HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"The guys are definitely feeling it. You know, today, we're going to play some four quarter games. We may play some overtime games and when you kind of sore, but nobody want to hear you about being tired at the end. The guys pushed through it today. They've done everything we asked them to do. Love everything that they are doing. We have a couple guys that are out, I guess Christian Harris has been added to injured list a little bit. Kenyon Green, those guys continue to get better. We'll see when they get back."
What do you see in the running back position group?
"Coming into camp, we had numbered six guys we liked, nothing's changed. Each day one guy may flash a little bit more than others. We're going to play them in the preseason games. They are getting ready. You mentioned Dameon Pierce, he's done some good things throughout. He had a couple good runs today but I'm going to say that about most of the guys."
Who did you say was injured?
"You know, at 64 years old, I have short-term memory. We both don't know then. I don't know, who did I say? Yeah, I know who I said. Christian Harris, all right, and Kenyon Green were the two that I mentioned."
How severe is it with LB Christian Harris?
"We'll see. He's not practicing. Whenever a guy doesn't practice, he has an injury that's going to require good rehab. We'll kind of let you know a little bit later on. If this was game week, I'd go into it a little bit more in detail but since it's not, he didn't practice today, and we'll see about tomorrow."
What did you see in DL Ross Blacklock today?
"Since you're asking that question, he probably stood out a little bit, right? He has showed up every day though. He's been out here. It's about availability and that's hard for a defensive line to keep straining each day. Ross (Blacklock) has done a lot of good things. Today, he flashed quite a bit. Watching the video, I noticed him a little bit more today also."
How much have you seen DL Ross Blacklock grow as a player?
"If you stay on the field and keep letting yourself be coached, you'll get better. Young players get better each year. Ross has been around awhile. We expect him to be one of our guys. He has flashed throughout and he's going to have a good year."
What about DL Thomas Booker?
"Thomas Booker has improved also. I know I'm saying that about a lot of the guys but in training camp, we are not game ready, but we see improvement. Thomas (Booker), we like his athletic ability, good size, good speed. He has flashed from time to time. He's getting a lot of reps and again we see him. His arrow is going this way."
What's different about this team and what have you noticed about this training camp?
"There are similarities with all of the teams, especially first year when you come in. But with our guys, we are a young team, hungry. We are building. We see where we're starting. Not many people jumping on our bandwagon right now. You just want hungry guys, and we know that we're a little bit better and guys are anxious to prove that, but the way you get in position is to show up every day and our guys keep showing up."
Do the guys have a proverbial chip on their shoulder?
"You should have that. Everybody has a reason to get maybe motivated a little bit more but really, it's not what everyone else is saying on the outside. Last couple years, we won four games. That's enough to motivate ourselves."
How much is DL Kurt Hinish showing you his consistency?
"You know, right now, training camp guys have shown up. They flash from time to time. Now it's about the preseason, games. Preseason is getting ready to come up. We are going to play a lot of those guys we don't know about and kind of see how they play in the game. Love everything that Kurt's done."
Do you know if DB Derek Stingley Jr. will play in any preseason games?
"We're not quite there yet. All of our players won't play I'll say that, the first preseason game. We still haven't determined of course how much. A lot of times when guys are coming off a major injury, we may wait a little bit, but we'll decide that as much as anything for (Derek) Stingley. You see he's out here practicing every day. He's right on schedule."
After talking with Houston Rockets head coach Stephen Silas yesterday about the similarities between the teams, how do you approach that with your team?
"Analytics have been about around for a long period of time. There's a big emphasis on it right now, whether it's baseball, basketball or football. We have a big staff and there's somebody that's looking and analyzing everything that we do. I'm sure in basketball it's the same way. We rely on that just like we rely on position coaches, strength and conditioning coaches, our nutrition people. We have a plan with everything that could possibly make our football players better and that definitely goes into it."
Can you talk about the different alignments with the safeties and how you'd like to use them?
"Just general ability for our defensive players, we want athletes that can run, tough athletes that can run that are smart. In our defense, the safety position and linebackers have the most mental work on them. So, our guys have to be smart players. Jonathan Owens, every one of our players, either have a double degree, high wonderlic score, high IQ. But then, they are going to guard man-to-man coverage, got to be able to play it. Got to be tough to play in the box and so there's a lot of different things that we ask our guys to do. Coverage-wise, they will play third deep responsibility, quarters, half field and also drop down into the box. You need a multi-type athlete to be able to do that. We feel like we have quite a few that can do that."
How can guys like veteran DB Steven Nelson help rookies like DB Derek Stingley Jr. and DB Jalen Pitre to build a strong secondary?
"It's good, you ask about Steve Nelson. A lot of times, new guys, young players come in, older players from last year, but we like what Steven Nelson -- he's played a lot of ball. Started for Philly last year. He's got a good skill set. Zone, smart, IQ guy. He'll tackle, everything we're looking for. You'll see every rep that we have taken with the ones, he's been out there, too. I just love his hunger for football, buying into how we do things. He's going to help us an awful lot. He'll be one of our starting corners of course."
DL ROSS BLACKLOCK
How do you feel?
"I'm a lot more comfortable, a lot of growth. Just keep try to stacking days, stacking just personal goals and team goals for myself as far as getting better and being a better player, what I need to do on and off the field to be the best version of myself. I see it growing, just got to keep stacking."
What about yourself have you seen that's grown?
"Just being a lot more faceted, more detailed with my key, stuff like that, and just being like hard on myself again and just being more detailed and stuff so it shows up on the field. Just every rep I take, I want to have a purpose to it. So that's kind of the approach I'm taking towards this year."
What's your approach to this year?
"Like I said just trying to be the best version of myself and the coaches, giving them a reason to play me obviously. Just trying to be the best version of me. So that's all going to take time and I know it's going to come when it comes so just got to be -- remain what I'm doing and stay humble with what I'm doing."
What do DL Jerry Hughes and DL Mario Addison bring to the defensive line?
"Jerry (Hughes) and Mario (Addison) been great. I didn't go to TCU when Jerry was there -- guys always talked about how much of a leader he was and having those two guys in the room helping us, you learn a lot from your teammates and sometimes more than coaches. Our coach, Jacques (Cesaire), has been great, taught us a lot of stuff but you learn with the guys, too, that you play with, they teach you things that you may not see, that a coach may not see. It's great having them in the room, leadership and stuff like that."
Does it feel like DL Jerry Hughes will be able to help you?
"Like I say he's been helping me with little stuff, telling me stuff in the meeting rooms, on the field, ways to take on different blocks and scheme-wise how to do things differently. It's been a big help."
Do you feel like you're ready for that breakout year this year?
"I'm praying for it. Only time will tell. I know the man upstairs, he got a plan for me, so I'm just going with that. Like I said, I just got to come out here every day, put in the work and be the best version of me and just do whatever I can to make this team, this organization better."
What's something you're working on?
"Routine-wise, coming out here earlier, working on my foot steps, my hands, violence, trying out things in individual periods, trying new moves and learning and dissecting the offensive line, stuff like that. Same stuff just more detailed, you know."
When it comes to DL Roy Lopez, what do you see that you like?
"What do I like? Oh, man, I love seeing Roy (Lopez) grow. He came in here, he got thrown in the fire his rookie year and he did, he did awesome. He is going to be a staple of this defense. He's our staple and he's our nose guard and I know he's going to do amazing things, and I'm just excited to see where his career goes and I want to be here every step of the way to grow with him."
What have you noticed about the running game going against it from last year to this year?
"We definitely are running the ball a lot more. We always want to stop the run but it's good seeing our offense want to be more physical. We want to put the ball on the ground and make opponents, stop the run and make them put the ball in the air and making them one-dimensional. You have to have kind of a little bit of both. So it's good seeing more running this year, and just the offensive line being a lot more dominant, a lot more physical. So it's going to be a sight to see. We have got a lot of good running backs, so guys are going to score a lot of touchdowns."
I see you a lot with OL Kenyon Green in training camp. Is that the Houston connection or you taking a rookie under your wing helping him get better?
"A little bit of both. Kenyon (Green) asked me what he can get better as far as what I see in one-on-ones and certain tendencies he does. I try to give him the best knowledge I can as far as what I see. Like I said, he's going to be a big impact of this group as well. We expect a lot from him, his first year. We want him to be his best at the end of the day."
What is it the biggest thing you've noticed from this particular group?
"I would say chemistry, when like new guys came in here, we brought everybody in with open arms and everybody kind of felt the love first day in when they were here. Some guys didn't know anybody, but we made everybody feel like family and just growing from OTAs and going into camp right now, but the growth has been a lot better. Guys are a lot closer and guys are understanding what we need to do as a team, and they are buying in to Coach Lovie's system. As long as you get that, we got someone we're working with."
What stuck out about the way HC Lovie Smith has coached?
"Just leadership, doing your job, trusting your teammate, really, and just coming out every day with a purpose and intent just to be better. We all want to get a ring one day. We all want to win championships. That's the end goal for every team. So we are just trying to build this organization back up to where it should be and how we know it can be."
What have you seen from DL Thomas Booker?
"He's a good player, kind of like me my rookie year, just eyes big everywhere and just trying to stand out. He's doing really good. He's grown. I told him this two days ago, he's gotten a lot better with everything he's doing, with steps, just going in there and not being as hesitant with everything. He's going to be a really good player for us and I'm excited to see him grow and play, really, all the rookies, they are doing a great job."
OL A.J. CANN
You're familiar with the AFC South. What led you coming to Houston in free agency?
"I was looking for a place to come where I felt like I had a little bit of similarity, I was familiar with some of the O-Line guys that was here and even familiar with some of the people on staff. So I felt like it would be a great fit and it has been a great fit so far coming to Houston."
Do you feel like the offensive line is playing together like a solid unit?
"Oh, man, every day we are making leaps, not just on the field but just like in our personal life now, we can make jokes with each other and say things to each other and not get offended. That's how you know you're starting to build some good chemistry and I think it's going really good right now."
What are your thoughts on DL Ross Blacklock?
"He's active dude, active, long arm guy who is very talented. I love that whole D-Line group, got some talented guys up front. Going to make us a whole lot better, I'll tell you that much."
When you look at a guy like George Warhop, how does working with him help you and the other players?
"It's easy to step in and be that leader on the side that's like, hey, what does he expect here, expect there. So I'm able to chitchat with a couple guys and be like, he expects this and he expects that. I think it helps the coach relationship with Coach Hop (George Warhop) and other offensive line on the team. I think that's really, really good right now."
What have you seen in OL Kenyon Green?
"Oh, yes, every day I feel like his hands are getting faster, feet are getting faster. With this league, everything is a lot faster. His timing of his game is stepping up every single day."
You mentioned how you're able to talk with each other and joke with each other, can you break down the personalities?
"We ain't going to get into that right now. We'll wait for that. Not yet. Not yet."
Who is fun to talk to?
"All those guys, man, are fun to talk to but I'll tell you right now out of the room, Tytus (Howard) and J-Mack (Justin McCray) have got some good personalities. Those are some cool dudes right there."
The running game wasn't as good as it should have been last year. Do you take that personal?
"Of course we do, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't. As an offensive lineman, you want to be able to show how physical you can be, get down and run the ball. Because at the end of the day, if you can open up the defense with the run game, that opens up a whole lot of different things we can do offensively so that's one thing we take pride in trying to run the ball."
Are there any similarities between QB Davis Mills compared to QB Trevor Lawrence?
"Not really thought about similarities between the two. Just really focusing on just Davis as a person, how he is and I feel like he's got great composure, he's poised and not a lot phases him that I noticed at this point. He just gets in there and does his job."
How has OC Pep Hamilton been in his first year as the offensive coordinator?
"Pep (Hamilton) is a cool coach. Me being a player, I kind of more quiet sometimes, usually. But when me and Pep talk it sometimes, he's a cool coach and I like him as an offensive-minded coach. He knows what he's doing. I like Coach Pep. I like him a lot."
How as a veteran do you help OL Kenyon Green come along in training camp?
"Kind of like way said earlier, just working on his timing because sometimes he'll take a step and may not be as fast as it should be and I'll be like, throw him on this step -- throw him on that step, the timing is a whole lot different, and with that like I said he's getting better with that each and every day. Us as a group, older guys and young guys we help each other. If he sees me having a problem with something, he'll step up and tell me, hey, a guy did that, a guy did this, and it's vice versa. It's a good relationship we have being able to coach each other and tell each other things."
How long did it take for you to feel confidential during your rookie year?
"Of course it takes time. As a rookie, stepping in and playing and the things are moving a whole lot faster than you think, and once you get out there in that fight, trust me, you'll pick that speed up."
What have you seen from RB Dameon Pierce and RB Marlon Mack so far?
"They can run. Them guys can run, watching film every day, you see the cuts they make, how hard they can run the ball. It's really going to be exciting -- I probably won't be able to watch, but when they break past me it will be cool to see them run. When I hear people going crazy, that's when I know."
Who is the best trash talker or loudest on defense?
"On the defense, let's see, he (Jonathan Greenard) may be the loudest one right now, he is -- it's good, though. It's all like good stuff. You know, just chippy, stuff that he doesn't mean but I know him, he's probably more so the chippy one."
Who is the best trash talker or loudest on the offensive line?
"On the O-line, I try to talk more with the pads, you know what I'm saying, but I probably would say JB (Justin Britt) can get a little chippy and I'd probably say Tytus (Howard). I haven't seen it yet but I feel like he can get chippy."
Does TE Brevin Jordan's vibrant personality on the field match his personality in the locker room?
"Same way. That cat got a good personality. Same way. Same way."
What's the over/under on how many 100-yard rushing games from the running backs this year?
"You know, that's hard to call right now but of course we want to pop a hundred every single game. That's what we looking to do as an offensive line, as an offense, as a team, of course we want to go over a hundred every game but these are the teams that are going to be trying to watch film and compete with us as much as we compete with them. That's a challenge and that's what we want to get. It's a tough league but trust me we want to pop a hundred every game."
Can you tell us more about Director of Team Development Dylan Thompson and his role?
"I've known Dylan (Thompson) for a while and I knew him in college and after talking to him, found out that player development was his next calling. Wasn't a doubt in my mind that he would be one of the best guys in the league. He's been the same way since college. If somebody is down or can't figure it out, he's always there in the back pocket picking guys up, and he couldn't be a better role on an NFL staff than being a player development guy. That's him all the way."
TE BREVIN JORDAN
Where do you feel like you've improved from year one to year two?
"I would say my knowledge of the game, just being able to read coverages. My whole goal this offseason was to get bigger, faster, stronger, just being a complete tight end. That's what I've been working on the whole off-season."
Did you gain weight?
"I didn't gain any weight, but I definitely feel like I've lost body fat. We do scans and stuff all the time, just leaning out. I've got abs now. I'm doing something. I've got abs, but last time I had abs I want to say I was in seventh grade when I played basketball. Now I've got them a little bit. I can go to the pool and flex them a little bit."
How much has TE Pharaoh Brown helped your development?
"Big time. The dude is a pro. The way he approaches the game, I mean, he's very knowledgeable. He helps me out on the field like if I have a question, I can ask him and he knows exactly what I got, what he has to do. The dude is spectacular honestly."
Did you see the work TE Pharaoh Brown has put into the offseason?
"The dude, he's taking strides in all aspects of knowing the game and taking better care of his body and doing everything. I'm excited for what we can do this year."
How are you enjoying Pep Hamilton's offense?
"I love it. I'm excited. Everywhere Pep (Hamilton) has been, it shows that the tight ends are very valuable in his offense. So just tune in. Week one, tune in. I'm excited."
How exciting is it to be moving around in this offense?
"It's awesome. It's a big challenge, obviously, because I have to be able to move all over the field being in the backfield, being out wide, being the slot. I'm excited. So, when the time comes to show us on game days, you are guys are going to see I'm going to be all over the field."
Where do you feel like you're adding to pass protection and run protection?
"I've got a long way to go. The game we play is constant improvements and constantly trying to get better, so that's the main thing for me. There's no stagnancy with run blocking or pass blocking. You have to continue to get better and make strides in it."
What's it like to watch your running backs burst down the field?
"It's awesome. Those boys be moving, be sliding. For me that's as good as me catching a 15-yard pass and it's just as good for me seeing them run down the field. It's awesome. I think them boys got wheels, so I think them boys are hitting their strides."
What did you take away from the trip to Oregon?
"We had a lot of camaraderie, just being able to go out there because we're always in the building and seeing guys focused on what they have to do football-wise. For us to go to Oregon, we were playing hours of spicy Uno. I was out there fishing and hiking. I loved Oregon, I loved it. A couple fish got away from me, I don't know what was going on. I don't know if the hook was too small or what it was, but I was out there casting them, bro. It was crazy."
When did you start fishing?
"I started fishing when I was four years old. It's been a part of my life since I was a youngin. My grandfather used to take me all the time. We used to go to Utah, Arizona just be out there cranking them."
What areas have you seen QB Davis Mills grow in and how have you two built chemistry?
"In all aspects. Davis (Mills), his body has changed, his IQ of being able to recognize coverages. Our whole growth I feel like, as a year two group, just the development all of us, our bodies have changed, we're understanding the game is slowing down for all of us. I'm excited for all of us."
Can you talk about going up against rookie DB Jalen Pitre?
"That boy is a dog. I'm excited for him. He's instinctual, he plays fast and he's already out there making plays. I think the dude has probably had three interceptions from OTAs until now. He's balling."
How has LB Garret Wallow been so far in training camp?
"What LT (Laremy Tunsil) said, dog. He's out there flying around. I'm excited four our whole year two group. We've all taken the challenge to step up and be contributors to this team, so I think that's just a chip on all of our shoulders that we have to come with."
Would you rather be on a lake or deep-sea fishing?
"So when I was in Miami, I used to do a lot of deep-sea fishing, but truthfully I'm scared of sharks and jellyfish. I'm not cool with none of that. Personally, throw me in a lake, but I like both."
What's the biggest fish you caught?
"I caught, I want to say 120-pound tuna. And that tuna has got a fight to him. I love deep-sea fishing."
What did you do with it?
"What did we do with it? Rest in peace that tuna."
What was the biggest sacrifice you had to make to get in shape?
"Definitely the way I eat. I'm a fat kid, honestly. I'm a fat kid so give me some Cane's, In-N-Out Burger, McDonald's, all of it. I just had to cut it all out. I was 21 years old eating like a child. So just being at a pro level, you can't eat like that because you come out here and feel it."
Does practice seem more intense than last season?
"I would say it's more so the level of competition that I have with myself. Last year I was a rookie and kind of a deer in the headlights, still trying to figure things out. This year, I know I have to come out here and make plays, that's my job. That's just more so the level of competition that I have on myself."
How does it feel to be part of the 'year two' class that really started to shape this franchise?
"That's awesome. Like you said, I'm excited. I mean, I'm excited. Just the opportunity that all five of us have to come in and contribute, the other four they contribute right away, so for all of us to develop and have that chip on our shoulders, we know that. This team, they are counting on us to make plays. I'm excited for all of us."
Where have you seen WR Nico Collins change for this season?
"Same with Davis (Mills). Just being able to recognize coverage, play faster, his body, he's getting stocky. Just all of it, man. All of us are taking that step to change our bodies to understand coverages, to know the playbook and just be pros at the end of the day."
How do you feel about the Miami getting rid of the turnover chain?
"Honestly I'm happy about it. It's not that I didn't like it. I loved it. I loved the idea of it but, we got to win games. That's the main thing, we got to win games."
Have you always been into fishing?
"My whole life. I've got pictures of me like four years old catching bluegill, swordfish. I haven't been down here fishing yet because my life has revolved around football when I'm down here. I don't have no friends either. Can y'all get back to the team and tell them I need somebody to go fishing with."
OL A.J. Cann said that you have a vibrant personality on both the field and in the locker room. Would you agree that that helps in your camaraderie?
"How I am was just handed down by me from my mom, so I think just how I am is how I am. My teammates definitely allow me to be myself, because without my teammates and stuff I wouldn't be able to be funny, because I would be all serious and tensed up. That's a big up to my guys."
Do you have a picture of the 120-pound tuna?
"I do, I'll send it to you."
Can you talk about the consistency with HC Lovie Smith going into his second year with the team?
"It was awesome. When he got the job, I was back home in Vegas and you can ask my mom, on my own grave, I was so hyped. I started sweating. I was like, let's get it, baby, because Lovie Smith, you have the utmost respect by the way carries himself. He's so soft-toned, you can sit there and talk with him. I was so excited to get him as our head coach."
Growing up in Las Vegas, did you have to have that type of personality to survive out there?
"Not necessarily, you can meet a couple of my Las Vegas friends, they are quiet. It's just the way I am."
Does that make it easier for you to have that personality?
"Maybe, like I said, just my mom. She blessed me with her personality, my mom and dad."