HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
Are you encouraged by the progress DE Jadeveon Clowney is making and do you think he is feeling better?
“Yeah. He practiced today. I would still put him in the day-to-day.”
When you look at the Colts offense, what do you see when it comes to the tight ends?
“Jack Doyle’s got about 40 catches. You’ve got (Dwayne) Allen in there that’s got a bunch of catches. Does a good job on third down, the red area. (Erik) Swoope. Yeah they’ve got a good threesome of tight ends there that are - you know, all three you’re going to have to deal with in different ways.”
When you were the head coach at Penn State, did you ever run into new Baylor Head Coach Matt Rhule and if so what do you think about him?
“Matt Rhule is an excellent coach. Played at Penn State. Walked on there. I think he was on special teams, earned his way onto that type of deal. He’s been an excellent coach wherever he’s been. Tom Coughlin thinks very highly of him. He coached for the Giants. Matt came to Penn State a couple times when I was there. Some of the things we had going on there and I think it’s a home run hire by Baylor.”
What do you think of WR DeAndre Hopkins’ production this season and what he’s been able to do?
“DeAndre is a pro. That’s what he is. He’s a pro’s pro. He’s a guy that shows up every day and works hard. Great teammate. Been very key for us on third down. He’s made some big catches for us in games. Maybe he doesn’t have the amount of catches that he would like or that we would like right now but he has made – all of his catches have been very, very important. They’ve been catches that, you know, move the chains and have been important, so I think the guy has done everything we’ve asked him to do this year.”
The last couple months you have had multiple guys running the football very well each game. Is there an advantage you see to having different running backs having success over the course of a game?
“Definitely. I mean every guy that we put in there has a different skillset. Everybody has got a different skillset. Some guys are bigger than others. Some guys are a little quicker. Some guys are different pass receiving types of backs. Some guys can play on the perimeter of the formation. So all of them bring different skillsets even though Lamar (Miller) is the starter and Lamar is the guy that gets the bulk of the work, they all bring different attributes to the table that are great for us.”
RB Jonathan Grimes played well this past week. Do you think he is capable of more?
“Well you know, Grimes is a situational player. That’s what he is. So if there’s a bunch of situational plays in the game, he’s going to come up big for us. He’s done that for a few years now. He’s come up big for us on special teams. He’s come up big for us on third down. He does certain things on first and second down, two-minute drill. I mean the guy does a little bit of everything for us and that’s a guy that is very valuable to a pro football team.”
Is there anything you can take away from the first game you played against the Colts?
“I think you definitely look at the first game. They played well against us right up until the end. I’m not sure how much different they’re going to be. We look at that game. I’m sure they’re looking at our game. We look at all the games that we’ve played against them over the last three years and there’s some carry over. There’s some things that don’t carry over, but definitely want to make sure you pay attention to when you’ve played them previously.”
When RB Lamar Miller played for the Dolphins he didn’t get as many carries as he has gotten here. What do you think about the season he has had and his ability to fight through the injuries?
“He’s a very tough guy. He’s another guy, like I described DeAndre (Hopkins). He’s a pro’s pro. He shows up every day. He’s got a very workmen-like approach to his job. He’s attentive in meetings. He rarely makes a mistake out on the field. Very dependable player. A guy that plays when he’s banged up. Plays when he probably doesn’t really feel like playing or practicing. That’s the mark of a really good pro and he’s brought a lot to our team. We’re really happy to have him.”
Does Colts QB Andrew Luck’s mobility help him extend plays and does that change the way you have to rush him all the while knowing that you need to put some pressure on him?
“One of the things that he does a great job of, and he’s actually doing it more and more over the last few weeks, is his ability to extend plays. But not just to scramble, to throw the ball down the field. I mean he’s made a lot of plays like that and that’s one of the things that makes him so dangerous that we’re going to have to do a really good job of trying to limit those because when he gets out of the pocket and he’s able to extend a play with his run threat, but also the ability to throw it down to an uncovered receiver because you come out of coverage too early. That’s a very dangerous deal and he does that very well.”
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR ROMEO CRENNEL
Why were the Colts able to have success running the ball against you last time you faced them in Week 6?
“We were still learning. Guys had to understand their fits, gap responsibilities. Then we missed some tackles as well, so that helped them with the yardage.”
How important will it be to shutdown Colts RB Frank Gore in this upcoming game?
“I think it’s pretty important because they’re going to look at this last game and they’re going to say, ‘let’s do it again.’ So they’re going to try to run it. We have to stop the run. That’s what we have to do. If we can shut him down, I know that Mr. (Andrew) Luck is still pretty good but at least that will take away one of his weapons. Then we’ll see what we can get done after that.”
Talk about Colts QB Andrew Luck’s ability to extend plays and the pressure that puts on your secondary.
“Definitely. The secondary has to stay with their guys and not look into the backfield and understand that, as long as the whistle hasn’t blown, there’s a chance that the ball can still come to their guy. They have to stay on them and not relax at all, never relax.”
How much progress have you seen from NT D.J. Reader this season?
“He’s made good progress. These young guys when they come in, they don’t understand how the game is played or how to play the game, per se. I think over this season, he’s learned his abilities and how he can use his abilities in the game. I think he’s playing better as a result of it. He’s understanding the fits, what he can get done, when to come off the block and those kind of things. He’s better as a result of it.”
Can you talk about the options Colts QB Andrew Luck has in the passing game?
“Well, one, this (T.Y.) Hilton guy. A guy named Hilton, he makes a lot of plays. Luck kind of likes him because he does make those plays. But you know, he’s got (Donte) Moncrief who’s fast. He’s got two tight ends that can catch and run and block. Then when you add (Frank) Gore to that mix, he’s got some weapons. Plus, he himself can run. I think he ran for 50 yards against us the last time, so we have to do a good job of trying to contain him as a runner as well as trying to contain him as a passer.”
Are you encouraged by the progress of DE Jadeveon Clowney and his chances of playing this weekend?
“Well, you know what, we’ve got a lot of guys with bumps and bruises and they’re working and trying to get back and be able to play in the game. We’ll see as the game approaches where he is and whether he can help us or not.”
How have you seen NT Vince Wilfork be a mentor to NT D.J. Reader?
“Vince, with his experience in the league and experience playing, he’s able to mentor a lot of the young guys on the team and help those guys work through issues that they encounter in this game. So I think that he’s had a settling effect.”
Do you think the defense, particularly the secondary, did a good job last week when Packers QB Aaron Rodgers extended plays with his feet?
“Yeah, except for the time when we fell down. If we don’t fall down, it might have a different outcome. So hopefully we will not have that problem this week and we are able to stay on our feet and stay with our guys.”
CB A.J. BOUYE
Can you talk about Colts TE Dwayne Allen and the challenges he offers?
“He’s a great tight end. The more I watch him on film, he runs like a receiver, too, a bigger receiver. All their tight ends are talented and gifted and they run good routes. When you have a great quarterback like (Andrew) Luck, that makes it even better.”
When you talk about Colts TE Dwayne Allen and all the things he can do, how much of a challenge is that?
“It’s a challenge, but our DBs, we embrace it. We look forward to it. We just think about what can happen instead of the worst. It’s going to be a big challenge. We know that they are going to make plays, just like we expect ourselves to make plays. We just have to minimize the plays and just keep playing with great technique.”
What about Colts WR T.Y. Hilton?
“T.Y., he’s a great receiver. He can run. He shows you what he’s done in this league. He’s a Pro Bowler. We know what to expect out of him. Then you have (Donte) Moncrief, a great receiver. Then you have (Phillip) Dorsett. They have a really good receiver corps and tight end corps.”
What kind of takeaways do you have from the first game that you can apply to this game?
“Just the main thing is starting out fast. I feel like that’s what we have been doing, but we want to finish towards the end like we did in the beginning of the season, especially with them. We are not finishing games the way we need to and Coach (O’Brien) tells us that. That’s the main thing, just playing 60 minutes of football.”
Is there a different mindset when your head coach and others around you say the last four games are all playoff-caliber games?
“It’s not really pressure, though. You take it as a challenge and we love challenges. Just going out there and playing at our best and just playing together – that’s the main thing.”
When Colts QB Andrew Luck starts running around, it’s so dangerous with this ability to still throw. How can you defend that?
“Just stay in coverage. That’s the main thing. That’s the same thing with Aaron Rodgers last week. He couldn’t run as much because of his leg or what not. At the end of the day, it’s all about staying in coverage. You have to be disciplined, have good eyes and you know that you have great receivers that can uncover. You have a quarterback that can put the ball where it needs to be. You are just going to have to cover a little bit longer, but we already know that. When the opportunity comes, we just have to stay in coverage.”
Is it almost like seeing them for the first time when you have a playmaker like Colts WR Donte Moncrief who wasn’t here the first time and how much does that change your game plan?
“Not much, just for the simple fact that at the end of the day, he’s a receiver, we are corners, we are all in the NFL, it’s a challenge one-on-one when we are up, but at the same time we played them for the last two years, so we already know what to expect with him and expect with (T.Y.) Hilton and stuff like that. Like I said, it just comes down to playing with great technique and competing.”
Is it kind of difficult to not have CB Charles James’ personality around here?
“I know it’s tough the way that it ended and what happened in the game before. I grew up with Charles (James). I know him and I talked to him yesterday and he’s positive, so I just told him to keep his head up because at the end of the day we know how much he loves the game. With all the ups and downs he’s had, I feel like he’s had more ups than downs, especially on special teams. He took it as a positive. He said he could get healthy now. He had been dealing with the hand. I just keep encouraging him. He still texts me saying he’s rooting for all of us. He’s always still asking what’s going on around here like he’s sick or something. He misses it, but it’s tough. The energy is a little different. You don’t have someone loud around here, but we miss him but we wish the best for him.”
DE JADEVEON CLOWNEY
What are you doing to try and get ready for this week?
“Go out and practice. Put the work in. Work the game plan and get ready. Try to execute the game plan on Sunday.”
How are you feeling?
“I feel good. I’m back out at practice, so I’m feeling good enough to go.”
Do you think you will play on Sunday?
“Yeah, I’ll be out there.”
Was it difficult to sit out last week vs. the Packers?
“Very difficult. I want to be out there to help my team, but I felt like if I was out there, I wouldn’t help them as much as I could have so I don’t think it was a good idea for me to play that way.”
Was it your wrist or your elbow that was bothering you?
“It was both.”
What are the challenges of playing in Indianapolis?
“We’re on the road and we haven’t been doing well on the road, so I feel like we have to start fast out there and finish the game. We’ve been up with leads lately on the road but we just have to finish the game in the fourth quarter.”
How tough is it to bring Colts QB Andrew Luck down?
“It’s very tough. He’s like a running back at quarterback. He’s a big guy, big and physical guy. He’s smart. He can run. He can do it all. You have to contain him and try to make him beat you with his arm. He’s going to be a difficult task for the defense but we have to get it done if we want to win the game.”
What type of things can you take from the first meeting with the Colts in Week 6?
“We have to keep playing. It ain’t over until it’s over. We have to finish the game. We finished at home against them. We kept playing. We fought our way back in the game and got the win. We have to go on the road, start fast, try and get up on them and hold them off until the game is over.”
Are you still encouraged with all your goals still in front of you and reachable?
“Yeah, we’re still leading the division right now. We have to go out there and get this win. It’s all riding on this. It’s like a one game playoff each week from here on out. We know that as a team. We know what we have to do. We have to go and execute this week and try to get the win.”
Is there any sense of pressure after losing three games in a row?
“Yeah, of course. This is a division game. The pressure is on. Everything rides on this. It’s one game playoffs and we need to win them, starting with this one, all the way out.”
NT VINCE WILFORK
How does Colts QB Andrew Luck’s ability to run change the way you rush him?
“I mean, we have to have our eyes on him. We can’t rush blind. So, we have to be under control rushing and understanding where our help is defensively. We have to have a rush that we can kind of sort of keep him contained at times, and if he does break the pocket, you have to be able to get at him and chase him. He’s very, very, very athletic in the pocket. He’s not afraid to take a hit. He always tries to deliver a good football. We know how important it is for us to get pressure on him, and at the same time, keep him contained. But it’s been tough. You watch him in certain games and he can hurt you on the ground. I think last game he hurt us on the ground quite a bit, and he also can throw the football, so he’s a dual quarterback.”
How important is this game and what’s the mentality of the team heading into it?
“I mean, it’s a division game. What else do we need to talk about? Division games always come down to a couple games late in the season. It’s no different now. We have to find a way to win. We have to be able to execute at the highest level at critical moments and play good situational football. If we do that, I think we’ll be OK. But it’s always going to be tough going on the road against a division opponent that always plays you tough. That’s just football. We understand that, but we accept the challenge. We have to do everything in the willpower to make sure we execute at the right time and just play together, no matter what score it may say displayed, until that final whistle. If we do that, we’ll be OK. I’m looking forward to it. I think the guys, we’re ready. We’re preparing well. But you have to prepare well, especially in the division this late in the season. We know how important it is for us to go on the road and walk away with a W, so we’re going to do everything in our willpower to do that.”
Is there any pressure going into the game given the three-game losing streak?
“It’s football. When you play football, nothing is easy. Nothing in life is easy. Sometimes people think you’re supposed to blow out people all the time, but it doesn’t work like that. You might get a game where everything clicks on all cylinders and you might get away with a blowout, but it rarely happens. The most important thing is winning. I don’t care how you win, win. Any win is good. Any time you lose, it sucks. So, that’s where we’re at. We have to figure out a way how we can win. Is it pressure? I don’t know. I know it’s a division opponent. You know, a division opponent that we beat at home already and I’m pretty sure they’re riding high coming off the win Monday night. They’re feeling pretty good, we know that. But nothing changes between the lines. When the ball is snapped, we have to be ready to play. That’s how we’re approaching the game.”
What are the keys to slowing down their running game?
“Well, just being more disciplined. Some of the runs they hit us with – I think (Andrew) Luck had about 60 himself, and they mix it up pretty well. That’s what happens when you try to play from behind. It’s tough. You keep the offense in their game plan. They can pick and choose what they want to do, so it’s always tough. When the offense has an open playbook, you have to defend everything. I think at that point in time, we weren’t playing as good of defense as we’ve been in previous weeks, but we’re a different team, they’re a different team now. Come Sunday, we’re going on the road to try to walk away with a W. We’ve done it before. Looking to do it again.”
As a defense, do you guys worry about the offense or do you just focus on what you can control?
“Football is a team sport. I’ve been around some great offenses, I’ve been around some OK offenses, but this is the ultimate team sport. You can’t point fingers in this game. You can’t because one day the offense has to bail you out and one day special teams has to bail you out and one day defense is going to have to bail you out. That’s what it’s called a team. We never point fingers. We don’t do that. Not in this locker room. I can’t speak for anyone else, but we don’t. We’re a team. We approach the game as a team, we win as a team, we lose as a team. I think the more you play, the more you bond. We’re at the point in our season where we have to get rolling. We understand that. We know it’s been tough the past couple weeks but one thing we would never do is shy away from any type of competition, playing against anyone. No one scares us, but we just have to compete. We have to execute well. The times we did, we’ve done well. The times we haven’t, we haven’t done well. So, the coaches are giving us things that are good for us but we have to execute them, so we’re looking forward to executing and getting back on track this week on the road. Can’t wait for it.”
What growth have you seen from NT D.J. Reader?
“I mean, all these guys have grown up well. The rookies that we have never gave us a problem or nothing this year. But he’s playing well. From the start of the season to now, he’s a different football player. Playing with a lot more confidence, understanding the game, understanding his technique, understanding what he needs to do to help the team. He’s a great teammate. He’s a smart football player. That’s one of the things, as a rookie, when he first came in his football IQ was pretty good as a rookie. He’s going to be as good as he wants to be. Everything that I’ve seen and we’ve seen, we’re very happy with all of our rookies, especially D.J. He’s helped us a lot so far this year. Hopefully he can continue to give us some things and we all can pull together as a team – not just as individuals, but as a team – to get the job done. Going on the road, it’s going to be tough.”
NT D.J. Reader said you’ve been a great mentor to him. How have you taken him under your wing?
“Just teaching him the game. Some things you watch on film, and when you’ve been playing for as long as I’ve been playing, some things I look at different than coaches. I go in depth with some things, small things. Anything that I think can give us an edge or help us. I always try to talk to our guys about it, not just the young guys but the older guys, the whole room. We have a good room. Our guys understand the game, but any chance that I can teach anybody anything that I know about football, I’m willing to do that. He’s like a sponge. Our young guys in the room, they’re like sponges. They want to learn, they want to listen and they apply it to their game. That’s the beauty of it, is you get a chance to see them execute what’s taught to them in the film room. That’s the signs of a good football player. They’ve been doing well, especially D.J. They’ve been doing real well. Even Joel Heath, he’s been doing well for us. At times we have two rookies on our defensive line in games for us, and we’re OK with that. We’re comfortable with that because of the way we’re coached, the way Billy O (Bill O’Brien) and (Anthony) Weaver, what they teach us and how they prepare us, and we’re OK with that. There’s never a point in time where we send guys out on the field that we don’t feel confident in, and that’s a good thing. That’s a good feeling to have when you have a rotation that you can move guys around and move and keep fresh legs. That’s a good rotation to have, especially late in the season, where we’re at now. It keeps offenses honest. We keep the ball spinning and everything, and we’re going to continue to do that. We’re going to continue to work our tails off. That’s the key, working our tails off each week no matter what the outcome is. So, we have to want to get better, and I think this team, we want to get better. But, you know, we lost a couple, but at the same time you win some, you lose some. We just have to find a way to execute well, and I think if we do that, we’ll be OK.”
NT D.J. Reader said you taught him a lot of outside of football. Do you take pride in helping the younger players with life in general?
“Yeah I mean because you never know what people go through in their lives or what they’ve been through in their lives. For me, it’s more than football. When you leave a locker room, this is what you have. Your family that you built and played with over the course of the years. You’re going to have that forever. So you want to get a chance to know your teammates and how they grew up and their families and stuff like that and I think this team is full of great guys and D.J. is one of them. Stuff that he’s been through in his life, I can kind of relate with my life. It was kind of like an older brother talking to my younger brother. I think a great teammate takes the time out to understand their teammates and it’s good to see our guys go out together and come to the house and watch film together. We do things together. We bond. We build character. I think it goes beyond football because when you’re all said and done I want to walk away being a great dude, great person. Not a great football player. I don’t want to be remembered as a great football player. I want to be remembered as a great person. That’s one of the things I stress on guys all the time. Just always act accordingly. Be a professional in whatever you do no matter how bad you hate something or how much you love it. Just be a professional at all times. Our guys are good guys though. They’re listening right now, so hopefully they can continue to listen.”
NT D.J. Reader said he’s been watching you since he’s been 10 years old. Did he ever act star struck around you?
“No he hasn’t. He kept that to himself. I guess he just, he told you guys that but god darn that makes me sound old. You hear stories like that all the time when you have rookies come in and you play against somebody and they say, ‘Man I’ve been watching you ever since I was in high school’ and I’m like high school? I start counting. It’s a mutual respect. It’s good to feel like that. It’s even better to give knowledge to the younger players especially somebody that’s in my position that I can actually really mentor because I’ve played it. I’ve done it. That’s what I want to do with D.J. I want him to understand how good he can be because he can be a great football player and I think he will because he has the right mindset and he understands things and how things work. He’s a great professional, a great teammate. Anything the coaches ask of him, he doesn’t hesitate. He’s always trying to help the team so I think he will be a good one in this league.”