HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"You know you're not game ready anything, but you see little signs of improvements each day. We continue to put in situational football. Our quarterback continues to take care of the football. We are getting better, but of course we have a long ways to go. The goal as much as anything is to let guys get on video, reps, before we start playing games and right now we are getting a pretty good look at players that we need to really evaluate. Each day we get a couple of nicks, but no major injuries, which is also a good thing."
Can you talk about the play by WR Nico Collins?
"That's tough duty for a defensive back. The one play that you're talking about, defensively, CB Steven Nelson is in pretty good position, but when you're 6-4, most corners around six feet, that's a pretty good match up for us. Nico Collins is an excellent football player. We expect him to make plays like that."
What did you see from DL Jerry Hughes and DL Jonathan Greenard and how they are progressing?
"That's how both guys have been throughout. Jonathan (Greenard) coming back from a major injury. But Jerry Hughes, we brought him here for his veteran leadership and a lot of those things, but he's still a legitimate pass rusher on the outside and once we get in positions where we can let him go, we expect Jerry (Hughes) to win more than he's going to lose."
How would you describe DL Jonathan Greenard and what he could potentially do for the team?
"I kind of see, instead of talking, I see a confident guy. First off, you don't talk unless you feel confident about who you are as a football player and what you can do, and sometimes it takes that leader to get things going a little bit. It's training camp, you know. It's not like it's the wedding night and everybody is excited and all that. It's training camp. So, you expect those kind of things from Jonathan (Greenard). When you talk, you need to be able to make plays, and he can do that."
What have you seen from DB Jalen Pitre and his ability to step up and be so versatile?
"I think linebacker is one of our deepest positions. Jalen (Pitre) has done some good things. The other group, the guy that's probably come from nowhere is LB Blake Cashman, another guy. You saw today, we were working LB Christian Harris with the one group a little bit, so we'll keep those different combinations going."
Can you talk a little bit about running backs and how they'll fit into this offense?
"Running backs just in general, we have six that we're going to play, that we're playing a lot. They will sort it out. But if you play running back for us, you need to be able to catch the ball on the outside. You need to be able to split out, matchups. It's a lot easier for a wide receiver or a running back to maneuver in an open field as opposed to coming out of the backfield. That will be a big part of what we'll be doing."
Do you think QB Kyle Allen and his growing consistency are pushing QB Davis Mills to improve?
"I think it's been that way. Our starting quarterback will get the majority of reps and our backup has to be in a position where when he does get reps, you don't see a big dropout. Kyle Allen can play winning football and we love having him here."
How would you say rookie OL Kenyon Green is progressing through camp?
"I would say normal rookie progression. He needs to get in there. First, it's about getting in football playing conditions. He's working on that, but now we'll continue to let him go with the ones, too. We know he's going to play for us. It's just about getting him looks, as many looks as we possibly can and that's what we're doing."
Do you feel that was one of the better practice days from WR Nico Collins?
"Yeah, I think he's had his moments throughout. But you can isolate on him and everybody can notice him a lot more when you get in a more condensed area down in the red zone. But you know, he's a big guy. He can block. He's got good speed. As you can see, he can jump. He's a perfect complement, also, for WR Brandin Cooks."
Can you talk about QB Davis Mills and his ball security throughout practice today?
"That's how he's been throughout. He's made plays. It's about ball security, first. Quarterback protecting the football. He has done that throughout camp, and once it gets down there now, you've got to push it past in the end zone. It was good to see him do that today."
What have you seen from OL Myron Cunningham?
"Eventually once we really start getting into pads, you'll be able to tell a lot more. For those young guys, just showing up every day, when you get your opportunity. Blend in, first. Then really kind of show out a little bit. He's been an end and we like what he's done right now."
Can you talk about the combinations right now and how TE Pharaoh Brown fits into that?
"Well just I'm talking about just Pharaoh (Brown) in general. He's our starting tight end and he's a wide tight end. He can block, big body. You see him make catches every day. We'll have a big role for him."
DB TAVIERRE THOMAS
What are you looking to build on from last year?
"Just keep getting better each and every day, learn from the older guys, the older guys that have been in the league 13, 12 years. Learn how to keep my body healthy and keep learning from my fellow brother, which is my best friend, Des (Desmond King II), he teaches me a lot. It's friendly competition over there so just want to keep getting better each and every day."
Can you talk about your improvement of coverage?
"Try to be tighter in coverage each and every play and if I continue to do that, plays will come to me."
Does having that close relationship with DB Desmond King II make you want to do better in practice? "For sure. You've got to be better because if you're not better, he's getting better somehow, some way so I try to get better just as much as him, and it's like friendly competition. It's going against my best friend every day, so just got to keep getting better each and every day."
What's the level of expectation?
"If I do something bad, he's going to say something, vice versa."
What do you see from the young guys in the secondary?
"They really just like -- what we tell them is just play like you did in college. Don't go out there thinking you're going to make mistakes. Just go out there and have fun. As a rookie you're going to make mistakes, so make them in practice and then in the game it's going to be way easier. If they can just continue to learn from the older guys and go out each and every day and have fun, plays are going to come to them."
Can you talk about the consistency with the veterans preaching that same message to the younger players?
"Everyone is preaching the same message because these guys were drafted high and a lot of people are going to be expecting a lot from them, especially us. We want them to go out there and have fun and just lean on us and if you have a bad play, go to the next play."
What's it like to see DB Jalen Pitre not only making plays in a pass rush but also in coverage and correcting his mistakes?
"He's just very smart. That's one of the smartest guys I've seen coming in, me going on my fifth year. He's very smart. You wouldn't know that he's a rookie. Like he ain't make like the little rookie mistakes. But other than that, you wouldn't think he's a rookie. When he's not in, he's calling out plays, calling out formations, so he knows the game. As long as he continues to do that, he's going to be real good in the league."
Does having HC Lovie Smith for a second year in a row make the consistency easier, knowing what to expect in practice?
"I would say, yeah. We just got to just trust those guys and just keep going each and every day and if we do that, I feel like we got -- the ceiling is high for us."
How did your relationship with DB Desmond King II come about?
"We have been playing together since we was like the fifth grade, sixth grade. Now we in the NFL together. It's like, that's my guy."
Do you guys talk about that?
"Sometimes. We just know each other so well. I know when he's down, I'm going to pick him up and vice versa. That's my guy."
How is it going from sixth grade and now playing together as a pro?
"It's surreal. It's a surreal moment. When we first got together last year, I never expected to be playing with him but now playing with him, it's like, feel like we back in little league again. Certain things we do, literally like the same we did back in high school and middle school."
Any good stories?
"We got a lot of funny stuff. It's a lot."
"I don't know where his defense came from with Des (Desmond King II). Des was offense player. They called him "Baby Barry Sanders," he was real good on offense. To see him playing defense at a high level in the NFL, that's kind of crazy growing up with him. He scored like in high school -- so I got put out of state playoffs, I got put out state playoffs, so he had like three games left and he scored like 15 touchdowns. I went to a charter school and he went to a public school. He scored like 15 touchdowns in three games. I'm like, oh, this GPS stuff is easy. I used to tell him all that time. He goes, no, oh, man, I'm just good, whatever."
Do you have a nickel group chat?
"Me and (Cowboys CB) Jourdan (Lewis) talk a lot. I don't know if Des and Jourdan talk a lot, but my fiancée and his wife are real close, so we're always together in the offseason."
Any other DB Desmond King II notes?
"He wore 20 his whole life until he got 25."
And you played defense?
"I was straight defense. I was good on offense. I played quarterback. I was like a Michael Vick, right hand, Michael Vick. I was taking off running, you know."
So, if he was Baby Sanders what was your nickname?
"Black Magic. That's me. Our defensive coordinator on the Westside Cubs came up with it, an older guy, his name was Black Magic and then I was with him -- I'm chocolate and then I made a lot of plays so they call me Black Magic, so yeah."
DL JONATHAN GREENARD
What's it like working with some of the veteran defensive linemen?
"They bring the energy, all the time. I think them being 25 years combined, you can't coach that so I think I just try to pick their brain, understand how they can get through this camp, 12 of them, 13 of them and make sure that I take every single thing that they are trying to instill in us."
What areas do you feel like you're improved in and how has practicing with OL Tytus Howard helped?
"It's great. Obviously now you're going against the best in the game, obviously. And the things that you are learning from Jerry (Hughes) and Rio (Mario Addison) that you can just translate over right then and there. You're going to go against the best of the best. Every single time they tell me something I just kind of look at it on film and see how Tytus (Howard) and LT (Laremy Tunsil) are giving me. Me and LT (Laremy Tunsil) and Tytus (Howard), we all talk and that's the thing about it. We all just basically giving us pointers how I approach them and how they approach me and that's always going to help both of us moving forward. Iron sharpens iron, as we all know that."
In addition to the spin move, what other areas have you added to your repertoire?
"Like I said, just having those talks with LT (Laremy Tunsil) and Tytus (Howard). They tell me how they would approach a guy like me. They are going to have to do certain things to make me have to sit down or make me do other moves. So I just basically have to stay in my repertoire or add to my repertoire, add to my arsenal and understand how they would block me and have a better counter. It's a steady evolving game because even after I beat them with a move, I have to readjust and make another move after that."
When you and OL Laremy Tunsil talk behind the line of scrimmage at practice, how does that help you moving forward?
"I doesn't matter if I win or lose, I want to know. At the end of the day, I'm not going to go playing them in the game. I've got to make sure that we are playing against somebody else and I guarantee you I'm not going to play somebody better than them. At this point, if I can learn these pointers and beat the best of the best, or learn from the best of the best, I'm going to make sure do I that so that I'm successful on Sundays."
What specific areas have OL Laremy Tunsil and OL Tytus Howard helped you better understand?
"Even today, when I did a spin move, one-on-one. Obviously just learning how they would approach it, knowing that these guys know that I can spin. It's no secret what I can do. So at the same time, just understanding how they approach it and knowing how they would block a guy in a game. You're supposed to just learn how to take it up more and give them more speed and so you can basically get them on your island. If you go to them that's what they want to you do. They want you to come to them and play their game. You've got to bring them out to you. I'm going to always take that from them."
Did you ever think about what you could have accomplished last year if not for your injury?
"I did at times, but then I had to let it go because at the end of the day I was just trying to make sure that -- I don't like living with regrets because if I sat down and thought about that, it would be pointless. I have a season to worry about next year. I'm going it continue to work on myself and what I can handle, what I can control. My number one goal is making it through 17 games and being there for my team every single game."
Do you think about what could happen this year?
"No, that's what I'm saying. I'm really just focused on trying to get to the games, make sure I get to the games healthy and maintain the season all 17 games."
Do you feel like there is a little bit more energy from the coaching staff this training camp compared to last season?
"I think overall, we all understand what happened last year. We understand that that's not our standard and not what we want to do. We have got a lot of guys who believe in that same thing. So, overall we're just going to come out and practice and go forward and win four games again. We are trying to be better than that. Any team should be doing that. So I think everybody has that feel to them and nobody feels that we're complacent."
Does it feel like it's a start of a new era for Houston Texans football?
"You could say that for sure. Any time you get a chance to come out here and play ball, we get paid to play a child's game, so you've got to be happy about that. At the same time, we all start fresh and we are all on the same level playing field. At this point, you have to control what you can control and put your best foot forward."
What have you seen from DL Rasheem Green?
"Yeah, my guy, Rasheem (Green). He's literally all of it. You see them play the 3-technique, six-technique, all that. He's a technician and he's still very strong, very young as well and he's hungry. That's the thing about our room, we are all hungry. Nobody feels entitled about anything. We are all trying to mooch off of each other, and whenever it's that next person's time to go, we cheer them on the same way. There's no bad blood, none of that. That's our thing. As we all know in this league, you have to have layers and be deep in depth. It's always going to be good and love between us. We are all trying to get the same thing."
What does that mean to the defensive unit when your defensive coordinator is also your head coach?
"Overall, I don't want to make it seem like we just get comfortable, but it definitely does make us feel better. We know we have to learn the same system but now we can just add off of that. But now we know on the defensive side what his standard was for him last year. The new guys and the guys that were here last year are trying to bring the other one's to understand what his expectations is for us, and now the offensive side brings that mentality to this, as well, Pep Hamilton and those guys. We are all trying to understand what we do here. So overall, it's going to be the better for us in the long run."
Is the two-deep look the identity of this defense?
"If you look at the guys who just won the Super Bowl, they are literally deep. So, I think everybody on this team got to have depth. One person just can't do it all. Unless you're one of them freaks, one person's not going to do it out in this Houston heat. We got to be deep and have depth and I think all of us bring something different to the game, and I think that's what's going to help us moving forward because nobody can really game plan for that. You never know what you can do out of us four, with me, five. Derek Rivers, all these guys we have in the D-Line room, we all bring something different to the table."
Have you noticed the veterans who have been in the playoffs have certain expectations?
"For sure, and they make it known. Like I said, they have done it. They have won championships. Jerry (Hughes) and Rio (Mario Addison) have obviously have been there and understand what it takes to get there. They bring that to us and when they obviously see something that's not up to the standard they want to see and obviously for this team to get to where we want to go, they say stuff and it's well needed at times. Overall, it brings that leadership and that mentality, understanding where we're all trying to get to and makes receiving better for sure."
What does it mean to you to have that success and have that breakout season?
"It's definitely exciting. I don't think I don't remember it, but at the same time I also understand what's at stake. I understand nobody cares about that. This is a new year. I could have one sack, ten sacks, don't matter what it was. I still got to go get whatever that number is. At the end of the day, we are all going to do that collectively and that's going to help us better for the team and that way we can move forward and get where we want to go."
OL TYTUS HOWARD
What's it like having a lot of big, athletic guys on the offensive line and wanting that to be the offensive line's identity?
"Pretty good, big athletic team. I think Pep (Hamilton) is doing a good job of establishing the run for this offense, and they mix in a lot of play action to get teams on their toes. I think that he's doing a good job and I think us as a O-line is working towards being one of the best units in this league this year, so I feel like the offense has a lot of room to grow. I think we're doing a pretty good job so far."
How is OL Kenyon Green looking so far?
"The rook [rookie] is doing pretty good. I think Kenyon (Green) is doing a pretty good job of when he was not in the ones, watching what he needs to be able to do to keep up with the ones. Today he stepped up and did a pretty good job and only going to improve from now on."
What have you learned playing with DL Jonathan Greenard?
"It's always good to go against guys like JG (Jonathan Greenard). He has a lot of moves. He plays with a lot of energy so you going to see that every week. I think we do a good job of when we have practice, go against each other, try to give each other different stuff that we might not see every day in practice. I think we do a good job of holding each other to a higher standard, playing hard every play. I've been here with JG (Jonathan Greenard) for three years now and I think he's getting better every day. I learn from him and learns from me. When we get together after practice, we talk about it to see what we can do better and put more on film and get better every day."
How do you match the intensive that defense brings to practice?
"Number one thing is playing with energy. If you don't have energy as a defense, it's hard to play. That's the biggest thing with the defense, they come out, all defenses play hard but when you bring that energy, you're playing fundamental football like Lovie (Smith) said, you create turnovers, you get to the quarterback, I think that's the biggest thing."
HC Lovie Smith said he wants you to be the right tackle during the year. How does that feel?
"That feels good knowing I'm playing one position. Yes, I'm playing right tackle. Feels good to be back out there. That's where I played most of my whole career. Feel comfortable. I'm getting better every day. I look at this year as a big year to take another step up and be one of the best right tackles in the NFL."
With your family here, how much did that help you coming into camp?
"It helped me a lot. I've got a son, Tytus Junior, it just makes you go harder. I know I've got a family to feed back at home. I know the guy I'm going against every Sunday has a family to feed. It's either him or me, and I'm choosing me, I'm choosing my family to protect. I think it's like that with the quarterback. Davis (Mills) is family to me and so it's my job to go out every week and protect him, and that's what I'm going to do."
What have you seen from QB Davis Mills from year one to year two?
"I think he took a bigger step being a leader on the team. He wasn't asked to get a lot of the guys together, he chose to get a lot of the guys together throughout the offseason, to get some extra work in, and you don't see that a lot from a lot of younger quarterbacks. But I'm telling you, Davis (Mills) is different, probably one of the most poised and calm players I've ever been around. It's going to take him a long way."
Did you look at your fifth-year option as a validation of what you showed?
"Yes, sir. They picked my fifth year, just give me another chance to put more on film to get extended even longer, another year to hone in on my skills and use my potential to be the best I can be. I think that showed me that the team believed in me as a player and I've just got to go out there and do my job."
What stands out to you about DL Jonathan Greenard?
"I would say Jonathan (Greenard), he's a smaller guy, but he has a lot of power behind him. A lot of different, versatility of moves. So when you go against Jonathan, you can't just think you're going to see the same thing over and over. He kind of keeps you on your toes a little bit. The thing about Jonathan, he's a great guy and he plays hard. I think that's why last year he had so much success when he was on the field because he played hard day-in and day-out."
Have you seen much change with OC Pep Hamilton and the rushing attack?
"Pep (Hamilton) is going to surprise a lot of people. He calls some good plays. But I think overall, really, I think it started with the offensive line coach, coach (George) Warhop too. It's the mentality. Coach (Warhop) told us what he expects from us, ask day-in, day-out, we go out and practice. He has not shortened; he only extends what he wants from us and he holds us to the higher standard no matter if you're Laremy Tunsil or whether you're a rookie in Kenyon Green. He treats everybody the same and holds us to a higher standard, and so I think that's going to help this group improve in the run game, have a nasty, physical mentality and I think that should help the offense."
You and OL Laremy Tunsil have talked about being a great tackle tandem for every year you've been here. Is this the year where you feel you can make that happen?
"No doubt. No doubt. I do."
What was your reaction to the narrative that you weren't playing right tackle?
"I really don't pay attention. Of course, you see it and people tag you in it but I really don't pay attention. I only worry about what's going on in this building and whatever I can do to help my team and what I put on film. When everyone gets to talking and doing all this, I don't really pay attention. I think it's funny, actually, I mean, I just worry about what I can do day-in and day-out on the field to keep my job and play my job to the most full potential."
What do you think of QB Davis Mills' mustache?
"I like the mustache. I think it's a good look on him."
How has the chemistry started to gel for the offensive line?
"A.J. (Cann) is an older vet. I think having him beside me is helping me out a lot because there's stuff that he may see, I don't see, and me being a young player being moved around the offensive line a lot. I think there's stuff I've been able to teach him, we just learn from each other. I think getting all these reps in together, building this camaraderie with him day-in and day-out, I know I'm going to like playing beside A.J. (Cann), but him being an addition to this team is going to help this offensive line a lot."