EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF FOOTBALL OPERATIONS AND GENERAL MANAGER RICK SMITH
Have you talked to T Duane Brown since the holdout began?
"I have talked to Duane, yes. I don't know that this is a holdout. There is no contract dispute. Duane is under contract for two more years. That's our position. We're here to get our football team ready for the season. He should be a part of it. Duane and I have a really good relationship. He and I are from the same area of the country. In fact, my younger sister and he graduated from the same high school. He's our longest tenured player on our football team. I think it goes back all of our first-round picks through him, from 2008 all the way up until now, on our football team. He's an important member of our team and he ought to be here. He needs to be here. So, obviously we put him on Reserve/Did Not Report because he did not show up today, but as far as we're concerned, we're getting ready for the football season."
What is the reasoning he gave you?
"Well, I'll let him speak for himself. Again, from our perspective, there is no contract dispute because he's under contract. So, we just want him here and he ought to be here."
Have you talked to WR DeAndre Hopkins about a longer term contract?
"We tend to keep our negotiations in-house. I think if you look at our team – I just mentioned those ten first-round draft picks that are still on our football team – we like to keep our good players. Not only those ones but as many of our good young players that we develop, that we draft and that can help our football team win. We try to keep those guys around. He certainly fits that category and so we're hopeful that he's going to be here for a long time for us."
Do you expect to see Duane at some point during training camp?
"I'm not going to guess. I'm going to say that he ought to be here. We put him on the Reserve/Did Not Report list today. We've got 89 other guys that are here, ready to go to work right now. Those are the guys that we're focused on. This is a wonderful facility to be in. We're thrilled to be here, excited to be here in West Virginia. There's a little bit of a buzz around the building, I think, in anticipation of getting here. We've got to get settled. We've got meetings tonight, but we're here for a reason. This is a business trip and we've got to get our football team – the goal of training camp doesn't change because we changed environments. The goal is still the same, it's to ready our football team and to figure out who the best 53 men are that will help us chase a championship. That's why we're here, and the guys understand that, but it's certainly is a beautiful environment to be in and we're thrilled to be here."
How are you guys handling the quarterback training camp competition?
"I'll let Bill (O'Brien) deal with that stuff. Obviously he'll be available to you and I'll let him really talk about how we're managing the reps with the team during practice."
Can you speak to the advantage of coming to West Virginia and a town that has rolled out the red carpet for you guys?
"They have rolled out the red carpet. From the time that we came up to even look at the place several months ago to meet with Mr. Justice and Habibi (Mamone) and the staff here, they've been welcoming that way. It's a first-class environment. I would tell you that there's probably some type of cumulative effect that the weather and the heat has on you in Houston. It's been hard to quantify what exactly that looks like, whether that's the rate of perceived exertion or the actual exertion and the loads that our players face. So, we do think that there's some benefit, obviously, of being in a cooler environment. I don't know if that helps your team early in the year or if it helps later in the year, but we're going to be looking at all of those things and studying all of those things."
What are your first impressions of the facility here?
"Just a first-class facility. Obviously the history of the place, to begin with, and then one of the things – I've been here on scouting trips two or three times – and the thing that continues to really just strike me is how hospitable everyone is. The people here are genuine people and they're excited that we're here and it's been a great partnership so far and we're just happy to be here."
I know the players just saw it for the first time, but what has their reaction been?
"I'll let you ask them tomorrow. I don't know. We just got off the bus to a wonderful – it's like I was in high school again. It was great with the band playing. So, I'll let them talk to you. But I know, like I said, there was a bit of excitement and anticipation of getting the conditioning test done this morning, getting on the bus and getting on the plane to get out here and so I know that they're excited to be here."