Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (1.11.24)

Opening statement:

“Okay, had a really sharp practice in there. I think the guys understand how important it is to be on top of your business and understand your role in every play and being diligent about knowing the details of these game plans. So really pleased with the work the guys put in, and then we’ll get another walkthrough tomorrow and jump on the airplane and excited about this opportunity. With that, I’ll take any questions.”


What’s the story with Denzel (Ward)? 

“Yeah, just something with his knee. He was limited. I don’t really have an update past that practice today.”


He practiced today?



What did you see out of Grant (Delpit)? I saw you guys ruled him out, Grant. Just not ready yet?

“Yeah, just coming along. Just all part of the rehab process. Part of that process is getting out there on the practice field and getting through individuals and getting through some team periods, but he’s trending in the right direction. He’s progressing really well. So we’ll see.”


So no set back?



Just with Denzel, I mean, you guys have been able to roll so many good defensive backs in there and just kind of keep it going. Can you just address how you guys are nice and deep back there? 

“Yeah. With all these positions. Mary Kay (Cabot), at certain points in the season, you’re counting on everybody, really, at every single position. I think you could go up and down our roster. So guys know that their number could be called after the first play, after the 50th play, they have to stay ready.”


Has it been a silver lining in some respects that you had to play the Ronnie Hickman’s and you had to play the D’Anthony Bell’s, and they’re ready to roll?

“Yeah, I’ve told the team we’re better off for everything we’ve been through, and that includes getting young players in there and getting them reps. Which, as you know, sometimes it’s hard to do. It’s sometimes hard to get a guy on the field, and you get through the entire season, and he didn’t play very much. But we’ve had guys that have had to play quite a bit, and I think that serves you well.”


Amari (Cooper) hadn’t practiced in a while. How did he look today in his first day back? 

“Good. Yeah. Looked like Amari.”


What about Ced (Cedric Tillman)?

“Still in the protocol. So he’s out this week, and as you know, with any type of concussion, we’ll just continue to treat it and listen to the doctors.”


Kevin, do you anticipate Ogbo (Okoronkwo) being his regular self, or is he still restricted? 

“I don’t know that he’s restricted, but he’s still coming off of that. I thought it was awesome to get him in the game last week and ease him into it. Looks really good in practice. So it’s really based on how he’s feeling.”


How has Pierre (Strong) progressed through the week with the back injury?

“Yeah, he battles like crazy. He’s a very tough kid, so he looked good.”


Is Denzel’s knee something that you guys, I mean, take right up the pregame warm up?

“I don’t have an update. I don’t know. We’ll see.”


Will Jerome Ford return kicks for you?

“Potentially, yeah.”


With Grant out and Juan (Thornhill) questionable, how important are the roles of guys like Ronnie Hickman and D’Anthony Bell going to be in the playoff game? 

“Yeah, like we’ve talked about, Cam (Justice), I mean, those guys have played. They’ve played well. We trust them. We trust Duron Harmon. These are guys that have given us great reps and so much of playing in the back end is being great communicators and playing off of each other. And I think those guys do that well.”


With how good Myles (Garrett) has been all year long, is there still another level for him to take himself when he gets to the playoffs? 

“Yeah, I mean, as you know, with potential you never reach it. It’s just – so there’s always he and all of our players, there’s another level that he certainly can hit.”


Did Denzel have to leave practice today? 

“He was limited.”


He finished the practice, but he was limited?

“He was limited.”


You guys haven’t had a ton of playoff experience. Does it feel different during the week when you’re preparing for a playoff game in practice? 

“It shouldn’t. These weeks are – that’s part of the messaging of these games. You understand that it’s a one-game season, but you also have to go back to your process and go back to what got you there and go back to your preparation. So, so much of this week has felt very normal in that regard.”


Just with Martin (Emerson Jr.) and with Greg (Newsome), if it comes down to those two guys, how well have they both been playing for you? 

“Yeah, have given us great reps. MJ throughout the season has been outstanding. Greg playing inside and outside has been outstanding. So really pleased with where those guys are.”


Earlier today, Scott Peters said that he expected both pass rushers for Houston to play. Turns out they did practice today for the first time. So does the uncertainty at all, how does it affect your preparation? 

“Well, they’re very good edge rushers. I have a ton of respect for how they play. They’re tough. So it’s going to be a tough battle regardless of who’s in there. But you study all of their guys because you go into these games, you’re not quite sure sometimes who’s going to play. So you study everybody on the roster. You want to have a very good understanding of how each guy wins in their pass rush.”


You guys have talked all season about that 1-0 mentality, in this scenario because this season, postseason is just 1-0. Does that seem like it’s helped these guys, especially those who haven’t been through playoff experience? 

“I don’t know. That’s just kind of how we deal with every single week. Because as you guys know, every game is a huge game and every game feels like it’s the biggest game of your life because it is. So we just treat every game as such and we make sure we fill that bucket up with everything we possibly can from a preparation standpoint. So that doesn’t change.”


How nice was it for David Bell to come through with some big plays last week?

“Yeah, he’s done a nice job really all season long for us in his role. Obviously, as you know, there’s only so many footballs that go around. Sometimes there’s guys that do a great job for you but doesn’t show up necessarily in the stat sheet. So he’s a guy that we have a ton of trust in. He does what he’s supposed to do every time.”


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