Head Coach Bill O'Brien**
(on if he thinks Cincinnati has evolved as a team over the years) "Well I've seen these guys for a number of years, so going back to when I was first in the league in 2007, it's certainly changed since then. Obviously different personnel, I think what they have right now is they've got a bunch of guys that've played together for a while. You've got (Andy) Dalton with A.J. Green, you've got (Tyler) Eifert, you've got the two backs, (Jeremy) Hill and (Giovani) Bernard, you've got the line, (Mohamed) Sanu, Marvin Jones is in there, so you've got some guys that've played together, so there's a good chemistry there. That's a big challenge, that's a challenge because those guys know each other pretty well. That's why I think, one of the reasons why they're playing so well. As far as the evolution of scheme and what they do, I think everybody changes every year, but those guys have gotten to know each other real well."
(on if OLB Jadeveon Clowney was at practice today) "Yeah, he wasn't out there today. We decided to have him in the training room here and try to get him some extra treatment to see if we can get him ready for Monday night. We'll see how that goes, but I'd say obviously still day-to-day with him."
(on it being a "what have you done for me lately league" even though the Bengals have been to the playoffs four straight years) "Fans aren't on them now I hope. They're 8-0. I'd say that's, I understand what you're asking, it's probably a better question obviously for (Bengals Head Coach) Marvin (Lewis). I think they're a heck of a team. I think he's a really good coach. Just in talking to him at owners meetings or before the game last year, he's been there a long time and he's stuck to his principles of what he wants in a football team. I give him a lot of credit. I'm not sure about fans and anything like that. I know how important our fans are to us and things like that, but I just know that they're a good football team and it's a big challenge for us."
(on what he's seen from QB Brian Hoyer since he became the starter and what he's looking for from him) "I've seen him, because of the ability now to get all the reps which he's able to get most of the reps in practice, you see much better chemistry between him and the receivers with the offensive line, with the running game, with how the plays are called, all the different things that go into that. I think that that's what you see the most. He's got confidence, he's gone in there and for the most part, he's played good football. What we would expect of him is just to continue to do that, to get us into the right play, to take care of the football, be a good leader in there, good communicator, and continue to do what he's been doing."
(on if there was a moment when he thought WR DeAndre Hopkins could be special) "Yeah, well I'm not sure if it was a particular moment. I just know that when we first came here, right away in the OTAs you could tell that the guy had great hands and a great ability to adjust to the ball that was thrown to him, any type of ball. You could tell, one thing that really stood out to me that you really love to see in a young receiver was the work ethic. When we came here, he was really just coming off of his rookie year and going into his second year, and had a tremendous work ethic. He stayed after practice. He tried to do the things that we asked him to do. I can remember some moments last year where he made some incredible catches in the Giants game. I've seen those catches in practice, things like that that you just know he's a special player. He's a very special player."
(on how WR DeAndre Hopkins compares to WR A.J. Green) "I think it's two different players, I really do. I know that there may be a little bit of a size comparison there, but I think they're two different players. A.J. Green is a guy that over the years has the ability to play all over the place. I would say that's comparable, he and Hopkins are comparable in that regard. You can play in the slot, play on the outside. I think they use him in different ways just because of their offensive philosophy relative to ours. I do see two players that are excellent, excellent players."
(on DT Geno Atkins coming back from injury and the kind of player that he is) "He's one of the best interior defensive lineman in the league. He's a very difficult guy to block because of how they use him. They put him in usually a three-technique and move him from there. Not only does he just play that b-gap tackle but he can also move and be involved in the pass rush lanes in different ways, very, very strong player. He plays with really good leverage, plays with great hands, very instinctive player, tough to block on the back side of runs in addition to obviously on the front side, so very, very tough matchup for us."
(on what he's seen from G Xavier Su'a-Filo lately and how he factors into the offense) "Well I'm certainly glad to hear that he's feeling well, that's good. I think he's improved every day out there. He's a hardworking kid. I just think that the more reps he gets, the better he'll get."
(on if S Rahim Moore has had a good week of practice) "I think he's improving and he's working hard. He's out there working very, very hard. I think all of our practice yesterday was very competitive. We had a full-padded practice. I think all the guys competed hard in that practice, same thing today although it wasn't obviously full pads. I think everybody improved this week."
(on if QB T.J. Yates is up to speed and ready to play) "Yes, he's done a nice job coming in here, he really has. He's able to have very good recall on what he learned before when he was here, and so he's gone out there and he's executed well. I give him credit, even when he was not on a team, he was working. You could tell he was throwing with probably a quarterback coach that he had up there in Georgia and he worked. He was in shape, he was in throwing shape and I think he's performed well in practice, so the answer is yes."
(on if he was pleased with the run game in the full-padded practice yesterday) "To me the proof is in the pudding on game day. We've really worked hard on stopping the run and running the football, but this is a team in Cincinnati that does a really good job of running the football and a good job of stopping the run. We've got to show up on Monday night and again, put that what we've done in practice, put it on the field. It has looked better in practice on both sides of the ball. The practices have been very competitive. I give our guys a lot of credit. They've worked extremely hard in practice to improve those areas of the game. Again, we want to see that on game day."
Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel
(on if he has any special memories about Monday Night Football) "I think it was unique to play on Monday night. Everybody kind of got up for the Monday night game because it was the only game in town, you know? You knew that all your friends and everybody else was going to be watching. It was a big game just for that reason. It's kind of built its own legacy and still playing on Monday night is a special time to play. This weekend we get to do that and see how we can do. If we can play like we played the last time we went out, it'll be a good game for us."
(on Bengals QB Andy Dalton) "It looks like he's doing a very good job of running his offense. He's become more comfortable with the offense. He knows the ins and outs of it. He's able to make plays as a result of it. He's got a good complement of scheme and players around him that help that work. They got a good running game. The runners run good. They've got big offensive linemen. The receivers block down field. The receiving group is a big group that will go get the football. Then they run complementary plays, so if you gang up on one thing, then they got a counter for what you gang up on. They do a good job overall and that's why they're undefeated right now. Because it's been working for them and Andy has done a good job of making it work."
(on if there is a particular Monday Night Football game that sticks out to him) "Not one that really jumps out at me. I'm not one of those guys who hangs on to things. Usually things I hang on to are bad things rather than the good things."
(on if he's forgotten about blowing a lead against the Steelers) "No, I haven't forgotten that. Not at all. Because that game, we were doing halfway decent until we fell apart. Then, that's the one thing about this league, if the other team can get momentum, it's hard sometimes to take it away from them. You got to be able to make plays to take it away from them and we weren't able to do that. That was really disappointing."
(on how well he knows Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis) "I know Marvin because when I was in Cleveland, twice a year, I had to coach against him. I think Marvin is a well-grounded, very good football coach. He's persevered and it's paying off for him, particularly this year."
(on if he felt sympathy for Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis when he was taking criticism for not winning in the playoffs) "You're supposed to win games in this league. But I think we all who are in this business understand that the fans, they pull for you because they want you to win and then once you start winning, they want you to win more. So when you get to the playoffs, they want you to win in the playoffs, then be able to take the next step. After a while, if you're not able to take the next step, then they become more frustrated. To the ownership's credit, they stuck with Marvin and they built that program. They got some of the right kind of people in there playing and they're undefeated at this point."
(on OLB Jadeveon Clowney's status) "As coach said, he's kind of day-to-day. We're working with him. He's working to try to get better. I think if we can get him better, he will be where he needs to be from the talent standpoint. He's still a rookie. He hasn't really practiced a whole lot. He hasn't played a whole lot. You have to get that game experience to become really good. I think if he's healthy, he'll be able to get that experience and then help us out."
(on if he's questioned OLB Jadeveon Clowney's desire and intensity to play) "No, I haven't questioned it because I know that he's over here dealing with the trainers on a consistent basis. Like you said, he's been a little unlucky with some of his injuries. You just have to deal with them. That's part of this game, particularly at this time of the year."
WR DeAndre Hopkins
(on the success of the team being tied to him having a big second half of the season) "Whatever comes my way, however I can help this team win, that's what I'm going to do."
(on how he plays down his role and what he can do) "That's how I was raised, team first. It's more than me. This is a team game. It takes 11 people."
(on if he's noticed other teams trying to do different things to try to defend him) "Yeah, putting extra help on me for the DB, bringing the safety over."
(on how that affects him) "I don't really care, because that means another receiver is one-on-one and we have a great wide receiver core so I kind of smile, kind of happy when teams want to double me because that means somebody else on my team is one-on-one."
(on if he learned how to be double teamed from former teammate and Texans WR Andre Johnson) "Yeah, I mean I watch Antonio Brown, he's probably one of the best receivers at beating a double team. I just watch guys that've been double teamed over the years and are doing good."
(on if he's seen QB Brian Hoyer's chemistry grow with the receivers) "Yeah, tremendously, we work a lot after practice also to help that, not just in the game. Hoyer does a great job of working with the guys, not just the guys that are starting but also rookies."
OLB Whitney Mercilus
(on playing on Monday Night Football) "I think it's pretty cool, especially going back to Ohio for me personally and playing on Monday night is pretty cool. I'll get to talk to my friends about that and stuff like that. Overall, in a sense of playing on Monday, it's not too bad. It's a longer week for practice and all that. Coach knows how to allow us to recover and allow us to practice. It gives us time to actually understand our opponent."
(on if he will have a lot of family and friends in the stands) "Probably, we'll see. We'll see."
(on playing against an undefeated team) "You understand that they're 8-0. They're doing something good to be 8-0 and all that. You respect them, but we understand that we got to play our game, play electrifying. Start fast and also we want to finish strong. We'll just go in there, play our game plan, and try to come out with a win."
NT Vince Wilfork
(on the challenges that Cincinnati's offense presents) "A bunch of challenges, of course they've got a receiver over there that's very, very good, a tight end that's coming into his own and two backs that can run the ball well, and a quarterback that's orchestrating it, whole offense, offensive line they work well together up front. Defensively, we have our work cut out. We have to defend everything against these guys. Good thing is we've had a good week of practice. We had a couple extra days which is going to be big for us, playing a team we're not too much familiar with, I know we played them last year here, but just somebody that you don't play all the time. We've got to do a real good job in practice to make sure we get all the looks that we can possibly get and on game day just adjust to what they show us we haven't covered. It's going to be a challenge for us but at the same time, we accept the challenge."
(on no one outside of the locker room thinking they have a chance and what their mindset is) "Every week my mindset is to win. It starts up front with us defensively being able to stop the run. They do everything well, so we have to play real sound on defense, control our gaps and understand where our weakness is at times and understand when we have our strengths and can take advantage of it. There's some things they've shown on film they like to do. We've got to be ready for it, but like I said, if something comes out that we really didn't cover, we just have to make sideline adjustments like any other team would have. At the same time, we're preparing well. Hopefully we'll be ready to rock and roll Monday night."
(on if the padded practices have been positive for them) "Oh yeah, I mean I like when we go pads because you can kind of get into game mode. It fits and everything, it looks kind of realistic. You're not going to get game speed on the practice field, but that's the closest you're going to get. Being able to go in pads and take advantage of that day instead of looking at it as punishment you've got to look at it and take advantage of the day like that. I think we did. I think we came to work this week, ready to work. Hopefully that'll help us, but we did a good job so far, we've just got to close this week out, continue to get better each day all the way up to game night and just make sure we make all the preparations, all the checks, and understand what we need to do to win this ball game."
(on quarterbacks getting the ball out of their hands quickly) "You've got to get in your rush quick, everybody has to be sound from the DBs to the front seven. We've all got to be sound. Hopefully he can pump one of them in his face, but when you have somebody getting the ball out quick the main thing is to get your hands up if you can't get to him, which we've seen a lot of that this year, quarterbacks trying to get the ball out quick against us. We've just got to be patient in what we're doing, tight coverage, play well up front and make sure we're getting our hands up. Hopefully we can cause some turnovers doing that. That's what we're looking forward to. Like I said, this is a team that's riding high, they're 8-0 for a reason. They play very sound football, offense, defense, special teams, so they're a complete team. We have to be able to go there and make plays and try to walk away with a W. That's tough, winning alone is tough but going on the road against an 8-0 team that's riding high, that's very tough, but at the same time we accept that challenge."
(on if he has a moment playing on Monday Night Football that stands out to him) "Monday night is always awesome. Growing up, you see Sunday night and Monday Night Football, that's primetime and everybody wants to look good and wants to play good. I guess we have our opportunity this Monday, primetime game against a team that's 8-0, and nobody – like you said – nobody is giving us a shot but ourselves, so I like being the underdog. That's not a problem. I haven't been much in my career, but at the same time, it makes me want it even more being the guy that everybody is counting out because I like to point fingers at the end of the day. Hopefully we can do it this week."
(on if he remembers his first Monday night game) "Oh man, do you know how long ago that was? You're talking 12 years so, my first night game was actually a Thursday night game against the Colts my rookie year. Patriots won the Super Bowl that year so that Thursday night against the Colts, I remember that game because I ended up recovering a fumble on the goal line that was going in for a touchdown, recovering a fumble on the goal line to get our offense back the ball, so Monday night I can't really think of a Monday night. I remember that night game, my first one of my career at this level. That was a long time ago."
(on Cincinnati's screen game) "They execute everything very well. That's something that gave us problems all this year, but you know what, we're going to fix that. We're going to get it fixed. Like I said, we practiced well. We have to make sure we can transfer that to the field on Monday night, so when we get it we know the situation that may come. We just have to be alert and play with more awareness as a defense, not just one person but all of us being aware of what's going on around us. I think if we play with more awareness we'll make a lot more plays on defense. This week's been a great week for us so far, and like I said, hopefully Monday we can turn the tide and go in and leave with a W in Cincinnati, but it's going to be tough."
(on the Bengals being very fundamentally sound) "Very sound, very sound. Last week when they played Pittsburgh, it was a dog fight against that team and they managed to win. That is what good football teams do, no matter what happens, they manage to win. No matter how you win, a win is a win. I don't care if it's pretty or ugly, at the end of the day, that is what you want, W's. That's a team that, they have fought through a lot, they have been through a lot, but they are playing well, they are coached very well and they execute at a high level. They do a bunch of things very, very well and that is why they are 8-0."
(on if he thinks the Bengals could be looking past the Texans) "I don't think they will be looking past us, not at all. For one, it's a Monday night game, everybody wants to play their best on Monday night. I don't think they're looking past us. When the schedules came out, everybody saw who we play and when we play so I doubt that (Bengals Head Coach) Marvin Lewis is making those guys look past us, I doubt that."
Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis Conference Call
(on why he thinks everything is going so well this season) "The guys have done a very good job of understanding and taking what they are getting from their coaches. We need to do these things to be successful and whether that is in the first quarter, first half, halftime, in between series and so forth, if we do these things, then we are going to increase our probability to win and I think they have done an excellent job of that."
(on how he has kept the team on such an even keel when the fans are mad that they haven't won in the playoffs) "You mean those 10 fans? We can't worry about that."
(on the bandwagon being pretty crowded right now) "Yeah, it got crowded again. You can't worry about that. We have had seasons where we have literally had to have playoff-type games for us because we were fighting for our playoff life the last six weeks of the season. Our guys have approached those games in the past just like they have approached each and every week, just like you approach the preparation for the playoff game. We have been in the situation where we had a sense of finality. We all go through the same thing, if we don't win the last game, that's what stings. Our guys continue to do what they need to do. They have gone about this week-to-week and basically day-to-day and play-to-play."
(on if Monday Night Football is still special to him since he has probably coached more of those games than anybody except Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick) "I think (Rams Head Coach) Jeff Fisher and (Giants Head Coach) Coach (Tom) Coughlin got a few years on me too and (Chiefs Head Coach) Andy (Reid). I think I'm fifth or so. Yes, you grow up and as a kid, being able to peek at Monday Night Football until your parents told you to go to sleep, so it is special and it's been a special part of the NFL and the evolution of the television and the NFL and sports, Monday Night Football was, so you know it's special and I think it's a great atmosphere and it's a great opportunity, again, for our players to come out and we know that we are playing against a very good football team that's well put together. They are not happy with where they are at right now, but we know how capable they are."
(on Bengals QB Andy Dalton making great decisions this year) "I think it's been one of Andy's great traits throughout his career here. The biggest thing is to always block out the noise and just take care of your business and do what you are coached to do. As long as he continues to do that, we will all play at a high level."
(on what Bengals Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson has done so far and his thoughts on him being in charge of a football team one day) "Well, I tried to convince a few people of that last year; that he is excellent. I have been through this before with (former Bengals Defensive Coordinator) Mike Zimmer and people didn't listen the first couple times around. You know, they call me and ask for recommendations, what are my thoughts, tell me their strengths, and answering questions, I can't be anything more than be honest on how I feel about these people and Hue is headed in that same direction right now. He has had the experience of being a head coach, he understands it. He is doing a fine job, which is most important, what he is doing right now, because that's the most important thing, that is what you can control."
(on the growing relationship between Bengals QB Andy Dalton and Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson) "Yeah, that's been big. Hue has really pulled a lot out of Andy and that's been a real focus for us since the loss last year in the playoffs as we have prepared for this season, is to continue to empower Andy to take over the football team and you have to take your hat off to him for taking the steps to continue to do that and urge and pull greatness out of his teammates. He has done a good job of that."
(on the evolution of the Bengals defense) "They have done a really good job of playing together. They are a group that's played a lot of football. They are not old in age other than, maybe, (Domata) Peko, but they've played a lot of football together and they are smart, I think that's the most important thing. They take the things the coaches give them, as far as playing and so forth, and they are able to apply it to the opponent."
(on the play of Texans CB Johnathan Joseph) "He's fantastic, and he's still fun to watch. He is one of our guys who we've continued to draft these young corners and develop them kind of in the mold of Johnathan. That's what is cool about it, he set the pace here for us and we are so proud of what he has been able to accomplish, both on the field and growing as a father, a husband and the things that he has done. That was a few years ago when he came here from South Carolina. He didn't spend much time in Columbia."
(on the development of Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins) "He is an impressive young guy. He has great body control, he is strong at the catch. He will be more fun to watch next week when they are playing against somebody else."
(on what it is about QB Andy Dalton where he can block out all of the noise) "He kind of just has that 'it' about him. We felt like that as we went through the quarterbacks that year, that there were a couple of guys who we really felt would fit well with us and he was obviously one of them. You are pleased for him and his continually playing well and playing at a high level, but most importantly, it's the guys around him have picked up their level of play, which makes everything he does easier because he can count on them to be in the right spots."
(on if he knew from the start that WR A.J. Green was going to be a great player) "The very first play of his first training camp, he made me say 'wow' and he hasn't disappointed."
(on if he remembered what the play was for WR A.J. Green) "It was a vertical catch down the field and just watching him track the ball over the shoulder, and Leon Hall was covering him at that point and was all over him, and it was like it was no contest, just because of his big radius and being able to track the ball from inside-outside. The throw was from Andy (Dalton) and the ball went in-and-out, right on the boundary. He has plays all the time in practice that make you say 'wow'."
(on if he views it like he has several number one receivers) "I think they all realize that opportunities will come by getting myself open and winning in the situation. I can't predict what coverage the defense is going to play and where the opportunity is going to come, so I got to make sure I am in the right spot and doing the right thing and let the quarterback work and do his thing."
Bengals QB Andy Dalton Conference Call
(on playing on Monday Night Football) "Monday Night Football is the game that everybody watches every week. Growing up you watched Monday Night Football all the time. It's cool anytime you get the chance to play on it and it's cool that we get to go against the Texans, the team that I watched growing up."
(on the difference with this year's team compared to previous seasons) "I think just the consistency in the way that we have been playing. We have found ways to win games and we have won games in different ways. We have had to win in overtime, we have had to come back in the fourth quarter, we have had a lot of different circumstances happen and we've been able to find a way to win in every single one of them, so I think that's the biggest thing the resiliency in the way that we have been playing. There has been no quit in us and we've played all the way to the end."
(on him taking unfair criticism and the role that Head Coach Marvin Lewis has played in keeping things balanced with him) "We have had a lot of success since I have been here and we have made it to the playoffs the last four years, obviously, it hasn't turned out how we have wanted it to, but that doesn't take away from the type of teams that we have had. We have had really good teams. Marvin has done a great job of not making that our focus. It's a new team this year, new season, so we are trying to do everything we can to just keep winning. I think a lot of people are starting to buy into this team and I think it's been great. The support we have gotten from this city has been awesome and it's a lot of fun to see."
(on if the fans have started over too with him this season) "I don't know about that, but I know there's a lot of excitement right now. There's a lot of people that are hopping on the bandwagon."
(on if he's okay with fans jumping on the bandwagon) "Yeah, it's 'what have you done for me lately' and we get that. At the end of the day, we just have to keep winning games."
(on Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis' leadership style) "He is very even keel. He makes sure that the focus is on the right things. He has obviously been through a lot in his coaching career here and he deserves to have this type of season that we have been having, so it's been good. He's the guy that gets everybody going and I am happy for the success that we have had for his sake."
(on this season and being 8-0) "We understand that there are not a lot of teams that have ever been 8-0. Obviously, it's the first time in franchise history and the first time in the AFC North's history, so it's obviously cool, but we are not satisfied where we are at. The good thing is we have a chance this week to be 9-0 and we have to do whatever we can to get there."
(on his personal evolution and cutting back on the turnovers) "I think it's just being smart with the football and not taking too many chances. Our guys are making plays and that has been a big part of being able to do the things that we have done on offense. Turnovers usually decide the game and I feel that I have done a better job of keeping the ball in our possession and not taking too many chances."
(on if him and Texans DE J.J. Watt still exchange Christmas Cards) "I don't know about that, but I have had the chance to play against him quite a bit in my career, even going back to my senior year in college."
(on what he is seeing on film from DE J.J. Watt) "I mean there's not a whole lot that is different, he is still the dominant player that he has always been. He is definitely a guy that when you look at the defense, it's how can you stop him because he is so good and can do so many different things. Even when he is not getting to the quarterback, it's him getting his hands up and tipping balls and all the stuff that he does. We have a good task in front of us, but we have to come to play. We feel good about the plan that we have in and the guys that we have doing it."
(on the team's confidence) "We feel good about what we are doing. You have to play with confidence and have confidence going into games. I think the way that things have gone so far, we have a lot of it, so we just have to keep that going and keep the momentum that we have created."
(on if there is a specific Monday Night Football game that he remembers) "Not necessarily one specific. I remember being young and I didn't have a TV in my room and I found a little handheld TV, I think it was black and white, it was real small and I snuck it up to my room and when I had to go to bed, I tried to stay up late and watch as much as I could. It was a tiny TV that was black and white."
(on if he ever thought that he would play on Monday Night Football in the NFL) "I grew up wanting to play every sport that I played at the time professionally, whether it was baseball, basketball, football, whatever it was. Obviously, when I got to college and knew I was going to get drafted, I knew that it was going to become a reality."
(on how do you stay focused playing the Texans) "Their record doesn't show the type of team that they are. Especially if you look at their defense, their defense has done a lot of good things. They're the number one defense on third down so we are facing a good team and you can't slack off at all or take anything for granted because we know the type of talent that they have."
(on if he knows QB Brian Hoyer) "Not really, just the time that we played against him."