Q: Bill O'Brien said Malcolm Butler was a unique player - what have you seen from him as his teammate?
DM: I would say because no one in person has seen how he operates on a day in and day out basis. Just his competitive level at practice, in games, OTA practices, drills, he's always just competing at a high level, just going hard. I think it's just from where he came from, where he started that gave him a work ethic of, 'nothing's going to come easy.' He has to go out there and get it. He's obviously had great success so far in his career, but it hasn't changed him. He has the same attitude and the great thing is he does it at practice, so we're getting ready to go out there this week, Saturday night. You see him do it at a high level for three practices, so you know he's ready to go. For me being a little older, it's been great just watching his growth and watching him get better day in and day out and just keep putting in the work. I think it's given him the confidence to go out there and play great football. Coming off a season where he didn't do much, then he goes out there and makes a great catch to win the Super Bowl. After that, he's just gotten better and better and he's played against better players. We put him in tough situations a lot and he comes out and he shows that he likes that and he proves that he can do it.
Q: What are the most notable changes you've seen from the Texans since the last time you played them?
DM: Just this season, I mean, we played those guys in Week 3. I think one thing is their tight ends are making a lot more plays now than the first time we played them. The running game has really been working for them, getting Lamar Miller going and really feeding him. I think he had the ball 30 times last game; well, he ran 30 times. I think for us we just have to be ready to go and know this team knows us well. They're going to come in here with a game plan. I think we've changed some since we first played them, so they'll come in ready to do different things that they feel we don't do well just from knowing the coaching staff and how they game plan. So what exactly they'll go to, we're not sure until we go out there and play, but they still have [DeAndre] Hopkins, they still have [Will] Fuller to take you deep and make plays. We were able to do a decent job the first game, but I don't think that's really going to matter for this game Saturday night.
Q: What does playoff time mean around here?
DM: You've got to earn the right to come back to work. I think I've learned a lot - my rookie year, I don't think I really understood that, of how it can just be over that fast. My rookie year bye week, playing in a playoff game, the first playoff game, we lose and it's over. I've always had that perspective since then. You've got to earn the right to come back to work next week. That means putting in everything you have this week then getting out there on game day and finding a way to win, and then resetting and trying to do it all over again the following week if you're fortunate enough to be there. I think the team understands that. It was great to go out there today coming off a couple days off, high energy, ready to go, trying to get on top of everything. You don't have days to fall behind now. There is no, 'We'll get it right then.' We always talk about it throughout the year, 'we'll get better and better throughout the season, we'll get better next week.' There is no next week right now, so we've got to try to play our best game for Saturday.
Q: Has there been any reminder to not look at the fact that you are favored by 16 points this week?
DM: No, I'm going to be honest with you, I haven't seen the point spread for not one game this year. This is honestly the first time anybody's talked about the favorites or the non-favorites. I don't know. Football's not played in Vegas or anything, so I don't really think any of that matters. I can't imagine there are many players in the NFL that check the point spread going into the game, honestly. Like I said, they're trying to earn the right to be here next week and we're trying to do the same thing.
Q: Are you surprised at how little respect the Texans are getting from so-called experts or media?
DM: The experts, man, I don't know. I don't know the experts, so you've got to ask them. They get to give their expert-advice and analysis so if it's wrong, it's wrong. It's a great job.
Q: How much have you analyzed Brock Osweiler as quarterback?
DM: I think he's doing a good job getting the ball out. He's an athletic guy. Obviously, I think he had a couple Division I basketball scholarships coming out of high school, so he's a guy that knows what he's looking at, reads defenses and understands at times that he can get out of the pocket and make plays with his legs. He's a tall guy, big arm, able to make really every throw on the field. He's dangerous really in two aspects, even though he's not known as a runner, there are times he can hurt you if you take away everybody in the passing game in man-to-man and everyone turns their back to him. He reads that and he's able to get out, whether it's up the middle or out the side of the pocket and just get yards, especially on third down, and just gets the chains moving.
Q: What are your thoughts on still playing in January during every year of your career?
DM: Just fortunate to be here and be able to play. I try not to take it for granted. I always talk about my brother. He finished his eighth year and didn't make the playoffs, so it's not far from home for me; a guy that I look up to, we talk football a lot, and you hear both ends of that. Even talking to Chris [Long] and Hog [Chris Hogan] and those guys and seeing what they went through, you don't take it for granted when you hear those stories. You just want to take advantage of the opportunity we have in the playoffs. Bill [Belichick] said it to us this year; it's not always guaranteed that you'll be back next year, even though a lot of people say we'll be there next year or we'll get better and get to this same spot next year. It's hard to do that, so you want to take advantage of it here and now.
Q: Does your brother express any jealousy?
DM: Of course, he wants to be playing in the playoffs. I just take it with a grain of salt and try to do my best and hope he's happy with that.
Q: Do you ever rub it in?
DM: From time to time, you know, [we're] twins. If he starts, I like to finish it, we'll say that.
Q: Are you happy with where you are as a defense heading into the playoffs?
DM: Yeah, I mean, but only if we win. That's all that matters. I think we've done a good job of zeroing in on what we need to do each week, putting it on the practice field and getting ready to go, so I think it's important for us to make sure we do that this week; not to get off and do something different but to stay on our routine of how we've been preparing and getting ready to go and stick to that and go out there and trust in what we do and go out there and play confident.
Q: As he contemplates retirement, what are your thoughts on what Vince Wilfork meant to you as a young player as a leader in the locker room?
DM: He was huge for me. He taught me a lot about being a pro, being a good football player, and this is coming from a defensive lineman talking to a secondary guy, but what you need to do to be a good player, the time, the film work, taking care of your body, so I've learned a lot from him. It's been fun competing against him and getting a short time to catch up with him, so I think that's all up to him. He's been a great player and most importantly, he's been a great leader of men, so whatever he decides to do, I wish him the best.
Q: Knowing Vince Wilfork, Bill O'Brien, and many other members of their staff, what do you expect from the Texans coming in here and wanting to make amends after being shut out earlier this season?
DM: Everything they have. Those two guys, they've been in playoff games, they've won playoff games, they're going to give us their best shot. Like I said, they don't care about the point spread and all of that stuff, they know you get out there on the football field and you go out there each day you go out this week and put together a game plan. I'm sure they know if they execute their game plan, they feel like they're going to win, and it's the same thing we do here. I'm sure both places are very similar right now on a Wednesday type of day, getting ready to go, having a good day of practice and trying to get ready for the biggest game of the year.
Q: Is seeing a former teammate like Vince Wilfork contemplate retirement a reminder that this doesn't go on forever and you really do have to savor these opportunities while they are here?
DM: Yeah, you definitely do. I mean, the window is closing for all of us. It's just closing at different speeds. You just want to enjoy each moment, take all those opportunities to have fun with the guys, obviously, put your all in, and especially at this time of year, you want to play your best football individually and as a team. You don't want to let your teammates down. You want to go out there and put the time in during the week to go out there and play well on the weekend. I think that goes for everyone in this locker room and really probably across the league. Obviously making the playoffs is tough, but staying in this league and having longevity is even harder.