HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN
DE J.J. Watt said he wants to play a few plays on Saturday.
"Good. That's good."
How do you determine if DE J.J. Watt is going to play?
"We meet as a staff. There are a lot of factors that go into that – a lot of factors. We don't have all day. I've got a lot of stuff to do, but there's a lot of factors that go into it."
Do you still expect your healthy players to play against the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday?
"Yeah, sure. Everybody that's healthy will play in the game."
How do you use the third preseason game to rehearse for a regular season game?
"We basically do a lot of things in our meetings that would, in some way, shape or form, simulate what we would do in a regular season week. Now, we're not into that type of schedule hours-wise. We're still in training camp mode when it comes to the amount of time we spend in meetings and practice and things like that, but in our meetings, we're starting to show them what a regular season Wednesday would look like, a regular season Thursday, a regular season Friday. So, yes, we are starting to transition a little bit into a regular season schedule."
How has the adjustment been with teaching your players in regards to the new helmet rule?
"I've heard about the different opinions on the helmet rule. I think, just like every new rule in the past, eventually everybody adapts to that rule. I think when you look at the rules of illegal contact that have changed over the years, the rules of defenseless receiver, eventually everybody – there was a spike in calls, but then everybody adapted to the way the rule was being officiated. I think that's what'll happen. I think it'll become clearer and clearer as time goes on. It's not going to become clear overnight. I think the NFL will do everything they can to make sure that the officials know what to look for."
Would you like to see the new helmet rule be reviewable?
"I think certain calls are reviewable, like if the guy was ejected, that would be a reviewable deal. I'm for reviewing basically everything. I think with all the technology we have these days, every camera angle that we have from TV – the only thing that's missing is probably goal-line cameras, cameras on the side of the goal line to tell whether a guy scored or not – things like that. I think we should review everything, just about."
What have you seen from TE Jordan Thomas?
"Interesting guy. He was a receiver in college and then as he got bigger, he moved closer to the ball. He's about 275 pounds. He's a big guy, he can run, he's got good hands. We're teaching him how to block. I think he's a willing blocker, which is important. I think he's done a decent job for a rookie so far. He's done a decent job."
Are the changing atmospheric conditions in training camp a way to find the best way to prepare?
"Definitely. I think Greenbrier was good to get away, a little bit shorter than last year, two weeks instead of three. The weather was cooler, but I also think that it was a good chance for our players to bond and be together. We come back here, have a really good week, tough week against San Francisco. It was hot out there. So, I think it's been good to be back in here and be able to focus a little bit better."
There's really no reason to not practice inside.
"I think the years that you're a head coach, especially in a place like Houston, you learn about better ways to do things. What is the best way to have our team ready to play on September 9th? That's the goal, and to give our guys the best chance to compete in practice. Sometimes when you're out in the heat that many days in a row, it's more about surviving the heat than it is on executing the play properly. That's why we kind of mix and match. We'll go outside again, but we'll be in here some."
Every city presents its own problems.
"That's right. Every city presents its weather issues."
Do you expect OLB Whitney Mercilus to be ready for the first game?
"Yes, I do."
Have you seen any of Hard Knocks this season?
"No. After we did Hard Knocks – the only part of Hard Knocks I watched at that time was the part that we would watch with the producer. After that – again, I have to make this clear like I did a couple years ago, the people that produce Hard Knocks, the people that work on Hard Knocks, they're friends with Amy (Palcic) and I. We really appreciate those people, but I never watch Hard Knocks."
You've never watched Hard Knocks in general?
Is production in practice or a game more valuable when evaluating talent?
"I think they're both very valuable, but obviously, in a game situation, the coaches aren't out there maybe yelling to you what to do, which we shouldn't be doing, but there's not as much pressure. There's still pressure on these players in practice to perform and execute, but there's a little bit more in a game in front of 70,000 fans, no coaches out there, having to depend on your teammates and yourself to know what to do and make plays. I think you evaluate both, but I think the games are very important."
S TYRANN MATHIEU
Are you looking forward to playing in live action with your teammates?
"Yeah, I'm excited. Obviously, we've been putting a lot of work in this offseason, even in camp. For me, just to get out there with my guys (and) get a feel for the game because games are so much different than practices."
What have you found out about yourself in terms of fitting in with a new team?
"I'm a good guy. Like I say all the time, this is a great locker room, it's a great group of guys. I don't have to do anything out of my character. A lot of guys have pushed me along, bring me along and I'm trying to do the same as well."
As a player, how much do you sit back as a deep safety and see things develop in front of you?
"Obviously, playing safety, you want to have good situational awareness. You want to understand route concepts, and to be honest, you want to get a good visual of the quarterback. That way you allow yourself to break and make a good play on the ball."
How has learning this defensive scheme been going?
"I think I'm a pretty smart guy. I think I've got it down about 94 percent. Just a couple little things here and there that come up, but I'll get those things corrected once we actually start playing in live games."
How's the communication between defensive backs?
"The communication is getting better and better each and every week, to be honest. Like I said, we'll really know once we get in the game, once we get into someone else's stadium and it's just loud and we have to communicate, but I think right now, we're doing a pretty good job."
Are you itching to hit somebody?
"Not really hitting, I just want to catch an interception. I don't want to use my helmet at all. It's rough right now, but obviously I'm ready to put on the uniform. I'm ready to show these guys what I can do in a live football game."
Are you excited to play against a Los Angeles Rams team with a lot of offensive talent?
"Oh yeah, it's going to be fun. It's going to be exciting. Obviously, going to L.A., playing against Todd Gurley and those guys. They have a great group of guys. The receivers are pretty good. The quarterback is getting better and better. Obviously, Todd, he speaks for himself. We'll have our hands full. Hopefully I get my feet wet Saturday."
What are your thoughts on the helmet rule and how difficult has it gotten on defensive players?
"It's going to be extremely difficult. Obviously, guys are trying to take the initiative to really go about it the right way, but sometimes it's like, what do you expect a guy to do? Hopefully, we'll get it corrected and like I said, hopefully it doesn't take too much money from the guys."
What would you like to be corrected about the rule?
"I just don't know when it's a foul, when it's clean. I have no idea."
What have you picked up from S Kareem Jackson so far?
"Kareem, I think he has an advantage because he's played on the outside, he's played on the inside. He understands what cornerbacks want. He has a pretty good grasp of the defense so he's able to help out a lot of different guys. He's a great communicator. Nick Saban coached him, so he's good back there."
Is it good to practice on the indoor field?
"Me, personally, it doesn't really matter. As long as we can come out here, get some good work in –obviously you don't want guys to be overheating or dehydrated. So, sometimes it calls for us to come in here just so we can get through it."
It had to be nice starting training camp in West Virginia.
"Yeah, West Virginia was pretty peaceful. No doubt about it."
What did you think of S Justin Reid's performance in the second preseason game?
"I think he's just antsy. He's excited to hit somebody. He's excited to prove to us all that he can play at this level. Last game, I thought he played much better. He was way more calm. He wasn't in a rush and he made a big play for us on third down. If we keep getting those things out of him, I think he'll continue to get better."
What's the value in getting some preseason reps?
"Well, hopefully I'll get to go this weekend, but at the end of the day, as long as we're out there, we're communicating – I think what's most important is you try to treat preseason like live games just so you can get that communication down and get a feel for your guys."
Are you more excited to play against Rams WR Brandin Cooks or WR Robert Woods?
"For me, it doesn't really matter. Robert Woods, I think he's a really underrated wide receiver. He's probably the Rams' most complete wide receiver just because he blocks, he does a lot of different things. Obviously, Brandin, he can go downtown at any moment, so we'll have our hands full with both of those guys."
What are some things you found out about Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel that you didn't know?
"He's pretty funny. What I really like about him is he doesn't get up, he doesn't get down. He's pretty balanced throughout it all. That's important when you have a defensive coordinator calling games, critical situations, to really keep their poise as well."
Are you getting close enough to September 9th to start thinking about QB Tom Brady?
"I was just talking to somebody about that. It's going to be fun. Brady's special. He's a special player. I look up to him in a lot of different ways. He's the ultimate competitor. For me, it's just about getting in front of him and seeing what he's got."
When was your last time playing against QB Tom Brady?
"Actually, we played them a couple of years ago but I believe he was suspended, so (Jimmy) Garoppolo played. I've never faced him, so it will be fun. Absolutely."
DE J.J. WATT
What would you like to do in the third preseason game?
"I'd like to play a little bit. We'll see. It's not my decision to make but hopefully I get a couple plays."
Are you going to be disappointed if you don't play since you said you want to?
"Not my decision to make."
If you do play this weekend, what do you want to accomplish?
"I want to come out healthy. That's all. I just want to be able to go on the field and then come back off the field."
How do you feel about how you did against the 49ers in the joint practices last week?
"Good. I felt good. It was great work. We had good work with them. It's always good to have another team in here and get a chance to hit somebody else and see some different schemes, different looks. I thought it was good, great work. They're going to be a good team and it was fun to practice against them for a couple days."
What's the importance of getting live reps before the regular season?
"I mean, I'd like some. We'll see. Hopefully I can get a few, but I'm sure even if I get some, it won't be a ton. But, I'm just excited."
How has it been trying to adjust to the new tackling rules?
"Well, we don't tackle in practice, so I haven't had to worry about it yet."
Do you imagine adjusting to the new tackle rule will be a difficult adjustment?
"I'm not going to change anything I do. We'll see. I'm sure it's something they'd like to clarify before the season starts because there's been a lot of controversy around it, so, hopefully they can get it figured out."
What do you think of the rhythm of this training camp?
"I think this year's a lot better than last year. I mean, last year we were up there for three weeks, then we were in New Orleans, then we were in Dallas, then we were stuck with the hurricane. So, just about anything is better than where we were last year. But, I think this year's been good. I think we've had a good camp so far. We're excited to have a strong finish to it here with the guys, but I think everybody's worked very hard and had a good camp."
Do you mind working on the indoor field?
"I don't mind it at all."
What have you seen from S Tyrann Mathieu?
"I mean, obviously he's a good player. He's been a good player in this league for a while. He's been great. He's been good with the guys, he's been good in the locker room, he's been good on the field, so, very excited to have him. Obviously, good to have another playmaker out there."
With DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney back, how good could you, Clowney and NT D.J. Reader be?
"I think our defense as a whole has a chance to be really good. I mean, you've got Whitney Mercilus and (Benardrick) McKinney – there's guys all over the place, so, we have a chance to be a very good defense but it's up to us to go out there and execute and do it. It's easy to look at the paper and say it's going to be good, it's another thing to go out there and perform it."
Does it start up front?
"Yeah, I think that's where's it's always started."
Would you say you're regular season ready?
"I will be when the regular season comes. That's why you get a whole training camp."
How does DE Angelo Blackson fit into the rotation?
"I think he's been having a really good camp. Lo goes out there every day, he's very consistent, he works extremely hard, he knows what he's supposed to do, he does it well and it's the same guy every day. You get the same guy and that's all you can ask for, is a guy who comes to work."
Can you talk about the growth of ILB Zach Cunningham in year two?
"Obviously we're looking for a big year out of Zach. He's a very fast player, he's smart, he can fly around, he can make plays. So, we want to see him continue to do that and continue to take steps and confidence and leadership as well, obviously, at the linebacker position."
Indianapolis Colts' QB Andrew Luck said he almost need to get sacked to feel like he was back to playing football. What do you need to go through to feel like you're back?
"I'm not sure I need to get pancake blocked or anything, but you just want to hit the pads. You want to try and make a tackle. When you make a tackle in a game, part of it is just your wind. You need to get that second wind after you make a tackle, you get up, you get back to the line and go to make another play. You have to get into that type of rhythm because you never get to tackle in practice. So, you'd like to get out there and do a couple things, but I think in 2012 I missed the entire training camp. I didn't practice, I didn't play a game because I had my elbow. That season turned out OK. I think a couple years ago I didn't play in the preseason at all, so, I'm not terribly worried about not playing much at all."