Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Good to see everybody. We had a good practice today, getting ready for a real tough Houston Texan team. Our guys were on point, I guess you could say, and did a nice job."
On if the Texans are different from when the Ravens prepared for them Week 2:"They're further along. They're seven or eight weeks later into the season. They're that much better. They've won three out of four. Probably ought to be what, five out of six or six out of seven? They could have beaten Minnesota if they don't turn it over twice inside the 10 [-yard line]. So, this football team is really hot, and they're a good football team."
On if they can reach in the drawer and pull out the notes from Week 2, or if that's discarded and in the past:"No, we reached in and pulled out the notes. And we were kind of amazed at how much of it sill applied. We were able to use a lot of stuff that we practiced in Week 2, and a lot of the stuff we couldn't use. But we did carry over a lot of the game plan."
On if they decided how to handle the schedule for the rest of the year right after the first Texans game was cancelled:"We decided that we would have to do something different to account for the bye week and the fact that we've got all these games after this week. We didn't know what it would be, and then we sat down with Ozzie [Newsome] and Rex [Ryan] about four weeks ago and figured out where our schedule would be this week."
On if he was satisfied with today's condensed version of practice:"I thought it went really well. The players are what make a practice, and I thought our players did a great job of coming out, paying attention to detail – what we kind of said before – being on point, exaggerating technique. Assignment communication was really solid."
On if the players looked rested after having a few days off:"They were. They were happy about the day off and they were not shy about letting us know that."
On if the biggest concern for players' fatigue is physically or mentally:"I think it's more physically. Our guys, mentally, they're strong, and they've got to work hard. Whatever we tone down physically – and you always do as the season goes on, you back it off from training camp all the way through – you've got to pick it up that much technique-wise and with the mental part of it. So it's [practicing] probably more mental than physical."
On what winning consistently on the road says about a team:"I think it says you're a good football team. When you can win consistently on the road, you're good enough to do it. It's a little bit harder to win on the road, I guess, than it is at home. But if you look at the teams that win on the road, they're good teams. And if you want to prove yourself as a good team, you've got to win on the road."
On an update on CBs Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle:"Samari looked good out there. [He] practiced today. He's full-go. I think he's going to be fine. Chris is in Canada, actually. I wish I could tell you where. But there's a doctor in Canada that he's… He's having a second opinion today."
On the progression of CBs Frank Walker and Fabian Washington, who are filling in for those injured CBs:"I think they've played really well. We talked about it a little bit on Monday. They play like starters. Both of those guys have plenty of room for improvement in their game, just like anybody does, but they've demonstrated the ability to play like a starter in the NFL."
On if it means anything to him that the team has matched its win total from last year:"No, it doesn't. It means we're in the hunt. We think, if we put ourselves… I think our football team, players and coaches, have put themselves in contention in November. We've got to play well enough in November to be in contention in December. That's our job right now. That's all we're looking at."
On if RB Willis McGahee looks better:"Willis looked good today. Yeah, he did, he looked good. It's the ankle more than the knee. The knee is feeling really good, he says, and he's working the ankle back. So this should be a good week for him."
On if players who are injured for four to six weeks cause roster problems:"It does to the extent of, 'Are they going to be out for another three or four weeks?' If a guy is ready to come back in the near future, then you feel like you're willing to wait because you've got a good football player. But at some point in time you've got to cut your losses and do something with the roster – bring a player in who can help you right now."
On if S Dawan Landry is getting close to that point:"I would say Dawan is close to that point right now. He saw a doctor yesterday. We're still looking at those results. We should know something by the end of the week one way or the other."
On how important it is to have Rolle back against Texans WR Andre Johnson:"It's always good to have all your good players back. Samari Rolle is a tremendous corner. It adds one more link into our chain, so we're excited to have him back. He's going to make us better."
On his thoughts on the outcome of the election:"[I] didn't watch it. I wish I could say that I did. But we talked about it, actually, as a football team, and no matter your political affiliation or who you voted for, I think all the guys in the room, coaches and players, we felt a sense of pride for what's been accomplished and where the country is because of what happened last night. And, we're excited about where it's going."
On if they players are afraid of being taxed too much:[Laughing] "It never came up. Political talk!"
On how different teams have tried to defend Andre Johnson:"Teams have tried to defend him every way you can defend him. You can put a guy on his nose, you can put a guy over top, you can play him in and out, you can slice guys out from the inside and cover him every way. He does a good job pretty much of attacking everything. We've got our plan, and we'll know where he's at at all times."
On if it's dangerous to focus in on one player too much and leave others open to make big plays:"No question. The tight end, Owen Daniels, he had 11 catches [last Sunday]. [He has two] touchdowns. He's playing tremendously well. Here's a guy that just gets open. I mean, he does not get covered by a linebacker one-on-one between the hashes, so we've got our hands full with him. And they've got… The running back [Steve] Slaton can score from anywhere on the field. The quarterback [Sage Rosenfels] is a threat to run and throw. They've got weapons. They've got a lot of skill, especially on offense."
On if Andre Johnson is just bigger, stronger and faster than guys he's matched up with:"Bigger, stronger, faster and has great hands. Run after the catch ability is tremendous. Vertical, down-field-catch ability is tremendous. So he's the total package as a receiver."
QB Joe Flacco
On what are the biggest things he has learned about playing in the NFL:"I have no idea. Just keep the ball. As long as you keep the ball then you give yourself a chance every play. The running game can help you out. Just get first downs and keep the drive going."
On whether the preparation for the game that was cancelled in September will still be helpful:"You remember a little bit, but it was so long ago and we [have been] preparing for other teams now. Really the preparation that we've had throughout the season kind of just helps you out for the rest of your games. They're all NFL defenses and they have different variations of what they do, but to some extent we've seen most of it. It's just the whole preparation we've had all year that has just helped us out."
On if he feels more comfortable playing on the road than he did in September:"We're definitely a little bit of a different team. We're more experienced on the opposite side of the ball and we're ready to go. We're ready to get down there in Houston on Sunday and show them what we are."
On whether the offense will speed up a little bit because of Texans DE Mario Williams:"No, we're not going to change the way we operate back there. Our system is kind of built for that, built for getting the ball out of your hands. We're just going to go back there and operate as normal."
On if he's a more confident and relaxed in the pocket now than he was back in September:"Definitely. When you have eight games under your belt you're definitely a little bit different as a quarterback. You're more experienced and you feel better with your guys. Just as an offense, we're gelling more than we would have been. I think you're starting to see that, and we've just got to make sure that we continue to get better and we continue to show improvement."
On being AFC Offensive Player of the Week:"I didn't really know until somebody said congratulations. I didn't know what they were talking about. I don't see any of that stuff, for whatever reason, but it's pretty cool and it just shows you how far we've come as an offense. It's all about our offense, just as a whole."
On if he's paid attention to Falcons QB Matt Ryan and the year he is having:"He's having a great year. They're having a great year. They turned it around. They're pretty similar to us [with a] new coaching staff. They have some new players and they've gone out there and done a good job."
On what he needs to do to get WR Mark Clayton more involved in the offense:"I always say the more people you get involved, the better it is [and] the more it builds confidence for everybody. The more people you have ready to go each week, the better chance it gives you to win. Mark showed up big for us on Sunday and he's going to continue to do that."
On if he's been surprised with how RB Ray Rice has played in his rookie year:"No. I'm not surprised. We've known what Ray is and what Ray is going to be. We've known that from the summer. He gets in there and he shows the quickness, and he has the ability to make the first guy miss. That was huge for us on Sunday."
On if he was excited with last week's win and the break that coach Harbaugh gave the players on Monday and Tuesday:"It's always exciting after the game when you get a win and you get a little bit of a break, but not really [overly exciting]. We're back to work now and we're ready to go."
On if he feels like he's hit the rookie wall and have people warned him about it:"Everybody always talks about it, but I still feel good. It's the middle of the season, it's flying by, and I'm sure that's how the second half of the season will go. It will fly by and we'll be in the playoffs. We have to work hard to get there, but that's what we want to do."
On whether coach Harbaugh was true to his word to condense practice:"Yeah. We went out there and had a nice practice and we got after it. We worked on our technique and the mental side of the ball. We had a good day out there."
WR Derrick Mason
On whether winning breeds better, more focused practices:"Winning makes a difference, regardless, all around – whether it's practice, eating lunch, joking with the guys. You feel a little bit looser than you would after a loss. After a loss, you tend to be a little bit more tight. After a win, you tend to be a little bit more loose. I think it bodes well for us going out to practice after a win. For one, we don't have as many corrections. Besides that, any opportunity you have to win a football game in this league is big."
On how he would characterize QB Joe Flacco's progress:"Steady. Steady going up. If he were a stock, I'd be getting a lot of money right now. Joe has been doing a great job. He's been doing more than what the coaches have asked him to do. We've been able to open up the playbook more and more, I think, each week. We haven't had to scale anything back. The offense hasn't gotten stagnant. I think, each week, we've done something different, something a little bit better. It all falls on the shoulders of Joe and offensive line. We've still got eight games left, somewhere around that – eight, nine, I don't know – and we just want to see that progress continue to go up, as opposed to tailing off."
On what head coach John Harbaugh meant by saying the team practiced with exaggerated technique and how that helps on game day:"No hitting. I think that's what he really meant. Even though coach says this is not going to be a hitting practice, we're still good at mentally allowing ourselves to play at a tempo we need to play at in practice so when we do play on Sunday, it's not a let-off. Today wasn't a typical practice, physically. But, mentally, I think it was a lot better because we didn't have the physical aspect of it. When you don't have the physical aspect, you tend to concentrate more on the mental. Today was a good day for us."
On what he feels physically:"Me, right now? I feel good."
On whether he feels better than he normally would:"Eight games into the season, nine weeks, I think I am and the other guys are right where we need to be, considering what we've done up to this point – going through two-a-days, the way we practiced during two-a-days, the way we have been practicing as a team. It sets us up for being strong going toward the end of the season. Right now, we have some things that we need to work out physically, but I think, as a whole, we're in a spot that we think we need to be in right now."
On if he is surprised the team is 5-3 with all the injuries it has had and starting a rookie quarterback:"Yeah, we should be 6-1, 7-1, 8-1… I don't know. Yeah, I am surprised we're 5-3. If you look at it, our record could be a little better than what it is. But honestly, no, I'm not surprised because we have a very good team. I think our depth is a lot better than it was last year. We have some guys down, but we have some guys that are able to step up and make plays on this team and play a big role in what we're trying to do as an offense and a defense and special teams. I'm not surprised. I'm just surprised that our record is not better than the 5-3 record that we have now."
On having a day off Monday and less contact in practice to help make up for the lost bye week:"We're not taking it as a bye week, and we aren't looking at it as that. It is what it is. We lost it for a reason that we couldn't control, and we're just looking at it as an opportunity to rest Monday, Tuesday is obviously our day off, and then get back at it on Wednesday. However coach says we're going to get back at it, that's how we're going to do it, whether it be the way we did it today or any other one. But we still felt, as a team, that we can't use this as a bye week. Even though today wasn't a hitting day, we have to be able to approach it mentally better than any other week that we've had previously."
On how the team cultivates the depth:"I think guys understand that anything can happen in the season. If you look back to last season, who would've ever thought that we would be down to our third or fourth corner on both sides? We went through three quarterbacks. I think guys understand this year that you have to be ready to play. The most important position on the team is the guy that backs up the starter. He has to be able to – if he's not getting a lot of reps – he has to prepare himself mentally as if he was the starter. I think the coaches have done a good job of preparing guys to play if they need to play. The backups have done a great job at making sure when they come in [that] there's not a let-off."
On what it says about the team when it is able to win on the road:"That we're focused. That we're determined as a team to stick together, regardless of what the situation is. It's easy in this league to win at home. It's hard to win on the road. For whatever reason, I don't know, but it's hard to win on the road. Any time you can go into anybody's home and beat them, then it's good. I think it speaks volumes up to this point, what we've been able to do on the road."
On what will change in preparing for the Texans this time having more film on them:"That's the only thing: We've got to look at more film, but it doesn't change anything. They still have their guys on their side of the ball. We still have ours. They're playing really well now, and we're playing pretty good, as well. It doesn't change anything with the exception of [the fact that] we have five or six more games that we can look at as a team. But other than that, same people, same uniform, and we've still got to play them in Houston."
On what he could see about rookie head coach John Harbaugh:"He's not a rookie. I think he's accepted this challenge as being a first-year head coach, and everyone bought into what the coaching staff is preaching around here. I think any time you have 53 – or however many players there are – buying into one thing, then you're going to have success. That's what guys are doing. We're buying in to what coach Harbaugh is preaching, and we're staying the course, and that breeds success."
On his thoughts on the outcome of last night's election and its historical significance:"It was an event that I will forever remember, regardless of what happens in the next four years, eight years. I will remember that one moment at 11:02, I think, when [Barack Obama] was announced our new president. To see his children walk out with him, that was the biggest thing because you have two African-American girls walking out, and they can always say, 'My daddy was president.' Then I look at my daughter and my son and say, 'You know what? You could be president one day, regardless of what the situation is.' And it shows you where our country is headed and where the world is headed. Then, his vice president [Joe Biden] is an exceptional person, as well. So you have two people that are in the position to possibly change the landscape of this world, and they have already changed the landscape of politics. It's a good day, but it doesn't stop here. He has a lot of work ahead of him, and he understands that. We'll see where these next four years go. But I think not just for African-Americans, I think for everybody in general, it's a good day whether you voted for him or not. You had a woman vice president [Sarah Palin] on one ticket, and you had an African-American on the other. Either way it goes, we were going to make history. It's a good day. It's a good day."
CB Samari Rolle
On the toughest thing to teach reserve players who are stepping into prominent roles:"Really, just not to get down on yourselves. Some games are going to be like the Colts game. Some games aren't. It's just making more plays than you give up."
On whether he needs to get out on the field and make a hit to feel like he's completely back:"Yeah, definitely. But I'll be out there. So it'll come, definitely."
On when the first big hit would take place, if would take place tomorrow:"Sunday."
On if he will carry the full load or share playing time:"I'll be out there."
On how he thinks the secondary has played, ranking in the top five in pass defense despite the injuries:"I think that's a testament to the depth that we have in our room now. Last year, we didn't have that type of depth. This year, we've got depth."
On what types of problems Texans WR Andre Johnson can cause:"Best receiver in the league right now. Hands down. No weaknesses – strong, tough, physical, good hands, good routes, and they get him the ball."
On whether Johnson is the most difficult receiver to tackle:"Yes, easily."
On his thoughts on last night's presidential election:"*[Gives thumbs up] *Great job."
On if he is concerned about the tax ramifications:"No. There are more problems than taxes."
On whether it is tough adjusting to a new coach:"No. Actually, it hasn't been. In mini-camp, it was. But now you see why he's done everything he's done, and it's making sense."
On if he sees similarities between head coach John Harbaugh and Titans head coach Jeff Fisher:"Yes, a whole lot. Intensity, that's the biggest similarity to coach Fisher, that intensity."
LB Terrell Suggs
On his thoughts on getting two touchdowns in three weeks:"I don't know. I guess, being 'Johnny on the spot.' You be where you have to be, [and] good things will happen. That's what I think, so let's just see if I can keep sneaking them out of there, get a couple more, see what happens."
On doing the same celebration throwing the ball at the wall both times:"I know, I pegged the ball. I wanted to throw it into the Dawg Pound. I really wanted to jump in there, but I had a feeling they weren't going to welcome me with open arms. I wanted to chuck it at them, then I thought, 'No, that may not be a good thing for my image.' So I just thought I'd throw it at the wall and do a goofy dance."
On the team's improvement on the road compared to last year:"I don't know. It could be the coach. He's done a good job the night before the game getting us ready, getting us mentally prepared. I think it's just the atmosphere around here, around the building. He's got everybody ready to play."
On whether he has seen head coach John Harbaugh immerse himself in the job from the early days of camp to now:"No, it was like that from Day One, from the meeting [on] Day One. You got a good feeling from him, but he's definitely going to be around a long time. He's doing a great job, and we've just got to keep knocking down wins for him."
On how much being 5-3 sets the team up for the rest of the season:"We don't know. We've just got to take care of next week because your season can change in one play or, God forbid, we start losing some of the key players around here. So your season can change, but that's all we can really rely on. All that we can really look forward to is next week, and that's Houston."
On if he would have been shocked if someone had told him the team would be 5-3 in spite of players like RB Willis McGahee and CBs Samari Rolle and Chris McAlister missing time:"Definitely, because those guys play a key part in us winning around here. But those guys' backups are doing an amazing job. We can't speak enough about the jobs that Frank Walker and Fabian Washington are doing, and Ray Rice pretty much speaks for himself. But he's still a rookie, so I'm going to have to find a nickname for him to keep him humble. I'll have something for y'all next week."
On how critical it is to get to the quarterback with WR Andre Johnson lining up outside:"It's the same thing every week. We've got a big receiver every week. But if there was a receiver that I was worried about or that really raises some concern and raises my eyebrows, it's definitely this one. He's the man-child. When he's out there playing and he's at the peak of his game, he's a man playing with boys. Definitely, a good defense is going to show up down there on Sunday, or he's going to show why they call him the man-child."
On whether he would jam Johnson at the line:"I'm a football player. I like hitting people, regardless. I don't know if it's in the game plan. It's not in yet, but if I get the opportunity, I get the opportunity. If I don't, oh well. I think we've got another speedy running back that I'm going to have my hands full with."
On the difference between Houston QBs Sage Rosenfels and Matt Schaub:"They both seem [like] pretty poised quarterbacks. I think Rosenfels, he can start anywhere else in this league. I think he's good. He's not really a backup. We've got to treat them both just like they were the starter. I don't really see any difference in the two. They both look like they could have the job and take the team under their wing. I don't really see any difference."
On if the Texans are tough to prepare for because they change so much week to week:"Every team is tough to prepare for because every team has got something that they do different than the last [game]. I'm sure the Mad Scientist [Rex Ryan], he's working up something."
On what he thought of the presidential election:"What did you think? I thought it was amazing. I'm young. I'm 26, so the only thing in history [I've witnessed] that really affected U.S. history was 9/11, that I got to live through. This was something where I was just amazed. I couldn't believe I was watching what was happening. From both parties' standpoint, it seemed like both of them said something was accomplished here. You've seen them saying it was like no one really lost, like the country was winning. It was just amazing. And to hear that man [Barack Obama] speak, there's something in his words. Some politicians just like to blow smoke up, you know. But I just listened to everything he had to say. I was really amazed, and it just gives you hope. It gives you a lot of hope."
On whether he talked to any older members of his family who would have thought they would never see something like this happen:"No, I haven't talked to my older family yet. It just happened. It's fresh. I've got a billion relatives in Chicago, so they're right in the midst of it. So I'm going to call them after I leave here and see what's going on up there and how crazy people were going."
HOUSTON TEXANS CONFERENCE CALL
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
On the transition of Sage Rosenfels to the starting quarterback position:"We went through the same thing last year. We lost Matt [Schaub] for a period of time and Sage came in and started for us and played very, very well. He's a guy who even though he's been a backup throughout his career, he does have a great deal of snaps here with this football team the last two years. We've got a lot of confidence in him, and he came in last week and played real well for us and gave us an opportunity. So he's excited about his opportunity and we're expecting him to do a good job."
On the tools he feels Rosenfels has that are different from Schaub:"To be honest with you, they're a lot alike. They're just good pocket players, very accurate throwers, [and they] throw at a high percentage clip. The other thing they both have struggled with somewhat is the decision process with the balls. That's something we've got to improve upon. Sage did a better job of that last year in the second half of the season. They are both able to move around enough if they do get in trouble. They are very smart young men, so [they are] really very, very similar from that standpoint."
On the maturation of WR Andre Johnson and how it can help a quarterback:"He got very hot there for about a month. He had a lot of things go his way, a lot of punted balls coming his way, and coverage-wise, it gave him a chance to make a lot of plays. He has been playing extremely well this season. And he's a worker. Every kid that I've ever had out of Miami, from [Clinton] Portis to Andre, those guys work hard at what they do and play the game at a high level, and Andre is no different. He's an exceptional player. He's been here for a long, long time fighting the fight trying to help this organization turn the corner. He's an impressive young man and he's been playing very well."
On whether Johnson reminds him of anyone he's coached in his years in the NFL:"As a worker, he reminds me of Jerry Rice. I was in San Francisco with Jerry and watched how he went about his business every day and how he practiced. That's the way Andre works, whether it's the offseason, regular season, Wednesday, Friday – it doesn't matter. Andre is the same speed, the same effort every day. Usually, when you run across those great players like that, they usually have that in common."
On how the team has dealt with the distractions this season with Hurricane Ike:"We went through a very difficult first month. We had some life issues down here that we had to deal with it. That's a part of it. I think everybody did a good job of dealing with it. Then we dealt with a pretty good stretch of road games. We didn't deal with that very good. We didn't play very well and got off to a poor start. [Then we] kind of regrouped ourselves, and then we were playing better and then went on the road for a tough road game last week and did some good things but ultimately hurt ourselves with some turnovers and stuff. That's part of the National Football League. Every game every week is a battle. For us playing you guys [this Sunday], you guys are playing as good as anybody in football. So to me, we've got a tremendous challenge on our hands and we need to clean up our act to give ourselves a shot."
On if the Texans will game-plan to attack the secondary by throwing the ball rather than running against the Ravens:"I think we've got to look at ourselves. First off, I've been up against this defense many times and have the utmost respect for it. They are a very, very difficult [defense] and they present a lot of challenges for you from a personnel standpoint and all the looks they give you. The job that they have done there for a long, long time, in my opinion, is second to none. They have a tremendous leader in the middle [in Ray Lewis]. They've got guys who play extremely hard all around him and just make it very difficult for you as an offensive football team. But I go back to us. We've got to worry about our situation and protecting the football because regardless of who we play or when we play them, if we don't get better from that standpoint, we're going to struggle."
On what the addition of RB Steve Slaton has meant to his team and his transition to the NFL:"He's done a great job. Of course, we've had problems at that position for two years. [We were] counting on Ahman [Green] and we were counting on Chris Brown this year that we brought in, and that hasn't worked out. So we threw this kid in the fire on Week 2 at Tennessee, [and] he's going on his eighth straight start here. He's done some really good things for us. He still has a long way to go as a player, but he's been a pleasant surprise. He's held up week in and week out, he's played well in the run and the pass, and he has a very bright future. He's a bright young man and he's handled himself with a lot of class."
On what has surprised him the most about the Ravens so far this season:"I'm not really surprised, to be honest with you, because I know how well they were set on the defensive side of the ball and they've been playing that way for a long, long time. I think John [Harbaugh] is doing a tremendous job there. Their special teams are playing great. And on the offensive side of the ball, Cam [Cameron] has been doing it in this league for a long, long time. And, he's got that young quarterback [Joe Flacco] settled down and they're very difficult to defend. They're causing a lot of problems for defensive coordinators to get ready to play them because they're doing so much. They're a fine, fine football team, I'll tell you, and I'm just so impressed with that. But, I have to admit, I have been for a long, long time."
On how his team has had to readjust with the loss of their bye week:"That was unfair. It was difficult on them, too, because we basically all sat around that week trying to wait and see what was going to happen. When you lose your bye week in this league it's difficult. I think it's very difficult from a mindset of everybody because everybody looks forward to that break and the NFL has a long season. But, we have to deal with it, and I'm sure John has dealt with it his way. We've tried to deal with it down here as best we could, but I think it's something that we'd both like to have back. It helps you get players healthy, it helps guys get a little relief from the long grind of the season, but there's nothing we can do about it."
On how the city and residents of Houston have recovered from Hurricane Ike:"They've been tremendous. Everybody here in town had their problems for about a three-week, four-week span. I'd say probably 60 percent of our team was out of electricity for at least three weeks. So it was a difficult time to work through because you're trying to continue to do your job and you've got family problems at home. Our guys did a good job of working through it. As far as our city, 30 miles down the road Galveston was devastated, and of course, the city took a big hit. But, it's recovered. I think life is pretty much back to normal and everybody's been very resilient and held up well."
On what has been successful for WR Jacoby Jones and the Texans on punt returns this year:"He kind of runs hot and cold. He's made some plays and then we won't do as well for a few weeks. Taking last week as an example, we did not play well in the return game. He has the ability to pop up and make big plays. He's got confidence. He's a young, small-school player that's still trying to find his way here in the National Football League, but [he is] very capable. Usually when he does something well, our football team plays well. Special teams will be a big part in this football game because I know you guys have great returners, too, and are very capable of making big plays."
On building the foundation of a great defense with some of the top young players in the league:"Of course, everybody knows the story. When we decided to go with Mario [Williams], we just felt like he would give us a foundation to build upon with him and DeMeco [Ryans] for many years to come. It was a tough go for the kid early. He came to a football team that wasn't very good, honestly, that had a long, long way to go to improve and get competitive, and he fought through that first year and he never said a word. He actually played hurt for us for half the season, and he's become a fine, fine player. He's having a tremendous year. [We're] trying to get Amobi [Okoye] up to that same speed and playing at that same level. We've still got a long way to go, but Mario's been everything we thought he would be."
WR Andre Johnson
On how he feels his season is going so far:"I think it's going pretty good. I started off a little slow, had some frustrating things going on, but other than that I think it's going pretty good."
On how he has been successful in his past few years and particularly this season:"I think just running more and more every year, just playing the game and just watching things on film. This year, I became more patient in doing things, playing a little smarter, and I think it's helped me out a whole lot."
On if he agrees with some of the Ravens who called him one of the best receivers in the NFL:"I definitely feel like I'm one of the top guys. I always said I [would] never consider myself the best until I put up the numbers. I think over the past two years I haven't put up [the numbers]. I evidently haven't put up a 1,500-yard season or anything like that. That's what the elite receivers do. I haven't done that yet, so I won't feel like I'm the best until I put up big numbers and things like that."
On if he likes the thought of being matched up with a smaller corner and thinks it's a matchup that he can win:"You can think that, but if you don't go out and do what you're supposed to do, the size doesn't really matter. If you don't go out and work your technique and things like that, you're not going to be successful on routes. It does help, the size, sometimes you can use your body. [Like in] basketball [where] a guy boxes the guy out and gets the ball still, but you definitely have to work your technique and things like that."
On if he finds that opposing defenses are paying extra attention to him:"Yeah. A lot of times we come out of the huddle and I'm in the slot and you hear the guys yell out '80 in the slot' or, depending on my split, they'll yell out to the defense. But that's part of the game. That's what defenses are supposed to do."
On how well he knows CB Samari Rolle and if he looks forward to playing against him:"I know Samari well. Samari is a great guy. I played against Samari when he was in Tennessee and we were in the same division. He's a great guy. I think he's a great player. He's had some injuries, he's been banged up, but other than that I think he's a great cornerback."
On how hard it is to be patient when other defenses are covering him with two players:"It's crazy you just said that because me and my coach [were just talking about that]. I just got out of a meeting where me and my coaches were just talking about that. I told them that I think that's what I did last week when we played against Minnesota. You want to be patient, but when those things happen you tend to go back to your old ways of not being patient and just trying to rush things and things like that. It affects your game. It definitely frustrates you, but you just have to try to just keep playing, and just take it one play at a time, and just let the game come to you."
On whether the switch in QBs from Matt Schaub to Sage Rosenfels will have much impact on his game:"No, it doesn't. We feel comfortable with both Schaub and Sage. When Schaub went down during the game Sunday, Sage came right in, and we were able to still go out and move the ball and make some plays. So we feel very comfortable with both of those guys."
On if he feels the Texans can take advantage of injuries in the Ravens' secondary to throw the ball a lot:"They have a great defense. [When] you look at them on film, they're a physical group. They have one of my good friends, Ed Reed, back there at the safety position. Those guys are very physical. They hit you, they get the ball a lot and things like that. [There are] definitely spots you see in the defense. Every receiver wants the ball going every place. I would be wrong if I didn't say that. You just have to pick your spot, just try to make the best of your opportunities."
On how he ranks the Ravens compared to other tough defenses he's played in the NFL:"I played against Baltimore once since I've been in the NFL, and they pretty much rank among the top in the league – if not the best, one of the best defenses I've played against."
On how the recovery from Hurricane Ike has progressed in Houston:"Everything seems pretty much back to normal. We had two guys on our team actually lose their houses. [There was] a lot of damage to guys' roofs and things like that. Guys let [other] guys stay over at their house for a few days until they got situated. I think it was something that brought the team closer together. Guys were able to bond a little bit more and things like that."