HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"We've gotten a lot of good work done. Seems like forever we've been out here practicing. Once you get to -- you put in a good week of pads and all of that, you've got to get over the hump. Today was a hump today. We're having a few guys each day that have some bumps and bruises that's causing them to miss a few -- maybe a little bit of time, but we're pushing through it. We continue to put in situational football. Today, team making calls off of the sideline. Before you know it that first preseason game will be here. Like where we are. I'll take your questions."
What are your thoughts about RB Darius Anderson?
"Yes. Well, my thoughts about that is when it initially happened, of course I reached out to him, and he told me that charges have to be dropped because it didn't happen that way. Normally when things come up like that, we let it play out in the system. I'm glad that they came to that conclusion."
How special is it to have Houston Rocket's head coach Stephen Silas here?
"It's very special. Stephen (Silas) is doing a great job. I'm a big basketball fan. I see what he's doing with our Rockets. A young football team developing, a lot of great young talent, can't wait to see them play next year. He's H-town like we are, so it's good for us to compare notes but good to see him at practice."
What's the status of OL Tytus Howard and OL Kenyon Green?
"They're both out injury-wise. We don't necessarily go over what the injury is, but both of them are out for a period of time. They don't have season-ending injuries. They'll be out for a period of time, and we expect to get them back shortly."
How do you work with OL Kenyon Green and how is he progressing as a rookie?
"A part of getting ready for a season is injuries are going to happen. You're going to be out for a period of time. You get as much mental work as you can. You rehab your injury. We like everything Kenyon Green has done. As you can see, he's been working with the ones some. He's a big, athletic man that's going to help us win a lot of games. Again, it's nothing serious. He'll eventually be back out there."
Can you talk about the progression of OL Neville Hewitt?
"I love everything he's done since he got here. He knows his role. He's going to back up Christian Kirksey. As you watch practice just about every day he's out there, he's one of the guys that's bought into -- defensive football is like getting the ball back. You see him punch it. It seems like he's punched the ball out just about every day, but he's a valuable backup for us. Will be in the mix as we go through."
Can you talk about what DL Jonathan Greenard did today and is that what you're expecting of him?
"Absolutely. That was a great play he made today. But we expect great players to make great plays. Last year he had limited amount of time on the field, but he was productive, so it's time for him to take a step. We need a few of our guys to take that next step to where you're really talking about them, and Jonathan (Greenard) has the ability to do that."
What did you see from DB Jalen Pitre today and the way he's practiced so far?
"What we should notice about Jalen (Pitre) is he's just blending in now. Of course, he's one of our starting safeties. We aren't giving out any starting spots, but he's been working with the ones. But he's intelligent, smart, everything we're looking for in a safety, he has. Can't wait for him to actually play his first game."
What have you seen from DB Isaac Yiadom?
"Yes. You know, he played some good football at Green Bay last year, so we got a chance to see him play. But as a cornerback, you notice him, size. He's going to be a special teams contributor for us, but long, he's physical, shows up every day, good pickup. We have plans for him."
Can you talk about DB Derek Stingley Jr.'s ability to be coached?
"Guys are coachable or they're not and you can tell right away. If you just meet him you can tell he's going to be a coachable guy. He's eager to learn. He's like a sponge. When young players come in you've got to act like you don't know a whole lot and just teach me. That's what I've seen from all of our young guys, Christian Harris. We talked about (Jalen) Pitre, and of course Derek Stingley Jr. is like that. The big thing for him was for us to get him on the football field and let him continue to play, and that's what we're doing."
What have you seen from OL A.J. Cann?
"Consistent play. You know, he has history with George Warhop, our offensive line coach. It seems like every day he blends in. He's a pro, shows up every day. He's a physical player. I think he's a good pass blocker. Just everything we're looking for, gives stability to the offensive line."
Houston Rockets head coach Stephen Silas said he likes the way you go about coaching. How does that make you feel?
"Anytime you get a compliment from a coach, I mean, it is a big thing. As I've said, a lot of what our Rockets are doing, it's what we're trying to do. But yes, you have to have relationships and you have to be hands on coaching the players in a positive environment. I've seen -- I know Stephen's style of coaching. It works, and of course we're trying to do some of the same things."
Is it important to build relationships with the other coaches in town and to build a bridge across the sports in Houston?
"Absolutely. We're all, as you said, in the same city. I love the other sports in general. I'm a fan. When we're not playing, I'm a fan. Of course, we support everything that's H-town related, whether it be our Houston Cougars, Texas Southern, the Rockets. Of course, I've known Dusty Baker forever. When Dusty was with the Cubs I was with the Bears, so we have a relationship before just now. But yes, absolutely. I know they support us and we definitely will be supporting them."
What does it mean for you to be in a city where all three major sports' head coaches are Black coaches (Dusty Baker and Stephen Silas)?
"It doesn't happen very often. In fact, we were just talking about that earlier. We've got to get together and get a picture. The city of Houston, it's diverse. It is. Everything should show that. A lot of times it's not about the lip service you give, there's a visual with what we're doing."
Can you talk about the return of WR Phillip Dorsett and how you envision him elevating the wide receivers position?
"Of some of the things that needed to happen, that's one of them. Phillip (Dorsett) has missed a lot of time. He's a part of what we want to do. He brings a skill set, quickness, make you miss in the open field. But in training camp and in these practices, injuries happen. It's good to get him back out there. He's back in the mix now."
How have you seen the team respond to your messages of change and the video you showed at the start of the season?
"Everything we've done, everything we've asked the players to do, they've done. I mean, they've bought in. So the culture has changed. Last time when you start a business, the last thing you see is a profit sometimes, but it's happening behind the scenes. As a head football coach and coaching staff, they buy in. They lead, they do exactly what we ask them to do. We have a plan, and it's going to work."
TE Pharaoh Brown has made a lot of plays throughout camp. What do you see?
"I love what he did in year one of being a young football player. He's listed as a tight end, but he can play in line, he can move out. It's a tough match-up because he has big wide receiver skills. Just another weapon that we have to be able to use. We have a big guy in Pharaoh (Brown) inside. We can line him up at a lot of different positions, so just gives flexibility to our offense."
DL MALIEK COLLINS
What are some things you find that are beneficial working with BT Jordan (Brandon Jordan)?
"Everything I do is with BT Jordan. That's my guy."
How much did the number 97 cost you?
"That's between me and Yo (Mario Addison), man. He gave me what I needed, and I gave him his jersey number. I got more sacks in 96, so it was about time I get back to my roots."
Do you feel like you were close on some plays last year, just right there on some of those plays and then maybe you're one step quicker this year?
"There's a saying, close but no cigar. I've got to finish them if I want them for real."
What is it like having DL Jerry Hughes and DL Mario Addison out there, and what have you seen from the rest of the defensive line so far this camp?
"Great. Everybody is really looking great. I was surprised by Rio's (Mario Addison's) speed, just how he gets off the ball. And Jerry (Hughes), he's Jerry, the same guy you watched on film for all these years. Man, JG (Jonathan Greenard) coming back, he's leaner, he's more explosive, he's getting off the ball. He's having fun."
When you're on the field what are the things that you're noticing that you recognize, okay, I'm in year two, I'm getting this?
"I mean, it's the same defense I always played in, same everything. I just try to get better at what I do."
What do you like most about the competition?
"Man, it's just been fun. It's been a fun camp for me. I haven't really dreaded coming to practice or anything like that. I enjoy coming to work every day."
Is that partly due to HC Lovie Smith's and his attitude?
"For sure. There's a new standard every day that we've got to keep reaching, keep getting better. You never get complacent. You just keep going."
What's it like going against guys like OL A.J. Cann and OL Kenyon Green?
"I've been going against A.J. (Cann) for like the last four or five years, so I'm familiar with A.J. And then Kenyon (Green), going against him every day, too."
What do you see from OL Kenyon Green?
"I see he's got potential to be a great player. He just keeps coming out here working. He pulls me to the side after practice and we get some work done, little things -- if I see some things I'll let him know, and things he picks up on me he'll let me know, so we just keep comparing notes and keep competing against each other every day."
Do you see anything about DL Roy Lopez from last year to this year, second year in the league?
"Yeah, of course. He's more experienced. He's coming out here, he's a great guy."
Can you appreciate it as a veteran to see he DL Roy Lopez put in that much work in the off-season, to be able to come in in better shape and quicker?
"That doesn't impress me. That's your job."
When you look at guys such at DL Mario Addison and DL Jerry Hughes who have been in the playoffs, does that raise the standard of the defensive line a little bit?
"For sure, Beezy (Ogbonnia Okoronkwo) got a Super Bowl, too. Don't forget that, man."
How long have those reminders been on your cleats?
"What? Have fun and be decisive. This is like three years in."
What have you seen from DL Ross Blacklock?
"I've seen a lot of good things from Ross (Blacklock). He's just got coming out here and competing every day, competing against each other, too."
Have you been able to keep the same cleats for three years?
"No, I rotate them out."
Does every single one of your cleats have that?
"No, these just got these on there. Some of the ones may have different messages."
Have you been doing that for a long time in your career?
"I used to wear it on my tape when I used to have tape, but I don't wear tape no more, so I just wear them on my cleats."
What's on your shoes?
"It says have fun and be decisive."
Do you always do that?
How do you compare the 2021 season looking to the 2022 season?
"I mean, this is a whole new year. I don't really do too many comparisons. It's just all being the best version for the 2022 Texans."
RB MARLON MACK
How are you feeling?
"I feel great, man. Body getting used to everything, used to the banging and everything. Legs feel great. Sore, definitely sore right about now, but just getting used to playing football again."
How do you feel with your breaking?
"I feel confident in it, man. Just keep going out there game time, just got to go hunt."
What's your relationship like with the running backs and how do you see yourself fitting in?
"It's a great relationship with everybody, man, from the running back room. We all get along. We're all cool, laid-back guys. We just got a funny rookie DP (Dameon Pierce), but we always just chill. We know how to handle our business in that room, and that's what we love about each other."
What do you like best about this team coming together time of year?
"It's great because you know everybody started off slow, once training camp comes around, getting used to each other with pads on and banging and everything, getting used to certain calls the O-line is making, but now we're actually starting to click and the longer we get into training camp we're clicking and gelling together."
Do you feel like HC Lovie Smith brings a certain attitude or fun?
"Yeah, he brings that different juice, different motivation. He knows, tells his guys, come to work, we've just got to come to work, put in that work and just be great."
Where are you now compared to pre-injury?
"I definitely feel like I'm there again. Last year, I didn't get that chance to show myself, but in the few games that I did, I felt that confidence in myself. But now, I've actually just got to go out there and do it again, once again. I feel good, man. Every day I'm showing that explosion. I feel it in my cuts, and every day I keep going out there and keep doing it."
What's it like to have that confidence again?
"It's great. Actually play against some guys, actually get a chance, that confidence it's very important I would say, especially in this game because your confidence will get killed pretty quick around here. But you've just got to keep believing in yourself, keep motivating yourself and keep putting in that work."
Can you talk about the type of guys in the running back room?
"Oh, definitely. Like you said, we compete real hard, but we always have each other. You never want to see a guy doing bad. We always help each other. Somebody messes up, all right, you good, man. Next play. We know it's a competition, but we just go out there and work and help each other because you never want to be the bad guy in the room, not helping the guy. You always want to support each other. We're a team first and then everybody else after that. We just go out there, help each other and put the team first."
How much motivation do you have for Week 1 going against your old team? Does it fuel you going into camp to see that?
"Definitely, it motivates me a little bit, because that's the old team. But they're my guys, man. Certain guys on that defense, I've played with them about four or five years, and it's always love. But I know they're going to come 110 (percent) at me, so I've got to be able to go 110 (percent) at them. I'm going to be ready and I know they're going to be ready, and I'm just going to go out there and do my best."
Where does your confidence and belief in yourself come from?
"Man, just going to South Florida and being a low draft pick, you've always got to be ready to work. I think any guy here that makes it to the NFL, you've always got to have that chip on your shoulder, be willing to work, no matter what pick you is, because everybody had that doubt on you, everybody going to say something about you. You've just got to go out there and work and have that confidence in yourself."
It seems like the running backs are getting a lot of passing opportunities. Is that sort of a weapon you feel like you guys have?
"Definitely. Hey, anytime the running backs got a ball in their hands, we appreciate that. If the quarterbacks want to keep throwing to us, we're going to love that. We're going to try to help this team win, catching, running, blocking, everything we can do on this field."
After the injury a couple years ago, how would you rate your trust level now and where you feel you're at explosiveness wise?
"I feel like my trust has always been 100-percent since last year. Trainer has got me right, Andy. Just always had that trust, just didn't get the chance to show it again. But now, I'm actually going to keep on it, keep that trust in it."
What defenders do you find most in the holes?
"Today here? Got (Christian) Kirksey, KPL (Kevin Pierre-Louis), Maliek (Collins). Maliek, especially Maliek on the D-line. He's there all the time. It's kind of hard blocking him, but we do it well."
Is DL Maliek Collins a big guy to run at?
"Exactly, he's a huge guy, but he's been there a couple times."
How much does RB Dameon Pierce pick your brain on playing without the ball in your hands?
"Yeah, DP (Dameon Pierce) asks a lot of questions. That's one thing about him, he's a hungry learner, so he always asked the questions, man, makes sure he's always on point. That's why he's picking up really well. He's always asking questions. That's one thing you need as a young running back; ask questions, make sure you get everything from coaches and just be well on yourself, and that's what he's doing."
You were out there doing kick returns in camp. What do you think about that?
"Yeah, I love being a kick returner, catching the balls, getting that chance in space, open room, man. It's a hard job but it's a fun job because you get that chance to be in the open field, set your blockers up and actually hit it."
DL ROY LOPEZ
How much more confident are you feeling after being a starter last year?
"I feel good. I'm blessed to be here, happy to be here and keep growing with these guys. Our D-line room is very fun to be in, and when you've got vets like Maliek Collins, Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, it's something that you can lean on, and Jon Greenard going into his third year, so I guess we can call him a vet now, too. We're excited."
What personal improvements are you trying to make this year?
"Just my knowledge of the game. I watched a lot of film. Just to learn from other guys and train with other guys and kind of pick their brain, what works. So pretty much what it comes down to and then you sit back, okay, outside of football, you change your nutrition, you change the way you're training. Just being able to grow as a person, to be able to sit back and breathe, okay, you watch film, how do you want to look on film next year, what differences do you want to make and how can you improve this defense."
Have you seen that apply so far out on the field?
"Yeah, I'm excited. We're all excited. Just because we've been talking about it and training and drilling together since the end of last year, so being able to see it out here in fall camp and work where we smile at each other, okay, that's what we talked about in February. It's nice."
How much did your offseason play into coming into training camp?
"No, it's big. It's probably the biggest thing that's helped me so far is just being able to understand it is our job. We're a professional. You've got to look like one, you've got to act like one. That was the biggest thing. Last offseason you're training for a 40, so this year I was able to train to take on double teams and stop run plays and get after the quarterback. But yeah, it's good. It's good."
Are you picking up a different vibe this year in the locker room because of HC Lovie Smith?
"Yeah, I mean, the thing about Lovie (Smith) is he's very straightforward. You know what he wants, and you know how he wants it, so it's our job to get that done. From the moment he stepped foot in our building last year, that was something he instilled in our room. Now that he's the head coach, it's the same thing. Now the whole team understands what we want. That's the biggest thing is I'm very blessed to play for Lovie. He's got a lot of guys, ex-NFL players, so they talk to us and reach out, so it's awesome to be able to be a part of his system and now part of his tree."
Did you see in HC Lovie Smith becoming a head coach again?
"I'm just blessed to be here, man. I'm blessed to play for Lovie (Smith). He's a guru."
What was your response to that first off-season meeting and the video HC Lovie Smith showed?
"Let's get to it. That's something that he says to our team embraces. Show up, show out. That's the biggest thing you can be here. You've got to show out on film, you've got to show up, and that's something that we hold to our heart. We're excited that we're going to get after it, and our D-line is ready to go, and we're just trying to do our 111th."
In your off-season you got together with some of the D-linemen. How did that help you?
"Yeah, it was awesome. We were able to train in Michigan, Arizona, out here (Houston). We were able to meet up a few different places. We're thankful we have enough good trainers to be able to craft with each other and lean on one another, okay. When we get this, we're doing this. We're going to play this off of you, and just kind of pick brains. When you talk about a guy like Maliek Collins, he's very respected around this league. Media might not cover him the way they need to, but when you watch film, Maliek Collins is one of the best three techniques in this game. I don't think anybody can dispute that or argue with that. That's something that I'm very lucky to play with and be able to just pick his brain and learn from him."
Have you told DL Maliek Collins that he's the best three technique in the game?
"I've told him, but he knows it, too. So, sometimes I try to tell him otherwise."
What have you seen from your defensive rookies as far as them wanting to get better?
"Yeah, they all have the chip on their shoulder. They all want to get after it. They're all hungry. They're ready to go. They feel disrespected because they were undrafted or drafted late, so that's something that we all share in common, that we were drafted late. There's something that drives you a little more than others. They're blessed to be here, and I try to talk with them and be able to be a vet for them and just to have something to lean on. That's the biggest thing, being able to bounce ideas off and share thoughts outside of football."
Especially players who play with a chip on their shoulder, right?
"Right, I drafted late, so that's something that we share in common."
What was the largest group workouts you've participated in?
"Probably the biggest one was we were at Michigan State for B.T. Jordan (Brandon Jordan) D-line camp. That was pretty cool to see because you're out there with guys across the league and you watch their film and then you see them in person and be able to see how they work and their work ethic. You understand why they are who they are and why they got the name they have."
How many guys were there?
"That's a good question. You might have to ask B.T. I'd say probably 30-plus, 40-plus. There was a lot."
What do you see from QB Davis Mills from last year to this year?
"Davis (Mills) is calm, cool, collected. That's something that he's came in since day one, and he's not going to change for anybody. He's ready. He's excited. I feel like everybody should be excited to watch him play. We all are. I've seen some of the throws he makes, and they're just like -- you get mad, but at the same time you're like, I like that one. I like that."
What are the conversations like with DL Adedayo Odeleye?
"Yeah, we love Dayo (Adedayo Odeleye), man. The energy he brings to our team is something that can't be replaced. We're very blessed to have Dayo on this team and the D-line, and he embraces it, man. He loves being where he's from and he tries to express and tell us how it is. The biggest thing is he's always got a smile on his face. So, whoever got a smile on their face, I can get along with them. I'm very happy we've got Dayo."
Would you want to see DL Adedayo Odeleye on a rugby field?
"Oh, yeah, Dayo is tough. I'm sure he's a beast on the rugby field. I'm sure."
What's one of the coolest things about the way DL Adedayo Odeleye lives his life?
"Yeah, the way he lives his music and just the energy he brings, He doesn't change because he's here. Like I said, he's always got a smile on his face, so whoever has got a smile on their face I can get along with good [well]."