G Brandon Brooks**
(on if he is happy to be back) "I'm excited to be back. For me, it's like, another year in the system, comfortable. OB (Head Coach Bill O'Brien) came in his first year and really laid the law down. Now I think he's starting to see some of the team that he wants. You can go out there, be yourself, have fun. I'm very excited to be back."
(on if Head Coach Bill O'Brien is more relaxed this year) "Oh no, he's still going to be on you. Let's not go too far. He's still going to be on you."
Take a look at Texans players during media availability on their first day back at NRG Stadium.
(on Offensive Line Coach Mike Devlin and what he brings) "The first thing that Coach Devlin brings to the table is he's a former professional offensive lineman. There's things that on paper, X's and O's wise, should look like this but in a game it doesn't. Sometimes it's hard to come back to the sideline and explain what happened, and sometimes some people may not understand exactly because it wasn't exactly how it was on the sheet. That's the biggest thing and secondly, I'd say this, he's a stickler for the small things but it doesn't matter how long you've been in the league, it doesn't matter what accolades you have, you still are going to treat everybody the same and you still are going to get the best out of everybody. Those are probably the two big things."
(on if Offensive Line Coach Mike Devlin is hard on guys and making them tougher) "You hit it right on the head. The biggest thing is he's a technician. Hand placement, hat placement, foot placement, our first probably 20 or 30 minutes are all footwork type of stuff, steps right, steps forward, steps left, pulls, all that type of stuff before we even get started. So really I'd say he's a technician. That's what he really brings."
(on the changes in players on the line this year from last and how that affects his role) "The first thing about Ben (Jones) is, Ben played center all his life until he got to the pros and he switched to guard, so really for Ben it's almost like being back home at center. Xavier (Su'a-Filo) got a lot of reps last year, whether I was out or something, or he wanted to rotate in with Ben and we've spent a lot of the spring together, a lot of OTAs, a lot of time outside of football together, so as far as the chemistry of us as a whole, I think Xavier said he'd keep pushing forward every day."
(on this being a big season financially for him with his contract coming up and how much thought he puts into that) "Honestly, not a lot. I know it's cliché to say but the only thing that changes for me is I just kind of look at this year as leave it all out there, it's really like being a senior in high school is kind of the way I look at it. Leave it all out there and whatever happens after the season happens. I just never wanted to really consume myself with you know, this is my last year, I have to do this, I have to press for this. I just want to go out there and play, really the contract situation or whatever will take care of itself. It's really probably something I'll concern myself with after the season in the offseason."
(on how much better could the offensive line could be with rushing yards and sacks allowed) "Well we could be number one in the league in rushing and no sacks at all. That's what we're always shooting for, each and every game, each and every year. How much better can we be? I think we can be much better. I think we will be much better. I think you kind of got a little glimpse of that during OTAs and hopefully you'll get more of a glimpse of that throughout the training camp and preseason. Pads are on now so, you really get to see how far we've come."
(on how he assess his own development) "I'm nowhere near where I think I can be or where I want to be, but my first game in, honestly, it was a big jump for me, really all aspects, first the play book coming from Miami of Ohio, second the heat coming from Wisconsin and Ohio, thirdly, my weight and what it's like to be a pro. I'd say once I got all that under my belt, I started playing and the coaches had confidence in me, in the playbook. So I started playing, I think Week 10, rotating in, that offseason I just really wanted to prove to myself that I belong here. I took it hard, 2013, went out and started to try to play to the best of my ability. Next year, just try to take a step forward. That's really what I'm trying to do, each and every season, always take a step forward and never take a step back. So as far as my career right now, I'm productive to this point. It's not where I want to be, but I got a long ways to go."
(on where he wants to be) "Honestly, I want to be the best, I just want to continue to work, continue to push forward, do some good things and not everything is perfect. The things that I don't necessarily do the best are the things I'm really focused on."
(on if G Xavier Su'a-Filo comes to him and asks questions) "Yeah, he comes to me and he kind of asks, how do I sit on this, what am I seeing? If this is a certain guy, how do I play him? Things like that. I see at the same time, it's funny, kind of being considered the old guy, I still go to like Duane (Brown) and ask him stuff, I still go to maybe (C) Chris (Myers) and (G) Wade (Smith) and ask them things. So he comes in from time to time and I try to give him the best advice I can give him."
(on still learning from C Chris Myers and G Wade Smith) "Yeah, they both played forever at a high level. You can always learn something from them and through their playing."
(on becoming more of a leader and learning from T Duane Brown after C Chris Myers left) "Yeah, you know he is the leader in the room, can always keep it light on the field and off the field, can always make you laugh. Duane has definitely stepped up into his role, or Chris' (Myers) role, and especially me, Newt (Derek Newton) and Ben (Jones), we try be leaders in that room."
(on the whole line stepping up and being leaders) "Yeah, right, it's us together as a room. We're trying to fill that hole that Chris (Myers) left."
(on his relationship with Derek Newton) "Whenever I talk about Newt, I always say Newt's like a true brother to me. I'm an only child so I don't know what it's like to have siblings. Newt's like a brother. Like I said, every time I come in, really started off it was always Newton. We could always joke to each other and it's to the point now where like, we basically sometimes are like alright, I'm like, 'Newt,' and he understands and shakes his head. So, our development together I think has helped us both on the field. It's good to be able to just look at somebody and like just shake your head at them and they understand exactly, because we see out of the same set of eyes. I think Newt has helped me a lot."
**T Duane Brown
(on going to Richmond for training camp) "It is going to be pretty exciting. My phone has been blowing up with a lot of people wanting to come out there and support me. I never thought in a hundred years that I would be able to step into my city and perform, and have my family out there and my friends out there to witness it. It will be a good opportunity, but with that being said, I am very focused on competing against the Redskins and becoming a better player while I am there. That is the main thing, but it will definitely be good to see everyone.
(on returning to the field tomorrow) "It's always exciting man. Yesterday just coming up and checking into the hotel, you know, you get those butterflies that you know the time is here. Seeing everyone and putting your stuff in your room. Just getting going and being around the guys. Coming out here today, we just ran our conditioning test today, you know, and it wasn't much, but just the feel of it feels good knowing that football is here. Just seeing everyone and knowing the love and excitement in the building is a great feeling."
(on Offensive Line Coach Mike Devlin and his personality) "Great personality, he is about his business and wanting to help us improve as a line, but he is also very humorous and has that side to him. He takes his job seriously, but he likes to have a good time, which is always good. Especially during this time of year in training camp you have to have some joking around at some point to break things up a little bit. But as a coach he is very technique-oriented and he is very focused on that, which helps us out a lot. So while we are learning our assignments and what to look for on defenses, he is always considering our technique. And that's something as an eighth-year vet or as a rookie you have to be aware of and focused on."
(on if he feel like he needs to be more of a leader since Chris Myers is no longer on the team) "Yeah, Chris Myers was a huge key on our team as a leader, and definitely on our offensive line. So with me being the oldest and longest-tenured player here, I definitely take on that role a little more this year. Being more vocal, leading more by example and just trying to bring everybody along. I'm always trying to get better, that's what I focus on more than anything, but also trying to bring the younger guys up to speed and help show them the way."
(on if he thinks the offense will be able to do big things with all the changes) "Absolutely. I think it starts with the system. I think the system is very effective in what can be accomplished. I think we definitely have the players and the talent. We have the talent up front, talent in the backfield, quarterback position, whoever is under center is going to perform well. We have a lot of weapons at receiver and tight end. We have all the pieces needed to perform well, we just have to do it. Just like I said based on last year, where we were at this point last year when we broke for OTAs, I think we're a better offense. I know we didn't have pads on and it wasn't full speed, but it just looked better. I think it will be the same this year."
(on how much training camp is a time for trying new things out) "It's always good. For a player like myself going against someone like J.J. (Watt) and he is experimenting different moves, it's always great work. For me I have been going against him for a few years and I know kind of what to expect and if he does something different it helps to raise your awareness level. At the same time, I might not take the same pass set against him that he is accustomed to seeing me take. You just kind of experiment with those things so on Sunday if something worked against him then it might work against this guy. And if it didn't work then maybe I'll save it, you know what I mean? So this time of year is always a good time to perfect your craft and kind of what you're good at, but also try things out that you haven't before."
(on how much better the offensive line can be) "It's always a goal, our rushing offense is always a point of pride that we have going into the season. We definitely want to improve on our rushing numbers more than we did last year and protecting the quarterback is a big deal for us, you know. In this offense he has to be comfortable in order for anything to happen he has to be comfortable and know that he has time to maneuver and operate. I won't throw out predictions as to what we are going to do, but I think we have the makings of a solid, solid offensive line. We just have to go out there and perform."
(on what he wants to improve this season) "Everything. I want to have better technique, I want to be stronger at the point of attack, I want to be a lockdown tackle and not give up any pressures, I want to be better at everything. You can't be complacent. I have had some pretty good years, but I'm looking forward to this being my best one."
(on if there is more continuity on the team than people think) "Definitely. Like you said for one, us up front, we have been playing together for a while. Xavier (Su'a-Filo) was added to the mix last year, he has a season under his belt. The system in general we all learned for the first time last year. It was a lot of information to learn and go out there and put on the field. Like I said, just coming into OTAs this year having a year of learning it you could see a big difference. I think everyone is a lot smoother, the operations are a lot quicker, we are really able to go out there and put it together like we are supposed to. I think the continuity is there. We are more in sync than people think. We just have to keep doing it."
A look at the setup for the upcoming Texans Training Camp.
(on Hard Knocks affecting his life) "It's exciting. First and foremost, I have to do my job and I have to play well or else nothing else will matter. Outside of that, I think it will be fun for people to see our personalities and see the kind of work we put in away from just Sundays. See a little bit of our personal lives, you know, you got to have some kind of fun with it, but you always have to keep the main goal in mind, which is to perform and that is what I am always keeping in the back of my head when I see a camera."
(on if it's weird always having cameras around) "It's very weird, very weird. Lots of cameras and lots of microphones. But you got to block it out."
(on his comfort level around Head Coach Bill O'Brien) "It's definitely a better comfort level I think with us, with him, and with him and us. We all kind of know what to expect from each other. I think with us he knows that we are going to work our tails off and there is no substitute for that. I think having a year to learn the system, the expectations have risen for us. We just have to go out there and perform. I think he likes us as people. We definitely like him as a person, as a man and as a coach. The respect is there and that's all you can ask for. Outside of that, he expects us to win and we expect him to put us in a position to win. That's all it boils down to."
(on everyone buying in to Head Coach Bill O'Brien) "Definitely, you know he wouldn't be here if that was the case. We know that his formula works and we believe in it and he believes in us as players that we can get it done. Now we have to work throughout this training camp to polish ourselves and to get to the best point we can be before that first regular season kickoff. After that, we have to put it together every week and we all have confidence, the upmost confidence in each other that we can get that done."
(on the importance of a starting quarterback being named) "No, it's not important for me, for any of us. We are trying to be the best line that we can be for whoever is there to hold up in protection, to move guys off the ball in the run game and whatever else happens, happens."
S Stevie Brown
(on making the transition to Houston) "It's been good. All of the guys around here have been good, the coach has been good, everybody has been welcoming. It has been a pretty easy transition just getting used to a new playbook and new terminology, but other than that it's been fairly easy."
(on getting used to the heat in Texas) "I'm still working on that part. Fortunately, I've actually been down here since the season ended last year, so I've had 7 months to just gradually be in it, but you're never used to it until you're actually in it."
(on moving to Houston) "I actually bought a house down here randomly, but I've been working out down here as well. My sister lives down here and has been down here since 2000. So I came to be close to her and some other family."
(on his health) "It's good. You know that's probably something that OB (Head Coach Bill O'Brien) will have to answer, but I'm good."
(on how the defense fits his skill set) "I think it is going to go well. The front they have and the linebackers and everything like that, it's an attacking defense which suits well for me. If the quarterback has to rush throws or have tipped throws and things like that, I think I can visualize the quarterback and see what the quarterback is doing well so I will be able to break and make plays. It will all tie together."
(on considering playing with DE J.J. Watt when he was deciding where to go in free agency) "Yeah, it was definitely a strong selling point. They didn't have to tell me, but you look down and see (OLB Jadeveon) Clowney, J.J. and (DT) Vince (Wilfork) as your front and you're kind of like, 'Yeah, I can make this happen.'"
(on the strongest part of his game) "That is a tough one to answer. As an athlete and a prideful athlete you think you are good at everything. Things that you think you may have struggled at you work harder to become your best asset. That's probably what I do the most, I study a lot. I like to see what I did wrong the day before in practice and make sure I go out there and not make the same mistake twice. Just continue to grow and try to always improve my game."
(on parts of his game that have changed as he gets older) "One of the main things was dropping down into the box from the safety position. I did a little bit in college, but not as much as I have started to later in my career. When I was first in Oakland all I did was stay back deep and since I have gotten older they have let me move closer and closer. So just being able to read fronts, see the offensive linemen pull and knowing the gaps I am supposed to fit in, in the run game are a lot of the things I have improved in."
(on the talent level of the team) "It is a good group of guys. There is talent at every single position and it is deep. It is definitely something I am looking forward to being a part of and being able to work with across the board, offense and defense."
(on progressing from his injury in 2013 and proving he can still do what he did in 2012) "It is just, as I was saying earlier, being in the film room and going back and studying myself and studying what I did do last year and seeing how I was playing. Being honest with myself and seeing what I needed to improve on, what I was making mistakes with and just trying to build off that and that's what I am going to continue to do."
(on leaving the Giants) "It was definitely a tough decision, but at the end of the day, I think I made the right decision."
(on being around a new coach and getting to know him) "You know, one of the things I like about OB (Head Coach Bill O'Brien) is that he keeps it straight with you every single time he is talking with you. Whenever I first came on my visit, they had two starters and that's what he told me. He was just like, we would like you here, I'm not going to say you are going to start right away even though that's what everyone wants to do. He told me I was going to have to come in, work, play special teams, do everything I have to do to help this team win. That's how he has been with me since I have been here. He always keeps it '100' and that's the thing that I like best about him."
ILB Brian Cushing
(on being healthy coming into camp) "It is just exciting. I am really looking forward to a good camp and a good year. This is the best I have felt in a while. I don't have to overcome anything or rehab, but I can just go full force right into practice and work on football, which I haven't been able to the last couple of camps."
(on having a year in the system) "It is exciting as well. We are a lot more comfortable in the system and just better off in what we know now. I think we really saw in OTAs and minicamp that we are very comfortable and can kind of anticipate what Romeo (Crennel) is going to call now and overall just attacking a lot more."
(on talking with OLB Jadeveon Clowney about injuries) "We have talked a lot about what to expect and what to feel, what kind of mindset you have to have and the biggest thing is what to expect. He has had a rough year and I told him not to get down. There is going to be some days where you aren't going to feel like doing some things, but to overall keep pushing through, feel it out and know that he is going to be okay. He is not going to be able to practice as much as he would like, but for the most part any questions he has had he has come to me and we have shared a lot of experience. Our lockers are next to each other and I have been through the whole knee deal a bunch of times, so I definitely have a lot of experience in that area."
(on what he is looking forward to during training camp) "I think people will find out a lot more about us this year especially with all the things going on around here and what we go through on a daily basis but it is a physical and mental grind. It is a very tough couple of weeks. It is a lot of hard practices, but it gets you ready for the start of the season. That is the biggest thing. The consistent grind going throughout these next couple of weeks getting you ready for the season. It is very tough, but at the same time, it is fun. It is a game we started off playing as kids and we are still doing it. So we love it and enjoy it and you can't ever forget that. As hard as it gets, you can't ever forget why you started playing it at the first point."
(on whether football is still fun) "It is still fun, it is just way more of a business now. It is fun. The games are fun, the week preparation is fun. This is kind of the hard part just getting into it and having some practice games and practicing against each other too. But you know we leave for Richmond not too far away either and will practice against another team and it will be very competitive. Just a change of pace."
(on expectations of the defense) "I don't know, the biggest thing right now is to get the best grasp we can on the playbook. Get it down as best we can, you know tomorrow is only the first practice so go out there and day by day get better and better, keep our goals short term and continue to improve.
(on going to Richmond early in camp) "Yeah, mentally I think it will help out a lot. I'm sure it will be cool there too. It will help a lot. It is just a change of pace. Sometimes camp can get very monotonous and you can kind of get into the same routine in days over and over and it seems like it never ends. That will change some things up and I think it will really help the mentality of this team and like I said, we will get some really good competitive practices also against another team so to have that kind of experience early on in camp will only help this team more."
(on important things for rookies to know as they transition to the NFL) "That it is a long season. It is a long season, it is longer than college. Pace yourself, learn as much as you possibly can, and stay healthy. I remember everyone always talked about the rookie wall when you come in. After the 10th game, you can see some guys fade out especially when they are rookies. Pace yourself and know that it is a long season. It takes a lot of endurance both physically and mentally. To pace yourself, but to be smart about it."
(on the evolution of Head Coach Bill O'Brien and the way he handles things being different than the past) "That's fine too, sometimes he has to be and we understand that. He is a fiery coach, but he is a lot of fun. We all get along with him really well. I think he is a really smart coach and a really good coach to play for. I have been fortunate enough to have two really good head coaches that I have played for. You talk to other guys around the league and they can't say the same so I have enjoyed playing for both of them very much, especially Coach O'Brien. He has done a great job since he has come in here. It was kind of a tough situation with the year we had before he got here. But obviously we turned it around very quick. I think all the guys have taken a liking to him and have done very well with all of them. He reached out to every single player individually. He does a really good job of staying in touch with everyone and knowing how to coach every single person in a specific way. He has done a very good job, definitely."
(on having doubts at the beginning) "You don't know someone. You can just go based upon what other people say. You heard some things around the league, you talk to some guys, it was kind of just all the same. They all really enjoyed playing for him, they loved him, guys in New England and guys from Penn State. I kind of had a good feeling about him and everything was right."
(on how changes in his personal life affect football) "I think it definitely has, especially now having two kids and hopefully playing long enough so where they can fully understand what I do and come to games and really understand the game, and hopefully want to play it themselves one day. I always thought how cool it would be to have a dad as an athlete or a professional whatever, so I always kept that kind of in my mind to hopefully play long enough for them to see that. Hopefully that will be playing at the same time and really just enjoy it. I have talked to Coach (Mike) Vrabel about it a bunch of times because he was in a similar situation with two boys at a similar time in his career where I was. He just said it was the greatest thing ever. So that is one of the things and on top of it playing for them and my family as well."
(on what is fun about this year) "It is a very good locker room. It is full of a lot of good guys, a lot of leaders, but every year is fun, every year is fun. There is always a good feeling going into camp, but definitely a good feeling going into this year. We are very excited for what we can do."
OLB Whitney Mercilus
(on this year's training camp compared to last year's) "Last year, we were still learning the system and everything, still fresh in it. Compared to this year, everybody is more comfortable. We understand it, running more fluent in it. Also, we know the communication things that we need to look out for. Understand the type of guys that we have on the defense and who can do what. Pretty much, it should be a good training camp."
(on understanding Head Coach Bill O'Brien's expectations in Year 2) "Yeah, definitely. You understand exactly what your coaches want, what O'Brien wants. It's all about what type of effort they want, what they look for as opposed to, say, the responsibilities that we have to carry out on the field and things like that. Pretty much, it's all about knowing the expectations, which makes it an easier training camp for everybody."
(on changing the mentality of the defense) "Yeah, definitely. Of course, knowing the defense, we can be a lot more aggressive. Definitely all around, everybody is much more comfortable so they play like its second nature. Now, going out there, RAC (Romeo Crennel) puts in a whole bunch of the defenses that we can actually move around guys and actually attack from various points. It's very exciting."
(on what he did over the summer for fun and how it compares to DE J.J. Watt's summer) "This summer all I did was go out to Arizona to train. I don't know exactly what J.J. did, but I had a little fun out in Arizona and all that. Mixed in with my training, trained twice a day. Standard, just working hard and all that. Just trying to improve every aspect of my game and stuff like that. That's it. I won't get into too much detail."
(on his finger injury from college and how it affects playing football) "Not really. Well, when mine happened, it was my last year of college before I even got drafted. I only lost the digit on my left index finger, so it didn't affect me really all that much. Only thing that affected me was kind of like daily little things like typing, picking up coins, and things like that. Losing an entire finger, I don't think that will impact a player, especially on this level, or like a defensive lineman like Jason Pierre-Paul. You can still be productive no matter what. He doesn't need that finger."
(on his finger affecting his day-to-day life) "You'll definitely have phantom pain and stuff like that. You'll sit there and have an itch on your nose and try to scratch with that finger because you think it's still there. Then, you realize it's not there. Other than that, it shouldn't affect you."
(on getting his contract extension done and if he feels good about it) "Yeah, I'd say so. Getting a deal done, knowing you have a little bit of security and all that, that alleviates a little bit of the pressure and things like that. Pretty much, all I can do is go out there and just play my game. Just improve."
(on having Hard Knocks at training camp) "With Hard Knocks there, it shouldn't change anything. It's just a camera that's there all 24/7 in your face all the time. But as a veteran, you come in here and you have a job to do. The coaches are expecting you to be a veteran, to come in here and work every day without having any distractions, especially from these cameras and stuff like that. Just go about your daily business, that's it."
(on his struggles early last season) "Big issue was just understanding coverages. The differences in the packages that we had. That was definitely something that was a struggle for me last year. Now, this year, I'm much more comfortable in the defense. I ran through it. I've had thousands of reps in it, game reps and practice reps. Coming into this training camp, I should be ready to go from day one."
(on understanding how Head Coach Bill O'Brien goes about his business now) "Of course, definitely. Knowing Bill, how he operates and all that, it makes it a lot more comfortable for you to understand what he expects out of you. I mean, granted he is not going to make it easy for you or comfortable for you in training camp or any practice time, but running through the system, being there with him when he first came in last year and then transitioning to this year, it makes it a whole lot easier."
WR Cecil Shorts III
(on what his teammates said about his shirt saying he is the best dad in the world) "There was no discussion, just compliments. No discussion."
(on his first impression with the Texans after playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars) "I'm just excited to be here. You got a lot of guys that were here last year with DeAndre (Hopkins), DJ (Damaris Johnson), Keshawn (Martin), and some of the other guys that kind of know the ropes and know the offense a little bit. They help me and Nate (Washington) understand it. Nate does a great job of leading. He has been in the league for a long time. I was in high school when he started playing. I'm just excited to be here and get going with these guys. It's going to be a competitive camp and it's going to be a lot of fun."
(on what he wants to work on during camp) "Timing and just routes. Running routes the way this offense does. It's a little different than what I'm used to being in Jacksonville the last four years. Getting used to running routes a different type of way. I'm really playing a lot of different positions. It's a complex offense, but once you get it down, it's a really, really good offense for receivers and running backs. They move guys around a lot and it's pretty good."
(on if the uncertainty at quarterback makes his transition more difficult) "No, I wouldn't say so. I think both guys are getting reps, an equal amount of reps. All the receivers are getting reps with all the quarterbacks. Now, we're getting on timing, understanding each other, where to be and stuff like that, so I wouldn't say so. No."
(on having Hard Knocks at camp) "It's a little different than Jacksonville. It's been awful, they have been in the way (laughs) – no, it's been cool. It's been cool. We don't really notice them that much. When you are focused on doing your job, there is nothing that's going to get in your way. It's been pretty cool to have them here."
(on how many kids he has) "Two and one on the way. That's it, no more."
(on his kids names) "A four-year-old boy, Cecil IV, and then a 19-month-old daughter, Payton. Yeah, it's pretty cool."
WR Nate Washington
(on what it's been like getting started today) "It's exciting. I think the enthusiasm from the team is there. I think this is a team right now that's hungry to get to a place that we know, we expect to be in. That's in the playoffs right now. We can look at the long run, but at the same time we expect the best from each other. I think the best thing about this team is that every guy on this team is going to make sure he pushes the next. It doesn't take a coaching staff. It doesn't take a group of fans. It doesn't take a family member. This team is ready to work and that's very exciting."
(on if his transition to the Texans is more difficult with uncertainty at quarterback) "I don't think so. At the same time, every quarterback has their own arm strength and has their different mentality. But the system is there. The expectation of the system is there, from George Godsey of what he expects the offense to look like. No matter whether we are taking shots or being methodical moving down the field, the system in itself will be there. I think it's just a matter of us being in the correct spots as receivers, tight ends, and running backs of our routes. Doing everything that's asked of us. With that being said, whoever is behind center, he'll do whatever is asked of him at his position too."
(on the potential of the Texans offense) "It's going to be like a thief in the night. A lot of people look at this team and they know our defense. They know the big names and they know what they expect of us. But at the same time, we have an outstanding offense at this time that we believe in. A lot of playmakers, a lot of speed, and a lot of guys that can make a heck of a lot of plays. It's really just a matter of us being where we're supposed to be at the same time. I know I've said that before, but this is a great system. I've been in the league for 10 years now. This is going on my 11th. I've experienced a lot of offenses and the way George Godsey calls plays, I think it gives us an opportunity to be great. It's really just a matter of us going out and seizing the opportunity. We have the guys in the locker room that can make the plays. I know a lot of questions are in the air, as they should be. We expect them to continue to roll in, but we will be there to answer the call."
(on transitioning into this system as a veteran) "I don't want to get in trouble saying this, but coaches say this all the time that this is a copycat league. Although things will be called differently, a lot of the plays and concepts in themselves are particularly the same. It's really just a matter of learning the play calling. Understanding what's expected out of that specific route and then just going out and being great. I think Coach (George) Godsey does a pretty good job of installing. Making sure no matter what you have, he's going through the specifics of what is expected of you. No matter if you're clearing it out for the next guy or you'll be the main go-to guy on that play. So, it's been pretty much a good thing of learning under this system and learning under the coaching staff here. They've been very patient with us all, all the new guys, whether it be rookies or incoming veterans. The guys that have been here, DeAndre Hopkins, DJ (Damaris Johnson), and a couple other guys that were here last year. They understand the system a lot, too. It's also good to get some insight from them too. It was hard at first, but it's been pretty much an easy go route so far."
(on his leadership) "Oh yeah, definitely. Like I said, when I opened in my opening statement, the best thing about this team is we all are going to push each other. I think that's the number one thing to understand about me personally being here. With the absence of some guys, I will have to be a leader first. That's the main thing that I want to make sure that I'm here for, whether it's on or off the field. To be a guy that's been around a little bit and understand the ins and the outs of this league and be able to push the guys on and off the field. Whether it's running a go route or charity work, it's important to understand what our position is in this NFL and to kind of be a leader in that aspect. I've been doing everything I can, but the best thing about it is it doesn't matter if you're in year 11 or year one. Guys have been speaking up. They've been expecting the most out of each other. I think that's how it will continue to be."
(on how he would define his game) "Eleven years in, I've always been considered a deep threat guy, but I'm also a route runner. I pride myself on making sure my routes are crisp and making sure that I'm available when I'm called on. Throughout my career, there's been a lot of things being said about me, but at the same time, I've always been an underdog. I get it. I love it. I thrive off of it every day in practice, every day in the weight room, and every day in meetings. It stays in the back of my head to remain humble about what I do. If they need me to be a deep-threat guy, then fine. At the same time, if they need me to be a third down, route-running guy, I'll be that, too. Whatever is asked of me, I'll make sure I am."
(on what he is working on the most during camp) "Just the timing of coming in with these new guys. Just really the timing. My speed is going to be different from other speed, not that I'm going to be faster or slower, it's just different. One quarterback's arm maybe stronger than the other. One quarterback's mentality maybe different from the other. One maybe a little more methodical with five-yard dumps or 10-yard dumps. One maybe a deep-shot guy. It's really just knowing the guy, knowing the personnel. Them knowing me and understanding what's going to be required of me on that play or required of that quarterback on that play to be there for him."
DE J.J. Watt
(on what was the most fun he had this offseason) "I don't think you can really pick one moment. I think that it's just the opportunities that I've been given and the experiences I've gotten to have are truly unbelievable. It's really neat and really special to be able to see the things I've seen, meet the people I meet, have the conversations I've had. So, it's been crazy and it's been fun. I said this year one of those things I was trying to work on is making sure that I enjoyed everything that comes with this, so I'm trying to do that. It's been great, but I realize that it's all because of the work that has been put in to this point. So that's why every single day the workouts come first. The training was never impeded by any of it, and I think that's what's the most important to me. When I was out in L.A. for that whole week my trainer was out there with me and I'm thankful to him for that because like I said, the reason I am where I am today is because of the work that's been put in and the reason that I'm hopefully going to continue to have that success is because of the work that's continuing to be put in."
(on being called the Superman of Houston by the Astros Manager) "That's pretty nice of him. No, it was cool. Those guys are great. I'm very fortunate, you know that we have such a good relationship that they let me come hang out. They are obviously playing unbelievable baseball right now so it's a lot of fun to watch and we just kind of had a conversation about how it's a good time to be in Houston. You know, the Rockets playing well, the 'Stros (Astros) playing well, the Dash out there doing their thing, Carli (Lloyd) and everything she's been able to do and obviously us getting going in training camp. So, it's a really exciting time and we can't wait to get going. It's a great time. It's fun to be back."
(on taking a picture with MLB MVP Mike Trout) "You know, I mean it was pretty cool. I mean he's probably the best player in baseball, and he's a real nice guy as well. We've texted back and forth before, but never actually met, so it was nice to get a chance to meet him. It's always nice to be able to connect with people in other sports who are doing big things and doing things the right way. I mean even in the 'Stros locker room (Carlos) Correa and Dallas (Keuchel) and (Jose) Altuve. Those guys, they're all good guys too. It's just really nice when you can be a part of that community and everybody kind of sticks together and everybody's friends because you can do big things if everybody's on the same page and people are trying to do things the right way and I think that Mike does a really good job of that."
(on athlete camaraderie) "Yeah, I think there's a lot of mutual respect. I think that I respect what he's able to do and how great he is at what he does. I mean a baseball's coming at you at 100 miles an hour and you got to hit that sucker out of the park. That's unbelievably impressive, so I have a whole lot of respect for him and how hard he works and I hope he feels the same about me. He's a great guy, so like I said, it's just a lot of fun to be able to, he's the best in his league and I get a chance to just say hello and hang out with him."
(on being the reason Carlos Correa chose baseball, not football) "He's pretty good at baseball, so I think he picked the right one."
(on his social media reach) "Yeah, it's incredible. It's really cool how it all works because, I mean, on one hand I think about it and it's a chance for my family and friends back home to see what I'm up to because I can't call everybody every day. So, my grandma saw my Jennifer Aniston picture on Twitter for the first time and like so it's really cool to be able to have that for them back home, but then there's people all over the world that are watching too and thousands and thousands and thousands of people are checking it out, so it's a really neat tool. And like I've talked about social media many times before, if you use it the right way, it can be an incredible tool and it can be an incredible way to connect with your fans and connect with people, but you also have to be very smart about it because it also can go the other way very easily."
(on his expectations for this season) "Come on, how do you expect me to answer that? We're going to go out there tomorrow for our first practice and we're going to try and be the best team we can be tomorrow. It honestly, today was a really good start. Today is just running with the guys and just getting back in the building. Guys have been working. Guys have been putting in the work and it's honestly, we talk, we joke and we have fun talking about the fun stuff I've done and the great offseason I've had, but I really look forward to getting back with the guys because there's nothing like the locker room. There's nothing like being out on the field with the guys. There's nothing like every single day out in that heat competing and trying to be better, and making your team the best it can be. None of those other experiences are really going to compare to that and that's what I'm most looking forward to is just going out there every day and trying to lead this team and help these guys and make us the best we can possibly be."
(on Head Coach Bill O'Brien's second year as head coach) "Yeah, I think he did a great job throughout the last year of establishing the mindset that he wants and culture that we're trying to build here, and I think that going forward he's just continuing right along with it. He's done a really good job of making everyone understand everybody has a role. Everybody on the team has a role. You need to know your role. You need to perform it well and you need to go out there and do whatever you can to help the team win. Everybody's role is going to be different, but everybody's role is important. No role is more important than the other, it's just a different role, so I think that everybody understands that and I think it's going to be huge for us moving forward."
(on ILB Brian Cushing) "Right. Yeah, it'll be great. Obviously, a great football player and really good to have him back out there, have him in the loop. It's always good when he's out there. Same goes with (OLB Jadeveon) Clowney. Obviously we want to get him out there, get him healthy and ready to roll. You just, you want your team out there. You want your whole football team out there playing because we've got some really great players and I'm really excited about our defense. I'm really excited about our team, but this defense is going to be a whole lot of fun to play in and we just, I look forward to getting back on the field with them."
(on what excites him about the defense) "The ability, you never know where the next play is going to come from. You never know who's going to make the play. You got guys at every single position that can make big plays, game-changing plays. So that's a lot of fun when you just you keep an offense guessing when they never know where the next play is going to come from and everybody's accountable, everybody does their job and our chemistry is very good, so we're looking forward to getting out there and meshing even better."
(on doing work on offense this season) "That was the first question they all asked me when I came in the locker room, so five hours before the baseball game, a little different sport mindset you have to be in at the start of the game. I'm going to do whatever it takes to help the team win. And if I'm asked to do that I'm absolutely more than ready. It's something that I've obviously, I've worked on every offseason, but I've obviously worked on a little bit more this offseason. But, like I've said all along, my goal in the offseason is to create the best athlete I can possibly create, hand it to the coaching staff and say however you want to use it, use it. Offense, defense, special teams, whatever it takes to help this team win football games, I'm more than willing to do."
(on his commercial with Ronda Rousey and did he tap out) "I don't know, I think it's out now. I think so. Would I? Did I? We didn't fight. I'm not that dumb. Yeah, it was good. She obviously, I think being able to team up with her and with Reebok I think is cool because I mean Ronda is one of the biggest bad asses on the planet. So for her and I to be able to be in the same campaign and be on the same team is really cool. I have a lot of respect for what she does and how hard she works so it's been fun to be able to kind of get to know her and connect with her a bit and then obviously to present her with the best female athlete award at the ESPYs was really cool. And now I think she has a fight on Saturday night so hopefully, obviously I think we all expect her to go out there and do great in that."
(on his offseason) "I would have liked more time to just hang out with my family and friends, I think, I got a lot of that time. I did. And when we did get it, it was awesome. That's the one thing every single year, I just, I really, really enjoy just quiet nights with family and friends. Just hanging out around the bonfire, and with the schedule, you don't get nearly as much of that as you like, but I think that's just something that you understand as a football player. Someday, my career is only so long, so I'll have plenty of those nights down the road that I can look forward to, but for right now I'm really fortunate to have family and friends who understand how important my job is to me and how important this process is."
(on countering other teams' offenses) "Right. That's where film watching comes in and also anticipation, trying to figure out, talk with the coaching staff, figure out what teams may try and do. But then it also comes down to just playing your game. You have to go out there with that mindset that 'Hey, I have to beat them but also they have to stop me,' and at the end of the day you just go out there. You do what you do. That's why you train, that's why you prepare and you prepare yourself to handle any situation that's thrown at you."
(on trying out new moves at training camp) "Yeah, yeah, so through watching film and through all my study, you look at things maybe that other guys do or that you've seen in the past and you say 'Hey, I want to give that a shot' and that's why training camp is the best because you get to practice every single day and it's an opportunity where you try something new, if it doesn't work, scrap it, and if it does work, then you keep using it, but you can't do it nearly as much in the season because you really have to hone in on things but training camp you get this month-long period or whatever it is and you get to actually go out there and I mean, you'll see. Nobody wins every time, I mean I fail out there every single day, but through those failures I learn things that can help me succeed."
(on being voted number one by his peers) "It's incredible. It's so humbling and it's so motivating at the same time. It's humbling because it's the National Football League. It's the best players in the world. It's guys who work extremely hard to get to where they are and so for them, especially from the peers, to name me number one, because those guys are watching film every day, they know what they're looking for on tape. They know how hard we all work, so for them to name me number one was incredible, but then it's also motivating because I want to go out there and prove that I'm worthy of that title. I want to go out there and prove to these guys and to everybody that I work my ass off to be great. So every single day I'm trying to do whatever I can to prove that I'm worthy of that title of greatness."
(on hanging out with Jennifer Aniston and guys at training camp) "If I could do both at the same time, that would be fantastic."
(on urging teammates to try new things) "Yeah, I think that everybody is in a little bit of a different position. You got young guys who are coming in who really we just need them to get the defense down and understand how to fit in and everything and get them on the same page as everybody else and then you got guys that are a little bit further along in their career where you say, 'Okay, hey, how about we try this' or maybe I'll take a guy off to the side one day after practice and say 'Hey, maybe you try this move,' and same thing with me and other guys. They'll say 'Hey, what do you think about this?' And we'll just go back and forth and that's really where that camaraderie and that chemistry is really starting to be built in training camp where guys are bouncing ideas off each other, guys are trying to see what works and what doesn't, and then even conversations between position groups. I'll talk to DBs or I'll talk to linebackers about 'Hey, what do you think in this defense and this coverage. Can this help? Can this help?' And even talk to the offensive guys. 'Hey, if I do this, what are you thinking? What's the mindset of you guys and this scheme so that I can know what I can do to counteract it against other teams?' That's really what's fun and that's how you grow as a team and that's how you grow as a player is when you start to think on those next level type topics. That's really when you get to be great."
(on his second year with the same coaching staff) "There's a lot of cameras around. I think that obviously things run more smoothly because it's Bill's (O'Brien) second year but I think the expectation level is there already, you know, last year you have a new coach and the expectations are being laid out and everybody is kind of feeling each other out, but this year everybody knows what to expect every single day and I think that that's where the leaders of the team have also done a great job of enforcing what's expected and I think that we're doing a great job of building a culture. Our team here is building a culture of what it takes to be great, how hard we have to work, how hard we have to study, how much time, effort, has to be put in, how much sacrifice has to be made and our guys have done a really good job on their own in the offseason, but also in the building. Guys putting in extra work, guys putting in extra time, and I think it's really starting to show. And we're building that culture that we need to be great. Thanks guys."