HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
“A couple things before we get going: welcome back, John (McClain). It’s great to see you back. Missed you in Greenbrier, but good to see you back on your feet. One thing, too, I just wanted to mention real quick, I was watching the Little League World Series and it would be remiss of me not to mention the Post Oak Little League team. That was a team that I’m pretty familiar with because my son’s Little League team played against that team. They’ve got a great team, really good coach. Congratulations to them and good luck in the Little League World Series.
Not too much to report on last night’s game. We got back at 4 a.m. and we’re just still grinding through the tape. We’re going to meet with the players a little bit here this afternoon then let them go. We’ll have practice tomorrow, but really not a whole lot to report to you yet relative to last night’s game. So, I’ll do the best I can answering the questions.”
Were there any players that stood out to you in last night’s game that you’ve been watching throughout camp and are looking for them to take the next step?
“There were some guys. I thought there were some younger players that did some good things in the game but just need to be more consistent. There was a guy like Duke Ejiofor, I thought did some nice things in the game, but he’s got to be more consistent, just like every rookie. Jordan Akins, obviously, did some nice things in the game but consistency is what they’re aiming for. I thought all of the guys played with good effort. I think that was a big thing we talked about, ‘Let’s go out and play with good effort. Now let’s – OK, we’re playing with good effort, now let’s clean up the techniques and the operation on the sideline and the operation on the field and things like that.’ That’s what we really have to accomplish this week.”
What have you thought about what WR Sammie Coates Jr. has done so far in camp?
“Sammie’s been a guy that practices every day. He’s been out there, he works hard. I think he really understands his role that he’s trying to fulfill for us, special teams role and an outside wide receiver role. He’s really done a good job of really coming to work every day to try to do the best he can to fulfill that role.”
How can you tell RB Lamar Miller has come back in better shape in training camp?
“I just think a lot of these guys come back in better shape than they were in OTAs. I just think you see how they run, how they’re able to consistently keep their conditioning level at a high level during practice. Those are the things you look for, and Lamar’s come back in good shape.”
Were you happy with how you were able to run the ball with the first-team offensive line last night?
“Yeah, it was OK. I wish we could’ve gotten that 3rd-and-1. That was a little disappointing, but to gain a first down on the second play of the game was good, but a lot way to go. Long way to go and a lot of things to clean up, but a decent start.”
Are there players like RB Lamar Miller and WR Will Fuller V who have benefitted from spending time with Senior Director of Sports Performance Luke Richesson?
“I think him and his staff – he’s not a one-man band. He’s got a great four guys underneath him and I think that they’ve really made a difference with many, many guys on this team, if not the whole team. Not just for conditioning, but strength levels, nutrition, flexibility, pliability, all those things, I think guys feel good for the most part and I think Luke and his crew have had a lot to do with that.”
Is there a value in practicing, then playing a game and then practicing again?
“I think any time you play a game, you see a lot in the game. You see right away practice is a lot different. The coaches aren’t standing right behind you in a game. It’s just a different environment. You’re out there on your own, communicating with your teammates. So, you’re able to see, when you watch the tape, what you need to correct early on. Hopefully you don’t have a million things to correct, but you’re always going to have a certain amount of things to correct, whether it’s a correct way to handle a protection or how you cover a punt or how you return a kick or how you take on a block, where you’re spilling it, those types of things. Those are things – substitutions on the sidelines, being more prepared for substitutions, how the coach-to-quarterback (communication) – I mean, I could be up here all day. I think those are the things that you’re able to come out of the game and really focus on and know, ‘Hey, we have to fix these right now,’ because if you let them linger and they don’t get fixed, they’re going to be a problem in the regular season.”
Were you happy there were no penalties regarding the new helmet rule in the first preseason game?
“Yeah, I thought for the most part our guys tried to – both sides of the ball. Andy (Reid) does a great job of coaching his team and just really teaching them the proper way to take on a block, the proper way to tackle, all of those things. We’ve worked hard on it. Everybody asked me about Josh’s (Keyes) tackle after the game. I thought he tried his best to tackle with his shoulder, but I thought for the most part, it was pretty good.”
Was it good to see the defense make a goal-line stand to win the game?
“Yeah, there was a defensive pass interference that gave the Chiefs an automatic first down at the one-yard line, and the guys that were in there really bowed up and finished the game, which I think is really good for them. It was good for them that they were able to do that and it was a nice play by Josh at the end there – Josh Thornton – and it was a good way to finish the game.”
Can you talk about your kickoff coverage with the new kickoff rule and new Special Teams Coordinator Brad Seely?
“I thought the guys – relative to the rule where they’re on the 34-yard line and can’t get a running start, that looked good. I thought there was really good effort. I think there’s a lot to clean up, how to take on a block, which way to avoid. We had a lot of missed tackles. So, there’s a lot to clean up, but I thought for the first time out, the effort was good and the handling of the new rules was good.”
Was it good to get QB Deshaun Watson live action since he hasn’t played in a game since last season?
“Yeah, I think preparing, getting ready for a game, preparing the call sheet, going through the call sheet, getting himself ready in the locker room in his own way – whatever way he does that – coming out for warmups and then going out there and starting a game, I think that’s a part of the process of him coming back from where he was last year. I thought he did a nice job. Obviously, we didn’t throw the ball. We threw the ball once, but I thought he did a good job operating the offense and that’s what we were trying to do.”
What have you seen from DE Angelo Blackson?
“Look, he’s a big, strong guy. Good guy, good teammate. I thought he played tough last night. He was active. I thought him and Brandon Dunn did some nice things in there – Christian Covington. I think as long as Angelo keeps the mindset of trying to get better each and every day, I think he’ll be fine.
Is safety the most improved position group?
“I don’t know. I think we have a lot of areas – obviously off of last night’s game – where we need to improve where we think we’re at. But I don’t know. That’s a tough question. I think that everybody should be looking to improve.”
How loaded do you feel at linebacker?
“I thought Dylan Cole, Zach Cunningham, those guys were active, really trying to make plays all around the field, on special teams also. Then we put Brian in there – Brian Peters. He did some nice things, and then Josh Keyes and (Kennan) Gilchrist were in there. So, everybody got a shot to play there with the exception of B-Mac (Benardrick McKinney) and I thought those guys did some nice things. There’s always things to improve on but it was a solid outing by that group.”
Have you discussed the anthem policy with your players?
“I would tell you that any discussions that I have with the team, I try to really – over the years I’ve tried to keep that between myself and the team. This team is really focused on football. This team believes in the community of Houston, and I think this organization has proven over the years that we do – led by Bob McNair and Janice McNair – we do a ton for the city of Houston. When the time is to contribute to the city, that’s what we do, but when the time is to focus on football, that’s what we’re doing. That’s what we’re doing right now. We’re focused on football, trying to get better, trying to win football games, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
What adjustments have you made throughout the years of coaching?
“Oh yeah, I mean, every year. I’ve said this a lot, you have to look – whether you come off of a winning year or losing year – you have to look at yourself in the mirror first and try to figure out what are the areas you can improve upon. So, even off of last night, there’s things that as a coaching staff we can do better. It’s not just the players. We’re in it together, we’re trying to do a better job of communicating the play to the field, or how we handle substitutions, or even our pregame warmup, how we can clean that up. So, we’re always looking to improve.”
What processes have you change when making adjustments as a coach?
“Sure. I mean, we’ve changed a lot of our processes this past offseason with our nutrition program and our strength and conditioning program and obviously a new general manager here. There’s a lot of change that’s taken place in this building and I think that’s one thing that we always are willing to do as an organization, is we’re willing to make the change to try improve. That’s really probably been proven this offseason. We’ve really made a lot of changes around here. Hopefully they work.”
Can you tell us why you like joint practices and what you hope to get out of next week’s joint practices against the San Francisco 49ers?
“I think the joint practices are really good. I’ve always enjoyed them. I enjoy working with the other coaches on setting up the practice plan. I think it’s that time of camp – this is really the grind of camp. People who talk about the grind of camp after the first week, I mean, we just had started. This is where you get back from a game at 4 a.m., you’re in here today, you have to get your rehab done, your weight lifting and all of those things, and then we’re practicing tomorrow. Then they’ll be off on Sunday and then we have a stretch of a pretty long week here. Toward the end of the week, Wednesday and Thursday, the 49ers will be here, it’ll be great competition, it’ll break up the monotony. It gives our players the chance to see different schemes, different skillsets, it gives our coaches a chance to work against different coaches and coaches we really respect. So, it’s always good.”
What’s the thought process to hold out healthy veterans like WR DeAndre Hopkins and WR Will Fuller V?
“I think the big thing was, this year as we’re looking at their reps during practice we’re saying, ‘Hey, if these guys are getting good reps in practice, let’s give some other guys some opportunities in the games.’ I thought we did that last night. A bunch of guys got opportunities in the game, and I think that’s good. That’s good for our team.”