HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN
"We released Robert Jackson off the practice squad and signed Josh Ferguson, a running back. Most importantly, Andre Hal, we activated the 21-day window on him, so he'll be able to practice with the team. At any point in time over the 21-day window we can decide to activate him to the 53-man roster, so we'll see where he's at and go from there. That's great news for Dre and for us."
What was it like when you told the team?
"The team was excited. We told the team this morning. He's a great guy so they were very excited."
What would it mean for the secondary if he could come back and play?
"He's been a solid player for us. Smart guy, tough guy. So, we'll see where he's at and decide that moving forward."
QB Deshaun Watson retweeted a tweet saying that he played with a collapsed lung and a broken rib. What do you think about that?
"Again, I just refer to the injury report."
Can you talk about how impressed you are with how S Andre Hal continued to work and did everything he could to be ready for this moment?
"He worked very hard, did a really good job of staying into it. Was in all the meetings, let alone the weight room work and field work. He really stayed on top of the Xs and Os. That's what he is. He's that type of guy. He's a great teammate. He's a tremendous guy."
How exciting is it to have such a meaningful game six games into the season?
"It's a tough division. Like you said, three of the teams are sitting there at 3-3 and it's anybody's division. It's getting toward the halfway point of the season and it's getting toward the middle of October, beginning of November. Hopefully we can start playing as consistent as possible and do as good a job as we can. Jacksonville is a very good team in a tough environment. It's going to be a very challenging game for us but our guys are very excited for it."
Can you talk about the way the defense has played the last two games?
"Defense has done a good job. The last three games they've been able to finish games. They've done a good job of stopping the run for the most part. They've done a real nice job of combining coverage and rush for the most part. There's some things that we need to work on. Third-and-long sometimes has been an issue and we have to get that fixed. Keeping the edge on defense, setting the edge on defense, not letting the ball bounce outside. But, overall, our guys are playing very hard, they're swarming to the ball, they're practicing hard. They're a great group of guys."
What do you think of this matchup against such a good defensive front like the Jaguars have?
"A lot of lines struggle against these guys. Calais Campbell, (Yannick) Ngakoue, (Dante) Fowler (Jr.), (Marcell) Dareus – all the guys they have up front. The linebackers, Myles Jack, Telvin Smith – fast, athletic. We haven't even gotten to the secondary yet. So, it's a big challenge. Very challenging defense to go against. They do a great job. They're very well coached. They play hard, they play fast, so it's a big challenge."
What do you think of the matchup between WR DeAndre Hopkins and Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey?
"It's always been a good matchup since Jalen has been in the league. He's a great player. He has all the qualities that you look for in a great corner. He's got good length, he's competitive, he has good ball skills, he can run. Hopkins is a great receiver, so it's a big part of the game."
What have NT Brandon Dunn and DE Angelo Blackson done to be part of the rotation and make plays?
"Let's start with Dunn. Dunn's done a really good job. I don't know what it was, maybe a couple of years ago, he really flipped the script. He lost some weight, got in great shape, was better in the weight room, practiced better. He's really one of the most improved players on our team over the last couple years. Blackson was a good pickup for us, a guy we brought in, put him on the 53 and he's a big, big tough guy and he just does his job. Very big guy, very tough guy like I said. He's improved, so they just need to keep it going."
How important is it to contain Jaguars QB Blake Bortles with the mobility he has?
"It's important. There's a lot of these guys that we're facing, including Blake, that can not only throw the ball, but they can make a lot of plays with their scrambling ability, their ability to extend plays, which is really – you see that throughout the league with a number of guys. It's very hard to defend. Very hard to defend that when a guy gets outside the pocket. Your coverage is affected. It's really difficult to defend an athletic quarterback from running or throwing. It's something that's really hard to defend."
Are the Jaguars extra dangerous because of how many points they have given up their last two games?
"I would say that every game is different. I think, obviously, we look at those games. We look at every game that they've played this game, last year, since Coach (Doug) Marrone's been there. They have a lot of talent. They're very well coached. It's a tough league. Some weeks don't go as good as other weeks, the matchups or whatever it is. So, we've got to watch the tape, learn from it, from both our tape and their tape and try to go out there and do the best that we can. They have a great football team and it's going to be a tough, tough challenge."
How does it feel to be on a three-game winning streak?
"I feel good for these guys. We have to do somethings better, no doubt about it, but I think it's great that these guys have, to this point – they were in a hole, they dug themselves out to get to where they are now. To have a chance to keep this thing going is a big thing. These guys work very hard. They're a mentally tough team. They've won these games whether it was overtime or a 60-minute games. They've done a nice job."
Do you see some improvements from the start of the season to where we are right now?
"Yeah, I do. I think the special teams has gotten better and better. I think defensively we've gotten better and better. I think, offensively, we do somethings OK. We're still inconsistent but I definitely see some improvement."
S ANDRE HAL
What was it like for you when they told you that you would be able to practice with the team again?
"It was very exciting. It had been a long way for me. Like I said, I always kept working out, kept my faith that I was going to play this year and it came to fruition."
What was the reaction like from your teammates when Head Coach Bill O'Brien announced your return to practice?
"All the guys were happy. Everybody congratulated me. It was a good feeling."
When you think about where you were and where you are now, how does that make you feel?
"Like I said, through the whole process, I kind of knew. It never really phased me too much to the point where – I knew I was going to play, but I just didn't know when. I was never thinking I would ever be out."
What was the treatment like?
"Hyperbaric chamber, acupuncture two times per week, Vitamin C IV two times a week, working out, eating right. I did so much. It was a lot of stuff I was doing just to get back on the field and for me just to stay healthy. I didn't want to be sick. That was the main reason, and then football was the second reason."
Were you ever truly scared?
"I was scared probably the first time when I went to MD Anderson and they told me about the cancer. That was probably the only time I was scared, but after that I was like, 'OK, let's go'."
So you didn't go through chemotherapy?
"Like I said, I did a targeted drug called Rituxan for a month. That was in July. I finished that in July and then after that I kind of did my own thing and I got better."
How much different are you now than before your diagnosis?
"I'm definitely a different person. Different just spiritually, mentally, physically. I'm in the best shape of my life just from working out all the time, eating right, getting closer to God, getting closer to myself, finding out who I am, stuff like that. I'm a better person."
Have you thought about what it would mean if you're able to return to the field this season?
"Yeah, I've thought about it. Like I said, from the beginning I knew I was going to play. I just didn't know when. I always had that (belief). That's why I never stopped coming. I never stopped coming to practice, I never stopped working out because I just had the feeling that I was going to play again."
How good will it feel to hit someone?
"Great. I have so much built up inside me right now I need to get it out. I need to get it out. Definitely."
When you start practicing, what do the coaches and training staff want to see from you before they activate you onto the 53-man roster?
"I really don't know. You would have to ask Coach (O'Brien) about that. I really don't know what they want to see. Like I said, I've been working out. I'm in the best shape of my life. I'm just ready. Whenever they say, 'Go', I'm going to go."
Where do you think you will fit in with the other safeties when you return to the team?
"That's up to the coaches, too. I'm a player. I go out there and play. I don't know what they're going to do with me or what they're not going to do. Whenever they say, 'Go, Dre,' I'm going to go."
Will you try to be an advocate for those battling Hodgkin's Lymphoma?
"Yeah, definitely. That was one of my other goals was to show people that there's another way. Cancer's not a death sentence. You can beat it in natural ways. You don't have to go through chemo, you don't have to have your body going to the brink of death almost. I just want to show people that it's possible. Anything is possible when you put your mind to it, and that's what I did. I put my mind to it and I was just focused on getting better."
Do you feel more like a football player now that you're at this stage in your recovery?
"To be honest, I'm in a whole different mindset right now, mind state. My mind is totally different from where I was four months ago. Football was a reason for me to get back, but I wanted to be healthy too. I didn't want to be sick. That was one of the main reasons, just not being sick and just showing people that there's another way."
How much did the medication slow you down?
"I would do it on Tuesdays. I would go in on Tuesdays, work out before I went, I'd drive myself to MD Anderson and then I'd drive myself back home and I'd do some yoga. It didn't affect me at all. I was fine through the whole process."
CB JOHNATHAN JOSEPH
How amazing is it that S Andre Hal is returning to practice today after beating Hodgkin's Lymphoma?
"He worked hard, stayed out of the way, didn't complain any, had his ups and downs throughout the whole process and look at where we are at today – he's back out there practicing with us. I'm sure there's a lot of weight lifted off his shoulders as well. For me as a teammate, it's a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders because I think about it probably more than he thinks about it just because I want him out there and I want him to be a part of what we have going on."
How inspirational is what he has been through for you guys as a team?
"It's a lot. I talk to my kids about it daily and explain it to them. For them to see it, they just look at us as athletes and think we go about our daily lives each and every day because they see me. They never understand a lot of things that other player are going through throughout the league also to get ready each and every day for work or just to prepare to overcome things in life. Talking to my son about it, he thought it was pretty cool."
S TYRANN MATHIEU
What did you think when you heard the news about S Andre Hal returning to practice today?
"We're excited for him. He's been a constant professional ever since he was diagnosed. He's been in every meeting trying to help us out, especially on the sidelines as well during the games. Just really happy for the guy. He'll get to do what he loves again."
S Andre Hal was just diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma a few months ago and now he's back trying to play pro football.
"It has a lot to do with his faith and his character. He never really budged. The whole time he knew he was going to beat it. He's been itching to get back on the field with us, so obviously there's a process he has to go through but I'm going to be excited to see him at practice today."
How inspirational is S Andre Hal's story?
"Very, very inspirational. A lot of different guys go through a lot of different things but I think any time somebody gets diagnosed with a serious condition like that and even be able to come back the same year and still be able to play, I think that speaks a lot toward him, his work habits, the things that he's done outside the building and everything that the doctors have helped him with."
As a newcomer to this team, how quickly did you get to know S Andre Hal?
"Well, I knew one thing, he was a man of great character. Like I said, he has great faith. He's a great teammate and I was excited when I got picked up to play alongside him. I'm even more excited for him now."
What are some of the challenges that the Jaguars present?
"They're a physical football team. They're going to try to come in here and run the football. We have to do a great job of really stopping the run and then hopefully, from there, we can make some plays."
After the way the team started, do you feel like this is a meaningful game with the division wide open?
"Yeah, we didn't start the season how we wanted to. We just kept our head down, kept working. We were never that far off but we still have a ways to go just cleaning up little things. Obviously, it's a big game for us. If we can go out there, start fast and then we know that we're able to finish football games but we definitely want to start faster this week."
What do you think about the way S Kareem Jackson has been playing? Has his versatility been important? You've played both positions before, how difficult is what he is doing?
"Oh yeah, for sure, no doubt about it. It's very difficult, especially from week-to-week. Your role is constantly changing. As defensive backs, we like to get into a rhythm. It's hard to do that when you're playing three, four positions. I did it a while so it's nice to see Kareem come in every day focused on his job, and he's always willing to put his hand in the pile and really help out wherever we need it."
QB DESHAUN WATSON
You retweeted a tweet that said that you played with a partial collapsed lung and broken rib and compared it to when you played with a torn ACL. What was it like playing with a partial collapsed lung and a broken rib?
"I have no idea, honestly. I was just playing ball. I didn't recognize it, we didn't recognize it during the game."
You found out afterward? So now you know you have those injuries?
"No, I'm fine now. I'm healthy."
Do you feel better today than you did last week at this time?
"For sure. I'm cleared to practice, cleared to do everything. I'm good."
When you have those kinds of things going on, is that on your mind?
"Just getting healthy, like I said. We didn't know during the game. It was just sore, just finishing the game. That was pretty much it."
What did you think when they announced S Andre Hal would start practicing with the team today?
"It's awesome. Coach (O'Brien) mentioned it in the team meeting this morning. Everyone was happy, excited for him. He's been working out with us every day. He's been around in the meeting rooms. He's been bringing that energy and just supporting all the guys that have been playing. Now, being able to get back on the field with us, it's going to be a special time. It's good for him."
How do you think he got to where he is now after where he was?
"Just his mental toughness, his faith, just being able to believe and keep working. That's what he's been doing the whole time and never complained or anything like that. He's just been putting in the work and now his opportunity is back to get back on the field."
Some of your teammates said they were inspired by the way you played through an injury last week. Is that why it was important for you to play?
"Yeah, of course. My teammates, that locker room, the coaching staff, all the guys that I put the work in for, and then I just love the game of football. I want to be out there and help this team win and do what I can to help lead this team and put us in a position to get a W, and that's what I did."
Is there a fine line between being mentally tough and being smart with your body?
"For sure. I wouldn't be out there if it would've caused any more problems. I talked it over with my family (and) doctors and everything, and everything was fine. That's the only reason why I was out there."
What is it about Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey that makes him so tough to play against?
"He's an overall good player. He's a good football player, a competitor. He's very smart. He has all the ability and he's just one of the guys that, like I said before, is a good football player. He's going to be in the right place at the right time all the time."
What do you think of the matchup between Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey and WR DeAndre Hopkins?
"It's a fun matchup. It's a matchup that's been going on for the past two years. It's an opportunity for those guys to go at it again."
What do you have to do on offense to be able to slow down Jacksonville's front seven?
"Execute. Play with passion, do what we do."
Have you seen anything on film as to why the Jaguars haven't been able to force as many turnovers as they did last year?
"Last year is last year. This is a different year so right now I'm just focused on our execution of the game plan is. I can't worry about what they did last year compared to this year. I have to focus on what we have seen for the past six games and then try to execute what we can this week, this Sunday, to try and get a win."
Do you feel like you have an offense that if you are executing you can compete with any defense in the league?
"For sure. We have the talent, we have the ability. We just have to go do it."
When you were playing with injuries, what affected you the most?
"Really nothing, honestly. Just kind of switched up the game plan a little bit. Outside of that, just played a little conservative as far as running the ball, but outside of that, it didn't really bother me. I didn't worry about the injury or anything during the Cowboys game because I didn't know what was going on. No one did. Then, last week, I was fine. I was cleared to play and I was healthy."
When in your career did you realize you could play through so much pain?
"I've always had that mentality. I've played through a lot of injuries before, as a young kid through high school. Never missed a game until I got to college where the ACL was the issue and then last year, same, ACL was the issue that kept me out. Outside of that, I was always on the field just playing. Once the game was over, kind of regroup and recover."
How much treatment and work on your body did you have to do to get yourself ready for last weekend's game?
"I just came in every day, did what the training staff asked me to do and went to meetings, watched practice and kind of whatever they wanted me to do, really."
Do you feel like you're in a good place to play Sunday?
Did you play with any extra padding last week?
"I did not."
DE J.J. WATT
Could you talk about the way the defense has played the last two games and what you guys have to do defensively to keep this streak going?
"Any time you watch the film there's things you think you can do better, but to end the game with a pick-six to win it and then, obviously, Kareem's (Jackson) pick to seal it. Those are huge plays. Those are massive plays. Throughout the course of the game, to be able to hold a running back like that (LeSean McCoy) under 100 yards rushing and to do some of the things that we did – we played well but you watch the film and there's still a lot of things you can improve on, so I think that's the most exciting part for us, is that we can continue to get better."
What's the key to stopping the run as well as you guys have the last two weeks?
"Focusing on it, doing your job, everybody playing their role, knowing what they're supposed to do, doing it, tackling well. It's a mentality more than anything."
What's it like having a teammate like S Kareem Jackson who can do so many different things at a high level?
"It's great. Kareem's obviously been around the league for a long time. He's the Texans' interception leader, I believe, of all-time. He's a guy that can, whether it's corner, whether it's safety, whether it's nickel, whatever he needs to play, he can do it and he's done a great job at it. It would be easy for a guy – you could see guys not liking being bounced around like that but he's taken the assignments and done it extremely well and we're very grateful to have such a good teammate like that."
What's it like to have the opportunity to play such a meaningful game this week and what do you think of what has happened around the league so far?
"Obviously there's one undefeated team and a couple teams that have distanced themselves a bit, but everybody else is kind of in a middle jumble. You have to start finding a way to separate yourself and finding a way to create that gap. This is a huge game, obviously. It's a division opponent on the road, and we're looking forward to the opportunity."
What have you learned so far about this team?
"I think we're still learning about ourselves. We're 3-3. We've found a way to win the last three weeks. It may not always be pretty, but we found a way. So, we just have to continue to find and work to create that identity."
What kind of jam would you be in if the Houston Astros wound up playing the Milwaukee Brewers in the World Series?
"It would be a great jam to be in. I wouldn't mind it. Like I said in my tweet, I grew up watching the Brewers at County Stadium and having baseball cards of all the Brewers, Jeromy Burnitz and those guys. Ever since I've been here in Houston I've been a massive Astros fan. I'm friends with a bunch of guys on the team so it would be quite the jam. I don't know. Maybe I could throw out a first pitch at both stadiums. I have no clue. When people would ask, 'Who do you want to win?' I literally don't know what my answer would be. Whoever's fans are closest to me so I don't get beat up."
Were you hanging on every pitch of last night's ALCS game three?
"Of course. It's awesome to watch those guys play. It's a lot of fun to watch. Obviously last night was a tough one, it didn't go our way. But Tony's (Kemp) catch was awesome. To be able to go up like that and get it, it was a helluva play."
What do you have to do to make sure Jaguars QB Blake Bortles doesn't have a big game like he did against you in Week 15 of last season?
"We need to do a good job of trying to make it difficult. That's what you try to do for any quarterback. You want to try to make it difficult. He's very athletic. He can run very well so you want to try to keep him in the pocket. You want to try to put him in as many tough situations as you can."
What do you think the game will be like on Sunday if the Jaguars don't have RB Leonard Fournette or RB T.J. Yeldon?
"I don't know. I'm just going to go out there and try to play good defense. Whoever they put out there, I'm just going to try to stop them."
Earlier in the season you said you were progressing each week. Where, if anywhere, do you feel like you still have some progress to make?
"There's plenty of progress to be made. I missed a sack this last game, I missed a sack two weeks ago. There's just little things here and there. I'm always trying to improve, whether it's my first step, my hand placement. Like I've said many times before, when I go back and watch the film, I click through the good plays fast. It's the bad plays that you watch in slow motion, you try to figure out, 'OK, where were my eyes? Where was my focus? What are my keys? Why did I do this? What step do I need to take? Where should my hand be?' So, there's a countless number of things, and that's what practice is for. That's why I love practicing, because you get to go out there and you get to work on that and then you watch the film. That's why this season's been good for me, is just the more game tape you have to watch of yourself and the more you get to learn from your mistakes and you get to pile them back to back, the better you are. Each game is a chance for me to watch and see where I need to improve and continue to grow. I'm by no means as good as I'm going to get yet, but that's because there's still a lot of learning and growing left to do."
Do you think the defense is better at this point than it was earlier in the season, especially up front?
"Yeah, I think we're definitely working each week and getting better each week. We need to continue to do it, there's no doubt about it. This is a tough test this week. It's going to be a good one. But I do feel like we're continuing to improve each week. That's the same thing as the individual, it's as a unit. You're watching the film, you're communicating better with each other, you're learning what each other's doing and why they're doing it and everybody fitting into their places."
Is the pressure on the quarterback what you want it to be right now?
"It's never where I want it to be. I always want the pressure to be higher. I always want more pressures, sacks, batted balls – whatever we can do, any way we can do it. Coverage and rush works together. We have great coverage, we have great rush. That's when you get chances at pressure and sacks. We just have to keep doing it."
What are your thoughts on Jacksonville's defense?
"They're a very good one. I haven't watched them on film at all but they're obviously a very good defense. I know they have a great front. Calais (Campbell) and those guys up front are relentless and they do a great job. I've been a Calais fan for a long time. But I hope they have a poor game on Sunday."
What does it do for you when you see QB Deshaun Watson play through an injury to try to help the team win?
"Obviously, going out there and laying it on the line – I think there's a lot of situations that people don't really understand, whether it's Deshaun or whether it's a whole bunch of guys on the team. There's guys that are always fighting through stuff that you may never know about. Guys go out there and lay it on the line. Obviously you appreciate that as a teammate and you try to do the same in your own role. We're just trying to win. Whatever way we can, however we can get it, we're just trying to win."
Do you feel like that's this team's mantra?
"Win? Yeah, I'd say that's a mantra. We're trying to do that."
CONFERENCE CALL WITH JAGUARS HEAD COACH DOUG MARRONE
What have you seen in the Texans the last three games that you didn't see in the first three games?
"They're just playing well now. They're grinding it out. They're doing a nice job, turnovers, players are stepping up for them, a lot like that. I apologize because we know we're going to face a very well-coached, very good football team, but really at this time we're trying to get ourselves right. That's been the big key now. Hopefully we could get to that point where we as coaches, including myself, clean things up so we can go out there and perform, because right now we're not performing very well, and that's coaching."
Don't the players at some point have to take responsibility for the play on the field?
"It all depends on how you were brought up. Yeah, there's things that go on that I think as a coach you can say, 'Hey, listen. We've done it, we've gone over it, we explained it well, we've seen it in practice, it's worked extremely well,' all that stuff and if a player goes out there, sometimes he might not be able to perform. That could be it, too, but for our part, we're just too sloppy right now in our technique and fundamentals. To me, that's 100 percent coaching."
What do you think about DE J.J. Watt returning to form and the Texans defense as a whole?
"It doesn't surprise me. If someone asked me, 'Hey, what do you think about J.J. Watt or the Texans defense?' Having known RAC (Romeo Crennel) for a long time, I've always thought he's an outstanding, unbelievable defensive coordinator, great relationship with players. His defenses over the years that I've played against or coached against I should say, it's always been a battle. Those guys have always played hard. They play well and schematically they were good and they gave you problems. With J.J. Watt, obviously he was an outstanding football player and then he had these injuries. I don't know him personally, but I've always admired the way he plays the game. I've always thought he has one of the best motors that I've ever seen live in a football game, and I think I've seen a lot of great players. Then, the job he does off the field, I see what I read in the community and everything. To say he's leading the NFL in sacks and he's playing the way he plays, if there's anyone that's going to be able to do that, in my opinion, it would be J.J. Watt."
How challenging is it to try to defend WR DeAndre Hopkins?
"Another player that I don't know personally, but I've always had the utmost respect. When people mention the top receivers in the league, if they're not mentioning him, they haven't played against him. When you look at what he does – tight coverage, he catches it, he runs the routes, run after the catch. Everybody in the stadium knows the ball's going to him at certain times and he's still making those plays. The guy is just relentless, maniacal in how he plays. Again, I think that's why he's such a great player. For us, obviously, he's a matchup problem, but I think that (Will) Fuller's been playing well. The young kid, (Keke) Coutee, has been really a big boost. I think that Will can take the top off of any defense. He has great speed, big, good routes, good catch radius. The other guy in the slot (Coutee) is extremely quick, extremely fast and it's just a matter of we just hope we have enough guys that can hopefully make those throws tighter or those windows tighter. As a group, those guys now, you're worried about them when you're on the field."
What have you seen from the Texans offensive line?
"Coach (Mike) Devlin I've known for a long time. I know him personally. It's always difficult when you're mixing in players or players that haven't been together for a long time. So, I see those guys getting better and better. I think the more they play, the more they go through the season. Kind of like the first question, where do you see them from where they were in the beginning to where they are now, I think that's one of the things that have helped. Statistically, you can't really look at – I guess you can – but the bad things that are happening. A lot of times, that takes away from the good things. Those guys are starting to play better together as a group. They're playing better as an offense and it creates challenges. Right now, we're not playing well enough and we've got to do a better job coaching our guys and getting some good technique going and being able to win those matchups, whether it's the run or the pass."
Is it easier to get a message to your team when you lose convincingly compared to a three-point loss?
"You know the saying, 'A loss is a loss', but when you lose like we did, it's a hell of a lot worse. It is. There's no secret way. Have we change some things up? Yeah, we've changed some things up because I'm a firm believer if you keep everything the same, you're going to get the same result. So, we've changed some things up but our focus is really on our team right now and I go back to the same things: fundamentally, technique, that's what we're working on, trying to work extremely hard. The players came back with the right attitude. They listen. They were looking for answers, we were able to give them the answers in the team meeting and in the other meetings and go on the field. Today we responded, but now we've got to keep that going and it's got to show on Sunday."
What are your thoughts on the AFC South? Do you think the division has underachieved in regards to preseason expectations?
"I don't know. I don't know about people's perceptions nor do I really (care) about what people think about this division. All I know is for me, it's a damn battle no matter who we're playing. We go to Houston (or) Houston comes here, it's a battle. We go to Tennessee (or) Tennessee comes here, it's a battle. Even with Indy, we go there, it's a battle. That's what conferences are. I think, having been in this league for a while and knowing that, that's the one thing – you can take all of those point spreads, all that other (stuff), you can throw it out the window when you're playing in division games. Guys know each other, they know it's going to be a battle, everyone knows they're hungry, everyone's trying to get the same thing. It's a battle. I think in this league, in this division, we look at the defenses, it's a challenge for the offenses in this league."
You said the phrase 'pull yourself up by the bootstraps' after the loss to Dallas. What did you mean by that?
"I've said it twice, I believe. It's just something that my grandmother told me when I was younger. When (things) were going bad – and I grew up up north where there was a lot of snow, a lot of ice and it was always a pain in the butt to put those boots on. The only way to do it, there's not a lot of answers, you just grab those straps and you just pull as hard as you can and you get that foot in there, and now, all of a sudden, now you've got to go out there and walk it."
What did you think of DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney calling Jaguars QB Blake Bortles trash after a 45-7 Jaguars win last season?
"I really don't waste my time with a lot of that. I think last year they had a ton of injuries. Everyone knows that, and they were trying to battle. We're going through that a little bit now, but I really don't get involved with all of that other crap. I've had so much responsibility in getting the coaches ready, getting the team ready, I can't waste any energy on anything like that."
How much have injuries played a role in the last two games?
"It's a challenge. Guys come in and it's a challenge for us. We've got to switch things up. It's a challenge when you have guys that are in here all minicamp, OTAs, preseason and then all of a sudden, you have a rash of injuries and you have to go out and bring people in. That's a challenge for everyone. We're not the only team, probably. I don't go around looking, that's doing it, but you can't make those excuses and you've got to rally and you've got to be excited. Excited for change, meaning that you have to look to find a way to get yourself better. I think you've got to be excited for the players that are coming in that have an opportunity to show what they have, and knowing that if you've been a player that's been here this time that you've got to step your game up also."
What do you think about the way QB Deshaun Watson has been playing?
"In the offseason, obviously, we watch all the tape. Even after a game, we were able to study him, see him and it was just unbelievable what he was doing. I'm not surprised because of all of the things and obviously I'm very close to some of those coaches on the Clemson staff. So, we knew about his character, we knew how much of a competitor he was, we knew how much of a leader he was. I think what I've been most probably impressed with is just his poise and how he runs the team. He's a weapon. There's no mistake about it. He's a guy that can run, he's a guy that can extend plays, he can make throws. He's someone that, for a long period of time, at least as long as I'm here, is going to be very difficult for us and a challenge for us."