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Transcript: 8-10-2022 Press Conferences


Opening Statement

"Let's get to some of the really important things like congratulating the Pearland little league team on making the World Series. That's pretty awesome. In between meetings, got a chance to watch a little bit of the game. Just exciting as much as anything. No matter what level you play, to get a chance to move up and play in something like that is pretty special. Can't wait to see them kind of finish it up and bring it on home. For us really the last day of training camp. Describing the camp a little bit, hard, grueling. I'd say most of the guys would say that their tank is empty, and that's exactly how it's supposed to be. We now will transition into New Orleans a little bit tomorrow, and then just kind of getting into our preseason routine a little bit. I saw some good things. Didn't know about a lot of our players before we started, but now we do, so we have a plan. Everybody won't play the first preseason game, but the guys we feel like need to play and we need to get a look at will play. I'll take your questions."

Can you talk about RB Darius Anderson's injury?

"First, it's a tough -- there's no other way to describe it. We feel for Darius (Anderson). He's a good football player, has been through a little bit. A guy that showed up every day, was doing some good things. We had a plan for him. Unfortunately, injuries are part of our game. It's just pretty much a non-contact injury that happened. He's in good spirits right now. He'll get surgery and come back strong as ever."

Can you talk about the offense's performance today and their ability to push the ball down the field?

"That's the emphasis every day, to push it down the field. Yesterday I thought the defense did some good things. Today of course as you mentioned the offense did a whole lot of good things, which is good. We're a good football team. From day-to-day, you want offense, defense to have their day, but for us to win games, we need to score a lot of points. We have weapons. We have the perfect guy, signal caller for our football team to start that push down the field."

Do you have any updates on LB Garret Wallow, OL Kenyon Green and LB Christian Harris?

"Yeah, I mean, and I'd like to give you more of an update, but Garret (Wallow) went down with an ankle injury yesterday. Kenyon (Green) has been out a while. If there is someone out for the season, I'll talk about them right away, which I did about Darius (Anderson). The rest of the guys we don't know exactly what the timetable is, but they'll be back."

Are you noticing DB Derek Stingley Jr. getting more comfortable in the system?

"No doubt he's getting better. Of course, Dino (Vasso) is working with him. He's a great player, and he's going to help us win a lot of football games. There were some good plays he made today. A great one would have been him catching that interception and running and scoring with it. But we like everything Derek (Stingley Jr) has done since he came in the building."

How will the depth chart change, non-injury wise, if you don't play a lot of guys in the preseason?

"The depth chart was released yesterday. They told us we had to release the depth chart. From me to you, we wrote some guys down right now based on not finishing a drill in training camp. Once we get to preseason games, that's when the depth chart will mean a little bit. Right now, we have a little depth rotation and kind of go from there. Don't put too much into the depth chart just yet."

Who has really stood out to you at the left guard position?

"It would be hard to say 'stood out'. You've seen the rotation that we have, and we're getting a lot of guys reps right now. But as far as stand out, the guys are showing up right now. Again, it's about guys coming to practice. Everybody is getting better. We can talk a little bit more about how we really play after we play somebody else."

DB Jonathan Owens has been cut numerous times, had a torn ACL, been on practice squad. What does that mean to you?

"I don't know about all of that. Since I've been here I've liked Jonathan (Owens). He was one of our starting safeties at the end of last year. I can vividly recall him playing well against the Chargers. That's the Jonathan Owens I know. He's been in the building every day the building is open. He's going to help us win a lot of ball. He fits the profile of what we're looking for at the safety position."

When going into the New Orleans game, are you looking for certain rep counts or time for players?

"All of the above. Yes, first preseason game is pretty much the same across. Some guys aren't going to play. Some guys, yes. None of our guys will play the entire game, not the first one. We have a snap count, whatever you want to say, play count, on what we would like to do with the game. A lot of this, though, since we don't scrimmage anyone, some teams scrimmage people. Some of the players that we don't really know about, that's how I see us using these preseason games, to get good live work, especially on some of the guys we don't know. I know what Laremy Tunsil can do, I know what Brandin Cooks can do, Christian Kirksey. I could keep going on. Those guys won't play a lot, but those guys in those next slots, that's who we want to see play."

Why did you not have any joint practices this year?

"Just don't believe in it. To me, I like going live when you have officials, you can control it, and when somebody does something really bad, there's punishment for it. Never have liked it. Haven't done much in about 20 years, and we don't plan on doing it."

With the TE Adam Shaheen trade, what were you hoping to add there?

"The tight end position we feel like we need more bodies and more guys that -- we have some move guys, but we're looking for some kind of wise, in-line tight ends that can also catch the ball a little bit, too, and we feel like Adam (Shaheen) will give us that. We know a little bit about him, and he was available. Just know guys, Nick (Caserio) and the crew, we're constantly looking at guys that might be available to add to the mix. We've gone through a lot of practices now, and we feel like we need another guy at that position. Teagan (Quitoriano) has been banged up a little bit, so that's why we went that direction."


How are you feeling so far into camp?

"Health-wise I'm feeling good. Last year staying healthy was an issue of mine, just calling it what it is. So I spent a lot of time making sure I came in healthy. Role wise, it's wherever Coach Miles (Smith) and Coach Lovie (Smith) puts me to be honest. Whatever position that is in the defense, they're going to put all of us in positions that's going to help our defense the best."

Can you talk about the play with WR Brandin Cooks and getting a deflection?

"Yeah, it was just relying on the keys. Coach Lovie (Smith) is big on our keys. In that particular defense I had to do my job, and knowing I'm going against an elite wide receiver who's fast, really just got to play the hands on that one. I was fortunate enough to rely on the keys and it panned out for me on that."

What similarities in culture and defenses do you see from the Washington Commanders to now?

"We're talking about two elite coaches, so they're kind of the same when it comes to expectations. Defensive schemes could be different, but that's from team to team. But what's definitely key is their expectations. They are always are going to put you once again in position where they think that you can win, and that's what we're doing here."

What's the reasoning behind your routine for doing self-punishment push-ups?

"That's just keeping the expectations high. If it touches your hand, we should be able to catch it once. We can't just be happy with a final catch. You've got an opportunity once to get it, get it once, because you know in this game those opportunities sometimes don't come to you, so take advantage of them when they do."

How does that help having HC Lovie Smith walking around to each position group?

"You know, you notice it sometimes, but as a professional, as we all are, we shouldn't pick up the tempo just because a certain coach is there. We should act as though he's always watching because everything is filmed so he's going to see it eventually even if he's not next to our drill."

Can you talk about DL Jerry Hughes and DL Mario Addison being added to the defense?

"It's great. You know, you have guys who have won or who have excelled at a high level in their careers, so it's great to have them out there. Another group of guys that's going to keep us all accountable."

What are the certain levels of expectations between the linebacker group?

"Yeah, it makes all of us competitive every day. We realize as a group all of us can't stay here, but we definitely know that each of us can play on any team in the league, and it's our job to keep competing with each other, keep challenging each other each day, and try to just make the plays. It makes it fun out there, honestly."

What do you think of what LB Christian Harris is doing to stand out?

"That kid, he's a special talent. I've been in the league long enough to notice things in guys, and he has that "it" factor for sure. I'm excited to see him really do his thing at this level. The sky's the limit, honestly. As generic as that sounds, I truly believe the sky's the limit for him."

Is it just the athleticism or the way LB Christian Harris plays the position?

"It's the athleticism, the way he approaches the game as a rookie. He already has that professional mindset. I see him -- I'm a guy, I'm older, so I'm always getting in early, doing things for my body, and seeing a rookie come in and do that already, it really shows where his mindset is and what he's trying to do for this team."

LB Christian Kirksey said earlier this week that he believes LB Christian Harris might be the fastest linebacker on the team. Do you believe it?

"I'm not going to lie, yeah. As much as I don't want to say it as a competitor, that kid can move. Once again, once he figures it out in our system, he's going to do wonderful things."

Do you remember the first time you were impressed with LB Christian Harris?

"Oh, impressed. Oh, man, day one. He's probably the most consistent rookie I've seen in my years. Just a guy that just -- he picked it up from day one. So we're excited to have him out there. He's just one of the guys. He is a rookie, but he doesn't play like one. His mentality, another guy who takes care of his body and does his thing as a professional early on, so he's a special talent, too."

Do you feel like your coverage ability is one of your strengths?

"You know, as a group our strengths are both run and pass. Coach Lovie (Smith), he goes after certain types of linebackers, and we all have to realize that's the reason why we're here. We can all run, we can all cover. It doesn't mean that we're not going to work on these things every single day, but we have a bunch of athletic, fast, hard-hitting linebackers, and that's going to show in our play."

Is the trash talking just everyone's competitive edge and how much you're ready to play your preseason games?

"Yeah, you know, it's just a part of camp. It's getting a little bit hotter. It's getting a little bit chippy, a little bit more trash-talking. It's just that competitive nature honestly, and it's great that it all stays on the field. Once we get in a little tussle, once we go to the locker room, it's all love, and it's just a part of the game which we all appreciate."


What do veteran guys like DL Mario Addison and DL Jerry Hughes add to the team?

"It's just nice seeing guys who have been playing good ball for a long time. It's nice playing with them because I get to not only pick their brains but learn a few things from them."

What's the first thing you recall about DB Jalen Pitre, either a play or something inside the locker room?

"The first thing I can recall of him, there was one play where he made a pick where he dove and caught it, which was pretty nice. He's always a guy who carries himself well around the locker room and meetings and on the field. I feel like he has a bright future."

After you missed playing for a little bit of time, does it feel like it's starting to click for you now?

"Yeah, we're just playing football. Pass rushing is one of those things that just takes time. You've got to keep working your craft. It's rare that your rushes and your techniques are going to be perfect off the rip. That's just something I've been trying to work on coming into the day, just having my mind focused on that."

Have you noticed any similarities between Seattle's defense last year and the defense here?

"Not particularly. Well, the schemes are pretty different, but the mindset is the same. Attack the ball, get the ball back, get sacks, stop the runs."

Do you feel like you can succeed on this scheme and do you have a preference of where you're lined up?

"I don't have a preference, and I feel like I can."

Why do you feel like it's a good fit for you here?

"I feel like it's a good fit just because I feel like what I'm asked to do kind of suits my strengths. Playing fast on the edge, or I can rush outside, I can rush inside."

Is there a boost from being part of a rotation or is that something you've been part of before?

"It kind of does give you a boost because the guys are out there. At the end of the day we're all competing, but at the same time it gives us the chance to have the best guys and the guys that are just fresh out there on the field. Our reps are always going to be our best reps if that makes sense."

How have you noticed your pass rushing skills improve since going against guys like OL Duane Brown (Seattle Seahawks) last year and OL Laremy Tunsil this year?

"I feel like my hands have been sharper. My keys have been more on point because with guys like Duane (Brown) and guys like Laremy (Tunsil), your rush always has to be on point from the get-off to your hand placement to how violent your hands are. You always have to make sure you're on point from the get-off to the finish."


How has your transition been to the NFL?

"I have a great coaching staff that's teaching me the game, that helped me understand the playbook very fast, and also I have great teammates that lend a helping hand when I need it. So I'm grateful for that."

What is it like playing with DB Jonathan Owens?

"Oh, it's wonderful, J-O (Jonathan Owens), he's lit. He's bringing that energy every play, and he's a great teammate to have out there on the field because he's always making sure you know what you're doing and making sure that you're alert with certain plays that's coming. I enjoy being out there with J-O."

Do you remember the first thing that Safeties Coach Joe Danna told you or what he was expecting from you?

"I don't. The one thing I do remember, though, in our room, it's a thing that right when you walk out the door it says, "I'm good." You should never say, I'm too good for something. You should always working to get better at something and I feel like he brings that every day. Coach Joe (Danna) has great energy every day and he tries to match the players' intensity, so I love that."

At what point of this training camp did you notice your instincts line up to your knowledge?

"Yeah, I would say I'm still growing. I'm still understanding the playbook, understanding what offenses like to do in the NFL, and I love the game of football, so I love learning every day, and I feel like I'm doing that. I'm just continuing to go up. I feel like I haven't really reached any plateau yet. I've got a long way to go."

Does it seem like your game translates at this level? Is it sort of a confidence booster to see the plays you made in college and the plays you've made here?

"Yeah, coming in I just wanted to make sure that I was confident from the start. I understand that I don't know what I'm doing fresh off, and I think that when you approach something you've got to start with confidence in order to grasp the material and be able to go out there and make the plays when it's needed. I try to approach everything with a confident mindset, and I think that's helped me."

Some of your teammates have mentioned you in their interviews how impressed they've been with what you've been able to do in camp. What's that respect mean to you, that you're being noticed?

"Definitely, it means the world to me. I'm trying to gain those guys' respect and I'm trying to show them that I belong. That's big that they feel like I'm doing a great job, but I want to continue to grow and continue to match their intensity."

DB Grayland Arnold said that the day you got drafted, you exchanged pleasantries and then you jumped right into the playbook. Is that why you're so vocal out there, knowing where you need to be and what you need to do?

"Definitely. You've got to know what you're doing in order to speak up. I take that very serious, and like I say, I'm always trying to help my teammates out in order for us to get an interception here or get a punch-out there. I'm always trying to do what I can to help out my teammates. Learning the playbook is the start to that, so that's kind of why I asked Grayland (Arnold) initially."

What are the things that have stuck out the most so far about the pro level?

"I would say the quarterbacks, their decision making is very good. They're very patient. The offense is doing a great job at giving us different looks and showing a lot of different things, so I enjoy going against them. Just the overall intensity of the defense, every day they come out, they're ready to compete, and that just makes me want to go harder. Just the overall atmosphere of the NFL, it's second to none."

What have you learned from DB Derek Stingley Jr?

"Yeah, (Derek) Stingley, he's great. He's also a guy that I lean on when talking about different things that the offense is trying to do. I love playing with him, and I love being out there with him. We're always talking about what we're about to get. And I feel like me and him are going to be great together. I love being out there with him."

How eager are you to get into a game situation on Saturday?

"Oh, I'm very eager. I love the games. In practice you're not able to hit and drive through a lot – finish a lot of plays. It would be great to go out there and compete with my teammates and run to the ball."

Any added pressure as far as playing in front of the hometown crowd?

"Not necessarily. I had a lot of people that came to my games at Baylor, and when you're on the field you kind of forget about all that. All you have left is all the studying that you did and the preparation that you put in."

Do you have friends and family coming to watch?

"Yes, ma'am, I do, I have a lot."

A lot?

"Yes, ma'am."

You and DB Derek Stingley Jr. both were coached by Dave Aranda at some point in your careers. What have you both learned from him?

"Just being attentive in meetings. Coach (Dave) Aranda is a smart coach, very aware coach, and he's always looking to get better and always thinking about the next step. I see that in (Derek) Stingley and I try to take after that with Aranda, as well. He was a great coach and I'm happy that I got to play for him."

How do you connect with HC Lovie Smith?

"We're connecting well. Coach Lovie (Smith) is great. He's a very energetic guy, very funny. He has some jokes here and there. But he's also very serious. He wants us to get turnovers and he wants us to run to the ball. I'm trying to do that, and I'm trying to bring that whenever I'm out there on the field."

Do you feel like there's any pressure on this rookie class to help rebuild this franchise, and what have you seen from RB Dameon Pierce?

"No pressure, no, sir. We're all here, everybody is here to do a job, and I think that we all understand that. Dameon Pierce, if you're in his way, he's going to run you over. That's the one tidbit I can give about him."

And then are you going to hear about RB Dameon Pierce running you over afterwards?

"Definitely going to hear about it afterwards, and I love it."

Do you ever just take a moment to realize everything you've gone through from Baylor, to the Draft, to now?

"Definitely. You know, I thank God for putting me here and allowing me to do the things that I'm able to do. I would have never guessed that he would have put me here in Houston to play in front of my home city. It's very wonderful that he chose me, and I'm very thankful for it."

At Baylor, you played a lot of box and in the nickel. It seems like here you do a lot more free safety?

"Yeah, it's a lot more patience. You are the last line of defense, so you can't be as aggressive, but it's still football. I still understand that I'm a piece of the defense and I need to do my job. Every time I'm out there, I'm trying to do that."

Where does your consistency stem from?

"Just in college. I understood that -- I played a lot but I wasn't as consistent, and it led to me seeing a lot of dips in my game production. Every day I come out here, I try to bring the same energy and the same production in order to see the results that I want to see."

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