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Coach Munchak's Sept. 11 Practice Report

Posted Sep 11, 2013

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on Jake Locker’s preparedness heading into this weekend)

Well, you know we got to play them (the Texans) a second time I think back in November. So, he got a feel of that game also. We just turned the ball over way too much on offense. We fumbled it. We threw picks. We threw a couple of pick-sixes. The game up there last year, we were in it to me in the third quarter. It was 14-7 late in the third quarter. We had a great punt return and got down to their 20. We had a penalty which kind of hurt us then we threw a pick six and the game kind of got away from us. So, it’s a tough place to play. There’s no doubt he’s more ready to play. Obviously, a year under your belt from a year ago is a lot different. He’s a lot different player than he was. This is a lot different team than last year when we went there. I think together we’ll go down there, and we understand how good they are, what a great job they did on Monday Night Football, and it’ll be a great opportunity for us to play well.

(on playing a division game earlier in the season)

It’ll be great for us because, again, this is our number one rivalry in the division just because of the fact we used to play in Houston. It’s a natural rivalry there. There’s a lot of familiarity with each other over the years, and they’ve been in charge of the division over the last two years. People always ask ‘do you want to play them early or late?’ I don’t think it matters. It’s good coming off a win. We won a game, a tough, physical game on the road. Hopefully they have some confidence going in, but it’s a totally different team. We’re going to have to play a lot better if we’re going to win this weekend.

(on the possibility of getting through the road trip with a 2-0 record)

Well, I mean that’s something we can worry about next week, but I think it’s something we feel very capable of doing. But, again, that’s why we’re out here working. We realize it’s going to take every one of us to get this job done, and we’re going to have to play mistake-free football. If we don’t turn the ball over, we assume we’ll be in that game in the second half, be right in the middle of it. If we can make the plays, then we’ll have a shot. That’s what we need to do. That’s what we didn’t do the last two times we played them. Give them credit for that. They forced turnovers. They forced us to play poorly on offense especially, and those games got away from us.

(on whether Kenny Britt disappeared against Pittsburgh)

You know, he got that one ball early. We all know that. Then after that, there were times we went away from him. We checked away from him. We went to runs. You would have liked to get him more involved, really all the receivers. I would have liked to get Kendall (Wright) more involved in the offense also, but when you only throw the ball 20 times…you don’t want to get caught up in that. We know that with the receivers in general we’re going to have to throw the ball more than 125 yards if we’re going to beat a lot of teams in this league. We know that. I think we’ve shown that we’ll do whatever it takes to win, and if we can hand the ball of 40 times and win a football game, we’ll do it.

(on whether the team’s ability to run the ball so much is an advantage)

I think defense aren’t as used to it. I think defenses get more work rushing the passer. It seems like offenses it’s all about 300 yards passing and scoring. Obviously, you want to score as many points as you can however that takes, but I think you have to have a good defense to be able to do it, too. I think our defense played really well last weekend which allowed us to do what we did. If your defense isn’t playing well, it kind of goes hand in hand a little bit. But, I think what we did on the offensive side of the ball was that we stayed on the field a lot better than we probably had all last season. I don’t think there was one game we stayed on the field for 34 minutes. But, our defense only played 53 snaps, and it showed. They played aggressive. They got off the field on a lot of three-and-outs. If we can do that together, then I think we could sneak up on a lot of teams if we can stay on the field like that.

(on whether teams are deeper in pass coverage more so than the defensive line these days)

No, I think they’re both. It’s almost like what do you work against every Sunday with what you are seeing and what are these guys getting good at. If every week you’re playing someone…that’s the same in colleges. College football has become such a spread deal that it’s hard to evaluate offensive linemen a lot of times because they just don’t run the football the same way. A lot of these guys are in three-point stances. It seems like it used to be run, run, run back in Eddie George’s days. Teams were just like we were. They ran the football. They play-actioned. It was low scoring. They found a way to win. If someone threw for 300 then it was like ‘Oh my God, what happened there?’ Now it’s a more common thing. 300 yards is a lot more common than it used to be. I just think when teams don’t work against something, they don’t see a lot of running, they’re maybe not as good at it. We’ll see how it goes. We’ll do whatever it takes to win. Last week it was probably running more than we thought we would. I don’t think we thought we’d run the ball 40 times, but that’s how it worked out.

(on whether the team had J.J. Watt in mind when they decided to draft Chance Warmack)

Well, it was definitely part of it. You have to look at things that way like you want corners to cover some receivers in your division. So, yeah, that was someone. We knew we needed some help up front anyway with the guards, but then you start thinking we need guys that can match up with guys in our division also. That’s part of it, and we’ll see how it all works. But, it’s not just Chance (Warmack). It’ll be the tackles. He plays both sides, so he’ll be playing against four guys really. But, we need guys like Chance, like (Andy) Levitre, like (David) Stewart, and like (Michael) Roos to block the guy.

(on where J.J. Watt will line up the most)

He’s going to be on base downs, meaning first and second downs if you’re in your normal offense. He’s going to be to the strong side, so usually because of that, most teams get right handed. He’s over at the right tackle. Then on third down situations, he’s going to be a little more over the right guard generally. He’ll be on both sides, but I’d say that’s where he’ll spend most of his time.

(on whether most players are aware of the team’s Houston connections)

I mean, I told them briefly today about some of that, not necessarily about my connections, but more about the organization. When you get into the division, I think they need to understand the division a little bit more especially when you have so much of a turnover that we had this year. A really quick history they can see on the wall, on the timeline, but I think explaining it a bit to them in a brief manner about why this is a big game, what the rivalry’s been like for the last 11 years since they became the Houston Texans and when they were the Tennessee Titans. So, I think it’s nice to know the background without getting too in-depth about it and dwelling on it. It’s more of just an understanding of how we got to where we are today and how this series once was one-sided. Now it seems like they’ve got the upper hand the last couple years, and we need to go get it back.

(on whether the players understand the importance of winning this game)

I think the players get that. They know our owner lives in Houston. They know it’s important, but that’s not going to change our preparation. It just adds more to it if you do win and you do take care of business just like in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh was a game, again, that team and this organization have had a long, long rivalry back to the 70s. That’s not why we won. That’s not why we practiced harder, but when you win, it kind of just adds more to the feeling of once you make an accomplishment just how big that accomplishment really was for the whole organization. I think it’s another one of those games because of the ties to Houston, obviously with Houston, Texas and Austin. It adds more to the game, but ultimately it’s a division game that we need to win.

(on how much better the Texans’ defense is with Brian Cushing back)

It does. You want your playmakers back. They’ve got a good defense. The last couple of years they’ve been playing pretty well. They were making plays, and they’re aggressive. They do their thing, and they don’t care who they’re playing against. It’s the same style. They’re going to bring five-man, six-man pressures on every snap, attack the line of scrimmage, and disrupt the offense of which they’ve been doing. He (Brian Cushing) made a great play like you mentioned, and I think that leadership, they missed that last year. They had a great season last year, but they couldn’t quite get all the way. They feel it is their year, and we have to see what we can do about that.

(on Shonn Greene’s participation today)

Shonn (Greene) didn’t practice. He’s doing a lot better which is good. He’s been getting better every day, so we feel there’s a good chance that hopefully by Friday he’s able to practice.

(on the importance of having two productive backup running backs in Shonn Greene and Jackie Battle)

I think it’s real important. I think we made that clear when we went out and got Shonn Greene that  it was important to have two different types of runners if we want to do what we want to do as far as controlling the ball, being the physical team. Having Jackie (Battle) is a bonus to have three guys. It seems like we haven’t been able to stay healthy at running backs. The backups seem to be hurt the last two, three years for us, and it happened you know with Shonn. Luckily, we had Jackie ready to play, and he contributed on that big drive. If Shonn’s not ready, then Jackie’s going to have to step up again.

(on whether a player can still play Sunday even if he doesn’t practice Friday)

Yeah, I mean veteran guys can, guys like (David) Stewart played the whole game and didn’t practice until Saturday. Again, I think for a veteran, there’s a better chance to do that. For a young guy, you may get a little more nervous if they don’t have a feel for the system. I think Shonn (Greene) has a good feel for what we’re doing. Running back’s a tougher position because you have to see how he can handle that. We’re hoping by Friday he can do some things, and if not, then we’ll make a decision by then.

(on how David Stewart is feeling)

He’s doing a lot better. He didn’t practice today, but he did all the walkthrough today. He’s not as sore as he was last week at this time. He’s gotten better. It’s just a matter of it’s going to take a couple weeks. Hopefully next week he’s practicing by Wednesday or Thursday. This week probably by Friday. He should be able to play on Sunday.

(on who the team’s fifth receiver is)

It depends on why we’re suiting up five, but obviously Justin Hunter is a guy we feel can make a lot of plays. If you went with Mike P. (Michael Preston) it would be more because you’re losing a special teams guy somewhere and you need a guy on special teams. That’s where he’d maybe get a nod if it was a particular week. Generally speaking, if somebody’s hurt it would be Justin. If we feel somebody’s nicked at all that we need someone in there that can take the top off and have speed down the field, it would be Justin.

(on being aware of the Texans’ defense and its ability to bat balls)

You’re trying to be aggressive, especially on the three-step stuff where the quarterback’s not as deep. So, we have to be physical. Sometimes there’s not a whole lot you can do. You hope the quarterback can find the throwing lanes because that’s a problem because usually when that gets batted up, something bad happens. We batted two down last week, but I don’t think we got batted by Pittsburgh. Usually they’re known for that, too. You’re aware of it. You work on it, but you can’t get consumed by it and have it change the way you play your game. We had our hands up in practice and all that stuff to kind of close the windows for Jake (Locker) so he’s got to look elsewhere. That’s just another deal you have to overcome.

(on whether the animosity over the Titans leaving Houston is over)

I think it’s over. It’s long over. Whatever it was there, I think it was just people upset, disappointed. I mean, your team leaves after 36 years. I think that’s hard to take for a city. It’s a business. Obviously, it was a big business decision. A lot of things were involved. I think by now, and even for us it was done many years ago, and these players have no knowledge of what went on and why. I think we just love Nashville, and we love being here. We need to go win a big game.

(on whether he senses animosity from Houston’s fans over the move)

No I don’t, not at all. I go back to Houston for charity events still, and the diehard Oilers fans like the Titans quite a bit. They know this is still their organization, and they say ‘Hey, I root for you every week except those two Sundays.’ We’ll take 14 weeks a year from fans, so I think you get a little bit of both.

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