Coach Whisenhunt's Monday Press Conference



(on Justin Hunter's and Zach Mettenberger's injuries)

Justin (Hunter's) actually doing well. I talked to him last night and this afternoon. He is in Houston at the hospital, and we expect him to be released over the next day or two, but everything's going well there. That's good. As far as Zach (Mettenberger) goes, his shoulder's not as bad as we thought it might be. He's sore, but it's moving around pretty good, so we'll see how the week progresses with him as far as having a chance to play.

(on if Justin Hunter is out for the year)

We'll know more later in the week.

(on the hits that Justin Hunter and Zach Mettenberger took that led to their injuries)

I think Justin (Hunter's) was the safety was making a play on the ball. He lowered the shoulder. He didn't have the ball, so it was contact. That happens with the game. It's unfortunate that he hit him in the midsection. As far as Zach (Mettenberger), Zach had released the ball. I don't think (J.J.) Watt had any intention of hurting Zach. Obviously, the pushing it to the ground, going to the ground, is what hurt him. Another unfortunate play.

(on if Zach Mettenberger could have held off J.J. Watt's hit)

I don't know. I'm sure there are different opinions on that. Just in looking at it from the tape, Zach (Mettenberger) got rid of the ball. I don't know if he could have held off or not. You'd have to ask him that.

(on Jake Locker's performance)

Some good, some bad. It's never easy in a game like that to come in and play, especially when you're down the way we were, with them taking some chances with some of their blitzes. You certainly don't like interceptions or turnovers, but that's an unfortunate part of it.

(on why Michael Oher stayed in the locker room)

He was getting checked out. First of all, he went and got X-rayed, and then they were trying to work to figure something out so that he could potentially play. When it was determined that he couldn't play, it was better for him as opposed to standing outside for a couple of hours.

(on why Michael Oher was active for the game)

The inactives were turned in before he ever stepped foot on the field. He was active based on everything we had done during the week as far as preparing for that. He was going to be OK to go. That was what we addressed before we left. We knew it was a concern. We had other alternatives if we needed it. Even himself, he felt good about it. He felt good about it Sunday morning. It wasn't until we got onto the field for pregame where he felt the pop in it, and that's what did it. He felt the progress we'd made as far as preparing him for that, because that was obviously a concern. You don't ever want to go into a game with only six linemen. That's a risky proposition. It's unfortunate.

(on Chance Warmack's injury)

Chance (Warmack) is doing OK. He's got an ankle. We expect him to progress during the week. He finished the game with it. He'll be sore, but hopefully he won't have any issues.

(on if Zach Mettenberger will play this Sunday)

I hope so. I think a lot of it's going to be determined by how much he can throw and how it bothers him. I don't anticipate that it's going to bother him or affect him throwing. It may earlier in the week, but I think we'll get past that. There's obviously going to be some soreness with it, and that's going to be a big part of it.

(on being able to evaluate Zach Mettenberger at the end of the season)

I think it's a great relief. Other than the exception of his first throws in a couple of games, he's been doing a nice job and making a lot of progress in areas. I'd like to see that continue.

(on if Zach Mettenberger wants to play Sunday to show his accountability to his teammates)

I think it's a mindset of a lot of guys that I've been around with this football team. I certainly think it is with Zach (Mettenberger). He wants to play. I don't think it's a thing about trying to prove his toughness. I think he legitimately wants to play. He wants to be the guy. He feels like he has to prove that he can do that. That's part of it. That's a good motivation.

(on Zach Mettenberger's reaction to his injury as a measure of his ability as a quarterback in the NFL)

I think that's what the NFL as a player is all about. It's a tough game. You've got to be able to do that. You've got to be able to rally and come back and play. You see that week in and week out with different players in the league. You certainly don't want to put players at risk. That's not what it's about. You don't feel great this time of year in the NFL, no matter what you've done, so you have to work through those things.

(on if it is difficult to evaluate Zach Mettenberger with issues on the offensive line)

That's an interesting question. We're getting some evaluation of Zach (Mettenberger) that is as tough a situation as you could possibly be in. Probably one of the things that we're missing is an end of the game where it's tight and how you handle that situation or an end of the game where you gave the lead and what you can do in that type of situation, which is all part of the process. There's no question that just what we're seeing him do is invaluable as far as evaluating him.

(on how challenging the early deficits have been in the last few games)

It gets you out of your plan. You work all week to have a plan where you're going to try to attack them in a certain way. Obviously, when you get down, it takes you out of that. We don't get a chance to run the football like you would anticipate that you could. Some of the play action things are out the window. Obviously, protection issues will come up because they have the ability or the freedom to take chances, knowing that it's not going to hurt them when you hurt them on a play. Those are all things that contribute to it and make it more difficult, there's no question.

(on how many times they chipped on J.J. Watt)

I'd say the plan was probably in most cases we had a plan for that, whether it was three on two to one side or where the back chipping on him or even the tight end. I know you guys probably saw Delanie (Walker) chip on him a number of times going out. What happens is when they put six up and you've got six protectors, that takes you off the chip, they can take you off the chip. The way you counter that is if you can hold up you can make some plays down the field like we did to Kendall (Wright) on a touchdown pass. You always have a plan to try to do that when you go against a rusher like that. When he moves around the way he does, it makes it a little bit more difficult. Sometimes it's the matter of the scheme.

(on why they couldn't put much pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick)

I think we were close again, but we didn't, obviously, get there. I don't know what that function was yesterday. We tried to play it a little bit more conservatively because of where we were in the secondary, banged up. We weren't able to bring as much pressure, and I think that was what partly affected it.

(on what is the evidence with this season that shows progress in his system)

I could show you a number of plays in all three phases where you can see when we do it the right way that we have success. If you look at some of our plays that we've had, I know offensively over the last few games we've had a large number of 20-plus, 30-plus plays down the field in the pass game. We obviously haven't been as successful running the football as we'd like. Defensively, we've been able to generate pressure at times, but not consistently. Special teams-wise, even if you look at this last game, we had one punt return where I felt like we had Dexter (McCluster) out. We made one mistake on a block where he's got a touchdown and we had a couple of good returns, so you feel like there's areas special teams-wise where we're doing some good things. It is a process with playing a lot of different guys. We're making a number of mistakes, and those are hard. It's hard for us to work through it.

(on what players can do the remainder of the season to help their final evaluations)

It's an important part of the process. Getting a chance to see them in games, if you just look at the quarterback, for example, we've got to see him before this game against three pretty good defenses in the league, three pretty good, established defenses. You get a good assessment of him on where he is and how he's going to handle that. We're getting to look at a lot of different guys in situations. Some of it because you want to look at young players, some of it because it's an injury situation. It does give them an opportunity to show what they can do.

(on his evaluation of the offensive line against Houston)

It's tough. We didn't, obviously, protect as well as we needed to. Some of it was because we were behind, but it was a tough proposition with three new guys in there yesterday. We didn't get the job done well enough.

(on if Taylor Lewan and Michael Oher will return this week)

I hope so. I think we'll get a chance to see later in the week where he is. He's got good mobility. We're just waiting for the strength to come back. We're hopeful that Michael Oher will have a chance to come back, but it's hard to say today where that's going to end up shaking out later in the week.

(on Michael Oher's injury)

My experience with Michael is he's a tough guy. This issue with his toe is something he's dealt with before. I don't know. I'll have to see how it goes going forward.

(on if Kamerion Wimbley will return this week)

There's a chance this week. He's doing well. I think we'll test him later in the week and see. It's all about being able to open up.

(on if they chipped J.J. Watt as much as they anticipated)

Like I said, usually we'll have the back to one side and we'll be working three guys to that side so it's a combination with those guys. When you look back on it, you know you're never going to be able to chip him every play. I think you're under an illusion if you think you can. Like I said, defenses can get the one-on-one matchups, and you have to hold up at some times. To counter that is you make them pay in other areas. Obviously, your plan is affected when you get behind the way we did. That makes it tough. We had some success with that. I think there's evidence if you look at the tape of that, but obviously there's two or three plays where we didn't that stand out. Would I like to have those back? Sure you would.

(on if Jake Locker didn't read the coverage on his first pass)

It's one of those ones where I just think he made the wrong decision. I don't think it was necessarily one that was that difficult. He looked to his left, which is where he should have stayed, and he didn't. It's unfortunate.

(on if Justin Hunter needs a procedure for his injury)

Based on where he is right now, no, I don't anticipate a procedure. As the game progressed he still was having some problems. He talked to the trainer, and he was exhibiting some symptoms that made them kind of turn, and that's when they took him there. When you take him to the hospital you're always concerned about where he is, because what happened to him is he lacerated his spleen, which can be pretty serious. Through the night everything stabilized, and right now he's in good shape, so we don't anticipate there being an issue.

(on if Justin Hunter's symptoms including spitting blood)

He didn't spit up blood that I'm aware of.

(on the status of the roster between now and next season)

It's a fair question, but I think you run the risk of making an assessment about somebody before you have to do that. In this process what you have to do is when the season's over is go back through it and evaluate it again. There's such a time period before you're able to do anything anyway. You take your time, and you go back through it. I think the important thing is that you get enough of a set of what you're looking at to make those assessments. In my history in this league, I've seen where guys could rally over the last few weeks and make a case where you feel better about maybe where they are at a certain point. I think it depends really kind of how the games go and what you're looking at from that standpoint. Everything is really evaluated as far as how they work, how they fit in with their teammates. The right kind of guys is an important piece of it. You already know a good portion of the guys that you feel really good about fitting those roles. There are going to be some that stand out that do well over the next four weeks and some you already have a pretty good feel about.

(on Blidi Wreh-Wilson having ups and downs in coverage)

I think some of it's probably a product of him not being able to practice. He's been fighting the injury with his back, which I credit his toughness for getting through that, and he's missed some reps in practice because of it. That factors into it. There's other factors as well, but he's a young player. He has shown progress. You really respect the way he's fighting through this issue with his back.

(on what should have been done differently on Zach Mettenberger's pass to Justin Hunter to prevent the injury)

Gone with the other side. Pre-snap and post-snap are two different things in the world of a quarterback. I think one of the things, and we talked about that last night, and we talked about it today, the safety stayed on the backside hash, and that's one of the indicators to get off of that. It's certainly something where as you grow with Zach (Mettenberger), as we work through things, he's got an incredible arm. A lot of times, you've seen this in college, he can fit those balls in, but part of what you work with is taking the smart thing, especially early in the game. If we're in a different situation later in the game, and certainly the hit on Justin (Hunter), I'm not talking about that. There are times when you will try to fit those balls in. You see that many times in the NFL. You see some of these quarterbacks do that, but in that particular instance, the second play of the game where we've got a route open on the front side, we talked about specifically going to that side, that's why it's there. If the safety had cheated all the way over to the strong side and you had the window to throw it, absolutely you go back. We were looking at throwing it to the front side in that particular situation. It's important that you stay with it to the front side.

(on Justin Hunter's expectations when Zach Mettenberger threw to the wrong place)

I haven't asked Justin (Hunter) about that. I think some of it could have been surprise with the safety where he was if the ball was coming to him. I haven't gotten the impression that Justin is that way. I certainly haven't seen that in his play, and I think the way he came back and played a half, maybe even a little bit longer, with essentially what had happened to him, is indicative of his courage. I don't think that it was a (hearing) footstep thing.

(on Zach Mettenberger's pre-snap reads over the last few weeks)

I've seen a lot of growth with Zach as far as that goes. Obviously, he made some tremendous throws in games. I think it's not so much misreads as it is situational football. We've talked about that before. Once again, I just said that particular read was enough of a grey area where you wouldn't necessarily fault him for making a throw like that. Once again, I want to clarify it, not getting Justin (Hunter) hit on it. It wasn't so much that as it was the situation of the game. Based on what we talked about and what we expected, that was where it was an issue for me.

(on if the flea flicker was as rudimentary as people said)

We had a hat for everybody in the box. If we'd blocked it correctly, we certainly had a chance with it.

(on the penalty on Justin Staples)

Obviously, the personal foul was not what you want to see. That's something that Justin and I, he came in earlier this morning, and we had a discussion about that. I expect that to be cleared up. The holding call, that happened. I don't think he got called until he made himself look suspicious when he raised his hands like, 'hey, I'm not holding.' That's when (Jeff) Triplette threw the flag. From those, you just have to learn from.

(on Kendall Wright's penalty)

It sure looks like he was talking a little on the tape that I saw. I don't know. I know they were both jawing, and I think we've had our discussions about that.

(on Blidi Wreh-Wilson's toughness and if he is living up to it with his production)

He has made some plays on the ball in the last couple of games. He has played good football. I know yesterday there were a couple that got out on him, and that's unfortunate. We can't overlook the ones where he has made good plays on the ball. There were certainly a couple of games, especially before he hurt his back, where he did do some good things.

(on Dontay Moch's performance)

He showed some good traits. He showed some explosiveness and speed. He made some mistakes, which you understand's going to happen with some of these young guys. Hopefully he'll continue to grow and get better.

(on the Texans using J.J. Watt in multiple spots)

They had the lead, they get the opportunity to do whatever they want to do. If we want to keep that from happening, then don't let them complete the ball down to that situation. If we do that, then we're not talking about that.

(on if there is a common thread in his teams winning three of the last 24 games)

What does it say that we've been to a Super Bowl and got six playoff games and four wins? That's still a part of your resume, right? Does that guarantee that we won't have success? I believe that we've shown that we have a plan that can work. There's evidence of that. Is it going the way we want it to right now? No, but the Arizona team and this team have nothing in common. Different situation.

(on facing teams in the next three weeks that have similar win totals)

Would be nice to certainly get a win. I hope we recognize that as a team. Not that that means anything on any given Sunday, as they say. We've got to play better football. It doesn't really matter who our opponent is. We've got a few more opportunities to play better football, and that's the way we're looking at it.

(on if he would like to see Antonio Andrews at running back)

Yeah, I would. We just got such a limited look with him.

(on if Antonio Andrews will see similar action as Shonn Greene does in upcoming games)

That would be part of the evaluation, I would guess. You would look to see if he could do some of those same kind of things. I certainly think that's worthy of consideration.

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