Head Coach Bill O'Brien
(on former NFL running back Maurice Jones Drew being at practice) "He and Matt Gutierrez, who I coached in New England. Obviously, their connection is they both played for De La Salle High School, a very famous high school football program in Northern California. Neither of those guys—they were on a team together there for three or four years and didn't lose a high school game. That's their connection and then I coached Matt in New England. They're in here today. They're just going to show us a product that they've teamed up with a technology firm out of San Francisco that's kind of putting this virtual reality, or whatever you call it. I don't really know what it is. We're going to check it out, but I'm not saying we're buying it. We're just checking it out. But it's good to see Matt and it's good to see MJD."
(on QB Tom Savage in his second year) "He's definitely improved. He's made improvements from the end of the season to where he is now. Now he has to, once we're done tomorrow, he's got to take the next month and continue to improve, study tape, study our offense, how it relates to some of the things he saw defensively. Watch the tape from minicamp, all of his snaps, and see how he can get better, so that when he comes back in training camp, he's even better than he is right now. I think if he keeps making steady progress, he's got a chance."
(on if he is working on something specific with the officials who were at practice) "Nothing specific. I think anytime you have the officials out there, there's an emphasis obviously on making sure that you're aligned properly, that you're staying on sides, that you understand that you can't—whether it's illegal contact or offensive pass interference in the secondary, and things like that because it's a passing camp. There's an emphasis on that. I think the players see the officials there and they know they're there. They're going to pay extra attention to making sure they follow the rules. That's really what it's about—just the emphasis on the rules. I would have had them here yesterday, too, but we moved practice up early and we had a hard time adjusting to them being able to get here."
(on CB Kevin Johnson's route recognition) "Kevin Johnson is a young player, who's got a realty bright future. He's learning the pro game. He's got some really good guys to learn from in his coaches, obviously, John Butler but also Jonathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson. What Kevin does well is he's a smart guy, he's a hard worker, he's a very good transitional player, so he's able to at times see it and he's able to transition very well. He's got good quickness. Obviously, we're in t-shirts and shorts. The key for Kevin, just like all the rookies, is how do they do when the full pads go on? A lot of these guys that are veterans, we kind of know what we have with a lot of these guys. With rookies, we don't really know what we have until we see what they do in full pads. He would be one of those guys."
(on the quarterbacks rolling out and boot legging more often) "I think that Brian Hoyer did a lot of that in Cleveland and he was very good at it. He was very good at it. Against us last year, he had that bootleg where he hit the receiver I think for a touchdown against us. He's very good at that. I think Ryan Mallett is a good ball faker. Even though he might not be the most mobile guy, if he makes a good fake and he can draw the defense to the run, he can get out on the flank. It's definitely something that's part of our—it's always been part of our offense and it's been pretty good the last couple days."
(on the lack of a pass rush during these practices and how that affects him judging quarterback play) "Great question. The only thing I would disagree with you on is I'm standing right there about five feet from these guys and there is a heck of a pass rush, especially when 99 (J.J. Watt) is in there. I think you're right. I think that what I try to do is understand the route that's being called, try to listen to the play that's called, try to understand what's going on defensively, and then gauge how quickly the ball should come out based on how many guys are in protection, what the route is, what the defense is, whether they made us throw hot, or maybe it was an eight man protection, where we had a little bit more time, whatever it may be. We take a close look at that. We call that—the phrase for that is a 'silent alarm.' The quarterback has to have what we call a silent alarm in his head, where he knows based on the play that's called, this ball has got to come out. Again, that alarm is a little quicker when you have some of those guys, especially J.J. on that side of the ball. That ball has got to come out pretty quick, but I think our guys have done a pretty good job of that this spring."
(on CB Charles James) "What stands out to me about Charles James is that he's very competitive. He's a quick guy. He's come in here and learned our defense pretty well having not been here the whole time. I mean, all the way back to the beginning of last year when we got here. He's got good ball skills. He's a smart guy and he's a very hard worker. He loves football. He's got a lot of energy, great personality. Fun guy to coach."
(on OLB Lynden Trail) "Lynden Trail's come in here—again, that's kind of a different question because he's a rookie. But you can see the length, he's got good height, he's got the ability to block passes, he's got the reach to potentially set the edge. But again, the test for those guys, the rookies at any position but especially at linebacker is what they do when the pads go on. How are these guys going to play when they're in full pads in training camp? That will be the true test for those guys."
(on S Lonnie Ballentine) "Lonnie has made improvements. I think that Lonnie missed all of last year with his injury, so this is essentially similar to a rookie year for him. I think that he's much more in tune to what we're doing. He's an excellent athlete. He's got good size, good speed. He's a good kid, works hard. I think that he's really playing essentially for the first time because he got hurt so early for us. This is kind of a rookie year for him and he's made progress this spring."
Take a look at photos from the second day of veteran minicamp.
(on what receivers have impressed him) "I would start with the veteran that we brought in, Nate Washington. I think he's had a good spring. He's a guy that's come in here and learned our offense. It's not an easy offense to learn, but he's obviously studied it, gone out there and made a connection with both quarterbacks. He works extremely hard. Good guy to have on the team. He has a lot of experience. I think after that I would be hard pressed to mention a name just because I think it's very competitive. I think they've all worked extremely hard. I think that is, along with a lot of positions, that's a very competitive position on our team. We've got guys who are working really hard, trying to learn the offense, trying to stay one step ahead of what we're installing and things like that. It's very competitive."
(on why WR Nate Washington wasn't at practice) "He's sick. He'll be alright, but he's under the weather. He'll be back tomorrow, I would assume. You guys don't miss a trick. How do you guys do that? You count and then when you say '89', you know there's one guy missing?"
(on TE C.J. Fiedorowicz and his great catch in practice) "He did? Was he in bounds? No, so it doesn't count. It's like a long foul ball. Fiedorowicz is a very improved player."
(on if TE C.J. Fiedorowicz can keep up his strong play during the season) "I do. I think that he's really worked hard on the things that we've asked him to work on. I think that position is very improved with the knowledge of our system. Ryan Griffin, Garrett Graham, and C.J. Fiedorowicz, those guys have come in here and had good springs. They really have a good knowledge of what we're doing and these quarterbacks seem to like to throw to tight ends, so I think it's been a productive spring for the tight end position."
(on WR Jace Davis) "Very competitive guy, works very hard. He's come in here and studied the offense. It's not an easy offense to learn at that position. I think he's done a good job of that. He's at a very competitive position and he's competing his butt off every day. That's really what we're trying to do with our roster, make it as competitive as possible on every single day."
(on WR Jaelen Strong missing practice) "He's fine. He'll be fine."
DE J.J. Watt
(on what stands out to him about NT Vince Wilfork when they talk football) "He has a lot of experience. He has been in the league for I think 12 years, so he's seen a lot of things. He's seen championship teams. He's been around great players, great leaders. Obviously myself, being a leader, I'm always trying to be the best leader I can be so I go to him. 'What made your championship teams great? How did you guys get to where you were?' Then I just let him speak and listen to what he has to say, let him talk about my leadership style and what he thinks I can do better, what I can improve on, what I need to keep doing. It's been great."
(on what stands out about OLB John Simon) "I'm going to try to avoid using all the clichés. He's a high-motor guy. He's a student of the game. He's the first one in and the last one out. He is always a weight room warrior. Honest to God, those are all the things that honestly describe John Simon. The guy works his butt off. The guy is in the weight room all the time. The best part about John is you can count on him to do his job. You know exactly where he's going to be. If I'm running a stunt with John or if I'm on the same side in the run game, I know John is going to set the edge. I know John is going to do his job. I know I can count on him to be where he needs to be. For a teammate, that's all you can really ask for."
(on the growth of T Derek Newton) "Yeah, he's gotten better of the years. Obviously, this year we don't have pads on so nobody knows how good anybody is on the o-line or d-line. But yeah, you don't get new money if you're not playing well. He got rewarded the way he should and he's a good player and obviously I'm very excited to have him and Duane Brown anchoring our o-line for a long time."
(on the CMT Awards last week) "It was a blast. Most of the time, when I do those things, it's always just me by myself, so it was really nice to be able to do that with and being able to bring some of the guys with me this time. It was awesome. Man, we had a blast. It was awesome. The group of guys we had and just the trip in general was really fun. I think it's one of those experiences that we'll all remember for a long time. Like I said, it was really nice to be able to share it with my teammates."
(on how the CMT Awards plan came together) "I've known the Zac Brown Band for a few years now and you get opportunities all the time and it just depends on the schedule. When I found out that we were off on that Wednesday night and realized we could fit it into the schedule, we made it happen. Being here in Houston and obviously having the jet, I was able to take a few guys, so it was awesome to be able to do that. Obviously, the night was great in and of itself. I mean, when you get to do an Arnold impression with Arnold (Schwarzenegger), life doesn't get a whole lot better than that."
(on how his teammates dressed up) "We really weren't sure what was going to happen. We talked it out a little bit to see cowboy hat or no cowboy hat. I never expected to go to a country music awards and we're the only five guys wearing cowboy hats. Kareem (Jackson) and J-Jo (Johnathan Joseph), of course, showed us all up. I think they were going to the Oscars and it was just the Country Music (Television) Awards, but it was a blast. Just to see everybody interact with—it's a different world. That's what I like about it: it's a chance for us to see a different world, to experience success in a different way. You go and talk to those guys and you talk to some of the most successful people in their business and you figure out why they're successful and how they got to be successful. It's a lot of fun to learn about that."
(on how many sacks he's had during practice) "I don't know. I don't think Bill counts. I don't think he sees the d-line out there. It's so annoying. Sacks out there today, you'll have to ask Bill. I don't know. He doesn't count. I try to waive my hands or do jumping jacks or whatever I can when I get back there, but I don't know. I have fun. There are no pads on, so it doesn't matter anyway. Once we get the pads on, we can actually play football. Then it's going to be fun, but I would say there were a few."
(on what NT Vince Wilfork has told him about the team) "He said he likes what he sees. I mean honestly, Vince has been very complimentary of everything that we've been trying to build here. He's been awesome. I was trying to get something out of him today and he said, 'Listen, just keep doing what you're doing.' I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing. That's really the only way to go about it, just to try and keep working hard and lead by example, be vocal when I feel like I need to be vocal. But for the most part, I don't think there is any better leadership style than going out there and working as hard as you possible can and trying to set an example for guys to follow."
(on what NT Vince Wilfork calling him intense and a great player means to him) "It means a lot. Obviously, he's a guy that has played a lot of years in the league and has had a lot of success and has been around some great, great players. It's extremely humbling to hear words like that. That's what you're working for every day. I'm trying to be that. It's just a day-to-day thing. It's not something that I can project into the future now; all I can do is really work as hard as I possibly can today to be the best that I can be. It's a great compliment. I would've preferred 'jolly' for myself too, but I'll take 'intense.' I feel like I'm intense on the field, but I try to be jolly off the field."
(on his vacation and living in the cabin in Wisconsin) "I'm going back to Russia. No, I'm going back to the cabin. For the record, the cabin is obviously not minimalistic. It's a very nice cabin. I'm very fortunate to be able to live there. It's unbelievable and I love it. It's on 36 acres of land. I'm going to go back there and work out twice a day, like I do every year. I'm going to walk around the land and enjoy the peace and quiet. I'm going to reconnect with my friends and family. Then I'm going to take advantage of opportunities that come my way. There are going to be some things for sure in L.A. but the bulk of it I will be back in Wisconsin focused on training."
(on if any players are going with him) "I don't think so, no. I don't think so. Last year, we had Brooks Reed and obviously he's gone. Everybody has their own style of doing things. I understand that twice a day doesn't fit everybody's style. Eight to six every day in the offseason is not exactly ideal when you only get so long. That's fine, but I'm looking forward to seeing my brothers. I'm looking forward to seeing my family and really seeing my friends. I really don't get a whole lot of time to hang around with those guys, so it's going to be a lot of fun to see my high school friends again. But yeah, I'm glad we got to clear that up about the cabin. It's beautiful."
(on if his family and friends change now that he's famous and successful) "No, no they don't change at all. I think that's why I love them. That's why my circle is really so small because my true friends are the friends that have been there the whole time. That's why I'm so grateful to have such loyal friends and my family, who keep my grounded, who keep me humble. That's the coolest part about this whole experience is you get to do all these cool things. You have the CMT Awards. You have commercials. You have TV. You have the Defensive Player of the Year. You have all of this unbelievable stuff, but at the end of the day, I've tried to be the same exact person I've always been. Obviously, things change. Like I said, I'm trying to take advantage of all of these great opportunities. At the end of the day, the thing that I'll always be most proud of is that—I've said it before and I'll say it again—I'm still just that kid from Pewaukee. It can sound like, 'How can you say that? You've got $100 million contract. You're doing all these cool things.' At the end of the day, this stuff is still unbelievable cool to me. That's never going to be lost on me, how cool it was to go to the CMT Awards. If you could see that video of me and Arnold (Schwarzenegger), I was literally like a five-year-old kid freaking out because I can't believe some of the stuff that I'm able to do. I'm so fortunate to be able to do it. This life is so crazy and so awesome. I think that's one thing that I'm working extremely hard on is trying to take advantage of it and understand that this is special and really let myself enjoy it. Early on, I really didn't let myself enjoy it. I focused so damn hard on working my ass of every single day and being so hard headed. Now I'm trying to still work my ass off, but every now and then take a second and be like, 'This is awesome.'"
(on Father's Day) "Father's Day is a chance t0- my dad's birthday was yesterday. Happy Birthday, Pop. He's expecting two gifts. Screw that, it's like a Christmas-Birthday. You don't get two gifts, Dad. It's just a chance for me to say thank you. I posted something online yesterday. What he's instilled to my brothers and I—the mentality that he's put into us. He was a firefighter for 28 years, so he would go off to work every day and as a young kid, I didn't really fully understand the danger he put himself in. I just thought I'm a little kid playing with my fire trucks and that's all my dad did. He went and played with fire trucks. But growing up and when I got older, finally understanding that he's basically putting his life on the line every day to help save other people. That really impacted me a lot. Every single day before we'd go off to school, he would tell us to be somebody today. He just didn't want us to be kids who went through the motions every single day. He wanted us to go to school and try to exceed in school. He wanted us to be polite. He wanted us to, on the athletic field, be the best we could be. Everything that we did, he wanted us to be the best we could be. Every single day we were trying to be somebody. We wanted to be somebody that could be remembered, somebody that could really make a change in the world. To this day, that's what drives me. I'm never content. I'm never satisfied because of the things that my dad taught me. That's what Father's Day means to me."
(on how special it is to share his success with his dad) "It's awesome. It's so cool. I think that's what's so crazy. When I think back to all the hockey rinks that they drove me too early in the morning and late at night. When I think back to staying in motels and sleeping in a van sometimes on a hockey tournament trip. Him coaching me in fourth grade, fifth grade football. Just to see where we are now, I think it's just incredible. Like I said earlier, I don't take enough time to sit back and think about all that stuff. But it's truly incredible where we are today, where my family is. Like I said, I'm still just that small-town kid whose mom worked her way up from being a secretary to a vice president. My dad was a firefighter. We were middle class. We weren't poor; we weren't rich. We were middle class. They taught me that if I wanted something, to work for it. Here I am. It's pretty unbelievable, man. It's one of the coolest things in the whole world. To be able to share that with him is very, very special."
(on what he tells the younger players) "Right at the end of practice today, I told the guys, 'Good is the enemy of great. Never be satisfied with anything. Never be happy with just good. Every single day, you need to do something to make yourself better than everybody else. That's the only way we're going to improve. We can't be satisfied with just being good. You can't go to your workout every day, just go through the motions, and be happy with what you're doing. Every single day, we need to be the best we can possibly be. That means, when you're on your own, when your back home, when you're doing whatever workout that you're doing, you need to remember that you're part of this Texans team. You represent the city of Houston and you need to do every single thing you need to do to get yourself ready for training camp so that when this season comes, we're ready to hit the ground running. That's our style. We're going to work our ass off to be a great football team."
(on his interactions with OLB Jadeveon Clowney) "I think, obviously, we want to get him back on the field. That's the first thing. We want to get him healthy. But I have seen him mature, I can say that. It's a good sign. He's been growing as a person and I think that we're excited to get him back on the field, whenever that may be. I think he's going to be a good addition to our team when he comes back."
(on welcoming Astros shortstop Carlos Correa to Houston) "Yeah, that guy is killing it, man. It's awesome. Like I've always said all along, if you want a city to support you, you better support them. I think it's so cool that the Astros are playing so well this year because it's something fun for us all to get involved in. I wear Astros caps almost every day since I got here. To now finally toss that cap on and be damn proud to wear it is pretty cool. But to see him come up and in his first couple games have a couple homers. Then to see guys like (Jose) Altuve, (Dallas) Keuchel, and all those guys playing so well, it's awesome. We got the Rockets going deep in the playoffs. We got the 'Stros playing well. It's a good time to be in Houston and we're looking forward to try and make it an even better time."
(on the defensive line being freed up because of the talent at linebacker and in the secondary) "Our defense is a lot of fun to play in. RAC makes some great calls. He's got a great defensive scheme. I mean, you just look at every single level of the defense. Whether it's upfront with me and Vince (Wilfork) and (Jared) Crick or its Whitney (Mercilus) and (John) Simon, Cush (Brian Cushing) and Bull (Max Bullough) and Tarp (Jeff Tarpinian) and those guys back there. Then you got Rahim (Moore), Kareem (Jackson), and J-Jo (Johnathan Jospeh). You go down the list of our defense, it's going to be a whole lot of fun to play in. I really enjoy going out there every single day and flying around. We have intensity. We have enthusiasm. We have excitement. I mean, if you guys are out there, I'm sure you saw. We go wild and we have fun."
(on how he celebrated the Stanley Cup) "Well, you see I'm not really in a position to celebrate it because I was a kid growing up in Wisconsin. We didn't have a team. I was a fan of both the Red Wings and the Blackhawks, which is literally like the worst thing you could ever do. But I didn't know any better, I was just a kid. Chris Chelios went to Wisconsin. I was a Chris Chelios fan. He went from the Hawks to the Wings. Basically, I played hockey in Chicago and over in Michigan. I would go to Hawks game and Wings games. It was just whoever the heck was playing well, I liked. I can't really celebrate it, but I just like watching the games. It was unbelievable to watch. The Cup is one of the coolest trophies in all of sports. It would have been damn fun to be in Chicago, that's for sure. I know those people were probably going crazy. No, I can't really celebrate it. I still have never touched the Cup in my life. I went to the Hockey Hall of Fame a whole bunch of times in my life, but I always told myself I would never touch the Stanley Cup until I won it. I think I'm going to have a pretty tough time doing that now. If it's ever in the area, let me know. I'm going to go give it a kiss."