HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
When you look at the Colts on offense, how much of a challenge is defending their speed, specifically when it comes to WR T.Y. Hilton and WR Phillip Dorsett?
“Big challenge. You got T.Y. Hilton, 16 yards per catch, great speed, great route-runner. (Donte) Moncrief, excellent speed. Phillip Dorsett. Tight ends are playing well. Jack Doyle has a bunch of catches. (Dwayne) Allen has a bunch of catches. It’s a big challenge. That’s something that we’re working on. Our guys are excited about going to Indy and playing a game. They know that it’s a big challenge.”
Do you have any updates on CB Johnathan Joseph and DE Jadeveon Clowney?
“Both of those guys are definitely in the day-to-day category.”
What’s the difference in your run defense now compared to when you played the Colts the first time?
“I think we’re coaching it better. I think the guys are doing their jobs better. I think we’re tackling better. I think we’re setting the edge better. I think just everything is a little bit better. I don’t think it has anything to do with schematics or anything like that. I think everybody, coaches and players, are just doing their jobs a little bit better.”
Are you impressed with how players are able to play through injuries at this time of the year?
What does it say about the players who are playing through injuries?
“That’s a subject that I could go on and on about. I just have always marveled and had a ton of respect for the guys that push through and understand the difference between pain and injury and understand what their role means to the team and understand basically the fact that they would do anything to play. We’ve got guys in there that are playing with rib injuries, shoulder injuries, ankles, knees. We’ve got guys that are working very hard to get back. A guy like John Simon. The guy is in here 12 hours a day rehabbing and trying to get back and help our team. That’s probably one of the things that, win or lose, we all know how important it is to win but just the amount of respect I have for those guys that put it out there every week and do whatever they’ve got to do to help the team win based on how they feel. I think it’s pretty incredible.”
How have you seen NT D.J. Reader develop and does it help him to have NT Vince Wilfork around?
“Yeah, definitely. Anytime you got a guy in there that’s played 12-13 years and that’s played that position, obviously it definitely has a little bit of a mentor role, Vince to D.J. D.J. is an excellent young player. I think the guy’s got a really good future. He’s tough. He’s another guy that’s playing injured. I think everybody at this time of the year has something that they’re dealing with. He’s definitely dealing with some things and playing through it. He does a great job with his pad level. He does a nice job of dissecting the play. He rushes the passer from inside there. For a large guy, he does it well. He’s got a good future.”
WR Jaelen Strong was back at practice today. Do you think he’ll be able to play this weekend?
“I don’t know how much he did today. I’d say he’s probably in the day-to-day category.”
WR Jaelen Strong has had some big games and catches against the Colts in the past. Is there something to a player playing well against certain teams?
“I don’t know. You’re right. Jaelen has had some production against these guys. Last year, he had a big touchdown on the boot play and had the big touchdown here at the end of the half last year too. I don’t know what it is. Jaelen is a good, young player. Just working hard to get back from injury.”
Colts Coach Chuck Pagano was complimentary of QB Brock Osweiler today on the conference call. How would you describe the way Brock played at the end of the last game against the Colts in Week 6, specially the last two series?
“The guy played really, really well. He threw the ball accurately. We protected well for him on those drives. He was able to see the field, get the ball to (C.J.) Fiedorowicz and (DeAndre) Hopkins. Had great poise in that situation. He played real well in those situations.”
How much has C Greg Mancz evolved since the beginning of the season and how much has that helped?
“He’s one of the more improved guys on our team this year. Undrafted guy out of Toledo. He came here. We knew he had a shoulder issue. He worked very hard to get back from that. Then he hurt his knee last year. The guy has been through a lot already in a pretty brief career. To be able to come out and when Nick (Martin) got hurt, to be able to fill in and do what he’s done, I think it’s a testament to him. It’s a testament to Mike Devlin. Greg is a very bright, tough, young player that we all, in our locker room and in our coaching staff, we have a lot of respect for him.”
How important is it to have CB A.J. Bouye when somebody like CB Johnathan Joseph gets hurt? Also, how can someone like CB Robert Nelson help you during this time?
“A.J. has had a good year. A.J.’s got length. He’s got speed. He’s tough. He’s covered well. He’s tackled well. He’s had a good year. He’s got good ball skills. He needs to keep going. We need him to play at that level these last four weeks. It’s been a great year for A.J. He has done a nice job for us. There will be a number of guys. We’ve got, like you said, Robert Nelson and Kareem Jackson are working hard out there. We just signed (Al-Hajj) Shabazz. There are a number of guys out there that are contributing in the secondary. I thought Quintin Demps at safety had a really good game against Green Bay, tackled well, dissected the play well and played well against Green Bay.”
What is different about your team now from the last time you faced the Colts in Week 6?
“I don’t know. I think every week is different. I’m not sure what’s different about our team right now. I think we’ve got to get back on the winning side of things. What’s different is we’ve lost three in a row and we’ve got to get back on the winning side of things. Our guys realize that. We had a really good practice today. A lot of energy, a lot of focus. They know how important the game is. They know that they’re undefeated in the division and if it stays that way, then obviously they’ll win the division. We’re looking forward to the challenge. We know it’s going to be a challenge and we’re excited about it.”
Will S Andre Hal be back this week?
“Yeah, he’ll be back. He’ll be back out there.”
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR GEORGE GODSEY
Can you build off the way QB Brock Osweiler played last time you faced the Colts in Week 6 and the other games he’s played well in?
“I think really more the Indy game because it’s the same opponent this week. We just have to take what we did well against them and the things that we didn’t do well and improve that as we’re getting ready.”
What did QB Brock Osweiler do well in the past game?
“I think he protected the ball. Made some critical third downs, whether it was on his feet or completing the ball. Did a nice job there making a big fourth down play when we needed it and still keeping us alive there in the fourth quarter. Those things and getting started a lot faster this Indy game.”
What jumps out to you about the Colts defensive personnel?
“They’ve been able to create negative plays with new bodies out there, whether it’s in the secondary, up front. They rotate a lot of guys. They’ve had some injuries, just like most teams do at this part of the season but they’ve still been able to work together as a unit. Creating negative plays, putting offenses in some tough situations.”
WR Jaelen Strong played some slot receiver in the past. Now that he’s getting back to being healthy, is that a spot he can help you?
“We look at that group just with the tag ‘receiver’, meaning whether they play inside, outside and the same thing with the tight ends. So whatever we feel like gives us one of the best matchups or the most flexibility within the group to create some space to get open.”
What are your thoughts on what’s going on with the pass protection?
“Just the past game, Green Bay had a good unit up there. They were able to create some pressure on Brock (Osweiler) and for us to get rid of the ball. It’s a new week this week. Try to shore up some of those cracks up front.”
What do you think about the kind of season TE C.J. Fiedorowicz has put together?
“That’s a big thing. Each week is a new week. He’s able to put them on top of each other as far as production. He’s been a nice asset for the quarterback as far as third down, normal downs, play-action. For us in the running game, he’s a big factor as far as controlling the edge.”
How much does the game plan vary from the first matchup to the second when you play a team twice in the same season? Does it have to do with the changes in personnel?
“I think that’s a big point, the personnel. In our opinion, it’s always about the players as far as the matchups, controlling – whether it’s in the running game or the passing game – making sure that we’re in a good position schematically but also that the matchups are to how we see the play and the vision of it.”
Is that stretch towards the end in the last game against Indianapolis in Week 6 the best the offense has played and how do you duplicate that?
“Those seven minutes there when we got the ball back, you had to put every play together and that’s really what we’re striving for. We’ve had some spurts there of three or four plays and then a negative play, which that’s what you have to eliminate. You have to put them all together and that’s how you get points.”
ILB BRIAN CUSHING
What do you think about being the Texans’ nominee for the 2016 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award?
“Just a huge honor. You know, obviously something I’m very happy about and very thankful for, to be nominated and voted into. So, it’s one of those things, you start to work, do a little bit of work, you start the foundation and it kind of takes off on its own. There’s a lot more people than myself behind the scenes that really got things going and made it to where it is today. So it’s just, it’s awesome. It’s an incredible honor and I’m extremely thankful and just looking to continue to build upon what we have.”
You’re very passionate about the family involvement you have in the military and all of the background you have. What have you learned this year about some of the military families you’ve gotten to know and interact with?
“I think a lot of them are very similar. They’re very hard-working families, they’re good people and they just want the best for each other and this country. I think the biggest thing that, when I went overseas was I just kind of asked a bunch of questions about what they wanted to see from people like me and what we could do better to help military families and guys coming back from serving over in their tours and what can we make more accessible or easier and make the transition better for when they do return back home.”
What did you think was possible when you started the Brian Cushing Foundation and what have you seen it grow into? Has it been a little bit surprising?
“Yeah, it has. Like I said, there’s been a lot of people that have really helped out. It’s been definitely a team effort and something I’ve been pleasantly surprised with. It’s just been an awesome experience from the day my wife and myself decided to really go after it and do this, and obviously for the military cause.”
WR DeANDRE HOPKINS
You’ve played in Indianapolis a few times. What are some of the challenges of playing there?
“Home field advantage, the crowd, the way those guys play. A lot of teams in the NFL, when they’re at home it’s kind of – I don’t know how to explain it. Kind of more on your high horse, I would say. Then, you know, you have the crowd factor also.”
Was it big to get that first win in Indianapolis?
“Yeah, it was. It took me two seasons before I won there. That’s probably unheard of, a team never winning in a place that long. But we got it done so we’re over that challenge.”
What are some challenges of facing their defense?
“We know those guys, they know us. We play each other twice a year, so that right there is a challenge alone.”
So everyone knows what each other is doing?
“We know each other as players, not so much as schematic on what we’re going to do. You almost don’t have to study those guys and they almost don’t have to study us. As long as I’ve been going against Vontae Davis since I’ve been in the NFL, we know a lot of each other’s tendencies.”
What do you think about the matchup with CB Vontae Davis?
“I love it. He’s a competitor. You have to love going up against a guy like that every game.”
How much is this losing streak wearing on you guys?
“It’s definitely not wearing on us. We know what we have, we know what we have ahead of us. So, nobody in this locker room is down. Everything is right in front of us.”
As one of the veterans on this team, are you trying to remind everyone that you can still do whatever you want with this season?
“Of course. A three-game losing streak can get a lot of guys down, especially guys that are young that have never lost like that coming from college. Just to show them, it’s a long NFL season. I’ve seen a lot of teams with losing records make it to the playoffs and go deep. You just have to encourage those guys.”
This has been kind of a challenging season for you. How have you managed to stay up through all the challenges that you’ve faced this season?
“Statistically it’s been challenging, but I don’t really go off statistics.”
When is this offense at its best?
“We’re at our best when we score points. But we’re definitely at our best when everybody’s on the same page, when we start early. When we start early and get things going, guys kind of get into the game a little bit more and just kind of get a feel for the game. When we start early is when this offense clicks the most.”
Has it been tough on you this year to not have the kind of production you’re used to?
“No, it hasn’t. My team is where – what are we? No. 1 in our division? So, no. I don’t think it’s – no, definitely not.”
Do you look back at the last part of the first Colts game this year and wonder why the offense hasn’t looked like that more often?
“It’s really out of my hands. I just go out there and do my job. I control what I can control. I’m not perfect. Nobody on this team is perfect, so just come in to work every day. Guys are going to make mistakes. But that’s probably one of my better couple minutes of football that we’ve played.”
I’m talking about as a team.
“Yeah. Just have to get on track. Have to go out and make plays.”
RB LAMAR MILLER
Do you think what you did against the Colts last time showed what you can do in the run game?
“Pretty much. I just give the credit to the offensive line. They did a great job when we played them the first time. Just having the guys do their assignment and just getting movement up front is always good.”
You’ve dealt with a lot of things throughout the year. How are you feeling?
“I’m good. I’m getting there. This part of the season, everybody is nicked up a little bit, but I’ve been getting a lot of treatment and just try to be ready by Sunday.”
At this point of the year, what allows you to tough it out when it comes to injuries?
“Just do it for your teammates and just for this organization. I’m here to win games. Every Sunday, I just try to do my best to help this team any way that’s possible.”
Head Coach Bill O’Brien told us the other day that you’re injured in four different parts of your body. How tough is it to play when you are hurt in so many different places?
“I mean, this part of the season I’m pretty sure everybody is dinged up or beat up. It’s all about just being there for your teammates, getting treatment and just treating your body for the most part.”
Have you ever been on the injury report this much in your career?
“I’m not really sure. I don’t keep track of that to be honest. I’ve been beat up for a little bit now but that’s part of the game.”
When you came here people were talking about the amount of touches you had versus how much you had at Miami. Did you want to show people that you can be that workhorse?
“Yes of course. That’s part of the reason why I came here. I know in the past couple years they used to give their running backs the ball and that’s one of the decisions that I made. I just want to show everybody that I’m able to carry the load and just try to make plays.”
When are the Texans at their best?
“I just say when we’re a more balanced offense. Well from the offensive side of the ball. I don’t really know about the defense side, but I feel like if everybody is on the same page on the offensive side of the ball, I feel like we’ll be a dominant group.”
What does the offense need to do to become a more dominant group?
“It’s just the little things. I think that everybody just has to be on the same page and we just got to be consistent. We can’t start fast and don’t finish. I think we just got to put it all together and once we do that I think we’ll be good.”
When you look back at the end of the Colts game from earlier this year, do you wonder why you can’t play like that every game and all game?
“I think at that particular time that everybody was just on the same page, clicking, and I think the coaches were doing a great job of just getting the ball to the playmakers. Everybody just wanted it. I think when their number was called, people were just making plays. That’s just it.”
QB BROCK OSWEILER
When you look back at the previous game against the Colts and look at what happened late in the game, can you use what you did then to get ready for the next game against them?
“Certainly. Going back yesterday and looking at the first time we played the Colts, I think offensively we just started out too slow. We got behind on the sticks on a couple plays. I missed a couple reads, maybe a couple MIKE points and things of that nature and that really put us behind in the first half. And then when we got into the second half and especially into the fourth quarter, we kind of jumped into a two-minute mode almost. We played at the line of scrimmage. We played in a sub-personnel grouping and we were able to catch a rhythm. I think anytime you can catch a rhythm offensively, that’s when you see points go up on the board. That’s when you see first down after first down after first down, so I think the biggest key going into the second game is trying to replicate that fourth quarter. Find that rhythm early in the first quarter so that we can have that success for the entire game.”
In the two-minute overtime stretch in the game against the Colts, there seemed to be a lot of no huddle offense. Is that something you are a little more comfortable with and would you like to see the offense go in that direction more often?
“I’m comfortable with whatever Coach (George) Godsey calls. I really am. You know, playing in the two-minute mode, if you will, the no huddle at the line of scrimmage, that’s something that I’ve had a small mix of going back to high school. In college, we never huddled in my last two years in school and then even in previous places. In Denver, there were modes where we wouldn’t huddle so it’s something that I’m certainly very comfortable with but at the same time as an offense you want to be able to change the tempo. So sometimes you want to play in two-minute. Sometimes you want to go as fast as you can. Where other times maybe you want to huddle, call two or three plays in the huddle, make sure you’re taking advantage of what the defense is doing and work some cadence at the line of scrimmage. I’m comfortable with whatever coach calls.”
Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano was very complimentary of you in the conference call when he said that quarterbacks sometimes get too much credit when they win and way too much credit when they lose. Is that something that you can understand?
“I understand what he’s saying because I’ve heard so many coaches say that exact same thing before. Whether I was the quarterback or somebody else was the quarterback, I’ve heard that saying and so I understand it. Certainly any time, whether we win or lose, and we come in and we watch that tape on Monday, there’s nobody who’s harder on themselves than me. I always believe that I can play better. I’m striving for perfection every single week and so there’s nobody that’s ever going to judge themselves harder than my own self, but I can certainly understand what Coach Pagano is saying.”
Can you touch on how important this game is especially since you are going into Indianapolis where the franchise has only won once in their history?
“This game Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis, this is the biggest game of our season. I’m viewing our season right now as a one-game season and it’s a one game that we must win. I think our entire football team understands that. There’s great urgency in this building right now and it reflected at today’s practice. No doubt about it, we understand as a team how important Sunday is and you can expect our best effort come Sunday.”
You had success in the beginning of the season throwing deep to WR Will Fuller V. Are you seeing those opportunities now and do you feel like you’re missing those opportunities?
“I don’t think we’ve necessarily missed any. Now maybe have connected on all of them? No. But I think Will has recognized the look. I’ve recognized the look when the defense the past couple weeks has presented it. Now certainly we need to find a way to make those turn into completions and explosive plays down the field that hopefully lead to touchdowns, but at the end of the day, I’m going to execute to the best of my ability whatever play Coach (George) Godsey calls. If Will has a deep route or go ball or post or something like that and he’s within the progression and the defense presents the proper coverage, I’m certainly looking to take shots. At the same time, you have to take whatever the defense gives you and sometimes that’s just trying to rack up completions with underneath throws and throwing on time. No doubt about it, Will is an extreme talent. He has great speed. We all know that. He has a vertical threat that you really can’t coach. Anytime we can stretch the field with Will, we’re looking to do it.”
You told us in Green Bay that you’re close to exploding as an offense. Was that confirmed when you reviewed the tape from the Green Bay game?
“Yes, that is confirmed. Without going into too many details, it’s difficult to explain, but what I mean by that is we are – football is the ultimate team sport. We are so close to having all 11 guys being in sync on every single play and I think to be successful in this league week in and week out it takes all 11 guys every single play to be on the same page. Obviously we have a lot of young pieces that are contributing in big roles right now that are constantly learning week in and week out and like I said if could throw up the film right here and I can have the clicker and walk you guys through I think you would understand what I’m saying. Because of that, I have so much confidence in what we’re capable of doing. Now we need to go out there and do that and make those plays and have all 11 guys be in sync. That’s what we’re striving to do in practice and I thought we got off to a great start today. I thought the energy was great. I thought the focus was really great and like I said we’re so close to getting all 11 guys moving forward, on the same page every single play and I think when that really happens obviously everybody is going to be able to recognize it and they’re going to know what I’m talking about.”
WR Jaelen Strong was back at practice today but WR Braxton Miller was not. How difficult has it been to deal with injuries to the offense this season in regards to getting where you want to be as a team?
“It certainly plays a factor in it, but I will never use injuries as an excuse for not playing the way we should be playing as an offense. This is the National Football League. Injuries occur to every single team every single week. Every single team in the National Football League faces adversity throughout the season. When it comes to adversity and injuries, to me it’s all about who responds to it better. Who steps up? Who was in a backup role and now they just got put into a starting role and who is prepared to step up and play like a starter and make an impact for their team? Like I said, I’ll never use adversity or injuries as an excuse. To me, it’s all about who’s prepared to step up and fill those shoes.”
Coach George Godsey said that the Colts defense is good at creating negative plays. Is that what you are seeing and is that what makes them effective?
“Certainly. The thing about the Colts is they like to blitz. Especially in their base package and their blitz and their movement that they do with their defensive front and their linebackers and their safeties, a lot of times it creates run-throughs which, you know, creates tackles for loss. Now you’re behind on the sticks and obviously that’s always hard to overcome a second-and-long, a first-and-long, obviously a third-and-long. I think their defensive front, linebackers and safeties do a great job doing that and then their corners. You look at (Vontae) Davis outside and he’s not afraid to jump on a ball. He’s not afraid to go for a pass breakup or an interception. I just think their defense as a whole really understands their scheme. I think they execute their scheme very well and they’re not afraid to throw different looks at you throughout the game. I think their safeties do a tremendous job of disguising coverages and looks and what not. I think Coach (Chuck) Pagano has just done a tremendous job coaching those guys and those guys do a great job executing.”
CB AL-HAJJ SHABAZZ
What do you feel like you’ll bring to the table as a big corner?
“As a big corner? I’m telling you right now, whatever the coaches need me to do, I’m with it. I told them I’m coming to work. Wherever coach sees a fit, whether that’s special teams, whether that’s making an impact on defense right now – whatever they need – I’m willing to do it.”
A lot of information for you to take in, right?
“Definitely, definitely. But I’m definitely up the challenge. I don’t have a playbook anymore – it’s an iPad – so I have to hit that iPad all night tonight and get with a couple of the veteran guys, and I think we’ll be OK.”
Can you take us through where you were and how you found out you had been claimed by the Texans?
“I was actually about to sign back with the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was actually in the building signing back with Pittsburgh and I got the call that they grabbed me. At first, I didn’t know that was like – I thought the guy was like joking with me. They were like, ‘No, man, you’re going to Houston.’ So, everybody’s sending congrats. I didn’t really have time to really dwell on anything. Look, go home, pack a bag, I’ll be at the airport. Welcome to Houston.”
What’s that whirlwind been like?
“The last 48 hours, it’s been crazy. I’m tired, didn’t get any sleep, but we have other times for that, man. We’ll get rest later. It’s not the time for it. These guys have a big game coming up. Whether they need me in on special teams right now, I’m willing to do whatever it takes so these guys can win this division.”
Have you seen enough to know that this team is in win-now mode?
“Yes sir, I got that feel. And they’re practicing like that. I come in and these guys are going hard, so I have like, you know, not much margin for error. I have to come in, I have to go right at. You see these guys come in working like what am I doing that I’m not working just as hard? I see guys running after practice, doing extra drills, I jump right in because I’m trying to pick up right where I left off. I’m just trying to make sure I fit in at the culture going on over here. I like what they’re doing over here in Houston. Trying to make it happen.”
How challenging is it to get up to speed as quickly as you can with the terminology and that kind of stuff?
“Like I said before, I’m definitely up to the challenge. I have veteran guys already coming to help me, I have, I told you, on the offensive side of the ball, some of my Philly (Philadelphia) guys already here. Even the coaches, some La Salle guys, so people I’m familiar with that kind of know my background, and they’re helping me so much, man. First it starts with my preparation, what I do when I leave this building and while I’m in this building, and staying close to these veteran guys and coaches, man. So, whatever they need me to do, again, I’m with it. So if that’s put extra time in, might not get as much rest but we’re going to get as much of this terminology down, this playbook, as possible.”
Who are your Philadelphia guys?
“You have Jaelen Strong over there, West Catholic. You have Will Fuller (V) over there, Roman Catholic. But I was a public league guy. I didn’t really get to see those guys. Public school guy. Grades were shaken up a little bit but we got it together.”
WR JAELEN STRONG
How’s your ankle feeling?
How tough has it been to be out this long and how excited are you to be on the road to being back?
“It’s a process. Just one day at a time. Just thankful to be back out there with the guys.”
How much have you enjoyed playing the Colts in your time in the NFL?
“Each team is fun to play against. The Colts being in our division, it means a lot more so just have to take it one practice at a time.”
What do you need to be able to do that will let you know you’re ready to be back out there?
“You have to ask Coach (Bill) O’Brien. He makes all decisions, who plays and who doesn’t play. So, have to ask him.”
When you first got hurt, what were you capable of doing?
“When I first got hurt? Probably nothing. Just glad, blessed to be back out there with the team.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH COLTS HEAD COACH CHUCK PAGANO
We want to ask you about a quote you just said to the Indianapolis media about the last game against the Texans earlier this season. You were up 23-9, then what happened?
“The artery opened up and they (the media) asked about momentum. They (the Texans) caught fire and we couldn’t do anything about it, and we started gushing blood and there wasn’t enough tape or gauze to get it stopped. It is what it is. Credit, just like I credited that football team, the offense and the defense getting that job done. They deserved to win. They played better than we did down the stretch and they got the win. You try to look at it, you learn from it and try to grow. They’re a different team right now and we’re a different team right now. It’s going to be a huge challenge. You know how I feel about Coach O (Bill O’Brien) and just the whole organization and that football team. We’ve got nothing but great, great, great respect for them. They’re the reigning champs. Top-5 defense and all that stuff. Got game-wreckers all over the place. So, we got our hands full.”
The last seven minutes of the last game against the Texans, you saw QB Brock Osweiler at his best. How would you describe the way he played then?
“I mean, he’s got all the talent in the world. He can throw the ball. He knows where to go with the ball. It’s like any quarterback. When our guy has time and we do a good job of giving him time and things like that and guys get open and make plays. I know playing that position and all that stuff, when you win, you probably get too much of the credit, when you lose, the same thing happens. Brock is a heck of a football player. We’ve got great respect for him. We’ve got enough video evidence. We’ve got enough evidence from the end of that ballgame to know that he is a great football player. He can make plays. He can throw the ball. There’s not a throw that he can’t make. He’s athletic, he’s big and he’s strong. I don’t think people give him enough credit for his ability to extend plays, his ability to move the chains. We’ve seen him in the last couple ballgames, when things aren’t there and they take away everything down the field, his ability to scramble and get first downs. So, we don’t listen to any of that. We just watch the tape and prepare from that. We know we’re going to have our hands full.”
Colts RB Frank Gore has dealt with injuries throughout his career but he is now eighth all-time in rushing yards. What does that say about him?
“I think little Franky from Coral Gables High (School), he never listened to anybody. He’s one of those guys that just talks to himself and just comes to work every single day and plays, as long as I’ve seen him, he plays with a huge chip on his shoulder. He loves the game. He’s got great passion for the game. He loves his teammates. He lays it all on the line every time he gets out on the field, regardless of the adversity and obstacles that he’s faced throughout his career. He’s a very, very determined guy. He’s very driven to be the best, and it’s not about stats. You try to give him game ball for surpassing Tony Dorsett on the all-time rushing list and becoming eighth all-time and all that stuff. I’m sure there was a bunch of people a long time ago that helped motivate Frank Gore to get to where he’s at today because they probably told him all the reasons why he couldn’t. He is continually year after year proving people wrong and he continues to do it now. Just grateful and thankful that he’s on our team.”
What have the Texans done recently to improve their run defense?
“They’ve got obviously a bunch of really good players in that front seven. You can’t block Vince (Wilfork). As many years as he’s been playing, you just can’t move him. They get great knock-him-back at the line of scrimmage. They set great edges with (Whitney) Mercilus and (Jadeveon) Clowney on the outside, (Brian) Cushing and (Benardrick) McKinney on the inside. The front seven, they do a great job and Romeo (Crennel) does a great job of scheming you. I know they played some nickel personnel versus two tight end sets versus San Diego. They mix it up. He mixes in some pressure. But more than anything else, they play extremely hard. They are extremely well-coached. They play with great fundamentals and technique. It’s a great tackling defense and they’re always on the attack. They try to set the tempo and they determine the pace of the game. Again, they smother you. They’re sound. Everybody is where they are supposed to be and that’s why you don’t see long runs happening, that’s why you see a bunch of negative yardage plays. We’re going to have to do an unbelievable job just to try to make sure that we don’t have a bunch of negative plays. A zero gain or a one-yard gain or a two-yard gain, that’s going to happen. We understand that. RAC and that staff, they do a great job. The players, again, do a great job. Just how they play the game.”
What does it say about the resiliency of your team considering you are tied for first in the AFC South after a tough start to the season?
“Great character. Great leadership in that locker room. We’ve got a coaching staff that stays the course. We understand that these seasons are long. They’re marathons and they’re not sprints. We always talk about ‘don’t judge,’ meaning don’t look at the scoreboard. Sixty minutes, you go one play at a time and the season is not different. You take it one game at a time. Never too high, never too low. We can’t sit here – you look back at that game and where we were record-wise, it would be real easy to go ‘woe is me’ and fold your tent, but that’s not our character. That’s not our foundation. That’s not in our DNA because of our players and because of our staff, our coaches. They do such a great job. When you stick to that and you keep chopping wood, as I always say, you keep plugging away. You try and get better and get better and get better, it’ll eventually turn for us. You can’t ride the ebbs and flows of the season. There’s a bunch of ups and downs. We all understand that and know that. Winning is no different than losing. Last week’s game has no relevance or significance on this one. It’s great to get a win and all that stuff, but you got to come back to work and you have to prepare, and if you don’t do that, you’re going to get your butt whipped. That’s what we got to do.”
How do you think your offense is playing led by Colts QB Andrew Luck?
“Andrew obviously missed the Pittsburgh game and came back and played well for us a week ago, obviously, and didn’t miss a beat there. Again, he’s a great pro and a great talent and he works extremely hard at his craft. I thought our guys up front did a great job. I thought our tight ends and backs helped out in protection. I think we gave him good time to get the ball out. Our guys on the outside, our tight ends and wide receivers, they made plays. They did a good job and it’s something to build on.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH COLTS RB FRANK GORE
You had a 100-yard rushing game the last time you faced the Texans. What did it mean to you guys to get the running game going in that game and throughout the rest of the season?
“We wanted to see - because it was Houston, we know what kind of ball. Good opportunity to get a chance to run the ball (inaudible). That’s part of football.”
You are tied with Houston and Tennessee for the top of the AFC South. Knowing what happened the last time you faced the Texans is there an extra sense of motivation?
“We know what situation we’re in. I know they also may change because they’re the same way. It’s going to be a tough game. We just want to go out there and try to get a win. Get a win and put us in a better situation. We know it’s going to be tough. We know that it’s a good team. Especially, they’re good on defense. They play hard. We’re going to try to do whatever it takes to win.”
What does it mean for you to move into 8th place all-time rushing?
“I’ve been blessed, man. I’ve been blessed. Especially because of what I’ve been through coming out of college. Everybody was saying that I was injured and I wouldn’t be in the league that long. (Inaudible) Now my name is being mentioned with the guys who I’ve passed so far. That’s a blessing.”
What’s been the secret to your longevity? A lot of running backs at this stage of their career would be slowing down but you’re still among the top backs in the league.
“Honestly, first I have to thank the man up above. (Inaudible) I’ve been blessed, man. Also, I’d say the way I work hard in the offseason and also my young guys who I train with. (Inaudible) my boy Lamar (Miller), they keep me going. They push me. They push me in the offseason to get off my feet. Me competing against them in the offseason, that’s when I can tell that I’ll be OK for the season.”
How much longer do you think you can keep going?
“I don’t know. I just take it one day at a time, man, one year at time. I don’t think about it. I still love it. I’m playing to try to get a ring, man. I hope one day that it comes. Hopefully we keep winning and get an opportunity this year, then I’ll see from there. But I just take it one year at a time.”
What’s it like watching QB Andrew Luck do his thing where he’s always trying to extend the play and never thinks a play is over?
“It’s big, man. Always trying to win, you know? He’s always trying to make plays, man. Great dude, loves the game, plays the game the right way. A leader, man, and I’m happy to be playing with him.”
Ever since the last time you played the Texans their rushing defense has been much better, and a lot of that is because of Texans DE Jadeveon Clowney. What have you seen from him?
“They play good, man. They play great together, they play hard. That No. 90 (Jadeveon Clowney), man, he’s a beast. We played against him last year. Even though he wasn’t getting sacks and stuff, he’s a football player. He helps their team out a lot. My boy big Vince (Wilfork), he’s playing the nose real well. Their linebackers – they’re good as a whole. They have what you need to win, to be successful on defense. They play good as a whole.”
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN’S CONFERENCE CALL WITH INDIANAPOLIS MEDIA (Transcribed by Colts PR)
From an opposing coach standpoint, what have you seen on the film out of Andrew Luck the past few weeks?
“He’s a great player, he does a lot of things well. He has great command at the line of scrimmage, he is an excellent competitor meaning he never thinks the play is over. He throws the ball very accurately but he can also pull it down and run with it. He is tough, one of the toughest guys in the league. The guy has got it all, he is a great player.”
When you are facing him is it a pain to have to prepare for him?
“Absolutely, one of the hardest guys that we face as far as preparation. Very difficult to prepare for because he has the ability to extend plays and that’s very difficult to prepare for in practice.”
With all the skill position players on your offense, how frustrating or tough has it been of late to try to get going offensively?
“We need to do a better job, we are not scoring enough points. We look at it and we feel like we are close. Against Green Bay it was mistake here, mistake there. We only had one three-and-out against Green Bay but we would drive the ball and maybe a turnover or a penalty or a tackle for a loss or something like that, an incompletion. We feel like we are close and we need to get going here.”
Had you been involved in a game like the last one where for so long the Colts dominated and then it just flipped?
“Whenever you play the Colts you have to play 60 minutes. Houston versus Indianapolis is a rivalry, it’s always a tough game. Two really good coaching staffs, a lot of good players, you just never know in this league when the game is going to turn. You have to keep playing. You have to play the next play. You can’t let one play get you down and you can’t let one play get you too high. You have to play every play and that is kind of the way these games have gone.”
I assume with only a month to go and with the way the standings are you aren’t trying to downplay the importance of this game?
“No, this is a divisional game, big game. I think everybody understands that.”
QB BROCK OSWEILER’S CONFERENCE CALL WITH INDIANAPOLIS MEDIA (Transcribed by Colts PR)
In the first game, what triggered the turning point for you guys?
“I think offensively we were making too many mistakes early in that football game. We were making too many mistakes that were putting us behind on the sticks. It was putting us in very difficult down and distance situations. I feel like we just left a lot out there on the field in that first half. In the fourth quarter when we were down 14 we jumped into a two-minute mode and we caught a rhythm offensively. I think that any time you can find rhythm within a football game that is when things really start flowing, that is when points get up on the board. Ultimately I think that is what you saw in the first game.”
Does the second time around feel like an AFC South Championship game for you?
“It certainly feels like a playoff game. I know personally our football team knows how important this game is. We know that it’s a must-win game if we want to accomplish the goals that we set out for early in the year. I know the Colts feel the same exact way so I expect this game to be played in a playoff-like atmosphere and I am sure both teams are going to give it everything they have.”
What was it that you felt you learned the most from Peyton Manning last year?
“I think the biggest thing that I learned in my time being around Peyton Manning is simply just how to be a pro. How to be the same guy every day, how to follow a process, how to show up in April, how to show up in August, September and October and be the same guy. How to be the same pro every single day and really how to go about your business, how to study, leadership qualities on and off the field. Ultimately just really how to be the same pro every single day.”