OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR PEP HAMILTON
What was the offensive plan going into the first preseason game?
"The plan was for us to come out and really try and establish just the physicality, the physical nature and how we want to approach the game. We feel like, for the most part, our guys came out they played hard for four quarters."
When evaluating RB Dameon Pierce before you drafted him, did you consider he didn't have a heavy workload in college?
"I think the focus was more so, this was a decision that Nick Caserio and our personnel staff made. You're looking at what players can do. There's a ton of different offenses in college football and it's hard to, at times, try and predict how a player that plays within a scheme is going to be able to adjust and adapt to the pro game. But we do know that certain skill sets have a better chance of adapting to our game."
Skill sets, vision, foot speed, cutting ability, are those things you think RB Dameon Pierce possesses?
"You said it. You knocked it out of the park. Exactly. That's what we saw the other night. Just a guy that can create his own yards. And he's a tough runner."
Do you see his vision on film when you studied him before he got here?
What positives and negatives did you see from the offense on Saturday?
"I feel like we have a chance to be a tough unit, but we have to be tough, smart and disciplined at the same time. There were way too many times where we put ourselves behind the chains. I think we had more than five situations where we had over 3rd-and-10. And that's not winning football. We've got to do a better job that way. But at the end of the day, for the first opportunity to go out and play in a real football environment, our guys showed that we have the potential to be tough."
What do you hope to improve on from week one to week two?
"I think we have to mitigate the mistakes. We have to do a better job of not putting ourselves behind the chain and just maintain a certain level of focus throughout the entire game."
Were you encouraged by what you saw from RB Marlon Mack?
"Yes, I was excited to see him bounce back from the very first play of the game where the linebacker ran through the A gap and tackled us in the backfield. But nevertheless, he's had a good camp. We're excited to see him continue to develop in our system."
Can you talk about QB Jeff Driskel's performance and ability?
"I think Jeff (Driskel) is more than a hybrid quarterback. I think Jeff has shown, even in that last drive, that he can play from the pocket. He can make all the throws from the pocket. And he has the poise and the savvy to lead us to a win regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the fact that it was preseason. He just showed a lot of good attributes you look for in your quarterbacks."
With another year of comfortability between QB Davis Mills and WR Nico Collins, what do you expect from them this season?
"I expect that between Davis (Mills) and Nico (Collins) and the time that they'll put in out here on the practice field, that there should be a high level of trust between the two. And we should be able to feature Nico in situations where it's man coverage, where he can use his body his size, his God-given ability to make plays."
After WR Jalen Camp has a really good practice and a big game, how does that help boost his chances?
"What you put on tape, it's who you are. He showed he can be a playmaker for us."
How did it make you feel to see what WR Jalen Camp did to honor WR John Metchie III after he scored the touchdown?
"It's just a testament to our locker room and just the environment that we're hoping to continue to cultivate here at the Texans. Guys care about each other."
What do you think about when you hear the confidence that QB Davis Mills has about this team?
"I think we have to focus on winning each day. I do think there's a lot of times between now and our first regular season football game, and we have a lot to work on and improve. And we'll do just that."
Since OL Kenyon Green has been out, what have you seen from the left guard competition?
"You saw Justin McCray and Max Scharping both step in this week and play a physical brand of football. They did a lot of things well."
What are some of the intangibles that you're trying to establish for this offense?
"The intangibles are already established. We're just looking for just our quarterbacks to execute the offense and to manage bad plays, protect the football and score the ball. That's their job."
After 11 penalties in this last game, are you trying to tune that down? Do you think this is just pregame jitters?
"I think we have to start in practice. We have to turn it down in practice and just make sure, as we said, initially just to focus and focus on doing our job each play."
SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR FRANK ROSS
What has DB Tremon Smith done to separate himself has the kick returner?
"The way I see it is, I'm happy to see where Tremon (Smith) and the rest of the returners are at based on the work – there are only so many live reps you can get. He's done a good job. That doesn't mean the competition is over. We've got to improve, everybody as a group. If Tremon is satisfied, well I'd tell you to ask him, he's a guy that wants to continue to improve. So whatever level we think he's at, we need him to get better as the entirety of the group."
What are your thoughts on the first preseason game?
"First game preseason is always unique with the amount of substitutions. A lot of reps to go around. It is a vanilla game relative to both units, New Orleans and us. We just have to look for guys who are out there finishing, finishing in a position they can control their matchup. Correct leverage points in coverage, etc. From an operations standpoint, really happy, from the jump. And we've got to continue to get better here for the Rams game."
Who stands out from the linebacker group?
"Linebacker group, a lot of competitors in that room. A lot of guys have kicking experience from (Kamu) Grugier-Hill all the way down. If you guys remember Kirko (Christian Kirksey) coming out of Iowa, Lovie (Smith) likes to assemble a group that can run. Hopefully in the kicking game we'll take advantage of that."
With a 6'5", 275-pound defensive lineman on kickoff, what does that say about DL Adedayo Odeleye?
"That's right. That was an exciting play. Referencing the game, 25 seconds on the kickoff. Okay. They bring it out of the end zone. He's a three to the kick direction side on that play. Going down there causing havoc, they bring it out. Ended up getting a holding penalty. Now they start their, quote/unquote, game winning drive attempt inside their own 15-yard line. Man, that sideline was excited for Dayo (Adedayo Odeleye). So whether it's (Derek) Rivers, (Adedayo Odeleye) Dayo, Demone Harris, Beezy (Ogbonnia Okoronkwo), (Neville) Hewitt, KPL (Kevin Pierre-Louis), any of those guys running down on that kick side and being able to compress those running lanes, that's exciting. Happy for Dayo (Adedayo Odeleye) on that play. That was awesome."
Was it surprising how much LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin's workload was for preseason Week one?
"No, I don't think anybody on this team is worried about their play time, their reps, what quarter. Things like that. To me, it's a football team that needs to get better. This is special teams unit that needs to get better. Every day we go out there, we want to compete. Doesn't matter the quarter we're in. This is the cutting time of the season so hopefully everybody's licking their chops to jump on any rep possible."
Knowing your relationship with him as a special teams player to becoming a full-time starter, talk about how proud you were to see DB Tavierre Thomas have an interception?
"Yes, growth. Texans, doesn't matter who it is. But TT (Tavierre Thomas). Now you're looking at guys like M.J. Stewart, Eric Murray. Doesn't matter who you are, where you come from, what your, quote/unquote, slot on the totem pole is. Excited for the overall success of whoever that is. Good play out there today. Want him to do it again tomorrow."
Was the long field goal attempt just getting K Ka'imi Fairbairn stretch his leg out?
"Anytime we roll our kicker out there, we have confidence he's going to make it. We expect him to make it. He expects it out of himself. Relative to down, distance and time in the game, end of half, you're going to stretch those yards a little bit more. But we were alerted cover, they put a returner back deep. Slight miss. Wants to get that rep again."
How versatile can guys like WR Jalen Camp and WR Johnny Johnson III be as receivers as well as gunners on the outside?
"Guys have to be willing to play. If you're in that receiver group, trying to contribute on the offensive side of the ball, got to be able to give something to the core four in the kicking game. Any of those guys. And you saw Johnny (Johnson III) out there competing and Jalen (Camp) running down on the punts last Saturday. So excited to see where those guys continue to grow for those backup depth receiver roles, definitely."
Going back to that long field goal, how do you judge the risk/reward on that?
"We've seen that in big moments in games across the NFL and college football where they return a short field goal for a touchdown. You've got to know your kicker, know your environment, know how he's kicking the ball to that point. Maybe that turns into a Hail Mary situation at the end of the half, and of course relative to the scores in the game. All those things will factor into it. Have full confidence he'll go out there, kick anything from the midfield area. So at this point we'll roll him out there and we'll convert next time."
OL SCOTT QUESSENBERRY
Can you talk about the versatility in the playbook and the guys on the roster who can play both guards and center?
"We have more guys that can snap here, then I've ever been on a team. Just being able to play all three is just something you have to do in the NFL. That's how it works. If you can't play all three, if you're not on the first line, then you're going to miss out quick."
How would you describe the battles between the offensive line and the defensive line during camp?
"They play hard, man. Lovie (Smith) has them going really good [well], firing off the ball, playing with good hands, good pad level. It gets chippy every now and then, but it's all in good competition."
What things you are learning from offensive line coach George Warhop?
"His philosophy is great and he's going to be 100 percent straight with you. If you're playing well or you're doing the right things, he's going to tell you. If you're not, he's also going to tell you. He's going to tell you if you need to pick it up or keep doing what you're doing, this that or the other. Working with Hop has been great."
What's it like having the leadership on the offensive line from OL Laremy Tunsil, OL Justin Britt and OL Tytus Howard?
"L.T. (Laremy Tunsil), J.B. (Justin Britt), Tytus (Howard), they set the example. We go as they go but other guys can step up as leaders, too. There's leaders all across our line: J-Mac (Justin McCray), Max (Scharping), even down the line, Jimmy (Morrissey). He's in here every day working hard, Charlie (Heck) as well. It rubs off on guys and we all kind of work together as one."
Where do you think their confidence and leadership comes from?
"I just think that they have done it before in other places and they've been groomed to be able to play all three positions the interior, or all five in the case of some people. I think that's how it's been for them at other places and coming here as a transition."
Growing up in a football family, how competitive were you all as brothers?
"Super. Everything we did we competed in, didn't matter if it was putting the tables away from Thanksgiving dinner, or shooting hoops in the back yard. Extremely competitive for sure."
What do you think about this years running backs and the line's run blocking ability compared to last year?
"I wasn't here last year, obviously. But as a unit, collectively, I know for a fact we're working together more as one and communicating a lot better and just relying on each other to be in the right place at the right time. And we had some good runs on Saturday night. We're going to have the mentality to carry that over into this game against the Rams and the next one and into the regular season."
How would you describe FB Paul Quessenberry as a fullback?
"Just look at him. He's got the freaking shaved head. He breathes, eats, sleeps fullback. That's him."
How does it speak to FB Paul Quessenberry's personality?
"It's the perfect fit for him, gritty hard-nosed, doesn't say much, down in the dirt, grinder that he is."
Off the field, one of your brothers beat cancer (David) and one served in the military (Paul). How proud does that make you?
"No doubt. They're both really special human beings first. They've overcome a ton of adversity, both of them. My oldest brother (David) just to be where he is today is really incredible. He truly is a survivor. We're thankful for it every day. My other brother, Paul, just kind of never giving up, never leaving the fight, just staying in it forever and just wanting to do this and chase his dreams is pretty incredible. They're both really special human beings."
Was your older brother, David, your inspiration and motivation to get out there and play because he couldn't play?
"Exactly. He was living vicariously through us. And anything that we could do to help him we were trying to do. But ultimately he was his own person, and he overcame what he overcame. And it's a heck of a story."
Did you have conversations with David, while he was here with the Texans, about the city and the team?
"Yeah, bits and pieces, but the overarching theme of everything is treat every day as if it's your last. I know it's the craziest cliché but he never knew if he was going to play football again. And secondly, no day is going to be worse than the days he's gone through. So every day you get up healthy is a blessing and get to come out here and play football."
DL DEREK RIVERS
Can you take us through that move where you dipped low trying to get that sack?
"Just getting off the ball, trying to show my hands and then run around, just go. Wasn't a lot of thinking once we got to the top. Kind of blacked out and just went."
Did you get lose weight this year?
"Honestly, I think my dad weight is sticking on me. I'm actually the same weight but it just feels a little better, yeah, absolutely."
Having HC Lovie Smith stay as the defensive coordinator, does that give you comfortability about what the defense is trying to do this year?
"I think it helps for sure, for sure, because honestly we had to start over. But kind of bring a lot of the same guys back, praise God, it was a blessing. So it was kind of like picking up where we left off but still you have to restart and learn it all over again. I think guys are moving a little faster now for sure, for sure."
What does it do for the competition on the defensive line to get guys like DL Jerry Hughes and DL Mario Addison, who have been in the playoffs and the Super Bowl?
"Man, praise God, it's been awesome because we've got a good roll. A lot of brothers in there so everybody been learning from each other, like young dudes pick from Maliek (Collins). Maliek's been learning from some of the younger dudes, like I learned a crap ton from Beezy (Ogbonnia Okoronkwo), Jerry (Hughes), Rio (Mario Addison), Demone (Harris), just watching each other. We have a real close-knit group. When you've got that and guys kind of like holding themselves and learn, take things from one another because we continue to learn every single day. So that's been a real good -- and that's what (defensive line coach) Jacques (Cesaire) teaches in there. It's been a blessing. It's been helpful for everybody's game."
How would you describe some of those battles between the offensive and defensive line in practice and in camp?
"Battles? It's competitive. It's always like that though. The O-line, they've got a great group, the closest knit group on the team. They've got to be, you know what I'm saying? When we go out there and if you're kind of BS-ing, they lock you up. You've got to go out there, that's how you make each other better, it's like iron sharpens iron."
There was some trash talking, pushing and shoving. Is that the competitive aspect kicking up especially knowing that you're all getting into game mode?
"Absolutely. It's that. You know when you're tired the mind is first thing that goes. Sometimes the tempers flare and that happens. It's like if you've got a brother, you fight your brother but you love him, you know what I'm saying? And as soon as you get in the locker room everything else is cool."
What does it say about DL Thomas Booker's involvement when he can pick up the defense as quickly as possible and have a good pass rush?
"Book (Thomas Booker) is a good dude. He is constantly asking questions. That's huge, because sometimes it's never wrong to ask a question. No such thing as a dumb question. Book (Thomas Booker) is very smart, fast, physical freak. So he's picked it up fast, and he just continues to learn every day and keep his head down and grind."
How does it feel now that you've found a home?
"Man, honestly it's God be the glory. It's all Jesus for real. To be real with you, that's all it is. Ain't nothing but the grace of God. Been a blessing to come from obviously like Kinston (North Carolina) and then from New England to here to here I didn't -- shoot, I really didn't think I would be here today to be real with you. It's been a blessing to get here and Houston has been a special place for me and my family. We just love it. Shoot. Everybody goes through stuff, brother. Just like everybody in this room. Life ain't a walk in the park, but God is good. So with that, you can go through those difficulties and you've got good family around, good people here, it helps."
What did you go back and observe on tape and what you need to do better?
"Short memory. Little detail things I have to clean up before I get to see Week 1, so kind of like learn from it, enjoy it but move on to the next game and grab those little details work on your game."
How much does your faith allow you to be able to do the things that you're able to do on the field?
"It's everything. I couldn't breathe without Jesus for real. Couldn't walk, couldn't talk, couldn't do nothing. Honestly if it weren't for him, like I said, I wouldn't be here today. When things get hard, it's like all right even if I mess up we still love, forgiving. That's the blessing."
How do you build off your performance from the preseason game?
"Take it. And like I said, just keep going because you can't get comfortable. Every team, as soon as you do it one week, the next team will see it. It's like, man, we've got a really good team, so take it. But continue to build. Humble yourself, celebrate it, but short-term memory, try to keep building off it."
Does the depth of the defensive line remind you of playing for the New England Patriots?
"So-so, honestly. Like I said, Jacques (Cesaire) likes to keep guys fresh, because really it's like we're going. You want fresh guys out there. The freshest team out there a lot of times wins. That's been really good."
What stands out to you about the offensive line as a group?
"Man, I know we're really excited about it. Those guys just, they compete. And like I said, just how close they are and kind of like the culture they built over there, completely different than last year. And they had it last year. We have a lot of the same leaders. Those boys, it's just a growth period. I'm excited to see them. Them jokers, they're explosive, man. We're excited to see them keep working, and they just keep their head down, grinding, take it one step at a time."