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Quotes: Texans minicamp day one

Posted May 16, 2014

Quotes from Texans head coach Bill O'Brien and several rookies.

Houston Texans Transcripts
Head Coach Bill O’Brien
Rookie Mini-Camp Practice #1 – Friday, May 16, 2014
(Transcribed by Charles Hampton and Evan Koch)

Head Coach Bill O’Brien
S Lonnie Ballentine
OLB Jadeveon Clowney
TE C.J. Fiedorowicz
NT Louis Nix
FB Jay Prosch
QB Tom Savage
G Xavier Su’a-Filo

Head Coach Bill O’Brien
(on OLB Jadeveon Clowney’s first day of practice) “I think all these guys being rookies, they all came in here and it’s an eye-opener. Just like anybody, it’s not just one guy. It’s an eye-opener. It’s a different level of competition. All these guys have come in, they’ve been on time, they’ve worked hard. So they just need to take it one day at a time and continue to work hard.”

(on OLB Jadeveon Clowney working with Linebackers Coach Mike Vrabel) “Again, (Mike Vrabel) is working with all the linebackers and I think the linebackers are being coached very well. We’re throwing a lot at these guys. Linebackers, quarterbacks -- really all the positions get a lot thrown at them within the first two practices and two meetings and all those things. It looked like everybody was being attentive and staying focused and working very hard.”

(on how QB Tom Savage was grasping what he was being told) “It’s another step for rookies. Whether it’s Tom (Savage) or it’s (Jadeveon) Clowney, or whatever rookie it is, it’s a different deal. So they’re all having a lot of things thrown at them. They’re having to process a lot of information—every rookie. Quarterback is not an easy position to play in any system, for any team. I thought for the first day, Tom came out, he tried to grasp what we were telling him. He’s got a lot of corrections to make. He seems to be working hard and processing through it.”

(on his first impressions of his rookie class) “I really think it’s a good group. It’s a group that gets up early, comes to work so far. It’s only been really one day. It’s a group that seems to pay attention. It’s a group that seems to stay focused. It’s a group that’s willing to work hard. It seems to be a group of guys that are coming together and learning each other’s names and learning how we do things here in Houston. So far, so good.”

(on NT Louis Nix III saying he’s a nobody and that he’s just trying to make the squad) “Each individual has their own thoughts on where they’re at. I’m not going to comment on somebody else’s comments. But I think it’s hard for any rookie in this league to come in and establish an identity right away. It’s something where they have to come in and really study and when they’re supposed to rest, get their rest. When they’re supposed to work, get their work and ask questions if they don’t know and try to be as good of teammates as they can be and learn about each other and learn about the coaches and really learn about how we do things here in Houston.”

(on how he views rookie mini-camp as an opportunity to instill his mindset and the team’s mindset in them) “It’s fun. It’s good to get a group of guys together that are brand new to your program. This is the first time they’ve stepped into this stadium. It’s really exciting to be able to stand in front of them and talk to them about what we believe in, whether it’s X’s and O’s or philosophically or whatever it is. It’s always an exciting time to work with a new group of guys like this. Like I said, these guys were very attentive last night in the meeting. We had a long meeting last night. We covered a lot of things. A lot of people spoke to them: trainers, equipment managers, media people. It seemed to me that they paid attention and they went out there today and they got off on the right foot. But like I told them out on the field, it’s just a fraction of what they’re going to be exposed to over the next month and a half or whatever it is until we come in for training camp.”

(on talking about groups of players and there only being one quarterback at rookie mini-camp) “There’s only one of them. It’s a group of one.”

(on the difficulty of being a rookie quarterback) “It’s difficult. Like I said, we throw so many things at the quarterback when he comes in here, whether it’s knowledge of defense—even in the first night, we spend an hour and a half with the guy in an individual meeting and then we expect him to go out there and execute at a high level. And that’s hard to do. But that’s our expectation level here for that position. Our offense is not the easiest offense to learn right away for a young quarterback. So you have to study on your own. You have to figure out on your own how you’re going to get an edge and learn what we do offensively and learn what the defense is doing. Tom (Savage) came in here, I think he had a good first night. He paid attention. You could tell he was taking notes. He was alert and focused and I think he went out there today and had a decent start to what hopefully is a long career for him.”

(on if there is a set amount of information he wants Tom Savage to know by the end of rookie mini-camp) “I don’t think you can put any set amount on what you want him to learn. You do have an installation schedule. Obviously, by the end of June 19, I think is our last mini-camp practice, you’d like for him to have learned this amount of information. But if we go through this thing and as we go through and we see that maybe he’s struggling with some things, then we’ll back it down a little bit for him, for him. So far it looks like he’s been paying attention. He’s done what we’ve asked him to do and he had his share of mistakes today just like every guy did but I thought it was a decent start for him.”

(on if the evaluation is any different for a rookie quarterback compared to an established veteran) “Certainly, you’d evaluate a rookie differently than you would evaluate somebody that has been in the system for 10 years or maybe in somebody that’s been in the system for two months. You evaluate this guy for what he is, he’s brand new to the system. How is he able to process the things that we’re teaching him? Maybe we have to tweak some things along the way as far as how we teach him. Maybe he learns better with a walkthrough. Maybe he learns better with video. We don’t know that yet. This is only the first day. It seemed to me that Tom, just speaking for him, he learned pretty well for what we put in today. He went out there and got off to a decent start.”

(on if he was happy with what he saw with Jadeveon Clowney) “I’m happy with the whole group. I really am. I think that each of these guys has come in here from a different background, a different college, a different system, and we’re trying to teach them the way we do things here in Houston. Each group, whether it’s linebackers with J.D. (Clowney) in there or the defensive line with Nix in there or the offensive line with X (Xavier Su’a-Filo) in there. We’re really processing how they’re learning. It looked to me like, for the first day, they made their share of mistakes. Every guy made a mistake out there or multiple mistakes, but they also had their share of good plays. To me, that’s a good start.”

(on many of the rookies being reluctant to talk about themselves and emphasizing the team and if that is the message they are trying to get across to their players) “It’s a team sport. To me, it’s the greatest team sport. It’s 11 guys trying to be on the same page and play as a team and understand their role on the team and how important the phrase is ‘the more you can do.’ Can I be a left guard? Can I play some tackle? Can I be a first and second down running back and contribute on the punt team. When you start seeing guys really believe in those things, then you have the makings of a decent team and that’s what we talk about all the time with our veterans that have been here and that’s what we’ve talked about in the last couple of meetings with the rookies.”

(on his thoughts on what Andre Johnson said earlier in the week about being unsure if Houston is still the place for him) “I’m not going to comment on what Andre said. I think I’ll let Andre speak for himself. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Andre and his career here in Houston. The conversations that Andre and I have had have been very positive about what we’re doing here as a team and obviously offensively, what we’re doing here. We’ve had good communication, but as far as what Andre said, I’ll let him speak for himself. I can only tell you, from my end, we’ve had good, positive communication.”

(on if he expects Andre Johnson to be there for training camp) “Again, we’re going to continue to communicate. Like I said, we’ve had good discussions. We’ve had good talks. We’ve spoken quite a bit. We’ll continue to do that.”

(on as a rookie head coach, how long he expects it to take to get comfortable with all of his players and new surroundings) “I did it at the college level, no question; it takes a little bit of time. I don’t know that it takes one week, two weeks, a month or whatever it is, but it’s very important to get to know these guys. Not just as football players, but it’s very, very important to get to know these guys as people, as who they are, where they come from, what their backgrounds are. That takes a while. That takes individual conversations. That takes group conversations. I’ve done that quite a bit with the veterans and now I’m starting to do that with the rookies. There are certain guys that we probably know a little bit better than maybe some of the other guys that weren’t drafted and things like that, so it takes a while. As far as on the football field and how each player fits into our system, I think that takes a while because you have to watch them practice, watch them perform on film, how do they process things in the meetings. How do they process things in the walkthroughs? What types of questions do they ask? I think that takes a while. You don’t learn about someone overnight in that regard either, so it’s a process. It can’t take forever, that’s for sure. You have to figure it out fairly quickly, but you can’t figure it out in one day.”

(on if the learning about the individual and who he is and if that’s what allows him to know how best to coach him) “Sure, that’s part of it. That’s a big part of it, to me, as a head football coach at any level, whether it’s college or in the National Football league. These guys are at the top of their profession. They’re guys, whether they were really good college players that came in here as rookies and have a shot in the NFL, or they are proven veterans that have been here for a while in Houston and had productive careers. Whoever they are, it takes a while to get to know them but it’s very important, for me, as the head football coach to do the best that I can to know in all facets. What type of people they are? Where they come from? Like I said, how they learn, how they process, and what’s important to them in their lives. We talk a lot about family. We talk a lot about where they are from, how they were raise, what types of systems they played in in College. We can really learn about the background of each guy, so we know not only how to coach them as players, but what is important to them in their lives and how to speak to them as individuals.

S Lonnie Ballentine
(on being selected with the last pick in the draft) “I’m just glad I’m here in Houston. I’m working hard on the field, trying to be the best I can be and trying to be coachable.”

(on if he was depressed that he wasn’t drafted where he thought he should have been based on his expectations) “Not at all. Like I said, I was just ready to get to a place. I’m glad to be here in Houston and I’m working hard, trying to be the best player I can be and being coachable out here, trying to learn the system.”

(on what his first few days in Houston have been like) “It’s been good. I’m around a good group of guys and I’m trying to compete and earn a spot.”

(on what he thinks will be the biggest challenge initially for him) “Just getting in and learning the system so I can play fast.”

(on if he has much of a feel for this defense) “Like I said, it’s the first day. It’s going to be a long road and a long process. I’m learning.”

(on what he wants to show the coaching staff) “Just to come in, show them I’m a coachable guy, work hard and I’m going to compete.”

OLB Jadeveon Clowney
(on his thoughts and feelings heading into rookie camp) “I’m really just trying to figure out the playbook, be a part of the team and learn from these other guys around me and just be a part of the Houston Texans.”

(on if it will be easy to grasp the playbook or if it has been overwhelming at all) “It’s a lot, but you take one at a time, learn slow. I’ve got a lot of time right now so I’m just trying to learn as much as possible and keep getting better.”

(on being day one of rookie camp) “It’s fun. I look forward to it. You went through all the process and recruiting processes: the combine and all of the pro days and everything. Just being here now and getting to work, it’s fun for me.”

(on if it is a relief to get back to work after a whirlwind of a week) “Yeah, it’s definitely a relief. Now I’m a part of the Houston Texans and I just have to learn this playbook and figure the system out.”

(on what will be the biggest transition to playing in a 3-4 defense) “I don’t really know right now. I don’t see any big differences. I’m just trying to be here and learn the playbook. I’ll go where they tell me.”

(on being in the stadium and meeting his new teammates) “It’s been great. It’s a great group of guys here. All of us are really getting a feel for each other right now. It’s kind of quiet right now. It’s going to ease up and everybody is just trying to learn the playbook and talking to other guys to figure things out and learn the playbook.”

(on if he has talked to linebackers coach Mike Vrabel and what he thinks about him) “I think he’s a good coach. He’s really trying to teach us a lot. He wants us to learn. Other coaches are going to throw you out there but he really wants us to learn the playbook and just get good at it and see what we’ve got.”

(on if Mike Vrabel’s three super bowl rings are impressive) “Definitely. Just learning form him, he’s a good coach. He’s been there and done that. I’m just glad to be a part of the Houston Texans organization.”

(on if it has sunk in that he’s now in the NFL) “Yeah, but like I said, I’m here to learn the playbook and get the ball rolling with the Houston Texans and show what I’ve got on the field. “

(on if he is ready to be under the microscope of being the number one overall pick) “I’m not really concerned about that. My concern is getting here, being a good teammate to the guys around me, learning the playbook and trying to be the best Houston Texan I can be.”

(on what he would like to show the coaches) “I can run around. Hopefully, I can show them I can move and play the position they want me to play and show them I’ve got what it takes to be a part of the Texans.”

(on what he hopes to get out of the rookie camp) “Probably respect from the other guy and teammates. Everybody wants to really learn. That’s the biggest deal right now, learning the playbook, because we’re behind. We came in behind. Other guys have the upper hand on us, so we really want to learn the playbook.”

(on how much of a vocal leader does he have to be this week) “I don’t really know right now. I’m being a part of the role too, just learning from the other guys. When I get a feel for it and everybody is really catching on at the same time, we’ll have some fun with it.”

(on his interaction with the veterans) “It’s been great. I talked to a couple of the guys. I met them. They’re my teammates now. It’s a great feeling to be a part of this team and I hope everything keeps going how it’s going.”

(on if there is any pressure that goes with being the number one overall pick) “No, right now it’s just learning the playbook. If I can figure the playbook out, I can play pretty well. For now, I just want to learn the playbook, get out there on the field, run around and see how they do things around here.”

(on how important it is for him just to be one of the guys) “I’m just here. I’m just doing whatever they tell me to do. I don’t know the ropes around here. Whatever they tell me day-by-day of where I need to be or need to go, OK I’m there. I’m just figuring it out myself.”

(on how his learning of the playbook is coming so far) “It’s coming along great. I’m really studying it study it every night and before practice in the daytime. Any off time I get, I’m trying to get in there and learn it so I can catch up.”

TE C.J. Fiedorowicz
(on how surreal it was to get drafted) “If you heard my phone call with Coach O’Brien, it was a little crazy. I was kind of like out of breath, I didn’t really know what to say. I was just honored to be catching for a guy like Coach O’Brien and this opportunity is once in a lifetime and I’m just going to run with it.”

(on if he prides himself on his blocking skills) “Definitely. Early on in my career at Iowa, Coach Ferentz always told me if you want to get on the field you have to learn how to block. I’m going to take that here.”

(on if he thought Coach Ferentz gave background on his skills to the Texans coaches) “I guess they came and worked me out at my school and I don’t know what conversations they had, but I’m glad I’m playing for Coach O’Brien, he’s a great guy and really knows what he’s talking about and I want to work hard for him.”

(on if it’s a thrill to play in a tight end dominated offense) “Definitely.  We were doing a little install today and there was a lot of two tight end stuff and you can’t help but be excited for that.  We’ll see what it has to bring.”

(on if he thinks he needs to show his pass catching ability) “I came in as a duel threat guy and I feel like I do have the tools to show that. I’m going to do everything I can in the first couple days to prove that I’m a duel threat tight end.  I think that is important in the NFL nowadays.”

(on what he knows about Garrett Graham and Ryan Griffin) “They are both hard working guys and disciplined guys. I watched Garrett in college when I was growing up before I committed to Iowa.  I know they are hard-working, smart guys.  I’m excited to learn from them.”

(on if Garrett Graham has reached out to him yet) “I saw him yesterday right when we got here, he was walking out the locker room.  I know he’s a good guy and he’s going to help me out I’m sure.  I’m excited to play with him.”

(on if he thinks he’ll be moving around a lot or lining up on the edge) “I’m not too sure. It depends how I do these first couple practices and what they think is important to be used in the offense.  Where ever he is comfortable with me playing I’m going to do it to the best of my ability and show him what I’ve got.”

NT Louis Nix III
(on what he’s trying to get out of rookie camp) “Just working hard and being a good teammate to everybody around. I feel like that is all you can do, just work hard.”

(on what he would like to show the coaches) “I just want to learn from whatever Coach teaches me and learn from them and do a good job at it. At this point, that’s my job.”

(on what he likes about playing in the trenches) “I’ve been playing it all my life. I don’t mind hitting the guy in front of me. I’m an aggressive guy, so it’s fun. I like playing football a lot. I’ve been playing that position all of my life, so I’m used to it.”

(on what his new Twitter handle will be) “As far as Twitter goes, nothing now. I’m leaving Twitter alone. I’m just trying to focus on me right and trying to make this team.”

(on what he would like to show out on the field today) “Just that I can work hard and be a good teammate and just be a friendly guy to all of the guys around me and we can work well together if I get the opportunity.”

(on having his contract done to where he can just focus on football now) “With or without the contract, I just want to make the team and come around and do a great job.”

(on how surreal it is to being at the stadium and starting rookie camp with the Texans) “It’s great. I’m here. I want to stay here, so it’s all about doing my job and getting everything done and doing the right things. That’s what I’m focused on right now. It will set in once I actually hit the field, if I get that opportunity. For now, I’m just another guy.”

(on if he’s wrapped his head around the fact that he’s now in the NFL) “I wouldn’t say I’m there yet, because I haven’t had a chance to play in an actual game or anything. I’m just in the transition. That’s my mindset for now.”

(on the message from Coach O’Brien and his staff) “It’s all about just basic steps, just working hard and being a good teammate and that’s all I want to do. Those are the steps you have to take to get a chance or opportunity to play in this league or on this team. That’s what I’ll be doing.”

FB Jay Prosch
(on his first impression of Head Coach Bill O’Brien) “Definitely a straight-forward-type coach, which I really think is really great. He gets down to the point and that’s important. Overall, I think he’s a really good guy, a great coach and he’s definitely around a lot.”

(on if this is overwhelming) “I think at first it is. I’m coming from college to an NFL team and you’re expected to learn and get thrown in there but I think that’s how it’s supposed to be. Eventually you learn and get better and better as you go and then it’s your job and it’s normal.”

(on what he knows about the offense) “I really don’t know that much about it yet. Like I said earlier, we’re just starting to dig into it, just scratch the surface and really learn the basics. I’m just trying to get better and become a better teammate and really just work hard.”

(on what he can show the coaches or his teammates over the next couple of days) “We’re not padded or anything like that so I just think work ethic is going to be a huge thing. Get after it and finish is definitely something I think will stand out among different guys. How fast you are, how fast you can learn what they’re trying to teach you and adapt and coachability.”

(on the tattoo on his right bicep) “That’s an iris. My mom’s name was Iris. She passed away in September 2012, when I first got to Auburn. It’s just kind of a thing for me, a reminder of her and that she’s with me.”

(on if he thinks about his mother when he delivers a blow with his right arm) “I don’t know if I can say that. But she’s definitely a big part of my life and I definitely keep her in my prayers and on my mind a lot.”

QB Tom Savage
(on how much conversation he has had with his coaches) “We’re just going over some stuff right now, just football terms and on the field stuff, just trying to learn the playbook as best as I can and get going.”

(on if he has had a chance to talk to any of his veteran teammates) “I haven’t seen many of them around yet. We’re on different schedules right now, but I’m looking forward to meeting them and getting to know them a little bit better.”

(on what he learned from having a camera attached to his helmet while he practiced at Pitt) “I think it was a good technique that you can use. It shows where your eyes are looking and it shows a lot of things that you really don’t get to see from the above the head camera. It’s a good technique and hopefully teams start using it a little bit more.”

(on if he was looking where he thought he was looking) “Sometimes you really can’t turn your helmet to see someone or the defense will pick up on that, but it was good. I enjoyed it. It was fun to watch it and hear me talk out there.

(on if he’s a talker out on the field) “Yeah. Oh yeah. I like talking out there—it’s fun. You have to have fun with the game.”

(on being the only quarterback in rookie camp) “I’m excited to get to go to work.”

(on getting the first day of rookie camp started) “It’s good. You just want to get in there and you wanted to get started. The whole draft process is behind us and now we’re just here to work and find a job.”

(on if has been overwhelming for him at all) “Not really. I think you just have to take it for what it is and like I said, just go out there and compete and go to work.”

(on how he approaches the competition at quarterback) “You just have to compete. You have to do whatever you can to help this team out and that’s all I’m going to do. It is whatever I can do to help out and then the rest is on Coach.”

(on what he knows about Ryan Fitzpatrick) “I know he’s a really smart quarterback. He’s really competitive and wants to win, just like all of us do. I’m excited to start learning from and kind of pick his brain.”

(on how the transition will be to getting to know the system) “It’s definitely a jump from college, but I think it’s going to be fun. I’m excited. I’ve already opened it up and started trying to get as much as I can and soak up as much as much knowledge as I can from this whole deal so that when I go into OTAs, then I’m ready to go.”

(on if he had any feel for this system before he was drafted) “Some of the stuff is similar. I’ll say there is still stuff that I can work on.”

(on the last time he had to share a locker with someone) “High school.”

(on if he has goals or expectations for himself as a rookie) “No, no expectations, just go out there and help the team out and work hard.”

(on Bill O’Brien saying he tried to recruit him after leaving Arizona and reconnecting with him now) “It’s awesome. He’s a great coach. Obviously, I would’ve loved to have the opportunity to play for him then, but I’m here and get to play for him now. I’m excited.”

G Xavier Su’a-Filo
(on what day one of rookie camp has been like) “It’s exciting—a lot of learning and a lot of catching up to do.”

(on if he feels like he has been thrown into the deep end and now has to figure out how to swim) “Yeah, well we’re here and we’re behind the veterans already. As rookies, we have to take it all in and learn as fast as we can.”

(on what he hopes to accomplish in rookie camp) “Getting down on my plays and protections that we’re installing.”

(on what the message from the coaches has been) “It’s about working hard and trying our best, do our job, be as coachable as possible and be a great teammate here.”

(on what the last week has been like since selected in the NFL Draft) “It’s exciting, man, finally being here and being a Texan now and working.”

(on his interaction with the veteran offensive linemen) “I haven’t met them yet.”

(on if he has been to Pappadeaux or Whataburger yet) “No, I haven’t. I’m not worried about that. I’m just worried about right here, right now.”

(on how important are first impressions in rookie camp) “I think real important. Perception is reality for coaches, for your peers. That’s why you really try to be as coachable as possible, being a great teammate, that means the world to everybody.”

(on if he has talked to the coaches about what position he will play) “No, I haven’t. I’m just doing whatever they ask me.”

(on if there is any anxiety or anxiousness coming into rookie camp) “Just excitement. Just excitement to learn and do the best I can. I’m here. I just want to be the best player that I can on day one.”

(on how much he thinks his versatility can help him at this level) “I think it can help me a lot. It’s not going to help me day one if I can’t learn the basics.”

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