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Transcript: 8-22-2022 Press Conferences


Opening Statement

"We're kind of winding down a little bit with training camp, with padded practices. When you had a couple days off, it kind of takes a while to get going. But I like to the way the guys finished, all the way up to Dare (Ogunbowale) kicking a field goal. You've got to be ready at all positions. You never know when it's next man up. So that was encouraging to see. We have some bumps and bruises like everybody does this time of the year. Tomorrow we'll transition to getting ready for San Fran (49ers). As far as playing time for them, we're going to play the guys a lot more this week. This is the game we've kind of been shooting for to play the guys. I'm not going to say exactly how long right now, but a lot more."

Without former Texan Justin Reid, do you have to find a backup kicker?

"Justin, it's a long time since Justin has been here. But you always have to have, we have a couple guys. Normally your punter can kick a little bit, too, so you have a couple of options. Dare (Ogunbowale), the soccer player, most of those soccer players can boot it through when you need them to."

Can you talk about DB Grayland Arnold?

"He's gotten our attention. For young players that haven't gotten a lot of time, it's about taking advantage of the opportunities that you get. Grayland did some good things for us last year at the end of the year. He's been productive. We played him a little bit at the safety position, both safety positions, and he can also play the nickel position. He made some good plays on the special teams. That's what training camp is about, guys getting an opportunity and then producing."

How pleased are you with the productivity and the depth of the defensive line?

"We've known that we've had good depth, but you can never have too many good defensive linemen. Most times it's going to come down to them finishing, being able to rush. Their best rush is at the end of the game. Both of our games we've gotten that. This week some of the guys that haven't played as much. Maliek Collins will play this week. Jerry Hughes will, so anxious to see those guys play, too."

Can you talk about what you've seen from OL Kenyon Green?

"He's missed a lot of time, but getting him back out there, just in a group, was big for us. I think the last couple days he's practiced with us, he's done well. No lingering effects from the previous injury. Hopefully we'll be able to do something with him this weekend."

Do you view OL Kenyon Green as a starter?

"We're not naming many starters. Normally a first-round draft pick eventually is going to move into that role, but it'll play itself out."

What made you feel so comfortable in the decision to not play RB Dameon Pierce last week?

"Just what we saw against the Saints. On training camp, once you see a little bit from one guy, when you have a lot of running backs you've got to let them all have an opportunity. So don't look too much into it. We've seen some good things from Dameon, but some good things from the other guys, too."

Is there an update on DL Ogbonnia Okoronkwo?

"No, he has an injury right now, you know, any guy that's not practicing. We don't think it's anything too serious, but we'll see. I'm not sure if he'll be able to go this week, but eventually he'll be out there."

Has FB Troy Hairston caught your eye this past week?

"He's caught our eye throughout camp. Versatile player and was a defensive lineman in college, low linebacker. Normally those guys can transition over to the fullback position. Brings a lot of athletic ability. He's an excellent special teams player, also good lead blocker. We like a lot of things that he's done."

How difficult will it be to keep momentum going through the short break after Thursday's game?

"Everybody has a long one. That's just the nature of our game. Guys grind, grind, grind, and then guys get a chance to heal up, which we'll be able to do. We got a lot of good work in, so that's the part of it we planned for. It won't stop any of our preparation as we go forward getting ready for Indy after this last game."

How difficult is it to evaluate the first-team offense?

"I don't think it's that difficult. We have games that we get a chance to see them. We've gotten a chance to see them a little bit in practice and experience. Most decisions to me aren't that hard at the end if you let guys continue to play. We've seen everybody on our team a long period of time. We feel like we have a pretty good handle on how this is going to play out. But we have one more chance to maybe let one of the guys step up that we haven't seen. I see Grayland Arnold over here talking to someone (media). He's been in the background. Hopefully we'll have somebody this last game kind of step up and make us take notice, too."

Where have you seen some people step up on the first-team offense?

"You've got to keep in mind that we haven't played our entire offense together. We've had two, three linemen out, tight end not in there, running back wasn't in there this week, wide receiver wasn't there. I wouldn't put too much into it. We like what we're getting in practice. Those guys are healthy, will be ready to go when we need to go."

Are you able to say if LB Christian Harris is closer to coming back?

"He's closer, but they're all a little closer. He's not going to play this week. He's not practicing yet. Whenever you have a soft tissue injury it takes a while. He eventually will be out there. It's not anything that's going to be season-ending or anything like that. He was making a lot of progress. Whenever you have an injury on a young player it's not an ideal situation, but eventually he'll be out there. We can't wait. He's going to help us win a lot of games eventually."


Where do you feel like you're at right now after dealing with an injury early in camp?

"I feel good. I feel like I'm clicking right now. I feel comfortable. I'm healthy, thank God. I'm just out here trying to make the most out of every day."

Going back and looking at the film, what were your thoughts on that catch you made this weekend?

"We needed the play. The offense was stagnant. We needed somebody to just go out there, just make a splash play just to get everybody up off their feet. It was cover two. I had a hole shot. Davis (Mills) laid it up there and I saw the safety coming, so I just focused on the ball, catch the ball, brace yourself, take the hit, try to get your feet down. I didn't know if I got them down, but once I took the hit and I wasn't dazed or nothing, I just took my helmet off and they were jawing at me, so I just jawed back at them."

How much of this offense have we not seen yet?

"I would say a lot of it. Obviously in the preseason you don't want to show your best stuff. Brandin (Cooks) hasn't even played yet, so we're not showing a lot. You've got to keep a lot of it secret. The coach is going to be watching. We're going to open it up eventually, but not yet."

What are your thoughts in the meeting rooms as you're breaking down the past couple games?

"Yeah, I mean, everything is simple right now. We're running day one install stuff. Just the evaluation period is going out there and playing, who can give the most effort. When the ball comes to you who can make the play, who can make the blocks. Just going out there and just fighting every play."

You don't feel like you've checked the box on that yet?

"I feel like we're checking boxes. We're winning games. Even though they're preseason you want to go out there and win every game. Obviously we're not there yet, but we're getting better every day, and we've just got to keep going."

What is the style of the wide receiver room outside of WR Nico Collins?

"Like you said, we do have a lot of vets. Obviously, Nico (Collins) is young, but we complement each other. Me and (Brandin) Cooks are similar guys, speed guys, guys that can stretch the field. Obviously we've got Con man (Chris Conley) and you've got C-Mo (Chris Moore), veteran guys that can catch the ball very well, can also run. I feel like we've got a pretty well-rounded group, along with the young guys that can come in there and make big plays like they did in the first game. I feel like we've got a pretty good group, but we're still growing and we've got to keep growing, keep getting better."

Going back to Friday's game, was it frustrating knowing that the offense could do more?

"It's always frustrating when you're not moving the ball, no matter who's out there, no matter what play is called. Everybody has an assignment on each play and you've got to go out and execute it, and we weren't doing that at first. At the end of the day, football is about momentum. You need somebody to make a play and then another big play follow up after that, and then it's a trickle-down effect. It's football. Everything isn't easy, but you've got to make the best of it."

Which defensive player really stands out to the offense?

"Some of the young guys. Obviously you've got (Jalen) Pitre, you've got (Derek) Stingley, those guys. You can see the talent is there. Obviously they're young and they're going to get so much better, but they definitely jump off in the film room. They're making veteran plays, plays that rookies shouldn't make, and they're only going to get better because they're still young. It's definitely great to see for the future."

What's it like going against DB Steven Nelson and what's the type of style of play you've seen?

"Yeah, he's another great veteran out there. I've played against him a lot. I was with him at the Senior Bowl. He played on the other team. He's a guy that's been around, seen a lot of football, played in big games. He's just a veteran. Sometimes when you're a veteran you just see stuff different, and he's one of those guys that just comes out here, he works hard every day. He's very consistent, and he makes plays."

What excites you most about Pep Hamilton's offense?

"I would say the way that he's going to utilize his playmakers. Obviously offensive football is about getting your playmakers the ball, and I think that he's really great at that. And once we start opening it up, I think people are starting to see it. But right now it's preseason football. We're going out, we're trying to win every game, but still not trying to show everything. Things will get better."


Can you talk us through the touchdown to TE Teagan Quitoriano against the Rams?

"We were running the ball really well that drive, and Teagan (Quitoriano) got out nice. I actually didn't throw a great ball, kind of threw it behind him and he turned and made a play and scored. So that was nice to see Teagan get out there and get some time. I know he's kind of been struggling with whatever issue he's got going on. To see him get out there and get some playing time and play well was cool. Good to see it."

What's it like being back in Texas and being a part of this team?

"It's cool, man. Obviously spent four years of my life in the area, two years here, two years at (Texas) A&M, and it's kind of familiar. You come here and you don't feel like you're out of place. A lot of good guys on the team, a lot of good coaches, so it's been a lot of fun."

Why Houston?

"It was my first time in free agency and it just felt like the right opportunity for me. There were a couple other teams out there talking through the process and it just ended up feeling like this was the best opportunity."

What do you remember most about your time at Texas A&M?

"I think at (Texas) A&M there was just a lot of growth. I was a young kid at A&M. I was 17, 18, 19 years old, so there was a lot of learning, a lot of growth. It was really fun playing in that stadium in front of all those people, a lot of good competition in the SEC and I played in a lot of games there, so a lot of good experience."

Has anyone hit you up since you got here?

"I mean, every time I come to Texas there's always a couple people that hit me up and I see around, so it's cool. I feel more at home that I have in other places."

How is the relationship that you've been able to build with QB Davis Mills?

"It's good. Davis (Mills) is a really smart player. He's a really hard worker. He understands the game really well and he's really talented. It's been really fun to be around him. I think I'm learning a lot from him, he's learning a lot from me. I think we're working really well together and I'm excited to see what he can do this year."

Is there anything that surprises you about QB Davis Mills?

"I don't know if I'm surprised. I remember watching him last year in his time. I watch basically every football game if I'm not playing, so I remember watching him play, and I remember his first game against Carolina and seeing that he looked good. Like he looked solid. Mechanics were really good. Seeing him throughout the year he looked good, so kind of seeing him in practice and in preseason, I'm not really surprised, I'm just excited to see what happens."

How would you describe this offense in comparison to one you've been part of before?

"I've only really been in a Norv Turner-style offense, West Coast, terminology wise and kind of just scheme and philosophy, so it took a little bit to kind of get changed over to that, but I feel like I am getting comfortable with it, and it makes a lot of good sense."

Does sharing a center allow you to grow a little faster?

"I don't know if that's more offense-offense as it is quarterback to center. I guess in this offense there is a lot between the center and the quarterback, but in previous offense when Cam Newton was playing when I was in Carolina and then when I was playing out there (Washington) the center was making a lot of calls, and it was taking a lot off the quarterback to kind of see everything. It is nice to have a little bit more communication with the centers out there."

What can you actually share about this offense and expect to see?

"You've just got to watch. September 11th. Yeah, tune in."

What is your relationship with WR Nico Collins like?

"He scored and I felt bad just standing back there. I felt like I had to go celebrate with him. Nico (Collins) has been great. He's a guy I didn't really know about last year, and coming in and seeing him and seeing him progress and take on more of a role has been cool to see. I think he's really talented, and I think teams are seeing it through the preseason and practice and I think he's gotten a little bit of buzz around here. He's got a lot of room to grow, but he can be really good."

How was the Oregon trip for you?

"It was good. It was good. Cookie (Brandin Cooks) set us up nice out in Lake Oswego, in Oregon. It's always nice to get together a little bit before and get on the same page."

You mentioned you and QB Davis Mills help each other. What are some of the ways you can help him?

"I think just like at this time of the year it's kind of tough, but once we get into the season and once we really start game planning for teams, I think that's where I can really help him and we can really help everyone in that room. It's just helping him feel the most prepared for games. I remember when I was playing, I had Alex Smith as my backup in Washington when he was recovering from his leg injury, and he always made me feel incredibly prepared for games. He always was there helping me, making sure every look was covered over, and he'd been through it. So hopefully I can kind of help Davis (Mills) with that and make sure he feels fully prepared for the games."

Are there guys like that you still kind of text with and lean on?

"Yeah, I talk to Alex (Smith) every now and then. I saw Ryan Fitzpatrick before the game out in L.A. He was doing TV out there. I said what's up to him. I hear from Cam (Netwon) every now and then. We see Greg Olsen out there doing TV, so I've seen him a couple times last year. There's a lot of vets. My first couple years in Carolina I was around a lot of really good vets, Ryan Khalil, Luke Kuechly, Greg Olsen, Cam Newton, so it was cool to learn from those people and still have good relationships with them."

How much is mechanical, like how much can you communicate over text and answer questions?

"Oh, I think there's not much that is mechanical. I think it's the other way around. I have relationships with other guys around the league who are still playing, and just being able to hit them up after they've played a team and say, hey, what did you see, if you have any notes on it, send it here, and I think guys are open to doing that, depending on the situation. I just always try and get as close as I can to all my teammates and keep those relationships going wherever I go."

What was Cam Newton's nickname for you?

"It was Lovey-Dovey. That's a story for another time."

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