HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN**
Can you detail all the injuries for us?
"I would say, like I said yesterday, (Brian) Hoyer is out for this game. J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing and Jadeveon Clowney will all play in the game."
What can you do as coaches about the dropped passes?
"Look, we believe in these guys, and they're working very hard. We've had a lot of great catches too. We work hard on it every single day and these guys, they will catch the football."
Have you done anything different in practice?
"We do catch drills, bother drills every single day."
The Patriots are third in the league in dropped passes, so is that an overrated stat?
"No, I think, look, we all look at that. We don't ever want a ball on the ground. We want the guys to catch everything, but like I said, we've got really good receivers who have made some great catches for us this year and I just believe in these guys and they'll catch the ball."
What can you all do to get WR DeAndre Hopkins involved more?
"I don't know, it depends on how you look at it. One way to look at it is when he's doubled, the other guys are singled, which can be really good and has been good, and I think the fact of the matter is that he's not always doubled, then there are times when the ball should go to him. Then we continue to, based on who we're playing, put together a game plan that he's a big part of obviously. Look, he's a really good receiver and teams are going to do things to try to take him away, and we just have to continue to look at what we're doing and try to put him in the best position to make plays."
From a pass protection standpoint, is it max protect?
"No, that had nothing to do with whether it was max pro or 6-man pro or 5-man pro. It's more about – and everybody is involved. In the way that someone may look at the game and see that a quarterback gets sacked automatically, the blame goes to the offensive line, and sometimes it is, but sometimes the ball needs to come out quicker. Sometimes the back's involved. Sometimes the tight end is involved. Sometimes the route could be run better. Sometimes the play call could be better, so I think there's a lot that goes into every single pass play out there. Like I've said all week, I really believe in our guys. I believe in that offensive line. I really think that they've overall played well. There's a lot that goes into a pass play."
Can you tell us about your rotation at running back?
"We'll continue to rotate there, and basically the guys that are playing for us will all be involved in different packages. Last week, people have asked me about Alfred Blue. Alfred Blue was pretty banged up last week. It had nothing to do with we didn't feel like he could help us against New England. It was more about how he practiced during the week. He hasn't been able to practice a lot so we really wanted to use him on special teams which we did and then wasn't sure how much he could get on offense. So Alfred Blue will be back in the rotation, and we'll use all those guys in different ways kind of like we've been doing all year."
What can you say about RB Chris Polk?
"I think he runs hard. I think he's a tough guy that gets the ball into the line of scrimmage, has decent vision and I think he's a tough runner and that's what I like about him."
What went into the decision to put WR Cecil Shorts as the punt returner last game?
"Yeah you know look, I think we compete at that position every week and I felt like Cecil was fielding the ball cleanly and not letting the ball hit the ground. I just think he's back there, veteran player, did a good job of fielding the ball although one on the sky kick I think he probably, he knows, we all know he could've fielded that one better but overall I think he fields the ball pretty cleanly."
Why did you choose K Nick Novak out of all the other kickers who tried out?
"Well when tried out other kickers, he kicked the best in the tryout. He did a good job in the tryout and he's a very mentally tough guy. I've known Nick for a long time. We go back to 2001, a Thursday night game at Georgia Tech when I was coaching there. He beat us on a last-second field goal when he was at Maryland. So he can make last-second kicks. I know college is different than the pros, but he's done it in his career. I think he's a really good guy because he's been through some ups and downs in his career, been cut, been on different teams and continues to make good kicks, does a good job on kickoffs for us. He directional kicks it pretty well, so I have a lot of confidence in Nick."
He'll be going up against one of the greatest kickers ever on Sunday in Colts K Adam Vinatieri.
"They have a very, very good specialist roster with obviously Adam, in my opinion, probably has a chance to be a Hall-of-Fame kicker. (Pat) McAfee is a really good punter and kickoff guy. They have a very good specialist crew and we do too. We do too. We've got to – our guys know that they need to kick well on Sunday."
If it came down to a field goal would you be hiding your face?
"No. I wish I could hide my face for obvious reasons but no, I will not be hiding my face. I will not be cringing. I will be watching the kick and knowing that he is going to make the kick."
What can you say about Colts QBs Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst?
"I'll start with Matt there, I've been following Matt's career for a long time obviously being from where I'm from. There's only three players in this league from the '98 draft class, Matt, Peyton Manning and Charles Woodson. I mean that says a lot, that says a lot. When you think about that, and to be able to last this long at that position in this league says a lot about you. You're tough, you're smart, you're productive, you're a great teammate. I mean you're just an all-around really solid good football player, so we have a lot of respect for Matt, and we have a lot of respect for Charlie. I've been familiar with Charlie for a long time from when he was at Clemson and in his career here. When he's been asked to go in there and play for his teams that he's been on, he's done well, so we have to prepare for both guys, probably going to be Matt listening to what's coming out of there. But we have to be ready for both guys."
Does not having won in Indianapolis matter at all?
"I don't think it matters one bit, and I know people will probably look at me and say, 'Wait a second.' It doesn't matter at all. What does what happened in 2014 or 2013 or '12, '11, go right down the line, what does that matter as it relates to this game on Sunday. This is the 2015 Texans versus the 2015 Colts. The only thing that matters is how the teams are playing right now, and how they play on Sunday, how the players play. The best players need to play their best, the role players need to play at a high level, the quarterbacks need to play well, we need to play really good situational football. They're a well-coached team. We feel like we're a well-coached team, so it's all about this game on Sunday, it has really nothing to do with anything that's gone on in the past."
On the record you're quoted as not believing in jinxes.
"No, I'm not a jinx guy."
The Colts have given up over 90 points in the last few weeks.
"Yeah, I think you have to look at that and see how those points have been given up. You really have to study the film to – I'll give you one. One was a strip sack where he was going to throw the ball and they gave up a strip sack fumble recovery for a touchdown. There's different ways that they've given up points."
How much of your game plan involves what they did last time or what they've done recently?
"That's a great question. They're a different team. They have a different offensive coordinator now. I think we're a different team. We've got obviously a different quarterback that's going to play against them. We've got different players doing different things for us now than what we were doing in October. I think you have to really look, in my opinion, again, it's just my small opinion, at the last three, four weeks that both teams have played. Maybe you go back five weeks but really you can't look at the whole season because the two teams are totally different than what they were in October."
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR ROMEO CRENNEL
Some thoughts on OLB Jadeveon Clowney?
"He is coming along, beginning to make some plays, beginning to help us a little bit. I think he has been getting healthier as he has gone and is able to get on the field. He is still going through the learning process, but he is making progress and we still need him to make progress and help us out."
Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano said that OLB Jadeveon Clowney is almost unblockable.
"I don't know about that. I mean, I don't know about that (laughs)."
Do you feel that last week OLB Jadeveon Clowney had the best game of his career?
"He had a good game. You know, he got two sacks, so usually in this league if you can get sacks, you are playing halfway decent. Like I said, he is still young, he is still learning, he's got a ways to go, but he is making progress, so that's the good part."
What is OLB Jadeveon Clowney doing better now on the field?
"He is understanding the system better. He is playing technique better. He is working at practice because, well he has been able to practice for a little bit, not this week, so I think all of those things help. When you play the game, you have to practice your trade, so to be able to get out on the field and practice, you learn a little bit about yourself, you learn a little bit about your opponent, about the system, and so I think all of that has helped him make the kind of progress we are seeing."
What do you see from DE J.J. Watt and will he be able to adjust to playing with a cast on his hand?
"I think that he is such a competitor that he is going to play hard if he didn't have any hands. You have to consider what he has to do in the game and whether he is on the right side, the left side or in the middle and try to put him into positions where he can do the best with the limitation that he has."
Do you feel like DE J.J. Watt takes as much pride in stopping the run as he does rushing the passer?
"Like I have said all along, you know when I first got here and talked to J.J. about the system and understanding the system, I told you all along that he understands the system, he plays within the system. He can 2-gap, but he is pretty quick, so he 2-gaps and gets off the block, some guys 2-gap and stay on it a little bit longer, but the thing I noticed is that he plays the double teams, he gets on the ground when he has to get on the ground, he turns his shoulders so one guy can go up to the linebacker and get him back to being one-on-one, so he understands the system and he plays the system. I think just because he is so athletic people think that he is not a good run player, but he plays the run pretty well."
Is Colts WR T.Y. Hilton one of the fastest receivers you have faced this season?
"He is tremendously fast. We have seen that, what, last year and the first game this year. If you don't put some coverage to him, then he hurts you. I mean like last week he had like four catches for over 100 yards, so we don't want that to happen. We are well aware of his ability, his speed and what they try to do with him and we are going to try to defend him."
How conscious are you of Colts WR Andre Johnson in this week's game plan?
"Well I know Andre will want to be involved, and he'll be politicking to get balls. From what he did against us last time, rightfully so. I think that they'll be looking for him and we have to defend him and try to take him away as well. One of the things that makes it tough sometimes is they do have a lot of ability on offense. They've got a tight end that can catch the ball. They've got two receivers that are fast and good ability. Then they've got a running back that runs well. You can only double so many of them, so you have to pick and choose sometimes and hopefully you pick right."
How much does a team typically change how they're going to try to attack from the first game to the second game against a team during the season?
"Well I think if they lose, they might change a lot, but since they whipped us the last time, they might not do a whole lot of change. I think that they will look at what we've been doing and then try to have a plan for that and then also they'll look at what worked the last time, and then probably include that in the game plan. We have to look at what happened the last time and try to fix the issues that we had, and then kind of anticipate what they might do differently. That's hard to do because you really don't know. The thing that you do know is they're looking at the last game and they're picking out the good things they did and we expect to see those."
As a defensive coach, if you're playing a team that has a tendency of dropped passes, is there anything you can do to take advantage of that?
"Well, it just depends on when they drop them. Are they dropping them when they're wide open or are they dropping them when there's tighter coverage on them? If they're dropping them when they're in tighter coverage on them, then you can play tight coverage and make them have to concentrate on the catch. Hopefully we're not letting them be wide open are dropping them when they're wide open, so I think that's more on the quarterback and the receiver if they're dropping them when they're wide open, but now if they're dropping them with tight coverage, then you can say that the coverage had some effect on them."
OLB JADEVEON CLOWNEY
Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel said 'we'll see' if you're un-blockable on Sunday. What are your thoughts on that?
"I'm looking forward to the matchup this week. It's a big game for both of us. I'm just trying to prepare well and get ready to play."
What does that mean to you that Colts Coach Chuck Pagano called you 'un-blockable'?
"It means a lot. I'm just trying to have fun, play out here for my team, do what I love to do, and help the team win."
How does it feel to know opposing coaches are taking notice of your production?
"As long as we play as a team and a unit, we're all going to be dominant out there on the field so we got to keep playing as a team and a whole defense and make plays."
Do you feel like you're starting to get comfortable?
"I'm just trying to have fun, making plays. Coach put me in the right spot, right situation and helped me make plays."
What have you learned from veterans like NT Vince Wilfork?
"Take care of your body most of the time. Guys tell me to learn smaller details of certain players we're going up against and situations against offenses. Try to make plays."
Does the losing streak in Indianapolis matter to you guys at all?
"No, this is the 2015 season. We just worry about this game. One game at a time, like we said. We're trying to prepare to play against this team."
Are you tired of hearing about the Texans' losing streak in Indianapolis?
Do you feel like you're starting to become a dominant player?
"I'm just trying to play. Ups and downs in football, you go through everything. Injuries, you have good games, you have bad games. You have to keep it one game at a time and it's always about the next game."
Dose staying humble help you rather than buying into the hype about you?
"Oh yeah, you got to stay hungry. You hear the hype, you just have to stay hungry. You know what you're doing out there. Just prepare and go out there and try to dominate."
Is it tough to stay humble when people are praising you so much?
"No, it's not tough. I'm just trying to do what I can do, prepare and go out here and play hard."
Do you feel like you're getting more moves on the defensive line?
"Oh yeah, I'm trying to come up with my game plan. I take about three or four moves into the game to use, and start just a couple of them against the guy I'm going against."
How tough is it to beat a double team?
"Just reps, you don't pay a double team any attention. You try to beat one man at a time, the guy in front of you, get passed him, and then on to the next one."
Do you feel like your practice reps have helped you be more comfortable in the system?
"Yeah, coach has put me in the right situations. I just have to make the plays."
Do you feel like the locker room is more excited about this game?
"I think we're excited about all the games. We always want to win every game we play. It's just another game on the schedule. We want to win this one too."
How much do you take what worked the first time against the Colts and use it this weekend?
"Yeah, we go over that. You know what they worked against you and what they used on us to score and move the ball and what we did to stop them some downs and try to work off that game and their previous game they played in. We try to take stuff and use it against them."
Are you more excited about this game since you're healthy?
"I'm excited about all the rest of the season. I'm looking forward to playing and trying to have a big game."
Do you feel good? You've been working off to the side during practices.
"Yeah, I'm all right. I'm doing pretty good. I'll be ready."
This is your first NFL playoff race.
"I know, right? Second season. Hope there's plenty more to come."
ILB BRIAN CUSHING
Stopping RB Frank Gore, what do you guys hope to accomplish defensively?
"It's going to be a huge part of the game obviously. He's one of the big focal points of their offense and really gets them going. So we eliminate him as best we can and just try to shut him down. We're definitely hoping in our favor."
So much is riding on this game.
"Yeah, well this is what you play for. This is what you play for and this is what you hope for at the end of the season, that the games at the end of the year mean this much. We're in that situation, we've just got to take care of business."
You guys don't focus on it, but the media focuses on how you guys have never won a game in Indianapolis. What do you think of all that?
"Well, all it takes is one. All it takes is one to change all of that. So you know, we're not worried about the past. We're worried about this game coming up."
What do you think of Colts QBs Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst?
"Yeah, obviously we played Matt this year and he was successful against us, so we've just got to see who we're playing against and win the game. That's all that really matters."
Have you guys seen much of Colts QB Charlie Whitehurst?
"No, not really, couple really quarters, not even full games, just a couple quarters here and there. Really just study the plays more than the quarterback to see what they're running."
NT VINCE WILFORK
What are your thoughts on this week's game?
"We got to be ready to play. Going on the road against a division rival, it is an important game for us, so that is what it is, there is nothing more to it and that is how we have to approach it. We have to be all hands on deck and we have to be ready to play for 60 minutes or however long it will take. It is going to be a tough game, it always is. We got to continue to have our focus at a high level and I think so far this week it has been where it needs to be, so we have to continue that through Sunday."
How tough was it for you to put Sunday's loss behind you and turn the page?
"I mean that is football, you have to be able to move on, especially this late in the game, this late in the season, no matter who you play, you have to look forward to your next game and winning the division. A lot is riding on this game for us, so we can't have anybody outside of this organization pulling us different directions. Right now, we need it all. It is all or nothing for us right now. That is how we have to take the approach. If we are not ready this week than we will never be ready. I think that is the mindset of all of us in here and I am pretty sure they are saying the same thing in Indianapolis, so hopefully, Sunday, we can come out the way we need to and be able to win a ballgame, but it is going to be tough."
Do you have a different mindset when it is an all-or-nothing game?
"I think everything has to, your level of play has to rise, your concentration has to rise, your focus has to rise and I think everything that you play for has to be at an all-time best and I think that's where I am at right now and where we are at right now and I hope everybody else sees it the way I see it. If I had to guess, I think we are due because of the way we attack practice, the meeting rooms, the film, we attacked it with the right mindset and, hopefully, Sunday, it will show."
How important will it be to stop Colts RB Frank Gore?
"It always starts with the run game, especially with a guy like Frank still running like a bull. He is still running like the way I saw him run in college. You talk about a guy 10 to 11 years in the league that is still getting it done and it seems like, lately, they have been putting it on his shoulders to make those tough runs and he does. We have to have our mind right from the first snap and I think that started in practice, understanding how they want to attack us, the type of back that he is, the type of offense that they are, how explosive they can be offensively, no matter who the quarterback may be, they have weapons everywhere. We have to do a good job with all of our keys this week, that is going to be very critical for us."
What have you seen from the development of OLB Jadeveon Clowney?
"He is becoming a pro, he is starting to see and understand what it takes to become a professional at this level. He is kind of maturing and that is good to see from a young player like JD. He has so much to offer to us and he can help us in so many different ways and I think that last week he kind of felt like the old JD of the old college days and stuff and I think that is what everybody wants. He has been working his tail off and it is starting to pay off for him and it's good to see in a player, especially JD."
A few weeks ago you got to see your son play high school football on the same field you play on, what was that like?
"It's always special. Being in the league as long as I've been in, my kids have sacrificed a lot, my family has sacrificed a lot. Just for me to get a chance to see my oldest become a senior and play his last football game on the field that I play on, it was a special moment for me. I told him how proud I was of him as a young man, not just as a son, but how he has grown over the years and just seeing him from a baby all the way into now. He's going to be walking out my door soon going to college. I'm pretty sure mom is not going to be happy with that, but reality is starting to set in with him, but it's very special for me just because of my line of work, what I do for a living. I'm not always there. I'm not always at the school functions and stuff like that, but for me to see him play his last ball game, I think that was very special for both of us."
The game started while you guys were at practice, were you able to head out?
"Yeah, even though it was a blowout, I still went out to see my son play his last high school football game because it meant more to me than just a football game. It was just as a father and son, a moment for me to just see my son play. For me to be there no matter what was going on, to have that moment that we both can cherish 10 years, 20 years from now, look back on it and say I saw that and my father was there when I did this, whatever he becomes in life, all my kids, whatever they become in life I want them to know I'm always supportive of them, but they understand my line of work too. I think my daughter gives it to me the worst because it seems like I miss all of her stuff and I can get to my other kids' things, but she understands. She understands also but it gets tough sometimes with being a father and being able to play football and everything, but for the most part, they understand."
What position does your son play?
"Linebacker, he's a linebacker. He's not a d-lineman like his dad."