HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN**
What is the update on DE J.J. Watt and ILB Brian Cushing?
"Both of those guys will be ready to go on Sunday."
How do you develop the tight end position late in the season?
"I mean, I believe in these guys and look, these guys are working hard to focus on their role in the Colts game and every little detail of it. They worked very hard today. We had a good practice today."
How much does QB T.J. Yates' history of playing in big games translate to this Sunday?
"It's good, he's been there before. He's been a quarterback in two wins for us this year, and he's played here before, so he's comfortable with his surroundings here and he's a pro. He prepares really hard."
What was the nature of ILB Brian Cushing's injury?
"Just bumps and bruises in the 15th week of the season, or 14th. I mean we've got to have more questions than injury questions."
Are you encouraged by OLB Jadeveon Clowney?
"Yes, I thought he played well and it was a good game by him. Obviously consistency is the key, let's go out there and do it again."
What did you think when you heard Colts QB Andrew Luck was working out today?
"We're preparing for everybody, so whether it's Andrew Luck or T.Y. Hilton or Vontae Davis, everybody on their roster we're preparing for."
What do you do when you have three quarterbacks that could play? You don't see that much.
"No, it's difficult, you have to make sure that in practice that you show the team all three different skill sets. Obviously with this one, you've got Andrew Luck, who's a really good runner with the football, very physical runner with the ball. You have to prepare the team for that. You don't know who's playing, so you have to do a good job of making sure you show the team all the different skill sets of each guy, whatever position it is."
Do you feel like the more OLB Jadeveon Clowney goes out there and has success, the more it will build his confidence and help him do even better?
"I think he's a confident player. I think the big thing with Jadeveon, I think I've said this from day one, is health. When he feels good and he's healthy, he's a good football player. I think he has a lot of confidence in his own ability. I know we do, just like every other player we put out there we have a lot of confidence in. I think the big thing with JD is health."
Now that you have a little body of work on QB T.J. Yates, how does that affect the game plan? Can you give him more each time he's out there?
"Yeah, he's been here now for a while and obviously played in a couple games, so I think when he came back here, he had really good recollection of what we taught him before. He's a really bright guy, so now being here for a while, I think he has a really good grasp of our offense. So we can do the things we need to do to help us beat the Colts."
What makes it so difficult to play in Indianapolis?
"I think it's difficult to play on the road anywhere in this league, I really do. I think winning on the road is very tough, no matter where it is, I really do, especially this time of the year, so we have to be very focused, very detailed and we're going to have to play a really good football game to win."
Yesterday, Owner Bob McNair said you all were going to get a quarterback in the offseason, preferably in the draft, what did you think about that?
"I don't have thoughts on that, I really don't, none. I'm just focused on the Colts. I think any questions on that, you should direct to Bob."
Are there any more status updates on QB Brian Hoyer?
"Still in the protocol, so I think he's, not to speak for him, but I think he is feeling better, but he would be doubtful. He's not going to play on Sunday, so that's where it's at right now."
Do you feel fortunate that you're still in a position to win the division?
"I just believe in this team. I believe in the players in that locker room, believe in this coaching staff. I don't really use any adjectives like that. I just believe in this team and I know that we had a good practice today and we're going to focus on our meeting now and try to go up there and play a good football game."
Talk about QB Brandon Weeden's progress and what you expect from him if he has to play.
"Yeah, he's made a lot of progress. I don't think it's easy. I think that coming from different systems, he's been in a couple different systems now, ours is totally different than the ones that he's been in, so I think he's really studied hard. I think he's put a lot of time in and I think he feels a lot better about it than when he first got here obviously. I think he's still learning."
All the state high school playoff games are here this weekend. You played high school football. What does it mean to have the games at NRG Stadium for the first time?
"Best question of the day. I got a sticker up here for you. You're right, I love high school football and I love when the games are here because I can go out there and watch the games. I've always loved high school football. I have lifelong friends that I played high school football with, great coaching and I can just remember, really, when you play high school football, that's where you really form your love of football. The only thing that matters is you're playing with your buddies and you're having fun and rivalry games and all those different things. Then you move to a state like Texas, where high school football is king. To have the opportunity to have the state championships here in Houston is really a pretty cool thing for us here in Houston and I know our players get excited about it, I get excited about it, and I walked out there the other day, I'm not going to mention any teams because I don't want to get in trouble, because I have some buddies here in Houston that have allegiances with different teams, so I don't want to get in trouble, but I walked out there and saw one team and I said, 'Man, that looks like a Division-I college team.' These are good football teams and well-coached and looking forward to the games being here."
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR GEORGE GODSEY
How do you look at your running back situation?
"Yeah, I mean it's a running back by committee. They all have unique traits, a little bit different from each other. We're going to use them throughout the game as needed by play."
How does QB T.J. Yates' background in big games help you this Sunday?
"He's got a lot of poise, and he really takes his time with each play as far as in the meeting room. I have a lot of confidence in T.J., so does the offense. I have a lot of confidence in all of the players on offense. We're all going to have to work together. I think anytime you go on the road, it's a group effort and it starts with him making sure the communication is on the same page throughout the offense."
Do you feel good about QB Brandon Weeden being the backup this week?
"Brandon has some catching up to do and really he's done it the last few weeks. Obviously we can't take it to the extent of maybe some of the other players that have been here that long, especially at that position, so we're going to see what he can digest, take it one day at a time and then see where we're at at the end of the week."
When someone tries to limit a player like WR DeAndre Hopkins, what can you do to try to get him the ball?
"DeAndre's production has gotten noticed throughout the league, so if a defense wants to play that way, we've got to be able to get the ball to other players on the offense, or else we've got to find creative ways to get DeAndre the ball. It's not so easy when the defense does make that decision. Whether it's in the running game running away from that, or in the passing game getting others involved, I think that's where we need to get better at."
Can you give QB T.J. Yates more now that he's been here for a few games or do you keep it pretty simple?
"I think by game plan, by day, by situation, we have a limit and T.J. does a great job communicating with myself on what he thinks he can handle, maybe more, maybe less, so we're on the same page how we see each other. There'll be as much as he can handle. I think as much as any quarterback can handle will be the best for us on offense."
So he's good about saying, 'I like this, I don't like that,' and you trust him?
"No question, I mean we go out there and practice and if it doesn't look good, then we talk. At this level, they're more colleagues than anything, so I think we have a good relationship where we can come down to what we do like, what we don't like as a unit too."
How does a quarterback draw the line between forcing a ball to a receiver being double teamed and giving him a chance on some of those?
"I mean, there's some examples of both in the last few games. The minute you try to force a ball into double coverage, if it's played with the right technique, can be very dangerous. I think from a quarterback standpoint, we don't want to force any balls to anybody. There are certain ways to double team a certain player, by man, by zone, so it really goes down and goes back to your rules. If the defense is over here, then there's hopefully some players on the other side that are open and that's where we need to get the ball to."
Is the rule different at all with WR DeAndre Hopkins?
"I think to an extent with certain routes. Some routes, not to get into too much, but if a defender is playing a certain technique and he's got the other technique that he's not playing behind him, becomes very difficult."
What can you do to try to prevent drops from happening so much?
"Well we've gone ahead and done some things practice-wise, maybe gear practice toward that individually or as a group, that anybody who is eligible to catch a ball – they're not easy catches, and certainly the balls can be thrown better. I think everybody looks in the mirror, maybe it's a protection that's a little bit loose that we can have a little bit more of a pocket to step in and make a more accurate throw, maybe it's just the throw itself. Then when the ball is in the air, I think every receiver has the mindset to go up and get it, and I think that's what we're trying to gear toward this week, basically getting back to fundamentals at that position."
What can you do to make sure the protection was better than it was against the Patriots?
"It's a combination of a few things. Certainly this is an important game, so it all starts with the offensive line. I think all of our coaches on the offensive side are big believers in your offense goes as your offensive line goes whether it's the running game or the passing game. That's the first part of every play is sustaining and coming off the ball and blocking, blocking the defensive line, so that's been an emphasis."
T DUANE BROWN
How important is getting the offensive line established on Sunday?
"It's very important. Like I said, the hardest thing to do out there is drop back and pass the ball so many times in that environment against their defense. The run game is going to be crucial for us, not just to have good runs but to have consistent, good runs, to be able to do it for four quarters. It's a big point of emphasis for us this week."
What did you guys talk about in the offensive line meeting after the Patriots game, how do you come together after that?
"Well, I mean before that game we had come together pretty well, so we're not strangers to success in the o-line room. We've been grinding extremely hard throughout the season to be good up front. They outplayed us Sunday night. We learned from that. We're very familiar with this team we're playing. We just have to fix things. We have to be better in the run game. We have to communicate better. We have to be better in our one-on-one battles in the pass game. We have to be more tied together when they run line stunts, that's what they mainly got us on. Indianapolis runs some of that, and just be in sync. They have a lot of good blitzes and we have to communicate and pass them off. It was a rough night for us, but we're going to bounce back for sure."
What does it do for the team knowing QB T.J. Yates has played in big games in the past?
"We're very confident in T.J. We know he has all the ability in the world. His demeanor and his poise is huge for us going into this game. It's a lot on the line, it's a hostile environment that we're playing in, but he's a great guy to be under center for us going into this game. He's knowledgeable of the offense more than he was when we went to Cincinnati. Looking forward to seeing what he can do."
How much does it help that QB T.J. Yates is fairly mobile and can extend plays?
"It helps. Hopefully we won't have to use his legs as much, we're able to keep him in the pocket so he can operate, but it helps. You never know what's going to happen out there having a dual threat, definitely plays to our benefit."
How do you view the significance of this game?
"It is a big game, man. You always want to win, first and foremost, but we are playing a division game, everything we set out to accomplish this year, goes through this game right here. We go in and we get the job done, then our goal is still in front of us. If we don't, then cancel it, so that is how we are playing it."
How special would it be to win in Indianapolis?
"It would be good to not talk about it, just to have it over and done with and say that I have won in Indy. I don't think about it too much. We are a different team this year. They are a different team this year. They're not concerned about us not winning there at home and we are not concerned about not winning there. We are going there in 2015 and trying to get a win, trying to extend our record, trying to help our playoff hopes, that is all that matters."
WR DeANDRE HOPKINS
QB T.J. Yates said he has total confidence in you, what does that mean to you?
"I've proven it over the years since we've been playing with each other. My first touchdown in the preseason was with T.J. and all he did was throw it up and I came down with a completion. The history that we have, that's kind of how it's been with us."
What's the chemistry like with you and QB T.J. Yates?
"It's really not the best chemistry because we really haven't had a year or a couple months to really develop it, but it's him just trusting his playmakers to make plays."
How difficult is it being double-teamed and with all the attention that comes with being an elite receiver?
"It's not difficult at all. They double me that means some of my teammates are one-on-one, and I have confidence in them to make those plays."
What does it mean that Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano said you're having a Pro Bowl year?
"It means a lot. The hard work I put in in the offseason, to be able, for a coach to say that about me and my teammates also. Those comments wouldn't be possible without those guys blocking, making plays on defense to get me the ball."
What things can you guys do with scheme to get you the ball more?
"Do my job, go out, whatever I'm called to do, that's what I'm going to do."
The importance of this game has to excite you. Are you going to try to make some big plays?
"Oh yeah, everybody in here also, we're right where we want to be, tied with the division and we've got to have this game to do what we want to do. So everybody, even after what happened this past weekend, we came in and got over that real fast because we had to."
Do you guys ever think about the Texans history playing in Indianapolis?
"This team really doesn't talk too much about history. It's a lot of new guys on this team, so we really don't even worry about that. I'm not even sure what's the history with us there. I really don't care. It's a new year."
What do you expect from this team Sunday after a couple rough games?
"This is basically a division championship game, so we're going to get their best and they're going to get our best."
Do you feel fortunate that you guys are still in a position to win the division?
"No, I'm not surprised at all we're still in this position to win the division, even after the slow start we had. We could do what we want to still. We've got the players on this team to do that. Hopefully this Sunday will show it."
Is there anything about playing in Indianapolis that makes it difficult or is it just like any other road trip?
"It's just like any other road game. Of course they have a great fan base being the Indianapolis Colts and being an established team for a while. You're going to get the best from them and their fans Sunday I'm sure."
Do you have time to talk to Colts WR Andre Johnson during the season and how much do you follow each other?
"We watch each other all the time. Every chance I get, I watch him. Every he gets, he watches me. We'll text each other about the game if I see a catch he had or something like that, we'll talk back and forth. That's like a big brother to me forever."
Have you guys talked about the matchup this week at all?
"No, we haven't. We know the importance of it. I doubt I'll get a text from him."
DE J.J. WATT
How much did you learn about playing one-handed and how much will you change playing against the Colts?
"It is going to be fine as it continues to heal. The more that it heals, the more I'll be able to use it."
What do you expect from both teams on how intense Sunday's game will be?
"I think it is going to be a very good football game. Both teams are obviously very aware of what the situation is and I think that it is going to be a good game."
How much confidence do you have in QB T.J. Yates in leading the offense?
"He has done a great job. T.J. is a pro. He came in here obviously on short notice in the Cincinnati game, having to come in and he's done a very good job. He's a guy who knows how to win, he has been here before and he is very well-equipped to take on the situation."
What is it about the Colts and trying to win in Indianapolis?
"It's a new year."
Does it become a mental thing playing in Indianapolis?
"It's a new year. We are playing the 2015 Indianapolis Colts, not any other team, not any other year. That's the past."
What do you think about Colts QB Matt Hasselbeck?
"I think he has done a great job, obviously, playing for that team and doing well replacing (Andrew) Luck, so you have to give a lot of credit to what he has been able to do this year."
How much does it mean to the defense when you get double-teamed, freeing up other defensive players to make plays?
"Yeah, that's the goal. When somebody is going to do what they have been doing to me, you have to make them pay."
What are you seeing from OLB Whitney Mercilus?
"He's playing well. He's doing a good job. He's taking advantage of the opportunities that he gets and he is making the most of them, so I think he has done a great job."
What do you think about Colts QB Matt Hasselbeck still playing in the NFL at age 40?
"It's very difficult to do, I know that. I'm 26 and it's difficult to do. I can't imagine what it's like playing at that age. On our team, obviously, we have Shane Lechler, who is the greatest punter of all-time, so he is doing it at an unbelievably high level, but quarterback is a different position in this league so for him to be doing what he is doing, obviously, he is a very smart guy. He's done a good job and it's very difficult to do. You have to respect those guys because you know how hard it is year-in and year-out to play in this league, so to be able to stay in it for that long and be effective for that long is very impressive."
What kind of advantage is it to have more game film on Colts QB Matt Hasselbeck compared to the first game?
"We'll have some film to watch, yeah. I don't know. They are a good football team and it's going to be an opportunity for us to go on the road and there's a lot on the line, so it's going to be a fun game."
QB T.J. YATES
What does it mean to you that Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano called you a winner?
"It means a lot. I have a previous relationship with Coach Pagano, we were together at UNC (University of North Carolina) for one year. Just in that short time that he was there, he made such an impact on me and everybody else in that building. He is such a good guy, such a good coach and I love that guy."
Is it special going up against a guy that you have a great relationship with?
"Yeah, that will be cool going up against him. I have a ton of respect for (Colts Head) Coach (Chuck) Pagano and I am looking forward to it."
How much command do you think you have of this offense?
"A lot more than I had about a month ago. Just being more comfortable in the offense, an extra month and however many weeks it's been of going through the process and getting used to the guys on the team, throwing with these guys, getting used to the guys up front, protections, all that stuff. Everything is just a lot more far along than it was."
Do you feel comfortable running everything that the coaches want you to run?
"There are things that I haven't done as far as, you know, like in the first game when I got in, some of those things was the first time that I have ever run it, period, practice or anything. Since then, trying to rep as much stuff as possible and I have a good relationship with (Offensive Coordinator) George (Godsey) as far as putting stuff in the game plan that I am comfortable with or taking stuff out. We are putting together a good one."
What are your thoughts on the importance of this game?
"Yeah, we know how big of a game this is going to be for us and for them. Pretty much, the season is on the line for both of us. We know it is going to be a playoff-type atmosphere and we are going in expecting that."
How important is it for you to get WR DeAndre Hopkins back involved in the game plan?
"Absolutely, that is a guy that we have to throw the ball to. Whether it is game plan more for him or, you don't want to say force the ball, but sometimes you have to throw it because he is covered, but he is not sometimes. You have to take some chances throwing him the ball because he is going to go get it for you."
Is it a throw and trust situation that WR DeAndre Hopkins is going to go and get the ball?
"Absolutely, 100 percent trust in that guy. You throw it up in the vicinity with that guy and he will go get it for you, so that is something that we have to do. We have to get him the ball."
How important is it for you to be able to go through your progressions and find other targets as well?
"We have a lot of guys on this team that can catch the ball. Nate (Washington), Cecil (Shorts III) and Griff (Ryan Griffin), those backs coming out of the backfield, we got a lot of weapons and we got to utilize them all. We know they are going to be giving some extra attention to Hop (DeAndre Hopkins), so we got to spread it around."
Are there any similarities to this week's game and when you went into Cincinnati a few years ago?
"That was so long ago, it feels like. That was my rookie year, I didn't really know much, as far as experience-wise, and I remember going into that week, I didn't really know what was on the line. I was so busy getting myself prepared I wasn't, it was probably a better thing that I didn't even realize what was on the line my rookie year, but everybody knows what is riding on this game and we are all going in prepared for it."
Were you a Colts fan growing up?
"Yeah, I was born in Indy and my family and I we were all diehard Colts fans. I had to ask my brother what jersey he was going to wear on Sunday because he is still a very, very big Colts fan."
Did you picture yourself playing for the Colts when you were growing up?
"I never imagined it growing up there, being able to play in there. I remember back when it was the RCA dome doing a punt, pass and kick there whenever I was six or seven years old, but I never imagined this."
What did your brother say when you asked him about the jersey?
"He said he is going to support the Texans, but all other weeks he is a Colts fan."
Was there a particular player you looked up to growing up?
"When I was growing up, it was Peyton (Manning). He was there when we were diehard Colts fans. Even when we moved to Atlanta later, we traveled down to Jacksonville to see him play and we were pretty diehard. Not anymore though, make that clear (laughs)."
How much does it come back to confidence that you want to be in this situation?
"Absolutely, that is the reason why you play this game. You want the ball in tough situations. You want to lead your team in tough situations and this is one of those. We have had those situations already this year and it's what I am here for."
How old were you when you left Indianapolis?
"10. I was there for about 10 years and then Atlanta after that."
Did you ever become an Atlanta Falcons fan?
"I mean kind of, not really though."
Do you ever pinch yourself thinking that you could be on your couch right now instead of playing?
"Yeah, everything happens for a reason. I am a firm believer in that. To look at what I have gone through this whole year and all of the different situations that I have been in, I am very thankful to be here."
COLTS HEAD COACH CHUCK PAGANO CONFERENCE CALL
Could you address what your quarterback situation is for us?
"Andrew's (Luck) not going to play, just to be perfectly clear on that. He's back out on the practice field. He's been running and doing some stuff on his own. He didn't participate in any 11-on-11 drills, he's not cleared to do that yet. But he can throw some individual, some routes on air-type of stuff. Matt (Hasselbeck) was down today. We rested him. Looks like he'll be ready to practice tomorrow and Charlie Whitehurst took all the first team snaps today."
Do you still have a decision to make between Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst?
"We're pretty hopeful that Matt's going to go. He should be fine."
Do you notice a big difference in Texans DE J.J. Watt now that he has an injured hand?
"No, he's the same guy. The only difference is he can't grab cloth with that hand in a club. He can't use his digits, if you will, and things like that. But, the guy is still wrecking games and affecting games and causing people a lot of problems. We will not treat J.J. any different than we've treated him in the past. He will garner all the attention that he deserves."
What do you think about what Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins is doing?
"He's having a phenomenal year. He's having a Pro Bowl year. As good a guy that we've played against. He had a great game against us in the first game. For 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns, he's having a phenomenal year."
What it's like preparing for Texans QB T.J. Yates?
"We've seen T.J. I've seen him, played him in a playoff game in 2011 obviously in Baltimore. Went back and looked at, you know, he started against these guys back in '11. So watched that game. I was with T.J. for a year back in (North) Carolina, back in '07. Good player, smart player, really good competitor, got arm talent, can make all the throws, he's mobile. Like I said, he's smart. He knows where to go with the football. He can extend some plays and make some throws. He's won games. He came in in the Cincy game and cleaned that thing up, finished that game and got the win there against a really good football team. He's a winner."
What have you seen from Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney?
"Again, he's playing really well. He looks 100 percent healthy. Again, last week, the problems that he gave New England, two sacks and playing against the run really well and the pass. He's almost un-blockable. He's got such great power and explosion and great length and awareness, he's a guy now – it used to be 'Hey 99, 99' Now you have 75 in the middle, who is virtually un-blockable. 90 on the other side and (Brian) Cushing and (Jared) Crick and all these guys. You got a bunch of guys. This is an outstanding defense. J.J. and Jadeveon, two game wreckers. We got obviously our hands full trying to handle, not only those two, but everybody else on that side of the football."
How different is QB Matt Hasselbeck from the first time he played the Texans?
"Really the same guy, other than he's beat up right now obviously. He's fighting through some stuff, just like everybody else in the league is fighting through. Getting ready on a short week and being sick and all that stuff the first time that we played, he went out there and did a nice job and managed the game well. We need him to play at that level that he played in the first outing come Sunday at one o'clock in order to give us a chance to compete in this game."
COLTS TE COBY FLEENER CONFERENCE CALL
Has it been tough to prepare this week not knowing who you're starting quarterback is going to be?
"No, I don't think it really changes our preparation. As a tight end, the hardest part of my job is figuring out plays that we're running against the fronts that they're running, kind of some memorization in that regard. I think we'll be fine no matter who is throwing the passes."
How do you prepare for a defense with players like DE J.J. Watt and OLB Jadeveon Clowney?
"Obviously, J.J. and Clowney have done an awesome job. J.J. for longer than Clowney, but it's something that we're going to have to account for on every single play, run or pass. It makes things tough on your offense when you have two really good pass rushers. You can't just double-team the one guy. You have to kind of figure out ways to make sure that both guys get covered up. That's going to be the challenge for us this week."
Do you talk about the fact the Texans have never won in Indianapolis before and do you think that plays a factor this week?
"I didn't know that statistic until you just told me, so I think the answer to that question is no. But I do think that we're thankful to have a home game and feel like anytime we're in Lucas Oil Stadium, we have an advantage over any team simply because of the fan support that we get."
What's the biggest difference you see on film from the Texans since you played them the first time?
"I would say that obviously the notoriety that (Jadeveon) Clowney is getting is up a little bit. I think some of that comes with statistics. In my mind, he was a very good player when we played them the first time. But, sometimes it takes some statistics for the media to notice. Beyond that, I would say schematically they are generally the same. Tendencies probably tend to ebb and flow throughout the season, just like with any defensive coordinator or with any offensive coordinator, you find things that seem to suit your defense better that year and you lean on those a little bit more than earlier in the season."
With the team struggling the last couple weeks, what are you guys focused on improving?
"For us, attacking the little things and becoming obsessed about doing our jobs correctly. Despite the score of the last game, I felt like there were a lot of big plays to be had on our side that were just a few inches off one way or the other. So, making sure that those plays hit and are successful is kind of the big goal for us so that we can be consistently a good offense."