Head Coach Bill O'Brien**
(opening statement) "First of all, Arian (Foster) yesterday in practice suffered a groin injury. He's still being evaluated. Look, he's going to miss some time, there's no doubt about that. We have no idea how much time he's going to miss. There's medical opinions that still need to take place. One thing I want to say about Arian is, you know, I feel bad for him personally. I think he came into this offseason and he really worked extremely hard, came back here and ran the conditioning test really, really well, came back in great shape, and he was practicing well. But, as a football team, it's next man up, next man up. We've got a good backfield, a good bunch of guys back there, and I thought they came out here today and competed well. But that's the news on Arian as I know it now. So I'm not taking any questions on Arian Foster. Second thing, on anyone's, any individual player's personal situation as it relates to family, or anything else, I won't comment on that. In the building, we're very supportive of all of our players, we want our players to have success. We want them to go into each and every day knowing they have our support. I believe our players know that. So I won't comment on anybody's personal situation. With that, anybody have any questions?"
(on if they've signed anybody yet) "No. We brought some guys in this morning, and as I stand here right now I haven't seen Rick (Smith) yet, but I don't believe we've signed anybody. I'm sure it'll happen pretty soon."
(on what he's seen out of running backs Alfred Blue and Jonathan Grimes) "Yeah, I tell you JL Grimes, I know yesterday, I've got to watch the film from today, I really do to really comment on today but JL Grimes yesterday had a really good practice. He's a steady guy, one of our core special teams guys, and he's a back that's gotten better and better in our system. I think everybody knows how I feel about Alfred Blue. He's a big back, he's a smart guy, he's a leader, he's a tough kid, and we really enjoy coaching him. I think both those guys have had good training camps. Kenny Hilliard has come in here early in training camp and really done some decent things. Has it always been perfect? No, it's hard for a rookie to be perfect, but it's hard for anybody to be perfect, but he's really had a good start to training camp. We're excited about all of those guys."
(on the overall running back situation and if RB Alfred Blue can be a three-down guy) "I think it's more, you know, kind of what I'm used to, with my career, we'll put guys in different roles. Blue can play on third down in certain third down situations, no doubt about it. Jonathan (Grimes) can play on first and second down in certain first and second down situations. And then obviously Kenny (Hilliard) is in here. He's a big back. He's more of a first and second down guy, probably not as much on third down, short yardage, goal line. I think he's doing a good job down there as you guys can see. Then I'm sure we'll sign somebody and we'll see what their role will be. Each guy will have a role and it's like the mantra around here always is, the more you can do. The more these guys can do, the more they'll help the team."
(on what kind of running back he is looking for) "We want someone that can do a little bit of everything. I know that sounds like a noncommittal type of answer, but it's the truth. We want a guy that can run the football in certain situations, a guy that can catch the ball in the backfield, a guy that can help us on special teams. I'm sure we'll find some candidates to be able to do that."
(on where experience comes in with the running backs) "You know I don't think you can ever replace experience. I think having experience in this league is important. But at the end of the day, we've got to go with the guy that we think fits our team the best."
(on making the decision on who he wants to add) "I'm not ready to do that."
(on what RB Alfred Blue needs to do to be better) "I think it all goes together. I think there's things that he can do better. He's at his best when he's a downhill, slashing type of runner when, he doesn't dance and he gets to the hole. I think he's really improved on that. Obviously with the line and the tight ends, I think we're better there. I think we're way ahead of where we were last year, so the blocking's improved. So I don't get into all the averages, and what he averaged per carry and all that. I think it's a team effort and I think everybody's improved."
(on RB Alfred Blue's ability to pick up the blitz) "Very good. Yeah, he's good. He's a smart kid. He knows his assignments and bright kid."
(on if the possibility of a trade is ruled out) "Nothing's ever ruled out."
(on having all offseason to prepare without RB Arian Foster) "I mean, it's the National Football League. That's why you try to put together as competitive as a roster as you can because things like this happen. In all of our careers, it's happened before. Obviously in 2008 in New England, we lost Tom Brady and here came Matt Cassel and we went 11-5. I think these things, you have to be ready for. Look, my relationship with Arian (Foster) will stay between Arian and I, but I just have a ton of respect for the guy. Personally, I just feel bad for the guy. But as far as our team goes, it's on to the next. The next man has to step up and do the job."
(on the trip to Richmond, VA to practice with the Washington Redskins) "Big days. We have a lot of respect for the Washington Redskins, Jay Gruden, and his staff. They've got a good football team with a lot of good players, so I think it will be good to get out there and get in a hotel together, and go practice against another team. It will help the whole competition of our roster, it will help us gauge ourselves against another team. It's a good thing."
(on the competition between QB Ryan Mallett and QB Brian Hoyer) "These guys are close. They're both having decent camps. They both have had some plays, like I always say, that they probably wish they could have back. But they've had a lot of good plays. They've had a lot more good than bad. Again, I believe in these guys and at the right time we'll make the choice of who will start the game. But, to this point, both guys are doing a good job."
(on if the team will sign another running back as early as today) "Sure. Yeah, it could be."
(on if the injury to RB Arian Foster effects the quarterback competition) "No."
(on the tight end group) "I think they've improved a lot. I think that over the course of the offseason and now into training camp, these guys have put a lot of work into it. Ryan Griffin is one of the most improved guys on our team. C.J.'s (Fiedorowicz) improved. Garrett Graham, from where we left off in the middle of OTAs through the end of OTAs and then now into training camp, he's done a nice job of improving on the things we asked him to improve upon. I like some of these young guys. Some of these young guys have shown some good things, like Khari Lee. Khari Lee has come in here and had a decent camp. We feel good about that position. Of course, they've got to go out there and do it, but we think they've all improved."
(on how the offense performed at practice today) "Up and down. We've got to smooth it out a little bit more. Some plays were really good. I thought at the end, we didn't finish the practice as well as we needed to. But I think it was just a matter of inconsistency, some good and some bad. We've got to get more consistent."
(on skyping with Astronaut Terry Virts and DE J.J. Watt ) "That was unbelievable. I think it was more about J.J. Watt. He was skyping with J.J. Watt. I don't think Astronaut Terry knew who the hell I was. But I was in the background watching it and it was just incredible to me to know how long they are up there, how far away from planet earth they are, how they operate during the day, and what they were doing up there as far as their research. It was just a really cool experience for me to see that."
(on what he hopes to accomplish with the practices against the Washington Redskins) "Just keep improving. We still have installation. They still have installation to do. But I think it's good for us to go against another team, so I'd like us to go up there and compete, compete hard on every play, every situation, and get better as a team."
(on if he will name a starting quarterback after the trip to Richmond, VA) "You never know. You never know."
(on RB Kenny Hilliard) "Kenny's (Hilliard) getting better. Kenny has improved each of the days that he's been here and that's what you look for. I think he's gotten better at getting his pads down. He's gotten better at knowing what to do. He's gotten better with ball security. Kenny's getting better. He just needs to keep on that track."
(on if more receivers will be involved in the passing game this year) "Every year is different, it really is. Last year was last year. We had personnel that we formulated game plans around and we tried to get the ball to certain guys in certain situations and that's how that year worked out. This year is different. I don't know if we've totally identified that yet. I think that over time we'll identify who those guys are. You're probably correct, it will probably be-hopefully, the ball will be spread around a little bit more."
RB Alfred Blue
(on if he is excited about the opportunity to start) "Yes sir, I'm planning on making the best of the opportunity, and seize the moment."
(on gaining experience last season) "I would say it helps a lot. Just getting in there last year and getting my feet wet. I started a couple of games, so that definitely helps knowing that I have been through it already."
(on biggest difference in the second season of the offense) "Attention to detail, just the little things. Getting better at the little things and doing that good."
(on if he feels pressure with RB Arian Foster out) "I would say it's an opportunity. Just make the best of it. Even when Arian was there, it was still an opportunity for the second spot. You just have to compete every day. Come out and make the best of the opportunity."
(on what he has improved on since last year) "I would say I'm a better runner. I'm more patient, learning from Arian (Foster) and him mentoring me, critiquing me every day at practice. Just teaching me how he runs and what he's seeing out there when he is running. I would say I'm much improved in that."
(on the type of running back he is) "I would say very versatile, power, a little speed with it. I am more of smooth runner than anything I would say."
(on what he has improved since last year) "I would say patience in the run game. Just knowing the blocks with the o-lineman (offensive lineman) and knowing what's going on with that line and who they are working up to."
(on if it matters which quarterback is handing you the ball) "I wouldn't put much thought on if it matters which quarterback is handing the ball off. I wouldn't say that."
(on what he would say to the people who might sleep on him this season) "I'm very confident. It is a great opportunity so I am going to seize the moment and make the best of it."
(on how rookie RB Kenny Hilliard has done in practice) "He is a great runner, man. He is that one cut, get down-hill type of back. I played three years at LSU with Kenny, he's a great guy and a great runner."
(on the battle for the starting position at running back) "It is always a battle. It was a battle before Arian (Foster) got hurt so it's just a battle always. I never look at it as a battle with the running backs, I always come out to compete."
T Duane Brown
(on RB Arian Foster's injury) "He is very instrumental in what we do offensively, a great leader. We are hoping for the best, we don't know exactly all of the facts, but it's tough not having him here."
(on your initial reaction to the news) "Outside of football, that's a great friend of mine. I know how hard he worked this summer to prepare himself to the best of his ability. To have any kind of injury is tough, you know, it is part of the game though. My heart feels for him and we are definitely supporting him as much as possible. As soon as we can get him back, it will be great. We'll see what happens."
(on the other running backs on the team) "They are working hard. (Alfred) Blue, (Jonathon) Grimes, (Chris) Polk, and (Kenny) Hilliard. We got a lot of guys out here working to fill that spot and they are very capable. They all bring something different to the table. It is our job up front to open holes for them so they can do their job and we can keep this thing going."
(on going home to Richmond, Virginia for practice) "It is very special. Growing up in Richmond I spent a lot of my life there. A lot of family and friends are there. To be able to go out and compete at this scale, at a national level, and have my family and friends out there to witness it against a good team it is very special. I am looking forward to it."
(on if he was a Redskins fan growing up) "No, no I wasn't surprisingly. I followed them a little bit. I was a Giants fan growing up. I liked Lawrence Taylor. I was a Lawrence Taylor fan, so that's where that came from."
(on changing from a tight end to left tackle in college) "I'm telling you, my freshman year I came in and was about 265 (pounds). Everybody kept telling me to move to tackle and that I would make a lot of money. I wasn't trying to hear it. I was catching touchdowns and I wanted the glory of having my name in the stat line. It worked out for everybody I think and I'm very fortunate that they gave me that insight early on and prepped me for it early in my career."
(on his college coach comparing the salaries of different positions) "They preached it all the time. I never would have thought coming in as a freshman that I would be here standing as a starting left tackle in the NFL. They saw something in me and they see something in a lot of guys there. They used our abilities to our advantage."
WR DeAndre Hopkins
(on what his reaction was to hearing about RB Arian Foster's injury) "I just, I felt for Arian personally. He's a friend of mine. I hate to hear about anybody getting injured."
(on RB Arian Foster looking good the first few days of camp) "Yeah, he puts in work every offseason to come out here and be prepared. I'm not exactly sure what happened, but it sucks."
(on if the team still has the same goals as they did before RB Arian Foster got hurt) "Oh yeah, all the time."
(on if there is added pressure on the offense now) "There is no pressure. This is a dynamic offense, and we're going to find ways to win football games."
(on how he feels about the receiving core) "We have a lot of leaders in there, guys that've been number one on offenses at multiple places. Cecil (Shorts III) was the number one option at one point in time and Nate Washington also as well. So it's not just me, we have a lot of guys in there that've been in that role."
(on traveling to practice with the Washington Redskins) "It's going to be cool just to see different jerseys. They're going to bring their all there all week, so it's going to be exciting."
(on practicing against the Washington Redskins being a game-like situation) "We're going to go up there. I think we prepared this week to go up there, put together a good couple days of practice against those guys."
QB Brian Hoyer
(on RB Arian Foster getting injured) "Everybody's got to step up. Obviously he's a great player."
(on getting the tight ends more involved) "Yeah, I think this offense, it really utilizes the skill set of the players that it has, so we have a great group of tight ends and I think, even going back to the spring, we really were getting them involved and still trying to do it out here now."
(on the quarterback situation) "I'm just coming out here every day trying to practice the best I can. Like I've told everyone before, if you get caught up in the competition, you know you start looking at the other guy, what he's doing, what you're doing, comparing. I mean that's when things go bad, so I come out here every day. Ryan (Mallett) and I are competing against each other, but also competing with ourselves. We know how good we want to be and I can only speak for myself, but like I said, I don't want to be worried about what he's doing. I want to focus on what I'm doing and just try to come out here and you know, kind of keep stacking these bricks and building a solid foundation and let (Head) Coach (Bill) O'Brien come to that decision."
(on wearing pads) "You got to get used to throwing in them again, that's for sure. They get them reconditioned every year, so they get a little stiff. You got to come out here and, being in Houston you sweat a lot, so they break in a little bit quicker. Other than that, you know, the pads really don't affect me. It's more, now the center has pants on, he's sweating, taking snaps like that. There's a push in the pocket, you have to move around a little bit more because it's more like real football, so I think that's the part for us, it's not really us getting used to our pads, it's used to getting a guy around us with their pads on."
(on feeling comfortable with the offense) "That's fair to say. I think this is what I kind of first learned in the NFL and to be back in it is good, but I think the one thing about this offense that makes it so great is it's always evolving, always changing and trying to keep the defense on their toes. So, even in this training camp, we're putting a lot of new stuff in. They're throwing a lot at us and we're all out here trying to come out every day and get better and learn the new stuff and retain the old stuff."
(on day four of camp) "I think when you have a bad play, you can't focus on it. You have to move on to the next one, especially out here in practice. You don't have to worry about the play right before, the next play. You worry about that play and try to focus on that one. And we're going against a good defense, and the pads are on and there's some competition going on out there, so sometimes the defense is going to win and like I said, that's when you move on to the next play."
(on the defense helping the offense improve) "Oh yeah, for sure. This is a tough defense and I'm glad I don't have to play against them in a real game anymore."
(on talking to the rookies about dropped red zone passes) "Yeah, it's a quarterback's job and I think for the most part, you guys see us out here working after, obviously now we have to get on the bus and go to Washington, so everything is kind of ramped up a little bit, but every day we come out, we talk to these receivers, all of them. Young guys, old guys and we say alright, let's pick two or three routes that we need to get better on every day and really try to get them down so the timing gets down because with our situation, we are going with all of the different receivers, so it's good to get out here and throw to every single one of them."
(on feeling comfortable with the receivers) "I mean, from top to bottom, you look at them all and you could rattle them off. Cecil (Shorts) made plays, EZ (Nwachukwu) made plays, Nate (Washington). I mean, all the way down the line, obviously (DeAndre) Hopkins, that's an obvious. But even all the way, top to bottom, you see these guys out here, really playing well and making some plays for us."
(on WR EZ Nwachukwu) "He runs great routes. He's fast. He knows what he's doing. He made a great catch in the back corner over here in the red zone. I think there's not one of those guys who doesn't work his ass off and that doesn't try to come and talk to the quarterbacks and figure out what we want and I think when you have receivers that are willing to do that, you're more likely to get on the same page."
(on his relationship with RB Alfred Blue) "I think, like I said before, everybody has got to step up and obviously (Alfred) Blue has done it before at this level and then you got (Jonathan) Grimes and Kenny (Hilliard) and (Chris) Polk, so all those guys have to rise up to the next level and I think they're up for the challenge."
(on practicing with Washington Redskins) "It's good, I think if anything, it's good to go against a different face. We're out here, we're going against our defense every day. They know what we're running, we know what they're running, so now it's more of a true look. You're going out there, playing against a defense you don't really know and you got to go through your reads, go through your checks, everything like that and do it against a different team that you're not used to going against."
(on traveling to Richmond, VA) "I think it's great. I think it breaks up training camp. Like I said before, you don't have to go against the same faces every day. We don't have to see J.J. (Watt) and (Brian) Cushing and all those guys and I think for us it's a real first test to see where we're at with another team in this league."
(on RB Arian Foster) "I think for us, it's all about, there's injuries in the NFL all the time. Obviously this one is not at a very great time for us. We all have to step up now with his absence. However long that might be, it's our responsibility as a whole entire offense to step up to the next level and make our team better."
QB Ryan Mallett
(on RB Arian Foster's injury) "How we play is next man up, it's unfortunate. Whatever happened, I don't know. We'll see. The next guy will step up and we'll go about our business."
(on being on the same page with the younger receivers) "We've had enough reps with those guys. We just got to keep working to get more on the same page. Just get to know each other more. We've only known them for six months now so we just have to keep getting more reps with them and we'll get better."
(on the joint practice with the Washington Redskins this week) "I love these joint practices. You get to see a different scheme. Our defense is on our team, we won't see that scheme much this year, so seeing a different scheme and just having to make adjustments on the fly kind of like a game-type situation is what I'm looking forward to."
(on getting used to facing your own defense at practice) "We don't have much prep work going into them because we're just going to practice. But we'll study on the way up there and see what they've got. We are just trying to get better with our foundation. Getting better as a team and coming together when we play and hitting on all cylinders when we need to."
(on working with different centers every practice) "It's different especially if you have rookies in there, first time with live action. You just have to get used to them and that's part of training camp, going with different people. That's why I like that we mix and match different combinations of linemen, centers and receivers. Everybody gets to know each other's tendencies."
(on competing against another team) "I am tired of seeing J.J. (Watt) jumping up and swatting balls down every day, so hopefully we can eliminate that up there."
(on DE J.J. Watt catching passes after practice) "Yeah, he had to make up for them (swatting away passes on defense)."
Astronaut Terry Virts
(on talking to Head Coach Bill O'Brien and DE J.J. Watt while in space) "Bill was there and J.J. was there. A couple players came in and out. It was cool. They really enjoyed it. I think it's an unusual thing for them to get to talk to folks in space. It's a fun thing for us to do. We have kind of a daily grind day after day after day for 200 days up there. So it was a fun thing for me to do, too, talk to J.J. and Bill."
(on when the conversation took place) "It took place in the spring. I forgot the exact date, but it was a few months ago."
(on how long he was in space for) "I was in space 200 days, yeah. It was a long time."
(on if he was surprised by the call) "We expected it. It was coordinated through NASA and the Texans. They got together and coordinated it, so I knew it was coming."
(on getting invited to Texans Training Camp) "I think it's pretty cool. It's something different. We get to talk about how we do physical training at NASA and how they do physical training here. There's a little bit in common. It's fun. It's something different for both of us."
(on talking to DE J.J. Watt) "J.J.'s an awesome guy. He's such a great guy. He's fun to talk to. He had lots of questions. He just wanted to learn about space. It was great for me because I had a bigger vertical leap then he did. I was demonstrating I could jump up, go about 20 feet to the next module, and come down. That was pretty cool to have more vertical leap than J.J. Of course, when you come back to earth, those days are gone."
(on the gravity effecting his jump) "It's good to be weightless. It does help."
(on if he had met DE J.J. Watt before) "I had not met him before. This was the first time meeting him."
(on if DE J.J. Watt was his favorite Texans player) "He was, yeah. I love the Texans. There's a lot of great players on the Texans, but J.J. is kind of the guy."
(on meeting Head Coach Bill O'Brien) "That was great, too. To see the head coach and see how he is running the team. We didn't talk that much. It was just the one meeting, but there's an interesting correlation between being the station commander and running an NFL. There's a few parallels and some differences, but that was good."
(on meeting RB Arian Foster) "That was great. Arian is a smart guy. He had a lot of great questions about space. I met him and some of his family members. That was really fun. He really had some great questions about NASA."
(on how many times he has gone to space) "That was my second flight."
(on when he is scheduled to go back) "I don't know. I just landed last month, so I'm still getting used to earth and doing the post-life stuff. Next flight will be at least a few months away."
(on transitioning back to living on earth) "I was worried about the transition. I thought it would be tough. It turned out that it happened a lot quicker than I thought it would. We do a lot of workout, a lot of exercise. It really prepared me to come back to earth. I had no bone loss. I was almost very close to as strong as I was before I left and it happened fast."
(on showing DE J.J. Watt his vertical in space) "I did. I said, 'hey J.J., I heard you just set some record doing a vertical leap, watch this.' And jumped up. He was laughing. Of course, those days are long gone now that I'm back in gravity."