Coach Whisenhunt's Wednesday Practice Report



(on Jake Locker not speaking to the media after practice)

I didn't want to come up and do the same thing every day, so I figured we'd have a little more clarity tomorrow after him practicing today, so that's why.

(on how much Jake Locker practiced today)

He did pretty much everything. He'll be listed as limited just because I don't want it to flare up tomorrow and be an issue, but he did a lot today.

(on how much Jake Locker practiced today versus last week)

I don't know. I can't really assess that, but he did a good part of practice today.

(on Jake Locker throwing yesterday)

He threw yesterday, and the big thing is to get two days in a row where he can do that. Obviously, that's why he didn't have anything to say, because we'll see how it goes from here tomorrow.

(on Jake Locker responding well to throwing yesterday)

It seemed to be. I haven't talked to him today after practice, but the way he handled himself today, it seemed to be better than it was last week.

(on the challenge of facing Texans DE J.J. Watt)

He's a good football player. I think we all know that. He's everywhere. He's going to line up in all different positions. It's not like you can target one spot that he's going to be in. You're going to be matched up against him at some point, but that's part of the challenge that's this league. You've got to be able to face those guys. We're going to work hard to prepare and come out and hopefully play a good game Sunday.

(on the decision to trade Akeem Ayers to the Patriots)

I think that we had an opportunity I think that was good for both parties, and we moved on it. He'd been inactive a couple of times. I felt like this would give him a chance to get a fresh start, and it gave us a chance to get something in exchange for that.

(on if Akeem Ayers' skill set was not what he was looking for in a player)

I don't know that that necessarily was the case. I think, really, a big part of it was special teams. When you're in that type role, you've got to be able to contribute special teams-wise. We needed that, and we just didn't feel like we were getting enough from that area.

(on if Akeem Ayers caused any problems)

I didn't have any issues with Akeem (Ayers). I'm sorry that it didn't work out here, but I certainly want him to have success where he goes. Akeem's been a good young man.

(on Akeem Ayers going from being a starter to being inactive)

I can't control what happened before we got here. We came in fresh, we started it, we evaluated everybody together. He was given a lot of opportunities in training camp. We made the decision on who are going to be the starters based on production over the time. We kept very detailed records of that, and we were very clear and open about our discussions with that. If you're not the starter, a big piece of your team puzzle is linebackers contribute on special teams. He was given opportunities to perform in that area and didn't perform very well. That, in a nutshell, is what led to that decision.

(on communicating with Akeem Ayers)

I didn't specifically talk to him yesterday, but Akeem (Ayers) and I have talked a couple of times, and I felt like we had good interaction. He was always very professional. There was never any antagonism. I think he understood the message. From that standpoint, that's about all you can ask.

(on if trading Akeem Ayers sends a message to the team about a sense of urgency)

I think there should be a sense of urgency with our team where we are in our record. With the way it is, things are going to change in this league. It wasn't intended to send a message. It was something, like I said earlier, that we felt was good for both parties. That's why we acted on it. Once again, I wish Akeem (Ayers) well.

(on if Texans DE J.J. Watt is the best defensive player in the league)

I'll say it again, I'm not really into comparing players to other players, but he's a very good football player. I respect the way he works, the way he finishes, and you definitely have to make sure that you know where he is.

(on scheming for a specific player like J.J. Watt)

There are different guys in different positions that you certainly have to be aware of. I don't have a number off the top of my head, but certainly from the standpoint of, like I said before, he's all over the place. Trying to scheme against him, a lot of times they do a great job of moving him around and creating those matchups, which he does a good job of exposing.

(on if J.J. Watt reminds him of other players)

He's a special player. There have been a few of those during the course of the years, but I don't want to get into comparisons with other players. He's got his own identity, and he's doing a nice job with that.

(on moving Antonio Andrews from the practice squad to the active roster)

There's no question we didn't want to lose Antonio (Andrews). We kind of thought when we put him on the practice squad that this was going to happen at some point, so we were prepared for that.

(on if the team is motivated at practice)

That hasn't really been an issue. They worked well again today. Our guys have done a good job of working hard and practicing. We've just got to be able to get over the hump in the games and make those plays. It's coming, that's a part of it. The good teams that I've been around where we've had success, that's a key part of it. I know they're hurting, because we all want to win, but they were upbeat today, they were excited about going against Houston, and they worked hard.

(on if it's difficult to keep up the team's confidence)

I think that would probably be a better question for those guys. I certainly haven't gotten any sense or feedback that that's the case. These guys, like I said, they're working hard. There are specific reasons why we haven't won a couple of these games. The last three have been tough because two of them we had a good chance to win, and we couldn't pull it out, and you look at those. You work to correct them, and you hope that you're better the next time you get in that situation. They understand that. Are we disappointed? Sure, we're all disappointed. This game is about winning football games. We're working hard to try to get better.

(on how much of the team's success is mental)

A big part of it's mental. Confidence is a big part of it. Like I said, that's something that you've got to work your way through. We're going to come to a point where somebody's going to make a play. We're going to have something good happen for us. A lot of times that's all you need. We're close to that, and we're working. I know it's difficult to hear that when I stand up here with the record the way it is, but I'm just telling you what I see. That's the way I feel about it, and I believe our guys believe the same thing.

(on Texans LB Whitney Mercilus and if LB Jadeveon Clowney will play this week)

(Whitney) Mercilus is playing very well for them. We certainly understand Clowney's a really good football player, but I don't have any control over whether he does or not. Once again, if he plays, then we've got to be able to handle that. Run game, pass game, whatever it is, but we've played some pretty good players this year already, and we'll continue to before the season's over, so we've just got to prepare as best we can.

(on if there are too many running backs on the roster)

You can just adjust with your practice squad. It happens in the league quite a bit, if you look at some of the rosters. I know, not to point out a specific team, although I guess I will, the 49ers, would carry three fullbacks sometimes. A lot of it is the makeup of your taem and how you're trying to manage some of those situations, so it does happen.

(on if Tommy Smith views this game as significant since the franchise originated in Houston)

I'm sure at some level he does. We haven't specifically talked about that, but I can certainly understand where that would come from and how important that would be. This is, obviously, a team that has some meaning because of that, but it's an important game for us because it's a division game. It's a chance to win a second game at home. Winning a game is important, and winning a home game is also important.

(on Justin Hunter's missed receptions)

It's not a matter of the quarterback losing faith him. I think it's more of a progression thing. Especially when you're a young player that's doing a lot of good things, when those kind of things happen it does affect you from a confidence standpoint, even from a body language thing. Those are the things with young players that you continue to work with. Justin (Hunter's) made some big plays for us this year, and he will make some more before the year's out. You understand you don't want that to happen, but it does happen.

(on if Dexter McCluster is not being used the way he was originally intended)

A lot of it's because we haven't been very good on third down, which sustains drives and gives us more opportunities. A lot of it's just the way the games have gone. I'm hopeful that as we continue to go through the season those things will have more frequent occurrences.

(on Dexter McCluster contributing to third downs)

He's been in there on a lot of those. We've had a couple of issues with those, most notably those third-and-longs, we've had a lot of those. We're continuing to have things designed for Dexter (McCluster), and hopefully we'll do a better job of incorporating him in giving us a chance to make some more plays.

(on the importance of getting a win before the bye week)

It's a good bonus, I think. It's really more about getting a win than it is getting a win going into a bye week. Do we want it? Sure. Does it make the bye week a lot better? Yes, it does. We're focused on getting a win, period, right now. That's what's important to us.

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