HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN
What are your thoughts on today's practice?
"Good work. Good start."
Do you have any updates on the guys who weren't practicing?
"No, no updates on injuries. No updates on anything. We're off to a good start."
Was DE J.J. Watt here today?
"He was here today. We've had just about close to 100 percent attendance for the first five weeks, today being day one of phase three. We've had just about 100 percent attendance. If there wasn't 100 percent attendance, it was something where a guy had a family matter or something like that. Our guys are doing a great job of participating in a voluntary program."
How did the new receivers do today getting to work with some of the veterans?
"They did a good job. They've got a long way to go."
What did you see out of QB Brock Osweiler today?
"He got off to a good start today, just like everybody else did."
Can you talk about how OLB Jadeveon Clowney is doing and your expectations for him?
"He's out there today working hard. He took a bunch of reps, just like everybody else that was out there today practicing. They all got off to a good start."
What constitutes a 'good start' to you?
"He was out there with his teammates, working hard, taking good reps, being able to carry the information from the meeting to the walkthrough to the field, just like every one of those guys out there. We got off to a good start today."
What should OLB Jadeveon Clowney be able to do better going into this third year?
"I'm not going to get into a deal where I'm talking about every player on the roster. I think all of our guys – what is it May 23rd? They all got off to a good start today in the first day of phase three and we're just taking it one day at a time."
Did any players drop weight this offseason and come back in better shape?
"I don't really know."
Can you talk about the cameras you had out at practice and some of the new things you're trying in regards to sports science?
"We hired Erik Korem as a director of sports science. He's a guy that works with the Catapult company. He was out there today. We're trying to, again, do what's best for our players, trying to maximize peak performance. That's one way we can do it."
How do you help your rookie receivers with the NFL learning curve?
"I think as a rookie, no matter what position you play, no matter what team you play for, I think it's a very difficult transition. I don't think it matters what position you play. I don't think it matters what team you play for, what system you're in. I think that's a very difficult transition."
Can you talk about not having videographers out at practice anymore and your new digital system?
"We still have videographers. We just have a lot more ability to do ground video. We went to a system where we can run it from the ground and we get a lot higher quality of video. We get a lot higher quality, HD, so to speak, video where we can really see it very well. That was just something we felt would help us. We still have our video guys on the ground doing a lot of ground-level video."
How much does having stability at kicker and on special teams help this year?
"I think anytime you have continuity that helps, especially in the kicking game. But we have a kicker, named (Ka'imi) Fairbairn that'll be back and competing with Nick (Novak)."
Can you explain to fans a little about this time of year and what you hope to accomplish?
"It's a nine-week program, first of all, so you have to go all the way back. It's a nine-week program, so it's divided up into three phases. The first phases is a two-week phase where all you can do is strength and conditioning and meet with them. You can't do anything on the field with them football coaching wise. The second phase is a three-week phase in which now you can not only meet with them and strength and condition with them, but you can now go out on the field, but you can't do anything against each other. There's no helmets or anything like that. It's basically on-air type of drills with the coaching staff. This is phase three, which is a four-week phase where now you can go out there in helmets, no pads and do things against each other, but you have to limit the contact. There really is no contact, it's not even about limiting the contact. There is no contact. So that's basically what it is and it's still much closer to a practice-like atmosphere than the first two phases."
Was there anything different you did this year with OTAs and practice that you wanted to change?
"I think we look at everything we do. We've made a lot of changes. We've made a lot of changes obviously coaching staff wise. We've made a lot of changes personal-wise on our football team. Every year is different. I'm not going to get into every single of change that we've made. But everything that we try to do is to correct some things that weren't very good last year or try to help – like with the sports science, try to help the performance of the players on the field. We've made a lot of changes."
What is the goal for the team during these practices?
"I think the goal is that in all three phases that we have a good understanding of what we're trying to do, that we stay healthy, and that we're closer to being the team that we want to be then we were today."
How much does it help to have the quarterback situation completely settled this year?
"We've been working well together for five weeks now. Every year is different. We're in a different year. We feel good about where we are right now, as far as being five weeks into an offseason program. Again, it's only May but we got off to a good start today. Guys competed. Both sides of the ball made plays today. Special teams got a little better. We have a really good work ethic on this team and that's what they need to keep doing, working hard."
What have you seen from Special Teams Coordinator Larry Izzo?
"He's very smart. He's a very hard worker. He's got a very good grasp of special teams. He was a 14-year player and will probably go down as one of the best special teams' players to ever play in this league. He's worked under some really good head coaches and special teams coordinators. He came highly recommended to me by a couple of special teams' coordinators in our league. I think he's off to a really good start. He does a good job communicating with the players. We're off to a good start with that phase."
In terms of the sports science, how much has your thinking on that changed since you became a head coach in the NFL?
"I would not say that I'm an expert in sports science. I'm not an expert in anything. I think that what we've tried to do is bring Erik Korem in here to try to help us with player workloads, sleep habits, nutrition, scripting in certain instances. He's kind of branches into a lot of different areas. He's a very bright guy. We're starting off really slow with him. We're not trying to throw the whole kitchen sink at our players because that's a big part of it. The players need to buy into it. But I think so far, so good."
When the rosters are as big as they are right now, how much longer or harder is it to evaluate practices?
"I watch every single rep, every drill with the staff. We go up there right now. I'm probably going to be late because I'm in here. So at 1:30 p.m. we're going to meet, but I'm probably late to that, like I said. We'll begin to watch it and then this afternoon when the players are gone, we'll watch and finish it up. We watch every single rep."
G JEFF ALLEN
How comfortable are you in the offense and is there any carry over from Kansas City?
"At the end of the day, it's football. But there are some details and some little things that I'm learning as I go on. I'm taking it day by day. Every day I learn something new. My teammates are carrying me along."
What kind of roommate was OLB Whitney Mercilus at Illinois?
"Whitney was a great roommate and he's a great teammate."
Who was the neat one between you and OLB Whitney Mercilus?
"That was a while ago. I'd probably say I was the neat one."
The Texans wanted to get meaner and more physical up front, what did you show them last year that made them think you would bring that style?
"I think I'm relentless. I really don't know what I showed them. You're going to have to ask Coach (Bill) O'Brien and the scouting department about that. I go out there every day, every practice, every game and I give my all. I try to do that and show my teammates that."
Do you think Bill O'Brien saw some nastiness from you in the playoff game?
"You'd have to ask coach about that. That was last year. I'm a Texan now. I don't want to talk about the Chiefs."
Were you and OLB Whitney Mercilus paired together or did you chose each other?
"We chose each other. Me and Whitney came in together back in 2008 at Illinois. We kind of hit it off. We became friends and we're still friends."
What do you remember about OLB Whitney Mercilus from back then?
"I just remember how hard he worked. You want to be around people like that because it rubs off on you. We learned a lot from each other. I would say he's one of the hardest working guys I've seen, so I like that about him."
How much do you think your roots growing up in Chicago effect how you play now?
"Growing up, it was kind of tough. When it comes to football, it's a game. I go out there and have fun. Anytime there is a situation that has to do with adversity, it doesn't bother me."
OLB JADEVEON CLOWNEY
Do you feel ready to pick up where you left off last season?
"Oh yeah, I feel great. After two seasons I think I just got healthy enough to be where I need to be."
What do you have to do to be able to dominate the way you want to?
"Just come back and work hard, just learn the playbook and keep on going, keep working hard and show the guys I'm ready to go."
Are you 100 percent?
How much more comfortable are you mentally?
"I'm very comfortable this year. I think I got the defense down and now I'm just figuring out what everybody else does around me so I can know the weaknesses of our defense and where to help at."
Did you need surgery on your foot?
"No, I'm fine."
Was it frustrating for you to not be able to stay on the field for an entire season?
"Of course it's frustrating. It feels like you're letting the team down when you're not out there. Injuries happen, you've just got to be mentally tough to come back and show the guys you are ready to play."
What do you think if you were able to come back and get in the pass rush mix?
"I think it'd be great. We work on this every day at practice and we know what we've got up front, we just have to get after it, after the team and rush the passer."
WR DeANDRE HOPKINS
How was it to get all the receivers out there on the field today?
"It was great seeing those guys work at the tempo that we work at, just getting acclimated to this weather out here was cool."
Talk about the quarterbacks and how it was going offense vs. defense?
"Came out, some things we've got to work on, some things we did good. First day out, so you know it's not going to be the best. You're not going to get our best showing today, but we did good. I would say Brock (Osweiler) led us, the receivers paid attention, all of us were helping each other out there. Some guys first time playing pro football, so just getting used to the tempo that we work at and I think we did good."
What do you notice about QB Brock Osweiler's confidence?
"He operates like a pros' pro. He comes out and he demands the best out of everybody, offensive line, fullbacks, even the guys that aren't even in the huddle. He's a natural leader."
It's got to help you guys offensively knowing who your quarterback is.
"I don't really want to talk about last year, but since you asked, we thought we knew who our quarterback was going into last year."
You look more streamlined, did you drop weight in the offseason? You teased the other day about adding speed for this season.
"That was for a brand I'm working with, adding speed for the season, that didn't have anything to do personally with myself, but yeah always, that's a goal with everybody who plays a pro sport is to get stronger and faster and work on things that you lack."
So you've lost weight?
"No, I would say I've gained weight, gained more muscle."
Is there a balance now in how much time you spend helping the young guys and how much you spend working on your game?
"Last year I kind of had the same role even though we had Nate Washington in the room, a guy who's been in the league longer than a lot of us times two, but still the mentality that I have is to be a leader on and off the field no matter who's in there, a vet or a rookie. I don't think balancing is a problem. I'm going to go out there and do my job no matter what and lead by example."
It looked like there was a good difference in WR Jaelen Strong from where he was at this time a year ago, what did you see from him out there and how much progress have you seen?
"Jaelen's been working all offseason, even during what he was going through, he was working. The next day that that happened to him I'm pretty sure I talked to him and he was talking about going to work out, so that really didn't affect him at all. I knew it wouldn't, but he's coming out and he's playing with a chip on his shoulder for sure."
Talk about the development you've seen from QB Tom Savage.
"Tom always had that chip on his shoulder. He plays the game with a lot confidence and I mean he's developing – year three for him now, mastering this offense a little better. It's in him, it's been in him, so he'll be all right."
OLB WHITNEY MERCILUS
What do you have to do to pick up where you left off last year?
"Pretty much just continue to enhance the things that I did well, improve the things I didn't pretty much, just continue on the type of work ethic that I had last year and in the ways that I excel."
What happened to you where you just took off as a pass rusher towards the end of the year?
"Honestly, I mean as a whole defense within the middle of the season, we got a little talking to by the coach, by OB (Bill O'Brien), and he said we need to get the thing going, so I just felt like personally as a player I've got to step up my game and try to help the team win. That's exactly what happened."
What are some examples of things you did well and not well last year?
"Things I didn't do well, I'd say be consistent, especially in the first half of the year and even transitioning into the second half of the year last year. Things I did do well was switch up pass rush moves, set the edge, things like that and got better at understanding formations of offenses and things like that."
What do you remember about being roommates with G Jeff Allen? He said he was the neat one.
"Oh he said that? I think it was the opposite."
Do you have any stories from being roommates with G Jeff Allen?
"None that I can really share probably, but no Jeff was a great guy in college and we just gravitated towards each other and especially on the field, just getting work with each other and stuff like that. It's like iron sharpens iron and pretty much every day got a chance to go against him. He got me better, so that's why I'm here now."
How competitive were those one on ones in practices?
"Man, they were heated. We got into a couple scuffles. He'd be pulling me by my jersey I'd be like, 'hey bro, chill. I'm coming after you next play.' So it'd be stupid things like that."
How much has Linebackers Coach Mike Vrabel contributed to your development over the years?
"Greatly, for a person who played 14 years in the league, understands exactly from the point of view of players right now and to be able to share that with us, it helps us greatly especially in the pass rush and setting the edge and things like that, also giving us a chance to recognize things that offenses are doing."
What are the keys to the defense having a faster start than last year?
"I'd say pretty much being able to be on the same page, building a chemistry that we have on the defense. We've got a lot of the same guys coming back and just trying to bring along the rookies as well and what we need to do is just improve in areas of communication, being on the same page, making sure all 11 guys are on the same page on the field from day one."
Last year you and DE J.J. Watt were the most prolific pass rushing duo in the league, what would it mean for OLB Jadeveon Clowney to reach that level too?
"It would just mean we're adding more to the arsenal. Clowney is a talented player no doubt and we've seen his flashes and everything. He's going to be coming along, and for him to add to the mix, it'd be great and allow us to have a chance to win games."
Will your performance last year give Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel the confidence to use you in different ways?
"I think so, Romeo is great at utilizing the strengths of players and putting them in the position they need to be in order to be successful, and definitely he'll continue to do that this year."
QB BROCK OSWEILER
How was it being able to incorporate all the guys out there today and how did the new receivers look?
"It was fantastic, this is what football is all about. It's about putting on the helmets, calling a play in the huddle, breaking the huddle and actually going out there and running it against an opponent. Today was a lot of fun, finally get out there and get the bullets flying a little bit. Like I said, speaking the language, calling plays, running through cadences, making MIKE (linebacker) points, it was just a lot of fun getting back to work and really going against a defense today."
Is this a good test for you to see where you are with the playbook?
"Absolutely, it's like making the perfect recipe if you will. You've got to add this ingredient, this ingredient and this ingredient, a formation, a protection, a route concept and then a cadence at the line of scrimmage and reading the defense and you're exactly right. It's a great test to see your knowledge of the offense and just working through progressions, finding your check downs and like all my previous other OTAs, day one there's some good plays and then there's some learning plays, some plays you wish you had back. Bottom line, that's why we're out here practicing right now and as long as you learn from those bad plays that's part of the process."
What have your interactions with fans around the city been like?
"Well I would say the Houston Texans fans are very excited about the 2016 football season and just like the coaches and players are as well. We're all excited to get this thing started and just being around town and mingling with some fans and people like that, it's been fantastic. You can really feel the vibe out there, but bottom line there's a lot of work to do before the season starts and it's just exciting to get underway with day one today."
How do you feel about the timing and chemistry you're building with receivers?
"It's growing every single day and every single day matters, every rep matters, every rep is important. Just like I said prior, there's going to be some good plays and then I don't necessarily call them bad plays, I call them learning experiences and those are going to be incompletions, interceptions, were we on the same page, were we not on the same page and then that's why you - there's a couple pieces to the puzzle. It's installing in the morning and then it's going out there and walking through it on the field then actually repping it full speed and for a lot of guys, it's our first time maybe repping that play. So you're not really sure what's going to happen, then you go into the film room a couple minutes from now and we watch it as a unit and we try to get on the same page and we keep repping that. That's really the phase that we're in right now. We're learning in the classroom, we're repping it one or two times and then we're trying to learn from it and get on the same page."
How important was it to get out early with WR DeAndre Hopkins and start getting to work?
"It's very important. Like I just said, every rep, every look, every conversation about a route, a protection, a play, a concept is extremely important. The clock's ticking. It's hard to believe that we're already into phase three and like I said we put on the helmets today, we went out there and we practiced for the first time, but bottom line like I said, the fact that I was able to get the receivers to come out to Arizona way back in April and get some work, it was a great jump start but that's all it was. It was a great jump start and we still have a lot of work to do."
How much more are you doing as the starting quarterback this offseason than in previous years?
"I'm just trying to submerge myself, just jump into the deep end and just get to work, just start swimming if you will. It started in Arizona. I take that back, it started with signing with the team and then reaching out to everybody who was on the team via text message and then bringing those receivers to Arizona, getting to know those guys as people and as athletes, then coming back and starting phase one here in Houston and getting to know teammates, doing some things off the field and over the weekends then like I said getting a lot of work in whether that be here at the facility or going over to the University of Houston and throwing routes over there. Like I said, I've just tried to submerge myself with my new teammates as much as I possibly can to get to know them as people and then also what this football team is going to be about."
How is Bill O'Brien different from Gary Kubiak as a coach?
"You know I really don't want to compare the two coaches. They're both phenomenal people and phenomenal coaches. Bottom line, today was my first experience in a practice environment with Coach O'Brien and I loved it. I loved his energy, I loved his fire. He kept us on task and he expects a lot out of us which as a player you love. Sometimes he's going to get on you, which he should. I had a couple turnovers today. I'm going to chop those up as learning experiences. I'm going to make sure they don't happen again, but I want him to be on me. I don't want that to be acceptable. It's a lot of fun being out there with Coach O'Brien. He's a phenomenal football coach. He's very smart and he's a lot of fun to be around."