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Quotes: Thursday practice

Posted Dec 19, 2013

Members of the Houston Texans spoke to the media following Thursday's practice.

Interim Head Coach Wade Phillips
LT Duane Brown
OLB Whitney Mercilus
NT Earl Mitchell
DE J.J. Watt

Interim Head Coach Wade Phillips
(opening statement) “All right, we had a good practice today. I really feel like there was a lot of focus, a lot of energy today. It was one of our best practices certainly since I’ve been taking over. The guys were really into it and I appreciate that from them. Attitude and effort are the two big things that I concentrate on. I think their attitude is really good and we had a lot of effort in practice. Those are the things that we were working on. I tell them all of the time, ‘The will to prepare is just as important as the will to win.’ And especially in this situation, you have to have a will to prepare when your record is where it is now. But I really think they did that. They’ve gone beyond what you normally think in this situation. The injuries are pretty much the same. Everybody that I said yesterday would practice did practice. Garrett Graham did not practice again today. That’s where we are injury-wise.”

(on if he expects TE Garrett Graham to be back this week) “It’s similar to last week and he didn’t play last week. It’s not looking good from that standpoint. Now, (Brad) Smelley didn’t practice today either. He’s the one that had a bad back yesterday. We’re hoping he’s going to get better by game time. He’s iffy right now.”

(on if it was a clean practice today in regards to penalties) “Like I said, we over-emphasized yesterday after practice in their meetings. Actually, the penalties today were the scout teamers against the group that was going. So we didn’t have many penalties. I thought we were smooth in what we did. And we’ve got a veteran quarterback that everybody’s comfortable with. So it’s not a big change there.”

(on if he’s been able to work with QB Matt Schaub on anything now that he’s not just the defensive coordinator) “I didn’t go through the whole year and look at what he’s done so far. I didn’t go back and say, ‘Hey, he needs to do this or that.’ We put in the offense that he’s comfortable with (and) made sure that we’ve got the plays that he’s comfortable with. With Andre (Johnson), he’s comfortable with the routes with him and those kinds of things. It’s been a positive step back in that it’s another opportunity for him and I think he’s stepped up. I think he’ll play well this game.”

(on what QB Matt Schaub did in the Denver game last year that he’s not doing this year) “Well, we had a lot of big plays in that ball game as I remember. He had some big games, Detroit game, he had some big games last year, too. And earlier in the year, he had a big game against San Diego and so forth. He’s capable of having big games.”

(on if he saw anything to help QB Matt Schaub with the pick-sixes he had earlier in the year) “No, I think I don’t know if he was pressing at the time. Every once in a while, you get a bad play. Unfortunately, for a quarterback, most people make a bad play during a game, but his were glaring obviously and everybody saw those. He’s the kind of guy that’s going to keep working at it.”

(on what he’ll say to RB Dennis Johnson about making his first start and what he looks for from him) “Yeah, you try to encourage anybody that hasn’t been in there. As with (Ryan) Griffin, who played last week. You try to give them some confidence that you believe in them, which we do. But you also have to say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to hold onto the football.’ We’ve got important things first. Turnovers are key, especially with young guys playing that haven’t been playing. We emphasize those things. (Running Backs Coach) Chick (Harris) does a good job with him preparation wise and then we try to take away, again, things he’s not comfortable with, whether it’s protection or whatever. He’s either got to learn it by us working with him or we’ve got to eliminate those things as far as the game plans concerned. And that’s what we do during the week is decide on those things.”
(on how QB Case Keenum is handling everything after not playing well and getting hurt) “He was certainly disappointed but he knew he was hurt. I mean he knew that he couldn’t play this week. He’s doing everything he can to get well next week.”

(on the play of the special teams) “Yeah, I thought we were more consistent in most areas. We gave up one return where there were some things involved in that, that it wasn’t just the cover people, but they learned from it, and like the rest of our team, I think they’re really working hard at the things that we need to work on. We have a solid plan in what we’re doing and I’m comfortable with that.”

(on if anyone on the team is mailing it in) “No. No, I think quite the opposite. If you were around practice today, and probably talk to them in the dressing room, I think they feel like they had a good practice, which we did early in the year, the first practice of the season. This practice was comparable to those as far as I think energy was involved, and that’s what we’re looking for.”

(on how hard the team seems to play on game day) “Yeah they do, but it’s still about execution. So, we’ve got to be able to execute the plays or the defenses, or the special teams, and we can’t give up just a, you know it’s one play, we’ve been one play from winning, you know those kinds of things. You have to refocus; you have to keep focusing, have to keep working hard at what you’re doing and get those things done. And attention to detail is really key. That’s what we’ve been emphasizing; we are emphasizing, and I told them going into the meetings today, that’s what we want to make sure; the details are there for us, because that one play, or that two plays could make a difference in winning and losing.”

(on if it’s a good time to be playing against Broncos QB Peyton Manning because he gets your juices flowing) “I don’t know if it’s a good time anytime to be facing him. Yeah, I think it’s a big challenge. It’s certainly a tremendous challenge. You know you go into everything he’s done so far nobody has really slowed him down, but San Diego came through last game and played a good game against him, so we’re looking forward to it. It’s not a game where we say okay we’re going to go out and play, we’re going to go out and try to win. That’s why we play is to win.”

(on challenges that Denver’s wide receivers present) “Well again it’s a challenge because the quarterback does such a good job of getting the ball to whoever. He sees the weakness in the coverage. Every coverage has some kind of weakness. There’s not anything you can play unless you just rush two and dropped everybody, so there’s some areas where if a guy is playing inside man he’ll throw it outside, if he’s playing outside man he’ll throw it inside. If there’s a zone area, he’ll throw it into the correct place that’s the weakest area of the zone. That’s why he’s a great quarterback, but we’re going to challenge him some, we’re going to play zone some, we’re going to mix it up to try to give him as difficult a time as we can. I think the pass rush is going to be the key. How much pressure you can get on a guy. You know, they have a good offensive line. He throws it quickly a lot, but sometimes he just holds the ball back there until somebody gets open and then he finds them.”

LT Duane Brown
(on Interim Head Coach Wade Phillips saying there was good focus in today’s practice and if he noticed that) “Yeah, guys were very focused. The energy level was high and just flying around. Everyone was pretty much locked in to what was going on. Very, very clean practice overall.”

(on Interim Head Coach Wade Phillips’ focus on attention to detail and how that affected the team) “It’s been big on us. He gives us quotes daily and one of them that really stuck with me was, ‘The will to prepare has to be equal or greater than the will to succeed.’ That’s everything. You have to be ready to go to work every day, ready to prepare in the film room, on the field in practice, listening to your coaches and the game plan. You have to be locked in every day in order for you to come in and play and get the result you want on Sunday. So I think everyone is kind of taking heed to that.”

(on the focus on penalties and how much they have hurt the team) “Yeah, it’s all about focus. You can’t win when you have 10-plus penalties in two games. It’s tough. That’s been a big point of emphasis. We’ve had the referees out there. I think the guys have kind of thought about it having them out there. And just being accountable, accountable to your teammates and knowing how important it is.”

(on if it’s baffling to put great effort into the games and still not win) “It’s frustrating, but, like you said, the greatest thing is we’re all trying to win. We’re all playing hard for ourselves and for each other. You know the effort is there and the battle is there. We’ve just got to find a way to win. It’s all about being clean, executing and playing penalty free, being disciplined. We cut those two out, the penalties and cleaner play, we’ll have success. The effort is there. The talent is there. We just have to find ways to clean it up. Hopefully, we can do that this week.”

(on his thoughts on RB Dennis Johnson as a young running back) “He has some talent. He has a low center of gravity. He runs very hard. He plays with a lot of intensity and I like it. In our scheme, he makes that one cut and he’s going downhill. If there’s nothing there, he can get you three to four (yards) just falling forward and running behind his pads. I like him. I think he’s really going to help us out this week.”

OLB Whitney Mercilus
(on Interim Head Coach Wade Phillips stressing the importance of details and if the message is getting through to everyone) “Yeah, we’ve been working at it at practice. Just paying attention to the little things, like if somebody is supposed to step up to the line and show it’s kind of like a blitz, it’ll probably be a blitz or something like that and just drop off, so it’s not a blitz at all. Little things like that. It’s getting across pretty good.”

(on how nice it would be to hit Broncos QB Peyton Manning a couple of times) “Of course. He’s one of the great quarterbacks in this league and he’s been doing it for a long time. Definitely, to get a chance to get on him and hit a few times would be great.”

(on Interim Head Coach Wade Phillips saying the pass rush will be key in Sunday’s game) “Oh yeah, most definitely. You’ve got to get him to get the ball out quick, get him down and sack him a few times or what not. Watching the film, that’s what a lot of teams did and, every time they were able to get there, they were able to disrupt route patterns and things like that.”

NT Earl Mitchell
(on having a good practice today) “Yeah, you know we’re all getting after it, and we’re all flying around, and we’re just trying some different things, and I think it's going to be very productive for us.”

(on how difficult it is to get to Peyton Manning before he gets rid of the ball) “Yeah, he gets rid of the ball pretty quick, so that’s just something that we have to maintain; getting our hands up, make sure we’re getting to him fast, and just trying to be disruptive up front, and just making the guys’ job easier on the back end. That’s pretty much our job, and that’s what we have to do to get him flustered, and kind of get him moving.”

(on if he has seen the “Megawatt” comic) “It looks pretty good so far. That’s J.J. (Watt), man. It’s pretty interesting. That’s really cool”

DE J.J. Watt
(on how his new comic book came about and what he thinks about the outcome) “It’s pretty cool. Something that I did with Gatorade during the offseason, and I mean every kid kind of dreams about, I mean I don’t even know if you dream about being in a comic book, you kind of dream about being a superhero or things like that. To see myself on a comic book, and to see my entire story there, it’s really cool and it’s definitely something that I think helps get, for my foundation, it helps get a message across to kids that if you dream big and work hard you can do anything you want, and I think that’s the coolest part about it is I can hand it out to kids and they can read my story and see how I got to where I am today.”

(on if he likes how he turned out in the comic book) “I mean it’s cool, yeah. It’s cool. I think they did a great job and anytime you get to work with DC and how well-renowned they are, it’s a pretty neat deal.”

(on where kids can get the comic book) “I’m not 100 percent sure. I don’t know exactly where they can get it. I know I’m trying to get as many copies as I can so that we can hand them out to kids throughout my foundation, things like that. But, like I said for me it’s cool to get the message out there about how I got to where I am today. Just prove that there is always going to be doubters and there is always going to be people out there telling you what you can’t do, but if you believe in yourself and if you put in the time and the effort you can accomplish anything you want.”

(on if he’s had any interesting texts from family or friends about the comic) “The online version of it came out a while ago, so yeah, I got a ton of them. A lot of my friends and family, it’s just really cool. It really is a neat deal. It’s cool. Like I said, you look up to like Superman and Batman and you see all those things and superheroes are larger than life. It’s cool to kind of have a comic book. It’s a pretty cool deal”

(on Broncos QB Peyton Manning saying that he can’t do justice on him in a short interview) “If he can’t do me justice in a short interview, I can’t do him justice in a long one, because his career has been, obviously it speaks for itself, and he might be having the best season of his career this year, which is incredible. He’s a heck of a player. There’s literally not enough you can say about the guy, but the thing that I’m consistently most impressed by is how hard he works, and how smart he is, and how he really is a student of the game throughout his entire career. For me, I have the utmost respect for him, because of how hard he works despite how much success he’s had. It’s easy for all the guys to rest on their laurels and it’d be easy to just think it’s going to happen, but he works so hard to make it happen. That’s why I have so much respect for him.”

(on how not to fall for some of Peyton Manning’s fake calls) “I’ve been playing this game for a while, and we played them last year, so you just go about your business, and you focus on what you need to focus on. I think if you focus on the opponent too much you forget about yourself. You need to make sure that you do the right things. You need to make sure that you’re playing your best game.”

(on the fans needing to be loud to disrupt Peyton Manning) “Obviously we would appreciate as much noise as the fans bring. Like I said yesterday in an interview, I fully understand that there is frustration and that there is disappointment from our fans. That’s justified, but we always appreciate when they come out and support us. We appreciate the support they’ve given us through some tough times. We’re excited to play one more game here at home, and we’re hoping it’s a great one.”

(on the frustrations of the fans) “Like I said, I think I understand that our fans have frustration and disappointment in this season. I’m not going to try and sit here and tell you that you shouldn’t have disappointment in the way we’ve played this year. But I will tell you that we as players sincerely appreciate the ones who still come out and who still cheer for us, and who still support us. I appreciate everybody that comes out and supports us and I hope you support all the players on this team, because I know how hard we all work. I know how hard everybody prepares to go out there and play.”

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