Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak and defensive end Mario Williams spoke to Tennessee media Wednesday afternoon.
**Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on WR Andre Johnson) **"He's a fine player. He just had a chance to be around some pretty good ones. The thing that is impressive about him is how hard the kid works. He's not just a Sunday player. He's probably our hardest worker every day that we're out there. You're always trying to find ways to give him a chance to make some plays. The thing about him is he works just as hard in the run game as he does in the pass game. He's having a fine year. For us to be successful, he's got to be a guy making some plays for us. We're very excited about the direction he's had."
(on if Johnson's getting used to teams trying to slow him down)"When you've got a player that you're moving around and trying to find ways to get him the ball, you're going to see a variety of things. It sure helps when we can run the ball a little bit too. It sure helps him get open as well as any of those other guys. You can always count on him doing his job. (He's a) very unselfish player."
*(on the importance of Sunday's game for both teams in trying to build momentum) *"They're all important. The next one is always the most important one. I know, just speaking from our perspective, the thing that we're trying to do really is just focus on ourselves. When we haven't been good we really beat ourselves up and hurt ourselves with penalties, turnovers, mistakes, etc. I'm just trying to keep the focus, have our football players focus on our problems and our task at hand because if we can clean some of those up then it gives us a chance week in and week out. We're going to try to maintain that focus on ourselves and our situation and just try to get better every week."
(on if their pass protection has improved to his satisfaction)"I still think we have a long way to go. We've been better the last few weeks. A lot of that has to do with the fact that we were able to run the ball the other day. I just think we're getting better working together, understanding what we're trying to get done scheme-wise, David (Carr) understanding protections and growing through this process, becoming a better quarterback. I think he's helping us because he's not holding the ball. All of those things go hand in hand. For us to improve as a football team offensively, that is something that definitely had to get cut down. Hopefully we're making some headway there but we've got a long way to go."
(on his approach with QB David Carr)"First off when you look at David, he's a heck of an athlete and a smart young man. I first off try to have him understand his role in sacks. In the progress of an offensive football team, I think the most important thing is for a quarterback to understand what's expected of him. Throughout my process with him, probably the number one thing that I was concerned about is his preparation as a pro quarterback week in and week out. That's something we wanted to work on. I think that's gotten better each week. When you're the guy taking those snaps week in and week out, if you're not the best guy preparing on the football team then your team's in trouble. I just think his preparation has gotten much better."
(on Carr's high completion percentage)"We've dumped the ball around a little bit and thrown some screens, but he's a fairly accurate player. When he's got some time to set his feet, he's throwing the ball pretty accurately. For us to have a chance to be successful he's going to have to do that. We're not going to sit back there and hold the ball long and that's something we've tried to teach him. He can't be afraid to dump the ball, and keep your offense on schedule because in this league, if you get off schedule you get third-and-10, third-and-eight, third-and-nine, you're probably not going to be very successful."
(on if DT Robaire Smith was released because of numbers)"Yeah, that's basically what it was. It was a combination of what we were doing with our football team toward the end of camp and money in a way. That's the way things work out in this league. When you're trying to put your football team together you're trying to think about the future. Robaire's a great kid. He did a heck of a job for us. Hi m and I had that same conversation. It sure looks like he's doing very well for the Titans."
**(on the demand in
, growing up in this city and the things that he continues to come back and do for this city and this community. He's a very well respected not only football player but young man. I have the utmost respect for him. He's going to be a great player. Norm (Chow) and Jeff (Fisher) have done a fantastic job with him, and he's played extremely well for that football team here over the past few weeks. Their future is very bright. I have a lot of respect for him."
(on DE Mario Williams)"He's getting better. He's still got a long, long way to go. We have good days and we have not-so-good days, but the thing that Mario's doing is Mario's working extremely hard. He's a very well grounded kid with a lot of pressure, a lot of focus on him. He's done a good job of handling that and just playing football. Like I said, he can get a lot better. He knows that. He's heading in the right direction because he takes the coaching, he works his tail off and that's all you can ask of those guys."
*(on how you change a losing culture inside a locker room and an organization) *"I think things only change over time. First off you've got to be committed to what you're doing. It's not going to be easy, just flip the switch and things go 100 percent the other direction. You're going to struggle. But I just think your players have got to see you believe in what you're doing and stay committed to it. Along the way, the most important thing in turning any program around or being successful in this league is having leadership. Our football team is a very, very young franchise and a very, very young football team. The only way leadership comes about in those instances is through play and through success, but you've got to be willing to put in the work to do it. We've been through some tough times this year. We've had a couple of good days and some bad days. Our players are working extremely hard. We're having different guys chip in at various times, which is bright from the future's standpoint. We've got a long way to go, but the more guys we have step up in the leadership roles the quicker we'll get there."
(on if he thinks LB DeMeco Ryans has the potential to be one of the elite MLB's in the league)"I think that's getting way ahead of himself to start talking about that when you mention Brian Urlacher and some of those players. On some great defensive football teams the mike linebacker position gets a lot of notoriety. In a lot of ways they're the quarterback of the defense and they should get that credit. Our young man here, he's still in the learning stage. He's been starting for us since about the middle of training camp. He's a wonderful kid, loves to play. He's only going to get better. He's got a long NFL season ahead of him for these rookies for the first time when they go through that. This kid also is a great young man and I really think his future is very, very bright. We're really enjoying working with him."
(on if MLB isn't as important on defenses as it was in years past)"I think all positions are important. When you find that big-time leader, whether he's a mike linebacker, a will linebacker or a strong safety, those guys take on an identity and the defense seems to take on their identity. When you look at
and you talk about their safety (Roy Williams), I just think that all depends on how that works out from a player standpoint."
**DE Mario Williams
(on if getting two wins in the last three games has improved the mood) **"It's improved a lot. As far as where we're trying to head and getting things together and showing what we're capable of doing, we have to keep it up."
(on the challenge the Titans running game presents with Travis Henry)"Their offensive line is great as well. They're opening big holes for him, but then he's pounding the ball and running real hard. He's a strong back and you have to really bring everything you got when you try to tackle him."
**(on how the fans in
have embraced him) **"It's getting a lot better and with wins it's going to get better. That's basically all that the fans want. They just want their team to win and we're trying to do that and hopefully things will look our way."
(on if he's been looking forward to chasing Vince Young around)"Vince is my buddy. We talk a lot and he's a great guy. We will just see what happens on the field."
(on how he got to know Vince Young)"It really came down to the draft. Whenever we were in that area, we just talked and he seemed like a pretty nice guy and we got to know each other then."
(on if he thought that he would end up playing for the Titans after a pre-draft visit)"At that point I didn't know what was going on. It could've been a possibility, but like I said I didn't have any idea what was going to happen."
(on his comfort level since he was the youngest player in the league on opening day)"I feel pretty comfortable. Basically it's just a learning curve of letting my body go and realizing you can't make things harder than what they really are. Basically I'm just trying to get comfortable with everything and just cut it loose."
(on how his body is feeling right now since he basically has played a college season already)"Oh, I feel great. I feel just like I did when I first came in."
(on if Vince Young is different than a lot of quarterbacks that you face)"Yeah, because you don't know where he's going to be at in most cases. They'll bootleg and they'll run the option, he'll move a lot , so you have to be real disciplined in your rush lanes and containment aspect when you rush."
(on if it was hard for him to deal with the Bush and Young talk)"I block those things out when it comes down to things like that. I really don't pay attention to the media in all aspects. I just try to focus on football and get things going. Basically that's all I've been trying to do is get rid of all the talk and basically make my life easier by going out and playing football and having fun."
(on if he feels some pressure being the number one pick of the draft)"No, it's getting a lot easier. I mean I let everybody else talk about 'You should be having five sacks a game,' and things like that. I just try to play football."
**(on if he get a sense that this is going to be the most watched game of the season in
) **"Yeah, it probably will. Basically because Vince is from here, so I'm sure it would be."
(on if it's frustrating for opposing defenses to see David Carr complete pass after pass)"Yeah, it's very frustrating, especially if you're out there for three series. After he gets a first down then it's third and 12 and he throws a 20-yard pass, then it's another first down. It's very frustrating, that's the thing that you have to win. For us as a defense we have to get off the field in three downs or less, but for the offense they want to stay on the field for more than three downs."
(on how close he is with Titans rookie linebacker Stephen Tulloch)"Stephen is a great guy. Being that I played with him at
we hung out a lot and we had a bond going on. We keep in touch as much as we can. Things are going by really fast right now and the season seems like it's going by in a blur. We keep in touch every chance we get."
**(on if him and Tulloch conversed about leaving
after their junior season) **"Not really. It was a spontaneous, spur of a moment kind of thing. It just happened."
(on if he thinks Tulloch will come through with the tickets he asked for)"I hope so (laughing), I hope he does."
(on what people can expect out of Tulloch as his career develops)"People say a lot of things about him because of his size, but he plays like he's 6-3, 280, at linebacker. He's just a phenomenal linebacker that can move, run and chase and he hits hard especially to be his size. The sky's the limit for him. Everyone's saying this and that about him probably because of his size, but I think that he's a great linebacker."