Members of the Houston Texans spoke to the media following Day 2 of Voluntary Veteran Minicamp.Head Coach Bill O'Brien**
TE Garrett Graham
LB Brooks Reed
Head Coach Bill O'Brien
(on what he can find out from a three-day mini-camp) "That's a very good question because I think obviously, when you get the pads on, that's when you really get a good look at the linemen and your running game and your run defense and things like that and how guys tackle and how they are on special teams. So to me, this is a lot about watching everybody out on the field, their conditioning level, their ability to take the installation from one day to the next day, to the next day, how they learn and how they compete out here. You can really see that, too. I think just with all that being said, I think these guys have, to this point, they've done everything we've asked them to do."
(on if his overall impressions are what he expected) "I don't really have any expectations. It's more about day-to-day. You go out there and you meet in the morning, you have a walk-through and you make sure that the guys understand what the tempo of practice is and the plays that you're going to try to execute and the drills that you're going to try to execute. Like I said, to this point, these guys have really done a good job of following our lead, and working hard and trying to do their jobs."
(on what he has seen from Ryan Fitzpatrick) "With all of the quarterbacks, I've seen guys that are smart, really fun guys to coach. You can see the improvement from meeting-to-meeting as far as their knowledge of the game. It's just a good group of guys to be around."
(on how it's been working with Romeo Crennel and how the veterans have adapted to his coaching) "Romeo has been doing it for a long time and he's a really good guy to have on the staff for a lot of different reasons. Number one is the job as defensive coordinator. I think he's one of the best. I know when I was hiring him, I knew that he was a guy that when we had gone against him when I was in New England, it was a difficult deal to go against. So that was part of it and then also, the big part of it is his knowledge of the game and his resume and what he brings to our staff and the level of respect that he brings to the football field."
(on if it's important to him to have a defensive coordinator with as much experience as Romeo Crennel with it being in his first year as an NFL head coach) "I think it's important in the fact that Romeo is a hell of a football coach. He's here and he's been a coordinator and obviously been a head coach and all the guys that have played for him hold him in high regard. He's a very valuable member of our coaching staff."
(on the use of advanced analytics as it relates to this team) "We use that quite a bit. We use it in the draft. We use it especially when we get toward the season. Probably not so much now in the mini-camps but we'll use analytics when we get into the season and look at different ways to study our opponents. But again, at the end of the day, it comes down to how you play when you're out here on the field. But anything that you can look at that can help you get an edge in a game plan or your knowledge of the draft or your knowledge of free agency, those things always help. I think it's really important to gather as much information as you can."
(on his initial thoughts on DeAndre Hopkins) "Young player. Works hard. Trying to do his job, trying to learn what to do. I have really enjoyed being around all those receivers. These guys are working extremely hard and he's part of that group."
(on previously saying there weren't any slot receivers on the roster and how Mike Thomas is playing in that role) "I did say that and now being out here for a few days, including our coaching sessions, there are a few guys, including Mike, that have the skill set to play in the slot and to play outside. That's why these camps are good."
(on the comparison between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Teddy Bridgewater) "I don't get into the comparison between a college player and a pro player. There's absolutely no comparison there. You're talking about a guy that's played 10 years in the NFL versus a kid that's just graduating from college. There's no comparison there."
(on what Linebackers Coach Mike Vrabel brings to his staff) "Again, a lot of experience as a player and as a coach. He's been in different schemes already as a coach, which is really good, and just his knowledge of the game really stood out to me when I was in New England when he was a player. He was a very intelligent guy. A guy that had a 14-year career because he worked hard. He obviously had a really good skill set but he was intelligent and he understood how to take care of his body and all those things. Now as a coach, he can relate his understanding of the schemes but also his understanding of how to have a long career in this league and how to do it. So I think he's another guy, just like all these guys on our staff, they all bring a lot of value to our staff."
(on if he sees a lot of similarities between Brian Cushing and Mike Vrabel) "I think every guy is different. I don't get into comparisons. I know that those guys are enjoying being coached by him just like I said, because of his knowledge or our defense, his coaching ability and also the fact that he played a lot of football in this league. I don't get into comparisons of this guy is like that guy or similarities. Every person in this group, every person in that team meeting room, everybody is different."
(on scheduling his day Thursday for mini-camp in the morning and the draft in the evening) "It will be a fun day but there's been a lot of preparation for both events. We've been preparing for this practice for a long time. We're ready to go for tomorrow. We may tweak a couple things based on what we saw the last two days but we're ready to go for the practice. For the draft, we've been preparing for the draft for quite a long time and we're ready to go on that. I'm looking forward to, like I said yesterday, working with Rick (Smith) and his guys and trying to improve our team."
(on what the process has been like working with General Manager Rick Smith) "I think it's been a great process for me just to have a guy like Rick, who's been in this league for a long time, who's done a really good job, I believe, here and to learn how he does it. Obviously, I add my two cents where I can to help him. It's been a really enjoyable experience. We communicate well. We meet every day, probably twice a day and it's been fun to be a part of that."
(on how it feels heading into his first draft as an NFL head coach) "It feels good. You're right, it is my first one as an NFL head coach. I've been a part of a draft process but nothing like I am now. Again, a lot of it is a learning process for me but it's also our ability as a staff to express to our scouting department and Rick who are the type of players who fit our scheme on both sides of the ball and on special teams, so that's been good, too, because we're getting everybody in the organization on the same page as us as far as what we're looking for in a player. That's been a good part of the process, too."
(on what has stood out the most to him in the first two days of mini-camp) "I don't think anything has stood out one thing over the other. I just think that I've been pleased with the effort that these guys have given and each guy really trying to do his job, competing and trying to execute our schemes, our drills and learn on the run. I don't think that's always easy and I think these guys have done a good job of jumping in and really working hard at it."
(on what logistic steps he took to decide what he wanted to keep the same and what he wanted to do different) "Well, I think that's a long process. I don't think you do that overnight. I think the first thing you do when you come in here is you put together as good a staff as you can and I believe we have a really good staff here. A strong staff. At the same time, you're evaluating the roster. So you're watching last year's film and trying to envision how these guys are going to fit your schemes because every coaching staff is a little bit different as to what they are looking for. That was the first part of it. And then from there, there are a lot of observations and meetings and a lot of communication that takes place. As long as everybody is honest with each other and we're all working toward the same goal—which we are and which we have been—then any change that's made, whether it's from Rick's (Smith) end or Bob's (McNair) end or my end, is always in the name of success and winning and what we're trying to do that's best for the Houston Texans. I think that's been a good process."
(on if he can identify what some of the bigger changes have been) "I don't want to get into all that. I can tell you that I think the thing that we did when we came in here was we expressed to Rick's (Smith) crew and Rick the type of players that we're looking for and a lot of them exist right here on this field today. They're here. I think that was the main goal, was to say, 'Hey, look, we're playing a 3-4 on defense and this is the type of offense we want to play. These are the type of tight ends we want. These are the type of backs we want,' and so on and so forth. That was probably the biggest line of communication that had to take place and that's taken place quite a bit over the last four months."
(on if the two extra weeks before the draft has helped that process take place) "I've heard a lot about that, that people are saying, 'Two weeks is too long,' or 'Two weeks isn't enough.' You know what I do? Whatever the rules are, I try to follow the rules. Whenever they say the draft is, then that's how we prepare for it. So I don't get into all that."
(on if he's ever had politicians second-guess his decisions as a coach before) "Oh yeah. I'm sure the governor of Pennsylvania had a few thoughts on some of my fourth-down calls over the last two years."
(on Houston Mayor Annise Parker saying she likes Johnny Manziel but thinks the Texans will draft Jadeveon Clowney and then trade) "When her term is up, maybe she should come work for us. I think (Houston) is a great city where people really care about football. All the fans that I see when I'm out there in public or in a restaurant or somewhere, I always tell them, 'These guys are working really hard to field a winning football team here in Houston.' We know how important football is here in Houston. We're very well aware of that."
(on who selects the music playlist at practice) "It's my iPod. I like a lot of different types of music: country, rap, all kinds of music. I just make sure that it's very respectful music, clean music, because I don't always know all the words, so I have to listen to it really carefully or have one of the younger guys listen to it for me. That's my music. Some guys are complaining already about it but that's too bad."
(on if the Mo Money, Mo Problems track at practice more about the first-round pick or being a new head coach) "I don't know. What were the words to that? Somebody else asked me that out on the field. I just like rhythm to that song."
(on why he plays music at practice) "The main reason I do it is to force communication. It's not about having fun out here at recess. It's about forcing guys to communicate. The coaches aren't out there behind them during a game."
(on using the music at different times during practice) "I try to mix it in there and it's been good. It's worked for us wherever I've been, whether it was at New England or at Penn State. It also livens up practice. Guys enjoy it."
(on where he got the idea to play music at practice) "I don't know. I know we did it in New England, so I guess I got it from Bill (Belichick)."
(on former Penn State players Daquan Jones and Allen Robinson) "I'll start with Daquan. He's number one, a great kid. Very hard-working guy that has a great story. Overcame a ton in his life to graduate from Penn State and played a lot of really good football for us. Big guy, tough guy. Just a really fun guy to coach and wish him all the best because he deserves everything that he gets that's good. With Allen, when we got to Penn State, he hadn't played that much. He was a young guy from the previous staff and hadn't played that much and when we got there, we noticed him right away as a very talented guy. Obviously, over the two years that I was there I think he had upwards of however many catches and a ton of yards. Very productive guy and a competitive guy. Great kid and fun to coach. All those kids there were a lot of fun to coach and those two are definitely examples of that."
TE Garrett Graham
(on the new look to the team) "It's good to be out here. It's good to get to know the coaching staff and get back out onto the field with the guys."
(on his thoughts on the changes with the team) "Any time there is a new coaching staff, there is going to be change. We're kind of just trying to learn the new plays, be out here, and it's just good to be back and out on the field."
(on what he will be doing during the draft) "I don't know. I probably won't be watching it. I'll probably be doing whatever I'm doing, maybe grocery shopping. I'll check my twitter feed though to see who we get."
LB Brooks Reed
(on how practices are different under the new coaching staff) "It's a lot different. They expect a lot out of us this year and we're not talking about last year. We never talk about last year. We've moved on."
(on if he prefers it to just move on as a team and forget about last year) "Yeah, it's a new start. We're working really hard out here, but the expectation level is really high. We all want to practice perfect. It takes time and that's why we're out here."
(on how Romeo Crennel differs in style from Wade Phillips) "In some ways, they're similar and in some ways, they're not. They both have different coaching styles and different coverages for different situations. There is some carryover but there are still a lot of things that I have to learn for this defense."
(on having a new playbook to learn) "Definitely. Like I said, there is some carryover, but all the terms and all that, it's just all different"
(on Mike Vrabel as a linebackers coach) "He's awesome. You can tell that he really wants to teach the players and he really wants the players to play well. We get that feel from him and he's a great teacher of the game and a very smart guy. I can see why he played so many years in the NFL."
(on listening to what Mike Vrabel has to say based on all of his experience in the league) "He has a tremendous level of credibility. He's done it all. He's probably the perfect guy to be our position coach. He's a teacher of the game. He tries to help you understand concepts and defenses. He just harps and harps on it until you get it. He's not moving forward until everyone is on the same page, which is how it should be."
(on Mike Vrabel's passion) "Yeah, he cares about us. He cares whether we know what to do on the field."
(on what he thinks about the blaring music during practice) "I think it's a good thing. One of the emphases this year is communication. Obviously if it's louder, you have to yell louder to get the call across. That's what we're doing out here, so everyone is yelling loud."
(on how far along he is in learning the defense) "I don't even know how much they have. I imagine we have a lot more to do. There are a lot of new concepts that we have to learn and adjustments we have to learn compared to last year. It's a process. Guys are slowly beginning to get it now, but we still have a lot more to learn."
(on if he thinks he will enjoy playing in this defense) "Yeah. You have to be on your A-game when you're out there. We're forced to recognize a lot more formations and adjustments, so you have to really pay attention to the game when you're out there. It's something that you really have to prepare for every day and really study hard for every night."
(on the energy out on the practice field) "It was really good. It was the first time we've played football for a little while. It was good to just put on the helmets and run around. We're not hitting each other or anything. It's just good to compete a little bit."
(on if it is tough to pace himself in new practices) "I think it's somewhat of a test for the players to try and have a lot on their plate and see how much they can decipher when the pressure is on, music playing and coaches yelling at you. That's what this minicamp is, but we still have a lot more time to grasp the defense and to learn all the in's and out's."