WEEK 16: TEXANS CONFERENCE CALL
Head Coach Bill O'Brien
On the Ravens' pass rush and if that is a high priority in terms of preparation:"No question about it. They have a very dynamic pass rush – a lot of different players that can rush the passer. Obviously, Elvis Dumervil leads the league in sacks with 17. Obviously, [Terrell] Suggs and [Pernell] McPhee, these guys can all rush the passer. They do a really good job with their blitz scheme. [Defensive coordinator] Dean Pees has just done a great job with that defense and multiple packages. So, it's a big challenge for us. We started working on it this morning, today, and we'll be working on it right up until game time."
On how his quarterback situation is coming along and if he's any closer to picking a starter for this Sunday:"It's coming along well. These guys have stepped right in, and it's really the philosophy in this league, that injuries happen and the next man up has to be ready to go. In the case of Case Keenum, he wasn't even here a couple nights ago, and now he's here and he's got good recon on what we're doing. Thaddeus [Lewis] has been here for a couple weeks, and he had a good day today. So, we're not going to publicly name who's starting – we'll just let everybody see that when the game starts – but both guys are working really hard."
On what he thinks about the season OLB Elvis Dumervil is having:"Elvis, obviously, I'm very familiar with him from my time with New England and when he was at Denver and now here. This guy is just a dynamic player. He can do a lot of different things. He can stop the run; obviously, he can rush the passer with 17 sacks. So, he's having a heck of a year, and like I said, it's a big challenge for all of our offensive line as to our blocking assignment when it comes to blocking him."
On how strange it gets at times when watching what other teams do to try to contain DE J.J. Watt:"He really does affect the game on every single play. That's the type of player that he is; he's a great, great player. He's got a relentless attitude, he never quits on a play. Different teams have tried to block him in different ways, and it's been pretty interesting to see, whether it's in the running game or the passing game. He has been triple-teamed, he's been flash-blocked – there have been a lot of different things that people have tried. But the guy has just had a great year, and obviously, we need him to have a great game on Sunday."
On what he thinks about Ravens T Rick Wagner:"I think they are – Wagner included – I think their whole unit there is a very tough unit that plays well together and is very well-coached. [It's] a big challenge for our guys."
DE J.J. Watt
On what he has seen from former Wisconsin teammate T Rick Wagner in his first year as a starter:"Obviously, [it's] a good opportunity for him up there, having played with him back at Wisconsin and knowing him a little bit. [I'm] looking forward to the challenge and looking forward to the opportunity to play against him."
On if he is surprised by how well T Rick Wagner has played this season:"No. I think playing at Wisconsin, they do a very good job of preparing you, and offensive linemen – especially at that school. They do a great job of preparing you for the next level. So, I don't think it should be a surprise that he's come in and been able to have success early on in his career."
On what it's going to be like going up against his former head coach, Gary Kubiak:"We have a lot of respect for coach Kubiak around here. He's a great guy; he's someone that everybody likes. So, we're looking forward to that, and it'll be a great challenge. He's put together a great offense up there, and they're doing some good things, so we look forward to the opportunity."
On what it was like practicing with T Rick Wagner at Wisconsin:"He's a big, athletic guy. I'm pretty sure he switched from tight end to offensive line, and he was a good basketball player in high school. He's athletic, he can do some things, he's big guy, and he can use his body well. He's a good football player."
On his thoughts on the year that OLB Elvis Dumervil is having for the Ravens:"He's playing very well. He's playing very good football right now, and their whole defensive line is playing good football. You have him, [Terrell] Suggs and [Pernell] McPhee and [Timmy] Jernigan – all those guys are playing some good football up there. So, as a defensive lineman, you enjoy watching good football being played, and they're definitely doing a good job of it."
On if OLB Elvis Dumervil should be in the conversation with him for NFL Defensive Player of the Year:"I don't pay any attention to those conversations. That's for media and the voters to talk about. All I can do is control what I can control – go out there every single day and practice as hard as I can, study my film and go out there on game day and play as hard as I can. Then, the people can write and vote however they'd like to."
On what he attributes to his emergence as a pass rusher over the past few seasons:"I don't know. I think that you go out there every single day and try and be the best player you can be. You work extremely hard; you watch a lot of film; you make the necessary sacrifices. You have good coaching; you have good teammates and good players. You just do whatever you can to be the best. That's the goal for every single player. You go out there every single day and just try and become the best player that you can be and never stop trying to improve your game."
On how much he looks forward to matchups against players like G Marshal Yanda:"They have a very good offensive line. Obviously, Marshal is a great player [who has] deservedly been to quite a few Pro Bowls, and I'm sure it won't be the last one. They have a good offensive line; they've been doing good things and running the ball well, doing well in pass protection. So, you look forward to that challenge and that opportunity. It's always fun to play against guys who are playing very, very well."
On some of the exotic schemes teams have thrown at him to try and negate his impact:"You name it, I've seen it. (laughter) There has been just about every style in the book of trying to do it, whether it's double-teams, triple-teams – sometimes the rare quadruple – tight end chip, running back chip, center … There are all sorts of different things. It just adds another challenge. So, I look at it as a challenge and I look at it as an opportunity to go out there and try and find my way through it and try and get back there regardless. And then also, it helps open up other guys [by getting] one-on-ones and other situations. So, it's good."
On if he was flattered by having four people blocking him:"It's one of those things where it's part of the game. You just have to fight through it and do whatever you can to try and get back there."
On if he remembers what team had four people blocking him:"No, I don't remember."
On how much TE Owen Daniels meant to the Texans over the years:"He's a very good football player, and obviously, he's having a lot of success up there [in Baltimore] this year. So, you're happy for him, obviously being a [Wisconsin] Badger. It's good to see him having success having played with him a little while here. I'm happy for his success. He's doing a good job up there."
On what time he got to the weight room the day he signed his new contract:"I got there at about 3, 3:30 [a.m.] – somewhere right around there."
On if he couldn't sleep the night after he signed his new contract:"It was obviously a pretty exciting time. I had a lot of thoughts going through my head [and] really couldn't sleep too much, so I figured I'd get in there and start earning it early."
On how much he would like to show Gary Kubiak some of his offensive skills:"I'll do whatever it takes to try and help our team win football games. When my number is called, I'm more than willing to go in there and help us out. I just want to get in the end zone. I don't care who gets in the end zone. I just want our team to get in the end zone and have success. So, if I can help out in any way, I'm more than willing to help our team out."
On replacing TE Owen Daniels as Houston's red zone threat:(Watt laughs.)
On how the Ravens have gone 24 games without allowing a 100-yard rusher:"It's impressive; it's extremely impressive. And obviously, when you can stop the run like that, it helps out your pass rush game, because then you can kind of get those guys in situations where they have to throw the ball and you can get after them, and they've had success with that as well. So, I think they're playing very well as a defense, and they deserve a lot of credit for that."