HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN
"Few things to cover here first. First of all, I just want to congratulate Mark Berman on his 30-year career here in Houston. I would like to present him with a jersey. Congratulations, Mark. Also, want to wish Simone Eli well in Alabama. Good working with you."
I want to just talk about David Quessenberry. I'm not going to take too many questions on that. Basically, we believed that David Quessenberry wasn't going to be ready from a health standpoint to adequately compete this year. Procedurally, in order to gain the roster spot, we made the decision to place him on waivers with the designation of NFI, Non-Football Illness. It is our hope that he'll revert to Reserve NFI, so he can continue to be a part of our organization and continue his recovery and fulfill his goal of playing again. I think that's important for everyone to understand. We just felt like there may be a point during the fall, during camp, where he was burning the candle on both ends, so to speak. We want him to fully attack and beat cancer, which he will do. Then get him back on the 90-man roster at some point in 2017. That's what we hope will happen with putting him on the NFI.
Other than that, I think we're practicing hard. I think guys are trying to do what we're asking them to do. It's tough in no pads. You don't make a whole lot of judgments during this time of the year, other than effort and hustle and things like that. I think the guys are working hard. So I'll open it up for questions."
What have you seen from TE C.J. Fiedorowicz and his progress?
"He's made a lot of progress. I will say this, it's hard for him because he's a padded player, meaning he's a guy that's number one, he's a really good blocker. He's become better at blocking over the two years that he's been here. I think one of the things that you've seen him do during this offseason program is get better in the passing game. He's more instinctive. He knows the plays better. He's a really, really hard worker. But again, for him, his true improvement and his true playing will come in training camp when you put the full pads on."
What is your philosophy towards the tight end group this season, especially for an undersized guy like TE Stephen Anderson?
"We have three different types of tight ends right now. We feel we have a Y, which is C.J. (Fiedorowicz), which I just described as primarily his role is to be a really good blocker on the edge of the defense for us. But he can help us in the passing game with certain things. Then we have a U tight end, which is what Ryan Griffin is. Right now, he's rehabbing his Achilles and he'll be back. He'll be back out there, whether that's for OTAs or not, I'm not sure on that yet but he'll be ready for training camp. A U is a guy who can do a few different things. He can block in a serviceable way and then he can really help us in the passing game. The key for Ryan Griffin is going to be health. It's going to be having the ability to be out there all the time once the season starts because he can really help us. Then you have two F-type tight ends in Anthony Denham, who has been here, and Stephen Anderson, who to this point has done a really good job of learning the plays and going out there in a non-padded practice. He's shown us some good things, but again, the true test will come in training camp. So having those three different types of tight ends helps."
How difficult was the decision on G David Quessenberry and what has he meant to the team and organization?
"There's a lot that goes into this type of decision. Number one is the person, David, and making sure that you're giving him every opportunity to beat cancer, which I believe we have and will continue to do. Number two is, like you said, what he means to the team. He's an inspiration. I think he told me this morning it was two years ago today that we sent him in off the practice field and Kap (Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Geoff Kaplan) sent him right over to the medical center and they discovered that he had cancer. Two years ago, I think it's almost to the day. Then there is the selfish reason from a football standpoint that – you know look, this guy was the 176th pick a few years ago. He was getting ready to start for Coach (Gary) Kubiak in the first game of the 2013 season and broke his foot late in that week. This guy was getting ready to play a lot of football. We've got a guy that can play football. Let's give him every opportunity to beat cancer first and then get back to where he can actually get out on the field and possibly compete and help us win."
Did G David Quessenberry have a setback health-wise?
"No. it was just a matter of thinking about how many treatments he had left relative to August, September and October. In the best interest of him and our team, putting him out there on the practice field, that wasn't going to be able to be done this year, early in the year especially to give him a chance to make the team."
How difficult is it for G David Quessenberry now that it will be four years since he last played?
"I would say – that's a good question. There's no precedent for that. I don't know if there has ever been somebody that's been out for four years. But if anybody can do it, it's David Quessenberry. This guy is a driven guy. He has a passion for football. This guy has never missed a day other than when he's had to go over and have treatments over at the cancer center. He's been here early, stayed late, helping teammates out, helping in the weight room, working out on his own. If there is anybody that can come back and play, it's David Quessenberry."
How is ILB Reshard Cliett doing and how has his rehab progressed?
"He spent a lot of time rehabbing. He hurt that knee in training camp. He's been diligent in being in the training room and rehabbing. I'd say he's a little rusty right now when it comes to playing football, but that's to be expected when you've been out that long with a knee injury. I think it was better today. He's a great kid. He was the captain of his college football team. Football means a lot to him, so I think he'll continue to get better and better."
How important is blocking for the Texans tight end group?
"It is. It's part of it. It's definitely part of it. So if you have a guy that can block a bit – it doesn't have to be a dominant blocker, but he can block adequately. He's a willing blocker is how I like to describe it. And he's really good in the passing game, so he's a tough matchup for safeties and obviously linebackers in the passing game. You may force a substituted defense, which then allows you the ability to run the ball in that instance, too. Going back to where I came from, even at Penn State but obviously in New England, we had some tight ends that forced other teams to play nickel, play dime on normal down and distances. That helped us in the running game. We're not there yet. I don't know if we have that yet. But we're working towards trying to mold that type of tight end situation."
How much different does WR Jaelen Strong look this year to you?
"I just said to him today how far he's come. He's a guy that a year ago today, I was concerned about him from a conditioning standpoint. I just didn't know what type of condition he was in. It wasn't very good. He really at some point in time before training camp, he came back and passed the conditioning test and really took off after that. He contributed in some games last year. He had a really good offseason. He's in really good shape. He's playing well. Hopefully it continues. He's a guy that we're definitely counting on."
What are the things you're looking at when watching the young wide receivers?
"It's interesting. When you think about that, you have different guys. Some guys like (DeAndre) Hopkins who have been in our system now going on three years that know where to lineup at every position. You have those guys like (Keith) Mumphery and Jaelen (Strong) that are going into year two, that are really bright receivers and you can use them in different ways, too. Then you have your rookies in Will (Fuller) and Braxton (Miller) and a guy like Wendall Williams, who has been out there doing some good things. There are kind of three different groups of guys. Cecil Shorts is going into year two, but he's a veteran player and knows our system really well. There are different standards in the fact that we don't expect Will Fuller and Braxton Miller to know where to lineup and run the exact route at every single position. But we do expect them to know the positions that we're starting them out in. They're doing a good job with that. Whereas Hopkins, there is a very, very high standard for him and moving him around and asking him to do a lot of different things. That's what we're trying to do. So different strokes for different folks a little bit at that position."
How are the quarterbacks working together and helping each other out?
"I would say that this is a really good room. These guys, they're here at six in the morning. They come in on their own, all three of them, with different questions from the film from the day before or something that they studied over the weekend for myself or for (Offensive Coordinator) George Godsey. These guys work really well together. It's a good room. They're good teammates. To this point, as far as what we're doing and where we're at, the stage that we're at in the offseason, I've been impressed with how that room works together."
Can you talk about RB Akeem Hunt and his progress since last year?
"He's a lot farther along than he was last year. We brought him in a little bit later on. He's got really good speed. He's a very hard worker. He's guy that we used a little bit in the passing game last year. He's helping us. You can see where he's trying to contribute more on special teams. He's got a little role that were trying to use him in on offense as far as being a receiving back, but also being able to run the football, too. I think our backfield situation is a pretty good one right now as far as different types of players there all having different types of skillsets from Lamar (Miller), Alfred (Blue), (Johnathan) Grimes. You've got Akeem. You've got Kenny Hilliard. You have a lot of different types of backs there and Akeem is doing a good job."
CB KAREEM JACKSON
What is it like working with CB Johnathan Joseph and how has your relationship grown over the years?
"At this point, we're like brothers. We've been together for a long time, going on six years now. Another month or so, he'll be at my wedding. Our relationship definitely has grown over the years, both on and off the field. I've learned a lot from him. He's a great father, great husband. Just those things that you look for in a friend and in friendship. He's always there whenever you need him. Not to mention, he's a great football player so he kind of brings it all to the table."
Do you talk to S Andre Hal about his switch to safety last year?
"No, I mess with Andre all the time. Sometimes in walkthroughs and stuff, he is standing with the corners, so I tell him 'you're a safety now, get away from us.' He's doing a great job. He made the switch last year. We all just kind of talk about the versatility of all the guys in the room. We feel like if we're all versatile and able to play different positions, it will only make us better as a team."
Are you taking a different approach to your offseason weight?
"I'm always a certain weight at a certain time of the year. I actually just took it upon myself to stay a little smaller this year around this time. I actually like to train a little bit heavier then when I come in for training camp. I come in at my playing weight. This year, I stayed a little bit smaller. It's definitely been helping me a lot. Not to mention, I have to fit in my tux for my wedding. My fiancé was kind of giving me crap, but no it's just something I took upon myself. I decided to stay a little bit lighter this year."
Why do you normally train at a heavier weight?
"For me, I just feel like if I can get used to carrying a heavier load, once I drop weight I'm a little bit quicker and a little bit faster. It can definitely help me in the long run."
How much pride do you take in being partnered with CB Johnathan Joseph for six years and how much has he helped you?
"I take a lot of pride in it. Six years, that doesn't happen too often with teams. Two guys being able to stay together, especially at the cornerback position. Usually, either for a good reason or bad reason as far as whatever causes the split, but we've been able to stay here and I think we've been able to be consistent over these six years. We definitely take a lot of pride in that. As far as him teaching me the game and the in's and out's, it's been like that since day one that he came in. He definitely helped me elevate my game his first day here. Even until now, for me there is still some things I can learn each and every day out there. I'm always still picking his brain. We're always talking ball, even though he's not practicing right now. We always talk ball. I'm always picking his brain."
Do you pick CB Johnathan Joseph's mind on being a father as well?
"Definitely. Like I said, he's definitely a great father. Just being around him and his kids, just seeing how he interacts with them and the things he is teaching them, I definitely pick up on the little things here and there. I want to be able to do those things once my kids get a little older. I definitely pick up on those things."
Do you take it as a challenge to get better against the Texans new receivers?
"Definitely. Anytime we get on the field, anytime going against those guys is always a challenge. With bringing Brock (Osweiler) in and Lamar (Miller) and drafting Will (Fuller), those guys add a lot of speed. It's definitely a challenge for us. It can only make us better. It gets us ready for the year. We're definitely going to see some speed, so if we can see it in practice each and every day, it's only going to make us better as a defense."
Is it fun to go against a rookie first round pick wide receiver and knock him around?
"For me, it's fun to knock around all those guys. As a secondary, that's part of our job. We feel like regardless of if it's a rookie or a second year or third year or fourth year player, whoever it is, we have to challenge ourselves and we have to go out and put our best foot forward against whoever is out there. It doesn't really matter if they are a rookie or fifth or sixth year player."
How much thought went into your wedding tuxedo? Is it custom?
"Definitely. You only are supposed to get married once. It's definitely a big day, so a lot of thought went into it. I had to go custom. I don't really want to give it away right now, so I'm sure you guys will see it after the big day. You guys let me know what you think after you see it."
Do you feel any different about the secondary going into this year now that you all have played together?
"I feel great about the group. With having years under your belt with everybody being together, you can play a lot faster. It's almost like everybody is thinking the same out there because we've been together and we've been in different situations. I know how Andre (Hal) is going to react as opposed to Quintin (Demps) or whoever I'm working with that's on my side of the field. It only helps because it makes us stronger as a secondary and we have to be able to be on the same page out there. Being together for years that can only help. It helps as far as communication, like I said, it's almost like you are all on one accord out there."
How much did Vance Joseph help you early in your career and are you surprised he is already a defensive coordinator?
"Not surprised at all. Coach Joseph was a great coach for me. He definitely helped me elevate my game, along with Johnathan (Joseph), technique-wise, understanding routes, stems from receivers, every facet of my game. I owe those guys a lot of credit. Like I said, I'm definitely not surprised at all because he was a great coach. He was great at what he did. To see him have a DC job down in Miami, I wish him all the best."
RB LAMAR MILLER
Are you starting to feel comfortable in the offense and is there any carryover or is this pretty different?
"It's pretty different terminology-wise, but you know, I'm just here every day just trying to get comfortable with everything. Just trying to get better."
In terms of catching the ball and getting time with QB Brock Osweiler, where do you think that's at?
"We've still got a lot of room for improvement. We've only been doing this thing for two weeks now, so we've still got a long offseason and training camp to get ready for game one."
Why didn't you get the ball more in Miami?
"I'm not really sure. I'm just looking forward to this opportunity here with the Houston Texans and I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Did you ever ask?
"No, I'm more of a team guy. Whatever helps the team win, I just try to do what the coaches are telling me to do throughout the whole week of practice and just try to make plays when my number is called."
Considering you're here, looking back, you didn't get used up. Is that good considering you're in a new place?
"I think it's good. I still have a lot of miles left in me. I'm just looking forward to this opportunity with the Houston Texans and just try to make a run."
You had those two long touchdowns the last two years. Was that all you or the system? What do you have to do to break some long runs?
"I think everybody just has to do their jobs, the offensive line giving me opportunities to make big runs. Once they give me the opportunities, I've just got to make it count and use my skill set to make big runs."
Your catches went up every year in Miami. How do you feel about the role you're going to play in the passing game here?
"I'm very comfortable. That's something that I work on throughout the whole offseason, catching the balls out of the backfield, whether it's with some random quarterback or on the JUGS machine. That's something that I practice on throughout the whole course of OTAs and the offseason."
Have you gotten settled into your new surroundings here in Houston on and off the field?
"Yes, I'm pretty comfortable. Every week, somebody flies up, so that keeps me in the right place. I'm comfortable with everything so far."
DE J.J. WATT
How is the rehab going and will you be able to do some on-field stuff this spring?
"I feel really good. I think you guys know me well enough by now to know that it's not up to me. As soon as I'm allowed, I will be out there. I hope it's soon. I think it could be very soon. I want to get some real football under my belt. I want to play. So I'm looking forward to that opportunity when it presents itself."
What kind of inspiration has G David Quessenberry been in his time here?
"DQ is one of the strongest guys I know. He's an inspiration. I think that word gets tossed around a lot, but I think DQ is the epitome of what an inspiration is. To see his fight firsthand and to be able to, on a daily basis, watch his work ethic, watch his drive, watch the intensity that he brought every single day and that he continues to bring every single day. He's an impressive man. It's been awesome to have him around. It's been awesome to be a teammate of his and to be a friend of his. He is definitely an inspiration."
Are you nervous about hosting the CMT Awards this week?
"I'm not nervous, no. I think it's going to be fun. I'm looking forward to it. I think it's going to be exciting. I'm a defensive lineman. I'm not supposed to be good at that kind of stuff. So if I screw up, I don't really have a lot of nerves because I can say 'try and block me.'"
All you have to do is read, right?
"I'm going to try and be a little bit funny. I'm sure I'll flop many times, which is fine. It's going to be good. Erin (Andrews) is my co-host, so obviously she is going to make us good looking. I'm just going to try and not screw it up. That's the goal."
How did this opportunity come up?
"I presented last year. I've been a country music fan all my life. I grew up enjoying country music. I like all types of music. Last year, I presented at the CMT's and this year they asked me to host it. It's pretty neat. I think it's cool to be able to branch out and expand the horizons. Also, represent our team, our organization and our city on a national level."
What is something you want to do that you haven't done yet outside of football?
"I've been fortunate. I've been able to do just about everything that I've wanted to do. I think it's a very simple answer, but honestly just spend more time with family. I think that's probably the biggest thing now. Hopefully going to be able to visit my brother in San Diego at some point. I like watching my younger brother, T.J.'s, games. Really just trying to have a personal life and trying to make sure I enjoy having a personal life."
Have you talked to DE Devon Still and some of the younger defensive ends about playing the position?
"I do. I really enjoy the group we have. It's a lot of fun to work with these guys. Everybody is very inquisitive. Everybody wants to learn. Everybody wants to grow. Devon asks a lot of questions. He really wants to get a good grip of the defense. It's been really fun. All the guys we have in our room, Christian (Covington), (Brandon) Dunn, and the young guys we've got like Dan (Pettinato). I mean, everybody. We have a really good room. It's a lot of fun to come to work every day when everybody wants to get better."
What's it like having a guy like CB Johnathan Joseph who seems to fly under the radar?
"I don't think he gets nearly enough credit. I think he's a guy that's played in this league for a very long time. He's been very successful. I think he's really good at his job. I also think he's a really good mentor for the rest of the guys. I think he's very underrated as a mentor for the young guys. I sit right behind him in the defensive meeting room and every day he is talking to the young DBs about 'watch this, put your eyes here' just little things on every play that his experience allows him to talk about the game in a way that helps the young guys see it. I think it's really good. I think he definitely deserves more credit than he gets."