HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN
What did you think of your first practice in general?
"Everybody showed up in shape. It's a great group of guys. Really just trying to get better every day. First time out here since OTAs. It's an OTA-type practice. It's not real football yet – no pads on. I thought that everybody came back, like I said, in shape and ready to go. We had a good day yesterday and a good start today."
Did anything stand out to you?
"No. Nothing stood out today. No pads. Nothing to really report on relative to real football."
Are you excited to get into pads for the first time?
"I am excited to get full pads on but we'll do another day of this, get some good teaching, some good reps here and then Saturday we'll put the pads on."
It looked like QB Deshaun Watson was able to do everything today leading the offense.
"We're monitoring his reps. We're not going to try to overcook him here early on. We know that he's nine months out from an ACL. We communicate a lot. How does he feel? Got some really good quality reps today. Obviously, just like everybody, some things we have to clean up but we'll take it day-to-day."
What does it mean to have DE J.J. Watt out there with the guys?
"He's a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Great leader on this team. Any time he's out there, it's great for the Houston Texans. No doubt."
How did you think DE J.J. Watt looked at practice?
"Came back in great shape. He's worked really hard. I mean, he's better to ask about it than me but he's worked extremely hard to get back to where he's at. He's a driven guy, as we all know. He's a great leader on this team and we're glad to have him back."
What does it mean to have QB Deshaun Watson firmly in the starting role for all of camp?
"It's good. He gets the No. 1 reps. Right now, these first two days, we're trying to get all four quarterback reps. It's hard to do that as camp goes on, but in the first two days, get all the guys some reps. Then, like I said, monitoring Deshaun and how he's doing through all of this, but he's full-go, and it's obviously great to have him."
Is it going to be a slow-go with DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney for a while?
"There are different categories of players. Some guys are active PUP, some guys are needing to just get back into a little bit better football shape right now as far as playing football. He comes under that category, but he'll be ready to go pretty soon here."
Do you expect DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney to put the pads on when you guys do?
"I don't know. That will be Saturday. I would say probably not. I'm not concerned about him, though. I think we're just – because of his rehab and all of that, he wasn't able to be in OTAs so we're just trying to be intelligent about the way we bring him back."
How is the chemistry with the offensive line developing?
"I think that's the big thing. We talked about that last night in the offensive line meeting, getting these guys playing together. We have some talented guys in that position. We've got good guys, veteran players, but they have to play together and they have to get reps together and that's what we're going to try to do throughout training camp."
Do General Manager Brian Gaine's words of 'humble and hungry' describe where the team is at right now?
"I think we have confidence. We don't think about last year. Last year's over. We're really just focused on today, tomorrow. This team's hungry. This team's a confident team. This team just needs to continue to put the work in and try to get better each and every day. We're a team that I think has good chemistry. We just need to come out every day and put a good day of work in, and that's what they did today."
How much fun is it to draw plays for this offense when you have players like WR DeAndre Hopkins?
"Yeah, DeAndre, Will Fuller (V), Keke Coutee, Bruce Ellington had some good plays today, Braxton Miller. We've got some good young receivers like Keke but also some undrafted guys we think can – we've got a real battle at that position. Obviously, with Hop out there as one of the best in the league, it's great to have him out there but we feel good about that position with the diversity of the position, the different skillsets and we just need to keep trying to get better every day."
Does the tight end position need to come along or do you feel good about where the group is at?
"We've got some young talent there. They need to learn how to play pro football. It's not easy at that position. That position, next to quarterback, is probably the hardest position to learn in our offense as far as being involved in the running game, the passing game, both from a protection standpoint, a route-running standpoint, but we feel good about the young guys we have there. We've got, obviously, Ryan Griffin, a veteran player back for us. Matt Lengel's come in playing Y for us and doing some decent things. Like I said with every position, just trying to get better every day."
What has impressed you about QB Deshaun Watson mentally?
"He's much farther ahead. He's put a lot of time in. He's had experience, just like everybody, including me, there's something that you learn every single day. So, there will be something that he learned out there today, a couple of things that we learned about today based on what RAC (Romeo Crennel) was doing against us. So, he has that great mindset like I've said a million times about trying to get one percent better every day. I think that's a really good way to approach football. That's what he does. He's farther than he was last year. I mean, we would hope he would be because he's in his second year."
Even as limited as things might be early on in camp, does QB Deshaun Watson's poise and leadership show up?
"Yeah, he's got a good presence about him. He's got a good poise. He's not a real loud guy but when he takes command at the line of scrimmage, I think everybody's listening. He's a good leader. He's got a really good style of leadership and he'll continue to grow as a leader. You know, he's still a very young player, he's got a lot of veterans around him, both sides of the ball, on special teams also. So, he'll continue to come into his own as a leader but he definitely has really good leadership qualities."
How much of what you see from QB Deshaun Watson is a result of studying off the field?
"He's put a lot of time in. He's in there early, he studies on his own, he watches a lot of tape on his own and he studies the playbook on his own. You have to. If you want to be successful in this league at quarterback, you have to be obsessed with football. I mean, there's just no other way to be successful. If you're not obsessed with football as a quarterback in this league, then you really have no chance, and so that's what he is. He has a passion for the game, he loves to learn, he tries to get better every day and that's just who he is."
What has it been like to have a whole offseason to build your offense around QB Deshaun Watson?
"It's good. I mean, it's not my offense, it's the Houston Texans' offense. I have a lot of help on the offensive staff. Mike Devlin, offensive line coach and all the rest of those guys, they really help out a lot. Helped me with scripting, helped me with the design of plays, the vision of the offense. I have a really good coaching staff and we've been able to develop some things and we'll see how it goes. We'll see how much we can handle, how much we can do and try to really just take it one day at a time."
At the safety position, what does S Tyrann Mathieu bring to the table?
"Tyrann Mathieu had a good spring, good player, really solid player, really smart guy, good instincts, good ball skills and we're excited to have him. I like what he brings to the table."
Next to S Tyrann Mathieu is S Kareem Jackson and S Justin Reid.
"It's a very competitive position. We moved Kareem (Jackson) over there. He brings really good talent, really good instincts, really good football knowledge to that position. Justin Reid is a really good young player. Corey Moore has played a lot of football for us. Kurtis Drummond, I know he's been injured in the past, but he's been out there for us. So, there's some really good competition at that positon."
How does it feel to be back at The Greenbrier?
"We love The Greenbrier. I think it gives us an opportunity to get away and just kind of be on our own out here and develop some chemistry. The Greenbrier people are awesome. Really great hospitality, can't say enough about how they treat us here and the facilities are great, field looks great. We're excited to be here."
DE J.J. WATT
What was it like from a physical and emotion standpoint to be back out there with the guys?
"It was great. It felt great to be back out there. The first day, the biggest thing is you want to test out your lungs, test out your legs, make sure you're fresh, make sure you're in shape. I mean, that's the biggest thing for me today, and I felt really good out there. It's Day 1. You're not going to get any crazy proclamations or insight out there, but just to be back with the guys – I mean, that's the biggest thing you miss during your time off is being in the locker room, being on the field, messing around with the guys on the sideline. That's the most fun."
How exciting is it for you to just be out there?
"It's great. These last two years have been very tough. I've had a lot of down days. I've had a lot of up days, and a lot of people have helped me get through what I've been through. I'm just so happy and fortunate to be back out on the field and playing the game I love. Looking forward to taking it one day at a time with the guys. We have so much fun. We have a good group of guys. We have a good coaching staff. I just love coming to work."
A lot of players use adversity to come back as a better player. Do you take that approach as well?
"Yeah, that's absolutely the goal. I mean, when you go through something like this, it's a climb back to the top, and you want to climb that mountain. I've had days where you take three steps forward, and then there's days where you take one step back. I'm lucky I have good family and friends to help lift me up because you sure go through some days where you question yourself. You have tough days. I could stand up here and say, 'No, it was great. Everything was awesome,' but I went through some very tough times. Where I'm at today because of all of those tough times is a great place and I'm very happy, I'm very excited to be out here and I feel really good."
What does it mean to have QB Deshaun Watson back healthy?
"It's great. Obviously, we've all seen the type of talent that he is and what he can bring to this team. We're very excited to see what he can do and to have him back out there leading the offense."
Are you 100 percent healthy now? Do you expect to play in the preseason?
"I feel great. I have no restrictions in practice, no restrictions whatsoever. So, I'm going to go. I think I'll have an off day here and there because I'm a vet and I get one, but I feel great. Like I said, today was all about testing my conditioning and everything and my conditioning is at a great place. Yeah, I'm 100 percent. I feel great."
What did you learn about yourself during the rehab process?
"I learned how important it is to have good people around you. I have my girlfriend, my brothers, my parents, my teammates. Nobody can do that by themselves. Nobody can overcome adversity, nobody can go through these types of tough situations by themselves. Then, I learned that I have people that I can look to. I look at guys like DQ (David Quessenberry), Dre (Andre Hal). People are going through stuff that's much worse than a broken leg and how hard they fight and how much they overcome. I get to play a game. I'm so happy and I'm so fortunate to be out here. I could look back at these last two years and say, 'Man, those are two of the shittiest years of my life,' but then I can also look back at them and say how much I've learned and how important it is for me to go back on this field and play at the level I know I can play at to show that I can overcome what I've been through."
Is there a potential for the defense and the offense to balance each other out this season?
"I think we have a lot of talent in a lot of places on this team. When you look around, every position group has their players that can be real playmakers and bring a lot to the team in terms of talent. I think what we have to do now – and that's what training camp is for – is to figure out how to put all of that together, execute it and make sure we do it on gameday. It's one thing to look good on paper, it's another thing to perform. That's for myself, that's for everybody. I think we saw glimpses of what the offense is capable of for sure last year. I think we know what this defense is capable of when we're playing at our highest level. Now, it's just a matter of making those things all come together at the same time."
What did it mean for you to step up to help the people of Santa Fe?
"You see situations like that and you try to put yourself in somebody else's shoes and you hope that somebody would step up and take care of your family if they were in that situation. That's the only thing that I can think about there. I'm lucky. I've been in Houston for seven-eight years now and the people have treated me like family. I feel like family. I'm so thankful they've treated me and my family like their own. I feel very protective of the City of Houston. I feel very close to them, and so any time we go through anything I want to be there with them. They've been with me through so many tough times of my own. The beauty of the City of Houston is everybody. I mean, you have guys like Mattress Mack out there who's doing stuff every single day. You've got the Astros and the Rockets and everybody out there chipping in – the fire department, the police department – it's been really special, especially these last couple of years with some of the hardships we've been through to see everybody come together. I think that's the beauty of the human spirit and that's what gives you hope about our future."
What's the one thing you have to bring to camp?
"Two pillows. I bring my own pillows. You never know with pillows. It's kind of shady so I always bring my own two pillows. One of my suitcases was just pillows."
Now that you've been a doctor for a few months, have you taken over your medical treatments?
"I have. I'm getting a little pissed off because some of the people around here aren't really addressing me properly, including you guys. So, it's been really disappointing. I've seen some headlines that don't have my full title. I worked really hard for that."
How has the reception been in West Virginia?
"It's been great. The people in West Virginia are always awesome. The staff here at The Greenbrier, the people in town, the mountains, you can't beat it. So, we're lucky to have a facility like this and we're thankful to be here."
Does this year feel any different?
"I think I'm starting in a really good place this year. It feels like I'm starting just a regular training camp, which is good. I feel like I'm starting fresh, which is the goal. When I started this rehab process, the one thing I wanted to do was earn a clean slate. I wanted to earn a fresh start, earn a chance to go out there, start a training camp from day one, go out there and play. I think that clean slate has come and I have a chance to once again try to write my own story."
How much do you look forward to putting on the pads?
"I'm pretty excited about it. The last two years, I haven't been able to put them on as much as I'd like, so I'm really excited to put on the pads again. I think it's Saturday. So, yeah, I'm really looking forward to it."
You posted a picture that got a lot of attention on social media.
"That's all lighting and shadows. We have a new team photographer. I don't know if you guys have met him yet, but the guy is unbelievable. So, I'm going to ask him to just follow me around all day, I think, because that picture was pretty good and I couldn't not share it. Like I said, that's all smoke and mirrors. It just looks really good because he put a good filter on it, I'm pretty sure."
Do you like what you're doing with the new sports performance department?
"He's great. Luke (Richesson) is incredible. The staff that Luke has, the staff that Ladd Harris, our nutritionist has, the program that they've put in place and the guys have been following it to a T. They are really, really good. I think they're going to make a really big difference for our team and I think they already have."
How does it feel to see kids out there wearing your jersey?
"It never gets less crazy. Every single time I see it, it's still one of the coolest things in the world. When I was a kid, I went up to Green Bay to watch Packers training camp and see them ride the kids bikes down to practice and I stood outside asking for autographs. I still remember that feeling when I got an autograph from a player who I had no clue who he was. I just threw a white shirt over the fence, he signed it and tossed it back. I was trying to figure out what the hell number he wrote so I could see who it was, but that was the most exciting thing in the world. To be out here, to be playing in the NFL and to have people wearing my jersey asking for my autograph is still crazy. It doesn't matter how many years you play, you always have to remember how fortunate you are and how lucky you are to play a game you love for a living and get paid to do it."
Have there been days in recovery during which you feel it's ready to hang it up or does your passion drive you to return?
"Really early on in injuries is the toughest part. For the first two months of this one, I wasn't allowed to walk. You're sitting there on your couch and you're like, 'How the hell am I going to get back to where I need to be?' You're sitting there and you can't even do a leg raise, you can't even do anything and you're like, 'Is this possible?' Then you just take it one day at a time, step-by-step. The first thing you start with is just a little leg raise. Then you start with a leg raise with weight. Then you move onto walking and running. When you look back at it all, it's beautiful, but at the time it sucks. I think that there's so much beauty in the struggle but you only see the beauty once you look back and really take it all in. I'm happy where I'm at being able to look back on it now and I'm thankful for the moments that I went through, but I think I'm going to come out stronger because of it. It's one of those things, people tell you, 'You're going to come out stronger on the other side of this injury. Minor setback for a major comeback.' You hear all of these things and you're like, 'Are you sure?' Then you get to the end and you're like, 'It is true'. It sucks, but it is true and I'm happy with where I'm at."
QB DESHAUN WATSON
How was the first day of camp now that you are fully back?
"It was cool. Just a great refresher for myself and for my teammates to kind of just continue that chemistry that we built during the offseason but also starting off the training camp right with everyone back in action, back on the same page and like I said, just building that chemistry."
Do you have a different mentality now that you're entering camp as the starter?
"No, honestly it's the same mentality that I had last year. Regardless, I knew Tom (Savage) was the guy going into camp last year, I still prepared myself like I was a starter. Each and every day, every rep I got, I took full advantage of it and I'm doing the same thing here. Even though I'm the first quarterback to step on the field, that doesn't make me bigger than all the other guys that are coming on behind me. I just kind of continue to take each rep, one play at a time, try to get one percent and just perfect my job, perfect my craft and make sure everyone else around me is getting better."
How much do you feel you've grown since this time last year?
"I've grown a lot. That just comes with experience, it comes with film study and it just comes with time. Being able to communicate with Coach (Bill) O'Brien, with Sean Ryan and all the other guys that have been in the system before. Like I said, study, take time and review the things I need to review and just master the basic stuff on offense."
Head Coach Bill O'Brien said to be a successful quarterback in this league you have to be obsessed with football and he said you have are. Can you talk about your love of the game?
"That stuff comes natural. I love the game of football. I've been playing it since I was four or five in the backyard. It's kind of just drawing up plays in the dirt, watching film, watching YouTube videos, watching ESPN – all types of stuff. The game is everyday life for me. The people that know me and communicate with me on a daily basis, they understand that regardless of the situation and what we are doing, I'm either talking about football or it's related to football. I love the game. I love what I do. I love to study, not just study myself but study other guys in different positions. That's just me."
How does it feel to be 100 percent and know all that hard work paid off?
"It feels good. Just putting in the work. It's been long days, early mornings, late nights, tough times, mornings where I didn't want to get up and drills that I didn't want to do, but I stuck through it. I just appreciate the training staff we have here and all the guys that helped me get through the process and to get to where I'm at now. The process isn't done now. I'm going to continue to train and rehab throughout the training camp and throughout the season."
How did it feel to be out there and fully participate in team drills?
"It felt normal. It felt natural. It didn't really bother me at all. I didn't really think twice about it. I'm just kind of going out there and performing, playing and practicing. Trying to get better."
There are a lot of star name football players on this team, but the record was 4-12 last season. What are your expectations this year with it being your first year as starting quarterback?
"Last year is last year. Right now we're just focusing on the first day of training camp. We got that in the books, the practice. Now we have to go back and watch the film, correct the mistakes and then get prepared for day two. We're not really looking forward toward the season right now, we're focusing on day-by-day. If we can try to get better each day, each practice, each week and not worry about the next practice or the next game, then we'll be fine. We have to focus on the present, focus on the moment, and if we do that we won't look ahead of anything. Tomorrow's not promised so we have to master what we're doing now to get to tomorrow."
Does being a leader come natural to you?
"I'm a natural leader. I'm a serving leader. I like to serve others, I put the team before myself, I put everybody else before myself. That's just how I am. I'm a Virgo so that's what Virgos do."
What was it like to see DE J.J. Watt back out there after going through the rehab process with him?
"It's cool for all the guys. Like you said, J.J. is a guy that has put his heart and soul into this game and what he does. It just makes me happy to see him back out there in action, just like myself, and being able to perform at practice and do the things he used to do and get back in the groove, knock the rust off and just be out there with the teammates and all the guys. So, it's pretty cool."
What's the one item you need to bring to training camp?
"I guess my speaker. My Beats speaker."
Was it cool to know you had some Clemson fans out there in the crowd?
"It's awesome. When we got off the bus yesterday walking into the hotel, it was cool to see the orange and see all the support, see all the love. It just brings me joy knowing that they're still following me and still following all the other guys that are on the team from Clemson University. We have so much love for that university and so much support. It's awesome. It's one big family."