Head Coach Bill O'Brien**
(on if he can share why QB Ryan Mallett wasn't at practice) "No, that's between Ryan and I. It's just a personal issue for him."
(on if QB Ryan Mallett's absence was excused) "Like I said, it's between Ryan and I. It's a personal issue."
(on if QB Ryan Mallett will be back tomorrow) "I should think so."
(on if all three quarterbacks will play against the Saints) "That's what our thought is right now on Thursday. But there's three days 'til Sunday, so I reserve the right to change my mind."
(on what kind of progress he's seen from the tight ends) "I think these guys have really improved. I think that playing tight end in this system, learning it, is not easy. We asked the tight ends to do a lot of different things in the running game and in the passing game, and protections and so, over the year that we've spent with all of these guys, a year and change really, more than a year, they've really improved. I think Garrett Graham's had a solid training camp, I think Griff (Ryan Griffin) has had a good camp, C.J. (Fiedorowicz) is an improved played, obviously Khari Lee is much more than an impersonator. He's a pretty good football player. Those guys have really improved."
(on how S Andre Hal has been doing) "He's had a solid camp too. He's a competitive guy, good special teams guy. He's getting better at safety every day. He's a versatile player because he can play corner, he's played corner for us in the past. We like his versatility and he comes to work every day. I really have a lot of respect for Dre, the way he approaches the game."
(on S Andre Hal transitioning positions) "It's tough. I don't think it's easy in the beginning, but if you're smart and you're clear with what the teachings are, meaning what the expectations are. We were very clear with Dre, look, 'This is what we want you to do, we want you to learn the safety position, you're probably going to play a lot of safety in OTAs and training camp, but still make sure you know what you're doing at corner.' I think he's done that, plus he's got his special teams responsibilities. He's a bright guy, hardworking guy that's done pretty well."
(on what he's seen from Offensive Coordinator George Godsey) "George is a very bright guy. He did a lot of this last year. He had a lot of game planning responsibilities, game day responsibilities. It's not necessarily brand new for him. He's a really smart guy. He's got a good rapport with the players. He's a good teacher. He's done well."
(on NT Brandon Deaderick) "He was a guy who I believe was in that 2010 draft class in New England that was a pretty good draft class. That was (Rob) Gronkowski and that crew there. He came in and did some good things as a rookie. He's progressed. It's a very competitive business. Like you just said, he's been knocked down, he's picked himself back up, got on with New Orleans, now he's here with us. He's working hard every day. He works very, very hard. He flashes at certain things like pass rush. He's gotten better at playing the run. He's been out there every day which is a good thing. Just by being out there every day, he's gotten better, he's improved. It's good to see that and hopefully it continues."
(on RBs Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue going back to their hometown and it being emotional for them) "Yes, and this is the first time I've thought about them, the LSU, New Orleans connection. That's good that you reminded me of that. Maybe I can use that in some way, shape or form tomorrow to maybe gain some yards for us on Sunday. Make (LSU) Coach (Les) Miles proud, which I know he already is proud. They have, they've had good solid training camps. Both guys, kind of like Dre Hal, will help up on special teams also in the game. Kenny is still in a battle there, but I think he's done a good job of coming in here and picking up the offense. He's a first and second down guy that runs hard. Playing in the SEC helped both those guys, playing in a competitive college atmosphere and a competitive team has really helped them and they're both good football players."
(on how RB Chris Polk has done in the running back competition) "He's done a decent job. It's very competitive, it's very competitive. You have Jon (Jonathan) Grimes, (Alfred) Blue, Kenny (Hilliard) and Chris Polk that have all really competed hard against each other. They all contribute on special teams, which is a big deal too. Chris Polk has held his own in the competition."
(on P Will Johnson working hard to make the team) "Will's a good kid. Will has really worked hard to improve. I think Shane Lechler's helped him. Having the chance to get into a camp with a punter like Shane and somebody that's that experienced, I think that really helps a younger player. You can see the improvement with Will. Hopefully he'll get some chances on Sunday and we'll see how it goes. He's worked very hard in the camp."
(on guys like that not seeing much action except during the preseason) "Right. Definitely, like I said, he brings a good work ethic to the field every day. He's out there every day. You see him on the other field really trying to get better at all the different types of kicks we're asking him, directional punt, even things like onside kicks, directional kickoffs. The guy has really tried to improve, so he's a hardworking kid."
(on how practice reps change now that QB Brian Hoyer has been named the starter) "I think obviously he'll get more reps. He got a ton today, and then Tom got a lot of reps today which is good for Tom. Brian will get the bulk of the reps when we're in team periods, so if it's a 12-play period, he'll get the bulk of those reps and hopefully that'll help him. But other than that, this guy is a guy that has a daily consistent routine. He's in the building at 6:15 every morning watching tape, getting loosened up, in the training room, meeting with (Offensive Coordinator) George (Godsey), with the other quarterbacks, after practice gets a lift in, watches more tape. He's got a good, consistent daily approach and I don't think that'll change."
(on how close this game is to a regular season game) "Not even close. The only thing that's close is the week of preparation, the preparation and the meetings for New Orleans. When the game is played, it won't even be close based on who we're playing, how many reps they get, and things like that. It's a preseason game."
Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel
(on what he thinks about QB Brian Hoyer after watching him in practice) "I think that he does a good job of managing the team. I think he's smart. He understands the system and I think he'll do a good job."
(on OLB Jadeveon Clowney and where he is at) "He's coming along. He's out there in pads, so that's good to see. I think that the trainers have a program for him that they're going to try to manage him. The more that he can do, then the more we're going to ask him to do. We're not at that point yet, so we'll see how it goes."
(on OLB Jadeveon Clowney's progress through the first couple of weeks) "I think it's good. I think he enjoys being out there. It's been over a year, I guess, since he's been on the field. He's excited about being out on the field with the gang and competing and those kinds of things."
(on how involved he is in discussions with the trainers in knowing how he can plan to use OLB Jadeveon Clowney) "They let me know what he can and cannot do and we act accordingly. I really don't have any input. That's why we have doctors and trainers because they've experienced it and they know what system needs to be in place for him to get back to the field, so that's what we're trying to get done, get him back to the field."
(on the mental part of playing outside linebacker that OLB Jadeveon Clowney has missed) "He's still a rookie in that aspect because he's starting all over again. I think that he's going to be enthusiastic, but he's going to make mistakes. We have to live with those mistakes until he can get to the point where he gets better at it."
(on if the competition is still wide open at strong safety or if he's settling on a starter) "I think we have a great competition going on at that position. I think it's going to go down to the wire. They're making it tough on us to make a decision. We've tried to give all of them quite a few reps so that they can put on tape what their abilities are. We still have got a couple of weeks – a week and a half or whatever – so we'll let it play out and see."
(on how he thinks NT Vince Wilfork is doing) "Well I think that Vince brings a lot of experience and leadership to the team. He is able to help the young guys and talk to them about technique, talk to them about how they should progress as far as being a pro football player. I think that's very important for the team. I think Vince has still got it. He still can line up out there and make plays. We're encouraged by that and we're looking forward to having him out there in the regular season."
(on what it's like coaching veteran free agents like S Stevie Brown that have been around the block and have dealt with injuries) "Any time a guy is coming off an injury, he's always apprehensive about how that injury is going to hold up. Stevie has been able to get out on the field during training camp. I think that he's represented himself well and he's in that competition. I think that he's a smart guy because he's got that experience. That's beneficial to him. He'll let it play out also."
(on his thoughts on NT Louis Nix III's struggles early in 2014 and what DT Christian Covington has been able to do so far) "I'll start with Louis. I think Louis has improved. He's working. We didn't get a chance to see him work a whole lot last year, but he's working hard. He's shown improvement on the field. We still have a ways to go, but he's working at it and improving. Covington, he's a local kid who has come in here and I think he's done a good job trying to learn the system because the system is a different system for him. He's sharp as far as football goes. He's got a little knack on third downs sometimes to being able to get into the pocket. If he continues to grow with the system, I think that he might have a chance."
(on the progression of CB Kevin Johnson and what he's seen from him) "Kevin, he's a young man that is the right kind of young man. He's got a good attitude, competitive guy, he works hard, wants to do good, and he has some abilities that allow him to do good. He's got some quickness. He can transition. I think that will benefit him once the regular season starts. He is a rookie as well. What I've experienced in this league is that they pick on rookies and rookies have to learn. We'll see how he handles it when the other guys start picking on him. If he can pick off passes, then it'll be good."
(on ILB Brian Cushing and where he sees the most improvement now that he's healthy) "In his movement skills because he's coming off a couple of knees that he had back-to-back and that slowed him down. But he's moving very well this camp. I think that he is enjoying the fact that he can move the way he used to move. I think that gives him a lot of confidence in what he can do and how he plays the game."
(on how excited he is with all the pieces of his defense as they approach the start of the season) "Like I tell them, if they do good, then I'm excited. If they don't do good, then I'm not as excited, you know? I think that, like J.J. (Watt) said, we've got some pieces in place that if everybody can stay healthy, I think we can be competitive."
(on if all the defensive pieces have to play in a preseason game together to be an effective unit for the regular season) "Not necessarily. They are in practice every day together. They learn a lot from practice."
(on if he saw his defense settle in down the stretch last year in understanding the scheme and if he thinks they can pick up where they left off) "I hope so, and that's the goal, and not to have to start all the way over because last year they didn't know the system. They didn't know me. I didn't know them. We grew together as the season went on and did pretty good towards the end. Hopefully we won't have to go back to stage one and re-do it all over again. That's the goal, to be good early."
Offensive Coordinator George Godsey
(on what he's seen from QB Brian Hoyer this offseason and in training camp) "He's been consistent, showing up first every day, taking the coaching, going out there and communicating between, not only just coach-to-player and player-to-coach, but also player-to-player and getting on the same page with each position. I mean, as a new player at any position, there's a lot on your table right away. Not only just learning the scheme, but also familiarizing yourself with your teammates and he's done that. He's been first class with the way he's approached it too."
(on if he will adjust the offensive system to fit QB Brian Hoyer) "Well, I think with each player, that's a good point, because whether it's a running back, that particular running back that's in the game, or that particular tight end, quarterback, or receivers depending on how many of them are, I think you got to maximize their talents and what their strengths are. It's a lot of time in there prepping for the game because we want to make sure we put the players in the best position."
(on QB Ryan Fitzpatrick saying he learned more with the Texans last year then he did the rest of his career) "We put a lot of time into meeting with the quarterbacks. No matter starter or backup, you know, first-year guy, and we take a lot of pride in it. Each rep out in practice is very difficult going against our defense. We got a lot of different situations, so we take pride in giving them the best tools that they can go out there and execute. It's not always perfect, but we're going to put the time in, so that they have the opportunity."
(on FB Jay Prosch and the role of fullbacks shrinking around the NFL) "It is to a degree. I would say that the fullback in any offense brings an element of toughness if you can do your job well. So that's one thing he's done. He's been able to block for us well. I can't tell you he's going to be out there 60 plays a game, but that's definitely an element of the offense that, from a defensive standpoint having to get ready for a physical player, it helps us as far as our multiplicity on offense."
(on having a new quarterback and multiple new wide receivers this season) "Each year is a new year. With new players, we approach it whether they're returning players, for example the tight end position we have a lot of returning players, and at the receiver position, we have some new players. We approach it the same way. We start from square one and we build from there. You can watch a game tape and have an idea how a certain player plays and then when you get him out there at practice and your repping 60 team plays, you have a better idea. Then hopefully by the end of training camp, which is our goal offensively, to maximize what they're doing well and then put them in that spot."
(on how he will manage the playing time of QB Brian Hoyer and QB Ryan Mallett this weekend) "I mean, we'll talk about that as a staff. Then we'll just make our decision based on what we need to see out of them."
(on how much the first unit will play) "We'll see. We go into the game each game, we talk about it a couple days before the game. We're going to go ahead – right now, we're in training camp mode even though we're preparing for New Orleans. But once we get to our preseason game plan as far as what we're going to do for New Orleans, then we'll decide how much or what we need to see out of them. Once we get it, we'll just go from there."
(on what he wants to see against New Orleans this weekend) "I want to see execution up front. I think from a line standpoint, we want to come out and make sure assignment's sound. There's no negative runs in the passing game. We protect who we need to up front, then we deliver the ball to who the open receiver is. Trying to stay on schedule, I mean that's always a goal. We don't want to be first-and-long or second-and-long because of a penalty or a negative play. Not to look in the rearview mirror but those were some of the things we saw last week. Then, offensively we want to run a lot of plays because from a coaching standpoint, we're still in evaluation mode. The team hasn't been determined, so we still have a couple more games left and we're evaluating how they do out in the game."
(on WR Jaelen Strong and being a rookie receiver) "He had his issues in the spring as far as getting out there. I'll say this, he's been out there every day in the fall. He showed up in shape and he's improved daily. A route runner and a receiver in this offense, it can be overbearing at times. Not to mention just some of the adjustments, the alignments and then the route trees that those players have, along with just being a rookie I think has really jumped on him quickly. Now, 21 days into camp, we see some improvement. We've seen him make plays. Yesterday was probably one of his better days. That's encouraging."
(on the offensive line) "I just think that every offensive unit goes how your offensive line goes. That's really the strength of our team. We have a lot of returners there. We have one new starter at guard. We have a guard that's now a center. Those are the type of things that you just like to be as consistent as possible there, so in the running game and in the passing game, we give everybody a shot to get positive yards."
(on T Jeff Adams filing in for G Xavier Su-a-Filo) "Yeah I mean, with Xavier, when he's out there, we'll see what he looks like. So, when he gets out there then we'll see how he does. With Jeff, he's been out there every day. He's been here the whole offseason, put in a lot of time. I like the way he thinks. They communicate well. He's done a good job for us this training camp."
(on T Derek Newton) "Well, we got him back here for a reason. He's been playing some tackle for us. We've put him in there at guard with some of the things that we've had situationally. We put him over at left tackle and haven't heard one gripe from him. He has a 'Coach me, coach' attitude. Even though we coach that position, that whole group, (Offensive Line Coach) Mike Devlin does a great job and coaches them hard. He's come to work every day. I couldn't ask any more from Derek this preseason."
(on QB Brian Hoyer playing well at the beginning of last season and struggling to finish it) "That was last year. Just kind of going off of what I've seen from him this year is this guy's a competitor. Sometimes maybe too much and some of his chances he takes, as far as our liking, but we love the way he commands the huddle. We love the way he gets that group going. The two-minute situations and some of the critical situations, got-to-have-it situations that we put him in in practice, he's done a great job with. He's succeeded. We give him, 'Here's a ball at the 10-yard line and there's two seconds left.' It's not like we're giving him cupcake situations. He's taking it and he's run with it. I imagine that's kind of how he's been. I know I've only been with him a couple years, one here and at a previous stop, but that's kind of how he's been since I've known him."
(on how he can prevent quarterbacks from taking too many chances) "I think coaching-wise we can control it. I think that's the first thing. Then, the teaching tool is the video. We do things as a unit and so if it's a negative play, that affects the unit, then everybody knows that. So that's the way we put pressure on that position."
(on if the team has considered using the eye camera that's used on QB Tom Savage on the older quarterbacks) "Yeah, I mean, any tool that we can have for them. There's certain things I'm working on Tom with that, so there's sort of a level of progression in the teaching. We're doing that, not only for our own self-evaluation, but also just kind of where his eyes are exactly when he has those glasses on. I know he doesn't like them on."