HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN
When you and the other coaches started to build this offense around QB Deshaun Watson this offseason, did you sort of throw ideas out there that you thought might fit him and then narrow it down from there?
"We studied the snaps from last year, looked at some things that maybe we could add to those things and then again, because of when he was injured, there were many things that we didn't run. There were a lot of things that we really didn't get to. So, it's not like we had to reinvent the wheel with any of those things. We've been able to, like I said, look at a lot of things in OTAs and then kind of drill down on it here in training camp. Today was a back-and-forth with the defense, but overall I think these guys have been really receptive to what we're trying to do."
When you look at your playbook, do you think about how much fun it will be for you and the offense"?
"Yeah, definitely. Any time you have players like, obviously, Deshaun (Watson), (DeAndre) Hopkins, Will Fuller (V), Lamar (Miller), Griff (Ryan Griffin) and some of these young players – and then, I think, we're improved on the offensive line. It's a lot of fun to come to practice every day with these guys and see how we execute."
What do you think of T Seantrel Henderson?
"Really happy to have him. Really works hard, very focused guy, very big guy, physical guy, and I think that he's athletic. He's a guy that can play on both sides, right and left. Really happy to have him on board."
How important is TE Stephen Anderson with some of the things he can do?
"Look, that's a battle at tight end. Stephen is in that battle. Obviously, Griff (Ryan Griffin) is there, you have Jordan Akins, you have MyCole Pruitt, you have some really stiff competition up and down. Some guys that maybe haven't played a lot of football in the NFL, but have, I think, really good futures as long as they keep working and trying to get better. So, it's a very competitive position and Stephen's right in the middle of that."
How does it help your offense as WR Will Fuller V adds more to his game than just being a speed guy?
"Well, I think he can. I mean, he's a very, very good route runner. He's really good, and I think that because of injuries we haven't been able to see that. I think the big thing is he came back stronger, weighed a little bit more, put a little weight on and I think you can see in training camp some of the things that he's able to do. We're able to use him in different spots. He's a very, very good route runner, I think he's improved his hands. So, I think the big key with Will is always going to be health. Can he stay healthy? Can he be there for 16 games? That's going to be a big, big thing for Will."
Was practice better today?
"Yeah, yeah. They were ready to go. They had a good morning meeting. The meetings were good this morning and it was a tough practice, a lot of plays, a lot of contact. So, it was good, very good."
What are some of your thoughts on WR Jester Weah as he tries to make it on your roster?
"He's done a good job for being an undrafted guy. He's come in here, put his head down and gone to work. He's been good on offense and he's been good on special teams. So, a lot of that is going to depend on how he plays in the games. Same thing with a lot of those guys, how do they play when we go against Kansas City, San Francisco, the Rams (and) Dallas. But, he's been good so far as far as his work ethic, the type of guy he is, all that."
What kind of role do you envision for FB Jay Prosch?
"He plays a key role on special teams. He's in a battle because I'm using different guys at that position, and I think that it's a very competitive fullback position. He's not the only one and he's right in the thick of it."
Is it good for your offense that you have so many player options?
"Definitely. I think any time – the more players you can have on your roster that can be versatile, that can do different things, I think it really helps your offense, no doubt about it."
How does DE Christian Covington look?
"Good. He's doing well. He's coming back off an injury, had a good offseason, came back here in great shape, really works hard every day to get better at little things and I think he's one of our more improved players over the years that we've had him."
With WR DeAndre Hopkins out for a couple days, have you had guys step up with those extra reps?
"Yeah, I think so. A lot of guys have been able to get extra reps – (Sammie) Coates, Bruce Ellington, Braxton Miller – I think each one of those guys made plays out there over the last couple days. Hop will be back tomorrow. But, it's good to see when other guys get opportunities that they take advantage of it, no doubt."
Has there been a time this offseason where you've been surprised at QB Deshaun Watson's recovery from his injury?
"I think just with him, I'm very pleased with how he goes about his business every day. So, he's really attacked that rehab to put himself in positon to be able to be out here and practice. I think having, unfortunately, done it before, he had a really good understanding of the timetable for the rehab to be able to be ready to practice. He's gone out here and been able to do everything we've asked him to do."
Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney said he was surprised how quickly QB Deshaun Watson recovered from his first ACL injury while at Clemson.
"It's the same thing. I think we do a good job of monitoring his reps and guys are doing a good job of not getting near him on the pass rush and things like that. But, he's been full-go."
QB DESHAUN WATSON
Was there a moment that stood out to you after your first ACL surgery at Clemson where you thought 'OK, I'm back'?
"Nothing really. Just kind of the same way I'm dealing with this one. I was back by the first day of training camp and was able to participate in everything, all the drills. We didn't even look back. We just kind of just went forward toward there. We didn't even think about the knee."
Is that a good thing when you don't have to worry about your knee?
"Yeah. It's not an issue now. It wasn't an issue back then, either. Just taking it one day at a time, continuing to maintenance it and just continue to push forward and just kind of build my confidence."
Did knowing the timeline of the recovery help you?
"For sure. The timeline is big, but my first ACL was a shorter timeline than what it is now. At the same time, I understand the preparation and the work that I had to put in to kind of get back to where I'm at today and be able to perform like I was performing before. So, just the daily grinding and kind of taking it one speed at a time, one day at a time and just move forward from there."
Has the knee been on your mind at all as you go through training camp?
"No, I don't even think about it. I'm on the field, I'm locked in, focused on my job and try to have a positive play and try to get points on the board."
Do you ever get back to your hometown of Gainesville, Ga.?
"Time-to-time whenever I get a break. My family's still back in Gainesville, Georgia. All my friends, all my people are still back there so it's home. Whenever I go back there, I'm comfortable and I'm good."
What are your best memories of high school football? What did you learn in high school that helped you get to where you are today?
"Best memories, of course, winning a state championship my junior year. Every win that I had – I was like 52-6 all four years as a starting quarterback – and just the memories on Friday nights. The town, the atmosphere was always awesome. Just being able to do the things I did and learn the things I've learned to become a man and a man of God. Just the adversity that I went through at the time built me into the guy I am today."
Is it the competitiveness that you learned there?
"For sure. We were always competing with the best. We always had challenges each and every week and we pulled through."
Do you anticipate anything different in terms of your style of play from last year to this year?
"No. Only difference is I'm more (knowledgeable) than I was last year, which is a good thing. Outside of that, I'm still going to do what I do and continue to do that. No reason to change that. If it's not broken, don't fix it. What I've done before got me to the position I'm in today. Just trying to build on it and keep crafting it."
What areas would you like to improve on in your second season?
"Everything. I'm not perfect. There's not one area where I'm 100 percent at this and I don't need to focus on it. Each day, I just pick out something and regardless of what it is – footwork, accuracy, MIKE points, reading coverages, everything – I just try to pick out one thing and focus on that."
Did you spend time in the weight room trying to get bigger than you were last year?
"Yeah, I worked out with Luke Richesson and the whole strength and conditioning staff. Just to be able to put on some muscle mass and just kind of get myself fit and get myself healthy and get ready for hopefully a full season."
What have you seen from WR Jester Weah so far?
"A guy that's very, very athletic. A guy that's locked in, focused and trying to learn. He doesn't really say a word. He's kind of quiet in the background, but every time he's out there, he shows flashes. He's learning a complicated offense. He's behind some guys that he can really learn from, Nuke (DeAndre) Hopkins, Will Fuller (V), Bruce Ellington, and he's doing a great job. I'm proud of what he's doing and he's going to continue to get better, improve and try to make this football team. I think he has a great shot of doing that."
How do you help young guys get over being star-struck around players like WR DeAndre Hopkins and you?
"We just be ourselves. We just eat with them. In the hotel, we kind of hang with them. Bring them around the dinners and activities that we have. I have all the receivers come to my house and we go to Hop's house and vice-versa. We just kind of hang out, be ourselves and make them feel normal."
How has WR Braxton Miller improved from last year to this year?
"He's a guy that understands defenses. That was one of the biggest things. Of course, he played quarterback in college and then transferring from quarterback to receiver in the NFL is a big step. He never played it before, but this offseason, he really recognized what the defense is doing and it helped him out with his routes. He's a guy that has very, very good instincts. Once he can recognize something, he knows where to go with his position, the spacing with the route, and we find him with the ball."
Can you imagine trying to make the transition from quarterback to wide receiver yourself?
"I couldn't. It's a tough transition. It might seem easy for a lot of people and myself might think it's easy, but trying to go to a different position at this level is hard."
WR Braxton Miller said he didn't realize how much you have to use your legs as a receiver.
"Right. He's running every play, regardless of it's a run play or a pass, he's always using those legs, but he's doing a good job."
Do you think WR Keke Coutee can be a weapon in the slot?
"He's a guy that's versatile. He can do a lot of things in the slot position. A lot of guys are going have to really have to be on their toes to cover him. He's a very instinctive and smart guy, a guy that learns very quickly and understands what the defense is doing to him. He just finds openings and he's a guy that snatches the ball out there. It's going to be a great addition for us."
Can you talk about your relationship with C Nick Martin?
"Me and Nick, I kind of knew him from afar. He played at Notre Dame. We played them my sophomore year. Last year during training camp, I was actually his roommate so I got to know him then. Then, throughout the season, our relationship was building up. Then, of course, I got hurt so I was kind of away from the team for a little bit. Then, we spent the whole offseason together. Me, him, J.J. (Watt), Whitney (Mercilus), all of the guys that were in the training room working together got a lot closer. He's a guy that's fun. He's open for anybody to come talk to him, he's a guy that's never mad, never angry – he's always positive vibes. That's the type of people I like to surround myself with. We're both on the same page and have a great relationship."
It's like C Nick Martin never makes a mistake technique-wise. How is that possible?
"I have no idea. He works on his craft, watches film, he just never makes the same mistake twice. He does a great job of perfecting his craft."
Do you see how versatile WR Will Fuller V can be?
"He's very versatile. He can play inside, outside. You can move him around. You can have him going deep, short, mid-routes. Anything you want him to do, he's a guy that can do that, and he makes everything look the same. He's a guy that's very, very intelligent. He has great instincts and he just uses his ability to get open and does a good job doing it."
How will having more knowledge translate into your play on the field?
"Just slows down the game. I understand what the defense is doing. I understand what we want to do on the offensive side and what Coach (Bill) O'Brien wants to do. When I have that knowledge and continue to gain that experience each and every day and seeing different looks, it slows down the game and helps us on offense to get a positive play and make sure we're in the right play."