Head Coach Bill O'Brien**
(on the general assessment of the fourth day of practice) "I think these guys worked hard today. We have a lot of installation right now. So today was first, second and third down, no huddle, different special teams situations, different drills. I still think they are learning how we practice, especially the guys that have been here. Overall, I think it was a good day. The guys are competing. Like I've said from day one, it's a very enjoyable group of guys to coach."
(on expecting any sloppiness during the install portion of practice) "No. We have a high standard here. So we talk to them a lot about the progression from the meeting room to the walkthrough to execution on the field. You know, we're all here to execute on the field and produce on the field, coach or player. So when we go out there we have a high standard of what our expectations are. When there is a mistake, we have to correct it, but we have to make sure they know those types of mistakes have to be corrected. Certain mistakes are unacceptable: turnovers, dumb penalties, line of scrimmage penalties. I think our guys are learning that and trying to play more disciplined and they're working hard to correct mistakes."
(on how the offense performed compared to the defense) "I'd say the defense had the upper hand today."
(on the special teams play now that pads are on) "I think it is going well. I think Liggy (special teams coordinator Bob Ligashesky) does a really good job, assisted by Doug Colman, of coaching the details of every aspect of whether it is the drill or the unit. The guys are really doing a good job of buying into what we are trying to teach. I think that what we do in the meeting room is basically everybody is in there for the meetings for special teams, and so the whole team hears it. Hopefully, we can improve every day on special teams so that when the season starts we are ready to go and there is steady improvement during the season. I think the guys are working hard to get the details down of each unit."
(on if today's practice reached a whole new level of complication) "Yeah, sure. Sure. Third down, different blitzes, different protections, it's all part of the installation process. But still like I said, we have a high standard here. We talk to each other. Not the coaches to the players, each other. We're all in it together. We expect to go out there and perform well and not make mistakes, and when we do, we've got to correct them and make sure we don't make the same mistake twice."
(on the development of Justin Tuggle) "He's a good football player. I think he's a very hard working guy. He came back in really good shape. He's an instinctive guy. He's a good team guy. He works extremely hard. He's being coached very well by Mike (Vrabel). I think he's picked up on our system well. He's really trying to improve every day, which is all you can ask of any player out there. Justin is a guy that we really enjoy coaching."
(on his early assessment of Tom Savage) "You know, I think he is working really hard. I believe that when you are a rookie quarterback in training camp, it is difficult because we give you a lot of information in the meeting and we expect you to go out there and be able to execute it. Some things are a little bit ragged. Some things are a little bit cleaner. I think he's doing a good job of coming in for extra help. He comes in early in the morning and stays late at night. He's a very hard worker. Obviously, he can throw the football. He's a talented passes. Now we just have to keep working with him to improve on our scheme and what he's looking for defensively. You know, just make sure that we are coaching the details with him and that he is picking up on him."
(on evaluating all of the players on the roster and Ryan Griffin in specific) "When we came in here and evaluated him off of last year's tape, we were looking forward to working with him and he's been an extremely hard worker since the day we got here. That whole group has worked harder. I think that that whole group has become a lot better in the passing game and now with pads on, they need to really improve their blocking. That is going to be the biggest area where we really need those guys to improve upon. I thought that overall, the first two days here, they've had some good plays in the running game and some not so good plays. We have to make sure that we're at that position playing a little bit more consistently, but Ryan is working really hard."
(on what is going on with Lonnie Ballentine) "I don't think it's a life threatening injury. I think he'll be back in there at some point."
(on what he has seen from the guys playing offensive guard, Ben Jones and Xavier Su'a-Filo) "I think those guys are smart, they're hardworking guys, they're tough, they seem to come out every day with the attitude that they're going to get better and it's a competitive position. I think Ben Jones has had a very, very good offseason. He's been a guy that has been in this building since day one. He's been in the weight room since we got here. He's a really, really good team guy. We enjoy coaching him. I can see his improvement from day-to-day, from minicamp to where we are now in training camp. When you work that hard, you're going to improve."
(on DeVier Posey staying late at practice and working extra) "I was out there with him. We were working on some red area routes. He's a guy that really wants to be good. You can tell. He's working at it. We talked to all those guys, all the receivers about playing consistently, play after play, making sure they know the details of the play whether it is their assignment in the running game or obviously their assignment in the passing game. Pose (Posey) is a guy that is really working at it. And you know, his big thing is just staying healthy, making sure that he is out there and practicing, and that is how he is going to get better."
(on if Brandon Brooks is closer to coming back) "Yeah, I'd say he is closer. Yeah, he's closer."
(on bringing in Tim Cornett and giving him reps early) "Yeah, you know, we had a couple guys down at running back. So, we felt like he was a guy that was out there. We brought him in, we worked him out and decided to give him a shot."
(on when officials will be at practice) "We will have officials here next week and then obviously, for Atlanta."
(on if he is pleased with the kicking battle) "I thought Boz (Chris Boswell) kicked well. I think Randy (Bullock) and Boz have kicked well. I'd say that Randy, the competition has helped Randy. I think he kicked pretty well the other day. Boz, I thought he hit it pretty good today. There's not live rush yet, so you know, they're basically kicking on air. It's a two-step rush, but there has been improvement there."
(on special teams coach Bob Ligashesky and why kept him on the staff) "He's enthusiastic. The players respond to him. He's very detailed. He works extremely hard. He's in here very here in the morning and stays late at night. It's really, really important to him. He's got a passion for it. I've enjoyed getting to know him over the last seven months and watching him coach."
(on James Ferentz) "You know, he's had a decent camp so far. It's a very competitive position. When you're looking forward to the roster size and things like that, I think with all of those guys, if they come out here and compete every day they're giving themselves a chance to make the team. He's one of those guys. He works very hard. He comes from a great family. I have great respect and great friendship with his dad, Kirk, and his brother, Brian. We coached together at New England, and obviously Kirk and I in the Big Ten. Football is very, very important to him. He's out there working extremely hard.
(on anything new about Andre Johnson and Arian Foster) "Same thing I said about Lonnie (Ballentine), I don't think those are life threatening injuries. I think those guys will be out there at some point."
T Duane Brown
(on the mentality behind taking laps) "For one, you don't want to run that lap. It's tiring enough going against our defense. You have a mental mistake and a lack of focus, that lap reminds you that you don't want to do that again. I think it holds everyone accountable."
(on healthy competition between offense and defense) "That's how great teams are made; having great defenses and great offenses competing against each other. You know one side is going to win the battle every play, and just try to win as much as possible. We have great players on our defense and we have a great scheme on our defense, so we know we're going to get caught sometimes, but it's all fun and great competition."
(on walkthroughs) "Walkthroughs are slower paced and it's just all mental. It's all going out there and being able to focus and not having any mistakes, that's what the walkthrough is about. You go in the meeting room, you go into the walk-through, you learn, you learn, then you come out here and put it into play. The more repetitions you get, the more you see it, the more it's imbedded in your mind and you'll come out here and be sharp."
(on realizing changes in schemes and procedures) "It happens all of the time. We're always going to get something different out here at practice, whether it's a different call, a different look from the defense, a different blitz from the defense, something that doesn't come up, but that's on us as professionals to be able to play ball and work off of it from there."
(on his thoughts regarding Jadeveon Clowney) "Heck of an athlete, he's very hungry to learn and be a good player and I really like to see that. He comes in here, he works his tale off. He's new, he's fresh and it's still early, but I think he's going to be as good as he wants to be."
QB Case Keenum
(on new staff and teammates) "You see a lot of new faces around here, but we still all have the Houston Texans across the front. Last year, it really didn't who was here last year and who was not. It's the Houston Texans in 2014 and that's what we're working for right now, working with the receivers to get timing down, lineman to get protections, coaches, and how everything operates."
(on getting experience last season) "You know, playing experience is priceless and I'm definitely using the experience that I got every day. Just from being able to call plays, operate huddle, and just operation as a quarterback; all those things, I had. Know the play clock and obviously I messed that up today, but there are a lot of things you learn from game-time experience that is hard to replicate out here on the practice field."
(on general differences in the offense) "I'm not really into comparing offenses. NFL offenses are NFL offenses and it's different, it's apples and oranges. I don't think you can compare it. We're just trying to get the ball in the right guy's hands, whether it's running, passing, or however that is. As a quarterback, it's our job to do that officially and execute and be the leader doing it."
(on having more freedom this year) "We have as much freedom as the coaches give us. I'm seeing the defense through the coaches' eyes, just like I 've always tried to do."
(on Bill O'Brien's capabilities) "I think he has done a great job coaching us up, I really like playing for him. The information that he's helped me with has been really great."
(on what areas that needed improvement) "I tried to improve on a lot of areas in the off-season. I try to take a couple of things every day to get better at, whether it's these types of throws, or this type of footwork. Just like every day in practice, I take a few things that I need to get better at and I work at it after practice, we all do. It's working on specific things at a specific time, getting better, don't make those mistakes again, and move on. Some things obviously take a little longer time to do than others, but you're always working on little things."
S Kendrick Lewis
(on the advantage of knowing both safety positions) "You know how opposing offenses are going to attack you. Knowing both sides—if you're in a hurry up situation, it's good for you to know both sides. So you just say 'Swag (DJ Swearinger), you line up over here and I'll line up over here.' Whatever coach calls, we play. And that's the good thing about knowing strong safety and free safety in this defense."
(on if communication between players as opposed to coaches to players helps more) "Absolutely. At the end of the day we're the guys out there. We see what's going on. We're the ones who are going up against those opposing offenses. So we see how those guys are attacking us. So us communicating and anticipating things that we see—going over things if we're on the sideline, "Hey this happened to me on this series," you're communicating with the other safety because an offense is going to run the same things. They don't switch the game plan. So us communicating is a big factor in this defense."
(on if the team is picking up the defense effectively) "Absolutely, absolutely. We're getting on the same page. We have a far way—a long way to go, but day-by-day we're getting better."
OLB Whitney Mercilus
(on the first couple of days of training camp) "It's been great. He's (Bill O'Brien) been pushing us, forcing us to make improvements, not do things twice, you know, any type of mistakes that we made, and just be a smart player overall."
(on working with Mike Vrabel) "Vrabel is definitely a great resource for us exactly as a coach. The thing is, he was a very, very smart player, now he is a very, very smart coach. For him to bring his knowledge here and pretty much bestow it upon us, he's trying to force us to become more smart on the field, understand if we get any types of looks or formations or anything like that, we can actually check to whatever, and pretty much just play smart football overall."
(on competition with Jadeveon Clowney at outside linebacker) "Each one of us is trying to earn a job, that's it. Just come out here and try to show the coaches that we can play, we understand what we're doing, and just trying to get that certain spot."
(on proving worth to new coaching staff) "It doesn't matter with any coach or anything like that; you just got to prove yourself no matter what day in and day out. That's how the game goes and you're just trying to earn a job."
(on avoiding running a lap) "It's very important. It's actually forcing us to understand that we can't do certain things like jump off-sides, fumble a snap, fumble a ball, or anything like that; he's trying to make us discipline., so that's exactly what that is. Running laps is no fun, especially in the middle of practice, but it helps."
(on running laps having an impact) "It definitely has an impact. Like I said, it just teaches the player that mistakes aren't tolerable."
C Chris Myers
(on teaching young guys) "There are a lot of young guys that we have, and unfortunately with the injuries that we've had this summer so far, it's going to be big on the vets to take the young guys under their wings and move them along."
(on if there's a big focus on the technical aspect of what they do) "No, it's just mentally being able to get it down. Every offensive line is going to have different techniques but the way we're working is you just be able to get your mental part down and be accountable for the guy next to you."
WR EZ Nwachukwu
(on how he gets better in practices) "Going against guys like J-Joe (Johnathan Joseph) and Kareem (Jackson) every day, seeing how they work and seeing how they cover routes and seeing what they see out there, getting that point of view is pretty good."
(on if it easier for him with a new coaching staff to wipe the slate clean) "I think it is because you still have to take your time and work every day, and you still have to stay in your books. It's a new opportunity and you got to take advantage of it."
(on if it is tougher with the new coaching staff) "I would say because he's definitely one of those guys that's all about winning, all about getting the little things right and the details, so you definitely have to be up on your stuff."
(on if they're running him more on first team now) "I'm not sure about that. I really don't know if they're doing that. I hope, but I don't know.
NT Jerrell Powe
(on if he's trying to bat down passes or if he's trying to focus on blockers) "In this scheme we play the run first and the pass second. So my main objective is to keep the center off the linebackers and eat up blockers."
(on playing with former Ole Miss and Kansas City Chiefs teammate Kendrick Lewis) "I mean, it's very special. Like I said before, Kendrick Lewis is a field general. I've been playing with him now—this is my eighth year. We played all through college, three years in Kansas City and first year here. So, it's real special when you got a guy that can get everybody lined up and get everybody on the same page and also be a leader. Can't get rid of him."
(on if everybody is picking up Romeo Crennel's system) "Everybody is doing great. We've got to continue to get consistent and get on the same page."
(on if it is a process to pick up the system) "It's just like with anything. It just takes repetition and being consistent."
(on if Chris Myers helping him) "He's doing a great job. Chris is very fast, 10 year veteran, so I can learn a lot from him watching film with him and stuff like that."
(on if he is eating Chris Myers up on the 1-on-1) "I mean, we're doing a great job. Everybody is coming out here and just trying to get better."
(on if he is strong laterally) "Like I said, I just have to continue to come out here, work hard and get consistent with my technique."
(on if Romeo Crennel's system was different in Kansas City) "No I don't know if it is any different. We had special guys who played in Kansas City. We have special guys who play on this team. It's the same scheme. I'm just worried about coming out and playing better and playing my proper technique and getting consistent."
(on his impression about the stamp Bill O'Brien has punched on the team) "Real good. Coach OB is a good coach. Turned the Penn State program around. We believe and we are buying into the system. He's a proven winner."
(on his feeling on how hands on Bill O'Brien is) "I can't remember. I'm just worried about this right here. He's doing a great job."
(on Kendrick Lewis) "Field general. I've played with him—this is my eighth year. We played four years—well, three years at Ole Miss, three years at Kansas City, first year here. Always been a field general. Knows everybody's position, knows what everybody's supposed to do every day. Emotional leader and a great leader."
(on Kendrick Lewis establishing himself as a starter) "Always. Kendrick has always been like that. When he was at Ole Miss he was a wide receiver and we moved him over to defense. The guy instantly started acting like he was the starter and he became the starter quickly. Like I said, he's an emotional leader and a leader on and off the field."
(on the opportunity for him to take advantage of first team reps) "I'm very excited. Any time I'm on the field and I have the chance to take a snap on this level of football I'm very thankful for it. And to have a chance to compete for the starting job, I'm definitely excited for it."
(on if he worries about being underrated) "I don't worry about that. All I worry about is at the end of this camp being the starting nose guard for the Houston Texans. I don't care about none of that, nobody knowing me. All I want to know and all I'm worried about is these coaches and all of the team. That's what matters to me."
(on biggest improvement since he was a rookie) "Just being patient, reading my keys, just being able to play the proper technique in this defensive scheme."
SS D.J. Swearinger
(on Johnathan Joseph's recovery) "It's the same J-Joe (Joseph). You know fast, smart, plays his leverage all of the time, but he is just trying to get into the flow of things and it will probably take him a few weeks to get back to how he wants to get, but he's still J-Joe."
(on Jadeveon Clowney's intensity and physicality) "You watch him on film and you'll be like 'Woo! Where did that come from?' There will be some plays were he'll be a blur and you're like, 'Where did that come from?' That is something that he used to do all of the time at South Carolina and we're just ready for him to do it here and help this defense."
(on feeling like a rookie again because of new defense) "Not a rookie all over again because I started 10 games last year and with 10 games, I got a lot of experience playing against a lot of great players in this league. A lot of players that helped me last year were Ed (Reed), Daniel Manning, and J-Joe (Joseph), those guys helped me a lot with my techniques and my knowledge of the game. I wouldn't say that I'm a rookie again; I would say it's just me having to learn a new system. That's all it is, is learning a new system and taking it all in."
(on defense having a chip on its shoulders this season) "As a defender, you always have to have a chip on your shoulder. You always want to be the top defense; you want to force turnovers. We went 2-14 last year and we definitely got a chip; not just the defense, but the offense and the special teams."
(on vibe with Bill O'Brien this season) "We lost 14 games last season. Anytime you lose 14 games, it's a vibe that we have to work hard and he is making us work hard. We're buying in, keeping the team first, and we're working really hard."
(on Romeo Crennel's demand of knowing both every defensive position) "There are a couple of guys like myself that play dual-positions. I'm a safety; if I know what the d-line is doing and what the linebacker is doing, it helps me out because I know where they are fitting at and I know I can take my chances and take gambles. With Romeo, there are a lot of guys playing double positions on the d-line, me and Kareem (Jackson), but it's both ways."