LB CHRISTIAN KIRKSEY
What are your thoughts on being named the Texans Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee?
"Truly, I have a lot of my teammates that go out in the community and do such a great job that in my opinion could be nominated as well. I appreciate that the organization nominated me for it. I think that comes with being a football player. I know a lot of people see us on Sunday playing a game that we love, making plays, making tackles, touchdowns and all that stuff, but most importantly, it's the people that are looking up to you. That you might be a kid's role model. You've got to go out and help those that are in need. That's our responsibility as football players. Not only just to play on Sunday, but to go out in our communities and be that hero for everybody. That's my philosophy on what it means to be in the community and to actually be present there."
Was philanthropy a priority for you when you entered the NFL?
"We've all been kids before or have been in a position where we may need help. Being somebody's favorite athlete, how cool would it be to actually see them in your community? You actually see them getting their hands dirty and helping out wherever the need be. I think that's pretty cool in my opinion, and like I said, there are a bunch of great guys in that locker room that do that day in and day out. Some stuff goes unnoticed, but guys are always, always helping out. I just think that's the philosophy for our whole team. I think Morgan (Kleinschmidt, Senior Manager of Team Impact) does a good job of getting guys together to go on community trips. Guys are always bringing up ideas to go to this community or go help this organization. It's a team effort. I just happened to be the one that got nominated. A lot of my teammates do some of the same things I do, so I think it's just trying to make everybody better and trying to think about somebody else other than yourself. Like I said, myself and my teammates do the same thing when it comes to that."
When did you find out and how did you react to being named the team's Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee?
"There's a video that got my reaction. Man, I was surprised. I didn't think I was up for being a nominee. I found out a couple of weeks ago. My family was all there to support. I thought that I was going to another community event, and the next thing you know, I see this huge picture of myself when I was in high school. I was like, 'Why is there a picture of me in high school?' Then I look over, and I see my whole family. I was speechless for a while. It's just truly an honor."
What was the reaction from your family when they found out you were the team's Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee?
"It was cool. My mom was super proud. What we've been through as a family and my dad, who is no longer living, the things that he's instilled in me and what we've accomplished. From me making it to the NFL but also me lending a helping hand. That's what I was raised upon. My dad was a pastor, so I always saw him work with people, take his time to really hear somebody out or help when they need help. As a young kid, just seeing that, I mean that inspired me. My mom, my fiancée, my kids, we all just sat down and were soaking it all in. There's more work to be done, so it was a good time to enjoy my family, a good time to enjoy with the owners and everyone. It was a good day for us."
What have you seen in the Houston community over the past two years that you've played here?
"Houston is a special place. The organization does a great job of making sure they're in the community doing work and not just talking about it or saying they're going to do something just to say they did it. It's more so that the people here really care, and I'm glad to be a part of that. Like I said, my teammates are always coming up with different ideas of different initiatives or different organizations and groups to help out. I think that we built something special here, and I think we have the right people in the building to where we are professional athletes, but we are also good people. When you build a team around that, you're going to have guys in the community all the time. That just comes with it. I chose to come back, and that's one of the reasons why, because I see the type of things that we're doing, and I see the type of men that we have in this locker room. Like I said, it's not just me that's deserving of this award. I can name a bunch of people that could be standing here in my place now. It just happened to be me."
Can you reflect on your visit to Uvalde, Texas and the impact that had?
"That's an experience that I will forever be grateful to have the opportunity to make that trip. Roland (Ramirez), our head trainer, that's home for him. So, to be able to experience that, I always tell him thank you for allowing me to go back to his hometown in such a vital part of these young men's lives that were part of that football team I got a chance to meet. It was one of those experiences where it's very humbling. It's one of those things where you have to be there to really understand it and really feel what was going on. I'm just appreciative that I was able to go and be somewhat of a mentor to the guys. I can't imagine being in that situation, where something as bad as that happened. I'm a parent myself, and when you have kids that are involved, I can't imagine being a parent and having to pick up a phone call or go to the school and not have your kid there by your side. It's something I can't imagine. I was just taking it all in and being wherever I needed to be for them. It was definitely a humbling experience."
Do you feel you now have a connection or relationship to the city of Uvalde?
"I'll continue the relationship with just reaching out when I can or letting them understand that I know what it feels like to lose someone. Obviously, not to that degree, but I lost my father when I was 17, around the same age as those kids, so I can relate in the loss. I didn't lose it to violence, but loss is loss. So, I can be there for them and let them know that it does get better. There are better days ahead. But it is okay to have your emotions come out, and it's okay to not understand your emotions. For me, I just want to be a role model where they can sit and be real with me and talk to me about whatever they're feeling because I've been in their shoes with taking a loss of somebody that's close to you. I definitely can understand being a young man, you have some questions that you may not get answered. But if I can be a help of any source, that's what I want to be. That's something special to me whenever I can help a young man going through life."
DL OGBO OKORONKWO
Has being a starter helped you get into a better rhythm to start the game?
"I would say not too much. I'm just trying to make the most of the opportunities given to me."
How do you feel like you're playing right now?
"I feel like I'm playing good, but I feel like I could be playing better still. I'm going to just keep trying to improve."
How have you approached the run game when you're playing in a new scheme this year?
"I think run games are the mentality, so I just try to play as physical as possible."
What are some of the challenges you've seen from the Dallas Cowboys offense?
"They have a lot of good receivers. They have a good quarterback (Dak Prescott), have a good O-line. They're a good team."
What did it feel like to get your first sack of the season and take down Browns QB Deshaun Watson?
"It felt good. I'm just ready to get some more."
In terms of pressure, what's the overall goal?
"Just make sure the quarterback is as uncomfortable as possible."
What's your review of the fumble by DL Jerry Hughes that was ruled incomplete?
"It's over now, but I wanted it to be a fumble."
Can you talk about the positives that the defense was able to take away from the last game?
"There's a lot of positives. We feel that we're a defense trending in the right direction. We're starting to play more as a unit, so that's positive. Of course, we want to take the ball away more in the game, try to score, try to put some points on the board as a defense."
What have you seen from the Dallas Cowboys offensive line?
"I see athletic guys. I have looked more at the tackles than anything. I see the rookie (Tyler Smith) is playing really well, and then the other guy (Terence Steele), he's pretty good also."
DB DESMOND KING II
How has your transition back to corner been this year?
"It's good. I feel comfortable. I feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to do out there for the team. Just got to continue doing that."
What are your thoughts on the Cowboys vs. Texans rivalry?
"I'm not too familiar with the Dallas-Houston relationship. I'm not from here. I have heard people talk about the game, the battle of Texas. Not really sure what the rivalry is about. To me, it's just going to be another game that we got to go in with the goal to win."
What do you feel like the defense learned last game?
"Defensive-wise, you look at it, I felt like we played a very solid game this last game. There's not really much you could not see. We played great on defense. We got turnovers. We did what we had to do. Just got to find a way to score on defense. That's definitely one of our goals. As Lovie would say, when we take the ball away, we need to score with it."
What are your thoughts on the Cowboys passing game, particularly with QB Dak Prescott and WR CeeDee Lamb?
"They're electric. They're hitting on all cylinders. You got Dak Prescott, and they've got some really good receivers over there, so they're going to do what they've got to do win as well. They've got two great backs in Zeke (Elliott) and (Tony) Pollard. It's definitely going to be a challenge for sure, just like any other team."
What have you seen from the defense's progress over the last few weeks?
"Definitely. We see progress each and every week. We like to set goals for ourselves, individually and as a team. That's what we want to do so we can accomplish those each week."
What are your goals individually?
"For me, I would say just making sure I'm doing my part of the job. As a returner, as a cornerback, a guy on the defensive side that does a lot of communication, that's my job. It's to make sure we're playing together out there. To make sure the energy is out there on the field. That's what I take pride in. I feel like that's something I've got to keep staying on top of as I play."
The organization nominated LB Christian Kirksey for Walter Payton Man of the Year. What's he like as a teammate and as a person?
"I've been around Christian (Kirksey) for so long now. He was actually a senior in college when I was a freshman at Iowa, so I've been around Christian. Very great person, very selfless. He cares about everyone that's around him. Definitely a leader and I congratulate him for being nominated for that award. He is definitely the epitome of being a community guy. That's something that's definitely stood out for him since I've met him."
As your role has increased on defense, how has your return role been approached by Frank Ross?
"Whenever he senses I need a break, he finds a guy that can go in and help. With that, like I said, my job is to do my job on defense and also do my job in the special teams area. Whenever I have a chance to do that, I've got to make sure I do it at 110-percent, full speed."
What are your thoughts on the fumble?
"It happens. It was a great form tackle that the guy had on me. The ball just came out. It happens. I just can't let it affect my next play."