Head Coach Bill O'Brien**
(on how long are the players' days during the short week) "Yesterday we brought them in around 10 o'clock for treatments and lifting and conditioning and things like that. We started a meeting around 2 (p.m.). We met for a long time. We had a walk through, long walk through. We were done around 7 p.m. Today we'll be done probably in about two hours, with the players. Of course, the coaches, we'll never be done. But the players, I think it's important for them in a short week, one of the things that is really important is that they get their rest. Hopefully they get out of here, get a little extra treatment, get some extra film work, things like that. But make sure that they're off their feet."
(on what he thinks is the cause of the slow starts) "I think, you know what, I think one of the things that is really important, it sounds trivial, on offense we've got to get the first down within the drive. We have to get the first first down. When we go three and out and we're not in manageable third downs, it's not good. It's not good for most teams in this league to be in third and long. If we can do a good job on first and second down and get it to where it's third and five or less, then our percentages of converting that third down will go up and then we can get into more of a rhythm type of offense. Until we do that, we're going to struggle just like I think any team would struggle. We've got to get going here early in these drives."
(on QB Ryan Fitzpatrick's struggling in the first half compared to the second half) "It's hard to pinpoint what exactly that might be with the stats. I think that because we're a gameplan offense, a lot of times when we go out there maybe we're seeing something right in the beginning that we haven't really seen during the week and we've got to get adjusted to that quicker, both coaches and players. At times we have and it's looked pretty good. But then the times when we don't do that and it takes us a while to get adjusted, then it's 3-0 at halftime, we don't have any points, and we have to do a good job after halftime making sure that we have adjusted. You know, I think it's everybody working together and hopefully we'll see improvement. Like I said the other day, the bottom line in this league is winning, but it's an improvement league. It's a progress league. You have to make progress and improve every single week. And it's the teams that improve the most that are going to be the ones still standing at the end, and that's what we're trying to do."
(on how much of getting out to a fast start falls on the shoulders of the quarterback) "I think it falls, again, it's an interesting question because it's an 11-man sport. There are 11 guys on the field that all have to be on the same page. Certainly, the quarterback has to play well in order to get off to a fast start. But the guys around him, they have to block well. They have to run the right routes, they have to catch the ball, they have to get open, the running backs have to do a good job in protection or they have to run the right routes themselves. I mean, everything has to work together. You can never ever, ever point to one guy and say that if that guy doesn't play well, nobody is going to play well. It is everybody working together, everybody being on the same page that ultimately decides how well we play. I think that's important. That's really important to make sure we all as players and coaches understand that."
(on what he expects from RB Arian Foster and ILB Brian Cushing on Thursday) "They are walkthroughs, but they're good. Over the last two days we've probably walked through on both sides of the ball probably 80 plays per day. That's good. We're getting a lot of things covered. Granted we're not getting the speed work, but we can't. We just played a game, a very physical game in Dallas. We're going to turn around and play another very physical game on Thursday night. We have to make sure our players are fresh. As it looks right now, we'll have basically other than the guys that are on IR and things like that, we'll have a full complement of players on Thursday night."
(on if he expects to have RB Arian Foster and ILB Brian Cushing Thursday night) "Oh yeah. Yeah. I mean, you know, like I always say, unless something happens between now and Thursday night. We go out there on Thursday in warmups, who knows, anything can happen. As we stand here today, it looks like those guys are good to go."
(on how much of an advantage it is on a short week that some of the veterans normally do more mental work rather than physical work on a normal week anyway) "That's a good point. It's a fine line though because as a coach you always want the guys to have a little bit of speed work during the week even though it's a short week. We really can't do that this week. In my mind, what we're trying to do is make sure we use the phrase, let's get him to the gate. Let's get him to the gate fresh and ready to go and with a good amount of rest and mental work. That's what we're doing and hopefully the guys are used to it, like you said. The guys, the veteran players are used to that type of management. We just try to talk to the players about, 'Hey, how do you feel? Are you ready to go today?' These veteran players are very honest with us. 'Hey coach, I'm going today. I want to get in there.' I think Johnathan Joseph is a great example of that. We were going to hold him out one day at practice. He said, 'No, I need to get in there and get some coverage work and things like that.' So he went. A lot of it has to be up to the player. These guys these days are so knowledgeable about their own bodies, their own injuries and things like that they're going to let you know when, the older players of course, when they can and can't go. The rookies go. I'm talking about guys, let me be clear about that, guys that have played 10, 11, 12 years. These guys, there is a reason why you last that long in this league. It's production, it's talent, it's intelligence and it's durability and knowing how to take care of your body is a big part of that. If you ask any player that's played eight plus years that's on our team, a lot of it has to do with how they manage their own bodies. We communicate with those guys and make sure that they're as fresh as they can be on game day."
(on the tight end position getting more involved in the offense) "I think we've got to try and get it to them more. No question about it. Obviously I love the tight end position. It's been an important part of any offense that I've been a part of over the last four or five years. Our guys are working hard. Garrett Graham, he's done some really good things. It's just been the nature of maybe a three-and-out or too inconsistent on offense to really get them enough throws to get them the catches. That has to improve. I think f that improves, that's another thing will help our offense improve."
(on the injury issues at cornerback and if he anticipates having those issues this week) "I don't. I think we'll be healthier at that position on Thursday. But I thought that (Andre) Hal has gone out there and last week and then the week before, he's competed. I think it's very difficult to play corner as a rookie in this league, but he's gone in there and he has a very business-like approach to what he does. He's in here early. He studies hard. He's in the weight room working on different things in pre-practice whether it's flexibility or change of direction drills, and then he goes out on the field and he really works hard to do what the coaches are asking him to do. He's done a good job on special teams. I think if he continues on that type of path, he's an ascending player. It's good to see that with him. He's done a good job."
(on if he is surprised by the turnovers FS Kendrick Lewis is forcing) "Not surprised. Here's a guy that is a very instinctive player. Romeo (Crennel) was very familiar with him. When we got the job here and when Romeo came on board, he spoke very highly of him and everything that Romeo said about Kendrick pre-Kendrick coming here has been true. This guy is a pro's pro. He works extremely hard. He's a good leader back there, very good communicator. I just really enjoy coaching him. He's made a lot of big plays for us. He has a knack for intercepting the ball or scooping up a fumble, and hopefully that continues because that's been a big part of the defenses' success this year."
(on FS Kendrick Lewis giving him the ball after he made an interception) "I thought he was sticking it into my chest to tell me to get the offense going. I thought that was what he was doing. Like I said, we have a good relationship, K-Lew and I. He's just a good guy. He's one of the leaders of our team and again another reason why I really enjoy pro football. A guy like that, who just brings a very professional attitude to the work place. It's good."
(on if he sees the Houston-Indianapolis rivalry getting better) "I think anytime you have two teams like our teams that play in the same division, especially in the recent past, maybe not last year. I understand last year. But the recent past it has been a good rivalry, a healthy rivalry with the two teams. I think that's always good within the division and that's good for the NFL. Andrew Luck is just a fantastic quarterback. From a guy who coaches that position and has really enjoyed being around hat position for a long time, I have a lot of respect for him and what he does playing wise. And then obviously J.J. (Watt), what he brings to our team, what he means to this organization, how he's played this year, it should be a fun night on Thursday night."
(on having T David Quessenberry leading the team out on the field) "Quess (David Quessenberry), what an incredible guy. I mean I can't say enough about this guy. The other day I looked up, we're in a team meeting and he was sitting there. It's unbelievable. He's there and he's going through the chemotherapy. He just loves his teammates. He loves football. He's a tough guy. Here's a guy that practiced with that for about four or five days before he actually said something was wrong with him. That's a tough, that's just a unique person. He comes from a great family and we love to see him around. I know the fans will love seeing that on Thursday night. Having him here; pretty neat connection there, a former teammate of mine at Brown University, Tom Condon, is a guy that is a lymphoma survivor, and he'll be there to have the check presented to him. It's kind of interesting deal for me personally on Thursday night. It's a pretty good night and it will be a great night for the city of Houston."
(on how much T David Quessenberry has been around the facility) "No, he's been around, but you never know when he's going to show up because the doctors have to release him based on the treatments that he's getting. Every once in a while you'll look up and he'll be taking notes in the team meeting, which I think, is incredible. He gets the practice film. He's been watching practice. I just think that says a lot about the guy. That's a guy that really, you know, you just look around, you have a lot of guys that are inspirations to you around here and he's definitely one of them."
(on the gifts the Texans sent Devon Still's daughter) "Number one, we wanted to send something for his daughter Leah with what she's going through. You know, Devon Still is a Penn State guy. I still have a lot of pride in that school and what he meant for that program. I didn't coach him, but he was a great player at Penn State who I met when I first got there. Kind of a connection there. We just thought from our organization to his family that was something that was nice to do. We heard that she was a real fan of the movie Frozen, so we sent her a bunch of Frozen items."
Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel
(on QB Andrew Luck's ability to keep plays alive) "I think that's what he does. He looks down the field. That's one of the reasons they have the number of yards that they have because he will go down then field when it's open and available for him."
(on QB Andrew Luck's ability to take a hit to make a play) "They don't hit him that many times. They've been doing a pretty good job protecting him. He doesn't have that many sacks. He's a big strong guy in the pocket. I think he can handle some hits, but I don't think he wants to stand back there and get beat up either. I think he does what he feels like he needs to do to make offense operate."
(on the high amount of red zone takeaways) "I think our guys try hard and they hustle. That's the good part. The bad part is we let them get to the red zone."
(on the high amount of red zone takeaways is sustainable) "Well, if they get to the red zone, I hope we can. Hopefully we can keep them from getting to the red zone. Turnovers just happen sometimes, but a lot of times our guys are hustling and so that's a good quality on their part that they do part. Hopefully they'll keep hustling."
(on if he sees a difference in how the team is forcing fumbles as opposed to interceptions) "I think that there is more than one piece to that because usually there are several things involved. Like in an interception you have a quarterback that is throwing the ball, you've got a coverage, you've got a rush, you've got the guy catching the ball. All those things go into it; whether the ball gets tipped or not, whether it's a good pass or a bad pass. All of those things go into interception. Fumbles, you know, here again, you have the guy that is running with the ball. Does he secure the ball all the time or does he move it around in his hands? So we try to make our guys aware of where the ball is and if you can make them aware of where the ball is, then they might have an opportunity to get the ball out if the opportunity presents itself."
(on the ability to scout how guys carry the football) "Sure. That's on the film. If a guy does it, it's on the film. You can point it out to them and then the guys during the game and the course of the play have the opportunity to look for it."
(on if the importance of takeaways was stressed because the team was last in the league in turnovers last year) "No. Usually when you come in you talk about what you've done, and so I'm new here, so what they've done I didn't really know. You talk to them about what you think is important. Hustling is important. Getting turnovers when you can, that's important. Playing technique, that's important. Those are the kinds of things that we stressed."
(on the way FS Kendrick Lewis has played this year) "Well, he's been a starter in the league, so you learn a little bit from playing in the league. I knew that he was a smart player. He was a responsible player and that he would do the best he could for us. As it turns out, it's working out pretty good."
(on the type of player ILB John Simon is) "Our personnel department, they do a good job scouting players, evaluating players and putting grades on players, and then following up on those guys even though they are with other teams. And they felt pretty good about what he is able to bring to the table, particularly with the situation we're in when we're down outside linebackers particularly. We think he'll come in and once he picks up the system, he'll be able to fit in and do some of the same things other guys can do."
(on an expected timetable for ILB John Simon to be able to fit into the defense) "That's hard to say. I had a number one draft choice that took three quarters of a season for him to understand everything. It varies from player to player. We'll give him the information and put him on the practice field and see how quickly he picks things up. And then what you have to do is determine what does he know, what parts of the defense can he operate in and then let him do what he can do."
(on having patience with players learning the defense) "Not harder to do. You just have to understand that everybody doesn't learn at the same pace and the light comes on at different times for guys. What you have to do is you have to give them the information, spend extra time with them if it's needed, give him extra practice reps when you can and then hopefully the light bulb comes on sooner rather than later."
(on the process of handling ILB Brian Cushing coming off of injury) "Generally our training staff, they evaluate the player medically and they tell us if there is something that we need to do as coaches. If we need to limit his reps or take him out of a drill or something like that, then we kind of abide by it. If they say he's OK, then he goes."
Quarterbacks Coach George Godsey
(on the slow starts to games offensively) "I think it all starts on third down. You get a critical third down really early in the game to set the tempo. Those are the things that we just have to move the chains, we've got to go ahead and complete some balls there. Maybe take some things off of his (Ryan Fitzpatrick) shoulders as far some of the process at the line of scrimmage. I think that may help him out as far as seeing the defense, getting in and out of the huddle and just go out and execute a throw to a receiver based on what he sees."
(on how can the offense get a successful rhythm started earlier) "Right, I think that's kind of what we're looking for here. It's a mix of run and pass and a mix of getting the right guys the ball and calling the right plays at the right time and making sure that we get the ball to the right player. I think it's a big picture thing, too, along with the individual effort, along with the coaching. It's a whole offensive unit deal; a full offensive problem that we're looking to solve here coming out on Thursday."
(on if it is more importance of getting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick into a rhythm early) "I think you said it right. It doesn't matter what position you're playing. You want to get into a good rhythm and you want to start early and trust what you prepared for is what you're seeing and what you're executing it on. The more confidence you get with building positive play after positive play, I think the more productive you become."
(on how do you take things off of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick's shoulders) "There are certain things. On third down you don't always need to pass the ball. You can run the ball. You can also make some reads a little bit easier for him. I think that's what we're searching for from a coaching staff. Sometimes you're not going to call a perfect play and I think sometimes it's a little bit easier to just call a play that those guys can go out there and execute. They're real comfortable with whether it's against a coverage you designed for or not."
(on the reps that QBs Ryan Mallett and Tom Savage get) "We meet as a group. Those guys are really; any meeting that I'm with or I'm having, they're with me. Everybody is hearing the same thing and usually go out on the field, this week is a little different, but from a physical standpoint in a normal week, you're two and three quarterbacks get their reps maybe in the show team or throughout the course of some of the first team reps they'll be put in there at odd times because that is the nature of the position. If you're a backup quarterback, it's a lot mental more than it is physical preparing for the upcoming team."
(on getting more production out of the tight ends) "At all the positions we're looking to complete the ball to the open receiver based on the play. A lot of times there is some play action where the tight end position is involved in the run and pass, so if they're involved in the running game, which it's been pretty effective to run the football, they're going to do the same thing in the play action game. And then there are some times on third down and normal downs where they are free release where it's about winning a one-on-one matchup and making sure their eyes are there when they're open."
(on QB Ryan Mallett getting involved on the sidelines and what his role is during the game) "We've talked about really the eyes on the sideline. You can only see so many things throughout the course of the game from a coaching standpoint or from a playing standpoint. We're all just trying to gather information as quickly as we can and relay that to everybody on the sideline before the next series so that we can take that information and really improve from series to series."
(on what makes QB Andrew Luck a special quarterback) "I think at the positon the first thing you have to be a competitor and I think it's pretty obvious watching him on tape that he's a pretty fierce competitor."
WR Andre Johnson
(on the importance of starting Thursday night's game fast) "I think a quick start is important every game, not just Thursday. We want to get out to a quick start. Hopefully we can do that. We haven't done that since the season started. Hopefully we can do that."
(on the reason for the slow starts this season) "I just think execution, you know, penalties. Simple stuff. Little things, but they play in a game. That's the thing we try to harp on a lot, just trying to eliminate those little things that eliminate us from having short third downs. When you have manageable third downs, then you're not on the field as much."
(on if he is surprised the team has continued to have slow starts this season) "Like I said, it's something we try to work on, try to eliminate. It just hasn't happened. Hopefully we can change that Thursday."
(on the offense getting better at the end of games) "I just think we kind of get into a rhythm. I just think that's like the biggest thing offensively, just getting into rhythm. When you come out on a drive, you want to convert, try to get a first down. You can kind of get into a rhythm and the offense starts to flow. When you go three and out, it doesn't really help you."
(on getting more explosive plays throughout the game on offense) "I think that comes with everybody. We have to protect the quarterback. We have to get open as wide receivers. The quarterback has to deliver the ball. As a collective group, we have to do a better job as an offense of just doing the things we need to do. Hopefully we'll have more explosive plays."
(on the challenge of playing a familiar foe in Indianapolis on a short week) "They're a good football team. We know they're a good football team, but we feel like we have a good football team also. It will be a challenge for us. Play against them twice a year; we're pretty familiar with them. We're going to go out there and give it our best shot."
(on what he's seen the Colts defense doing well this season) "I think the thing that always stood out about that defense is the speed. They're always flying around, playing very physical and they're very aggressive, so we have to be ready for that and go out there and give it our best shot."
(on approaching the 13,000 receiving mark for his career) "Like I said before, I probably won't realize it until I'm finished playing. Like I said before, it's humbling to be mentioned with those guys, but I feel like I still have a lot of football left. Once my career is over, I'll look back on that and see some of the things that I've been able to accomplish."
(on what it's like playing with RB Arian Foster when he's healthy) "I've said it before, he's probably the best running back in the game because he can affect the game in the run and the pass. You don't have a lot of running backs that can do that, but he can affect it in both ways. When he's healthy, he's great."
(on how special it will be for him to be on the field again with Reggie Wayne) "It's fun. Go against a guy who pretty much took me under his wing when we were back in school. You always want to go out there and put up better numbers then he put up. It's a lot of fun. I talk to him. I spend a lot of time with him in the offseason. It will be good to see him."
(on if they talk to each other around the game) "No. I talked to him like a couple weeks ago. We don't really talk much when we're about to play each other. I'll talk to him before the game."
(on what WR Reggie Wayne taught him at Miami) "I just think that the biggest thing when I first got there, I always thought that I worked hard and stuff until I got around him and Santana (Moss). Those guys showed me what hard work really was. They took me under the wing and they showed me the ropes. I was able to learn from him and just progressed from there."
S Kendrick Lewis
(on what has caused the takeaway increase from last year) "I can't speak on what the difference is because I wasn't here last year. I'm just happy we're all playing together, playing within the scheme to create turnovers. We give our front seven a ton of credit because those are the guys that apply the pressure and get quarterbacks in critical situations for us to make turnovers."
(on the Colts being first in the league in time of possession) "It's a big challenge. Andrew Luck, he's a great guy. He's a great quarterback who takes care of the ball and that's something that they thrive on in Indianapolis as far as time of possession. Wanting to keep their quarterback and keep their offense on the field."
(on how dangerous QB Andrew Luck is with his ability to extend plays) "He's very dangerous. He's one of the top tier quarterbacks in the league who could be dreadful from anyway. With his feet, with him throwing the ball, he believes he can make every thrown and get his playmakers the ball."
(on QB Andrew Luck being a tough quarterback to bring down) "Absolutely. You see on film that he's a guy that doesn't normally slide where you rather see other quarterbacks do. He's a guy that will lower his shoulder, so you know when we go to tackle this guy we know we have to bring it and come with it."
(on if he likes a quarterback not sliding) "Yeah absolutely. When you see a quarterback break the pocket, that's the one good time that you get a chance to get a good lick on them because when you're in the backfield he's getting down, he's taking a sack. When he breaks the pocket and tries to run and get extra yards for his team, that's a time that we try to get to him as fast as possible."
(on what he attributes the red zone turnovers to) "No. I've just been playing relentless. Just giving it all I can. Never giving up. Never saying that these guys can get points because they don't have to. So I do my best and we do our best as a team to as a defense to try and create turnovers and try to keep points off the board. It's been working in our favor."
DE J.J. Watt
(on QB Andrew Luck willing to take hits to make a play) "I think Andrew Luck is a very good quarterback. I think he's had a lot of success in his young career. I think that he's only going to get better and you can see that on film. He is a guy who like you said, is not afraid to stand in there and take a hit while delivering the ball. I think you have to respect that."
(on ways QB Andrew Luck has improved as a quarterback) "I don't know. I don't know how to judge a quarterback. I couldn't tell you. All I do is try and go get him. I literally don't know anything about how to tell how a quarterback improves."
(on if it's been harder to put pressure on QB Andrew Luck) "I think he's a good player, obviously. Like I said, I don't know too much about quarterbacks, so I don't know how reading the coverages and everything goes for them. All I can do is worry about the offensive line in front of him and try to get to him before he gets the ball off."
(on being promoted as one of the faces of the NFL) "I didn't get that memo in my locker, but if that's what they're trying to do, like I said, I always try and put on the best face possible for my family name, for our fans, for our organization, for the league. You always want to do things that will make people proud. Whatever I can do, play hard, go out there, do the right things in the community and be the type of guy that you want your kids to look up to, I think that's what you try and do every day."
(if Andrew Luck is the hardest quarterback to bring to the turf) "I'm not into ranking guys or anything like that. I think he is a strong guy. I think he's a big guy. He does a good job of using that size and strength. He's also faster than people give him credit for. He's a good overall quarterback. It makes for a good challenge."
(on what he thinks about playing on Thursday night) "I think anytime you're the only game on television and people are watching, and obviously a night game is great. The fans get excited and that is what we want. We want our fans to be excited and jacked up in our stadium. We create a great atmosphere at home, so we're looking forward to being in front of our home crowd again."
(on if there is an advantage to playing at home on Thursday night) "I mean anytime you're at home there is an advantage. Any time you're at home there is a big advantage. We really appreciate our fans for that advantage and we look forward to using that."
(on leading the league in takeaways and the Colts leading the league in time of possession) "We'll find out Thursday night. I think that their offense has obviously done a great job this year. I think they're up there near the top in nearly every offensive category. That is a testament to their team, their players and their coaching staff. That makes for a great challenge. Obviously as a defensive player you see that and you forward to the challenge and you look forward to preparation. That is one of the best parts about the game. Is coming in, watching it on film, studying it and seeing OK, what do we have to do to try and stop this."
(on the biggest difference between turnovers this year versus last year) "We're doing a great job this year. I think guys; I mean interceptions, fumbles, effort plays, sometimes to be honest with you, it's just the ball bouncing our way. That's just the way it goes sometimes. This year we've done a really good job and we need to continue to do that. I think that especially down in the red zone. We've got a few down in the red zone, which is huge because you're essentially taking points off the board."
(on how big the mental side of preparation is on a short week) "It's huge. Obviously it's a quick turnaround so you want to make sure you get your body back and get it fresh. You need to do everything that you can to try and get an edge. One of the ways you do that is extra film study, extra meeting rooms and extra times. But then you do also have to find ways to get your body prepared. It's kind of one of those things where this is one of those grind things, but that is what you have to do. You do what you have to do to get ready for the game."
(on Bill O'Brien's philosophy of resting veterans at their discretion helping out on the short week where the mental preparation is key) "I think Coach has done a good job. One of the things that he's done well is that he understands players. He understands when to push and when to back off a little bit. He's very good at that. He has a good pulse of the team that way. He does know what he is doing, and I think it has been effective so far and I think it will continue to be."