HEAD COACH DAVID CULLEY
How are things today?
"Good. My glasses didn't fog up this morning. I know it's hot, but not where it has been."
How is DB Bradley Roby doing?
"He's been on the COVID list, and he's doing fine. He hasn't had really any serious, serious symptoms, but he's had, basically, it affects guys differently. He's been doing fine and hopefully we'll see how he's doing each day. It's day-to-day with him."
How about TE Jordan Akins?
"Akins, same thing. He's coming along pretty well with it. We're not really sure how long it's going to be before he's back in the action again, but he's doing good right now."
Do you expect Akins to be back next week?
"I'm not really sure yet at this point. It's a little early. We expect him to be, but we'll see."
Talk about OL Max Scharping. He's going back home to Green Bay. You've been playing him at both guards?
"You know what, Max is excited. He's had a good camp to this point. He's been doing excellent with what we've asked him to do. Again, it's preseason, but he's going back and that's always exciting for them. Again, we're in that mode right now where we're trying to find out what the best combination for us is, and he's part of that deal right now. He's been doing well for us to this point."
This is the last time we're going to talk to you before the game. Can you give us some indication of how you're going to rotate your players, the ones, the twos, the threes?
"We're going to discuss that after practice today."
Do you think that QB Tyrod Taylor, with only three preseason games, needs to play in all three?
"Well, we'll see. We're not really sure yet how we're going to do that. We're going to talk about that today and kind of take it one week at a time as to see what we need to do in that situation."
With the change from four preseason games to three this season, do you change anything as far as how you do things?
"Well, not really. The thing that will happen is, because we will end up having that extra week that normally would be a preseason game, that week is still there. So instead of playing a preseason game, we'll be practicing against ourselves, which gives us the time to really do the same things that you would do if you were playing four preseason games, except you'll be doing it against yourself."
Would you treat that second game more as teams used to treat the third one, in terms of how much the starters play?
"We're not really sure yet how we're going to do that. Again, we're going to make that decision going from week-to-week. But not having the fourth preseason game, we've got to decide which one we feel like would be best for us in the situation that we're in to use that game as a rehearsal for going into the season."
You mentioned a couple of days ago, it was the first time you left the field like, 'This is what I wanted to see.' Have you seen that recently? What's been the feeling of consistency?
"This week, this will be the third day that I feel like that, from a consistency standpoint, from the whole total team, that I see us getting better. I mean, we're getting better, and I say that -- and we're not where we need to be, but what I'm seeing is I'm seeing less and less mistakes. It's not the repeat mistakes that we've been having. It's not the same guys that are making those mistakes, and that's important. What that tells me is that they're getting better and that the message is getting across."
A lot of new coaches want to win their first preseason game so that the players will believe in the message. Is that important?
"Well, what's important more than that for us is the evaluation process. Now, they do keep score, and whoever's in there at the end want to win the ball game, and we feel the same way about that. But the most important thing right now for us is the evaluation process and getting our players in to be able to see where we are and what we need to do to go further."
What have you seen from OL Justin McCray, who used to play for the Packers, so far in camp?
"He's been a multi-guy for us also, moving around all over positions. He's actually one of those guys that could probably at some point play any of those positions on the front, and he's been valuable to that point. He's been around for a little while. It's very good for us to have him, to have that versatility in our offensive line."
Do you prefer three or four preseason games as a coach?
"As a coach, I'd prefer as many games as we could get to get prepared."
The defense has done a great job creating turnovers during camp, but on the flip side, are you a little bit concerned about your quarterback's ability to take care of the ball?
"No, and I say that simply because those guys on defense get paid too just like those guys on offense do. A part of that has just been those guys have been making plays. It hasn't been because we've made a bad throw. A lot of those have been because they've made good plays, and that's encouraging to see, and that's always a positive when you see that happening."
You guys have had guys go on and off the COVID/Reserve list. When you're trying to figure out who makes (the team) and who doesn't, how does that complicate things?
"Listen, when we wake up every day and we go on the field, the guys that are there to be able to play, we play with them. We practice with them, and then we just take it day-to-day, and we just go with the guys that are out there."
Is there a guy on either side of the ball that's maybe come out of nowhere and surprised you guys, like a 'wow' factor that you didn't expect?
"No, I just think for the most part it's been a situation where, because of the competition, those guys come out every day. There are some days where a guy will make a splash play, and you say 'Wow', but the point is our goal is always to become consistent in what we're doing, and guys are getting to that point where they're finding out that's the most important thing. I've seen guys out there make splash plays that had three mistakes prior to that flash play that they made, and that's not where we want to be. We want to be consistent. If you make that play, and you make that play having done what you're supposed to do, then that's the goal that we have moving forward."
What are your options at center beyond OL Justin Britt?
"Like I said, we're going all across the board with those guys trying to find that position. That's always important right there to do that. But the depth is there. That's why we do what we do in moving them across the line, and we're continuing to do that. The depth has been good."
Up to this point, what have you seen from WR Nico Collins?
"He's getting better and better each day. Again, you see he's getting a lot of reps. He's been getting a lot of opportunities to make some plays. He's been making some. Some he hasn't been making, but he's improving each day, and he just needs to continue to do that and learn what we're doing. He's getting better at doing that."
What do you think of DB Vernon Hargreaves III getting that interception yesterday?
"What'd I think of it? I'm glad he got it. It was the Texans getting it although we were on offense throwing that play to him, but I was glad to see that happen. Because of the situation at that point, we're at the end of the game. It was one of those situations where it stopped a drive. And going back to the question you asked earlier about when you see interceptions and those kinds of things, that was a situation where, look, we either have a touchdown or the game's over, and the guy made a play."
I know it's your first preseason game, but in the back of your mind, are you thinking about what you're going to have to say to some of these young men at the end of training camp, and how it's going to affect their livelihood to not have them on this roster?
"No, they all know what this is all about. Everybody that comes into this situation knows exactly what it's about. The thing about that is we know we can't keep everybody on this team, but just because you don't make this team doesn't mean there's not an opportunity somewhere else for you to make it."
OL JUSTIN BRITT
Are you excited to see in a game situation against another team how it looks?
"For sure. We want to go out there and start the season off with the right kind of mindset and set the tone of what we've been working for, what we've been striving for. But this preseason is for growth. It is for learning. Failure is okay, but we definitely want to go out there and play our best."
How many snaps do you think you'll get? Any idea?
"I'm just going to go out there until they pull me. I mean, I don't think I anticipate playing a whole lot, but I'm just going to go out there until they tell me to stop."
How valuable are these games to a veteran like yourself?
"Well, I'm approaching this game way differently than someone like Laremy (Tunsil) might. You know, he played last year, I didn't, and that's kind of the story of my whole season is everything I'm doing, I'm approaching a little differently. I was talking to Ryan (McCollum), our rookie center we have, and you've got to be excited, but I'm excited. It kind of feels like my first game in a while. I'm excited to get out there and get my feet wet again and get the rhythm of the game again."
Are there any things you're having to kind of get used to again, just having had that year off?
"Yeah, I had to not only teach my ACL how to work again, I had to slowly teach it football and tell it to be there when I want to kick slide. But I mean, mentally, I never really let it escape me. So, it's more physical than anything. But just kind of creating that routine throughout the week and what my game day is going to look like now, but that's the fun part is building that routine that you want to follow and just be at your best."
Besides Laremy (Tunsil), there's a lot of young guys on this line. You've played kind of all over. Are you able to kind of help guys at different positions?
"I feel like it. Like Titus (Howard) getting reps at guard, like I made that transition, the exact same transition he's made. So, any chance I can get -- and I've tried to give him my two cents, but Titus is a smart dude. He's played a lot of ball. He's going to do just fine. Yeah, I mean, the guys I've been working with in the whole room, they're on it mentally, physically, and I'm just excited to get out there and do good myself and come out healthy, but I'm excited to watch the young guys go out there and see what we've been working for and see what they do."
What's your advice for making that transition?
"Just be open to it. Accept that you're not going to be perfect from the get go, but like I said, failure is all right as long as you grow from it, and now is the time to experiment and find out how you do your job best."
You got at least three wrestlers on the team right now, you, Maliek Collins, and Roy Lopez. I can't remember being on a team with more than one. Do you guys talk about off-season tournaments or anything? Do you warm up by tumbling?
"I left my wrestling shoes on the mat. I'm done. A couple of knee surgeries later, I don't need them to be twisting me and whatnot. I will say, I'll probably win. I didn't lose in my last year. But we'll never know. I'm sure they'll say they're going to win, and we'll just leave it at that."
Can you see it in their game that they were wrestlers, Roy (Lopez) and Maliek (Collins)?
"Now that Roy's pointed it out, yeah. I was trying to figure him out as a player, never having seen film on him or going against him, but I can see that in Maliek (Collins) for sure."
Do you kind of approach this with a chip on your shoulder or something to prove, that kind of thing, going into the season?
"For sure. I had a lot of time on my hands last year, so there was a lot of talk like, oh, he's retired. People thought I was retired. I never said I was retired. I was just at home. I was getting paid to be at home essentially. Anybody would do that. COVID, I mean, it was just a perfect year for my situation to unfold the way it did, but I was itching to get back. I was talking to my agent every week, who's calling, what's it look like, and nobody wanted to pay me respectful money. I feel like I've done enough to kind of earn that. So grateful that the organization here gave me the opportunity. I definitely have a chip on my shoulder, but I mean, it's nothing personal. I just want to go out there and win some games, be at my best, and provide for my family."
What's your impression of the defensive linemen?
"Here? I think we've got a lot of rotation, a lot of different guys. I think we have a chance to be pretty good. It will be interesting to see what happens when we get in the games, but they've definitely been pushing us and making us work a little harder."
WR BRANDIN COOKS
Curious just as a player coming back, how has it all come together
"I think any time you go out there and suit up and you go out there and playing against another team, obviously the competition is always going to be high. No matter new team or not, it's always a time to be able to get to know one another out there live and compete."
Any more value on the preseason games this year?
"No, I think you just approach it the same way. Every game is valuable, no matter if it's the first preseason or the last. I think you've got guys who are all fighting for our jobs and competing, so every single one of them is valuable."
TE Brevin Jordan called Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly a genius play caller. In the way that you can, how does Kelly use you guys in this offense?
"I think at the end of the day he does such a great job of spreading the ball around getting everyone the ball. This offense is based on team and doing it for one another, and I think he does a good job with that when it comes to his play calls."
You've played for a lot of different organizations, this team with so many new guys and so many guys on one-year contracts, does it feel distinctly different in the locker room or the building?
"No, I think at the end of the day, any time you're in that locker room and you're spending time with people like this, you become close. You're not thinking about this guy's on a one year, two year. At the end of the day, we're teammates, and we're focusing on the now, and I think we're doing a great job with that."
What's the trick to learning everybody's name?
"I think the good thing is now with the new lockers, we've got everybody's name above it. When somebody's sitting down, you look up and try to read the name, and jot that mental note."
Even though you've been through a number of these, are you still eager?
"Always. First of all, it tells you the time of football is back, and the competitive level is going to be high here on out. So always eager to get going."
You've worked with lots of quarterbacks. What do you see from a guy like QB Davis Mills coming into this league?
"You talk about a guy that's really, first of all, smart, and he's learning from his mistakes out there. He's playing faster every single day. I think, as a young guy, as long as you continue to take steps forward in training camp and show that you're playing faster and faster, that shows everyone else that you're getting the hang of it."
Anything that he's shown you that has kind of stuck out for you?
"I mean -- that's a good question. A lot of things stick out to me for a young guy and what he's doing. Something in particular, I'm not thinking of it now."
How do you feel about the new guys and the guys that have been here gelling together to help the team?
"I think a lot of the veterans that we got coming from other teams or other places is doing such a great job to lead in their aspect and showing these young guys how it's done. So not one guy has all the answers. We lean on one another, and we gel together on that veteran leadership to make sure things are going as smooth as possible."
When you look at the transition, is it made easier about the fact that a lot of the new guys have a lot of experience with other teams?
"I think so, especially when you talk about those other teams are successful organizations.
They've been doing it year in and year out the right way, so they bring that caliber to our team, and we continue to just build from that."
What do you think of about Anthony Miller so far?
"The guy is explosive. He can move. He's real shifty and fast. To have him out here, he's a great addition to our room."
What do you think of WR Nico Collins?
"Same thing, explosive guy. He may say rookie, but the way he goes about his work, the way he follows some of these vets, you respect that out of a young guy, and he's picking it up every single day."
Can you find a way to play off of each other?
"Now you're getting into specifics. We're not going to talk about that. (laughter)"
In the offense, what changes have you seen from last year to this year?
"Changes? I think we're getting into specifics again. I think we're going to have to wait to week 1 to talk about that. On a serious note, we do great when we play fast, and we've been doing that, having that sense of urgency every single day coming out here and building on that in these training camp days."
Head Coach David Culley said he wants to see more consistency out of WR Nico Collins. What do you think that consistency looks like for a rookie receiver? What does that mean?
"I think he's been doing great. You're going to have to talk to Coach Culley on that one. I'm not looking at it from a coach's standpoint. I'm here to encourage and have Nico lean on me and other vets the best way that he can and continue to build him up."
RB DAVID JOHNSON
What are you hoping to see out of the offensive unit in the first preseason game?
"Efficiency. I think the best thing is to go out and be productive with the limited snaps, like you said, and just showcase what we can do, especially with a lot of us being together for the first time and now the bullets are flying. So just to see what we can do with live tackling."
What have you noticed about the offensive line going into camp so far?
"They came together really good. They're unison, they work hard, and they really protect us for sure. Any time we're on the ground, they're rushing over to pick us up, help us out, and very helpful for this offensive line."
Is there sort of a curiosity because you've been practicing together, is that until you see it in a game? New offensive pieces under the light? "Most definitely. I think the game is where you really see how good your offense is, how good I am, and different aspects like that. Practice, it's more of just learning the plays and being able to do them, but when you get in the game, it's all about efficiency and what you can actually do with the plays you're given."
Does the fact that there's only three preseason games add more value to getting reps?
"No, not at all. Especially me being a vet, I don't think I need that many preseason games to get ready for the season. I think it's helpful for us as players, especially they're trying to add another game, the 17th game, and it helps us in the long run."
What about for the younger guys, the team in general, or is it kind of the same thing?
"I think three games is good. When you start, you might as well have a season then when you start adding more games and start doing so much. I think three games is good enough way to figure out what's going on."
You played a really large share of the offensive snaps last year. How would you feel about kind of rotating more as a running back group? Do you think that will help you?
"I think it will. I think it will help in the long run. Obviously, as it's going on, in the moment it's tough, but I think in the long run, I think it will just help out the team as a whole."
Is it hard to have a feel for the game, for the defense, if you're not out there consistently?
"Depends on what's going on. If it's running the ball, obviously. Pass protection and stuff like that, I don't think that really changes at all. Obviously, running the ball, especially in the beginning of the game, it might take a little bit longer to figure out what's going on, figure out different ways to beat the defense and running the ball like that. But other aspects, like I said, catching the ball or pass protection, I don't think so."
Have you been told how many snaps you're going to get?
"No, not yet. They haven't told us. They just told us to be ready to play."
What do you remember about your first preseason game? Just trying to translate what they taught you, all this stuff. What would you say to the young guys who are kind of going through that?
"Man, my first preseason game was a roller coaster because I remember I got hurt, so I didn't even play the first preseason game my rookie year. I had a hamstring, and I didn't come back until maybe three, or the second one. It was a roller coaster, man. My head was spinning. I felt like I was basically trying to figure out everything. Even though I knew the plays, I still was a little bit confused, questioning myself, questioning the plays and what I was doing. My biggest thing is just for the young guys, the rookies especially, I would say know your plays for sure, because if you know the plays, you know the playbook, it makes it a lot easier to play."
What have you thought about how the offense has come together so far? What do you like best about how you and everybody, all the new guys are working together?
"I think the biggest thing is since we're such a veteran-led team, I think we figured out the playbook really fast together. I think that's what's good for us is that it won't take us so long to play together and play as a cohesive team, especially on offense, because we have so many veterans, and we all know how to be professionals. We all know how to work together because we all -- the NFL, the plays are pretty similar. It's just the terminology, and once you figure that out, you play well together."
We talked with QB Davis Mills a couple days ago. What have you seen from him in his preseason camp? I know he's been talked about being more consistent. How do you have a relationship with him and seen what he's done so far?
"I don't talk too much about X's and O's with him. I talk to him more off the field. He's going to be drilled enough from the quarterbacks coach, from Tim Kelly and from the other quarterbacks in his group. So my biggest thing, I just want to talk to him and try to help him out just in life, being a professional. Talking about just eating, where to go eat, if he needs help with rehab, if he needs anything outside the field."
LB CHRISTIAN KIRKSEY
Do you like being in this role of the defense?
"Actually, my first year playing in that role was last year in Green Bay. I got situated with that, so I'm pretty comfortable with transition here and being in that role."
Is there any sort of transition going from one run coordinator to another? Anything you're kind of alarmed about?
"This is year eight for me. I played for numerous of different coordinators. So, it's all about being a pro and understanding how to adapt to things. So, I'm pretty comfortable with it. I'm used to it and ready to rock."
What's the hardest part about that job or that responsibility?
"Just the terminology, concepts, and football is all the same. It's only a certain amount of defenses you really can run to where it all like blends in. So, it's really just different terminology and getting the little tricks of the trade here and there. But like I said, when you've been playing in the league for eight years, you're comfortable with it."
Do you still get eager to hit the first -- maybe as a veteran you don't want to play preseason games, but are you eager to hit somebody else?
"Oh, yeah. When you have a long training camp, going up against the same guys, especially the teammates, you want to go out and compete with other guys around the league. Keeping score, whenever you're keeping score, it's always going out to try to win. It's always exciting for the preseason. You're sharpening up your tools and seeing what you got and putting everything together and actually going out and showcasing it and seeing where you are as a team."
Are the preseason games any more valuable since there's only three as opposed to four?
"Me personally, I look at it the same way, whether it's three or four. It's all the same approach. I don't think it's more valuable or less valuable. It's just another game to go out there and fine tune everything and get ready for the regular season."
How does it feel like to be going back to Green Bay?
"It will be good to see some guys, obviously, that I played with last year, but I'm looking at it as this is my home, this is my job. This is what I'm called to do is go out and play ball. That's the approach that I have. Like I said, it would be good to see familiar faces and see guys that I previously played with. It would be fun to go back up there, but I'm getting used to Houston now."
With all this change that you've had here, are you all curious as players just to see what it's starting to be like?
"Yeah, whenever you're in a situation where there's a bunch of new guys, and you see it in training camp and you see how we're gelling together, you see how everything is coming together, the plays, offense is coming together, defense is coming together, but it's just a different feel where you actually go against an opponent and really see when it matters. Not saying that training camp doesn't matter, but when you're keeping score against another team, you actually see what you really have. So I'm excited for that. I know a lot of guys on our team are excited to see where we're really at."
OL MAX SCHARPING
How cool is it to go back to Green Bay for you?
"I've been back once before obviously a couple years ago. It's going to be super special again to get to go back to Green Bay. I'm excited."
What do your parents think about you coming back there?
"They love it. They don't have to travel. They travel a lot to all the games. The fact that they can just host it and tailgate and stuff, they're going to be happy."
How many tickets will you get?
"That's all on my parents. I have no idea. I'm not in charge of that one. That's on them. That's too much for me to handle."
Have you had an opportunity to see them very much?
"I mean, depending on what the schedule is and stuff, I think maybe we'll be able to see them after the game, family and friends or something maybe. We'll see how it goes."
You started that game there. There's been a lot of things happen since then. Can you compare your game today with what it was?
"Obviously, that was my first ever game at all, so obviously I was going in with a lot of nerves, and now I just feel a little bit more comfortable in where I'm at as a player going into that game. So it will be fun just to be able to take in the atmosphere."
Can you talk about what that area means to you?
"I grew up my whole life there, so it's everything. It's who I am. That's where I came from. So it built me into who I am today. I wouldn't be here without Green Bay."
During the course of the preseason, what have you felt like is the biggest focus on the line just progressing together?
"I think you just said it, together. As an offensive line, you have to be five working as one. So I think, because we have new faces in, new O-line coach, it's just kind of meshing everything we've done separately and combining it into working together to be the best possible offensive line that we can be."
What do you see from offensive line coach James Campen and what is it like learning from him?
"I just think he brings a great mentality into the room. Obviously, he's been doing this a really long time. He's played at this level himself. So, he knows what it's like. He knows what needs to be done. So just getting us in, getting our mentality -- finish, cover the ball, and make sure we take care of our guy, stuff like that. It's great."
It was a tough year last year with COVID and with the team. Where do you think you are now compared to last year?
"I mean, I think it was tough for the whole team last year, as you said, with everything going on in the world, and obviously the season didn't end the way anyone wants it to. So, it's a fresh start right now. Every single year, new faces, new coaches now for us. So, it's a good place to be where we're starting fresh and working back to getting to winning ways."
How positive are you with this group and going into this first preseason game?
"I think I'm -- this is a great group. I mean, you guys just talked to J.B. (Justin Britt) I don't think I've ever been around a more positive guy every single day. He's in here at 5:30 every morning. He loves this stuff. So just having him as a guy that's up front leading us to the ball every single play, it changes your mindset when you're following someone like that. It's just a great mentality to follow and to get on board with."
What is your top memory of a Packers game?
"So, they won the Super Bowl against the Steelers when you was a freshman, I believe, in high school. I remember going to a movie theater with all my buddies and watching the game. Then we got the day off from school for the parade the next whenever they came in and did the parade. So that was pretty cool."
Where do you think you've grown as a player, whether its technique, strength or other things?
"I think it's just confidence level. He's been moving me around left guard, right guard, just to see how I can grow as a player, and I think just having that confidence that I can go out there and play either position there right now and work on technique in both places, it gets you to think about your hands, your feet, balance, all that stuff.
So I think it's just kind of a mental aspect of the game that I think is getting better."
T.J. Yates, your rookie year, told me you're one of the smartest guys on the team. What I worry sometimes about with smarter guys is they tend to overanalyze things when they're young. Did you catch yourself doing that the first couple of years, maybe thinking a little too much before the snap?
"Oh, yeah, that always happens. That's definitely one of my tendencies is to overthink things and try to be too perfect, try to do too much at one time. I think that's also part of it, just slowing it down in your own mind, thinking like I have to be able to rely on the guys next to me. Otherwise, we're all going to fail. So just being comfortable in who I am and what the guys around me can do and just focusing on my job."
With the new offensive line, are you guys are doing much differently schematically for the run game?
"Like I said, we're just trying to figure out how every guy up front can work together to the best of their ability. So really, when you think about it, if you look at teams all around the league, they're basically pretty much the same plays. It's just about how they're scheming it based on their personnel up front. So we're just trying to figure out our guys, what their best abilities are and working to improve our offense and our offensive line to be the best that we can be."
What have you noticed from OL Charlie Heck? What have you noticed in him as a player and just impressing you?
"Charlie's great. I love playing next to him. He's a smart kid. He works his ass off. He's just a great guy to have by you. Like I said, he's probably one of the hardest working guys in the room honestly. And his background with his dad as a coach, he's really smart in the game of football. So he gets what's going on out there, and he brings a level of that work ethic that every single offensive line needs to have."