HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN**
"It was a good day today. I think there was a lot of improvement. They got their legs up underneath them a little bit and understand the tempo of practice and all those things. No matter how many times you're out here, when you have a summer break then you come back out, it's always a little bit of an adjustment on that first day. So I thought we were a lot better today and a lot more crisp. I'll open it up to questions."
What are your thoughts on having WR DeAndre Hopkins back today?
"Look, he's right back in the swing of things. He made some nice plays today. It's good to have everybody out there."
Any update on T Derek Newton?
"I think that's probably day-to-day."
What are your reasonable expectations for OLB Jadeveon Clowney if he can stay healthy?
"Like I said yesterday, I'll just start with the whole team. We have high expectations for everybody that's out there and understanding that with Jadeveon, he is going into his third year. He's healthy. He's had a really good offseason. When he has played for us in the past, he's played very, very well. He's made a lot of plays. He's an explosive player. We look for him to continue to get better out here every day and then make a lot of plays for us in the fall."
At this point, does OLB Jadeveon Clowney have the mental side of the game down like he needs to?
"Yes. He's a very smart player. He's an instinctive player. He's a smart player. He's very good in the meetings. He understands multiple positions. He can do a lot of different things. He can play outside backer. He can play defensive end in a four-down scheme. He can go inside and do a number of different things. So he definitely understands his role."
What are your expectations for S Andre Hal?
"Dre Hal is a solid player. He's made a lot of plays for us over the last two years. You can think of numerous times where he's made plays that have really helped us win games, like the pick-six last year against Jacksonville. That was a big play in that game. He's a solid player. Very, very coachable guy. Smart guy and a hard working guy."
What are your expectations for ILB Brain Cushing?
"Everybody I think by now understands how I feel about Cush. He's a really tough, heart-and-soul type of guy. He comes back every year in shape, ready to go. He's dealt with different things in his career. But one of the leaders of our football team. It's great to see him out there."
What was it like to have WR DeAndre Hopkins back with that group today?
"Anytime you have the leader of that group out there, no question that it's important. You can see out there today. He's talking to (Will) Fuller V, talking to Braxton (Miller) and other guys, Wendall Williams, about different things in the offense, how to lineup, how we run certain drills. Anytime you have that presence, that's something that's really good for your team."
Can you talk about the progress of CB Kevin Johnson?
"He had a couple things in the offseason that he had to take care of health-wise, so he wasn't out there for the spring. He's knocking the rust off a little bit. But I will tell you, the one thing about him is he's a very, very mature guy, hardworking guy, has excellent transition to the football, understands our defense really well and a fun guy to coach. He brings a lot of energy to the field every day, so it's great to have him back out there."
You said things were a little bit more 'crisp' today, what specifically would you say looked better?
"I would say on both sides of the ball and on special teams, I just thought that guys were moving better. I think anytime you go out there the first day, you're getting your legs up underneath you – you know, running a conditioning test and practicing football are two totally different things. The conditioning test is just a baseline test of where our team is at. But once you get out here and you're running around with a helmet on and having to think and do certain things, it's a little bit different. I thought from yesterday to today, they made a lot of improvement."
Did you notice anything between QB Brock Osweiler and WR DeAndre Hopkins?
"Yeah, obviously he hit him a couple times. A couple times the defense made good plays on the ball there. But having Hop out here with Brock is always a good thing to see."
What do you expect from your offensive line group this early?
"We've got some health issues there to deal with. But at the end of the day, we're very happy with that group. When everybody is fresh and ready to go, they'll all be back and we'll have a healthy compliment out there. That's part of the deal in the NFL. They are very well-coached. It's a good group. Tough, hardworking guys. We have high expectations for that group."
What have you thought about G Xavier Su'a-Filo's blocking so far in camp?
"I think it's been good. I think that he's a much improved player over the last year or so. I'll say something about him, he came back this year and really nailed the conditioning test. I mean, went out there and really ran it well, which was good for all us to see and good for his teammates to see. I think he's really started off on a good note here in training camp."
What are some of the things you are doing different on special teams this year?
"Every year is different. We have a different coach obviously there in Larry Izzo. Doug Colman is helping him out. They're doing an excellent job. Larry's a very good teacher. He requires guys to really pay attention in the meetings, to understand instinctively sometimes what to do out here. He has a good progression to the way he installs things. I think when you look at our returner situation, we have a lot of candidates. It'll be tough to make a decision on who is the first returner because there a number of guys back there that have a really good skillset for that type of job. It'll be interesting to watch that during preseason."
OLB JADEVEON CLOWNEY
What are your expectations or goals for this upcoming season?
"Staying on the field. That's the biggest step for me this year, play more games – play all 16, really. Taking care of my body was the biggest thing for me this offseason. I think I'm doing a good job of that. I just have to keep doing what I'm doing."
What did you do during the offseason to take care of your body?
"I just stretched a lot more, went to yoga, chiropractor. I did everything that I wasn't doing before. It's starting to help me a lot, so everything is coming together at the right time."
Are there any particular things you are focusing on right now?
"Just coming out here, running around, learning the plays like always and rushing the passer. We are learning different moves this year, a lot of different moves that I've been trying to learn. Ready to see how they work this year."
What does it mean to you to be here and healthy?
"It means a lot. The guys are counting on me, my teammates are counting on me and I'm counting on myself to come out here and perform."
What do you want to accomplish this year?
"Just come out here and play. I let my game speak for itself. As long as I'm out there on the field, I'm going to be alright."
Are you worried about your foot?
"I think I'm alright."
You were working special teams. Is Coach Bill O'Brien keeping you hungry?
"Staying in shape. Staying in shape. We are staying in shape."
Is there anymore added pressure for you since DE J.J. Watt is not participating in camp?
"I wouldn't say any pressure. I still have to do my job regardless of who is out here or not. As a Texan, there are guys counting on me. I'm just going to step my role up knowing he isn't here. We don't know when he's going to be back, so we just have to come out here and perform and do what we can do."
With you being a year older, do you feel stronger and did you put on any weight?
"No, actually I lost weight."
How do you feel strength-wise?
"My strength is up. I just lost a little weight, but my strength - I'm stronger than I was last year. My weight is down, so I think I leaned out and did a pretty good job this year."
Coach Bill O'Brien said you are versatile and can move down and sometimes inside. What's life like there as compared to standing up on the outside?
"Sometimes life out there is a lot easier. Those guys are a lot slower. You go down there on third down, you hope it's not a run, you hope it's not a rundown so you won't get mauled. If it's a pass, you make a move on the edge. Hopefully they're not as fast as a tackle. It's kind of an advantage. We will see how it goes."
Are you feeling more confident in situational football and moving around?
"Yeah, I think I'm way more comfortable then I was last year and the year before because I know the system. I know our playbook. We tweak little things here and there every time, so I have to adapt to that. Other than that, everything else is coming along good."
Did you get any grief for saying you were going to come back and 'dominate this league'?
"No, but we will see what happens."
You said you've gotten stronger and lost weight. How is that going to help you?
"A lot. Speed and strength is key to playing out here and staying on the field."
DL CHRISTIAN COVINGTON
Talk about your development from last year coming into this year and the expectations the coaching staff has on you going into this year.
"I'm here. I've been putting in the work this offseason and during OTAs and mini-camp. I've been putting in work during these five weeks we've had off before we reported. I'm continuing to try and put in work now. Whatever position they see me playing, whatever role they see me playing, I want to do it to the best of my abilities."
With DE J.J. Watt not practicing, do you feel like you have more of a chance to show what you can do on the defensive line?
"It's an opportunity for everybody, so I'm just here to work. When my number is called I know I'll be ready. In the meantime, all I got is work."
How does a defensive lineman look at this opportunity without DE J.J. Watt here?
"It's really just next man up. At the same time, all it is at the end of the day is just work. That's my mindset. All I have is work."
What are some things that you have improved at and some things that make you better and more prepared for a larger role?
"Really just getting my weight down. Being at that nose guard position, I naturally have to bulk myself up. Near the midseason I was roughly 320-325. To be able to put in work this offseason and get back down to 300, I wanted to get my quickness back down and my speed back up. That was my main emphasis for this upcoming season."
How did you change your eating during the offseason? Were you on a leaner diet?
"Yeah, you just have to eat right, eat the right portions. That means same old'-same-old."
How excited are you about this season with a year under your belt?
"I'm very excited. It's a new season with new opportunities. The game hasn't changed, the players do. I'm out here just enjoying training camp. We just ended practice number two and we put the pads on tomorrow. So it starts to get real. Other than that, I'm just excited for this opportunity. I'm really looking forward to it."
How do you feel like you've improved as a pass rusher heading into this year?
"I've been putting work in. I've been trying to over-emphasize that. I'm trying to over-emphasize my playing ability across the board—whether it's my pass-rushing ability, my run-stopping ability, everything. I just want to be able to be known as a complete player. I don't want to be known as just a pass rusher. I want to be able to know that when my number's called I can come in and play every single position. That's been my goal"
Is there a big difference in your self-confidence this year?
"Yes, obviously you're going to have those rookie jitters. At the end of the day, football is football. Having that year under my belt truly does make a difference. To know that I know I can compete in this league, to know that I can put work in on and off the field, it just comes down to work and I'm excited for it."
WR Will Fuller V
With WR DeAndre Hopkins as a veteran in this league and you coming in as a rookie, do you lean on his veteran leadership?
"Definitely, and not just him but all our leaders. There's a lot of advice from all the veterans so whoever can give me advice, I'm taking it all."
What does it do for you guys when WR DeAndre Hopkins on the field?
"He's explosive. I can't just talk for Hop but it's the whole offense. We have to come together as one and its real fun playing with Hop."
Fans often wonder how the teammates react to a situation like this?
"I just go about my day, I still have a lot to learn and I can't worry about anyone else. I know he's doing what he thinks is best for him. I try to stay out of that and do my job."
What is the biggest thing you've learned from WR DeAndre Hopkins?
"Every time I make a mistake, he's telling me 'You've got to catch that, you've got to catch that. You've got to do this right, you've got to do that right.' He stays on top of me and makes sure I do everything to the best of my ability."
He's a veteran but he still relates to you guys because he's only been in the league for three years. Is it nice to see how he's made it so quickly?
"I definitely feel that he's not that much older than me. He's given me a lot of advice I can relate to. He's a veteran and he hasn't been in the league that long and already having a lot of success."
How much fun are you having with this receiver group?
"I'm having a lot of fun, we are all in the same age category so it's a lot of fun and we all relate to each other."
Being on the same page with QB Brock Osweiler, it takes time but where do you feel you are with that right now?
"I feel very comfortable. You've got to take as many reps as you can. You've got to stay healthy and on top of your body and taking care of yourself so you can be on your game with Brock and the quarterbacks."
WR DEANDRE HOPKINS
How does it feel to be back out here?
"It feels great to be back out here with my teammates and coaches. It's the best thing I can think about doing right now. I love playing football. I love it."
Can you describe how the situation has been for you and how you've dealt with it?
"I have a praying mother. Everything will work itself out. All I have to do is come out here and prove what I'm worth."
What changed for you?
"I play football. That's what I love doing. I love my teammates, I love my coaches. I love this organization."
What do you still want to prove?
"I play football for a living. That's my job. I love coming out here and being with my teammates. I just have to keep working. I know it'll come. I'm not rushing it. I know it'll happen one day."
What message do you feel like you sent?
"I wasn't trying to send a message or anything like that. I was doing what I felt was best for me and my family."
When you said earlier, 'I feel like it will come,' were you talking about the contract you feel like you deserve?
"All I can do is go out there and play football and keep continuing doing what I'm doing and what I'm going to do."
Have you been told by your agent or the Texans that you're not going to be given a new contract this year?
"They handle that. All I can go out here and do is play football. I let them do the negotiation talk."
How are you jelling with QB Brock Osweiler?
"It's getting better. From where we started to where we are now, we've come a long way. Caught a couple touchdowns out here. All the guys are out here working. I'm happy I can be out here to push them."
What do you think of the group of receivers?
"Talented. Very talented. I haven't been around a bunch of guys that are motivated and hungry like this in a long time. Each guy knows what they can do, each guy knows their role, each guy is coming out here and practicing hard. Everybody wants to be a No. 1, and that's what I love because they're pushing me to be better."
How much is it your goal to be a long-term Texan?
"I really don't have any thoughts on that. I can control what happens day-to-day, and that's me coming out here and doing my job the best I can."
Do you answer a lot of questions from the rookies about how to become a pro?
"Oh yeah, all the time. They ask me questions about thing off the field, how they can handle their body, what they can do to become a better player. I had a guy in front of me that helped me and told me what to do. The only thing I can do is pass on the message."
CB KEVIN JOHNSON
How is training camp going this year?
"Having fun. I'm a lot more comfortable with the system, comfortable with my teammates, coaches. I feel stronger, faster and things like that. So, just working hard trying to get better every day."
Do you like the fact that it didn't take long for the competitive juices to flow between the DB's and the receivers?
"Of course. Every time you go, we've got pretty good receivers for us. Every time you got a chance to compete against those guys, you know you can get better since they bring the best out of you."
They talk about the speed of the new guys. Do you see it?
"Oh yeah, for sure. We got some guys that can run and it's making us all better. We're able to get different type routes, different type of player skill sets. Working against a bunch of different guys really helps out."
What is it like seeing WR DeAndre Hopkins back out at camp?
"It's good. You know he's a player, so anytime you get to work against Hop, you know you're going to get better."
Is it nice to hear WR DeAndre Hopkins out on the field?
"Yeah, no question. Like you were talking about the competitiveness. It brings the best out of us."
How do you feel about all of the pieces you have on defense?
"We definitely got a squad, but we got to work hard and do it. It's a lot of work that we need to put in and I'm confident that we're going to work hard and get there."
What advice are you giving the rookies?
"Just to come in, don't let the game overwhelm you and don't let the NFL logos and the helmets overwhelm you. Just come out, study your plays. Come out here and play fast."
Do you feel more like a veteran out here?
"I'm feeling a little bit like a veteran. I'm not there yet, but I'm working my way there."
RB LAMAR MILLER
What did it mean to have the whole offense back on the field today with WR DeAndre Hopkins?
"It feels good to have everybody back out there competing, trying to get on the same page. Just getting ready for this upcoming season."
What is the vibe like being a part of this team?
"We've got a great group of guys. We come in here every day competing. This is a competitive team and that's our mindset coming into the season. Just to put in the work and just compete and everything else will handle itself."
How do you embrace being the running back that everyone is looking towards?
"Every day I step on the field, I'm just taking full advantage of my opportunity. A lot of people don't get this opportunity, so I've just got to take full advantage of it. I'm just coming in here every day to just put in the work and compete with my teammates. It's a good opportunity to be in the game. You just have to go out there and help this team win. In my part, I just have to do my assignment, just be a good teammate and just make good plays.
Does having guys like RB Alfred Blue make the competition harder?
"Every day, everybody in the group has to compete. We're all out there trying to win the job. We just have to have that competitive mindset because once it becomes game time, it makes everything come easy and you'd be out there just having fun."
How fast is this team at full strength?
"Like I said before, we just have to put in the work. Every day, we just have to come out here and compete, build that bond and that chemistry on the offensive side of the ball because we've got a lot of new faces on our offensive side of the ball, so we have to build that bond and build that trust."
It has to be fun to think about that speed and what you guys could be, right?
"Yeah. We have a lot of speed on the offensive side of the ball. We just have to be on the same page. All the speed can't happen if everyone's doing their own thing. As a group we just have to put in the work and everything else will take care of itself."
The offensive line is kind of banged up right now. How are the other guys dealing with that?
"I think those guys have done a great job since I've been here. Everyone has that mindset of next guy up. Since I've been here, the new guys have been competing, working really hard. I think those guys have done a good job so far."
What do you think this offense could be like with WR DeAndre Hopkins back and everyone together?
"I think we just have to put in the work. That's the first thing. Put in the work and play all the preseason games. When the first game comes, hopefully everybody will be on the same page and we have a fast-tempo offense, then we just keep things going and moving."
What do you think of WR DeAndre Hopkins as a talent?
"I think he's a great player. Since I came here he's been making plays. He's a great player."
WR JAELEN STRONG
How's training camp?
"It's great. It feels great to be back. I'm excited."
What was it like having WR DeAndre Hopkins back?
"It's good to have DeAndre back. We're just out here together as a team working for one goal now."
What would you say you did differently during this offseason?
"Mentally, physically, I changed everything about myself. I'm just taking one day at a time."
Is there anything that led you to believe you needed to go that route and make this season the way you want it to be?
"I just want to be the best player I can be for my team."
What have you seen out of QB Brock Osweiler so far in camp?
"Brock's (Osweiler) going to bring it every day. He's going to put the pressure on us so we can be the best that we can."