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Transcripts: 12-13-2021 Press Conferences 


How is RB Rex Burkhead doing? Do you expect him to play against Jacksonville?

"He's got a hip issue. He's kind of day to day right now with it. We'll kind of see as the days goes along. Day to day here, we'll see how he is. I actually just saw him walking around in there a while ago. He always says he's alright, but he's not. But we'll see, day to day with him."

If RB Rex Burkhead is not available, do you feel you might need to add someone?

"Nick (Caserio) is always looking into that kind of thing, and if it looks like that he may not be available, I'm sure that will happen."

Any updates on LB Kamu Grugier-Hill?

"Kamu (Grugier-Hill) has a knee injury. The knee is not quite as bad as what we thought. He's still day to day. They're not completely ruling him out for this week, but again, we'll see."

What about DB Justin Reid?

"Concussion. He's in concussion protocol right now."

What about DB Desmond King II?

"They thought he had a concussion. He did not have a concussion. Yeah, he's okay."

What about WR Davion Davis?

"Davion (Davis) fractured his lower left leg."

When you look at the first game against Jacksonville, what are some things that jump out for you?

"One thing that we did during that game that we haven't been able to do since with any kind of consistency is that we protected the ball. We were able to run the ball. We were able to get some big plays down the field. Defensively, we didn't give up a bunch of big plays. I look back on that game and I say that obviously was one our better complete games, few complete games we've had. We just haven't been able to get back to that."

Is WR Davion Davis out for the year?

"Yeah, he's done. Yeah."

How do you plan to replace WR Davion Davis? Is it WR Phillip Dorsett II going forward?

"Phillip (Dorsett II) is on our active roster and he'll end up taking those duties."

Are you expecting RB Scottie Phillips to come off the Reserve/Injured List soon?

"I'm not really sure what the timetable is for that, but we do expect him to come off of it. He's much, much better, but he's not there yet."

Is WR Chris Moore injured?

"No. Chris Moore, it was just a scratch. Again, Phillip Dorsett was the reason we put him down."

How do you feel about this upcoming game with both teams being tied for the second-worst record in the league?

"I look at them just as they're the next one on our schedule. Their record is irrelevant to us and I'm sure ours is to them, too. But it's just the next game. They're the ones that we're just trying to get our next win against."

What are some of the things you do in practice to help QB Davis Mills with pre-snap details? Mills mentioned he could have done some of those things better yesterday.

"The big thing is that game-type situations (are) where you get those kinds of things. Obviously, we practice with him having to make adjustments. Sometimes they show you one thing and you know you get another one. He's been having those situations, he has practiced those situations. But once that ball gets snapped, and things happens, you've got to be able to react to those kinds of things. That's what he was more talking about."

What went into you guys running more screens yesterday than you have all year?

"We weren't going to put him (Davis Mills) in harm's way. We want to get the ball out of his hands. He did a good job of doing that. This was a football team that got up the field, they like to get to the quarterback, and we were able to have some success doing the screens because of that."

What have been your takeaways for the run game?

"Obviously, it's not been very good. The thing that we've got to continue to do is just figure out what is best for our people, what they do best, and do those things instead of doing runs that we feel like are good runs, but our personnel may not fit those runs. With our running back situation right now, we may have to limit that even more as far as what we do in the running game. We've just got to continue to see what we do best, which has not been a lot right now, and just continue to get better at doing what we feel like we do best."

Is that more working with Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly on the play calling or working with the running backs?

"No, it's not the play calling. It's us executing what's being called and making sure our players are doing what we need them to do, and that if we're asking them to do something that maybe they're not as strong at doing, as maybe some other schemes that we're doing. We've looked into that, different kinds of schemes to see what fits us better with our personnel moving forward."

When you are looking at different schemes in terms of how you can best use your running backs, who are you working with on that?

"Our whole offensive staff does that."

When your running game is struggling like it has, how much more pressure does it put on your quarterback, especially when he's a rookie?

"It puts a lot of pressure on him, and that's why we've got to figure out a way to get it right for him. I thought he did a good job of handling what he had to handle. Again, we don't want to come out of ballgames having thrown a ball 49 times. Obviously, we threw the ball that much simply because it got out of hand there in the fourth quarter. But that's not where we want to end up, and what we want to do."

Other than protecting the ball, what were a couple of things that QB Davis Mills did well? What do you want him to work on for Jacksonville?

"A couple of things he did well was, first, he protected the ball. He made some good throws. I thought he got a little jumpy in the pocket a couple of times. I thought he started to feel the rush a little bit in the second half. He's just got to trust up front and he's got to be able to keep his eyes down the field to see what's happening, and not be aware of what's happening around him. I thought he got a little jumpy yesterday."

How did you use WR Brandin Cooks in this game? It seems like he freed TE Brevin Jordan up for his touchdown.

"Again, they've had a pretty good connection with those two. He (Davis Mills) knows Brandin (Cooks) is dependable, and he knows Brandin will do everything he has to do to be in position to be able to make plays. There's a trust factor there, and when that's happening, then obviously, with Brevin (Jordan) starting to come on and play like he's been playing, it just gives others opportunities and it gives him more places to be able to go with that ball."


After not giving up big plays in recent games, you gave up three big plays for touchdowns yesterday. What was the difference?

"We've been trying to find ways to try and question them in their big plays, and we've just got to do that obviously more consistently, and not in the critical moments of the game. That moment where it was a turning point, we've just got to find a way to capitalize it the best way we can so we can get a win."

From your vantage point, what was the reason for the big plays?

"I think we've just all got to keep playing, get to know each other and trust each other that my guy's going to be there in their gap. You've got each guy doing their one-eleventh. If your job is to be in the A-gap, you should be there. Don't go hopping in other people's gaps. Just (have) more gap control. Coach Lovie (Smith)'s been harping on that, Coach (David) Culley's been harping on that, so we've just got to continue to keep getting better at that. Just eliminate the big runs, and of course we want to decrease our run stop defense by a ton. We're getting takeaways, we're top-three or four in the league, or whatever. But that's one thing we're trying to decrease as the season finishes."

How do you feel about your own performance and contributions to the team in year two?

"I always can do better. Just trying to find my best version of myself every day, every Sunday. Just go out there and keep improving, taking steps forward and not back. But I think I'm doing a decent job of doing that and just keep continuing to have a good attitude, and just go about the season how it is and just keep getting ready."

What has been like playing with DL Maliek Collins behind the scenes and on the field?

"He's a real technician. Before he got here, I used to watch a lot of his film, I trained with him a couple times in the offseason before we got here. He's a good dude, great dude, great player. You kind of look up to him as a vet, as an older figure for me, just like (Brandon) Dunn was here, Carlos Watkins, guys like those. He's a leader in our room, so he's been doing a great job of doing that."

In what ways is DL Maliek Collins a leader?

"He just keeps guys motivated. He pushes guys. He's almost like a coach in a way because he'll push your buttons like a coach. He comes out sometimes, you want to be like, 'Bro, what are you talking about?' But he's trying to just motivate you and just have a great attitude in the room, and guys continuing to get better and develop themselves. He said he wants to be a coach, so I see it happening."

What is something that DL Maliek Collins has coached you on?

"Like pass rush techniques, certain run stop ways to take on blocks a lot easier than what I was doing, or maybe just had an opinion on how it could be easier for me to do it. Everybody in that room has different ways how they do stuff. At the end of the day, if it works for you, it works for you."

What do you remember about Trevor Lawrence and James Robinson from the first game?

"Honestly, I think we've just got to continue to keep getting better. Obviously, (James) Robinson's a good back. Trevor Lawrence is just getting better as the season's going. Like I said, anybody can be beat in this league. I think we just have to see what was good last game and try to match that times two and just go out there and play our best football and come back with a win."

How disappointing was it that you were in the game in the fourth quarter and then to lose it the way you did?

"That touchdown call definitely shouldn't have been a touchdown but, I ain't no referee. That's just me. That was a critical part of the game. A couple of those big runs were a critical part of the game. I honestly think if that touchdown didn't happen, we would have had a chance to win. Obviously, we can control what we can control and that's what we are going to do moving forward. Control what we can control, play our best game, best brand of football and just let the chips fall where they land."

DL Maliek Collins is kind of quiet with us, what is like when he's being like a coach?

"He's quiet. He'll kind of whisper to you or say something to you but he's not just an antisocial, not talking to anybody. He's just a mellow dude, chill dude. He doesn't yell or anything like that. He's just a real mellow, chill dude. I don't know it may be different when he coaches, but he's a good little leader in our room."


What did you think about QB Davis Mills' performance?

"I thought there were some good things that happened out there on the field yesterday. As an offense, I think he is a big part of that. I think there are some things that we need to clean up, areas that we can be better but he's definitely showing development."

What was behind you guys being able to spread the ball out more recently, especially yesterday?

"I don't know if there is anything specifically that's behind that. I think as an offense as a whole we were gelling a little more cohesively. When the ball moves around the team, I feel like our offense does well. We move the ball down the field. We have opportunities to score. That's a goal of ours ultimately, always. We haven't really been great at doing it all the time, but we definitely started out doing that well yesterday."

What are some of the things you feel you can clean up that you mentioned earlier?

"We can't become stagnated in the second half. If we want to stay in games with offenses like the Seahawks that have the ability to score and the ability to hold onto the ball for a long time, we have to be able to do the same thing as well. You can't rely on the defense all the time to give you the ball great field position in the red zone. That's just not the league that we play in. You have to be able to move the ball down the field and sustain drives, score. But our ability to move the ball in the second half has to become better. We have to take the adjustments and apply them and even if the adjustment is something you haven't talked about before. We have to do a better job of bringing that to the second half."

What do you attribute that second half stagnation too? You mentioned those adjustments, is it not carrying those through?

"At this point, I feel like sometimes we've been a little bit out adjusted. We've been making the adjustments, but we haven't taken them to the field to the point where we could put a full drive together, if that makes sense. We've maybe adjusted one or two plays and it's taken us maybe a drive or two to really figure out how that adjustment is going to take place. The defense makes an adjustment too, but it has to be faster than that. You have to be able to take that adjustment and have to be able to make it work on the first drive, because really those first three drives of the second half, those might be the only drives you get if the other team is holding onto the ball for a long time. So, you have to be able to take those first three drives and get points with them. Even if it's a close game, you have to be able to get something out of those drives.

Is the opening drive you guys had yesterday a template on how you should come out in the second half?

"In terms of how we should start or what we should call, that's ultimately not my job. That's above my pay grade. But I know that the plays that are called we have to do a better job of executing them. When we get the opportunity to attack defense's soft spot or a weak spot that we've identified, we got to make the play and when things aren't right, you got to step up and make a play. You can't wait for anyone else to make it."

What's been behind the team's improvement in the screen game?

"I think that having a little more trust for the guys that are out there blocking for you definitely helps. I know that I've tried to make it known that if we are going to do a receiver screen or anything where somebody is going to be put out on a limb or an island, just do it behind me because I just feel comfortable getting it started. It can be a tough thing to do but I feel like whatever the situation is I am comfortable doing that and putting my neck out there. When a guy needs a screen run and they say, 'Hey I'd like to do it behind Chris or on Chris' side,' that's a good thing to have that trust from your teammates."

Did you notice a difference in the way you guys passed the ball after RB Rex Burkhead got hurt?

"Yeah, it definitely makes it harder when the run game is clicking and you are able to take tough runs and to move them forward and find a crease and get positive yardage where there is none, it opens up the pass game. We were able to get some of those backers, which they (Seattle) have a very good linebacking core, intelligent, those guys are fast, we were able to get those guys to step up. When you get guys like that to take two steps forward, it really opens up things behind you. You can see the example on longer catches that Nico Collins had, Davion Davis had. Each of those were instances where we got the backers to move or at least pause their feet for a second to get those guys open. So, that definitely helps. We have to do a better job of continuing to get that movement and or control regardless of who is in at the game at running back, but Rex does a great job with that."

When the run game is not effective, what conversations are you guys having to compensate for that?

"Well, your pass game needs to be effective whether you are getting backers to move or not. But that being said, we would like to be a team that has complimentary football. If the run game is not working or going well, we would like to identify why it's not. Do we have a hat on a hat? Are we moving in the right direction? Do we have mistakes or holes in our communication? Really pinpointing what it is and attacking that, because if your run game is moving well, your pass game is moving well. It's hard to go the other way around, your pass game moving and then trying to get your run game going."

How do you feel your season has gone so far? With four games left this season, what do you feel you have left to do?

"This season has been an area for a lot of growth, personally. Having a different role on a team that's not the typical role I've had in my career has been different. I think finding ways to affect the game and to be there, be consistent for my team, that's been the biggest area of growth. There are different ways of doing that without the ball in your hand. I've been trying to excel at that and to make sure I can be relied upon. But that being said, you can't say that any season is a success when you don't have wins. This season has been difficult. It's been one where we've been working extremely hard. I don't know if I've been on a team where guys give effort like they do here, but it takes more than effort to win. So, I can't say that it's been extremely successful, but I do see bright spots. I do see bright spots in there."

What do you attribute that effort to in a losing season?

"Want to. You have a bunch of guys here that want to be successful, who want to win, and they will do anything that they are asked to do, and they will do it with their hair on fire. But like I said before, that's not good enough to win. We have to definitely attack and improve on deficiencies that we find everywhere. I know it sounds like a broken record like we say that every week, but the fact that we don't have to coach effort is a very good thing because there are places where you have to do that. We just have to correct the other things because the effort and the want to are there."

As a leader on this team, what do you take out of the players being disciplined on this team?

"That's just a part of life. There are disagreements that happen. There is discipline that happens and when you fire and when you have heart and care about what you are doing, that's what happens. We take those things as they come. We roll with the punches. We accept the discipline. You move forward and you're a team."

What do you want to get out of the rest of the season? There are only a few games left and not as much to play for in the long run.

"There is always something to play for. There is always something to play for. I tell everybody in this locker room that you are what you put on tape and teams recognize and they see what you put on tape in the last few games in a season like this. If you're team technically has, as people say nothing to play for, what kind of player are you? How do you prepare? How do you practice? How do you play those last feel games? Because that says a lot about who you are as a football player. Are you a football player when things are going great, when things have a potential to bring you praise, to bring you to the playoffs and things like that? Or are you a football player when things aren't going great? Are you a preparer in those situations? Are you going to give your all to the team in that situation? Just remember that you are what you put on tape and put the right things on tape."


Can you take us through your touchdown yesterday?

"It was a play action play. I had a crossing route and they didn't cover me. The whole time I was pretty much open and then Davis (Mills) found me late and we scored. That's it."

What did you think of how QB Davis Mills played yesterday?

"I think he played well. Obviously as a team we didn't play well enough to win the game, but you know I think Davis played a good game."

What do you think needs to happen to offensively finish games?

"Us as a team, the players just need to come together and emphasize going into this week that we need to finish games. We can come out strong but if we don't finish the game, we are going to have the same result going into next week."

What is it like in a game having one running back in the game? What is the plan going forward?

"There is always a plan. I think at one point (Jordan) Akins, he was playing a little bit of running back. So, there is always a plan. This is NFL. If one man gets hurt, the next man has to be ready to go."

What is the key to getting open in the end zone?

"I think that's the coaches just putting me in good positions and God blessing me with the athletic ability to go play football. I think I'm just getting put in positions to score and that's credit to the coaches, the offensive line and everybody doing their jobs."

Now that you have three touchdowns under your belt, do you still feel like you're going to throw up?

"No not at all. That second one, I caught that second one and it was like I don't know, I'm used to this now. It felt good."

Did you point out to the coaches that maybe they need to throw you the ball more?

"I mean, I am just a rookie. I'm just happy to even be playing right now. I am just enjoying my time and trying to grow every day. I'm not worried about getting the ball, I am worried about winning games and just improving myself daily."

How do you feel like you have improved over the last few games?

"I think it's just me getting more comfortable. Getting more reps and just going out there and playing football. The first game, the speed of it, everything felt so fast. Now I am in my sixth game, I think, and everything is just slowing down. Being able to read coverages, see what the defensive line is going to do, so definitely being more comfortable."

What went into you guys running more screens yesterday and why do you think that was the plan there?

"I think that's just was a part of the game plan. I am telling you, I am just doing my job. I'm just playing football. I am just doing what I can to help the team."

How does it feel at this stage in the season the team is leaning on the rookies?

"It feels cool. You know, we are just a bunch of rookies and we are just trying to get the respect of our teammates and our coaches and everybody in the city of Houston. For us to be playing and making an impact on the team, it feels real good for all of us."

What do you there is for you to work on the rest of the season?

"All aspects of my game. I want to finish out the year strong so next year the coaches can look at me and be like, 'he's a three down tight end.' I want to improve on blocking. I want to be able to show my yack. I want to be able to win vertical routes, man to man coverage, winning zone, everything. I just want to be able to finish out the year strong."

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