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Quotes: Day 3 of Training Camp

Posted Jul 28, 2014

Texans players spoke with the media following Monday's practice.

Head Coach Bill O’Brien
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
WR Andre Johnson
CB Johnathan Joseph
OLB Whitney Mercilus
T Derek Newton
WR EZ Nwachukwu

Head Coach Bill O’Brien
(on the physicality in the third day of training camp with the addition of pads to practice) “I thought today was a good day. I really did. I thought that these guys came out and they were ready to go. I think the acclimation period really helps. You kind of ramp it up from shells to pads, from conditioning to shells to pads. I think that helps. These guys went out there and competed. I’m not saying everything was the prettiest brand of football in the world, but I thought these guys got better today.”

(on how Ryan Fitzpatrick is looking) “Good. Good.”

(on the nature of the afternoon practice) “So it is basically a walkthrough. We go out there, we’re out there for about an hour and a half, hour and 45 minutes. We’re in the bubble and we start out with special teams and we try to correct things from the morning, and then put in what’s going in the next day. That takes about a half an hour. And then we split up into ‘O’ and ‘D’. ‘O’ and ‘D’ it depends what we have to get done that day. Maybe it is a protection issue from practice that we have to get fixed, or maybe it is a running game issue or maybe it is the wide receivers have to work on splits, or formations or timing of motions, onward and onward. It depends on what we have to get fixed. And then we’re installing after that. We’re installing what is going in the next day.”

(on Arian Foster not dressing out in full pads) “He’s dealing with something. He’ll be fine. He’ll be back. It’s a minor deal. You know, it’s a long season. He’ll be out there.”

(on Andre Johnson) “It’s minor. You know, just those guys have played a lot of football. We’ll make sure we do a good job of managing them through the season.”

(on initial thoughts of the offensive and defensive linemen after seeing them in pads for the first time) “I thought both sides of the ball had some good moments. Both sides of the ball had moments that weren’t so good. That is probably typical for a first day in pads. I thought the goal line, the first team defensive line did a really nice job on the goal line. We have to get better at that on offense. We have to do a better job down there. Second team offense did a better job against the second team defense. They scored a touchdown, although it took four downs. We’ve got a long way to go there. The guys were competing. The defensive line plays very had. Obviously, with a guy like (J.J.) Watt up there it is a very, very difficult challenge. He’s an excellent player. To block him day in and day out is only going to make us better.”

(on the improvement veteran minicamp to training camp of wide receiver Keshawn Martin) “I’ve seen improvement. I’ve definitely seen improvement from the first day of, all the way back to our veteran minicamp, the voluntary veteran minicamp before the draft to where we are now. I think that whole position has improved, and Keshawn is definitely a part of that. He’s become a better route runner, a more sure handed receiver. It’s a battle at that position. He’s got to keep it going. He knows that. We’re in communication with all these guys all of the time to make sure they know where they stand. He’s a guy that has gotten better and better and very fun guy to coach. Good guy, good team guy and works hard every day.”

(on the potential of Xavier Su’a-Filo) “I see the potential in all the rookies. I really do. That is such a dangerous word. When you think about potential we talk about that a lot with the younger guys. The guys that have lasted a long time in this league they’ve fulfilled their potential and then some. The guys that are out there right now, young and in their first year, they’re trying to fulfil that potential every day. Xavier (Su’a-Filo) is no different than any other young guy. He’s a very, very hardworking guy. Great kid, fun guy to coach and very diligent in his preparation so far. He just has got to keep that going and get better. It’s a big jump from blocking a college four-technique to blocking J.J. Watt. That’s a different deal. He’s making that adjustment.”

(on gauging how physicality of each drill and practice) “Again, we have different ways of hitting. We have a tag off situation where we’re not in a lot of contact. We have a thud situation where we don’t go to the ground, which is mostly what we do when we’re in full pads. Then we go live in certain situations. We plan that out. We have a pretty good gauge on where the team is at. But they obviously have to hit, they have to tackle to be able to be ready for their first game. Preseason, regular season, we’ve got to be able to hit and understand what it means to tackle and block and all those different things and take on a block. We’ll keep ramping it up the same way every day here until their day off.”

Linebackers Coach Mike Vrabel
on the progress of the linebackers) “Well, we’ve made progress. The thing we have to look at is the progress we’ve made since we started with these guys, introducing the program, introducing the defense, the style of coaching from the spring throughout and then now our first couple days. I think it’s been good. We’ll continue to make improvements. We can’t fall behind because we’re going to continue to put stuff in.”

(on how tough an adjustment it is for Brooks Reed to play both inside and outside linebacker positions) “I think the most valuable players on every football team are guys that can play multiple positions. You have to be careful not to overload guys but we feel good enough about Brooks that he can learn more than one position because we only get to take 45 guys to the game. So you better be able to do more than one thing.”

(on the different challenges presented by the inside and outside linebacker positions) “It’s just different learning. You’re learning two positions as opposed to just being able to concentrate on one. A lot of it is mental for him. Brooks is a great example of a professional football player who comes in and studies it. It means a lot to him. His teammates mean a lot to him and he’s a great guy to coach.”

(on helping Jadeveon Clowney make the adjustment from defensive end to outside linebacker) “I think you just have to recognize formations sooner. Normally, when you’re a defensive lineman, you just line up on the offensive tackle or tight end and you just roll and you attack. We have to understand that he does a great job of attacking but he can do a lot of good things for us in coverage. He’s done a good job of seeing the formations, adjusting to them, making the calls and being conscientious.”

(on if it helps Jadeveon Clowney that he has personally made the adjustment from defensive end to outside linebacker when he played) “I don’t know if it helps or hurts him. I try to tell him the things to look out for.”

(on if there is anything he can do to help the transition of reacting versus playing) “I think it just takes reps. It takes reps. We ask them to compete and play with confidence and if they know what to do, they can play with confidence. And if they trust in what they’re being coached, we hope that they got in them to be able to compete.”

(on if he coaches the way he was coached or if he has his own style) “I think I’ve been lucky and blessed enough to play for a lot of great coaches going all the way back to high school, Ohio State, Bill Cowher at Pittsburgh, Bill Belichick and Dean Pees and (Eric) Mangini and Rob Ryan and all those guys and Romeo Crennel that I got to play for. So I just try to take everything I’ve learned from them and then blend it into a style.”

(on when he thought he was going to be football coach) “As soon as they fired me from the NFL, I guess. As soon as I couldn’t play football anymore.”

(on if he always played with a coach’s mentality and coached with a player’s mentality) “I don’t know. I’m just trying to be me. I’m not trying to be anybody else. I’m just trying to do what I think is right for this football team and for our group.”

(on how his relationship has been with Romeo Crennel now that he is coaching with him rather than playing for him) “It’s been great. We had a great relationship when I played. I think he got on me a lot more when I was a player. He seems to be taking it easy on me as a coach, so I guess that’s one positive.”

(on his approach with the players) “The louder the music goes up, the louder I’ve got to yell. Maybe that’s just me. They’re all big boys. They can handle it.”

(on ILB Brian Cushing) “Cush is acting like a pro. He’s being a good teammate. He’s around his teammates. He’s studying. He’s learning. He’s getting the reps when he’s not in there. He’s taking mental reps and he’s working hard on the side. I think one of the most important things for any injured player who can’t be on the field is during training camp, you need to be working your butt off. Your teammates need to see that you’re working your butt off. If you’re not, then they ought to be raising an eyebrow. But he’s doing that. He’s being a good teammate.”

(on this being a new system for ILB Brian Cushing) “Yeah, it is. He’ll be back and he’s studying, he’s learning. When he’s healthy and ready to go, he’ll be back out there.”

(on how Brooks Reed is transitioning to inside linebacker) “He’s working at both spots. Brooks, you can be rest assured, that he’s going to be a good day’s work in. He’s going to bring his hard hat and his lunch pail out and he’s going to work for two hours, three hours, however long we’re out here, he’s going to work and he’s going to go back in and study. I appreciate that about him. It’s a great example to our whole unit.”

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
(on if there was more emphasis on deep balls today) “I think part of that is just what we’re installing, what the defense is installing and how it worked out in practice. This offense is just based on throwing to the open guy, and today it happened to be a couple of deep balls. Tomorrow it could be all short. Whatever it is it’s making the right decision in the pocket. That is what led to today.”

(on the timing with receivers starting to improve) “You know, it is so early. I’m feeling good, I’m feeling more comfortable in the spring, but we’ve got a long way to go. A lot of it is just getting out and doing in practice versus a defense, and hopefully getting some good reps in the preseason to get that timing down in a game situation.”

(on Andre Johnson saying he’s really enjoyed working with him so far) “I mean he’s a great guy to come to work with every day. The way that he prepares and gets himself ready; very, very intelligent guy. Obviously, everybody knows the talent that he has, but I’ve been really excited. I’m really looking forward to playing with him this year just because of the way that he works and the way that he has put in the time the first few days to learn and understand everything.”

(on if there is a different feeling going into training camp as the starter) “There is definitely a different feeling. I’ve got to take the next step now from kind of learning and offense through the offseason, now in training camp we’re getting ready for the season. I’ve got to really take on that role of ownership. I think so far we’ve got a good start, but we’ve got a lot of work to go.”

(on how the defense is testing him) “Well there is a lot of multiple looks. I think we give them a lot of different looks on offense. They certainly give us a lot of different looks on defense. Stressing communication. You know, we’ve got the noise out here every day. Having to communicate all that stuff and sometimes with deafening sound, it’s fun for us to get out here and if we don’t do it right, knowing the things we have to work on to get it right next time.”

(on the catch radius and the ability to elevate that DeAndre Hopkins possesses) “Yeah, the catch he made yesterday on the sideline was pretty unbelievable. Yeah, that is what you want as a quarterback. You want those guys to make you look good. For us and for this offense, it’s nice to have a lot of different weapons. Just throwing to the open guy and the guy with the good matchup. You know, we’ve got some weapons on offense.”

(on if thinks about how the team struggled at quarterback last season) “No. Not at all. This is completely new. We’re not even thinking or talking about last year. It’s a whole new staff. There are a lot of guys that weren’t here last year. And it’s the NFL. I think everyone has seen that it is really a year to year league. Just in terms of whatever happened the year before, it doesn’t matter. If you think about it too much then maybe it affects you in a negative way.”

WR Andre Johnson
(on a possible injury during practice) “I just got a little tight, it was just a precaution. We’re going to go in and see what’s what. Just from the feeling of it, it’s not anything bad.”

(on if it was his right hamstring that tightened up) “Yeah. I’m not worried about it.”

(on how different the first few days are under Coach O’Brien than under former Head Coach Kubiak) “He does things differently, a lot more intense. Gary (Kubiak) was a lot more laid back, but it’s still football.”

(on whether Coach O’Brien’s intensity is good coming off of a 2-14 season) “I like it. I don’t have a problem with it. I like his energy. I think all of the other guys like it too.”

(on how early practices were under first Texans Head Coach Dom Capers compared to Coach O’Brien’s practices) “Kind of similar.”

(on working with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick) “I like it. It’s fun. Me and him have been doing a lot of communicating since I’ve been here. In this offense, the quarterback and receiver definitely have to be on the same page, so me and him are talking all of the time, just things about the offense.”

(on feeling more comfortable) “Yeah, I definitely feel more comfortable today than I did the past two days. Hopefully everyday things will just keep getting better and better. “

(on QB Ryan Fitzpatrick’s qualities) “At the same time, we’re all still learning because it’s a new system for everybody. He’s into it; if you’ve got a question, there is no hesitation. If there is something he is thinking about, he is going to pull you to the side and tell you about it. Even if you may know the answer to it, if it’s on his mind, he’s going to pull you to the side and tell you about it. I like that about him. He’s always on top of everything. If you have a question about anything, you can go to him or pull him to the side. He is always just trying to help guys out and make sure we’re all on the same page.”

(on approach to staying healthy) “You just make sure to just stay on top of it and make sure you get the proper treatment and things like that. I’ll go in and see what’s what and I’ll know what I need to do from there.”

(on the possibility of being limited) “I don’t know, we’ll see what happens. Like I said, it’s nothing serious. Anytime you get a nick or anything, you know you worry about, but if I had to say it was going to keep me out for weeks or something like that, no I wouldn’t go there.”

(on how RB Arian Foster’s progress) “As far as I know, he is fine.”

CB Johnathan Joseph
(on his progress) “Yeah, I think I’m moving in the right direction. Today is the first day in pads so I had another chance to come out here and a get a little more physical. I just think any day I’m out here running around, moving better than I did the day before, I think is a great direction and a great sign.”

(on how much he was limited today) “I took another step today. I did a little more today. I think the trainers and the coaching staff have a plan for me and it’s my job to get myself ready and come out prepared each and every day. The more I’m able to do, my body just has to get ready for it.”

(on how his foot is feeling) “It’s holding up really good. I’m doing everything I need to do in the training room to stay on top of my body and make sure when I come out here to the practice field that I’m able to go through a full practice.”

OLB Whitney Mercilus
(on the biggest differences between this year and last couple) “I can’t really compare anything like that. That’s not really something I can touch upon. But Bill O’Brien comes in here with a message and every day and he makes sure this team is running as one cohesive unit.”

(on if it felt good to put the pads on) “Of course. It felt great. That’s what we were looking forward to. Instead of playing in shorts all day anybody can look good until you get the pads on. That’s real football.”

(on how different it is with pads) “It’s not to supposed to change that much or anything. Football is football. You just have to play no matter what.”

(on how close he is to becoming an explosive force) “I’m getting close. The thing is just being consistent. That’s it. That’s what training camp is for; honing your craft and becoming that player and I’m trying in my own way to get there.”

(on if he has keys to focus on) “Year in and year out the thing is, as a player, you always have something to improve on no matter what. There’s somebody else out there that could be better so you just gotta keep honing in on your craft, doing whatever you can, and do what you do best. Things like that. That’s it.”

T Derek Newton
(on how he felt on the first day of full pads) “I felt pretty good. As a whole offensive line, I felt we did pretty good for the first day of pads. But you know, there’s nothing you can’t fix so you’re gonna go out each and every day and continue to get better.”

(on what he would critique about his game) “It’s been pretty good, man. It’s all about corrections. That’s what I’ve been doing the whole time; just trying to get better from last year. And like I said, every day you know there’s practice in the morning, practice in the evenings and then overnight going over film. So it’s all about getting better.”

(on if he still considers himself the starting right tackle) “It’s always a competition. I just come out every day and compete and when coach tells me it’s my time to go I’m going to be ready to go.”

(on if he’s talked with Tyson Clabo about his game) “Yeah we were talking today just from a veteran’s point of view. He’s a great guy so it’s always great to get pointers from those guys. You got Duane (Brown), you got Chris (Myers), so it’s always great to get some pointers.”

(on if he is healthier than last year) “Yeah, I feel much better and like you say, you can’t make excuses. So I’m just going to stay here and work hard and provide for my team.”

(on Andre Brown) “Oh, he’s great. Every back we’ve got, they’re all good. He runs any down, he’s got the desire and he’s gonna give us a little something extra.”
(on how big of a miss having Arian Foster out is) “It’s a big miss, but at the same time like I said, every back we got is gonna run the ball hard and he’s gonna do what he’s got to do. All we’ve got to do up front is give him a hole, give him a chance to make a play and he’s gonna make it.”

(on competition) “Competition makes me get better. You can’t take that for granted. You just gotta keep working.”

(on if he pushes the guys he’s competing with) “I’m going to push them as well. I’m not just gonna sit back and not do what I’ve gotta do. I’m gonna keep working every day.”

(on wearing the pads for the first time) “It felt pretty good, but you know, we’ve just got to keep working.”

WR EZ Nwachukwu
(on what is different for him this year) “I’m just used to the NFL schedule and used to preparing and knowing how to study and knowing how to watch film properly.”

(on if he is thinking less than was before) “Yeah, I mean, you know, rookie year I think things are going 1,000 miles per hour. Having a year under your belt and being able to know what to look for and know how to study film, you can think less and play more.”

(on what feels different in the new coaching staff and how practices are run) “I would say that there is just, you know, I think everybody is just focused. Everybody is focused on winning. Whether it is how we meet, whether it is how we eat lunch together, how we’re all in the hotel, everything has a plan. Everything is pointed toward winning. I think everybody has bought in into the system.”

(on learning another new system and the adjustment process) “Like I said, even if we were in the same system, I’d still be studying like I am. It is just staying in your playbook and staying on top of things and making sure you have all of the details correct.”

(on the strengths that he has seen out of Ryan Fitzpatrick so far) “You might have to ask Coach O’Brien. I’m not really qualified to answer the quarterback questions. I would say that he has just come out and really embraced the leadership role. I think that he is really trying to take the offense under his wing and has come in and he’s one of those guys that he’ll run film sometimes. He’ll stay after and tell you what you need to do on a couple routes, see what he sees out there. I would say he’s a great leader.”

(on the part of his game that has improved the most from last year to this year) “I think it is just the details of routes. It’s not just going out there and running a go route. It’s not just going out there and running a slant. Looking at the DB’s leverage, reading the coverage, seeing the safeties, seeing everything on the field instead of just knowing your route and going out and running.”

(on how big learning the details of routes was coming in from college the previous year and if that was his biggest pitfall coming into the NFL) “I think so. Because coming from (Texas) A&M, on some plays you can just go out there and use your athletic ability. You can win routes, but out here, you know, you’ve got guys like J-Jo (Johnathan Joseph) and K-Jack (Kareem Jackson), and if you do that you’re probably going to be in the sand somewhere. You definitely have to stay on your details and make sure your technique is right.”

(on what he has noticed from Travis Labhart) “Travis is good. He’s a smart, smart receiver I would say. He goes out there and every route he’s trying to be precise and every route he’s trying to be definitive with the quarterback. I think that helps him a lot.”

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