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Houston Texans

Titans conference calls

Titans quarterback Steve McNair

(on empathizing with David Carr) "Absolutely.  I think that's just part of the game and at some point in your career, you're going to have to go through that.  It's just how well you come back from it and how well you pick up the pieces and then come back every week and keep fighting."

(on advice for David) "You just have to keep playing hard, keep working hard and just rally the troops around him.  I think that's the most important thing is not getting frustrated, just being able to pick yourself up and continue to keep playing hard and just continue to make the sacrifices you got to make to be the leader of the team."

(on his own health) "Absolutely, I feel good.  I had the opportunity this offseason to work on things I need to work on and get in the best shape of my life to come back and play this year.  You know, I'm not getting any younger.  I think I have to continue (that) every year, continue to work hard during the offseason and continue to get in shape."

(on Norm Chow and how he affected his decision not to retire) "No, I told Coach Fisher the reason I was going to come back was because of my health and my family.  I think Norm was a great guy to bring in to this offense and to this team because of the things he does offensively to keep quarterbacks healthy and keep them on the move and keep them in three-step, five-step drops, but that wasn't a big influence.  My influence was I wanted to come in, going into this season as healthy as I could be.  If I wasn't healthy I wouldn't have come back, but I was healthy coming into the season and I'm just glad to be a part of this team."

(on Norm Chow's reputation for keeping his quarterbacks healthy) "I knew a lot about Norm before we brought him in.  I met with him and that's his philosophy, keeping his quarterbacks healthy and keeping the percentage for his passing attempts real high.  And that's what he's done.  He's brought a new flavor to this offense.  He came in and simplified things for the young receivers, the young guys, so they can go out and play to the best of their ability.  I think his career over his years at USC has been magnificent with the bringing along quarterbacks."

(on what's going on in Mississippi after the hurricane) "Things there have kind of slowed down.  It's just the rebuilding stage now; they're waiting on the process of the governments and those things.  But everything else is great.  The people of Mississippi are just picking up the pieces, and trying to start all over again."

(on transition to Chow) "It was actually smooth.  He's given me a lot of freedom to do the things I want to do at the line of scrimmage, and I think that's good for a quarterback.  But it wasn't a difficult transition when he came in; basically it's the same things with different terminology.  You know being 11 years in the league it's not hard to adapt to different coordinators."

(on key to picking up offense) "We just got to protect the football a little more in the red zone, and also we need to straighten out and focus.  The penalties increase the situation, and I think those are the only two things slowing this offense down.  We're making too many penalties in third and short and third and long to keep this offense going.  If we can minimize the penalties in those different situations we'll be fine."

(on if Texans sweep of Titans last year bothers him) "No.  This is another year.  I don't go back and look at the past; now is now.  We're just going to go in and continue to move forward.  I don't even think about it as far as what they did last year. It's different for us this year."

(on top road record since 1995) "I think the main thing is getting the crowd out early and then going out and just playing.  When you go on the road people don't expect you to come out win anyway.  So we just go out and play.  We play better when our backs are against the wall.  That's what road trips are: putting your best foot forward and letting everything else take care of itself. 

(on importance of establishing running game) "It's very important to get the running game started because you don't want to be one dimensional.  You want to be at least good on both running and passing because you could do so much.  The running game is what we're emphasizing this week."

(on correlation between running and winning) "I think when you run the ball you control the football, and that's the most important thing about having a successful running game.  You can control the ball, control the clock and also wear defenses down with the running game.  I think this is the most successful thing in football that people have to look at.  The running game is the thing that controls the tempo of the game."

(on Eddie George) "It was great to have Eddie.  And not just on the field; Eddie is a great friend of mine.  I think his vocal leadership role was good.  I miss him but at the same time this is a business and unfortunately, he left us a few years ago.  But he was a great guy to have on the team." 

Titans head coach Jeff Fisher

(on if he expected or is surprised by 1-3 start) "If there's someone that expected a slow start, or a 1-3 start, then they don't need to be in this league.  No we never expected to get off to 1-3; we had much higher expectations at the start of the season.  Obviously our job as a staff is to identify what's happened and why, and get it corrected and move on.  You can't dwell in the past.  We're not dwelling in the past.  We're looking ahead to the future; looking to put the best players on the field, and put them in the best situations that will give us the best chance to win."

(on Texans inability to create turnovers) "I don't know that Kyle's (Vanden Bosch) a re-tread, he just had some trouble with injuries that past couple of years.  He's got the injuries behind him and is playing at a real high level.  Had he not been hurt there's no telling what he would have done from a production standpoint at Arizona.  Looking at the tape, the turnovers just happen.  I'll give you a great example: the sack and the caused fumble down in the plus territory on third down.  That ball scooted between three or four of the Houston defense players and a Cincinnati linesman falls on it and they kick a field goal.  They had another opportunity in the ballgame when the quarterback was hit and the ball fluttered, it just quite doesn't get to the safety.  So there were opportunities in this game.  Turnovers come.  You can't force or pressure them.  But they're making enough plays, they're around and putting enough pressure on the passer, I think, at least in the last few weeks that we've seen in a long time."

(on drafting Troupe, Bell and Schobel for Babin) "Ben Troupe filled a need for us last year.  He came on and made a number of plays on the second half of the season.  He had a great off-season but then was slowed by a foot injury.  He's now back, I don't know if he's 100 percent, but he's become a big part of offense.  Even though his average per catch is only about eight yards, he has the potential to make plays with his speed and his strength.  We feel like he's only going to become more and more productive.  We were especially pleased with Jacob Bell's performance last year.  Jacob stepped in the opener because of the injury to Zach Piller, and played the entire year until the Denver game when he tore his ACL.  He'd played very, very well at guard and he gives us flexibility because he's a guard and a tackle.  Because of his injury and they way we drafted, we've kind of backed him down so he's in a position to continue his rehab.  It's not that he's isn't ready, but sometimes these injuries take a little longer.  He's ready to fill in at left tackle or guard so we fill he could be a starter for us, but will definitely be a starter for us on the offensive line.  Travis Laboy has been slowed off-and-on because of injuries, but he's a good pass rusher.  He's getting pressure on the quarterback.  He has one and a half sacks and a number of hits, and I feel like the more he plays, the more productive he's going to be.  Unfortunately for Bo (Schobel), he broke a foot in training camp last year.  He came back and played hard the last four or five weeks.  Had a little setback during the off-season but has had a real good preseason and ends up being kind of our fourth defensive end right now.  Because of the roster spot, we only carry three in but he played last week.  He's been the guy we've had up because Albert's been down; he's playing and he's been productive for us.  We can rely on him, and as most teams wave their defensive line, he becomes a part of that."

(on Henry and Brown) "You need depth at running back, I think everybody does.  Taking into consideration Chris' injury history the last couple of years we felt like we needed two good backs; two starters if you will.  So we went out and traded for Travis.  Then Travis had a set back with a toe injury through most of training camp, so we really didn't get Travis into the type of rotation that we wanted.  But the plan was to play them both and if one got hot then let them play a little bit, but make sure when the season was all said and done that both of them had similar carries.  It was disappointing that we're going to be without Travis for three more weeks.  But that's a personal issue that Travis has to come to terms with.  He is; he's working through it.  And he's going to use this time to straighten things out and get in the best shape of his life so he can comeback and help us down the stretch."

(on key to top road record since 1995) "Well, it's hard to say.  We feel week in, week out, whether we're home or away, that we are our biggest opponent.  We carry a respect level into each and every game for our opponent, and we play.  There are some things that we do on the road that I'm not going to necessarily reveal, as far as scheduling and things like that.  This team doesn't let crowd noise affect them, it just plays.  And unfortunately we haven't been good on the road thus far this season but we feel like it doesn't matter where we play.  A lot of people attribute it to the difficulties and all the travel we had, but really I think it's a mind-set, an attitude, a personality that you carry into the road games."

(on limited use of receivers this season) "Everybody wants to get the big plays down the field but what you have to do at times is be patient.  I don't see this trend continuing throughout the season.  I see our receivers becoming a bigger part of our offensive package.  '99-00 Frank Wychek led this team in receptions and we had back-to-back 13 win seasons.  So you have to be patient and take what's there.  But our numbers are going to improve.  I believe Troupe's numbers will go up, Brandon's (Jones) numbers will go up, Ty's (Calico) will go up significantly as he works to get completely ahead of this injury he suffered last year."

(on transition to Chow) "It's been, first and foremost, a lot of fun.  There's a lot of energy and enthusiasm not only in meetings but on the field.  Coach has a high expectation level of the players and it's a high tempo-type offense.  And it's an offense that uses everybody in it.  We can line up and repeat things that don't appear to be repeated with different players, and the players don't make a lot of mistake in the scheme.  Now, there will be a false start, or a physical disadvantage or a drop, but they don't make mistakes per se in the scheme because of the way the scheme's set up.  That's one of the main reason I was interest in coach Chow is because he's done such a great job with the younger players wherever he's been; we knew that we were going to be moving in that direction.  Also, it's his relationship with the quarterbacks.  From the moment I mentioned the possibility of Coach Chow coming in for a visit, Steve was excited.  I think their relationship is very good right now.  They trust each other; Steve has an understanding of what Norm wants to get done and Norm has a great understanding of what Steve likes and doesn't like.

(on key to jump-start offense) "Well when you have a new offense it takes time but I believe we're past that.  The difficulties with our offense I think can be attributed to the difficulties with the team as a whole.  We got behind in several games, and had to abandon the run and throw to catch up, and that's difficult to do.  We've played similar defenses as the Texans.  The Pittsburgh defense, Buffalo, Baltimore and now as we know Indy's defense are very, very good.  So it's a combination of things.  If this offense just stays put, we're not going to be able to do the things we need to do.  We need to continue to improve."

(on if McNair's in peak health) "Yeah, and I give you an example.  We'll get together on Monday after the ballgame and go on the field.  It's been years since Steve has gone joined the team out there, and ran around and thrown the ball with the team. So he is in great shape.  He feels good, the arm is real good.  There were some questions as to whether he had the desire or the ability to pull the ball down and run a little bit.  Going into this last game I think he had six carries for five yards, and he ended up with four carries for four about 40 yards.  He averaged 10 yards per carry when he needed to.  I think that's an indication of where he is physically.  He can pull it down and run if he needs to, but it wasn't necessary the first couple of weeks because he had options in the pocket. 

(on slow-start with running game) "Well our run game will work provided that we get the opportunities to turn and hand it off to the back.  We don't feel like our run game is struggling.  We just don't have the numbers – our average per carry is over 4 yards.  We're not necessarily struggling.  Chris has several good, long runs and Travis has a long of 22, and so we're breaking runs.  We just haven't had the opportunities only because of the way the flow of the games have gone."

(on if he'd like to return to '99-00 type football) "Pittsburgh's approach last year was not old school, but they took complete advantage of what they had: a good defense, a young quarterback they were not going to put in a position to make mistakes, and a good run game.  Pittsburgh ran the ball over 600 times last year and I think there were only two teams that ran over 500 carries.  They went back to that and it was very productive for them.  When you're facing prolific offenses nearly every week, the best way to defend them is to keep them off the field.  The obvious way to do that is to run the football and play good defense.  That's they type of team you need to be productive down the stretch to make a playoff run.  And that's the direction we're headed but we're not going to do that in lieu of throwing the ball down the field.  The passing game is important – you still need to take your shots, move the football and convert third downs – but that approach of running the football and complementing it with a good passing game and the ability to go deep, is certainly a winning formula.  The playoffs team had many more carries than they did pass attempts because they could run the football and they were also playing good defense.  You can try to run the football all you want, but if you can't stop the opponent you're going to end up putting yourself in a situation where you've got to catch up.  So those teams also played good defense."

(on importance of quick-start this weekend against struggling Texans/disheartened fans) "We're going to do whatever it takes to try to win this football game.  I think both teams are very similar right now.  I think both teams are very similar right now.  Both teams know that it's going to be very important to protect the football, to make plays on special teams and to play good defense and minimize games.  Our scoring is such that we've scored more points in the first quarter than we have all year.  Now we haven't scored nearly as many points as we want to score, but our scoring has been in the first quarter and them for some reason it settles down in the second.  We have a tendency to give points up in the second quarter.  If it's at all possible, it'd be nice not to play about eight minutes in the second quarter because I've got three back-to-back games where games have basically fallen apart in the second quarter.  We have to look at that and see what we're doing.  A lot of that is keeping the ball offensively.  We've had some turnovers, miscues, false starts and dropped balls in the second quarter which puts us in the situation where we've had to turn the ball over to our opponent."

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