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Houston Texans

Transcripts: 12-20-2022 Press Conferences ahead of Texans at Titans


What challenges will the weather and the opponent bring on Sunday?

"As far as the weather, we're all pros here. I know we play in this dome a lot, but I think a lot of guys on our team have experience playing in cold weather games, so I don't think it will be a problem. Other than that, it's a division opponent that we got to go out there and handle and try and get this win."

What's it like facing AFC South opponents for the last three weeks?

"It's an opportunity for us to build on something that we've been trying to build on all season. If we can go out here and get these wins the last three weeks, it will be great momentum going into next season."

How do you adapt over time to the two-quarterback system?

"I think like you said, it's a forever evolving system. Each week as we see defenses adjust to it, we put in new stuff to counter that. It's just going to be a system that keeps evolving as the season goes."

Is the system more adaptation based on certain situations in the game or things you've been working on in training camp?

"With any offense throughout the game, the defense makes adjustments to the plays we're running, regardless of what kind of system you're running. It's just us going out there and when we see stuff on the little tablet, we just try to make adjustments. We just talk to the coaches, and they tell us, 'do this a little different,' and that's how we try and make it work."

Is this any different from a week-to-week gameplan?

"No, it's not any different. It's that same as if you had a spread offense that the Chiefs are running and the defense finds a way to adjust to it, you just go on the sideline and you talk through it with your coaches. You see this, they see this, and you just try and make a little adjustment as the game goes on so you can try to find advantages."

What have you seen from QB Davis Mills since he's become the starter again? Do you see anything different?

"Not really, I feel like this whole season, throughout the last two seasons, he's handled himself really well. He has great poise. He's out there every day working hard. There was nothing different he could really do but show up every day and keep executing and trying to make plays."

What's the coldest game you remember ever playing in?

"It was a playoff game in Buffalo. The wind was blowing. It was freezing out there. That was definitely the coldest game I have ever played in."

Are you a sleeves guy? What do you do to prepare?

"I wear sleeves in any weather. There's nothing much I can do. They got type of sleeves that are a little thicker, handwarmers. To be honest, it's really not that cold when you're on the sidelines. You've got heated benches, those jet heaters. It's really not that cold when you're on the sideline. There are little moments during the game, even that, you're just so warm on the sideline. It's only for a few minutes. It's nothing too difficult to handle."


What does it mean to be named the Ed Block Award winner? What did it take for you to come back from injury earlier this season?

"It means a lot. That was the most stressful time of my career, just not playing football. My teammates and the training staff, they helped me get through that. I'm happy they voted for me. I knew nothing about it until they came into the team meeting room. I was pretty happy. I'm happy to be back playing football."

What made this injury hard for you to come back from?

"I couldn't run. The biggest thing for me playing DB and special teams, I've always been one of the fastest guys. If I can't do that, then it's tough for me. I never really played defense until last year, so I never really knew all the techniques that Des (Desmond King II), Tre (Tremon Smith) and those guys know. I just know to run faster than everybody and hit hard. I was pretty down when I couldn't run fast."

What did the comeback entail?

"It was rehab and time. The time portion of it, I felt like I could have come back earlier than I did. But at the same time, I couldn't. Every time I tried to push it, I couldn't do it. I just had to listen to the training staff. They knew what they were doing, and I just trusted them. I'm finally back, and I'm happy to be back."

Did you return back to your old self immediately?

"It took a game or two because I was scared to hit top speed. But now they told me, 'It's already done. It can't happen again.' So, I just pushed it as fast as I could and didn't feel anything when I did it. I was just happy that it didn't do it, and now I'm just flying around."

Who helped you through the rehab process?

"My family, my fiancé and my son. Some of my close friends were checking in on me and coming up, just being around me because I was really in a bad spot mentally. Omar (Sesay M.Ed., LPC-S, NCC) helped me out a lot. He was texting with me and staying with me a lot. I've just really had to keep my mental up. My family and my friends got me through it. In the 22 years of playing football, I've never been hurt and never sat out a game. It was pretty tough for me, but at the same time, God does not make mistakes, so I just went out there and grinded to get back. I'm just happy to be back."

What did you learn from your comeback?

"That football can be taken away from you at any point in time. Nobody is safe. NFL means not for long, so when you are out there, you've got to just go as hard as you can because any play could be your last. I learned that. That was the biggest thing for me. And then figuring out my plan B because I never thought about a plan B. Like if I don't play football anymore, what should I do? I thought about that and got that together. Those were the main things."

What is your plan B?

"A lot of real estate. I'm trying to get into that. I'm trying to get into a lot of real estate because I've never even thought about anything else outside of football. I'm trying Air BnBs and that sort of stuff, so I'm going pretty good now. It was a bad thing that happened to me, but it was a good thing for me as a father and a man in general."

What went into your forced fumbles against the Browns?

"The whole week, Coach Ilir Emini kept showing me, 'We've got to get the ball out, TT. You've got to get the ball out.' He's showing Peanut Tillman highlight tape before every meeting. Then right before the game, I'm in the hot tub warming up, and I'm talking to Nev (Neville Hewitt) like, 'I'm getting the ball out today. I've been watching Peanut all week.' Then the first chance I got, they threw the ball my way, and I'm like, 'I've got to hit him as hard as I can, but at the same time I'll hit the ball.' That's the first time I went after punching the ball, and it actually came out. The whole game that's all I was trying to do. I got the second one out. Then when I posted it and he retweeted it, I was like, 'Oh, I'm popular now.' So yeah, I was happy about it."

What have you made of DB Tremon's Smith's performances in recent weeks?

"He was just waiting on his opportunity, and his opportunity came. Now he's balling out. I'm happy for him. He's one of my closest friends. He's in my wedding. I'm really happy for him. It's crazy, on Saturday, I was in the sauna. That week he got two interceptions. I'm in the sauna, I got out of the sauna, and I called him. I was like, 'Bro, I don't know why, but I feel like you're going to play.' You can ask him this question if you think I'm telling a fib. But I called him, and I said, 'I think you're going to play this weekend.' And he was like, 'I'm not going to play, bro.' I said, 'Yes you are, bro. Just stay locked in.' And he said, 'I'm always going to be ready.' I was like, 'I'm telling you Tre (Tremon Smith), you're going to get in.' The first play, he made a tackle. The second play, he had a pick. He came up to me and said, 'Bro, you're like That's So Raven.' I was happy about that. I'm happy for him. I'm happy he's balling out, and I'm happy he's got his opportunity. Hopefully he just keeps it up and keeps making plays. He's going to have a big payday coming soon."

What's the coldest game you ever remember playing in?

"In college we (Ferris State) were going up against Northwest Missouri State in the semifinals in the playoffs. It was freezing. But I was just on the Texans Radio show, and they were telling me it's going to be five degrees in Tennessee, so that's going to be cold."

How to you prepare for a game in that cold of a temperature?

"You've got to have sleeves on. You've got to have the (Jalen) Pitre ski mask. Pitre stays with the ski mask on. I'm going to do that. Probably three shirts. I never wear leggings, but I will probably wear those too. Feet warmers, hand warmers, stuff like that."


What are some of the challenges to stopping RB Derrick Henry?

"The same things apply. All 11 to the ball. Play behind our pads, play physical, play relentless and make sure that he doesn't become a spark in the game. It's pretty much the same deal when you're playing a good back like that."

What have you taken away from the last two games and defending long field situations?

"We just have to finish. Those are two playoff caliber teams, in my opinion two elite quarterbacks. We have to finish the game. You can see that we're hanging right in there. We're playing physical, we're playing hard, but we just have to find a way to win it. Find a way to finish. That's what the good teams do. Right now, we're not finding that finish in the fourth quarter or in this game, overtime. We just have to figure out why we're not, and try to keep moving."

What are some of the specific takeaways from those drives where the quarterbacks are finding spots?

"I don't think it's necessarily in that situation. There's weakness in each zone you play, where the quarterbacks are going to eventually pass there. That's throughout the game. I think that for us, in the important times in the game, we just have to show up. That's something that we're not doing consistently, showing up when we have to. Like I said, that's where the good teams shine. In the crucial moments, it's who can make a play. Right now, we've got to do that."

Similar to last time, how do you prepare when you don't know if the quarterback will be QB Ryan Tannehill or QB Malik Willis?

"We know how they both play, so we have to prepare as if they're both going to be playing the game. Obviously, they have two different styles, but really we have to look ourselves in the mirror and tighten up things in on our end. That's what we're focusing on right now. How can we play better ball for all four quarters, or five quarters if we go to overtime? It's all about that. That's been our main focus, is how can we get better. Right now, we're trying to figure that out."

What's the coldest game you've ever experienced, and what are the preparations for that?

"You don't really pay attention to the cold. With today's game, we have heated benches. We have the big coats. With your adrenaline flowing, you're out there running around, you don't really pay attention to it at some point, at least for me. I've been around the cold my whole career for the most part. It's a mental thing. Just go out there, you play football as a kid, playing in the snow, you just kind of have that same mindset. We're just playing ball outside. Don't even pay attention to the cold."

Have you noticed your opponents being affected by the cold?

"I don't really say I've noticed opponents being affected by it. This is a mental game, and the best teams mentally win. We just have to understand it's going to be cold, go out there, can't make that as an excuse. Just have to play football."

What went through your mind when voting for the Ed Block Award and voting DB Tavierre Thomas the recipient?

"Guys that fought through adversity. All the guys that we're up for the award has fought through some adversity and has come back. They're all doing a great job. They're all deserving of that award. Tavierre (Thomas), he's the one that's been chosen for the award and that speaks to the type of person he is, to persevere through certain things. He's been great for us this year. Congrats to him and like I said, anyone of those guys could have easily been chosen. It was Tavierre, so congrats to him."

Listening to Chiefs HC Andy Reid's comment, what does it mean to be respected by other teams and coaches?

"Appreciate him saying that. At the end of the day, they won the game. We don't want to just be a team that fights hard. We want to be a team that wins. We have to focus on winning games."

What do you remember from the last game against the Titans earlier this season?

"They're going to come into the game with a physical mentality. We all know that's the Titans. They're going to try to run the ball and for us, we have to stop the run. It hasn't been our strongest point, but for us we have to make sure to come into this game with the mentality that's it's going to be a physical game. We have to bring our pads. Nothing really much you can say about that."

How do you view these final three games against division opponents?

"Division counts for two. When things are not going your way and you have three divisional opponents in front of us, it's how you respond in adversity. Right now, we know that we're not winning the games we want to win, but we can finish and head into 2023 strong. That's our main focus. Wouldn't want to end a better way to have our last game against guys that we're familiar with and with a winning record in our division. That would be good for us and good momentum headed for 2023."

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