Head Coach Bill O'Brien**
(on his general assessment of the day) "I thought it was a good day. The Falcons are really a good team to work with. Coach (Mike) Smith, really good guy to work with. I thought it was a good day. It's always good to have another opponent in here, you know, obviously, you've been going against each other for 12, 13 practices, and now you have a chance to go against somebody else. And I thought the guys came with some energy. I thought it was a good day for the Texans and a good day for the Falcons."
(on getting Arian Foster and Andre Johnson back to practice) "Anytime you see those guys out there in full pads and doing what they can do, that's a good thing for the Houston Texans."
(on getting Brain Cushing back to practice) "I call him Cush, so I was like Brian? Brian? No, it's really good, you know, because here is a guy that's been a leader on this football team for a long time. He's coming off an injury and that is not always the easiest thing to do. He's been chomping at the bit to get back out there. He's worked very hard, been a really good teammate in the meetings, been attentive, and I was watching a couple of their walkthroughs today and I thought he was really, really up to speed on the mental aspect of things. So it was good to see him out there."
(on Brian Cushing recovering for the second year in a row and if it resonates with other players) "I think that is a good point. I think in the guys that I've been associated with that have been injured like that, like Cush (Brian Cushing), guys like Wes Welker and Tom Brady, you know, coming back off of injury it is really good for younger players to see that and what type of sport this is. It's a sport where injuries occur, and basically it is the old motto when you get knocked down what are you going to do to get yourself back up? When you get back up what are you going to do to get on the field? I think that Brian Cushing is a good example of that. It is good to see him back out there and hopefully it continues to improve where he can get out there and really help us."
(on the situational football at practice and what stood out) "Just that. I thought that both teams really paid attention to the situations. We had third down, we had red area, we had a little no huddle, Atlanta threw a little no huddle at us, which was good, and then obviously, the two-minute situation at the end. I think it's good for both teams. It keeps both teams into the practice, having to be alert, understanding what the new situation is, and then crank the music up a little bit and force the communication. Both teams got a lot accomplished today."
(on when DeAndre Hopkins scored a touchdown in the two-minute drill and if it helps the offense's confidence) "Sure, sure, I think anytime you're put in a situation and you succeed as a team, as a unit, it's good for our team. And then Atlanta went out there and they scored on the first play, so that was good for them and not so good for us. But you know I thought we got good pressure on that play that they scored on, so that was good to see, (Jadeveon) Clowney and (J.J.) Watt. I think it was close, but anyways I think your point is well taken that anytime guys have- that's what I told the team after practice, especially the younger players that come out there and they play aggressively and with some confidence they can feel better about where they are at as players."
(on the collaboration process with the Falcons to get practice set up) "That's a really good (question), I was just thinking about that. It takes a lot of work from both staffs to set this up. You know, it started all the way back in the spring when the schedules came out, the preseason schedules. We had, when I was in New England, we had practiced against the Falcons in Flowery Branch in 2010 I believe, and had a really good experience doing that with Mike Smith. Coach (Bill) Belichick and Coach Smith worked well together, so I figured it would be a good thing for the Houston Texans. Picked up the phone, called Mike and we started planning. It was kind of emails back and forth, some phone calls while we were on vacation and then they came here yesterday and we walked out and said, 'OK, this is where period one is going to be, period two and so on and so forth.' There is a lot of planning that goes into it with both staffs: the equipment guys, the video guys, the trainers and then the assistant coaches. Logistically, it is not the easiest thing to put together, but it worked out well today."
(on certain things that one team prefers to do something as opposed to the other team) "Sure, yeah, and no it didn't happen that much with us, if it all, really. It was more about either myself or Mike (Smith), we're just asking each other, 'Hey are you OK with this? If we do 12 plays here? OK, well we usually do 18, so let's compromise and do 16 or whatever,' something like that. But overall, it was two staffs that I think worked pretty well together."
View photos of Houston Texans fans cheering on the squad as they participated in a collaborative practice with the Atlanta Falcons.
(on saying yesterday he did not want to see a lot of nonsense out there and if he was satisfied in that regard) "Sure, yeah, no, I think both guys, both teams, excuse me, practiced very professionally. It was a well-run practice on both sides. You know, look I understand that it is an aggressive sports, it's a violent sport, it's a competitive sport and it's an emotional sport. It has all of those things tied up into one and certain things are going to occur on the practice field. I understand that, believe me. At the end of the day it is about competing against each other and trying to get better and matching your skillset up against another player's skillset. It's not really about fighting. It's about getting better."
(on what he learned from practicing with another team, specifically Matt Ryan as it relates to Tom Savage) "No question. No question. I think it is as important for me as the head coach to be able to multitask a little bit out there and walk around and watch the other teams and their drills and the way they do some things, whether it is special teams, offense or defense. Certainly, how some of their players, you know, react in different situations and how they handle different drills that they do. Matt Ryan is a good example of a guy that has been very successful in this league. I just told him out there, Penn Charter High School, I was coaching at Georgia Tech and I tried to get him to go to Georgia Tech, and he went to Boston College, which was my wife's alma mater, so I can't be too mad at him for doing that. But it was good, it's good, I think the other staff came over and watched some of our guys and watched those guys go about their business, and that is a good part of it too."
(on if he sees things he likes after three days of practice following the first preseason game) "Definitely. Definitely. Again, that was one game in a 20-game season. You've got three more preseason and then 16 regular season. So, you know, that one game wasn't very good, but again these guys came back to work on Monday and we had a good practice Monday, had a good deal on Tuesday and I thought came out with a lot of energy today. Hopefully, we see that tomorrow and then have a separate walkthrough on Friday and let's go play the game. I believe we're better now than we certainly were at this point last week."
(on if Arian Foster, Andre Johnson or Brian Cushing will play on Saturday) "We haven't ruled on that one yet. We're going to see how it goes this afternoon, tonight and then tomorrow morning we'll see how it is. Maybe I'll be able to tell you better tomorrow."
The Texans hit the Houston Methodist Training Center for Day 10 of Texans Training Camp pres. by XFINITY.
(on what he took from his last experience practicing with Atlanta when he was with New England) "Similar things. We experienced, we had great experiences with Atlanta that year and then up in New England, New Orleans came and practiced against us and we had really good practice sessions with them. That year we went 14-2, won the AFC East and ended up losing in the Divisional Round to the Jets. We had a good year, and I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that we went against those teams in training camp and were able to compete against other teams before playing them and then certainly before the regular season. It broke up the monotony of camp. It showed us different things we had to work on. It showed us things that, 'hey, you know, this protection isn't really good versus that look or you know, this defensive scheme, we better make sure we're straight against what they're doing.' It was really good in a lot of different areas and I think that is what you're seeing today too."
(on Xavier Su'a-Filo settling into the right guard spot and that helping his technique) "I think so. I think anytime you work with on the right side there and you're working with (Derek) Newton, the more you're working with a guy that you've got a chance to play next to a lot of games, then the more reps you get, the better you're going to be at those types of things. And then obviously the center, Chris Myers, you know, Brandon Brooks is still out so Xavier (Su'a-Filo) is trying to take advantage of all of the opportunities that he gets and he's learning on the run. The thing I really like about him is he's a really good guy, he's a hard worker, he's a smart player for a rookie and I believe if he continues on that road of working hard, being smart, working hard in the weight room and taking care of his body, that he'll continue to improve and be a good player."
(on if Hard Knocks was any kind of distraction at all) "No, I saw the t-shirts. I didn't think it was a distraction. No, I knew they were there, but that is a good opportunity for the Falcons. They're not here for the Houston Texans."
(on if he'd ever be open to Hard Knocks being in Houston) "I'm always open to anything that helps our team get better."
CB A.J. Bouye
(on how he feels breaking up a pass against Roddy White) "I'm feeling pretty good. I'm just taking it a play at a time just trying to focus on everything. It was fun out there being with them."
(on him doing well during his opportunities) "Yeah, thanks to the coaches I've got my confidence up just trying to take it a play at a time. I've just been working hard, really, trying to focus on my technique every day and try to get better at one thing. If I mess up, I just usually try to focus on that the next day. So it's just about trying to focus on my faults and try and make them better."
(on if he's been playing more with the first team) "I'm just trying to take advantage of the opportunity, really. Ain't no telling what's going to happen with me here but I'm just trying to take advantage, have fun, and hopefully win every time I'm out there."
(on if he would say he's enjoying himself) "Yeah I could say that. I try my best not to focus on that but it's hard. You're in the NFL running with the ones. That's a blessing. So, I'm just trying to have fun with it."
LB Brian Cushing
(on how much work he got in on his first day back practicing) "I think a good amount. Obviously, I'm just going to ease my way back into it and it felt great. It just feels good to get back out here and practice football, be out here with the guys, and just communicate. Obviously, football is about reps, going out there and getting a look. You can only do so much in the classroom, but as far as getting out here and getting some live action, it felt great."
(on how important today was) "It is, just overall, being back with the team is the most important thing. If I can get out here and go through some game-like situations and real-live speed stuff, that's going to help out a lot and on top of it, I'm giving my teammates confidence that I will be good to go."
(on taking mental reps) "I obviously had to amp that up a little bit, really focusing in the classroom, really focusing on the playbook, do some extra stuff with Coach Vrabel, some extra stuff with Coach Crennel. If I'm not on the field, it means I've got to do more off the field and that's all I've been doing."
(on having a grasp of the defensive playbook) "Yeah, I feel like I do, but obviously, there is only so much you can do without practicing it. You can't really fully go into it and do it as best as you can until you actually see it, step through it, and be out there with your teammates. I got some of that action today, so I'm happy about that."
(on having a schedule on getting back into playing) "No, I think we're just going to go day-by-day and kind of feel it out and do what's best for myself, the team and everybody else."
(on if he could play on Saturday vs. Atlanta) "I'm not sure. I don't know. We're just worry about today right now, focusing on that. We'll go from there."
(on having an idea about being cleared to practice so early) "Not really, we kind of focused on this week and whenever it was. We kind of discussed a little yesterday, how it felt. It was a good idea, it was the right thing to do."
(on how much contact was allowed in practice) "Not much, I did some stuff with our own team, but I'll gradually increase."
(on how beneficial practice was against Atlanta) "I think it is. Coach O'Brien stresses the competition. It was definitely live out here. It kind of raises your adrenaline a little bit and your competitiveness. No one wants to make a bad play, everyone wants to come out here and show what they've got. It brings the team closer too because then now instead of competing against each other, you're competing against another team when it's offense, defense, or special teams, everything helps you out."
(on having any setbacks) "No, I don't think so. I just think anytime you've had two significant injuries back- to-back years, you've just got to be smart, you've got to take care of yourself, and just obviously get myself into the best shape I can possibly be in, as healthy as I can be, and go back out there and try to be the best player I can be."
(on what he was able to do fitness-wise to stay in shape) "A lot, I've been able to kind of run and do all of that kind of stuff but there's a major difference between that and practicing and playing football. I feel like I'm in really good shape right now, but there is such thing as football shape and I've got to get there."
(on previous injuries) "I had, two years ago, an ACL and this past year I had the LCL and fibula fracture."
(on the fibula fracture being the hardest injury to come back from) "I think so, maybe pain wise. I think pain wise it was the hardest thing to come back from. I feel a lot better this year than I did this time last year because you're waiting on a tendon to heal and you don't know when that's actually going to, but once the bone and everything came back into place, I feel a lot more confident now."
(on the mental part being tough) "Absolutely, it's extremely tough, but it's tough not being out here too, that's really the hardest part. You have a new staff and you want to show them what you can do and what your value is to the team, so that was put on hold a little bit, but that will gradually increase. It has been a tough past two years, but I feel like the worst part is over."
(on proving himself to the team) "I don't know if it's I have to prove who I am for them or for myself, I'm just a competitive guy and I want to come out here, I want to prove that I can help the team, and do a really good job. That's really important to me, that's something I focus on a lot."
(on if was easier to remain patient after dealing with a knee injury before) "I think, when you don't right, you don't want to push it, especially when you've gone through it before, you know what it feels like when it's not right. Obviously, there's some patience that has to go into it, but at the same time, you know when you're ready and when you're not."
(on if he thinks this could be his best year in terms of performance so far) "I think so, because of the massive work that's gone into it, the focus on getting my entire body right, mentally, physically, everything. I feel like I'm a smarter football player, so you combine that with obviously maturing and being in the best shape you can possibly be in, I think so."
(on the lowest point of rehab) "I think it's always when guys leave the building, the season is over, and you're in there by yourself just rehabbing every day, there are not many people around, it's kind of tough. It's kind of tough to deal with that, just push through. It kind of seems like there's no light at the end of the tunnel, but the hardest part is over, so I'm grateful for that."
(on how important today was) "It is, but it's a very small step. September 7th will be the big step, play again, go back out there, and just do what I love. That's what's most important right now, but at the same time, I've got to get better every day, got to stay healthy, and I've got to be the best I can be in this defense."
(on importance of playing game reps) "I think so. Obviously, you want to get some live action. In a new scheme with a new system, obviously you want to get some live reps before a real game comes around."
WR DeAndre Hopkins
(on progress made in the past two years) "I've got a long way to go, but progress, yes I have made it."
(on practicing against the Falcons) "It was great going against somebody besides us. It was great competition; the Atlanta Falcons are a good team, so it was a good competition out here today."
(on having Andre Johnson out at practice) "It was good seeing the fans call out Andre (Johnson) and not me coming out. I'm just messing with you, but it was good having him out here and seeing him run routes. I feel like he's progressing."
(on watching and looking up to Falcons receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White while in college) "Oh yeah, of course. Roddy White is from South Carolina, so he was one of the guys I've been watching since he was in college and Julio (Jones), he's one of the best to play at this position, so of course I watch him."
(on no scuffles against the Falcons in practice) "I think Bill (Coach O'Brien) does a good job of keeping us in check about that."
(on this year being different than last) "It's good having a year under my belt, learning coverages, coming out here and being able to practice at a full pace, and learning things that I didn't know coming in last year."
(on mentality behind practicing against the Falcons) "It was great, (Desmond) Trufant and (Robert) Alford, they're great DBs. Both of them came out with me, so I had the honor to train with Alford coming out, so me and him, we kind of know each other a little bit. It was good going against Trufant, both of those guys are good DBs."
WR Andre Johnson
(on how it was being back out at practice) "It was cool. Like I said before, it's just good to be back out here with my teammates and running around and doing stuff."
(on what he was able to do at practice) "I was able to do things full-speed. I didn't participate in the competition stuff with the other team because it was my first day. Just being careful about the way they work me back in. But other than that, I'll be out there every day just doing something."
(on if there is any chance he'll play on Saturday) "I don't know. That's the coach'
s decision. We'll see what happens."
(on if it was good for the Texans to go up against another team after last Saturday's game) "I think any time you get to go against somebody else is good. You always get to see where you're at as a team. They came out and competed well today. All you can do is keep building. It's early. We're still in training camp. The thing is that we have to make sure we're ready to go on opening day. That's the ultimate goal but every day you come out here you just try to get better as a team."
(on if there is a problem with his hamstring) "No, I'm fine."
(on seeing former teammate and Falcons QB T.J. Yates) "It's cool, man. You get to see guys that you played with. Him and Tim Dobbins both played here so it's a little different when you get to see them on another team. When you spent a lot of time with a guy as a teammate, it's a little different. But at the same time, it's the nature of the business."
(on what other Falcons he is close with) "Me and Steven Jackson are real close. (Devonta) Freeman, the running back they drafted from Florida State, he's a Miami kid. I saw him a lot as a kid. He's used to come to a lot of our games at college and stuff like that. Julio (Jones) and those guys, a lot of those guys you just see around in the offseason. A lot of them spend time back in Miami during the offseason. You get to see those guys, talk to them a little bit about football and stuff like that. I think it makes training camp fun when you have a team to come in and compete against."
(on how he eases back into training camp) "The thing about it is just communicate. After I came out and ran yesterday; my first time running full-speed was Monday. I told them I wanted to see how it felt on Tuesday. I came back and did it again Tuesday. After I ran Tuesday, I told them I can work back into practice. The thing about it is just communicating with the trainers and everybody and making sure you're not doing anything to set yourself back. We just try to communicate about every day and everything that we do. You don't want to have any setbacks. Every day, as long as I kept getting better and better, I was willing to keep taking steps forward. If I didn't feel good, I wouldn't. I'm feeling fine. I feel good. Like I said, we'll just do what we need to do to work myself back in."
(on if he feels that he knows his body well enough to know if he needs game action this week or next week) "How long have I been playing this game? There's not a science to it. I've been playing this game for going on 12 years now. I know my body. I know what I can do, what I can't do. Right now, like I said, I feel fine."
(on how he is with the offensive system) "It's fine. I'm learning every day but at the same time, I'm out there, I'm going over plays and stuff like that. I'm always talking about stuff if I have any questions. Everything is going pretty good."
(on what he thinks of this offensive system) "I like it. I like it a lot. I just like everything. I like energy that's brought to practice, the way they make us compete all the time. I like it. I think it was a great move for the team."
(on Atlanta cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford) "They're good players. They're very competitive. You can see that just by watching them. Like I said, it's great when you can have another team come in and you get to compete against them."
(on if he talked to the younger players on the team about last Saturday's loss) "You can't dwell on it. You get another chance at it this weekend. The only thing you can do is bounce back from it. That's pretty much it. You can't keep sitting around here about a performance you had last week when you're getting another shot to play this week. After every performance, all you want to do is just bounce back from what you (did). If you played great last week, you want to come out and continue to play great; just be as consistent as possible."
C Chris Myers
(on how practice with another team makes the team better) "You get the best competition. You get the best of everybody. It's someone you've never gone against. You don't know their moves. You don't know exactly how you're going to do things. To come out here and be able to compete against them is great."
(on if Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, and Brian Cushing being back at practice was a lift for the team) "Oh yeah. You come in and you see those guys in pads it just makes you feel that much better as a team to be able to have your whole unit in so they're working hard to get back full tilt."
(on the execution level today) "Good. The competitive level and the competitive nature out there was huge. I think on both sides of the ball, both teams just being able to come out here and hit against someone else during the week is good."
(on how helpful game film and practicing against the Falcons is to the team) "Huge. Kind of just to get out here and work hard is what we need. After a game like that you want to be able to make your corrections, watch the film, and see what you did bad and being able to improve on it and coming out here against another team is exactly what you need."
NT Louis Nix
(on how it feels to get back out on the field) "It's been a good run of it out here with my teammates. It's hard looking from the sidelines so I'm just trying to progress a little, get back into the flow of things."
(on how frustrated he's been having to watch practice) "You always want to be out here with your guys and be the best teammate you can and get hands on work because obviously I haven't played in this league and I haven't went against another team so it's frustrating but at the same time you've got to progress and just do my best to get back on the field."
(on what camp is like as a rookie) "Yeah you've just got to get a lot of mental reps and just do the best you can to soak it in and when you get your opportunity you just take advantage."
(on how he felt out there) "I felt good today. I'm just running around as much as I can today just getting back into it."
(on how hard it is to get up to speed after being out so long) "It's my job to get up to speed. I can't stress about it. I've just got to do my job and I'm just trying as hard as I can to catch back up."
(on if his Notre Dame education will help him learn the playbook) "I'm done with Notre Dame. I love my school but I think it will. I think it taught me enough to where I can catch back up but, like I said, I'm doing my best and that's all I can do."