HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
What is the status of WR Keke Coutee?
“I think he’s got a shot. He’s practiced, and he’s been practicing for a couple weeks now, so we’ll see. I think it will be closer to game time for us to make that decision, but like I always say, he’s trending in the right direction.”
If WR Keke Coutee is able to play, what do you expect from him after his long layoff?
“Production. No doubt.”
Have you had to adjust things because of the youth at that position with the injuries you’ve had this season?
“Yeah, I mean, I think that’s one of the things that we’ve done a decent job of. We’ve had a good group there at the receiver position, so when Will (Fuller V) was injured, obviously, we made the trade for DT (Demaryius Thomas) and that was very good. Then, when DT was injured, Vyncint Smith’s been improving in practice, we got Stevie Mitchell (Jr.), like I just said, Keke (Coutee) looks like he’s trending in the right direction, DeAndre Carter was a good pickup. So, I think we have a good balanced position there of outside guys, slots guys that can do both. I think it’s been good at that position.”
When you have three tight ends like you do, how do you decide who plays what and where?
“It’s all about their skillset. Some of them are better blockers, some of them are little bit better in the passing game, maybe not as good of blockers, and a couple of them can do both. So, you just decide based on the play and who they have to block, or who they have to run a route against, what you think you might see out there, is it going to be base defense, substituted defense. There’s a lot of factors that go into what you’re asking them to do.”
How do you think WR DeAndre Hopkins’ leadership has helped the younger receivers this season?
“Oh yeah, I think that’s a big deal. I think that especially his gameday, the way he performs on gameday. They see him go out there and he wants the ball and he plays with great confidence and he’s just such a competitor. So, I think that’s where he leads the best, is right there when – he leads by example. Hop’s not a big talker, he leads by example and I think gameday’s the best example of that.”
What are your thoughts on what K Ka’imi Fairbairn has been able to do?
“Yeah, Special Teams Player of the Month. He’s the leading scorer in the NFL. I’m not sure why he didn’t make the Pro Bowl. I have no idea, but whatever. You know my thoughts on the Pro Bowl. I mean, I think it’s great for the guys that did make it, but Ka’imi’s done a great job. He’s a very valuable guy on our team. He’s one of our best players. He can make all the kicks. He’s come up big for us in the field goal, obviously, part of it, but also in the kickoffs. When we’ve asked him to direct kickoffs and do things like that, he’s done a great job. Very talented guy and a great guy.”
P Trevor Daniel is fourth in the league in punts inside the 20-yard line. What has he meant to the team this season?
“Which I think that’s one of things he’s done really well, especially in the last game. He put that one out at the three, and then Baddy (Johnson Bademosi) downed one at the seven. He’s done a very good job of placing the ball inside the 10- yard line. I think at other times, like any rookie, he’s had his consistency issues, but I think he’s a very talented guy, really strong leg, another great guy and he’s really worked hard to improve, but he’s done a good job for the most part of helping us play field-position football by placing those punts inside the ten.”
What does your defense have to do to successfully play zone against the Colts offense?
“Every zone becomes a match principle at some point in time when the route declares itself. It’s not like guys are just floating around in zone. They have to match a route. We have to match the routes better. We’ve got to mix it up, we’ve got to combine the rush. We’ve got to do a better job with the rush than we did the last time. We just have to execute and coach better than we did in the second game.”
What makes Colts DT/DE Denico Autry so tough to block?
“Very hard guy to deal with inside. Inside pass rusher. Very explosive guy. They line him up in different spots. He could be a shade, he could be a two-eye, he could be a three-technique. He’s a tough matchup inside. He’s a very aggressive player. Plays with great energy. He’s a tough matchup for any team. He’s very good also at blocking field goals. Does a good job there, too. I think he has two.”
How did it come about that you knew DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney could be effective lined up in the middle of the formation?
“He’s been here for five years. We’re always evaluating our players. I think early on we knew he could be a disruptive guy at different spots along the front, if that makes sense. You could move him around. There was a time here where we played him inside. He was a defensive lineman a couple of years ago when J.J. was out. He plays outside linebacker. That’s where he plays quite a bit of the time, but he’s also a guy that plays at the second level and moves around and we give him some freedom. He’s a very instinctive player. Sometimes he just kind of picks and chooses where he wants to go and I think that’s difficult to handle. He’s a smart guy, he knows what he’s seeing out there. Are there times where he could execute better and do a little bit better, yes. But at the same time he plays very hard on Sundays, and in this case Saturdays. He plays very, very hard and I think that’s hard to handle with a guy with his talent.”
With DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney and DE J.J. Watt playing together so much this year, does that help with what you can do along the defensive front?
"Sure, yeah, you can get creative. You can move guys around. J.J. sometimes lines up in different spots. You can move Clowney around, they can be right next to each other, they can, like I just said, you can do a number of different things with JD also. Then you’ve got (D.J.) Reader, you’ve got (Benardrick) McKinney, you’ve got – (Christian) Covington’s having a good year. Whitney (Mercilus), I thought he played really well against Jacksonville. He’s coming on. I think there’s a lot of things you can do with that front. I think it’s a very strong front. You’ve got Zach Cunningham. I’m not even mentioning Zach Cunningham. Dylan Cole. You’ve got a lot of good players up front. It’s hard to deal with all of those guys."
K KA’IMI FAIRBAIRN
What did you think about being the AFC Special Teams Player of the Month for December?
“It was a great honor, obviously. I wish a lot of other guys got credit for the award. It’s not just me that puts in work. A lot of work goes into it. My coaches, my teammates, obviously. It’s special, but we have a lot more work to do and we want to win the award at the end of this month.”
Have you surprised yourself in anyway?
“No, I know what I put into the work. In the past, I have a learned a lot. I’m going to continue to learn. There’s a lot more for me to learn so I’m looking forward to the journey.”
How much does it mean to you that you made every kick under 40 yards?
“Every kick is big. I try to treat it the same no matter the distance. The shorter ones, those are the ones that we have to have. Our team scores a lot of points, so they put me in a position to do my job and I have to do it.”
How much better have you and P Trevor Daniel gotten throughout the season?
“I think everybody on this team has. It’s a learning experience. We try to learn from every kick, every practice rep. We take it seriously and go one-for-one every time.”
Do you think it’s difficult to break in not only a new holder, but a rookie holder?
“Trevor’s (Daniel) been great this year for me, for us as a team. He takes his job seriously and he knows what it means to be a professional athlete, professional holder, professional punter. He’s really good at his job.”
How much does LS Jon Weeks play in the whole group?
“Huge. I can’t say enough about it, honestly. There’s so much that goes into it and I wish they got more credit for an award like this.”
What kind of a response have you gotten from your teammates and how special is that?
“That’s the best. That’s what means the most to me, honestly. My teammates, they ride me a little bit for an award like this, but it really does mean a lot.”
Do you ever get any grief about your name?
“Just a tad. I’m proud of my name. My parents gave it to me. It has special meaning. I try to live like that every day.”
What are you most excited about for the playoffs?
“The pressure kicks. There’s going to be those kicks, and how I respond is going to be the biggest part of it. I’m going to take it one-for-one, one kick at a time and learn from each one.”
What does your name mean?
“It means to seek wisdom and talent with knowledge and a firm foundation.”
How cool is it that you received the 2018 Kupono Award for Excellence from the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame?
“No doubt. Huge honor, especially for the people back home. I can’t say enough about how much they mean to me and how special it is.”
Where does that come from? What is the history on that?
“Polynesian Football Hall of Fame. I haven’t learned too much about it yet. The actual award is called the Kupono Award. It’s given to a Polynesian athlete that has done well this year. I’m honored to get it and I’m looking forward to talking to those guys.”
Do you know others that have won it?
“A few. I think Marcus Mariota won it. That’s the only guy that I can think of off the top of my head. Tua Tagovailoa.”
WR DEANDRE HOPKINS
Can talk about the thought you put into donating your playoff check to Jazmine Barnes’ family?
“I hate to hear what happened. The City of Houston is always supportive of me, of this team. So, I felt in my heart that’s it’s only right that I give back to those who are down. It’s a tough situation for that to happen. It’s tough. What I can do, that’s nothing. That won’t bring back a person, so I’m not trying to make it all about me or anything like that, but the least I can do is help out.”
Can you talk about how you said the incident with Jazmine Barnes hit close to home?
“Yeah, of course. I have a five-year-old daughter, so it could’ve been anybody in that position. On this team, it could have been anybody who’s in this city. It’s just unfortunate.”
You’ve done a lot of good things for the community. Why is it important for you to do things like this?
“It’s where I come from. I wasn’t blessed with a lot of things so my mom and myself would always say, once we get to where we want to get to, we always want to give back. That’s the mission we try to live by.”