Head Coach Bill O'Brien**
(on the energy of practice) "I thought it was good."
(on what kind of challenges that QB Ben Roethlisberger provide) "Size is a big part of it. He's big. He's got a strong arm. He's played a lot of great football in this league. He's a Super Bowl winning quarterback, tough to sack, just a very difficult quarterback to go against. Our guys are working very hard for that challenge and looking forward to Monday night."
(on if he has a better feel now if OLB Jadeveon Clowney will play on Monday) "No."
(on what will OLB Jadeveon Clowney have to do to play on Monday) "That would be between me and him."
(on what it's like preparing for a guy like QB Ben Roethlisberger who has seen everything) "You have to make sure that you understand whether it's based on their personnel, their formations, doing your job within the call that is made. So when RAC (Romeo Crennel) makes the call, our guys have to do our jobs whatever that call entails. Maybe that call entails this pressure or this coverage or this type of leverage. Whatever it might be, our guys have to realize that when you get caught out of position, when you're not doing your job that is when a guy like this, like Ben, makes you pay because he'll find that. He'll find that soft spot and make you pay. Our guys just need to go out there and make sure they're really focused and doing their job one every play."
(on what are the things defensively that need to be done to limit big plays) "I think it all ties in together. I think one of the things we need to do is make sure we're staying in our rush lanes. That we're understanding our fits as far as our rush lanes go because pass rush ties into that. When a guy has a lot of time to throw the ball down the field, a lot of times he'll find the open guy. On the deep ball, we need to play the deep ball better both from a corner perspective and from a safety perspective. We just need to play the deep ball better overall. And then there are certain things that we can do coaching wise that can be better. It kind of all ties in together. Not to give you a long winded answer, but that's the way it is."
(on what goes into improving tackling) "You have to make sure that guys are taking the proper angles. There is a lot of different types tackles. There is the straight-on tackle. There is the two-man tackle where they're both converging on a ball carrier. There is the angle tackle where they can use the sideline. There is the open field tackle when it's just one on one, say on a punt or kickoff, something like that. So we try to simulate all those types of tackles throughout the week in practice, coach it up on the field, watch it on film, go back and do it again the next day and just keep teaching guys about what the proper angle is, what the type of tackle it is and how they can improve on their own tackling technique."
(on how much did it help having 11 days between games) "You certainly have the extra day, maybe two days. The thing that you have there too I believe, only time will tell, but you have the ability to correct mistakes from the previous games. Before you move on to Pittsburgh, let's take care of our own house, and I think we did that. We got some things cleaned up communication wise and things like that. Our guys are really tuned in. It's just like I said a million times: fantastic group of guys to work with. They want to win. They want to do well. They want to work together. Then we went out there today and I felt we had a good energy at practice and we just need to keep that up throughout the rest of the week."
(on if there is any challenges having 11 days between games) "There are challenges every week. There really is. There are challenges every week, but that is what this league is about. This is the highest level of competition in football. Every single week, every single day there is the challenge of who you're going up against both from the personnel standpoint, both from the scheme standpoint, maybe some different roster management that you have to deal with on your roster. Every day in this league is a challenge. That's what makes it fun. That's what it's all about. Who can overcome those challenges and who can meet them and keep getting better and win?"
(on if matters who is catching the ball or if he wants to get the tight ends involved more) "Number one thing is that we win, that we move the ball and we score touchdowns. That's number one. But in our offense, we would certainly like to have the tight ends involved, no doubt about it. Each gameplan is a little bit different. Some games call more for more running, some games call for more throws to the receivers, and some games call for more throws to the tight ends. I think that has something to do with it. Again, the other night we just didn't have enough plays. We only ran 61 plays so we have to get more plays. The more plays you have—if you run 80 plays, more guys are going to have opportunities to catch the ball. But at the end of the day you have to look at winning and losing. That's number one, and scoring points; that's big."
(on if not getting the tight ends involved more a big concern) "No. It's just something we have to make sure—our biggest deal is we've got to get into a rhythm offensively. We've got to get the first down, string some plays together, get into a rhythm. That is what we have to do. All of that will fall into place I believe."
(on there not being a shortage of opportunities within the offensive system for tight ends) "No question about that. I think that's been proven over time. That's been proven over time. I think in one year the tight end position in this system had probably 160 catches. I don't know how many touchdowns. I think that's kind of a moot point."
(on if there is anything about RB Arian Foster that is surprising him) "From the first day I started working with him I'd tell you, this guy, he's just such a talented guy in a lot of different areas. He's obviously a really good runner. He's got great vision, great balance, body control. He's big, so he's a strong runner. He's able to run through arm tackles. He's really good in the passing game. He's got good hands. He's got really good instincts against the different coverages that he sees and he's a good pass protector. Just like all of our players, Arian needs to just be more consistent. All of us, coaches and players, we just need to try and do the best we can to be more consistent every single play every day. And I know that is what he's work toward. Nothing he does surprising me."
(on if he had any preconceived notions regarding the type of player DE J.J. Watt was before he became head coach) "Well, it's certainly working with him than watching him from afar. That's for sure. I was in college when he came into the league, so I wasn't watching him too closely. Then obviously when I came here; I mean, you know, like I said the other day, there is not too much you can say about this guy. He affects the game just about on every play. Whether it's schematically or with some play that he makes, a batted ball, a sack, a turnover, whatever it is, this guy has a great knack for going to the ball. Getting to the ball, making plays on the ball and like I've said a bunch of times, he's an even better teammate. He's a better guy. He's just a great guy to have in the organization and on our team."
(on if DE J.J. Watt lobbies for more snaps on offense) "No, no. He never lobbies. He doesn't do that. There are other guys that lobby for things, but he's not a lobbyist."
(on DE J.J. Watt saying he stopped lobbying for snaps on offense because it didn't work) "He would not fit in well in Washington, D.C. as a lobbyist, if that makes sense."
(on if there is any chance he could give DE J.J. Watt carries) "Running back? You never know. You just never know. We have a 46-man roster. You might see Arian Foster at safety. You might see J.J. Watt at running back. You may see Andre Johnson at linebacker. You never know. You're just trying to make the most of your 46-man roster."
(on his philosophy on calling play action plays) "It depends on what you've done going into that game. So that's part of it. What have they seen going into the game? And then it depends on during the game what you're doing during the game. Like, how do you see this game going? Are they having trouble stopping this play or that play and does that set up another type of play? So there is a lot of different thought processes that go into that and part of that is before the game starts and part of it is when the game is going on."
Quarterbacks Coach George Godsey
(on the tight ends not contributing on the stat sheet) "I think that we go through the practice each week, we have our plays designed for each unit and ultimately it is about getting to those plays. It all comes down to the same thing is really starting the game in phase, fluidly how we want to play the game and eventually we'll come around to those plays."
(on getting better starts to games being the solution to the offense's problems) "I think so. I think one of the things we're focused on this week is just play our best football when we start the game and play our best football when we end the game. I think we'll find ourselves in a little better situation."
(on how hard is QB Tom Savage working through the first six weeks of the season) "I think that as a first-year quarterback that it's not just the hours that we're really required to be here in the building. You have to put your time in and you have to really study other tape, too. You have to study other quarterbacks. You have to study other defenses. Each day you try to crawl your way up the ladder and find yourself in a position where things happen a lot quicker for you back there because the picture changes drastically within the ball being snapped."
(on if it's tough for QB Tom Savage to learn the Texans' offense when serving as the scout team quarterback each week) "That's part of his development. He's going against some guys that are providing a good rush out there in practice. Defense that's had a lot of takeaways in games and I think that's something where he's able to get that experience in practice where hopefully it can hopefully transfer to game time when it's a live rep."
(on if helps to have the tight ends contributing in the short passing game) "I think that anybody within the formation where they can catch and run the ball or maybe they can break open quickly and it's the shortest distance to the quarterback allows an easier throw. I think that's part of the equation that goes into really moving the ball."
(on the problems leading to the slow starts) "Each week is different. This week's problems were different then maybe the previous weeks. We're just trying to eliminate any issue that starts a game whether it's in the running game, in the drop back pass, completing the ball or whether it's a protection issue. When you look back at the games, not to dwell on the past, but it's been an issue really; it's one thing throughout the phase, which offense is about everybody working together. If that's not working, you're not going to have any yards."
(on if not getting into rhythm early is a problem) "I don't think we want to get into a position where we got into last game anytime throughout the year."
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
(on if he's surprised that the tight ends haven't been utilized more) "I think if you look at our team, it's a good problem but only so many balls go around when you've got guys on the outside like Andre (Johnson) and DeAndre (Hopkins) and the way Arian (Foster) catches the ball. In terms of trying to get those guys their touches, I think it's been more of that than anything because we like our tight ends. I really like throwing to them in the passing game. It will be a week-by-week thing in terms of their involvement I think."
(on the secret to Dick LeBeau's defensive success) "I think they've always got great players over there and players that really know his scheme inside and out. They do a lot of different things, but they know all of them well in terms of the different zone blitzes and who's coming and who's not and the responsibilities. And so they really keep you off balance as an offense. I think just like every year, again this year, they're very physical front, and you know with 43 (Troy Polamalu) flying around back there you've got to know where he is on every snap."
(on if he sees similarities between Romeo Crennel and Dick LeBeau's 3-4 defenses) "Yeah, with the base, the base 3-4 stuff. They do a lot of different things. I think varying philosophies and sub-defense and the third downs with the pressures and things. I think they're a little bit different, but I think if you look at the very basics of their defenses that they're very similar."
(on what stands out to that the offense needs to do this week) "I think staying on the field is the biggest thing for us. Stringing drives together, you always love the explosive plays and I'm not saying we want to avoid those, I'm saying we want to be able to string together some first downs, some good drives, keep the defense off the field and control the tempo, go at whatever pace we want to go at, all those things. I think that will be a big key for us this week."
(on the types of looks Pittsburgh's defense gives) "They've got their basics of what they want to do as a defense and they've got it down. They run it and they've done it successfully for a lot of years. I think it's—you don't necessarily know what's coming on every play, but in terms of the looks, you can kind of prepare for all of them and then on the fly you have to be able to adjust."
(on why the team plays well when their backs are against the wall) "I think the veteran group of guys, I think the whole don't flinch mentally, don't get too high, don't get too low. I think we have a lot of guys that have been in situations like that before. We've got enough playmakers that we know eventually we're going to make the plays. It's just a matter of being consistent with it and doing it all game long."
(on if the team has done anything to address the slow starts) "Just putting more of an emphasis on it. I promise we want to do well on every series and every series and every play. Just trying to put more of an emphasis on it and trying to start every drill whether it's a ball security drill or a team period, just trying to start every drill everybody on the same page and doing everything right."
(on if he's been on a team that has started slow before and how they were able to get out of that habit) "I'm sure I have. Every week it's something else that pops up. You can't just put your finger on one thing in terms of why we haven't started well, why we haven't played well in the first quarter the last few weeks. It is just something that we've looked at and are focusing on. I think that's all you can really do is just mentally making sure we're ready to go, making sure we have the right mindset on the first few plays and just going out and executing."
(on if Bill O'Brien takes a lot of input from him in scripting the plays) "We've got a lot of back and forth throughout the week in terms of plays that I'm comfortable with versus one's that I'm not. Just the back and forth of situations, what we're thinking about calling here and why. A lot of that happens today, tomorrow, Friday and even Saturday. Talking about the different situations and what I like and don't like and what's going to come up."
(on the toughest part of playing in Heinz Field) "It's a great place to play just in terms of the energy, the noise, the Terrible Towels, especially to be on a Monday night. I just think as players on Monday night, having all eyes on you and everybody watching that's a big thing for a lot of these guys just in terms of performing well in front of your peers."
(on what he would like to show the nation besides winning the game) "I really don't care much about the opinion. I think I just want to show the guys in the locker room that they can count on. That's my thing every week. To go out there and let those guys that I'm playing with that they can count on me every snap whether it's the beginning of the game, middle of the game or a two minute drive at the end of the game and just go out there and be productive all game long."
DE J.J. Watt
(on the strengths of QB Ben Roethlisberger) "He's a very good quarterback. He's obviously a bigger guy, which makes him a little bit more difficult to tackle. He's been in this league a long time. He's had success in this league, so he knows what it takes to be successful. That makes him a great challenge."
(on limiting the big plays opponent offenses have been able to get) "We would like to limit those. Obviously up front, we need to get after the passer. That's what I can control in my group. We need to get after the passer, we need to be sound in our coverages in what we do and put pressure on guys, and obviously we knock out some of those plays and it'll be a big help."
(on if it concerns him the team hasn't had more success rushing the passer) "Yeah, I mean we always want to put as much pressure on the quarterback as possible. Of course. I always want more pressure on the quarterback and that's my job. So yeah, put that on me."
(on how much a boost he expects OLB Jadeveon Clowney to give if he returns this week from injury) "We'll see. We haven't had him all season long, so you know, you don't really know what kind of shape a guy is in and things like that. Obviously we'd love to have all of our players out there and healthy and ready to go, but we'll see."
(on Mike Tomlin saying he sees 'Player of the Year fireworks' from him) "He's a very good football coach, so obviously I appreciate any kind words he has to say, and those are very kind words. I respect him a lot and I respect their organization and everything that they've been able to do. Like I've kind of said all along; I go out there and I try and be the best player I can be and put the best tape out there and work as hard as I can, and then let people say what they want. People who have been in the league a long time and people that have had success in this league are peoples' opinions that I respect, so I'm very appreciative of that."
(on if he has the expectations to the be player of the year) "I've always said that, what I believe is, especially as I go on and I mature throughout my career, I'm going to work as hard as I can in the film room, in the weight room, on the practice field and then go out on game day and try and be the best player I can be. Awards and honors and things like that, those are people's opinions. If they think highly enough of me to give me those things, then I'll accept them gladly. But I'm not going to beat myself over it if I don't get it because I know I did everything that I could do. I can't control what a voter thinks. I can't control what a media member thinks and how they write. All I can do is control how hard I work and how much I can contribute to the game. And then everyone can decide if I'm good enough to get those awards."
(on if he still feels there is a Steelers' mystique) "I think there is a lot of respect for the Steelers organization and the city of Pittsburgh and the history that they have. Of course, any time you have a program with that many Super Bowls and they've been that successful for that long, you have to have respect. You definitely go in there understanding what they're about and how much that city cares about their team. As a player, you love that. It doesn't matter if they're for you or against you. You love that passion about what they do. You have to respect that."
(on if he has a feel for the Houston Oilers-Pittsburgh Steelers rivalry) "A little bit, but I definitely can't say I'm up to snuff on it."
(on having 11 days off between games) "My body likes it a whole lot better. I can tell you that. It definitely, from a body standpoint, it helps a lot because you get a chance to get your legs back under you, you get a chance to rest up, take care of any little things and bruises that you had, and then obviously from a mental standpoint you get a couple extra days to watch film and to learn and to practice out on the field. It's going to be very good for us."
(on going against a quarterback like QB Ben Roethlisberger who has seen everything) "I think provides a great challenge. At the end of the day you go out there and play your game and you do what you can do, but I think any time you go against a quarterback who's had success in this league and who knows what it takes to be successful, obviously it's a great challenge and you look forward to that opportunity."
(on if it helps going against quarterbacks in consecutive games who have big bodies) "Obviously two very good quarterbacks. There are some differences there and some similarities there, but I think any time you're going against a good quarterback it's a great challenge and it's an opportunity for you to show what you got."
(on if it taking praise takes getting used to) "Yeah, I guess. It's pretty neat I think. Like I've said, I'm just a kid from Wisconsin who happens to be good at a game. I try to work as hard as I can to be good at this game. It's very cool for me to see what's happened since, but I also understand how much hard work goes into it and how much sacrifice that it takes. It's very cool to see all of that pay off. At the end of the day if you have told 10 year old me that NFL coaches would be saying things like that, I think he'd be pretty darn surprised."
(on if anyone in his life keeps him grounded) "I turn myself off when I see it on TV. There are plenty of people. There are plenty of people in my life that keep me grounded: my family, my friends. I keep a very, very small circle of family and friends. It's very, very tight knit and it's a small number because those are the people that I can trust and those are the people that I know are with me whether I'm an NFL player or not. And so they always tell me the truth and they'll always shoot me straight, and I'm very appreciate of that. And so, of course, there are plenty of times where guys will bust my chops. But then they'll also tell me when I'm doing good or when they're proud of me. I think that will always be the most important thing in the world to me. Doesn't matter what any newspaper says, doesn't matter what any media outlet says, when my friends and family are proud of me that's really what matters the most to me."
(on what he enjoyed from his experience at the Texas A&M-Ole Miss game on Saturday) "It was cool. It was neat. I don't get to see many college football games, especially since I've been in the League. I haven't really been anywhere outside of Madison (Wisc.), so it's really neat to see that experience. Obviously I was hoping for a little bit better football game to watch, but (Shane) Lechler showed me around. It was really neat for him to show me his old grounds and to watch him go into the new stadium and see him explain how different it is than the old place. It was a really neat experience. Obviously, like I said, hoped for a little bit better game, but I appreciated Coach (Kevin) Sumlin and all their hospitality and everything. The Texas A&M fans treated me very, very well, so I'm very thankful for how gracious and how accepting they are."