HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN
What have you seen from WR Sammie Coates Jr. so far?
"Good work ethic, good speed, good size. (Can) help us, hopefully, on special teams and then does some decent stuff on offense. He's done a good job. He's done a good job."
Was this a veterans' day off for WR DeAndre Hopkins and DE J.J. Watt?
"Hop had a personal reason. He'll be back, I think, on Thursday. J.J. Watt was out there for the practice I was watching."
Did you notice an extra hop in the players' step after the day off?
"Not really. I need to see that more. I think that they need to come out ready to go tomorrow."
Is there a ramp up in energy you want to see in the second week of training camp?
"I think that's something that we're looking at. Definitely alternating days relative to reps. Some days you won't see as many reps as another day and alternating that back and forth. I think that's all part of trying to make sure that we're ready to go for the Kansas City game."
From the players' perspective, do you want them going full speed?
"There are different drills in each practice. There are certain drills that are learning drills, focus, teaching drills. Then, there are other drills where they need to be going."
How has WR Braxton Miller been progressing?
"He's gotten better at knowledge of the offense. He's a better route-runner. There's a lot of things that he's doing better offensively. It's a very competitive position. Improving on special teams is a big deal for him, too. I think he comes out with a good attitude every day. As long as he does that, he'll improve."
*What have you seen from CB Aaron Colvin? Do you think he can play outside as well as inside on the defense? *"I think primarily he's going to play inside, but then there are going to be certain packages – I mean, we do so many things on defense – there's going to be certain packages where he'll play on the outside. He has the ability to do both. Mostly, in Jacksonville, he played on the inside of the coverage, inside of the formation, but here he'll do a little bit of everything."
What does OLB Whitney Mercilus bring to this team?
"Whitney's a multiple-sack guy. He's really good against the run. He's a guy that's a very valuable piece on our defense. He's got a great work ethic. He's an excellent teammate. He's everything you're looking for in a Houston Texan."
Why is it so important to not put the logos on the helmets in training camp?
"The logos? On the helmet? I don't know. It's just something we do."
Is it to underline the importance of team?
"Not really. I just don't know if they're ready yet at the print shop. So, I'm not sure. Don't read too much into stuff. Just trying to get better every day."
Is there any chance you will use WR Braxton Miller in a wildcat-type formation?
"C'mon man. I'm not going down that road. Good try."
What's been the difference with CB Kevin Johnson so far in camp?
"Very competitive guy. It's hard. I think there's been, the past couple of years, some injuries and I think he's come back from the injuries. He's in good shape. He feels good. He's learned a lot over his first couple of years in the league and I think he's playing with more patience. He's just a great guy. He's going to work hard to get better every day. That's a big part of why he's improved."
What has TE Jordan Thomas shown you so far?
"Big guy, good size, good hands. He started out his career at Mississippi State, he was a receiver. Obviously, after last year, he's 275 pounds. So, he moved closer to the ball the bigger he got. He's really, the first few days here, he's actually done a decent job blocking relative to being a young player – better than I thought he would do. I think if he can keep improving in that area, he's good in the passing game, I really like what we've got there."
Can you tell us about TE Ryan Griffin?
"Griff's doing well. Griff's a steady player for us. The whole thing with Griff is always staying healthy, feeling good about himself, physically. He's a good player for us. He's been a really solid player for us."
You talked a great deal about how tough it is to play tight end in this offense.
"Yeah, there's a lot involved in the running game and the passing game. You're involved in the blocking, obviously in the running game, you're involved very, very intricately in the passing game. Then, sometimes you're involved in pass protection. So, you have to really understand all three areas of the offense. It's a very difficult position, especially sometimes you're playing 'Y', sometimes you're playing 'F', sometimes you're playing 'U'. So, we ask him to do all three different things, so it takes an intelligent guy and he is."
Many players attribute their physical shape, increase in muscle and healthy diet to Senior Director of Sports Performance Luke Richesson, how does that process work?
"I think we're all in a communication with the players. I think we have a lot of different people here that we've hired over the last year that have really contributed to these guys feeling good about themselves physically. I think, obviously, Luke and his crew, he has a really good staff, they do a great job with the players in different areas. Then we have Ladd (Harris) and Jacob (Mertens) who work with them on nutrition. So, I think there's a lot of different things that are going on in our organization now that are really good for the players. It's up to them to take advantage of it, but we all communicate on it, what's best for the player. Each player is different in their needs, what they need to improve and things like that. So, there's a lot of meetings that take place to make sure the player understands what he needs to be better."
Did you talk to Senior Director of Sports Performance Luke Richesson about your personal fitness?
"No, no, no. I'm a lost cause."
How do you quantify the leadership role RB Lamar Miller has on this team?
"Very good pro. A guy that really leads by example, smart guy, good runner, good pass protector. He has really improved in the passing game and his route running in this training camp. Really like the way he's come into camp here. He's playing really well for us."
Does anything stand out about CB Aaron Colvin?
"Yeah, very competitive, smart guy, instinctive player, can do a couple of different things, relative to playing inside, playing outside. He's helping us on special teams. So, he's a versatile guy that is a good guy, a very good guy, a very competitive guy."
OLB WHITNEY MERCILUS
What did you think of practice?
"Practice was decent, not the crispiest. Definitely (should) be a lot sharper, especially coming off the off day. That's what (Head) Coach (Bill O'Brien) harped on, so we're going to be coming out tomorrow full pads and we have to be very, very sharp."
Did you participate in any fun activities on your day off?
"No, not even. I just came in, did some rehab, treatment, all that and went straight back to my room. Just chilled out and slept. That's it."
Do you feel like you're hydrating better or practicing better here in West Virginia?
"Yeah, the idea behind this is just to make sure guys aren't in survival mode, make sure they're concentrated on technique, assignments and all that, being able to – I wouldn't say I focused on hydration but really don't have to really harp on that so much. Also, it's a little bit easier on the body as well, too, for a lot of guys and for guys just to improve, especially in this weather."
How special could this defense be, especially with the impact DE J.J. Watt can have?
"I say our defense is really stout, looks great on paper. It's just a matter just being out here and just putting it all together. We have great guys from J.J., to Jadeveon (Clowney), to B-Mac (Benardrick McKinney), Honey Badger back there, Tyrann (Mathieu), and J-Jo (Johnathan Joseph), K-Jack (Kareem Jackson). We just have a lot of great guys on our defense. So, the main thing is just being on the same page, communicating and playing until the whistle."
Is there a new move you're working on?
"Same old moves, man. Just trying to add more to the repertoire, things like that. Just based off of reaction, what I see from the tackles, offensive linemen, the guards, all that. That's about it."
Is it fun for you to line up all over the defensive front?
"Yeah, I mean, just to be able to move around and shift around. Just to be able to give different looks, use my speed, my versatility and things like that."
What young players on defense stand out to you?
"(Justin) Reid. Reid is doing really, really well. I like him. He's instinctive, smart player as well. Dylan Cole, him. Zach (Cunningham) has been coming along well. He's still a rookie in my mind. So, those guys, those young guys are really starting to come along, starting to really get it. Also (Davin) Bellamy and Duke (Ejiofor), PK (Peter Kalambayi) – they're all doing a great job at the outside linebacker position and I'm very impressed. They're way ahead of the curve versus a lot of guys that I've seen in my career."
Are you enjoying West Virginia so far, your first trip here?
"Actually second trip. Second trip, yeah. I enjoy it. It's not too often you get to actually see all this lush green going on around. Man, I love it. I love it."
RB LAMAR MILLER
How would you describe how things are going for you in camp right now?
"Right now, everything's going good. I'm feeling good. Offensive line has been doing a great job. Us as an offense, we're just trying to build that chemistry and just improve every day."
Tell us what you've done to get lighter and how that has helped up.
"This past offseason, I tried to change my diet. I cut back on eating red meat. I started focusing more on just eating fish and chicken and eating more vegetables, just trying to get right. I know my last two years at the Dolphins, I was around like 218, 217. So, I figured if I get back to my weight, I would feel much better. Right now, I've been feeling good."
Is it easier said than done making a lifestyle switch like that?
"It was tough. When I first got here, I was more focused on putting more weight on to be bigger and stronger. The past two years, I felt kind of heavy, so I just tried to change something. I felt like if I get back to my playing weight back in 2015 and 2014, then I should be good."
Do you notice a difference out here?
"Yeah, I'm feeling good. I feel quicker and my overall body feels better."
What do you think about having a second-year player like T Julién Davenport at left tackle? How do you think he's doing?
"I think he's doing good. He's still in the learning phase. He's still a young player, but I think, right now, he's out there competing just trying to get better every day. He's competing against the top guys in this league. He's just out there competing, just trying to get better."
What are the challenges for a young guy like T Julién Davenport having to go against some of the best pass rushers in the league?
"I think once he gets it down pat just competing, just trying to get the technique down every day. I mean, he's going against J.J. (Watt), Whit (Whitney Mercilus) and (Jadeveon) Clowney every day. So, I think in the game, it will make his game easier to block other guys."
How cool is it having QB Deshaun Watson back?
"It's good to have Deshaun back. He's going into his second year. Everybody has high expectations of him. Right now, he's been doing a great job of making sure everybody is doing their assignment. He's just out there having fun, making the guys compete and just get better."
What does it mean to the veterans to know what QB Deshaun Watson can do?
"It means a lot, especially me. We have high expectations of him and hold him to a higher standard. He knows that he has to come out here and compete every day to help us win."