Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell and quarterback Peyton Manning spoke to the Houston media via conference call on Wednesday. Following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell
(on C Jeff Saturday and his other offensive linemen's status for Sunday) "Well, it's one of those situations where it's day-to-day. At some point today, we're going to release the injury report. I think you'll be able to look at it from there. They're progressing and moving in the right direction. We'll see how it goes towards the weekend."
(on what he sees differently from the Texans' running game) "It's what I see overall about their team, they're getting better all the time. They're a good football team. They were a heck of a team last year and they're even better this year. They've certainly been able to control the line of scrimmage from a running standpoint. They've done a good job of controlling thing line of scrimmage on defense as well. All around, they're just a heck of a team that is well coached."
(on how the presence of S Bob Sanders changes their matchups with the Texans) "From a schematic standpoint, we're going to do the same things we've done previously. We don't change much in that regard. There's no question about it, Bob is a very talented player who certainly has a really good nose for the ball and we're happy to have him back out on the field."
(on the improvements of the Texans' secondary and the inexperience of their cornerbacks) "They've got a lot of experience, too. I think having guys like (SS Bernard) Pollard and (FS Eugene) Wilson back there can certainly temper some things for them. They're guys that understand their system. They play extremely well. They're great pros and obviously they have talent on the corners. Obviously (CB Glover) Quin, and the young fellow (CB Kareem Jackson) has got skills and ability. He certainly can move around extremely well. Jackson has all the things it takes to be an outstanding corner, so we've got our work cut out for us."
(on what similarities he sees between the Texans and Colts) "Obviously, they have a prolific offense that moves the ball extremely well and doesn't make very many mistakes. Ours has been one that has been able to have some success through the years. The other thing is, from a defensive standpoint, they're a team that I think does a great job of keeping things in from them. They don't give up many big plays. Another thing is that they've got a great kicking game. That's an area where both punting with (Matt) Turk and returning/covering, they're as good as any team we've faced."
(on how they were able to be successful with young cornerbacks last year) "One, obviously, I think that the young men that played, (CB Jerraud) Powers and (CB Jacob) Lacey, were guys that were determined to get better every single day. They have this kind of obsessive desire to improve, and I think that kind of carried over. From week to week, they got a little bit better. Also, our coaching staff does a great job with getting young players ready to play. Get them to play early, that's how our system is built. We're going to have some young players that have to step in a play a major role for us. I have to attribute that also to the fact that we have real good teachers."
(on what his team has done mentally to prevail in close games) "I don't think it's anything we do, particularly for any one team. We've been fortunate, let me put it that way. We've been fortunate over the years. We've been able to hang in there and squeak out a few here and there. Every year is different. This year, we've got to go out and prove ourselves all over again."
(on the state of their running game) "I think, obviously, we've focused in on it. We've worked to try and improve. We've looked at it from a schematic standpoint. We took a good look at it from a personnel standpoint. We tried to do our due diligence in those areas. The proof is in the putting. This is where you get a shot to really take a look and see how good you are. That's our goal and aim. We've improved, but we'll see."
(on what improvements he has seen from WR Pierre Garcon) "He's one of those guys that since he's been here, every year he's gotten a little better. He's always had the speed. He worked his first year and improving his hands. He's had good hands but has kept working on them to make them better. I think you see the same determination now. He has this unbelievable ability to really focus in on what he needs to improve upon. He's become a better route runner. He still has got a lot of work to do, but he's a better route runner and certainly has the explosion to be a good player. That's another thing that we expect. Our guys have to find a way to get better every single year, and we anticipate that he's in position to do that."
(on similarities between Garcon and WR Jacoby Jones) "They obviously both have unbelievable speed. Jacoby can run by you. He can return those punts and kickoffs. He's very dangerous in that area. I do see some similarities in that they both do have unbelievable speed. They're young. They're both certainly very important pieces of the puzzle for their teams."
(on the health status of WR Anthony Gonzalez) "Well, like I said, injury reports will come out. He hasn't had any issues. He looked real good during the preseason, and we expect that to continue."
Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning
(on what he expects from the Texans based on their improvements during the offseason) "I've said they're going to be a tough team like I've said every year. They have excellent players all across the board. They have outstanding upfront guys and linebackers that can run. They've got two experienced safeties. They've got some corners that can run. It'll be a tough challenge. It's always tough playing in Houston."
(on how he explains the Colts' dominance (15-1) in their series against the Texans) "I can't really speak for what has happened in the past. It's been different players and different teams and all different types of games home and away. It's a new season and that's how we're approaching it and I'm sure that's how they're approaching it. It will be a tough test. That's all we know."
(on what he thinks about Texans QB Matt Schaub and the improvements he has made over the years) "He had an outstanding year last year for sure. Their passing game is excellent. I know our defense will have their hands full trying to stop (WR Andre) Johnson and their passing game."
(on what has Texans SS Bernard Pollard has added to their defense since his arrival) "He is an active player. He's certainly an excellent tackler and run stopper. He gets down there and makes tackles and he finds ways to make plays in the passing game whether it's big hits or deflective balls coming his way or what not. There's no question he's made a big impact on their defense."
(on some things that the Texans did to provide him with complex looks) "It's hard to be too specific without being too revealing, but they have an excellent defense and are very sound in what they do. (LB) DeMeco Ryans is like the quarterback of the defense and gets them lined up. They have all the blitzes and different coverages. One thing they do a great job of is preventing big plays. In the games we've had against them, we really had to go with long drives. It's just tough to get big plays down the field. The idea is to try to take up three or four-yard completion or run and try to turn it into a 12-yard run. That's what you'll have to create big plays because they don't allow big plays very easily."
(on how he feels about the new position on the field for umpires) "It is what it is. It's official now that we are in week one. Everybody has to deal with it."
(on he approaches opening day in a hostile environment) "Well, opening day is always exciting. I've probably played on the road more than at home, although the past couple of years we have been at home, but opening day on the road is a special atmosphere. I've always felt like it has a kind of a playoff atmosphere and there is something special about it. Everybody wants to get the season started off right. I know it will be a great environment. Houston is always a loud place to play. They have good fans that are loud and I know it will be a tough game for us."
(on if he'll be looking to exploit the inexperience of the Texans' cornerbacks) "They're good players there. Obviously, a couple of them got experience last year playing a lot as rookies. Then they drafted a number one pick this year. Like I said, all I do is look at them on film and see what I see. I don't take a lot into account in how many years they've been playing. Either the guys can cover and run or they can't. All their guys can cover and run. They're very quick and you can see them make plays on the ball and making plays in the running game. It'll be a tough test for our receiver group."
(on how he feels about the Colts' running game heading into the opener) "Our goal is to be effective in all areas in our offense. We want it to show in our drop-back game and play-action game and our running game. That's our goal every single week in the whole season. We have excellent backs in (RB) Joseph Addai and (RB) Donald Brown. Certainly, the more we can get the ball in their hands in space with the chance to make some yards after the handoff, that's what we want to do. That goal will be no different this year than it has been in years past. We hope to improve on our statistics from last year because if we are running the ball well we know that could open up a lot of things in the passing game."
(on what he thinks about Texans DE Mario Williams) "I'm sure everybody that plays against the Texans is focusing on a way to keep number 90 away from the quarterback, and we're no different. He's an excellent player and very disruptive in the pass and running games. There's no question you're trying to factor him in on every single play, but their entire defensive line is very solid. They're active and smart. They've played together know for a couple of years. It was a young group a couple years ago, but now they've become more of a veteran group and they have a lot of starts together and you see that showing up on film."
(on how much Colts RB Joseph Addai has grown in the NFL) "(RB) Joseph (Addai) has truly expanded his game each year. He's become such a threat for us in the passing game in the backfield or lining him out wide at receiver. He just continues to improve in his passing game. He's an outstanding pass protector. He's very smart when it comes to blitzes and all the different changes we do in protection. He's on top of that and he's very physical at blocking with linebackers and defensive ends. We hope to give him a chance to be more of a factor in the running game. I think everybody has to do their part all across the offense in order to give him some chances to fine some free holes."
(on what it's like going against Houston every year with a bull's eye on their back) "That's not how we really look at it. We have things that we want to accomplish and I think sometimes people think we have a bull's eye on us or put ourselves high on a pedestal. That's not true. We have goals. We talk about being the hunters and going after teams and trying to do the things that we want to accomplish. We feel like our opponents have a bull's eye on their chest and that's who we're chasing and going after. We don't feel that responsibility or pressure. All we want to do is go out and accomplish the things that we want to accomplish. It's opening day and it's at Houston. It's an extremely important game for both teams being a division opponent. We want to win very badly, and I know they do, too. That's why I think it's going to be a great game. It's two excellent teams playing against each other. I think it's going to a pretty good ball game."
(on what he thinks about Texans head coach Gary Kubiak) "I think he's an outstanding coach. I've known him for some time now. A long time ago when I visited Texas A&M on an official visit going into my senior year (high school), he was at Texas A&M, and I've just seen him through the years playing Denver and playing Houston. I think he's a heck of a coach and a heck of a guy."
(on his memories of the visit to Texas A&M) "All I remember was coach R.C. Slocum was there and they had Bob Toledo was the offensive coordinator, who's now at Tulane and a good guy. All that I could remember is they were talking about how much they were going to throw the ball. They were going to air it out at Texas A&M. I checked the media guide and they had Rodney Thomas, Greg Hill and Leland McElroy on the cover. Three all start running backs, but they were telling me they're going to all of a sudden air it out and throw the ball. So it was a pretty good recruiting pitch. I didn't bite, knowing that throwing the ball at A&M was probably a long shot. They had a heck of a staff. Kubiak was there. Bob Davie was there. Mike Sherman was there. They had a heck of a staff, and that was the first time I met Coach Kubiak."
(on how high Texas A&M was on his radar) "Mike Sherman was the coach that recruited me. He'd been at Tulane and been at some of my practices, so I've gotten to know him and my dad had known Coach Slocum for a long time. Corey Pulling was a junior quarterback at the time (at A&M). I certainly looked at it, but I felt like I would've been handing off most of the time, which didn't sound like the most fun thing to do in the world."
(on Texans TE Owen Daniels) "(TE) Owen (Daniels) is a heck of a player. I hated to see what happened to him last year. I'm really happy to hear that he has rehabbed- I'm sure our defense isn't all that happy out there playing because of what a weapon he is- but it's a credit to him for rehabbing and getting back. There are a lot of similarities to (Colts TE) Dallas Clark in the fact that he's very versatile. He's a guy that you have matchup problems with. Do you put a linebacker or a defensive back on him? He's got great speed. He's a heck of a guy too and glad to see him back healthy."