HEAD COACH DAVID CULLEY
What do you see about Offensive Line Coach James Campen's coaching that you like?
"He's so fundamentally sound. He's a guy that played the game also this league, and he's had a great reputation of developing guys. He's had really good offensive lines where he's been before. He's taken young guys and developed them and gone on and had really good careers in this business. He's just been everything that we thought he would be."
Do you expect OL Tytus Howard and OL Roderick Johnson to play against the Cowboys?
""Not really sure yet. We'll know more tomorrow."
With P Cameron Johnston, what do you feel like he's given you guys, with his leg strength and hang time?
"Obviously he's got a big leg. The thing that we want to improve on, and we talked about this with our special teams group, is that a lot of times when we are directional punting, it's got to be punted the right spot. We weren't as consistent at doing that in this past game and we've got to get better at doing that. We know he's got a big leg, but it's more than just having a big leg and kicking the ball 50 yards down the field. Directional punts and those kind of things, we're not there yet in getting that done."
What did you think of the performance of RB Scottie Phillips and RB Darius Jackson on Saturday?
"Well, they ran very hard, and basically we weren't surprised. Scottie is that kind of player. Scottie is tough, hard-nosed. We didn't know a lot about Darius when we got him in here, but we did know that he was a very physical back, very tough. For him to come in on such a few days' notice and go in and do the limited offense that we had when he was in there, I thought they both did an excellent job."
Why was QB Deshaun Watson not practicing yesterday?
"Deshaun is here. Again, every day he's here, he comes in, he works. He does what we ask him to do, and he's here every day and he's doing fine."
Is QB Deshaun Watson injured?
"No, he's not injured. We come up each day and we have a thing for him, and basically we got done what we needed to get done yesterday in practice."
Is there a specific reason why QB Deshaun Watson didn't practice yesterday?
"No, he's doing fine right now. We expect him to be back out here pretty soon."
QB Deshaun Watson is still attending meetings, right?
"Yes, he's doing everything, just like he has from day one."
DL ROSS BLACKLOCK
What did you think about the first game?
"Yeah, I was, very encouraged to see everybody flying around making plays. Just everybody get an opportunity to show like what they can do when times are needed. I think the team played great, offense moved the ball, defense played hands down really well. So we just got to keep stacking and building from there."
What's it like for you going back to Dallas?
"It's almost like home sweet home, like my second home. But it's straight business. It will be good to play there and just have some TCU crowd there. I'm sure they will be there rooting and cheering on for us. Man, we just going there to handle business and come back home with a W."
How would you describe this camp?
"I could say the vibe and the energy is better. The culture here is a lot better. There's a lot of competition. There's a lot of good guys around here, great team. Coach Culley, Coach Lovie Smith has brought in a culture that's just all about the team. Each and every day is about team and I think guys are gravitating to it. We got the right guys in the locker room and make sure everybody is just one band, one sound, type thing."
How much has all that affected the team in a positive way?
"Like I say, guys are just trusting each other, more respecting and understanding of each other and you'll see it together as we play. No guy is selfish on this team. Like I said everything is about team, team, team. We try to preach that every day and embed into ourselves every day and just go with that."
What did you notice different about your game on Saturday?
"Yeah, I think I was just playing more faster, reacting more and just getting off the ball, and just like I said, just trusting my instinct and trusting my abilities and just going out there and just doing my best."
How much have you worked on your hands in the off-season and early here in training camp in preseason?
"I just work on a lot with my hands, technique, just get offs, just to make myself a lot better in my position. You know, I was working out with a trainer, BT Jordan, a lot of guys know him on the D-Line, he gets their hands right, their feet right. Shout-out to my dog. That's about it, though."
How much have you come to appreciate being at home more now?
"Oh, man, it's a blessing man, each and every day I just wake up and thank God. I could have sworn I was going to be somewhere cold like Green Bay or something that, would of sucked. It's a blessing to be able to walk out my house, knowing I'm home, playing for my city, playing for this team. As a kid, I grew up being a Texams fan, so I can't be more blessed. Couldn't be more happy."
Do you think this culture is driven more by following the coaches' lead or who these guys are down in the locker room?
"It's more about, I would say both. Definitely the coaches, they start with the coaches because they got to set the tone of how they want this organization to be run and then second of all we have to be the guys that enforce it within the players and throughout the building. So we have the perfect guys in here to bring that energy. It's been nothing but good energy. I don't think there's been one day where guys have fallen out or not been with the type of mantra we're trying to build. Each day it's getting better and better and that's what we want to see."
Can you explain how much more comfortable you are getting out making plays now than you were last year, and part of that seems to be the coaches letting us play instinctively. How does that kind of transfer over?
"The defense we have is more of an attack defense. There's not a lot of thinking. Of course it's preseason but the past game we ran base majority of the game but like a lot of our calls are not like real calls you've got to think on so hard, and like, if I got this, I got to do that and that. No. It's just okay, I got the call, boom, it's a one-deal thing, you know what I'm saying. And it creates more natural stuff for the ends and tackles if y'all want to run gains or do certain stuff. As D-Linemen you're not supposed to think as much, just go. That's what I like about this defense."
What, if anything, are you trying to correct or improve?
"Man I'm just trying to be a better version of myself every day, correct everything that -- anything from games, from Green Bay, from the next game, I know I'm not going to have a perfect game but nobody really has a perfect game. You know just trying to get better, better version of myself every day."
Is it weird to get back all of a sudden being in front of a crowd again after last year?
"That was crazy. I had never played at Green Bay but it was a lot of energy. It was good to be around and have a real preseason game for once and get that feeling. You know, we didn't have that last year obviously. Just even having fans at practice, you know that, was pretty cool. I've never experienced that. You know, like I said I'm blessed to be able to be in this situation."
Do you feel like you were robbed of a normal rookie experience?
"Definitely. Definitely. We missed a lot of reps, like OTAs and stuff, probably over 50 to more reps, probably way more, practices and everything. We kind of got thrown into the fire last year and rookies didn't really play that much. I kind of had to play because guys got hurt. Like I said, it set me back a little bit I feel like personally but now that I got a full off-season, real training, OTAs and now like actual real camp, I think it's a lot more different than last year."
DL WHITNEY MERCILUS
What did you think of what you saw of the defensive line?
"Some good things out of the lot of the guys, hustle, hungry guys, as well, too. Trying to establish and earn a job, that's exactly what this is, giving an evaluation process for a lot of coaches to see who their guys are going to be. But everybody, they really had a good game technique-wise, all that, getting to the ball, getting turnovers, sacks, things of that nature."
What have you seen so far from DL Ross Blacklock?
"More confidence. More confidence in his abilities. Taking advantage of it. He looks really explosive, really fast. That's all that I see from him. He'll make some great plays.
How much better do you think this defense is versus last year? Even just a couple weeks into training camp.
"Well, the coaches give us the tools and the talent goes and execute, essentially. So it goes hand-in-hand. The talent has to take the tools to play extremely well technical wise and then use their talents to go make plays."
Is it more talent or coaching making the difference this year so far?
"Absolutely, got another interception today. He's continuing to buy into it more and all it is experiencing reps, he's trained from cornerback his first year in the league and the more reps and experience he gets, the better he'll get at seeing things faster and he'll be like, I've seen this play before and know I need a fit here. He's continuing to take better. He's doing a great job."
What are the tools the coaches give the players?
"To be more instinctive but play within the scheme and go make plays. Showing us techniques, whether it's ripping, dipping, some of the movements and things of that nature, I don't know exactly what's going on the back end, don't know; I'm a D-Lineman now. So seems like they are playing a lot faster, a lot freer. A few things that needs to be corrected as far as some fits and also just making sure we don't get blown over the top, things of that nature. But they are giving us all the tools, especially up front, using hands, technique, things that we have been coached all our lives."
When you said you don't know what's going on, on the back end but seems like everybody notices that DB Lonnie Johnson Jr. is making plays almost every day. Do you notice that and how does this staff unlock his potential?
"I've been lucky that I've had a bunch of guys I got to look up to. I got to look up to J.J. Watt, Jonathan Joseph, Tyrann Mathieu was a strong emotional leader that came through, Kareem Jackson just was a pro's, pro. All those guys I got to take a bit of everything from them and add it to myself and in turn try to spread that to the rest of the guys on the field around me."
Do you find yourself against tight ends often in the run game, what do you notice from them in the run block?
"Yeah, so of course I see tight ends, especially when I'm down in a 6 or a 6-I. The guys, most of the tight ends across the league, even our guys, they are going to block you until the whistle is blown. So you have to be a lot more aggressive and over here, how they are being taught, pretty much being aggressive until the whistle has been blown. So don't give a D-end or D-tackle an easy play."
With you and the other veterans not seeing much play time while facing the Packers, how much do you want to play against Dallas this weekend?
"Oh, man, my boy, Jordan Jenkins (Jordan Jenkins saying "pickle juice" in the background). No, that's not my nickname. That's because Jordan Jenkins doesn't like to drink pickle juice for his own health because he's cramping up all the time.
Anyways, as far as in the preseason, getting a feel for game speed, handling the adrenaline rush that you get, getting a little, essentially dipping your toe in the water before everything is full go. That's kind of like a trial run, you know, essentially for a lot of the guys. I'm looking forward to it. Go out there, showcase to the coaches what I have at my age and my year and all that. Looking forward to it."
Do you feel like it's even more important giving the change you're going to have to be doing thing differently this year? "Definitely. Because it's a new scheme, 4-3. My hand is in the dirt and I've got to see if I can play the run with my hand in the dirt and play the pass, as well, too, and be instinctual at that. I mean, it's almost no different than a 3-4 being on the edge. We switched up to 7-4-3 sometimes and adjusted. The biggest difference is just putting my hand on the ground"
How much has life changed for you not having to worry about coverage?
"Really, it's just like some of the back side reads, I don't want to get too much into the details of the coverages, you know what I mean. But it's just keys. You can read your own linebackers in this defense just because it's so aggressive and how the linebackers are making their reads, you can actually get a read off them for your read, so you can read the offense and you can read your own players, so it just goes hand-in-hand and you have keys that let you play faster."
With all that is it enough to be able to compartmentalize and play freely?
"Yeah, yeah, I mean, I played a number of years in the league, so of course I understand a lot of different offenses concepts and things of that nature, offensive schemes. I kind of get the pre-snap reads, kind of get an idea of what's going to be ran, essentially around this league is a copycat league. Everybody has the same playbooks. It just depends what philosophies week-to-week you're going to face. I'm comfortable with that, understanding the knowledge of the game and after that making sure I'm physically good."
You mention using your hands a lot. Ross Blacklock looks like he uses his hands better in the preseason, how much of a focus has that been?
"All the time. Your hands are what's going to get you free instead of being chest to chest with somebody, you'll get blocked that way, not being able to use your hands to shut off blocks off the run or being able to double-swipe or stab. Especially in a pass, you're not going to get sacks that way. It's a huge emphasis. You can't just go in there and run with your chest."
DB TAVIERRE THOMAS
How would you describe the energy of the defense?
"Oh, yeah, it's great. Everybody playing together, having fun, everybody making plays. When everybody makes a play, everybody just celebrates together and makes it even more fun. If everybody just continues to do their job and having fun while doing it, it's going to be like that each and every day."
Can you tell us a little bit about walking on at Ferris State and making the team to get to this point?
"So I was coming out of high school, I couldn't get an 18 on my ACT. I had a couple offers from D1 schools and whatnot. I was trying to go to Iowa with my best friend, Desmond, but I couldn't get 18. I got 17 three times in a row and I end up going to Ferris. I saw Coach Annese and asked him, 'Could I walk on?' or whatever, and he told me, 'Yeah,' and I walked on. Ever since then, I never looked back, and now I'm here today going on year four."
What is it about special teams, not everybody can do that, to making key tackles and key blocks?
"It's just all about want-to for me. A lot of guys out there, they don't want to do it. You just have to know your role and play it, no matter what it is. If that's my role, I try to perfect it in everything I do. I just try to get better each and every day with the other guys and my coaches, and the sky's the limit."
How did you form your friendship with DB Desmond King II?
"Des, that's my dog. We've been playing together since we were six back in Detroit, so that's my right-hand man. Our moms are real close, our families are real close. We've been together our whole life and to play with him now is just a blessing. I'm happy to be here and happy to play with him."
Do you spend much time together outside of football?
"Oh, yeah, we're with each other every day. Every day, either I'm at his house or he's at my house. He's chilling with my son and my fiancée; I'm chilling with his fiancée. It's just cool. We're just real close."
DB Desmond King II had a punt return on Saturday. What did you think about that?
"He's got to score, that's what we've got to do. We from Detroit, he's got to score that. Everybody at home say you got to score. I had my good 'ole block, I'm trying to block all good for him and he got caught. So yeah, I was real disappointed."
Did you let him know?
"Oh, yeah, for sure. As soon as I picked him up, I'm telling him, 'You've got to score. You've got to score every time."
Where did you get your nose for the ball with all of the interceptions you've had in the past?
"In college? I was always an offensive player in high school, so every time the ball's in there, I just try to attack it. Nico (Collins) got me yesterday, but he don't get me no more. He had a great day yesterday. I just try to go attack the ball each and every day."
What have you noticed about the battles with receivers? What have you seen about them as a group, as a whole?
"They are pretty good. They're savvy vets. They got a couple rookies and a couple younger guys, but they're savvy. So you've got to be on top of your game because if you're not, they can make you look like a fool. So they're really good. It's a lot of competition out there with us and them, and that's what we need to be good, so that's great."
When you're covering, what's that like? How tough is it, especially when you're a guy that's made a lot of tackles, to drop back?
"You've just got to keep your leverage on the ball, no matter if you're on the right side, keep your leverage on the right, and if you are on the left, keep your leverage on the left side. When you're there, you've just got to want to make the play. And that's what a lot of guys on the team, that's on special teams, they want to make the play each and every time. It's a fight trying to get down there to make the tackle because if you don't make the tackle, somebody else going to make the tackle, even though that's good, but you want to make the tackle. Me and A.J. (Moore) and the other guys, we got competitions, first tackles on kickoff and punt and all that type of stuff. It just like a competition to make it (more fun), so that's what everybody's got to continue to do."
Are you involved at all in field goal block?
"Well, I'm involved in field goal block as well, yep."
I'm sorry, field goal?
"Field goal, yep, that's the only one. I wish I could play that but I'm too short and too little."
Jalen Green from the Rockets said he didn't want to go to Detroit because it's boring and you have to stay in the gym. Can you defend Detroit to Jalen Green?
"Don't wear them buffs in Detroit, that's all I'm going to say. Don't wear them buffs because they're going to try to get you. So don't wear them buffs, all that talking you're doing. But yeah, I ain't going to say too much."