up against WRs Roddy White and Julio Jones in practice) "I mean, it helps. One thing I will say about Julio, it's like watching a young Andre (Johnson) all over again, as big, fast, strong and raw right now. It's a lot of fun going up against him in practice. Roddy White's that same caliber receiver. He's big, he's fast, he's strong, so we see here in practice every day, just like the DBs in Houston see Andre (Johnson), Jacoby (Jones), Kevin (Walter) every day. We get to see Roddy. We get to see Julio. We get to see Harry Douglas. It's always a battle in practice and that's what I was used to when I came over here from Houston. I knew that Roddy was a great receiver when I got here and I knew practice was going to be a lot of fun."
(on what he would say to Texans fans right now) "Just thanks for the memories, everything we went through, from winning Rookie of the Year to in year four, I'm having one of my best seasons and destroying my knee to having our first winning record in 2009. Just thanks for all the memories, man, and that's what this thing is about. That's what this game is about. It's for memories and you go out there and play hard. It was a lot of fun to be a part of some of those things with the Houston fans. Just thank you for the memories."
(on if this game will be business or pleasure for him) "It's going to be business, man. I can't come there and make this game about me because there are a lot of guys. The rest of this team didn't come over from Houston. I'm the only one that came over from Houston, so I can't walk out there and make it a personal event. At the same time, We got to go out there and we got to play as a team. We got to try to take care of our business as best as possible. For me, even though there are some personal memories, it's still business and that's the way I have to look at it. I have to be professional about it."