QB-PEYTON MANNING (on the Houston Texans) * *
"It's always been a tough game, whether we played them here in Indy or we've always had really close games down there in Houston. The schedule has been funny where we had all four NFC games so early in the season. Now, we're getting into the AFC schedule and into the division. This will be an extremely tough test for us. They are playing really well right now, 5-3. You look at some of their games, they easily could have won a couple that they had lost. They're playing with a lot of momentum right now."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on the Texans being good on the road)
"That's a credit to them. You have to be able to win on the road in this league. We're certainly glad to be at home. We've been on the road plenty this season. We're glad to be at home again, but we know it will be a tough test."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on the Texans defense)
"They've added some different players in the past couple of years. They have a new defensive coordinator. I guess you could say they've made some changes. At the same time, it's a lot of the same core players, (DB-Dunta) Robinson, and of course (DE-Mario) Williams gives you a lot of problems up front, (LB-DeMeco) Ryans at linebacker and (LB-Brian) Cushing, their first round draft choice, you see him show up on film a lot. They've had some injuries in the secondary, but they've been getting some guys back in the past couple of weeks. That's why I think it will be a tough challenge."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on if WR-Reggie Wayne is having his best year)
"I still feel like it's early in the year. I certainly don't forget what great years he's had the past four or five years. He has played extremely well and played at a high level. I think this is a different type of year for him. His role has changed. He's taken some of these guys under his wing a little bit and helped those guys. (Assistant Head Coach/Wide Receivers) Clyde (Christensen) has challenged Reggie, also, to take his game to the next level. Clyde does a great job with all of the young receivers, but he has also challenged Reggie. I think Reggie has answered that challenge and is playing at a high level."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on the challenges WR-Reggie Wayne faces without WR-Marvin Harrison and WR-Anthony Gonzalez)
"I think anytime you have young receivers and unproven guys, defenses are always going to test those guys out. Maybe they form a different impression after the game, but before the game they're going to say, 'Let's see what these guys can do. We know what Reggie Wayne can do. Let's try to double him or rotate coverage to his side.' He's certainly seen help from safeties, and most of the time (he's) getting the team's best corner to roll over to his side. It's up to us to put him in the slot some, move him around and get him in different positions. Obviously, everybody else has to do their job because you can't just focus on one guy. If they're doubling Reggie, then somebody else has to be single covered. WR-Pierre (Garcon) and (WR-Austin) Collie have done a good job, of course TE-Dallas (Clark) fits into that same mold, as well. It's hard to double everybody. We feel like whoever has the single coverage is the guy who has to win."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on getting the offense to fire on all cylinders again)
"We need to have a good week of practice. That's probably where it starts, I think. We just need to have a good week of practice and take that to the playing field. We did have some good things (against San Francisco), we did protect the ball well, we had a lower number of penalties, but we weren't very good in the red zone and we weren't quite as good on third down as we needed to be. Those are things that we have been good at. Hopefully, those things will be points of emphasis this week. I think Houston, (Head) Coach (Jim) Caldwell said leads the league in three-and-outs. That's a real point of emphasis, to stay on the field, give our defense some rest, convert third downs, make first downs and hopefully go down there and finish in the red zone."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on if he's concerned about the offense not being balanced)
"We're still trying to be balanced. I'm really not the one to speak for the philosophy, or what not. We're going to continue to try to be balanced. I guess the numbers are what they are, and we probably are throwing it better than we are running it. I guess that's a safe statement, but it's something that we're still going to try and establish the run every single week. You never quite know when a run is going to pop. We didn't run it all that great on Sunday, but on that last drive, I think we kept it for the last six minutes. We needed a play, RB-Joe (Addai) had his longest run. I think you have to stay committed to it, just to keep the defense somewhat honest, to keep them from being able to rush the passer every single time. There is no question, if you ask anybody on the offense, that is one area we want to improve, as well as we to improve in the passing game. We want to convert more third downs. Obviously, to go 0-4 in the red zone, that's not good enough for us. (K-Matt) Stover did a great job. He told me after the first game against the Rams that he had never kicked six extra points before, which I thought was kind of funny. We were kind of saying, well, hopefully that's all we're going to make you do. Then he came out and had to kick four field goals, and thank goodness he did a great job. We need to score more touchdowns on offense. You're always looking to improve across the board."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on how nice it is to have a veteran kicker like K-Matt Stover)
"When K-Adam (Vinatieri) gets hurt you say, 'How do you bring in anybody that has the kind of experience that Vinatieri has.' Nobody really has the experience Vinatieri has because of the situations he's been in. Matt's been around for a long time and sure has seen a lot of situations. He was calm and cool the other day, as you'd expect him. Obviously, we'd like to ease his load a little bit, and hopefully make him just kick extra points."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on getting a team's best shot)
"I think Houston knows that we have respect for them. You look at the scores of our games, I think last year they were six points and maybe three or four points. They've been close games. They're a division team. I really think this may be our biggest of the season, so far. You look at the actual records of the teams we've beaten so far, they don't have as many wins. I think we are beginning the teeth of our schedule right now with the way some of these teams we're about to play are playing right now. Houston is playing with a lot of momentum. I feel like because it's a division game, that's what makes it a big game for both teams. We're going to be just as excited to play them as they may be to play us, because it's a division game, it means a lot, especially when it comes to implications down the road. Being an AFC South game, it's one that both teams will want to win. It's kind of the last game of our second quarter. We want to go into the second half of our season on a high note."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on a win over Houston giving them a 1-0 edge on the other three teams in the AFC South)
"We've always put extra emphasis on our division games. I think that's normal. We won our first two. Houston, just because they're in the division, they really have nothing to do with Jacksonville or Tennessee. They are their own team. I think they're playing at a very high level right now. We know we have to get good and prepared to play them and go out there and make plays on Sunday, because otherwise it could be a tough day."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on not practicing fully last Friday and if it's something he'll start to do every week)
"I don't know. I didn't know it was going to be that big of a story. It got to be a little bit bigger than I thought it would be. I just felt like I needed some (rest) that day. I don't necessarily think it's going to be every single week. I felt like I wanted some that day."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on if he's talked to other veteran quarterbacks about what they did )
"(Director of Rehabilitation) Erin Barill called some other veteran quarterbacks. We did a little study, really looking at their practice schedules. How much did they throw on Wednesday, Thursdays and Fridays? Did they throw on Sundays before the game? We have done some research. Coach Caldwell helped lead that project and just trying to be smart. The main thing is you want your arm to feel as fresh in December as it does in September. There is something to monitoring your repetitions and throws. It's also kind of how you train in the offseason, so you don't have to have a tired arm. We did study it a little bit, and in the past couple of years, November, December, I have cut down on some of my throws, mainly on Fridays. I still have to get my work in."
QB-PEYTON MANNING (on if he's ever had a tired arm late in the season)
"I can't say I never have. I don't have a tired arm. I guess I've had some soreness at times. We have catered towards that. You really can't start in November. It's really how you do it in training camp and how much you throw in March, April and May. You have to throw. Some people say just don't throw in those months. How do you get your timing down with your new receivers? If we had all the same receivers it would be one thing, but we got (WR-Austin) Collie, (WR-Pierre) Garcon and (RB-Donald) Brown. You have to throw with those guys. You have to pick your times and throw quality reps and sort of gradually build, so as you go into December and hopefully playing in January, your arm still feels as good. To me, if you just start missing practice, that's not good for anybody. That's not good for you. I don't think that's good for the team. Your receivers want to be able to catch my wobbly ball as opposed to (QB-Curtis) Painter's or (QB-Jim) Sorgi's. I don't like to miss practice. I really didn't miss practice. Sorgi just took a few of the reps. I would much rather be in there. We have a lot of guys like that. WR-Reggie (Wayne) is like that. TE-Dallas (Clark) is like that. (RB-Joseph) Addai is like that. They don't like to miss reps, but all those guys know if this is what's better to get me ready to play on Sunday, it's what we need to do."