Head Coach Bill O'Brien**
(opening statement) "Just would like to start off today, give me a minute here, on Veterans Day, would like to really start by thanking all the brave men and women that serve our country, have served our country, and continue to serve our country. We really thank you for protecting our freedom and appreciate everything that you do to make this country a better country. I have a couple of real quick deals here. I think it was two days ago we had Admiral Bill McRaven come in and speak to our football team, who's now the chancellor of the University of Texas System, is a Texas grad, he's a Longhorn, and he was the leader of the Operation Neptune Spear that killed Osama bin Laden. He came and spoke to our team and just gave our team a great message, and on Veterans Day, I think it was really important for a guy like that to be able to come in and do that, even though it wasn't right on Veterans Day, we got a lot out of that. I have a personal friend, also teammate of (Offensive Coordinator) George Godsey's from Georgia Tech that was an Army Ranger, lives here in the Houston area. His name is Matt Uremovich, served several tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, think he was one of those guys that volunteered to go back, and just a shout out to him on this Veterans Day and thank him for all that he did for our country. With that, I'll open it to questions."
(on when Admiral Bill McRaven came and spoke to the team) "I think it was Monday. The days are running together. No, I'm taking it one day at a time. Sorry, I screwed that up. I've got to stay on message."
(on how OLB Jadeveon Clowney did on his first day back) "He was out there and he's day-to-day, but it was good to see him out there in full pads, working through it, dealing with I'd say a minor back issue, but it's painful. He's dealing with it and just trying to work back into it."
(on if they expect OLB Jadeveon Clowney to be back for the Monday night game) "You know. I'd say it's day-to-day. I think it's one of those injuries, maybe it's not structural but it's painful. He's got to work back through it and that's what he's trying to do."
(on the challenge of going up against a unique player in Bengals TE Tyler Eifert) "Yeah, he's a unique player. He's big, he's strong, he's fast, he's explosive, he's got good hands, he's a very smart, good route runner. It's a tough matchup for us, for anybody, for any team. It's not just us. He has nine touchdowns and all nine of them have come in the red area. He's a tough matchup all over the field. They do a great job. (Offensive Coordinator) Hue (Jackson) does a good job of moving him around, kind of like some of the things that we've done in the past with our tight ends. It reminds me of that. He's a tough matchup."
(on if seeing what Bengals TE Tyler Eifert can do makes them want to utilize their own tight ends more) "Yeah, I mean you look at a guy like that, that's what you're trying to do with that F position, no doubt about it. We're continuing to work. Our guys are working hard. We're continuing to try to get them involved in the offense."
(on what he expects to see from TE Ryan Griffin this week) "There's a good example of him being back, he looked good today. I think he should be ready to play, but you never know. He's coming back off of a pretty significant injury and it's only his first week back. But he's been running around pretty good the last couple of days."
(on what he's seen from Bengals QB Andy Dalton recently in eliminating mistakes) "Absolutely, he's a very efficient guy. He's an accurate passer. The ball comes out quick. He can run, so his scrambling ability, his zone-read ability is a threat. He's doing more at the line of scrimmage, his experience now allows him to get up there and change the play. He's tough, he's a good player and he's playing well this year."
(on if Monday Night Football is still special for him and the players) "Absolutely, I think it's such a tradition. When you're growing up, you never envisioned yourself really coaching on Monday night, and now you have an opportunity to do that. I know our players are excited to do that. Last year we played on Monday night, didn't go so well, so we've got a chance to go back out there this week and do a better job and try to win the football game. You know that everybody is watching you and I think that's a big deal for our team."
Offensive Coordinator George Godsey
(on the challenge that Cincinnati presents) "I mean, it's a new week and a new challenge, big challenge, good defensive front, good secondary, going to have to block them all really to get it established. We put a lot of time into what we're looking at as far as the game plan. We're going to have to get it going, especially away in a hostile environment."
(on how much having another tight end back in the offense helps) "Well Ryan (Griffin) showed a lot of progress from last year to this year, up through training camp and had some catches in the first game, looking to see how he progresses each day. It allows for either multiple groupings, possibly use him to spare some of the other tight ends, but also he's got to catch up too to what we've been doing as far as on the field and the playing speed."
(on if they focused on the running game last week during the bye) "I think anytime you have a bye week, there's a couple things as far as just recharging everybody's batteries as far as the players are concerned. Then from our standpoint, it's back to game planning for the upcoming week. Every week is different. This is a big challenge like I talked about. We're going to have to match their intensity, especially early in an away environment."
(on if he saw the running game getting better when RB Arian Foster was in) "We didn't really factor that into anything as far as in the rear view mirror is concerned. I think it's about getting these guys ready for this week and really moving forward."
(on how he motivates his players to get off to a faster start) "Well the way we've approached it is it's a new season and that's kind of our emphasis is not only just a fast start but really a complete game, not quarters, not plays, but stringing them all together, having good series and creating more scoring chances."
(on if he gets jealous of the way Cincinnati uses their tight ends) "Spending a lot of time on their defense, they've been productive defensively so that's where a lot of my eyes are going to."
RB Alfred Blue
(on what the bye week meant to the team) "I would say it's time for everybody to get their legs down, get healthy, the nick-knack bruises and all that get that taken care of and just sit back and just treat this second half of the season like a new season. Eight one-game seasons, just take it one game at a time. That would put us at 11-5."
(on the mentality with fixing the run game) "I would say the small wins, everybody doing their assignments, everybody just taking the mindset and knowing I'm not going to let my guy beat me. Going out there, when they call the run, look your guy in the eye and just say, I'm going to win this matchup. I think that's the mindset everybody's got to take out there."
(on if the running game is at the top of the list for the offense to get going right now) "I mean yeah, like the first half of the season we haven't been running the ball like we want to. I mean that's definitely a phase out there among things we've got to get cleaned up and fix out there."
(on if full-padded practices help them work on the run game) "I think the padded practice helped the physicality of going out there. It gives you game-like scenarios out there, just going against the defense and it makes it a game-like scenario out there. You get the mindset, the o-line gets to bang a little bit, and that's how you really get the run game. You don't get it with shells on. When you've got the pads on, that's when you get after the run a little bit."
G Brandon Brooks
(on getting to recharge and refocus over the off week) "That's the biggest thing, recharge the batteries a little bit, but we get an actual couple of extra days to focus on the Bengals coming up. I think that helps us a lot, getting a head start on them."
(on what they are doing to get the running game going) "Just taking extra reps in practice on the run game, really working on our technique and individual and really making the run game an emphasis this week going forward."
(on if he thinks they are getting close to getting it going) "Yes, I feel like we are making progress, always trying to strive to our goal."
(on getting to practice in full pads and how that impacts improving the running game) "It allows you to really get in there and see how it is live. With just helmets on or foam pads, it's not necessarily the same tempo, not the same speed, so having the pads on is as close to live as you can get."
T Duane Brown
(on getting to recharge at the halfway mark of the season) "It's a great time of the year just to recharge and unplug for a few days, get your legs back, get refocused. I think you can sense the level of rededication and refreshment that we had Monday when we came here and it's continued on to today. Guys are really concerned this week to go out and get the second half of this season started right."
(on how close is the offense to getting the running game going) "I think we have had great preparation so far this week. It's really been a point of emphasis for us and it always is, but this week it has been more than ever. Guys are really putting in the work, trying to make it happen. We won't know how close we are until we go out there and try to execute it. It's not going to be easy, playing on the road against that defense, but the run game is paramount for us this week. You do not want to be one-dimensional against them. We just got to get it done."
(on it being a tough matchup this week) "Yeah, they are undefeated for a reason. They have a lot of talent over there. They are playing well as a unit; we understand that. With that being said, it's a great opportunity for us to play them on a Monday night scale, on the road. I am sure nobody is counting on us to go in there and get the job done, but we love the underdog feeling that we are going to go out there and compete."
(on embracing the underdog role and if it's more fun to go in and prove people wrong) "A lot of fun. You play an undefeated team at their place on a Monday night. We know what to expect from them, they are going to be ready to go. We have to match their intensity, they are going to have the crowd behind them. We know a lot of people aren't counting on us going and getting a win. With that being said, I have all of the confidence in my teammates, but we have to go and execute, it's not just about a feeling, you have to go and get it done."
ILB Brian Cushing
(on having the mentality of proving people wrong going into the Cincinnati game) "Right, you obviously go into the game with that kind of mentality. We know we've got a pretty capable team too. We're excited about the matchup. We're excited about playing a really good team, undefeated team and hopefully can change that."
(on if this matchup comes at a good time coming off the bye week) "Yeah, I think it comes at a good time of the season too. I think it's right in the dead center, middle of the year, you split your games, have eight and eight, and kind of regroup, see what we did in the first half and just try to have a much better second half."
(on if a win against an undefeated team would be a statement win) "Yeah, it'd be a good game to really turn things around and get things going in the right direction, good team, undefeated, on national TV."
(on if he thinks about Monday night football as bad luck for him) "No I haven't even really thought about that honestly. You kind of get over it. I don't think about it as Monday night, when I do think about that, I think it just happened. I don't really particularly remember it was Monday night. If I remember anything, it's more just playing at home where I grew up and just being a bad night, but I've gotten over the whole fact of the Monday night. I don't look at it as that, I just look at it as a great opportunity for us to showcase on a national stage."
(on what he sees out of Bengals QB Andy Dalton that he didn't see two years ago) "He's confident and he's way smarter with the football. He takes care of business. He knows where his playmakers are and he goes with them."
QB Brian Hoyer
(on getting to start on Monday night) "For me, this is the first chance I get to start on Monday Night Football. As a kid, you remember, 'Dun Dun Dun Dun,' (ESPN Monday Night Football theme song). That's the kind of thing you want to do when you're in the NFL. It's exciting for us to go up there to their place, when you have an away game, it's kind of good because you know that all you have is those guys that are on that plane and in the locker room and you really come together. It's going to be a tough challenge for us. They are 8-0 and playing really well. Their defense has a lot of great players, there are a lot of first-round picks over there, so it's going to be a great challenge for us."
(on embracing the underdog role going into the game) "Obviously, that's always going to be a chip on your shoulder, but I think for us, it's all about us. We need to come out and not have any mental errors, be on our assignment, handle the crowd, handle the noise. I played there last year on Thursday night, it's a tough place to play, so to be able to handle that and respond and weather the storm a little bit."
(on if there is anything different about the Bengals this season) "I think they have always played solidly, especially defensively, going against them, they have always made us fight for every yard, when I have played against them before. You look around and it's guys that have been in the system for a very long time. The system, obviously (Former Bengals Defensive Coordinator) (Mike) Zimmer was there, but coach (Bengals Defensive Coordinator) (Paul) Guenther has kept it pretty familiar for those guys and you don't see them ever screw up anything, really. I think after watching the film, I've seen one play where they might have messed that one up, but everything else, they are very sound, they have a lot of great players and they are going to make you earn every yard."
(on getting TE Ryan Griffin back this week) "I think it's always good to have all three of those guys available, because each one of them is a little bit different. It's good to have him back out there and really give the other two guys a blow a little bit too. When you only have two tight ends, that's tough sledding for those guys, they're expected to run routes, block, so to have all three of them back is really good."
(on getting the tight ends more involved in the offense) "I think for me, really it's try to take what the defense gives me, so it can really vary from week to week. Like I said before, Cincinnati is going to force you to drive the field on them. They are not going to give up a lot of big plays, so for me it's about being patient and trying to find the open guy and then let them make the plays after the catch."
(on throwing to WR DeAndre Hopkins or working to get the ball to other players) "I think we have great other skill players in this offense. You go back to the Miami game, Nate Washington had 100-and-something yards and two touchdowns. We get Cecil (Shorts) back this week, we talked about (Ryan) Griffin, even our backs, I think (Alfred) Blue had seven catches against Tennessee. All of those guys are ready to step up and make plays if they take away DeAndre."
DE J.J. Watt
(on Bengals QB Andy Dalton's progression since entering the NFL) "I don't know. I don't study quarterbacks like that. I just go get them. I mean, his team is 8-0 and it's a quarterback-driven league, so he's obviously playing very good football. When you're 8-0, everybody on your team is playing pretty good football."
(on the Bengals offense) "They do a good job. They have a lot of playmakers. They got (Tyler) Eifert and A.J. Green and (Andy) Dalton and (Jeremy) Hill. I mean, they got guys all over. They can make plays in many different ways, so it's our job to go out there and to be technically sound, to play good team defense, to rally to the ball, go out there and make plays."
(on what it means to hear from military veterans like William H. McRaven) "It's always incredible to hear stories from veterans and people who have been in it. And I mean, Admiral McRaven's been in it a lot in many different capacities. You have so much respect. You have so much appreciation for what these men and women do and for how much they sacrifice. Not only them, but their families. How much their families sacrifice. I was fortunate enough after my rookie year to do the USO tour. To go over there and to see these men and women in action is truly incredible. It really makes you so thankful for your freedom and it makes you so thankful for everything that they do because they're going through really the toughest stuff that you could possibly go through. I mean, its life and death and we're over here playing a game, living a free life, and a lot of times I think we really take that for granted. The biggest thing that I try and do is to not take that for granted."
(on if he dreamed about playing on Monday Night Football as a kid) "I don't know. When I was young, I just wanted to play on Saturday mornings when I was a little kid. Every level it gets bigger and bigger. You want to play in the biggest game possible. Monday night everybody is watching, so it's always exciting. But you just go out there and play your game. You have to treat it like any other football game. They're a very good football team. We're looking forward to going on the road in a tough environment and playing good football."
(on T Duane Brown saying the team embraces the fact people are saying the Texans have no chance to beat the Bengals) "Yeah, I would probably agree. There's not a whole lot of people that are going to give you a chance going up against an 8-0 football team. But that's fine. It's our job to go out here every single day and to find a way. I like that opportunity."
(on what it means to have OLB Jadeveon Clowney back) "It's good. I think Whitney (Mercilus) played a heck of a game. You look at what Whitney did out there, he had 3.5 sacks. If you give him the one where he got the facemask penalty, it's 4.5. The guy is playing great football, so you have to give him credit."
(on if he has any special sack celebration planned this weekend) "I'm not sure. We'll see. I don't know. We'll see."
(on how he feels health-wise) "I feel really good. I feel great. It was definitely very important to get that time. I feel very good, so I'm ready to roll."
(on if he feels like he knows the Bengals well) "No, not really. I mean, yeah we've seen them a few times. We played them last year. But I mean, the league is always evolving. They're always doing things. They're a very good football team. You have to give them a whole lot of credit for what they're able to do this year. We're looking forward to a great challenge. They are very good at very many positions. They have a lot of great players, they have a good coaching staff. We're going on the road. They have good fans and it's Monday night. It's going to be a lot of fun."
(on if he feels like he has an edge over Bengals QB Andy Dalton because of previous success against him) "He's 8-0. I'm sure he's not too worried about a psychological edge. He's doing all right. We're looking forward to going in there and providing a great challenge. Doing what we can do to help win the game."