HEAD COACH DAVID CULLEY
"We are having the youth leagues here today from all over the Houston area, it was good to have them here. I'll tell you a little story that it reminded me of and I mentioned something to our team when we were coming out this morning. When I was coming up, I had a situation where I played youth football but where I come from back during the day it was called Blue Jacket Football. I remember going out, the first time I went out, I actually quit. I quit after getting hit one time, and I can remember that I went home and I went for about two days and my dad didn't know I quit and the first thing he said was 'we don't quit anything. We start something, we finish it and we do it.' So, he sent me back out there. They never let me play again that year because I quit but I learned a valuable lesson about that and when I saw those youth guys out there today, I talked to them before the practice today and that was one thing that resonated in me about those guys, about life lessons - football, which is the best team sport in all of sports, that lesson that I learned from that, and it was good to have them here today."
Can you talk about QB Tyrod Taylor not being here today?
"Tyrod was excused today for a personal reason, a family reason. We talked about that."
What about QB Davis Mills and his performance today?
"Look, obviously we don't want interceptions in practice, but it happens. But I thought it was great reps for he and Jeff (Driskel) both today. You know, that's what you've got to do. You've got to get there in the wars and they got the reps. The thing about those two today, is it was a red zone day and red zone day, everything is tight, everything happens in a hurry and then for a rookie, you know, I mean, things happen quickly and they were getting after it today, especially in our team period. I thought they handled themselves well. We got what we expected and we'll go back and watch the video and make the corrections. But it was great work. And that's what training camp is all about."
With rookie quarterbacks , what are some of the challenges unique to the red zone?
"First of all in the red zone, everything happens quicker than out on the field. Everything happens quicker. It's so much faster. The adjustments right now happen so quick that you have to react. You don't have time to think about things and when you don't have a lot of experience, that's the one thing you'll see, and I think on one of the interceptions that we had in practice today, it was just a late thing just because of that."
Do you expect QB Tyrod Taylor to be back on Monday?
"Yes, he will be back."
How did it feel to have fans back for the first time in two years?
"Well, it felt great and for it to be youth football people back here. It was great. Actually, I talked about again, there was a little buzz when we came out to practice. It was almost like, oh, man, it's almost like we're playing a game. And believe it or not in practice when we get into those seven-on-sevens and those team periods, those guys feel that. And then you feel the crowd, a touchdown or a pass caught for a great play and one-on-ones today -- I was on the other end but I could hear it. Obviously, it's a great play for the Texans because if it was a touchdown or interception, they were cheering so it was a good thing on both ends."
Yesterday you were talking about the defense flying around and today it was the same thing. Are you starting to see more and more from them?
"That's what we expect from them. That's a Lovie Smith defense. That's been the hallmark of how his defense has always played. The thing today was the flying around was in such a short, short area of the field because of where we're at but they are doing what we expect to do. But I tell you what happened today. That right there makes our offense have a sense of urgency because of the way they played and that just makes us better because you kind of get to see the speed of the game, the way it's going to be when you're actually out in the war and we're getting that every day from those guys."
When you are watching OL Laremy Tunsil, what do you see that sets him apart?
"He's a gifted player. Obviously when he got brought here, he got brought here for a reason. He's one of the top players in this league at his position. He's doing in training camp, along with that entire offensive line, exactly what we expect him to be doing right now. He and Justin (Britt) have kind of been leaders for that group, which has been great. It's been good to see that."
Can you talk about OL Tytus Howard and rotating him at guard?
"Well, the thing is, we're moving those guys around. We want to see them - again in training camp, going trough training camp, we told those guys up front, we're going to have you all over the place. We've got to be able to see. And so basically you've got to be able to play multi-positions to do what we need to get done up there with those guys, and they are doing that. Basically, we do that to kind of see what's the best fit for them and the only way to see what's the best fit is to put them there and let them do that. Once we get in pads and start to see after a few days, we'll know what's best for them. We're still in the ramp up right now. We have one more day of ramp up on Monday and after that we get to play some football."
What do you like about RB Mark Ingram II?
"Mark's a proven player in league, not only a proven player, he's a leader. He brings it every day. He's the same guy every day. Sometimes I like to, because I've been with him for two years at another place, and I sometimes like to feel like when he's in practice, he's an extension of me because he brings it every day. He knows what I'm all about. He knows what we want to get done here. You know, he brings that every day, and I appreciate that from him."
DB Justin Reid made some plays today on the practice field. What stands out to you about Justin as a player?
"Again, he's a football player. He flies around out there. He's back there in that free safety position and the point is he sees everything. He's back there for a reason. The first day of practice he showed up and the first day of practice when he showed up, if we had done the things the right way it would have been a touchdown over the back of his head, so I reminded him about that. That's the kind of player he is. He is a guy that is going to make plays. He is a guy that is going to be around the ball and it's good to see."
How do you think QB Davis Mills has adjusted so far?
"He's adjusting well and today was a really good test for him and Jeff (Driskel) in practice going through the red zone because things happening so quick and so fast and we're in that tight confine, and the way our defense is running around and playing around there, it's great for him. It's a great learning experience for him, and those quarterbacks."
RB MARK INGRAM II
RB Phillip Lindsay said the other day he used to watch you in elementary school, he said he told you about that. What do you think about that?
"I mean, that's crazy, I told him you can't be telling people that, man. You can't be telling people that but it had to be like 2008 when I was a freshman or something. I guess it's a good thing, you know, so yeah."
What's it like to be around that long and have a guy say that to you?
"It's a blessing. Thanks to God for a long career and great health and I still feel good going into my 11th year. It's a blessing."
What do you think about having the fans back for the first time in two years?
"It's a blessing. I think 2020 was rough for everybody, especially sporting events not being able to have fans and not being able to have family and stuff at the game. So just to have fans at practice, anticipate having fans all throughout the season, I think that's something everybody is looking forward to."
What do you think of Head Coach David Culley saying he feels like you are an extension of him out there?
"And I feel like an extension of him. We had a great two years together in Baltimore. He was always someone who encouraged me through my good seasons, even last year, that was a challenging year, he was always super encouraging to me, always consistent, always relatable, always down-to-earth, always doing the best he could to put his players in position to have success, and developing his players to continue to improve. Just to be here with him, that's very comforting and I feel the same way."
Do you feel like you are back to your old self since you've gotten past the ankle injury?
"Yeah, I healed up from the ankle injury last season about midseason, but I think just not having as much wear on my body last year, being able to go into the offseason healthy, being able to train hard, being able to train hard, get better conditioned, put myself in position to come out here and put my best foot forward, I feel really good coming into this year.
I feel healthy. I feel strong, fast, explosive and I'm just ready to play and do the best I can do to help the team win games."
What's it like being an entrepreneur and owner of DC United? How did you decide to do that and how does it feel to have that while you are still a professional athlete?
"It's amazing and just a tremendous opportunity through networking and it's more of a partnership and it was something that was really appealing to me. Obviously being an owner but also being able to be a partner with good guys who have had a track record of having success running professional teams, running a soccer team in the Champions League and just being able to be a person -- I'm on the board. They call me, I'm in touch with the partners; I'm in touch with the players. To be able to do that while I'm focusing on my career and trying to be the best I can being during my career but also still be an owner and be an entrepreneur I think is great and something I'm proud of."
How wild is it to be able to call yourself an owner?
"It's crazy, It's a blessing, it's through networking, being around the right people that presented me with an opportunity to join a partnership of a great group. The fact that I can be an owner is crazy. It's something that I didn't think that would happen but just fortunately through great networking, great people and a great partnership, it all worked out and I'm able to be an owner of MLS team in D.C. United. So vamos United."
Talk about the competition at the running back position.
"This is the NFL. You're going to have in every single training camp everywhere, there's a great group of guys and we have a great group of guys who have played football ask done it at a high level for a long time from Rex (Burkhead) to D.J. (David Johnson) to Phillip (Lindsay), even Dontrell (Hilliard), even Buddy (Howell). We got Scottie (Phillips), too. We just got a group of guys who are competing who enjoy being around each other, aren't afraid of competition and when you have a group like that, it makes everyone better. It makes the team better. It makes the group better and it's something that you can thrive on."
How have you been you guys brought idea in trying to help improve the run game, obviously last year wasn't a great run game but how have you incorporated ideas into making it better?
"We're just working, trying to learn the system. We want to emphasize running the ball, we want to emphasize being physical and we are just trying to be able to assess, assert our abilities and our talents within the offense. You know, whether that's running downhill, whether that's running inside zone, whether that's running power, gap schemes, outside zone, tosses, coming out the backfield catching passes. We are all just trying to continue to improve, continuing to stacking the days and continue to get better so we can be the best possible when we step on the field on Sunday so we can give ourselves the best chance to win."
How much are you liking the podcast and being a content creator?
"It's a great opportunity to be able to hone in on some skills as far as interviewing and just talking on camera. So, it's with my best friend, Cam Jordan. We got drafted in 2011 together to the Saints. We're still brothers and family and to be able to have guests on the pod from our network and resources is just a super enjoyable experience. It's not always easy coordinating schedules and getting guests on at the right time but when we do it and you sit down and we're recording with a guest, man, it's a great time. It's a genuine conversation and it's something we enjoy putting out. Make sure everybody subscribes to Truss Levelz and make sure anywhere you get your Podcast, check us out, Truss Levelz, rate us and let us know what you think."
LB CHRISTIAN KIRKSEY
What do you think about having fans out there for the first time in two years?
"I love it. You know that's a part of football. We got stadium sold out, stadium field and that gives you extra energy, boost. I'm excited for it."
Where is your family?
"My family is about a good 40 minutes. I'm happy about that. Whenever you can have family support that's close or nearby, sometimes you can get away from football and just relax and have that family time, you can't beat it."
Talk about working with LB Zach Cunningham.
"Zach, he's a great athlete. He's one of the better linebackers in this league. I think he's a little underrated, man. You know, people don't talk about him as much as they should. You can see that he flies around, and he goes out there and he makes plays. He's a very athletic guy, and it's been a great experience working with him and I'm trying to, you know, push him the best that he can be and vice vera; he pushed me to become the best that I can be, and we can become a great linebacker core."
What can you say about the defensive unit so far with the four days you guys have been out there?
"Man, we got some guys out there that can run. I think that the organization did a great job of putting this team together, putting this defense together and matched it very well with Lovie Smith. Lovie is a guy that he puts his defense in a position to win, puts his defense in a position to make plays at all levels and that's something that I'm learning about this defense is everybody has a chance to make plays and when you have that, it's a lot of fun."
Do you feel like you need to be an extension of the coaching staff on the field?
"It's important, and I'm taking that commitment to being a leader on this defense. I'm pushing myself above and beyond to be everything I can be for my teammates, and I think everybody is doing it individually. You know, they are looking at what their role is on that defense and on that team and they are just trying to go above and beyond. That's something that you know, I think plays a big factor into building the team. You've got a bunch of guys that are unselfish, a bunch of guys that are going to do what has to do to get over the hump."
DB Justin Reid has been very vocal the past couple of days. What's it like playing with him?
"He's a good safety. You can tell that he knows where to be. He tunes into his keys. He's very intelligent. Today as you could see, he had those two interceptions. He's a ball hawk. He's a ball player. And a little thing about me and him, we been playing in the locker room, we play the game of chess, and you can just see that he's smart overall. Very good chess player. He beat me twice yesterday, so I got to get back in the locker room and challenge him again."
Is there a challenge learning a new scheme with new players?
"I don't think it's a challenge in a negative way. I think it's an opportunity for us to become a great defense because we all got a clean slate and we're learning, we're learning something new.
It's always good when you're learning and your pushing yourself to actually understand it and go above and beyond, and I think that that helps just motivate guys when guys are hungry and guys are eager to learn more and learn more, you're going to get your hundred percent effort out of guys. I use it to an advantage. I just switch my mind to that to say, you know, it's a great opportunity for us and we're taking advantage of it."
Is that something with Associate Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith?
"Yeah, he's out there with us, showing us different techniques, showing our responsibilities and how he wants us to play it and when you have a defensive coordinator that can come out and speak it and do it and show you the right way, that's a plus for us. We're learning and we are striving and I think we're going to be a good defense."
Does the defense enjoy challenging QB Davis Mills and making him better?
"It's good to show them how tough it is to play in the NFL. We have all the confidence in him, and you know, it's training camp. Everybody is trying to get better. Everybody is learning new things. And I think that he is going to be a great quarterback. You can just tell by his mechanics, how sharp he is, and it's good for us on defense to understand that, you know, we're getting him better and he's getting us better, as well. It's a good chance to see where we are as a unit ask also see where he is. That's our job to make it as hard as possible for him and his job is to try to beat us in practice and that's how you keep elevating our team is we're competing. We're getting everybody better. We're going out there and we're practicing hard."
OL LAREMY TUNSIL
Can you talk about the offensive line, specifically how it's going to be different, especially under Offensive Line Coach James Campen?
"We got a new mindset for sure, especially being with this new coaching staff, James Campen. Our mindset is pretty much the same as last year. We just got to go in there and dominate. Offensive line got to be the biggest ones on the team. Got to have the best mindset of the team and we just got to be tough."
In terms of your individual game, what are some things do you each year to take it to another level?
"I always try to find manage in my game to improve on, whether that's the run game, pass game, double teams, trying to be a leader. I try to find that one percent to get better every day."
What does it mean to have people back in practice for the first time in two years?
"I'm just happy to see fans, not just being here with just us, not for it to be silent. I'm just happy and thankful to have the fans back in the stands. It means a lot."
How does the new coaching personnel that you have, how will that help in the running game and run blocking?
"Like I said we come in here with a different mentality. Offensive line has to take that step and improve, receivers, and everybody has to do their job and having those coaches that hold us accountable to do our job, it helps a lot."
What is that mindset to the change of mentality?
"Just be tough. Mentally tough and get better one percent each and every day. That's our mindset. We just got to stand by it."
Can you talk about OL Tytus Howard at left tackle, he looked good. Are you teaching him?
"He's all over the place. He's doing a great job. Everybody knows how Tytus Howard is doing. He's a great guy, he's a great player, just getting better every day."
What are your impressions of QB Tyrod Taylor and how do you adjust to a new quarterback?
"Five is a smooth dude, man. You got to treat all quarterbacks the same. They going to get to that spot and your job is to protect that. It's nothing different.:
What about the running backs and RB Mark Ingram II?
"Dogs. They all dogs. They all played a lot of football and they all were successful in this league."
What do you think of OL Justin Britt?
"Justin Britt is a dog, too. He took a year off and he's back. He got a different mindset. Like I said offensive line is to get better each and every day, one percent better."
What did you think when you heard Head Coach David Culley say you guys are going to run the ball a lot?"
"Love it. Love it. I love it. I love it. We've all been on that other side so I love it."
Where did you work out during the offseason?
"I work out in Lynchburg, Virginia. That's a place that's kind of isolated from everything. It's where my trainer is at, I've been working with him since my rookie year. His name is Dominic Studzinski, just going out there and getting your mind right, staying focused, just a peaceful environment, just to focus on you, it's good to get back to your roots."
What makes QB Tyrod Taylor a good leader for this offense?
"He's been doing this for a long time, I think this is his 11th year in the league. He's been doing it for a long time. He's seen a lot of football so you have to trust a guy like that."
Is it easy to follow?
"Easy to follow. It is."
Is the offensive system the same as you guys were running last year?
"The same. The same. We have the same OC (offensive coordinator).
What are some of your impressions on QB Davis Mills?
"He got it. He got it."