HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN**
Can you talk about the advantage of having a guy like Will Fuller V that can run a 4.3 and also the disadvantage that brings a defense?
"As it relates to Fuller himself, I think there's a lot more than speed that goes into it with him. Obviously that's a dominant trait that he has, but the other things that he has is that he's a good route runner. Now, he's got a long way to go. I know that sounds crazy to you guys, but he's got a long way to go. I mean he can improve in so many different areas. If you just have a guy that can just run straight ahead and run go routes, that's one thing relative to a guy that can do that plus have a pretty expansive route tree, that's another thing. That's what we're trying to work with Will."
Can you talk a little bit about the importance of winning the turnover battle against Minnesota?
"I think there's two big keys to this game. One is handling that environment. It's going to be very loud. You can see that in the Giants game. It's a brand new stadium. Beautiful stadium it looks like.
They're playing well. They're 4-0. Their crowd is into it, so that's a big key. Being able to handle the noise, especially on offense. And then the other key, which is really big, is - I think last time I checked they have 12 or 13 takeaways. Special teams and defense. I think ball security is a premium. There's no doubt about it. One hundred percent ball security has to be one of our goals and then trying to take the ball away from them if we can is a big part of what we're trying to do too."
What have you seen from Vikings QB Sam Bradford in terms of a assimilating quickly and making good decisions?
"He's a good player. To come in when he did, which I think was basically after training camp or right near the end and to be able to go in there and run Coach (Norv) Turner's offense, that says a lot about him and he's doing it very well. He's a very accurate passer, very bright guy. I mean he's an extremely accurate passer. I think that's his number one quality in addition to his, obviously being a highly intelligent guy to be able to do what he's doing. Got a lot of respect for Sam. Have never met the guy, but just watching him play and watching how he carries himself, got a lot of respect for him."
With the opportunity that Texans DE Devon Still had, how tough was it to see him get injured?
"Yeah it's tough. I actually haven't even seen him because we were waiting on a diagnosis. As soon as they diagnosed it, they went and operated on it. I think that it's a tough thing. Obviously Devon being a Penn State guy and what he's gone through the past couple years with his daughter Leah. We feel for the guy. He did a good job for us while he was here and I'm sure he'll come back from this and play more football in this league."
How much of a boost is it to get Texans WR Braxton Miller back and have him in the slot?
"It's important to have everybody healthy. I think health is probably one of the keys to a successful season, so as many guys as you can have healthy is important. With Braxton, this was a guy that was coming along pretty well and then hamstring. Coming back from the hamstring, he's got to get back into the swing of things. Looked like he was back into it today and had a decent practice."
Can you talk about the toughness that CB Kareem Jackson and TE C.J. Fiedorowicz bring to the field?
"They're team guys. They're tough. They care about winning. They care about getting out there. They're the type of guys that missing practice kills them. They don't want to see their teammates out there working while they're on the side and they could possibly be doing something. Both those guys are good team guys."
Offensively this week, it seemed like there was more tempo. Does that come from getting all of the pieces together over the past couple of weeks?
"It depends on the game. I think that one of the things about good offensive football is getting into a rhythm. Doesn't necessarily mean that you have to be going ultra-fast all the time, but it means that you need to get into a rhythm. Part of it, I was saying Monday, was getting off to a good start. Getting off to a good start on the drive. If you can have a positive gain to start a drive then you're probably going to have a pretty successful drive and get into that rhythm. As far as the tempo and how we played Tennessee, that may not be the way that we play Minnesota. Different personnel, different game plan, different defense. This is the first time we've played a 4-3 team. Basically a true 4-3 team this year, which is a lot different for our players. We've been seeing a lot of 3-4 and under fronts and things like that. It's a totally different team."
Can you talk about some of your players meeting with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner yesterday?
"I think it was great. Mr. (Robert C.) McNair set that up with Mayor Turner and everything that I heard that happened in that meeting was very productive. People really had very calm discussions coming from all different types of backgrounds. I give a lot of credit to Mayor Turner and the city of Houston. This is obviously one of the biggest cities in this country. I think it's the fourth largest city in the country. To be the mayor of this city is a big deal and there's a lot of different things he has to deal with. Mr. McNair bringing our players over there with Rick (Smith) and those guys was really good."
What has allowed WR Will Fuller V to contribute as much as he has?
"I think it's a good question. I'll tell you this is what we were hoping for him early on, was him to be able to be productive because in my experience it has been very difficult for rookie receivers to really come on and be productive right away. I think there's a lot of factors to that. Number one is the guy himself, Will. He's a very bright guy. Very hard working guy. Really understands football. He's an instinctive player. He's done a good job of taking care of his body. Being able to be out there at practice every day. I think the college program that he comes from, Notre Dame, trained him very well in how to practice and how to do things off the field, so I think he was trained very well at Notre Dame. Then he came here and Sean Ryan, George Godsey and Brock (Osweiler) have done a really good job with the guy of getting him going in the offense. The key is for him to continue to improve and to not rest on any, whatever you think are laurels, not rest on any laurels and keep trying to get better."
How can speed like WR Will Fuller V has impact a defense?
"It depends on if the speed that you have on offense is being used. If you have speed out there, but the guys not getting the ball then what good is it to have speed? It depends on the production of the guy that has speed. And then what it does to a defense basically is dependent on what type of defense, what type of personnel they have. Do they have people that can run with this guy or these guys or whoever they are? Does it force them to change what type of coverage? Does it help you in the running game? Do they go to more of a double coverage over that receiver where maybe that loosens up the running game for you? We haven't seen a whole lot of that yet. We've seen a lot of, especially last week with Tennessee, trying to take Hop (DeAndre Hopkins) out of the game. That's what we've been seeing. We saw a lot of that last year and we have to continue to help Hop get open and the other guys need to continue to be productive."
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR GEORGE GODSEY
How does it affect the opposing defense when you have a guy like WR Will Fuller V?
"It does a lot, not just from a passing standpoint but from a running standpoint. You have to keep a safety back. When you can threaten the deep part of the field, those safeties tend to get a little bit deeper – it seems to be by game. So, the running game is affected by it and also the passing game. When you can put a player and stretch the length of the field like we're doing with Will, it creates a lot of options for us."
What do you see from the Vikings' front seven and what they're able to do with blitzing and being physical?
"Well, you're dealing with a lot of talented players. They're producing a lot of sacks, a lot of tackles in the running game. You put it together with a very good scheme that those players know well. It's a productive defense. Obviously, scoring in the first four games against them has been difficult. Putting up a lot of sacks and putting pressure on the quarterback. It's a big challenge."
With Head Coach Bill O'Brien changing his role on gamedays, how are things different for you during the week?
"Billy and I have had a relationship for a long time. We work together every game plan, there's a collaboration, not just with us but within the staff. Nothing has really changed day-to-day as far as preparation against an opponent. Still a lot to handle between the quarterback and the other positions. That's where the main focus is now."
Why did you guys make such a conscious effort to get faster on offense?
"Well, I think some of those things that we try to put the defense in a bind, we were having some issues last year as far as horizontally and vertically. Lamar (Miller) running the football, he's been able to hit the edges on some plays that may be a little bit cloudy on the inside. When you can put the defense in all those binds, I think that it opens things up for you play-action-wise, direct run-wise, and then obviously as you work your pass concepts."
How important is it for you to get WR DeAndre Hopkins involved early?
"He's very talented and he's definitely one of our go-to guys. When you look at their defense, it's not just defensive backs, it's everybody contributing to their effective defensive play. It starts up front. I think the line of scrimmage is a big thing. Like I said, it's a tough challenge on the road but we're working at it right now. It's one day in. We have a couple more to prepare."
How important was it to get WR Braxton Miller back and make sure you get him ready?
"He'll provide some of that ability on the inside for us. But also for himself, he needs to be out there. He's a young player. Young, obviously, learning the position but also as an NFL player. The more he gets out there the better he'll be. It's good to see him back out there at practice."
T DUANE BROWN
How are you feeling?
"Today felt pretty good. Just trying to stack good days consecutively. Very encouraged by what happened today. As of now, I think I will be good to go."
How excited are you at the possibility of playing this Sunday?
"Very excited. I love this game. I love to be out there with my teammates. I love competing, so being sidelined for almost nine months now, eight months, it's been tough, so I'm glad I'm finally at this moment."
So you are playing this Sunday?
"As of now it looks like it. Today went very well, very encouraged by what happened today. Like I said, just trying to make sure I respond well tomorrow. Get in another good day and decide from there."
How difficult was this process and the rehab for you? It seems like it was a long and grueling process.
"It was very difficult. This is the toughest injury I've had in my career and I had it going into year nine. It's taxing on your body. Mentally, I had the right frame of mind going into it. It's just been a grind. Hats off to our trainers. They have done a great job with me all year. I'm just glad I'm finally at this point. I'm feeling confident in it and that's the main thing."
What needs to happen to know you are definitely playing on Sunday?
"Today was the toughest day I've had just pushing it as much as I have to make sure tomorrow I feel good waking up and it responds well to today. Tomorrow will be another tough day. I will be able to have a good idea from there."
If there are no setbacks, will you go on Sunday?
Is it flexibility, is it strength? What exactly is going on that you need to improve?
"Mostly strength. That's been a process throughout the year, just getting the strength as close to equal to my left one. Other than that, just being confident in my technique, being able to take the same steps that I took before without overcompensating for it and just feeling confident in it. That's where I am right now."
What about coming back against the Vikings defense?
"Yes, that's a big test. They have a lot of great players on that side of the ball. At the defensive end position, Everson Griffen is playing pretty well. He's done pretty well throughout his career. They have a young guy that's backing him up that is pretty good as well. Very experienced group. That's a tough environment to play in as well out there in Minnesota. I'm up to the challenge. I'm not too concerned about what I'm facing, more so about my own ability to do it."
What about Vikings LB Anthony Barr and the type of blitzer he is?
"He's a great, young player. Like I said, they just have a great collective unit at every level. Defensive line, linebackers, secondary – they have a collectively great group of players. (Anthony) Barr does a great job of blitzing from that linebacker position whether it's on the edge or inside. Very athletic."
What about Vikings DT Linval Joseph up front?
"Very tough. Their two defensive tackles inside are a big part of what they do. Linval Joseph is a pretty big guy, about 330 pounds or so, and has a pretty good variety of moves. Main thing is power. He does a good job of stuffing the middle."
You guys have zero rushing touchdowns on the season. Do you think you are that missing piece to get the ball in the end zone?
"I'm just one of five men out there trying to do my job. I will try to do what I can from a leadership standpoint and bringing my experience to the group. Other than that, it's a collective effort. I just want to go out there and do my job. We have to stick to the run. We have to be successful in the run game in order to win out there. You don't want to get into a drop back, 45-50 pass attempt game against those guys on the road. I think it's something we've really placed a point of emphasis on this week, getting in the end zone running the ball would be good."
Are the Vikings proof that you can win being a defensive-oriented team?
"I think it's the strength of their team, but you can't take anything away from their offense. Sam Bradford has done a great job of taking care of the ball. They do a good job of running the ball well. But, the defense is the strength right now. That can be the formula – having a great defense, not turning the ball over and getting some yards in the run game. It's a great formula and they do it well. So, we have to be able to combat that. We know our defense will go out there and play well. We have to match them."
Now that you have had time to reflect, how do you feel about the time you spent with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner yesterday?
"It was a great meeting. I thank the organization and Bob (McNair) for helping facilitate that. I thank Mayor Turner and all of the parities involved for taking time out of their schedule to meet with us. It was very productive. I think everyone learned a lot about each other, about just the process and everything that is going on and how we can be proactive in our community to prevent things from happening. I'm looking forward to working with them more and being active in the community."
Did you accomplish what you wanted to?
"Yeah, definitely. We had some great dialogue. We got to express some things that were on our minds; they expressed some things that they had to say. We just got an understanding. That's what it was all about. Just getting an understanding of each other and, like I said, being proactive and working together to go out in the community and get some great things done."
T Chris Clark was saying you could be an example for other cities.
"Yeah, I think Houston has done a great job and we have to continue to do a great job of building up our community, all areas, rich and underserved communities and other places could take notice and see what we are doing. Just trying to be a good example. That's all what's all about."
T CHRIS CLARK
What was the goal in meeting with city officials yesterday?
"I think us as Texans, if we can be seen with police officers and things like that, kids will be able to have more of a respect for that occupation. We respect them very much and I think that kids seeing that, it will pull it closer."
How do you feel about Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, the police chief and other members of their team spending more than two hours with you and Texans executives?
"It was amazing. We thanked them for taking time out of their busy schedule to meet with us and like I said, having those same things in mind, doing it for the community, was a great sigh of relief. We're just going to build from there."
What can come from the collaboration between an NFL franchise and its home city?
"Great things because it's contagious. Other cities maybe will see it and they can tend to do things like that as well. I think it's a contagious thing where a lot of people can learn from it. Have to get it started and then people can see it and then we can build from there."
You mentioned that seeing police as people who will help you as opposed to hurt you is important. Can you explain what bridge needs to be gapped because there's a big segment of society that doesn't have great feelings towards the police right now?
"It's like that. A lot of people, depending on the way you grew up. Things like that tend to happen. Negative views toward police officers. Like I said, seeing Texans players with police officers, we even discussed about getting a basketball game together. Things like that. You never know what ideas they can come up with where we all can benefit from this and the city of Houston will grow stronger. That's the plan. That was the mayor's plan. That was everybody's that was there. Organization. Police chief. Everybody's plan was to build a stronger Houston."
I don't know if this is stemming from the 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick situation, but do you feel that progress is being made?
"Progress is definitely being made on all accounts. It's one of those things where guys are doing what they believe in. Everybody's different. I know he said there was no disrespect against the military and that was great to know. It's all about the youth for me. It's all about the youth and having a better city. Just being able to build and being able to have something great, something positive. A positive message and I think that'll be the outcome."
You talked about affecting other cities. How about affecting your teammates?
"Affecting other teammates, I really don't know, but for myself I just think being able to come out on a positive note of this thing is the goal. Whatever it takes to get people to understand that police officers are here to help and not hurt is the answer. Just being able to accomplish those things is what we're trying to go after."
ILB BRIAN CUSHING
What are your thoughts on Vikings QB Sam Bradford?
"Obviously, a very capable quarterback. He can really make any throw on the field. Just getting after him as best as we possibly can, making him uncomfortable, not let him sit back there all day and as you have seen, he can pick teams a part."
What are some keys to making Vikings QB Sam Bradford uncomfortable?
"Pressure, different fronts, different looks, different coverages. We try to mix it all up, make it all look the same. Just try and limit him the best we can."
Vikings QB Sam Bradford's not making mistakes that turn the ball over. What are your thoughts on that?
"That's a huge key. That's really the one stat I'd say that actually matters when it comes to football – wins, losses, and all of that. Turnover ratio is huge. They are doing a great job of securing the ball and taking it away on defense."
How does their offense change without Vikings RB Adrian Peterson?
"Kind of spreading it around a lot more. Trying to get it to a lot of other guys. Obviously, when you have a player like Adrian, the focus is really on getting him the ball as much as you possibly can and without him, you obviously see the ball being spread around a lot more, a lot of different guys getting touches. I just think they are very well balanced right now."
Is that tougher for a defense because you don't know who to key in on?
"No, obviously as more game film has come out we kind of see their top guys. There will be some guys we definitely still focus in on. For the most part, they are a lot more balanced."
WR WILL FULLER V
What do you see from Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes?
"He's a big guy, a big dude. Real physical guy."
When you see their team does it show that you can build a team around defense?
"Yeah, I guess so. I don't know. They have a real physical defense and they're playing real well, so it's going to be a good challenge for us."
How about the honor of AFC Special Teams Player of the Week?
"It's a good thing to have but I turned the page. That was last week. Hopefully I can build on that."
Do a lot of your friends ask why you're not back there on every punt?
"Not at all. Not at all. I know the coaches put the best people back there. Whenever my name is called, I'll go back there."
What were your emotions when you found out you won the award?
"It was right before practice. I was just getting ready for practice. I was locked in for practice."
So it was no big deal?
"No. I don't know. I was just getting ready for practice."
Is it kind of your mindset that you deflect praise, you don't like talking about yourself, you're not big on talking about honors? How would you describe that?
"Yeah, I guess you described it well. I'm just moving on. We still have a long season so a lot of room for me to improve, so I'm not going to just dwell on something that happened last week."
Do you think special teams is a place you could do well? Is that something you want to do?
"Yeah, if the coaches ask me to do it, I'll be glad to do it."
A lot of rookie receivers have trouble contributing early in their careers. What is it about you that has allowed you to contribute so early?
"Just putting in extra work, hard work. Getting on the same page as your quarterback is a big thing. He has to trust you for anything to start. Just being on the same page and working hard."
Even though you've been successful, was the jump from college to the pros pretty difficult? Was it a big transition for you?
"Yeah. Not just football, the whole business side of things, how much more time you have to put in, in the NFL. You put in a lot more time in the NFL."
How has WR DeAndre Hopkins helped you and the whole wide receivers room?
"All of our receivers are helping each other. He's the veteran in the room and he has had success in the league so I just listen to whatever advice he gives me."
How does his personality help him do the things he has done?
"He always keeps a calm demeanor. I like to do that, too, so that's a similarity that we have."
What are you doing to make sure that you can play 16 games? Everyone talks about the adjustment of playing that many games and how physical it is.
"Treatment. That's what it's there for. Taking care of your body is a big thing."
Can you speak to the challenge of going to Minnesota and playing on the road?
"Definitely. Going on the road is always difficult in the NFL. The environment is tough. We're not going to be able to hear like we are when we're home, so communication is going to be big."
How much has taking notes in meetings helped you on the field?
"It just helps me remember stuff. When I get a tip or something, I just want to write it down so I don't forget about it."
Do you ever remember a time when you weren't faster than everyone else?
"High school. I picked up speed in college. I wasn't as fast as I am now when I was in high school."
How did you pick up speed?
"I don't know. I guess probably the weight program at Notre Dame."
When you were in high school you weren't the fastest?
"I was fast. I wasn't as fast as I am now."
Did you have teammates that were faster?
Is it funny to think that you had teammates in high school that were faster than you since you ran one of the fastest times in the history of the combine?
"Yeah. Just looking back at it because I really don't know what happened. So just looking back at it is pretty weird. Looking at some of the people that were faster than me back then."
Did you ever have a moment where you realized how fast you are?
"No. Not really. I just always, just play football. I never really looked at specific things. Now people have talked about it more, I just take advantage of it."
Obviously, you've had some success. When you were drafted there were people that thought speed was your greatest quality and you might lack in other qualities. Is it good to show people that you're not just a fast guy and that you can be an all-around receiver?
"Yeah. Like I said, I don't really pay attention to what anybody else says. I just do what my coaches ask of me. I'm having success so far so I'm just going to keep doing that and hopefully more success comes."
How do you feel about what you've been able to do in the first part of the season?
"I don't know. We're 3-1, so I guess it's pretty good. That's what makes me happy: winning. So I just want to keep winning."
WR DeANDRE HOPKINS
What do you think about the way the Vikings cornerbacks have been playing this year?
"They have a very good defensive coach that does a great job of stopping the No. 1 receiver on teams. But that's why it's 11-man football and that's why there are 10 other guys out there on the football field to step up."
Are they doing it with double teams?
"I'm watching film now to see what they do. Whatever they do, they do a good job at it."
Do you expect the Vikings to try to get under skin and cause you to get frustrated like they did with Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr.?
"I've played against Xavier Rhodes since I've been a freshman in college. We know each other well. I don't think any DB can get under my skin and cause me to hurt my team."
What do you think about Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes?
"He's a good cornerback. I've been playing against him since college, so we know each other well. He's improving."
What makes Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes so good?
"He's athletic. He's 6-2. You would think he's a safety or a receiver. He's very physical and he's a ball hawker."
You've been the focus of opposing defenses all season. What is the key to beating double teams?
"The key is just going out there and doing the game plan. Whatever route I'm supposed to do, if it's to be a decoy or it's to get the ball. The double team, it really doesn't stop a player from being involved and helping out his team. Just on the stat sheet, it might not show. But once you get the win and there's 10 other guys out there to make plays."
Can you talk about what you're doing this month by pledging $1,000 to AVDA for each touchdown you score in October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
"It's a cause that my mother and I wanted to help. We came up with a way, we thought, that would be cool. Bringing football in it, not just going out there. But challenging other people also to donate and help out, even if it's $1.50. Anything to contribute to a great cause in ADVA."
How gratifying is it for you to reach the point in your life where you can make a difference on social issues?
"It's something - coming from where I'm from, I always knew I wanted to give back. You have to be patient. You have to choose things wisely. You don't want to just go out there and do something that you're not dedicated in or something that doesn't touch you. It's been something that over time we've been thinking about. Just trying to think of ways to help out this community and it's not going to be the last thing that we come up with."
How much does beating double teams come down to fighting and battling to find space?
"It's fun, I love it. I love the challenge of being double teamed and still being able to contribute to my team. No matter how many catches or yards you have – we went out and drafted some good guys. We got good tight ends. We have 10 other people on the team to make plays. It's kind of like you have to pick your poison with us."
Why is it important for you to give back?
"It's important for any player of my status to give back. We have a very high role in the community and society in general. Giving back is something I feel like every player wants to do, some just don't know how."
CB CHARLES JAMES II
"I was able to come out with a new clothing line, Deuce Designs. It's really special to be able to do something like this. I know Kareem (Jackson) did it back in 2014 and Hop (DeAndre Hopkins) did it in 2015. For me to do it this year and be given the opportunity is special. I want to thank New Era for making the hats and For Bare Feet socks. Everything is great. I just love how everything turned out. I'm especially excited about the purple hat and socks I was able to come out with. I did that mainly for the females, to basically have them involved and let them know that I didn't forget about them. I'm thinking about sporting it this week against Minnesota. Even though it's their colors, it's still go Texans. But I think this is just going to be something that I hope everybody likes. They'll actually go on sale tomorrow. It's exclusively in the Go Texan Store. You can't get it online anywhere. Exclusively in the Go Texan Store and coming out tomorrow. I'm just thankful to be able to do this. Thank you."
What was the process like for putting out an entire clothing line like this? Was it fun?
"Yeah it was fun. It's actually harder than I thought, so for all the people out there who make clothes and designs, when I get pissed when I don't see the stuff I don't like. I'm not as pissed anymore because it's tough. To try to be creative and come up with stuff that you hope and think people are going to like, it's tough. I had a lot of help. Amy (Palcic) and Torrie (Hardcastle), those guys did a fabulous job with getting me prepared every day and trying to bring something that I would hope people will like."
Which is your favorite design for guys?
"My favorite for the guys is the hat I'm wearing right now. This is the one. This is the one I'm going to sport anywhere and everywhere, any event, whether I'm out, whether I'm not out, whether I'm in, when I'm asleep. Anything, I'm sporting it. I think all the socks are my favorite. Me being just a sock guy, I love it. I want to especially thank these three guys right up here for taking the time out of their busy schedule to come up here and basically model this all for me. A.J. Bouye, Andre Hal and Robert Nelson. These are my guys on and off the field."
What do you think about your teammates modeling skills?
"I think they're all right. A.J. (Bouye) is just a cool guy. Dre (Andre Hal) is buff so he's going to make everything look good. Robert (Nelson) is just relaxed and smooth. He's calm. It shows."
Which is your favorite sock?
"I'm going to say all of them are my favorite sock, but if I had to pick one. I would say these just because I love the bull being on it. For me, when it came about which socks, I'm a guy who likes animals. I like creatures, I like different colors and things going into it like that. The Texans theme being on the sock and having the whole animal on here with the red, the white, the blue. That's what I love about them."
Did you think the day would ever come that you put out a clothing line?
"To be honest, no. God is good. I've come a long way. It's special. Just to come this far and be able to do something like this, it's special. It just shows how far you can get in life if you just believe and trust in God's plan. Just keep going as a human being and as a person. When I first got asked to do it, it was a big shock to me because who would ever thought that Charles James would be standing up at the podium talking about a new clothing line? I'm just thankful, man. I don't ever take it for granted."
Do you have dreams now of starting a clothing empire?
"Yeah this is just the beginning now. This is just the beginning. I'm coming with it now. I'm going to bring out some more stuff, but I'm excited to see how well it does. I'm a little bit nervous, I guess, for the fact that people are going to go into the store and be like 'Ah, I don't like this' or 'I do like this' or 'I love this' or 'I hate this.' I'm anxious to see the feedback, but obviously you're told in sales, if it's just sitting there, then I'm never doing it again (laughs). But if it sells, you'll definitely be able to see that it was something that was appreciated and liked. For me, it's a thought process of what the people may like. I especially did one hat just for the area codes for the city of Houston, the 281, 832 and everything like that. I did that specifically for Houston because I know a lot of people like to rep their city."
QB BROCK OSWEILER
Could you talk about why speed is so important to an offense, specifically a guy like WR Will Fuller V?
"I would say speed is important to an offense because not everyone has speed. Not every defense has speed, not every offense has speed. Speed is one of those things that can't be coached, so it's hard to find. Speed allows you to do a lot of different things. It allows you to stretch the field, it allows you to stretch the field vertically. There's a lot of different things you can do with speed, and if you don't have it, you can't do those things. It's just one of those things that's hard to find, so when you find it, it's a special deal."
Is it an adjustment for a quarterback when you get a guy like WR Will Fuller V?
"I think any time you get a new wide receiver or anything like that, there's an adjustment for the quarterback. I think each individual receiver – great speed, good speed, regardless of their speed – it's an adjustment for me to figure out the timing, where they like the football, where that ball needs to be placed. As you guys can see through practice and games, that's something that we're constantly working on, and I think we're getting a little bit better each and every week."
It often takes rookie receivers a little while to contribute. Why do you think WR Will Fuller V has been able to come in and immediately help the offense?
"I think Will has done such a great job through the first four games because of his work ethic. Will, from the day he got here, has worked his tail off every single day. He hasn't taken a single day off. In fact, a lot of players leave during the summer, and he stayed here. I think that says a lot about him. I think it says a lot about him as a person. He didn't take a single rep off during training camp. He was in there every single rep. You guys know how hard training camp is here in this heat in Houston. I don't think Will's early success is luck or anything like that. I think it's a product of his work ethic and who he is as a person."
How do you balance trying to get WR DeAndre Hopkins involved versus forcing him the ball? When you go back and look a couple of those, do you feel like you were trying to maybe force it to him a bit?
"Yeah. It's hard to call it a force because Hop is such a great wide receiver. He was one-on-one in both those situations. I wouldn't call it trying to force the ball to Hop, I would call it I need to make a more accurate throw. I think, on the first interception maybe that's a decision. It was a play-action pass and I had to slide in the pocket and there was a blitz. Maybe I just throw that ball away. I believe it was 1st-and-10. We always say 'live to fight another play.' I think you could really chalk that one up as a decision making where I could have made a better decision. And then when you look at the second one, I think it's just I need to make a better throw. I think Hop did a great job of beating the defensive back off the line of scrimmage. I think I just underthrew it a little bit. But I know what you're saying. There is a fine line of do you try to force your No. 1 wide receiver the football? But in those cases I don't think we were forcing anything, I just think I need to make better decisions and throw more accurate footballs."
Can you talk about facing Minnesota's defense and what concerns you most?
"Wow. There's a lot to say about the Vikings defense. There's a lot of positives to say about the Vikings defense. I think it really starts with their front. When you look at their defensive front, they're a very active group. They're really getting up the field on the edges, getting to the quarterback. In the interior, they're really pushing that pocket, they're extremely disruptive in the run game. When you look at their backers, they're a young group but they're a very talented group. They're big, they're physical, they're fast, they're flying to the football, they're chasing plays down the field 30 yards. You really see the front and the backers, just big, physical, getting to the football, making plays, really causing some chaos with offenses. Then when you look at the secondary, it's a great secondary and they really know how to play within that system. There's some veteran guys back there who I believe are very savvy cornerbacks. They're great pattern-readers. They know when to jump on a ball, they know when to maybe bail out of there and play a little bit soft, they know how to disrupt timing of routes. Really, across the board when you look at the Vikings defense, you're looking at a terrific defense. We know the challenge we have going on the road and playing those guys this Sunday."
You're getting WR Braxton Miller back this week. Can you speak on what this offense may have been missing without him in the lineup the past couple weeks? Can you talk about TE C.J. Fiedorowicz's toughness to be able to practice today after being injured in the game?
"Yeah. The first thing with Braxton, Braxton is obviously an extremely dynamic football player. You've seen that the past couple years with everything he has done at Ohio State. It's great to have him back. The one thing I would say is regardless of who is hurt and who's out, we do have a next man up mentality in this offense. I think Jaelen Strong stepping in for Braxton the past couple weeks, he really rose to the challenge and he did some really great things for us. I expect Jaelen to continue to do great things for us. I'm very excited to have Braxton back and Jaelen on the field as well. As far as your question about C.J., he's a tough guy. He is an Iowa Hawkeye for a reason. He knows how to be a tough football player, so that doesn't surprise me that he was back. I think that's just a credit to his toughness, his desire to be great and ultimately just him being a great team guy and being there for his teammates today as we prepare for, like I just said, a great challenge on Sunday."
What are some of the challenges that you and T Duane Brown face in getting that chemistry going?
"I wouldn't say there's really any challenge as far as Duane and myself because, for the most part, it's just communication, either in the huddle or at the line of scrimmage of me telling him the play. I don't really see any challenges there. I think, obviously, for Duane it's going to be getting back into game shape and things of that nature. He is a heck of a pro and I know he'll be ready to go. I don't really foresee any challenges between Duane and myself. Just all smiles there. Any time you get a player back like Duane, at quarterback there's nothing you can do but smile with that one."
In the last three games the Vikings have done a really good job against the top receiver on the other team. What can you do to make sure they don't shut down WR DeAndre Hopkins like have done to others?
"I don't think it's so much as worrying about them shutting down DeAndre. The Vikings, give them credit where credit is due, they do a great job of trying to take that No. 1 receiver out of the game. They do some cloud coverage, they do some press coverage at the line of scrimmage and disrupt timing. That's what makes DeAndre such a great receiver, is he is able to beat those double teams, he's able to beat that press coverage. But also what happens when DeAndre is double teamed, other receivers are one-on-one, and there tends to be a light box for the run game. When DeAndre is doubled, we need to make plays elsewhere. Other guys need to step up. And obviously we need to run the ball very efficiently when we do have a six-man box."
CONFERENCE CALL WITH VIKINGS HEAD COACH MIKE ZIMMER
How has Vikings QB Sam Bradford done such a good job protecting the ball and how much has Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner's coaching helped with that?
"Well a lot of it, obviously, is Norv's coaching. We preach it pretty hard, No. 1. He has always had a fairly low interception rate throughout his career. That was kind of one of the things we were drawn to him. We're kind of a blue collar team, anyway. We can't turn the ball over very much. He has done a really nice job getting the ball out when he needs to, when he's getting pressured, if he has to throw it away he will, get it checked down to the backs, all those things. Then, I think offensively, our coaches have done a nice job of not only that part but preparing him to get ready to play in a short period of time."
His decision making and accuracy seem to be exemplary so far. Is that accurate?
"Yes. You know, like all quarterbacks, I guess, there's some decisions you wish he'd maybe go to the other side of the field here or there, but for the most part it's been really great. He has been extremely accurate, really since the day he walked in here. I think our players noticed it right away, when really even the first day he got off the plane and came to practice. They could tell what kind of arm he had and how accurate he was."
Can you speak to how quickly Vikings QB Sam Bradford has picked up what you guys are doing offensively after joining the team so late?
"Yeah, No. 1, he studied really hard. No. 2, our offensive coaches. Having Pat Shurmur here helped a lot because he has been with him at two other stops. They were able to put the communication together a little bit. We have changed a few of the calls to make them a little bit easier for him to say as opposed to real long, drawn out. We started using a few code words in there. I think all those things have helped. He has done a remarkable job getting ready."
Can you speak to how resilient your team has been despite losing Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater and RB Adrian Peterson?
"We still have most of the defensive players, and that has helped. Rick Spielman, I believe, has done really a good job of bringing in high character guys that love to compete, guys that really are not motivated by statistics and things like that. This team, they've been pretty resilient. Obviously one of the big things, when Teddy got hurt it was a complete blow to everything. Then we made the trade to get (Sam) Bradford, and I think that got the guys excited again. Unfortunately we had been in this situation with Adrian two years ago, so that one wasn't as dramatic, I guess, because we've already been through that one. These guys are pretty self-motivated, I guess would be the best way."
Can you talk about your philosophy on defense and how it's working so far in allowing so few points?
"Honestly, we're probably lucky we've got good players. Philosophically, I don't think we're any different than anybody else. You try to get the run stopped. You try to get some pressure on the quarterback with either disguise or coverage."
The Texans have moved Jadeveon Clowney to defensive end. What do you think about the transition he has made to defensive end?
"I think it's been good for him. I think he's been playing well. Obviously, he's an explosive athlete. I think probably a good spot for him."
When you have to defend a guy with Texans WR Will Fuller V's speed, what's it like for a defensive coach and how can you cover that speed?
"It's nerve-racking to say the least. He is a big play receiver and he's doing a great job. But you know all guys with speed bother DBs. That's the first thing they look at when they get on tape. How fast is a guy? How quick do they have to get out of their back pedal?"
Has Texans WR Will Fuller V's early success surprised you since a lot of rookie receivers don't have as much success right off the bat?
"I'm only surprised because he's a rookie, not because of his athletic ability. But I think he's done a good job and they've used him in a lot of good ways. Most of the time he's opposite DeAndre Hopkins, so he ends up getting a lot of - he gets some single coverage and he's good in double moves. Running after the catch, you know, he does a nice job on screens and everything."
How have you been able to limit some of the top wide receivers you have faced this year?
"Pass rush always helps but our guys have covered pretty well. We're fairly deep in the secondary. It's just a combination of things. This week will be extremely difficult. (DeAndre) Hopkins is a tough matchup and (Will) Fuller and the slot. This is another (inaudible). The receivers for the Giants were a tough matchup and this one may be tougher because I just think they're faster."
Did you notice a difference in the Texans pass rush without DE J.J. Watt this week?
"I don't know. I mean with J.J. Watt, there's always going to be a little bit of difference. So I think there's probably a little bit. I think they do a good job and Romeo (Crennel) does a great job of getting guys ready to go."
CONFERENCE CALL WITH VIKINGS QB SAM BRADFORD
What's the biggest reason the Vikings are 4-0?
"I think our defense is playing great right now. Obviously, they're probably playing about as well as anyone in the NFL right now on that side of the football. On offense, I think we've done a good job of taking care of the football, not turning it over and not giving teams extra possessions. I think those are probably two of the biggest reasons we've started the way we have."
How hard has it been adjusting to the Vikings offensive system? Head Coach Mike Zimmer said earlier he changed some terminology to help you out.
"Yeah. Obviously when I first got here, it really wasn't like any system I had been in as far as the terminology goes. It's a digit system, which is completely foreign to me. Coach has been great about incorporating more words, code-wording things for me, things that I've done in the past, which really helped because the first week here, just trying to learn the play calls and the system and everything, it was very challenging."
Why do you think you've been so successful despite the unusual circumstances that brought you to Minnesota?
"I don't know if that's just because I'm getting older and I'm maturing. I'm really not sure because it is definitely a different situation but I think Coach (Norv) Turner has done a great job of figuring out what I'm comfortable with and what concepts I like. Obviously having Pat (Shurmur) here as well, who has been with me in St. Louis and Philadelphia. He has a really good feel for what I like and what I'm comfortable with. I think those two guys have just really made the transition easier on me."
What do you think has been the key to the offensive success this year despite missing Vikings RB Adrian Peterson?
"Obviously losing Adrian was a big blow for us. It kind of changes the way we do things a little bit. But just going back to not turning the football over. I think that's definitely been one of our keys. Obviously, I think there's still a lot of room for us to improve. I think we got better last week. We finally got the run game going a little bit. We were better on third down. I still think there's areas where we could be better."
What stands out to you about the Texans defense?
"They're playing really well right now. If you look at them, I think statistically they're the best pass defense in the NFL right now. They're just solid. They're very sound. Very rarely does it look like guys are out of place. They're just playing really good football on that side right now."
What are some things you need to do when facing such a good pass defense?
"I think you just have to be disciplined. You can't force things against a defense who is playing really well. I think you just have to go out there and take what's given to you."
How difficult is it for defenses to game plan for the Vikings offense with the way you've spread the ball around this season?
"Obviously, last week and the past couple weeks, I think we've done a good job of getting everyone involved. That's what we want to do on offense. We want to be multiple. We want to be able to get everyone involved. When you have eight or nine guys touch the football during a game, obviously, it makes it a little bit tougher for defenses to key in on certain guys. Hopefully that's something that we can continue to do."
You face the Vikings defense every day in practice. What makes them so tough?
"I think very similar to Houston. They're really good. They're really disciplined. They're very sound. Guys are always in the right place. I think they just have a lot of really good football players on that side of the ball with a lot of talent."
Is Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes one of the most underrated cornerbacks in the NFL right now?
"You know, I don't pay attention to the media so I don't know where you guys have him rated or what. But I think he's a very good player."