HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN**
Last year, you went on two three-game winning streaks after big losses. Does that experience help players bounce back from the game vs. New England on Thursday?
“Again, I think it goes back to what I’ve been saying all week to you: every week is a different season. That’s the job of an NFL football player. It’s important to turn the page and move on to the next game, win or lose. No matter what happens, no matter what happens. It’s a different opponent. It’s a whole different scheme. Everything about it is different. It’s a different time of the game. I mean, there’s nothing that this game entails that has anything to do with any other game.”
What have you seen from your team in the red zone so far this season?
“We haven’t been there enough. That’s what I see as a common thread. We haven’t been in the red zone.”
How is WR Braxton Miller doing?
“He’s doing okay. Not for this week, won’t play this week.”
How does DE Joel Heath fit in with this team and how has he been progressing?
“Good young player that’s a tough guy. Well-coached out of Michigan State. He’s progressing well.”
Is DE Joel Heath going to be involved in the defensive plan?
“Absolutely, absolutely. He has a chance to be involved, yeah.”
What do you see when you look at the Titans rushing attack and how can you guys get better running the football?
“They’re doing a great job running the ball. They’re a downhill running team. He’s (DeMarco Murray) doing an excellent job. He’s running hard. He breaks tackles. He’s got good vision. He’s an excellent running back. Look, we’ve got to be more consistent with our running game. At times, it’s looked good and at other times it hasn’t. It’s all about consistency.”
What jumps out to you about Titans OLB Brian Orakpo?
“He’s very good. He’s athletic. He’s relentless, smart. He’s a really good pass rusher. They move him around a lot, so it’s very difficult on an offense.”
Does DE Jurrell Casey provide a challenge upfront?
“Absolutely. Jurrell Casey is one of the best players we will play all year. He’s an excellent player. They move him around a lot. He does a lot of different things on the interior of the line. He plays end. He plays over the guards. He plays over the center. He’s an excellent player.”
How would you assess the Texans special teams play and what needs to happen to improve?
“It hasn’t been very good, so hopefully it gets better.”
What can you do to improve the special teams?
“We have to tackle better. We have to block better. We have to handle the ball better. We have to kick better. We have to hold for PATs better. We have to snap better. We’ve got a lot of things we have to do better.”
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR GEORGE GODSEY
What are some of the issues in the red zone?
“I think it’s been some negative plays down there that have really killed the drive. Then you start to regroup and it’s just not enough to put the ball in the end zone. For us, it’s doing everything better. It’s coaching better. It’s executing better. As a unit, that’s been our battle cry this week.”
Why do you think some of the young quarterbacks are playing so well at the position so early in their careers?
“I think just from our individual standpoint - just that’s really what my concern is. From playing to coaching, I think it’s a bridge between both of them. I think that we got to do a better job putting the guys in the right position and then from their standpoint, whether it’s a bad situation they’re in, just not making it worse with a turnover and/or executing whatever is there from an offensive standpoint."
What are some of the things Texans QB Brock Osweiler can do to throw less interceptions and have a higher percentage?
“I think when we start the game, it’s taking a profit if it’s there and if it’s not there, throwing it away. We got another down. Certainly we want to be aggressive with the ball in our hands but obviously ball security is the number one priority.”
How have you seen WR Will Fuller V develop and what are you looking for that you haven’t seen so far?
“There’s some things to correct each week with Will. He’s a rookie. He’s definitely putting his time in. He’s definitely learning from the veterans. He’s learning from the coaching every day in practice. There’s some things today that he can get better on. He’s a very astute player. He’s on top of his mistakes and he writes his notes down and he looks to correct those the next day. The more you play, the better you get or the more consistent you play and really that’s kind of where we’re at with him.”
You said to have long runs everybody has to block. How would you describe your wide receivers’ contribution to the running game?
“That’s a part of it. Certainly there’s a bunch of different combinations of coverages that some of the new guys are seeing out there for the first time. From their standpoint it’s recognizing the personnel, whether it’s safeties, linebackers, DBs that are in a linebacker position and making sure that they’re putting the hats on the right people. It’s also communication from inside out. Is the line responsible for those safeties? That always has to improve and the running game is an 11-man project out there. It’s not only just the line but the quarterback directing the receivers and also the receivers doing their responsibility, what they’re taught.”
How do you assess the offensive line and are they making progress?
“Offensive line play is all about cohesion, being on the same page, stepping with the right - whether it’s foot or feet depending on what the particular block is. As a group, it’s going to get better each week and it has to. Part of the deal is running the football. The double teams, the individual blocks, maintaining their lane, whatever gap they’re responsible for. The technique is essentially the number one thing.”
Is RB Lamar Miller as effective between the tackles as you thought he would be?
“He does a nice job of, if there’s nothing inside the tackles, breaking it to the outside. He’s had plenty of those runs. Then it’s a matter of sustaining the blocks, both on the perimeter and inside.”
T DUANE BROWN
What’s your availability for Sunday’s game?
“Not sure yet. We’re still trying to figure that out. Like I said, yesterday was a great day, today was even better. It’s a possibility but not etched in stone yet.”
Is it something that could be a game-time decision?
“Yeah, I think so. That’s how we’re probably playing it.”
You mentioned about getting a cadence down with Texans QB Brock Osweiler and the offensive line. How is that going?
“It’s going great. It’s something I’ve been doing for a long time so it’s not anything that I’m new to. I haven’t played since January. It has all come back fairly quickly. This week has been very great for me and just very encouraging.”
What does it mean to you that Texans QB Brock Osweiler referred to you as a brick wall at the left tackle spot?
“I appreciate that. I work hard at my craft. I just try to make sure the quarterback is comfortable back there. So, when I have the opportunity to protect him, I’m looking forward to it.”
How pleased are you with how your body has felt after successive days of practice?
“Very pleased, man. I don’t take any of these days for granted. Just being able to get back there with my guys and do what I love to do, it feels amazing. I haven’t really had any hiccups along the way. Everything has kind of come back pretty quickly. Still rusty, but that’s to be expected. For the most part it’s been pretty pain-free.”
Even though you lost Texans DE J.J. Watt, you guys have you and ILB Brian Cushing working your way back, so there are some positives.
“Yeah. We have a lot of talent on this team. Again, the loss of someone of his caliber, it’s a big blow, but we have a lot of guys on this team that can lead, we have a lot of guys on this team that can play at a high level. Guys on the defense will do a great job of picking up what he leaves. Us on the offensive end, we have to do our job regardless. We’ll just keep going. Next man up. We added a new piece with Antonio (Smith), who I think can bring some good things to the table.”
What kind of life does DE Antonio Smith bring to a locker room?
“He’s a character, man. He has a lot of personality, great leadership, has played a lot of ball in this league, has a Super Bowl ring, so he knows what it takes to get there. I’m looking forward to having him out there.”
WR WILL FULLER V
Did the Patriots do anything in particular on defense to slow you down?
“I don’t know. I’m not worried about that game anymore. We’re focused on the Titans now, so I’m just trying to continue to focus on the Titans and not talk about last game.”
How meaningful is it that people are taking notice of your play?
“I’m going to keep doing my job as my coaches are asking me. Whatever comes with that, I’m going to keep doing what they ask of me.”
What do you see from the Titans secondary on tape?
“They’re really physical. They like to bump and run you.”
How have things changed since the first game for you?
“Nothing’s changed for me. I’m just going to continue to do my job and what the coaches ask of me. I don’t look at anything as changing. I’m just going to continue to do what I’ve been doing.”
Has anything changed mentally for you?
“No. Just a new week, new opponent. Just have to get adjusted to the Titans now. Next week, whoever our opponent is, I’ll have to get adjusted to next week.”
Have you surprised yourself in any way?
“No, not at all.”
Was it the strength of the Titans defense?
“Just how physical they are. Like I said, they like to bump and run, so I’m going to have to get off their press.”
Teammates and coaches say you’re very diligent when you take notes in meetings. What sorts of things do you write down?
“I write down everything I can. I think if you write it down, you remember it better so every little tip I get, I write it down.”
Is that an element of being fresh out of school?
Does it feel like you are still in school some times?
“Oh no, not at all. This is football. Football has always been different from class. Note taking is just something that you have to have to learn fast.”
Do you take time to study and go over your notes?
“We have a lot of meeting time. It’s just how good you take it in. Like I said, taking notes has helped me a lot.”
ILB BENARDRICK MCKINNEY
Texans NT Vince Wilfork said division games count double, so you don’t want to let one slip away, especially at home.
“Yeah, it’s a division game. To me, I know the other players, we treat every game like it’s a division game because every game counts. We want to win every game. We’re just going to go out there, play hard, play defense and don’t look at the scoreboard, just fly around, just have fun.”
Does it help you that you just played against a mobile quarterback like Patriots QB Jacoby Brissett? Titans QB Marcus Mariota can run.
“Yeah, Mariota, he’s a fast quarterback, he can escape the pocket. But, I mean, we’re just going to do our job. We have great defensive linemen, great outside linebackers. If everyone on defense does their job, we should be good.”
How do you prepare for the rushing attack you guys are about to face?
“Just doing our job and just being dominant.”
Does it change at all because they have two guys who are really good back there?
“No, it really doesn’t. It’s the NFL. We face a lot of great players. If we just do our job, be in our gaps, just have fun, we should be all right.”
How much does your job change when you have a guy who can hurt you with his legs like Titans QB Marcus Mariota can?
“The coaches do a great job scheming every offense we play. If we do what they tell us to do and just have fun, play Texans defense, we should be good.”
How do you guys continue to play well with Texans DE J.J. Watt out?
“We’re just going to fly around and just have fun. Like I was just saying, we have great coaches. They do a great job of getting us ready for the game. We have great defensive players who do a great job of trying to compete every day. Like I said, we’re not going to look at the scoreboard, we’re just going to have fun, play every down, bad or good, we’re just going to move on to the next play and just have fun.”
How do you guys feel that the run defense has been so far this season?
“I mean, there’s always room for improvement. Nobody’s perfect. We just look at film, watch film and try to correct what we messed up on the next day and just try to do better.”
OLB WHITNEY MERCILUS
Titans T Taylor Lewan talked about your performance against them last season. What are your thoughts on that matchup and what you did in those games?
“That was probably one of my best games. I came out ready to play and that was about it. Just coming out with a bad attitude and just going out there and making plays for my team to win. That was great, but that’s last year. Different story this year. We’ll see what happens. Make a game plan and we’ll see where that goes.”
Do you feel any extra pressure to step up with DE J.J. Watt out?
“No. I don’t even know where the pressure is coming from, honestly. If somebody goes down, it’s just the next man up. We’ve got guys who can make plays all around on the defense. We’ll go out there, do our best and make sure we win this game.”
Is the expectation for this defense still really high without DE J.J. Watt?
“Yeah, of course. Our expectation is always high, no matter who is on the defense. Coaches are going to put the guys who they trust out there to go out there and do the best they can to win for this team.”
Is the defense hoping to have no drop off with DE J.J. Watt out?
“Of course. He’s a great athlete, no doubt. He does a lot of wonderful things for this defense, but like I said, it’s next man up. Next guy who replaces J.J. is going to do a great job. Everybody is going to do a great job on the defense.”
Can you explain to us what you look for on tape when you prepare for a game?
“If I’m going against either Taylor Lewan or (Jack) Conklin, pretty much I’m just looking at their sets, how they use their hands, how they use their feet. Athletic or not athletic? Things like that. Things like chips, are they going to use those? Pretty much throughout the week, we game plan for that with our third down packages and first down packages as well.”
What are the challenges that Titans QB Marcus Mariota present?
“Dual-threat quarterback. Somebody who can hurt you with his feet. The guy can run. If he gets out of the pocket, he can break off about 10-15 yards easy. You have to be conscious of that.”
Is the Titans offense different with their new backfield?
“Yeah, definitely. Dual-threat in the backfield, with (Derrick) Henry and (DeMarco) Murray. We’ve got to be able to stop the run, that’s the biggest thing.”
How anxious are you to get back on the field after Thursday night’s loss to the Patriots?
“Honestly, we can’t even think about it. We just have to continue to focus on our opponent and just try to win these games. That’s all it is. Can’t get distracted.”
RB LAMAR MILLER
How close are you guys to getting the running game going and what needs to happen?
“I think we’re very close. I think I have to do a good job at the second level, making guys miss. We just have to be more consistent on the offensive side of the ball in general. But the time will come. We’re just getting better every day and trying to take it to the game.”
Obviously getting the running game going takes everybody working together, but do feel like some of that is on your shoulders to make it work?
“I mean, me as a running back, I feel like I have to make the offensive line right. But at times, I feel like I have to be more decisive running the ball. I’m just trying to get a feel for the offensive line, but we’re getting better. I feel like we’re getting better every day.”
Is it decisiveness between the tackles or are you talking about making a cut to get outside?
“I’m talking about in general just me running the ball. I feel like sometimes I’m too patient, just so the hole can develop. Once I see a little crease, I just have to hit it and just get those tough three or four yards.”
So when you watch the game film you can see yards that you’ve left on the field?
“Yeah, pretty much. I could just say sometimes I am too patient. Sometimes when I get like one yard, if I just hit the hole I’d probably get three or four yards. Sometimes I am a little bit too patient, and I just have to be more decisive.”
So the goal going forward is to try to be a little more aggressive?
“Yeah, pretty much. Just be aggressive. The home run is not going to always be there. Just have to take two or three yards and just pound the defense. The big ones will come.”
Texans G Jeff Allen was telling us that they know if they give you a few creases you can go 20 or 40 yards. How good does it feel to know the kind of faith the offensive line has in you?
“It feels good. Just trusting the offensive line, knowing that they will do their job. Once they give me that crease I have to take advantage of it and just make big plays.”
You know you’re going to get the opportunities.
“Yes. That feels good, knowing that you’ll get the opportunity. Once I get my opportunity, I have to make the most of all my opportunities and just make plays.”
Have you put that Patriots game behind you?
“Yes, of course. We have to take it one game at a time. It’s a long season. We can’t let the Patriots game beat us twice. Everybody just has to come out, do their assignments and just play fast and make plays when their number is called.”
When you see Titans RB DeMarco Murray on the other side, does that get you revved up?
“Yes, of course. When you see other running backs making big plays, as a competitor it’s going to always make you want to outperform the other guy across from you. Regardless, I’m going to go out and play my game, play fast and try to make plays when my number is called.”
Is the loss of Texans DE J.J. Watt felt on the offense as well?
“I mean, the offensive side of the ball, we have to go out there and make plays. J.J., he’s not an offensive player, so, regardless, we have to go out there and make plays when our number is called.”
NT VINCE WILFORK
Is there any reason why this defense can’t continue to play the way it’s been playing the last three weeks and the end last year?
“I mean, we pride ourselves on playing good defense so we’re not going to stop. We’re playing a Tennessee team that’s been close in all the games they’ve played. They have an explosive offense. Weapons everywhere – tight end position, offensive line is big and physical, two running backs, the quarterback can hurt you with his arm and on the ground. We have our hands full. That’s the one thing that we’re focusing on right now, is how we can slow down this offense. It’s going to be a tough battle for us but that’s why you play the game, for battles like this, a division game, we being at home. Hopefully we can put together practices well and play well.”
Did you have a chance to talk to Texans DE J.J. Watt this week?
“No. Not yet.”
How do you move on from last week’s game?
“I mean, the past is the past. It’s a division game so we can’t be stuck in the past, I’ll tell you that. Not in this game. You stick in the past, you’re going to stay in the past. It’s not good for anyone. We understand what’s at stake for us in the division and at home. We have some things working for us but we just have to play well and execute. That’s the biggest goal of ours.”
Does Titans QB Marcus Mariota remind you of anyone?
“He has legs. I try not to compare guys that I’ve played against but he’s special. Like I said, he has a strong arm and also can hurt you on the ground running the ball. We have our hands full. We definitely have our hands full with this offense coming to town. Speaking of good defense, they have a pretty good defense themselves. We have a good football team in the division. We know we have to play well to be able to beat them. We definitely know that. We have to just keep focused on the practice field, and hopefully Sunday it will pay off for us. It’s going to be a tough game for us, a tough matchup. Division games are always like that. You can’t have anything distracting you from what’s at stake, and that’s winning at home against a divisional opponent.”
Did you have a chance to talk to Texans DE J.J. Watt this week?
How do you move on from the news of Texans DE J.J. Watt’s injury?
“The ball’s going to continue to roll no matter how you slice it. I’ve been around the game for a long time. I’ve played with some great teammates that I’ve lost through the course of the year. It’s just another road we have to cross. It’s the next man up, so that’s how we’ll approach it.”
Have you had a chance to talk to Texans DE Antonio Smith and do you remember him from when he was with the Texans before?
“Yes, I have. We talked before, actually, after a game here when I was playing in New England. So I have a little history with him, being an old head, a veteran. I think he’s going to add a lot of depth. Coming back and playing in Houston, I think the fans are going to be excited about that. I know I’m excited about it. He’s a hell of a player, a great teammate and a good person. I’m looking forward to playing with him.”
Any time we ask a player about Texans DE Antonio Smith it brings a smile to their face. Is that because of his personality?
“Yeah. I mean, you know what? You can tell a lot about people’s personality. The way he plays this game, he always plays with a chip. He has the right mindset to win. I think the more people that we have on this team like that, the better this team will be. I’m glad he’s on board and hopefully, like I said, we can get him up to speed quickly because we’re going to depend on him. We brought him here for a reason. I think he’s a good, good pickup for us at this time and hopefully it will show come Sunday. I’m very excited about playing with him. Just like I said, I like to play with guys with the right mindset, and he has the right mindset.”
What will it say about this team the way it responds on Sunday after last week’s game?
“Like I said, we’re moving forward. Last week is last week. We have to respond with a win. Everybody plays this game to win. That’s the most important thing of all of this, is to win. Any time you don’t win, you failed somewhere, so you have to figure it out. That’s what practices are for. You get a chance to line up and play again the following week. That’s where we’re at right now. How can we fix a lot of things? Win. Winning takes care of a lot. That’s what we’re going to try to do.”