HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN**
What do you think about the new NFL celebration rules that were passed today? How do you show a player what they can and can't do?
"I think the game is supposed to be a game that's a very competitive game and it's a tough game but it's fun. These guys have fun playing. I think, in the end, that's what the league is trying to 'allow these guys to do' is to continue to have fun. If it steps over the bounds of certain things as we all know in normal society, then it's got to get flagged. I don't think it's that hard to show, especially our team. We have a bunch of great guys. They understand what it means and we'll show them examples of what you can and can't do. I think the league is just trying to continue to make sure that the fans and the players have fun."
What can you tell us about T Duane Brown not being here?
How do you feel about what the team was able to accomplish today?
"I feel good about the two days that we've had here. These guys really compete hard against each other. It's OTAs, it's no pads so it's not real football. It's a chance for you to come out here and work on certain things like the passing game and conditioning and things like that – different drills to try to get better individually and as a unit in all three units. I think we've gotten a lot accomplished. We've got a great bunch of guys here. They work really hard. They compete against each other. It's been fun being around them."
Did you get to see much of DE J.J. Watt today and what do you think about where he is?
"J.J. is doing great. He's been here all offseason. He's working hard. It's tough enough to block him in pads, let alone out of pads. So, he's doing great. Like we all know, he'll be ready to go."
What's it like being all back on the field together as a team?
"We've been together now – this is our fifth or sixth week together and that's what we're here for, to coach and we just really enjoy being around these players. We're excited about any time we get a chance to coach these guys. The offseason when they're not around, we definitely miss them. That's what we're here for, to coach and we really enjoy working with these guys."
What do you think about what you've seen from QB Deshaun Watson?
"He's doing a good job. He's working hard. He's picking up things every day. He's doing a good job out here."
With the quarterbacks, is it more about instillation or the execution right now?
"Oh, it's always both. It's always both. I mean, those other guys have been here a little bit longer than Deshaun (Watson) but Deshaun's executed well. So, it's both. You have to be able to process the information and come out on the field and execute it. It's a combination of both, so practice is always about execution. That's what we're trying to do, have perfect execution and you never really achieve that but you're always striving for that."
How do you feel about the status and health of the team right now?
"I feel good about the health of this team. I mean, we do have some soft tissue injuries that always occur during this time of the year - some hamstrings, some quads - but nothing that's major or serious. Guys are coming back from offseason surgery, like Brian Cushing is not participating right now. But that's just – he's played a lot of football for us. He'll be ready for training camp. There's nothing more important than the health of the team and I feel good about the health right now."
WR DEANDRE HOPKINS
How do you think you guys are progressing with QB Tom Savage running the show?
"Second day in. Guys out here working, trying to perfect their craft. Knocking the cobwebs off."
How good is it to be back out here?
"It feels great, man. This isn't a job. This is something I love doing, so any chance I can come to play football, it's the happiest thing in the world to me."
Is there a story behind your cleats?
"Yeah. Adidas – it's a bomb, like a nuclear bomb, like Bugs Bunny, that says, 'That's all, folks.'"
What are your first impressions of QB Deshaun Watson?
"He's out here trying to get better every day. He's working, obviously, to help this team win games. Like everybody else."
What do you like about his mechanics?
"He's working hard, man. He's young. He's learning from Tom (Savage) and (Brandon) Weeden every day, not just on the field but in the meeting rooms as well."
Why do your shoes say that?
"Just the bomb, I guess. It's like the cartoon, Bugs Bunny, from the Looney Tunes."
Do you feel like you've become more of a vocal leader this year?
"I've been a leader with the wide receiver group for two years now, three years. I've kind of been vocal but I like to lead by example. Go out there and make plays. But when there's things that we need to work on of course we're going to work on them."
How great has it been to learn from Offensive/Special Teams Assistant Wes Welker and now have Wide Receivers Coach John Perry coaching you?
"It's great learning from a guy like Wes who has had experience in this league, who knows every aspect, not just from a player standpoint but also from a coach as of now. He has played with some of the best, so having his knowledge out here helps a lot."
What have you seen from WR Will Fuller V and WR Braxton Miller as they enter their second season?
"They're out here trying to make this team better and also work on their craft."
C NICK MARTIN
Can you update us on your progress after missing last season? That must have been frustrating.
"Absolutely. That was the first season I've missed. It's tough but I just tried to get better any way I could, especially mentally. It's just awesome being back out here."
How hard was it to be patient?
"It's definitely tough, but at the same time you have to take the positives. There's a lot of things I learned: routine-wise, learn from older guys, mentally, film, all of that. Really tried to make the best out of it."
What kind of things did you do mentally?
"The biggest thing is stay up with the playbook. We have a large playbook and it's an awesome offense. I was just trying to stay with it as much as I could, learn the in-game routine, run game, pass game, how we go about it. Everything."
How do you feel about all of that now compared to where you were at this time last year?
"This time? Oh, a lot better. That first spring, it's a fun experience but I definitely feel more comfortable now."
Are you more physically capable after being able to work on everything for a whole year?
What was the routine like for you to get your ankle ready to go?
"A lot of time in the training room. As much as it takes. Still trying to go to meetings, like I said, learn mentally, keep up with that and try to balance both. Especially being in your first year in this system."
The ankle is good?
"The ankle is good to go."
What were your takeaways about QB Deshaun Watson after playing against him in college?
"That he's a football player. That's plain and simple right there."
How much does going through a little bit of training camp last year help you get ready for this year?
"You got a little bit of it being in pads. Obviously not much. Like I said, I spent a lot of time on the mental game and it's just really nice being back out here every day."
What are your hopes for this year?
"I'm just going to take it one day at a time, man. It's my second day out here."
QB TOM SAVAGE
How is it going and what are some things you're trying to work on in OTAs?
"Well, it's going great. It's fun getting out there and competing against the guys. Obviously, the offense – well, it's May now, so we're just working right now, just trying to become the best team we can be."
Now that you're the starter, how have these practices been for you as opposed to years past?
"I don't treat it any different. Obviously you're going against the (No.) one defense out there, but I'm having a blast out there. Super excited about all of this stuff and like I said, we're just working and trying to become the best team we can be."
Is this time more about teaching the rookies for you or is it about your execution?
"I'm just kind of worried about my execution and what I can do to help this team win, really. That's the ultimate thing. That's the only thing that matters to me: the guys out here. That's it."
What's it like having Head Coach Bill O'Brien more involved coaching the offense?
"It's awesome. I think he's a tremendous coach and he knows what he's talking about. It's just good to be on the same page with him and just go out there and execute what he's trying to teach."
How do you think today's practice went?
"I think it went well. I think it went really well. I think obviously, like I said, it's May. We got to work on some things and keep meshing as a team, but I think ultimately we're just striving for one goal and that's to win ballgames."
How do you take your relationship with the receivers to the next level?
"I think it's all trust. I think we just have to keep going out there and staying after practice and throwing and getting together and just kind of doing what we need to do to understand where we're at mentally. It just really comes down to trust."
What have you seen from WR Will Fuller V as he hopes to make a jump from year one to year two?
"I can't really comment on that. He's a good guy and he's working hard."
What do you do different in your new role as the starting quarterback?
"Well first of all, in order to be leader, you have to go out there and you have to make plays. I've started two NFL games in this league, so first of all you have to go out there and make plays. I think that's what kind of promotes the leadership, is going out there and performing and executing what you need to do before you can take that vocal jump. Obviously, you need some juice out there on offense but I think you just have to make plays first."
Do you feel a difference and growth in your game from where you were in college?
"Yeah. This has been the longest I've ever been in an offense in my career so it's been fun. I'm learning a lot and just going out there and – I know I sound repetitive – but just executing what these coaches are teaching me and ultimately trying to win games."
What's it been like having QB Deshaun Watson around on and off the field?
"I can't comment (about) on the field. Off the field, he's a good guy and he's fun to be in the locker room with."
DE J.J. WATT
How are you feeling and have you been able to be smart about your rehab as you come back?
"I feel very good. I think the slow pace applies a little bit more to the weight room and stuff like that than it does to the field. I don't like to play slow. Very fast, feeling good. The best part is just being back out here with my teammates. It's so much fun to be in the meetings, to be on the field and just be back with the guys. I mean, there's no better feeling than being with my teammates. So, I feel great. I'm sure we'll have some sort of program here where I take a day off here and take a day off there, but as far as when I'm allowed to be on the field, I feel awesome. I feel really good so it's just, like I said, great to be back with my teammates."
How much do you want to be back out there hitting people and showing what you can do?
"I feel great. Like you said, I can't wait. You're a football player, you live to hit people. So, I just can't wait to get back out there in real situations, but I also understand how valuable this time is with my teammates and with my coaches to learn and to grow, especially for myself to get back into the groove of things. It's been very good so far."
You mentioned the possibility of taking days off. Is that something the doctors told you to do?
"No, I have no restrictions from anybody. I'm practicing full-go. I just mean when I'm allowed to actually hit somebody and no red jerseys, that's what I mean. I don't like red jerseys very much."
With all the time off, is this the best you've felt in a while as you're now back on the field?
"I feel very good, yeah. I think obviously over the last couple years, this is definitely the best that I've felt. But, I mean, there's a long way to go. It's our first couple practices and I understand the situation we are in so I'm not here to make any grand prophecies or anything but I feel very, very good. It just feels good to work every day and try and become a better player."
Do you have any expectations you want to achieve this year?
"Absolutely. I think every athlete, no matter who they are, has extremely high expectations for themselves, whether they admit it or not. I think if you didn't have high expectations, you're in the wrong business because that's what this business is all about: setting high expectations and working to meet them. That's why this is so fun because every single day I get to work to meet those expectations. If I didn't set them high, it would be a little bit too easy to reach and it would be no fun. So, I love it."
What's it like with Mike Vrabel serving as the new defensive coordinator?
"It's been very good. I think it's great. I think I've said all along, to have a guy like Mike come in who is so knowledgeable and so experienced is great. It's very good for us. But then also to have RAC (Romeo Crennel) out there every single day and still coaching and teaching guys – to have two defensive minds like that, and then with the assistant coaches that we have, we are very fortunate."
What's the next step for you? Would it be contact?
"It's just every day. I mean, I'm just a regular guy on the team now. There's no – all I do is just whatever the team does. So, as soon as they let me put pads on and hit people, I will. But yeah, right now, it's just getting my technique down. My focus is being with the guys and just playing football. For me, this is like – I really don't know how to describe it but when you're away from something for so long and you step back into it, it's like putting on an old pair of shoes. You just feel so damn good. It just feels good to be with the guys and playing football. This is my natural habitat so I feel good to be back out there."