HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN**
What do you think of T Kendall Lamm so far in training camp?
"He's a very hard working guy. He's really improved his technique. Getting a lot of opportunities now against some really good players on that side of the ball with (Whitney) Mercilus and (Jadeveon) Clowney and John Simon in the pass rush and things like that. I think he's getting better every day."
What was the thought behind practicing inside today?
"We're just going to mix it up every now and then. We'll be outside tomorrow. They'll be off on Friday. We'll be outside Saturday and Sunday, probably come back in here on Monday. But we'll be outside the majority of the time. We love the Houston heat."
What have you seen out of CB Charles James on special teams?
"Last year, he did a lot of different things for us. He was a really good gunner, downing punts inside the 10-yard line. He did a number of things on the punt coverage team, other than being a gunner. He was good at punt return and covering kickoffs. He's a guy that really is a good teammate, understands his role and special teams is definitely one of his roles."
What are you hoping to get out of OLB Jadeveon Clowney participating in special teams' drills?
"Well, he can help us on special teams. A lot of these guys can. Whitney (Mercilus) was out there. John Simon and J.J. (Watt) when he gets back can help us in certain ways on special teams. I think Kareem Jackson has been out there. Johnathan Joseph has been out there at times on special teams. We've got to be better on special teams and if that means some starters need to be on special teams, they are willing to do it. That's what's the good thing about these guys."
Do you anticipate OLB Jadeveon Clowney being a part of special teams?
What have you seen out of the tight end group?
"It's a pretty diverse group. C.J. (Fiedorowicz) has had a really good camp so far. He's really improved his skillset. He's a good blocker. He's a very good blocker. But he's improved his skillset as a route runner. (Ryan) Griffin wasn't out here today, we gave him the day off today. But he's really come back in good shape and seems to be running good routes and blocking better. Then you have some young guys. Stephen Anderson had a really good offseason, but now we're in pads and it's a little bit different. He's got to stay up with the tempo of that. But all those guys are a little bit different in their skillsets and then you've got (Anthony) Denham and (Eric) Tomlinson who are battling hard too. It's a good group."
What have you seen out of ILB Benardrick McKinney?
"Benardrick has had a really good offseason. He came back in really good shape. He does a lot of different things for us. He helps us obviously as a starting inside linebacker on defense. He can play on third down, can cover people, blitzer, and he's very good on special teams. He's a guy that does a lot of different things for us so an important part of the team."
What have you seen out of C Nick Martin?
"It's been good. He's a good player. He's a good player. He's tough. He's strong. Very smart guy. He'll have his ups and downs, just being a rookie and having to deal with the different physical nature of pro football versus college football. But he's one of the better rookies that I've been around."
What goes into the discussion about how many players you should keep on the 53-man roster at each position?
"That's a long discussion. I mean, that would take us about a month, really. There's so many different things that go into it. Their roles on both sides of the ball, offense and defense. Their role on special teams, that's a big thing. What each skillset the guy brings to the table on offense and defense and special teams sometimes is the big, determining factor. Then it's not about the best, most talented 53. It's about the right 53. That's what training camp is about. You're trying to put them in different situations to figure out what the right 53 is and that's what we're doing right now."
What have you seen at the competition at kicker?
"It's a battle. It's a competition. (Nick) Novak and (Ka'imi) Fairbairn, both guys are doing a good job out here. It's a competition."
What have you seen out of the wide receiver group?
"It's kind of like that tight end discussion. We've got a lot of different skillsets at that position. You've got guys that can play on all three downs. You've got guys that can play on first and second down and also help us on special teams. You've got guys that can play on third down, play some receiver, return punts. It's a very diverse group and it's a very competitive position."
TE STEPHEN ANDERSON
How would you describe what the coaches see your future as?
"Someone who's versatile. Someone who can help with the blocking and go out and catch balls and everything. Be a big role on special teams. That's kind of what I see my role as right now."
Which veterans on the team have you learned from and hung around?
"I've been talking to everybody, really. Receivers, defensive backs, linemen. Because I have to communicate with everyone. Defensive backs kind of see how this route was doing, was it convincing. Linemen because of blocking techniques. I communicate with them a lot. The quarterback, obviously. Everyone, I've been communicating with everyone throughout."
Is it still at the point where things are mental or are you just reacting at this point?
"I'm getting to the point where it's reacting. Every day I'm learning and I'm picking up something new. It's kind of surprising because from college to now there's so much about football that I didn't know. Just learning that every day, learning how to be a professional as well as the playbook and how to adjust and react to certain situations."
What are you trying to show these coaches out here?
"Whatever they want me to do, I can do it. Whatever role they have me playing right now, I can go in and catch in the middle, the outside and I can go in and complete my blocking assignments."
Do you still feel like a receiver at heart or do you feel like a full-fledged TE?
"When I run my routes, I feel like a receiver. When I block, I'm starting to feel more like a tight end. I'm just trying to be a football player. I don't want to define it to one position. If they want me to play this, I'll play this. If they want me to play that, I'll play that. Just a full-on football player."
What's your weight, are you still 230?
"I'm a little heavier. I would say about 235 right now. Coaches want me there. That's where I'm at."
What's been the biggest challenge for you so far at camp?
"The mental game, the playbook. Fortunately, I came from a faster conference, so people talk a lot about the speed a lot when you come from college into the NFL, and that hasn't surprised me a whole bunch. It's just the mental game and how much knowledge everyone has of leverage, of technique and everything. That's really something I'm trying to adjust to every day."
How much does being undrafted player affect your play in camp?
"I enjoy it. It always has a chip on my shoulder. Just like college, I walked on and now I'm undrafted. So it's kind of full-circle and everything. It does keep me hungry. I definitely feel like I'm capable of playing with everyone who's first-round or whatever round they went. It keeps me hungry every day."
Is it ironic that you did your training here and now you're with the local team here?
"It's crazy how that happened. I'm glad I was able to kind of feel out the area before I actually got down here. It was different, though. January, February, March compared to the middle of the summer weather-wise, so it's a little different but I definitely enjoy it out here."
Is your main goal right now to just make the team?
"One step at a time. My goal is to have a good practice tomorrow. After that, have a good practice the next practice. Making the team is obviously the ultimate goal but I'm taking it one day at a time."
What's been the moment for you that made you realize you're really in the NFL?
"It's just what's required of you, what Coach OB (Head Coach Bill O'Brien) requires of you. He's really particular on paying attention to details, having a routine, and as a big picture just being a professional athlete. Then seeing how everyone treats their body, how everyone's in their playbook, that slowly but surely paints a picture of 'okay, this is the NFL, this is what everyone is doing'."
This isn't like school anymore, this is really a job.
"Absolutely. Your body is your business, you have to get in the playbook or you'll be out of a job unfortunately. So getting in a routine like Coach OB (Head Coach Bill O'Brien) talked about, getting in my playbook and we're just working hard every day."
RB TYLER ERVIN
What about your running back group with all the talent there?
"We've got a diverse group of guys. I think it's great to have a lot of guys who can go in there and get the job done."
What do you think you can bring to that position?
"I'm just going to come in here and work hard. I think that's one of the things I do best is to work hard and continue to strive to be the best player I can be."
Head Coach Bill O'Brien said there's so much talent at the running back position and you guys have different skill sets. Do you see that?
"Yeah you have some guys that are bigger for the goal line and short yardage. You have some guys who are a little faster and quick. I think like I said earlier, we've got a diverse group of guys who can get the job done. Whatever situation we're in, we have somebody to put in."
What about RB Lamar Miller?
"Lamar is great. One thing is he's very patient and not only that, he's just great to be around. I'm learning a lot from him."
C NICK MARTIN
As far as adjustments to the pro level of training camp, what's the sense of where you are at this point of camp?
"It's a lot, especially mentally and from the offensive standpoint but I'm just trying to work. It makes it easier when you've got veterans out there like Duane (Brown) and (Derek) Newton talking to you coming off the sideline. Playing next to Jeff (Allen) and Xavier (Su'a-Filo) who have experience, it really makes you comfortable."
How much of that is a help with T Duane Brown even though he's not with you on the field?
"It's huge. He's watching you come off and gives you pointers. He really understands the offense fully rather than a new guy coming in like myself. And also out there you've got Xavier (Su'a-Filo) who's been in the system and (Chris) Clark who's a nine-to-ten year guy. It makes it a lot easier when you've got guys like that."
What's it like facing this defensive line?
"Yeah but that's the great part about it. You're going against Vince (Wilfork) and guys like that every day. You're not going to see anyone better especially with our D-Line. That's what you want to do if it's the competition.
QB BROCK OSWEILER
Was it nice to bring practice inside and get a little break from the heat?
"I think we had a phenomenal day as a team. The offense came out here, defense came out here. We competed all practice long. You're right, we were inside. It's a little bit cooler in here. I think guys felt fresh, and you could really see it on the field. Guys were working hard out there, they were competing. I think there was a good energy about this team at practice today, which was a lot of fun."
What have you seen from the offense's progression?
"The biggest thing that jumps out offensively is constant improvement. Within this system, or any NFL offensive system for that matter, you're going to have hiccups, you're going to have learning days, you're going to have mistakes that are made on the practice field. But what I see with this group and what really excites me about it is we make those mistakes on the field, we go into the meeting room that afternoon, we talk about them, we clean them up and then you're not seeing those same mistakes repeat themselves. As an offense, that's something really good."
How is your timing coming along with the receivers, running backs and tight ends?
"It's building. It's building every single day. Timing with those skill guys is something that can't be accomplished overnight. It's a constant process. It's something that could take months with certain routes and certain receivers. But every single day we're getting a little bit better. Yesterday I missed an out pattern, a timing out-pattern, today I hit that timing out-pattern. I threw a couple after practice yesterday and tried to really work on that timing with those skill guys, and then we saw the carry-over today. It's a constant process. We have a long way to go but we're working."
It seems like you're always talking to various teammates along the sideline. How important is it to communicate with everybody to build that rapport?
"I think it's huge. As the quarterback in this offensive system there's a lot on our plate, there's a lot on everybody's plate – offensive linemen, running backs, receivers. There's alerts, we're changing plays, we're audibling, we're flipping plays. There's a lot going on. I believe it's my job as the quarterback and as the leader of this offense to go out there and make sure everyone's on the same page, everyone understands their jobs so they can play fast and have success out there on the field."
A lot of people are impressed with C Nick Martin. What are your thoughts on what he's doing as a rookie?
"I love Nick and I love him for a couple reasons. First of all, Nick's just a tremendous person. He's a great friend. I've had a ton of fun with him on and off the football field. So, he's a great guy, but more importantly, as a football player he comes to work, he has an edge about him, he comes to work every single day, he wants to get better, and every single day he does get better. As far as what you said, a rookie center coming into this system and going out there and playing at the level he is, it's truly impressive."
How is the quarterback and wide receiver relationship between you and WR DeAndre Hopkins?
"It's building. It's slowly but surely coming. Chemistry with a wide receiver is something that will constantly be going. I don't think you just hit a certain point and say 'oh, we got it.' So, as you've seen, we've connected on a couple red zone touchdowns, but we've also missed on a couple red zone throws and I'll always put that on myself. I can always find a better location for that football. But every time we miss on one of those red zone throws or a field throw, him and I, you guys can probably see it, we get together right away and I say, 'hey, Hop, where do you want that football?' He goes, 'Hey, I want it here in this situation,' 'check, okay, got that one' and we move forward. It's a process, but it's a long process."
How comfortable are you working behind this offensive lineman?
"Oh shoot, I have great comfort. I have this red jersey on for a reason. I know what you're saying though. Those offensive lineman up front have been working extremely hard, going all the way back to OTAs, even before the pads went on, with their communication, their calls, who they're working to, and you can definitely see it carry over. That front five, it's a great group of guys and I love playing behind them."
Are you excited about the running back situation and the amount of talent there?
"I think having a lot of talented running backs is a great problem to have. A quarterback's best friend is a great running game and a good defense. To have that competition in the back field, I think it's going to make all those backs better and in the end, shoot, it's all about helping the team and all those guys are doing that day in and day out and they're all getting better with each and every practice."
What about the speed at running back?
"I think that's something that (General Manager) Rick Smith and (Head) Coach (Bill O'Brien) definitely look for in this offense as far as running backs go. As you see here at practice, we shift the running backs out into five-wide sets a lot, we free release them from the back field. We do a lot of things with those backs, so for them to have speed and great hands like they all do, it's going to be a huge tool for us as the season goes along."
Are you becoming more familiar with the playbook throughout camp?
"Absolutely. The more you can run the same play over and over again versus various coverages, you're going to become more comfortable with that play. For example, maybe it's the first time we run a play, you drop back, you just kind of work through your progression, you find the completion. Well, okay, then you go in, you watch the tape, and you say 'Okay, well next time I get Tampa 2 and I have this play, I know I'm going to go right here, right now.' You're slowly starting to see that happen with us and our timing is growing and our comfort within the system is growing."