HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN
What are your thoughts on how WR Will Fuller V has looked this offseason?
"He definitely has better knowledge of our system. For the guys that were rookies last year, this is a much easier spring for them because they know where to go, they know what to do. I've seen a lot of improvement with all the guys that were rookies last year: Will, Braxton (Miller) had a good day yesterday. It's only May. It's OTAs. But it's looking pretty good."
How has G David Quessenberry looked to you so far?
"Quess looks good. Can't say enough about that guy. I mean, to come back from what he's come back from and to be out here playing football. I mean, I'd go so far as to say that might be unprecedented. To make it back to where he's at right now, it says a lot about him, it says a lot about this organization that this organization stuck by him, it says a lot about the Houston Medical Center with the cancer hospital and everything. He's doing great. He looks good out there. I think he's got a chance to really keep getting better."
What have you seen from T Julién Davenport?
"I like Julién. He's a rookie, so they're all learning. It's tough in no pads. I think the true test for a lineman is when the full pads are on in camp, but so far he's smart, he works hard, he's got a good skillset for that position. So far, so good, but again the true test for lineman is when they put pads on."
How has QB Deshaun Watson improved this week?
"He's gotten better. He's gotten better every day. I think the hard part about this week is there's more snaps in the red zone where things happen a lot faster down there. That's always something that takes a rookie quarterback probably the longest to learn how fast things happen down there. But he works hard. He's in here all the time studying. I think he was coached really well at Clemson, so he has a good basic fundamental knowledge of football. He's got instincts and he's getting better every day."
Is it tough to evaluate players when you are mixing and matching lineup combinations?
"Yeah, it's tough. It's OTAs so I think the evaluation has a lot to do with the mental part of the game, the execution. There's no real first, second or third team all the way through. You see some so-called first-teamers in there with so-called third-teamers. I wouldn't judge anything by that. I think it's great you guys are out here but I would just tell you that it's OTAs and it's not real football. They are in their gym shorts, jerseys, helmets, no pads. The true test will be in West Virginia."
How was your Memorial Day weekend and what condition is the team in right now?
"My Memorial Day weekend was awesome. I spent time with my family and my wife, which was a good thing, I guess, for me. I don't know about for her. I guess you'd have to ask her that. But just on Memorial Day, I think it's – we talked to the team about this. The sacrifice that so many have made for this country – I haven't seen you guys since the first time you guys were out here. The military is obviously very important to our organization, what we do to honor our military members and especially the ones that made the sacrifice. So Memorial Day was great to be able to honor those people. I think the health of the team – I mean, I've been asked this a couple times. Look, there's some guys that we're holding out a little bit that could probably practice right now. There's some guys that have some hamstrings, usually younger guys that aren't used to the running. Some quads and things like that. But I think overall, I think we're in pretty good health for this time of the year. It'll be important to be in great health when training camp starts."
What are your thoughts on S Lonnie Ballentine after all the injuries he's dealt with?
"We've stuck by Lonnie. Lonnie has a good skillset, we think. He's a great guy. He's had some, obviously, ups and downs with injuries. More downs than ups. But when he did play, which hasn't been much, but when he did play he showed flashes of the player that we thought he could be. But this is a big year for Lonnie. This is a big year. He's got to have a good training camp and good preseason."
Any update on WR Jaelen Strong after he went down during practice?
"I think he's all right. I called it off. We had more to go right there but these guys are really competitive and it's OTAs. It's non-contact but everybody wants to win. Football is a contact sport. It's tough. I'm going to try to hold my tongue on some of the offseason rules with the NFL. I don't agree with a lot of them. We're just trying to execute as good as we can with no pads on and see if we can just continue to get in better condition and be ready for training camp."
WR WILL FULLER VHow is it going so far?
"It's going pretty good. I'm just happy to be back out here with the team. Happy to be back out here just competing."
How different is this year than last year?
"I feel like it's a lot different, first year to second year. Last year I was thinking a lot. Just coming in trying to learn the offense and trying to make sure I was doing everything perfect. This year I'm just a lot more relaxed."
What is something you worked on this offseason that you wanted to improve?
"Just catching the ball consistently."
Can you talk about catching the football at different spots on the field including on deep balls?
"There's no difference. Wherever the ball is coming from, you catch it with your hands and catch it with your eyes. Every pass is different but they are all the same with what you catch the ball with. I won't say any is harder than deep balls or short balls. I feel like they are all the same."
What have you seen out of QB Deshaun Watson so far?
"I can't really say because I've been focusing on the receivers. I let the quarterbacks do what they want with what they're doing and I just focus on our receivers."
Do you feel like you have gotten stronger this season?
"I still have some time to still get a little stronger. We have this OTA. We still have a few more weeks here. Then we go out for a month on our own. I still have a little time to get a little stronger."
How much do you feel like you can build on last year?
"Like I said earlier, I'm a lot more comfortable. Last year I was starting from ground zero. This year I'm a lot more comfortable and I'm just going to build off what I did last year."
Do you have a goal for this year?
"No goal. Just to go out there and compete."
Do you think it will help you now that you know how defensive backs want to play you?
"Knowing coverages is always important. You can't learn too much about football. You can just keep learning every day, so I'm going to go out there and try to learn as much about the overall football game as I can so that can help me out."
What is the biggest thing you learned from last year?
"A lot. I learned a lot, but the biggest thing is take every opportunity and run with it."
NT D.J. READERHow do you look at where you are right now after getting a year under your belt?
"I'm excited. I'm excited about the whole defense. I'm excited about our team. I know the defense a little bit more, studying a little bit more. Got a little bit more time not busy with rookie meetings and stuff. So, it's been good. I'm excited."
How exciting is it to have DE Carlos Watkins back with you after playing together at Clemson?
"It's good. I get to see my godson a lot more. It's good to be able to help him, though. We've been with each other, roommates for four years at Clemson. Been with each other since our senior year of high school. So, it's real fun to have him here. I see him every day after practice. He's over at my house. I help him out with the playbook and stuff, so it's good."
Is it like old times?
"Yeah, it's just like old times. He hasn't changed, I haven't changed. It's the same thing."
After he got drafted did you send him a text right away?
"Yeah, I was super excited. I was hoping we would get him anyway. It was really fun to be able to see my brother get called. Just seeing him get drafted at all was a good moment in my heart."
What's it like having QB Deshaun Watson here and what kind of guy is he?
"He's a great guy, great quarterback. He's a hard worker. It's great to see him out here having fun, doing something that he loves at a high level. I'm excited to see what he can do."
How much have you seen QB Deshuan Watson grow since his time at Clemson?
"I've seen him grow a lot. I was there when he came as a freshman. He came in and put his head down, went to work. That's him all the way. That's what Deshaun does. He's a worker. These other guys we have in front of him, (Brandon) Weeden and (Tom) Savage are going to help lead him."
Is it weird trying to chase him around?
"It's a little bit different, yeah, but I'm used to doing it at Clemson. It's the same."
How different is this year for you than last year?
"Just in a bigger role, more important role. I have to worry about people looking at me, messing up more so than me looking at them. Just trying to be the best I can and help lead these boys who are in the position I was in last year."
QB TOM SAVAGEHow was it out there today?
"Good, real good. We're all competing. We're all getting better."
How much does it help to get so many reps with the first team?
"It's helping a lot. That's all it's about, is chemistry with these guys and competing against one of the best defenses in the NFL. It's all you can ask for."
How can you improve chemistry with your receivers?
"Just repetition and stuff we're doing after practice and extra meetings. We get a limited time and we all have to meet extra a little bit after if we want to get better. That's what it comes down to."
Do you prepare the same way as you had been in years past?
"Yeah, absolutely. I think a little more of it is in the communication, obviously, with some of the guys. When you're a third-string quarterback, you're not really going up to DeAndre Hopkins and telling him how you want a bow route or something. Now communication comes in and you have to be on the same page with all of them. That's what we're working on now."
How special is this situation for you?
"It's a great opportunity. I hate to say it's special because I have to go out there and I have to earn it every day. It'll be special at the end of the season."
Is it tough to overthrow WR Will Fuller V with his speed?
"Yeah, it is. He's a fast guy and he doesn't say much obviously, as you guys just heard. You can't really get much feedback from him on them. He's a burner."
How valuable is OTAs for you despite not being in pads?
"Like I was just saying over here, just the chemistry, especially with the receivers. Like I said, these guys – obviously, J.J. (Watt) and (Jadeveon) Clowney and those guys would love to rip my head off but they can't because we're not in pads. Luckily they never will be able to. But you're able to go out there and just kind of work on each throw and – I don't want to say knowing you're not getting hit – but getting the ball out and the defense is letting us throw the ball even if they are coming through. It's kind of what we need."
What can WR Will Fuller V bring to the offense?
"He's a fast guy. He's a great receiver. I think he's a really good route runner and that's really all I can say on that. He's a good guy and he's working hard at it. That's it."
What do you see from RB Tyler Ervin out of the backfield?
"Again, another good player. He adds a good element to the offense."
How beneficial is it to face one of the best defenses in the NFL at practice every day?
"I love this because we're all out there competing and we're all kind of – if you heard it – we're all yapping at each other. It's a good bonding experience obviously within the team but the challenges are they are the Houston Texans defense. If you just look at the roster, they got a great group over there. I'm realizing you have to get this ball out quick, especially with that front and those guys covering."
What do you think when you see G David Quessenberry out here?
"I mean, it's just an incredible story. He's an inspiration to all of us. He's one of my good buddies and we always hang out. He's just a good guy and it's awesome to see out there in the huddle and working hard to get better."
Did you get close with G David Quessenberry over the last couple years?
"He's just, like I said, he's a good guy. Everybody on the team loves him. You can't find a guy who is going to say a negative thing about him. He's an inspirational guy and I just can't tell you how happy I am for him."
Can G David Quessenberry help the team on the field?
"Oh, absolutely. He's out there. He's competing. That's it."
Are you amazed by what G David Quessenberry has been through and where he's at now?
"Yeah. I mean, like I just said, the things that he went through and overcame, it really puts a lot of things in perspective out here for us. We're all out here playing and when he wasn't out here we were all out here playing for him because we know he would give anything to be out here with us. I'm super happy that he's out here and competing with us and partaking in some of these events."
G DAVID QUESSENBERRYHow does it feel to be out here?
"It feels amazing. It just feels right. Feels like I'm back home."
Can you look back at the last few years and where you are now? Can you just encapsulate that?
"That's hard to do. It's been a long journey. It's been a long fight. I'm just blessed to be able to put that behind me and get back to playing football."
Can you explain to fans what it's like to play different parts of the line and some of the challenges?
"There's a lot that goes into it. It's very subtle things, but it's just the angles. The angles that you come off the ball and then also the matchups, too. When you are on the edge playing tackle, you get more of those elite pass rusher guys. When you are playing on the inside, it's more bigger, run-stopper guys. Wherever you are at, the angles are different, the matchups are different and some of the assignments are different."
How quickly do you feel like everything is coming back after being out for so long?
"Actually, I feel like it's come back a lot better than I had hoped. I really do. Every day it just feels like my reaction, seeing everything, it just is coming back to where I want it to be and where I would hope it would be."
Have you had a moment where you stopped and thought about being back out on the field?
"Yeah, no question. No question. It's like I wake up and my hands are sore, my neck is sore, my legs are tired and achy and out here sweating the sun and loving every minute of it, every feeling of it, lining up and seeing whoever it is – J.J. (Watt), (Jadeveon) Clowney across. Just being like, 'This is what you've always prayed for. You prayed that you could always come back to this point and now it's here.' It's a blessing for sure. I'm loving it."
When you first got diagnosed, what would you say to someone who said this is where you'd be three years later?
"I would say that's kind of what we are fighting for, to not let cancer take what you worked so hard for and get back to the life and the job that you always wanted."
Have you imagined what it's going to be like to hit somebody?
"Yeah, no question. I'm having a lot of fun out here in OTAs competing with my teammates but, I don't know if coach said it but he says it all the time: it's not real football yet until the pads come on. I can't wait until we get to really hit some people."
Mentality and physically, how does this compare to when you were a rookie?
"It's tough because when I was a rookie, you kind of get in here, your head is spinning, you are trying to figure it out and it was a different offense. The offense we are running now is a little bit more complicated. But I've been here long enough to really know the system so I can kind of have a better grasp on it. I'm a little older. I feel strong. I feel good. I definitely feel like a veteran, but I'm still getting my legs back I guess."
Do you think you're a lot stronger mentally after being an observer for so long?
"No question. No question. What I've been through, to come out of it, I'm stronger mentally, physically, spiritually. I feel very strong."
What do you think about being an inspiration to others?
"When I was going through my fight, you kind of look for people who have overcome it and have gone on to do great things. If I can be that for somebody else, I'm happy to be that person. Lucky to be that person."