Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly
What did you think about how QB Tyrod Taylor and QB Davis Mills did in the first game?
"I thought Tyrod came out and did what we asked him to do, made some good throws. He was able to move the ball. Obviously, we want to get a touchdown in that situation, not a field goal, but he came out and played well and we were crisp with our operation. Davis came in and saw his first, "Oh my gosh, this is the NFL" moment on that three-step, then ran through, he got hit, came off the field. I'm like, 'Did that hurt? You okay?' And he was like, 'No.' So he was fine after he took his first hit. He did good. The whole thing with him is just going to be to accumulate as many reps as possible. He's only had however many, 257 throws or whatever since high school. Just for him to continue to grow and develop, and the more he sees defenses, the more he gets comfortable with our route running, the more improvement we're going to see each and every day."
What about QB Jeff Driskel?
"Yeah, I mean I think it was pretty clear to see that he's a really good athlete. The couple times that he kept it the other night, he was able to really extend some plays, convert some really big first downs for us, especially the one that ended up sealing the game. I thought you saw some of his arm strength on some of those throws he was able to drive. Again, with him, especially just for continuing to get comfortable and continue to play on time when he's in the pocket."
What do you want to see out of QB Tyrod Taylor and QB Davis Mills against the Cowboys?
"Just continue to grow and get better. Obviously, we're talking Tyrod going out there and lead an efficient offense, go down there and take what's given to you and see if we can convert in the red zone. With Davis, just continue to cut back on mistakes and don't have my missed throws. I think going back and watching the tape, there was probably one or two throws in particular that come to mind right now that immediately he would want back. He's going to make those throws nine-out-of-10 times. It just so happened that on that one screen, the ball slipped out of his hands. To eliminate that, let's get rid of those throws, let's make those plays, and then again, continue to grow in his patience in the pocket."
You added some new receivers. TE Brevin Jordan at tight end seems like kind of a hybrid guy. What can you do with these receivers to mix and find a match that you want?
"That to me is what training camp is for, to be able to find out, 'What can these guys do? What's their skill set? What's going to be best for our team, asking certain players to do certain things?' I still think we're in that process. We definitely have a better idea now than we did however many weeks ago when we started. But when we come out here, we're still trying to mix and match and figure out what's going to be the best play for this personnel grouping and getting the people in the right spots."
More and more you see people across the NFL, even in college, spreading running backs out and things, and just using people like that. What is your overall philosophy on that?
"Let's see how many players we can put in the best position where they're going to have favorable matchups. Similar to kind of what we've talked about the offensive line last time, how can we get our best players on the field and put them in a spot to where they're going to be successful?"
Specifically, what is WR Chris Conley showing you?
"I mean, he's strong. Like you saw the other night, he went up and made some big grabs on the sideline, strong hands, kept the ball away from his defender. He's a big body. He's running well, so Chris is doing a good job. You see him out here every day spending time with the quarterbacks after practice, which a lot of times doesn't get talked about, but that's huge with the trust factor between the quarterbacks and the wide receivers at that position. We're looking for Chris to just continue on his track and come out and play well."
We've had a chance to talk to WR Chris Conley a couple times, and he seems like he has real strong self-awareness. Connecting with him, what have you noticed about him?
"He's a pro's pro, right? He's been around for however many years, been in a couple different schemes, a couple different systems. He's very smart and he's diligent in his preparation. He's as prepared as you can be coming out here, and that allows him to play fast and make plays when the ball comes his way."
What have you learned from QB Tyrod Taylor through these first couple weeks of camp that maybe you didn't know about him before?
"He is even-keeled throughout the entire game. Throughout highs, lows, it doesn't matter. He's going to be the same guy, and that's a great thing because, again, he's never going to lose control in terms of being too emotional or getting too high or getting too low. He's very steady. He's very consistent. Again, without having talked to him beforehand, that was the first thing that kind of comes to mind with that."
Going back to Saturday's game, what did you see from the run game?
"I thought up front we did a better job of being physical. I thought you saw some more in terms of the mindset that we're looking for there. The backs ran hard. The touchdown run that Scottie (Phillips) had from the five, he did a good job finishing the run. Ryan Izzo got behind him and ended up kind of aiding him and pushing him, which is kind of something that we're looking to continue to grow on. It was just good to see our ability to be able to finish the game there running the football with the football as opposed to being able to give it back to them because we couldn't convert in four-minute."
I know it's only the first preseason game, but what have you seen from RB Phillip Lindsay now that he's finally in?
"He's quick, man. He's a strong runner. He's fast. He doesn't hesitate. When he sees the hole, he sticks his foot in the ground and gets north. So, all those backs, they're all doing a great job and they all have different running styles, which is really good. So again, just trying to figure out what's going to be best for their skillset and what's going to help us move the football."
What have you thought of QB Davis Mills' command of the huddle and grasp of the offense?
"From day one when he got here, that's been great. He's really smart. So he knows what everybody should be doing there. He's in there. He's able to articulate the play call, which sometimes for us can be kind of wordy, especially in some of those situational football spots. He's done a great job in the huddle communicating and all that good stuff."
With QB Davis Mills, you mentioned how he had some limitations in college…
"I didn't say he had limitations. I just said he didn't throw the ball a lot."
Not a lot of time playing. When you're seeing him behind the scenes and stuff like we don't see, how much potential do you see in him?
"Yeah, he's a guy who's big, he's strong, he's smart. He's a better athlete than when you see him kind of walk out here. He kind of looks goofy, right? Especially with that bucket hat (laughter). We've got to get that off of him. He's a better athlete than you would guess by just seeing him on the hoof. He's got a strong arm. He's smart. So it's just going to be reps and just feeling the defense and getting a feel for the speed of the game. Again, I think all rookie quarterbacks have an adjustment to make when it comes to that, but he's doing a good job preparing and putting in the work and watching the film. We're pleased with where he's at. Now he's got to take another step this week."
Special Teams Coordinator Frank Ross
What do you think of the special teams performance in the first game?
"Good start. Definitely excited with the trend we are taking. Always and you guys know this but Preseason 1 is just how much better can we get and how fast can we get to where we need to go."
What about the returners?
"We have a deep group. Going to just continue to create competition at that position, and every person that gets a chance back there knows that this is a chance to improve myself."
You guys added a couple of futures here and, it seems like with this a decreasing margin of error with teams maybe can be the difference. What were some of the objectives you guys had to fine tune that?
"I'm not trying to speak for anyone but I think most special teams coaches in the league would say that in preseason we want to see who can play with fundamentals, winning their single one on one matches and that's what that evaluation piece in those games is who can play fast, physical and with technique."
What's it like having a guy like WR Andre Roberts added to the team?
"Very experienced veteran, has a lot of knowledge at the intricacies of the position and the return game and has been good for the room so far."
Is he the kind of guy that comes in and shares ideas with you a little bit?
"Absolutely. I told every person as soon as we got into the room that look this is a two-way street, we are a collaborative effort to try to get ourselves better and its an ego free room. So that way hey if you got an idea or I got an idea, we will work and mesh our stuff to get it all right."
What have you thought about the accuracy of LS Jon Weeks?
"Accuracy of Jon Weeks? It's been good. Jon has proven himself. Again, like I said in the first presser, everybody is here, day one, the next day, the next day, just prove yourself each day. That reset mentality every time you step on the football field and he's been good."
Having been around Associate Head Coach/ Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith for a little bit now during camp. With someone with that experience whose kind of been through it all, what does he bring and what he's trying to do to this defense?
"Guy's been coaching football for longer than I have been alive, so I'm going to listen to that guy. You can't put a price on experience so if you don't have your rabbit ears up and listening when a guy like Lovie Smith is talking, you are missing an opportunity to grow. I think everybody on our staff and everybody on our football team can learn from anybody above and I think Lovie is an ultimate example of that exactly."
Are there benchmarks that you personally like to see from your units? If so, what are those?
"The stats and things like that, it might be for people who are reading the paper, but for us, it's about did we do our job right? Can we get better on the next one? Regardless of the outcome. Things that we'll see and might not show up in the paper are a little bit different. Our benchmark is can we get better on that next rep?"
Associate Head Coach/ Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith
After you got the first couple turnovers Saturday night…
"After the first couple?"
After the first couple turnovers…
"You say after we took the ball away two times, takeaways? Alright, keep going."
The cameras cut to you and you had a nice smile on your face. For lack of a better term, you looked to me like you were a proud papa. How would you describe it?
"It's something that has to be done, to me, if you say that you're playing good defense. You just can't play even and rely on punts and things like that. So, yes, that's an emphasis that we put every day we're coming out here. There's a certain amount we would like to get, and to see the guys be able to get that done and see what a takeaway does. Of course, putting the offense in good position, momentum, all of that. So, there should have been a smile on all of our faces with that one, and that's something we need to be able to do throughout the season."
What did you see from the way LB Kamu Grugier-Hill was running to the ball?
"He's been like that since he got here really. Came from a similar system. We thought that he would fit in well. He's been a great special teams player, of course, throughout his career, but football-wise, we didn't play Zach. He backs up Zach Cunningham. To see him make plays like that is pretty special, and I know he'll keep doing it. We're really pleased with how all of our linebackers played this first game."
What do you think about the potential of DB Lonnie Johnson Jr. now that he's been here for a little while?
"He's a good football player. Eric Murray and of course Justin Reid have been -- they're good players and have been locked in. Lonnie has missed a little bit of time for certain reasons, but he's back out, he's healthy and you've seen in practice he's showing up each week. He's a prototype safety -- perfect size, he's got good range, has good hands -- but he needs reps, and he's getting those. He should only get better and better."
Can you talk about what you've seen from the D-line so far and how you feel about that group? "Well, it all starts up front for us with the defensive line, and we have some numbers. First of all, we have good training camp competition, legitimate training camp competition. So, all the guys are going to get reps, and they showed up. I thought we played the run well. It starts up front, playing the run, being gap-sound and playing hard, running to the ball. They did all of that. When we get in situations to rush the passer, we want to see the guys, just not a lot of blitz in the first game, see them rush the pass and passing downs. Jonathan Greenard, Jacob Martin, a lot of the guys did a pretty good job with that."
Speaking about the blitz, last time you said it's not going to be a defensive blitz a lot. The philosophy of that, I'm curious from the point of getting pressure on quarterbacks and such, and not blitzing. What is your philosophy?
"You must have misunderstood me. As far as blitzing is concerned, we don't want to have to rely on blitzes to get pressure. We're basically a coverage team, but we will blitz and all. Maybe you should get that out to our opponents that we're not going to blitz. That may be a good thing, setting them up a little bit. No, I believe in blitzing, but again, we don't want to just rely on that. In the preseason games, we want to win the football game, but we want to see guys get in one-on-one situations and see exactly what we can do. If we can win without blitzing, in an ideal world, we have a four-man front. You would like to be able to get pressure with your four guys, and the only way to know if we can do that, of course, is put them in as many of those situations as possible right now."
What are your thoughts so far about DL Maliek Collins, and how much has his experience in another 4-3 helped?
"We're very pleased with what Maliek has done. We brought him here to do that, though. I mean he's a good football player. He's our profile for our under tackle, three-technique. A guy with size, he's a 300-pounder with loose hips, he's athletic, he can rush the passer. Those situations of one-on-one, to me, it can be a good defense if you get one of your three-technique one-on-one with the guard. Maliek's going to win most of those, and that's a pretty good defense for us. Pleased with what he's done in practice. I can't wait to get him some game work."
Now that you've been with this team for a few months and you're a few weeks into training camp, how have you found -- and you've been through everything in the NFL and college football -- but how have you found it personally, just getting back with these guys, being able to put your stamp on that, also watching them mature and grow, and just this whole process is so rare in football?
"Well, I know it's coach talk, but I'll give it anyway. It's been rewarding. It's been a lot of fun. Our guys, you've had a chance to be around them. They show up every day. They take coaching. They're like a sponge. They're hungry and just buying in to what we're doing. Then to just see -- it's been, what, three weeks or so now. We're getting to know each other a little bit better, but I like the process. You've got to like the process. We know where we need to get, but the grind of training camp, seemed like they like it because we haven't had a lot of guys miss. I mean, not a lot of injuries. As you can see, we sweat every day. You have training camp in Houston, you sweat every day quite a bit. So, I've loved it."
St. Louis, Chicago was obviously different, Tampa. How is this situation different compared to those? What makes this more appealing from a coordinator perspective?
"I have a short memory. I can't tell you about too many old girlfriends, you know (laughter). You just (have) this spot now, and I just know that this opportunity was something that I really looked forward to from afar, and now that I've been here and we've gotten a chance to go through everything, the competition each day, I like where we are. It's probably universal that we're the underdog in the NFL, right? So we kind of like that position, too. Eventually, the score is going to really count, and we'll be ready."
What about two of the younger guys, DL Roy Lopez and DL Ross Blacklock? What did you see from them?
"They showed up, starting with Ross first. We talk about Maliek Collins at the three-technique, Ross is the same thing. He's athletic. He played the run well. He can rush the passer. So, we like what he did, and Roy Lopez too. Not just the sack, but we've been seeing those same things from the guys -- Bobby King and Allen Smith do a good job with them -- but we've been seeing those things from them daily. We have some young players that have potential."
What have you thought about the synergy and the chemistry that has developed within the coaching staff?
"I think it's been good, maybe that's what you expect. When David Culley is going to put together a staff, as he was put together a staff, you know what kind of guy he is, what kind of guys he's going to have on his staff. I know I've enjoyed a lot of the guys. I knew some of the guys, most I did not. That's been a lot of fun, too. We talk about players, coaches getting to know each other, same thing with the coaches. I can't wait for us to have a long relationship together."
That was Head Coach David Culley's first game experience as an NFL head coach. How did that go behind the scenes? Like working with him on the sidelines, how did that go?
"It went well. You're right, it's David's first time as a head coach, but he's been on the sideline quite a few times. I know I've been on the sideline a lot, and David's been on the sidelines more than I have. When you're prepared, you have an idea of how it's going to go, and again, he had us all prepared for every situation. That will be the case each week."
K Ka'imi Fairbairn
How have things changed for you, if at all, continuing to work with LS Jon Weeks and the special teams coach?
"Yeah, I've been liking the way things are going a lot through training camp, especially getting the operation right, getting my tempo right. A lot of it just focusing on myself and trusting the other guys around me to do their job, and they always do. I'm looking forward to the season a lot."
What's it like working with P Cameron Johnston and LS Jon Weeks, getting inbounds, field goals. What have you all kind of approached?
"Yeah, Cam has been awesome. He's very attention to detail, which is all you can ask for in a kicker. Jon puts it on the spot every time. I trust them. It's a hard thing when you are a kicker and you're worried about the snap and hold, and that's not been the case with me. I've just got to worry about my technique and putting it through the uprights."
This is the second time you've had a different punter come in since you've been here, third one you've worked with. Has that helped having that change happen before to get ready for this one? "Yeah, most guys in the past have been the same. They all work hard, and Cam (Johnston)'s no different. He treats every day like it's important. So that's all you can ask for. Yeah, like I said, looking forward to the year."
How amazing is LS Jon Weeks' accuracy?
"He's second to none for sure. It doesn't go unnoticed on my part. Snapping and holding can be one of the most thankless jobs in the NFL, but I don't think -- he treats his job as serious as the next guy. So, I appreciate him a lot and happy to have him."
Have you guys gotten superstitious talking about that stuff?
"Not me, no. Definitely not."
In the offseason to now, has there been any different way you've approached and maybe found some things to work on to better your craft?
"Yeah, I just focus on my eyes right now, where my eyes are in my swing and swinging in to out, and that's been the focus for me."
What do you mean by eyes?
"Just like where my eyes are at contact. Just like little things, like swing thoughts."
Where do you have them?
"On the ball."
Can you talk about how much you've grown in the last couple of years as a player?
"Yes, always a learning process, continuing to learn. We've got a bunch of new coaches in here who have different perspectives, and I'm learning a lot from them. Coach Frank (Ross) and Coach Sean (Baker) for sure, kickoffs, every little thing I try to continue to learn and get better at my craft."
What are the challenges in adjusting to those new perspectives?
Yeah, if that's the right word.
"Yeah, everyone is different and learning to work with new people and trying to be the best version of myself. I can't control other people. I just control my attitude and my work ethic and go from there."
Is P Cameron Johnston as talented a punter as you've seen?
"Yeah, he's been -- he puts on a show out there for sure. Punting and his leg strength. He's got that Aussie strength, so it's fun to watch"
P Cameron Johnston
You decided to join these guys. What are some of the reasons you picked the Texans?
"Just to play for Coach (Frank) Ross. He's amazing. What he was selling with the guys when he got down here, the speed on the outside. It's incredible to come down and be able to work with Jon (Weeks) and Ka'imi (Fairbairn). It's a good time to be down here."
Are you familiar with the Australian connection at the University of Houston?
"Yes, Dane Roy when he was there. He just finished a little while ago. And Laine as well. I know them quite well. They all went through the same program together. Dane had a good career there. He was really good."
You know those guys?
"Yeah, we went through a similar program, and we all stay in touch to help each other out."
Is there a bit of a community to plug into around that?
"Yeah, it's good. I've hung out with them a few times, gone punting with them. There's a guy from Texas as well. He's an Australian guy as well. So, we all try and stay close."
What was the first time you punted in football and how did you get into American football?
"It's a while ago now. I think it was 2010 when I decided to do it. There's a program in Australia, ProKick Australia run by Nathan Chapman. Just went down there and did it with him. Within a year, he was able to get me to Ohio State, played four years there. Incredible program being able to get you over here."
You worked with several kickers now. How do you approach that?
"Whatever the kicker wants. You're just doing your job to make the kicker's life as easy as possible. Just whatever they need, you make sure you get it done."
What is K Ka'imi Fairbairn like?
"He's pretty simple. He's good. He likes to get the ball down and just likes to hammer it. You see him out there. He hits the ball really well."
What about the accuracy of LS Jon Weeks?
"He's incredible. I've never seen anything like it. That guy is an incredible snapper. Being able to work with him, it's impressive seeing what he does and his attention to detail every day. You can see why he's been in the league so long and he's still one of the top three in the NFL doing it."
Those guys ever bring up your hit on Alvin Kamara?
"No, that was a while ago now."
Special teams units always seem to be so really detail oriented. Do you guys try and like time things or get things down?
"Yeah, it's the whole this time right now and then leading up to it, you're just doing as much work as possible to make everyone feel comfortable with the operation. It happens so quickly, so you've got to make sure you're on top of it and ready to roll."
Are you nearing the time where you want to be?
"Yeah, we're all good. It's nice. We've got to keep 1 percent better everyday type of thing."
LS Jon Weeks
Could this be the best special teams the Texans have had since you've been here?
"Without question, 100 percent. Our returners are explosive. We've got a bunch of really good, savvy vets that block their tails off for those guys and know how dangerous they are when they get the ball in their hands. So, I think the return game is going to be pretty special for us this year."
With your longevity and how long you've been able to do to still do this. How much does that mean to you?
"It means a lot. I think any snapper when they get into the league, they want to say they are consistent enough to keep going for a long time. And the fact that the coaching staff and my teammates trust me to go out there and do my job effectively, is incredibly important to me."
How special is it when you talk to K Ka'imi Fairbairn and ask him about your accuracy and what you are able to do and are you superstitious about that stuff?
"I'm 100% superstitious about that stuff and I don't appreciate you talking about it all, to be honest. But it's fantastic and my job is to make their job as easy as possible and for them to be comfortable. If they light up when they talk about my snaps, then I'm doing my job at a high level and I'm going to keep doing my job to get better but if they are happy, then I am happy."
Do you ever sit back and think about how long you've been doing this and where you've came from?
"You know I did. I was sitting in front of someone and they said they had a 2000 birthday and then I realized how old I was, which I thought was insane. Again, I'm happy to be here. I'm incredibly happy to be part of this team. I love the way everything's going right now. I'm just fortunate to be out there and doing my job.
With P Cameron Johnston coming in as a new punter, new holder, adapting to that, what are some of the things you've learned to adapt to what he likes?
"Yeah, so Cam, a great punter, strong leg, has all the kicks. Might be the shortest punter I've ever snapped to. Most of my guys have been kind of big. My adjustment, if I'm being a hundred percent honest, was just learning to change the release point a little bit. But it's been a seamless transition. Cam is fantastic to work with. He's a great holder. I think Ka'imi (Fairbairn) is going to have a fantastic year with him as his holder. I'm looking forward to the season Cam is going to have for us."
Jon, are you leaner this year or you're better on the Instagram posts?
"I've been seeing photos of you, Seth, and I've been taking your training regimen into super hard detail with your diet and everything, and it's paid off, I feel like."
Obviously, when you get up in age, one of my focuses this off-season was just to come in in good shape, and I was able to do that with the help of Lad Harris for the Texans organization, a great nutritionist that we have here, and working with him on the side. We were able to get myself down, and I feel great. So, I'm happy."
Can you take us through what it takes to lower the snap and how long that might have taken?
"It's a feel thing, if I'm going to be honest with you. It's just a release point, just a matter of inches, to be honest. Something that I'm fortunate enough that I've got a guy that likes to punt, so we've got a lot of work together in the offseason. So, it was able to come together pretty quickly."
Does that help you when you're in coverage too?
"Yeah, 100 percent, being able to get down there and cover with those guys in the interior. We have a fantastic interior vet group of punt players right now that are flying down the feel. So, I'm just doing my best to keep up and try to be effective in coverage when I'm asked to be there."
In your approach to the preseason game, your snapping the ball and making tackles. How important is that to you?
"Incredibly important. There is no preseason for me. The first game is the first game for me. I'm lucky I get to play in all of them. I don't look at it as the preseason, I look at it as the regular season. My first game was against the Packers. I did my job to the best of my ability that day. Hopefully the coaching staff was happy with it, and I'll continue to do it."
Obviously, you don't want a returner to have a punt spring back that far, but what do you think of having a guy that can tackle Alvin Kamara back there?
"With Cam (Johnston)? I heard he actually hit him pretty well. I haven't seen the video, so to me it's all circumstantial right now. When I see the video of Cam taking out Kamara, I'll be impressed. If you watch the tape, any time Cam punts the ball, he's the first one down in coverage. He's a great athlete and expect big things."
As someone who's been here longer than anyone, what's it like for you to deal with all the turnover and almost everyone who was here when you got here, everyone is gone. What is that like for you? "It's different every year. Obviously, with the turnover this year and the job that Nick (Caserio) and his staff is done with the roster. It's been great, though. A lot of new faces, but a lot of guys that have the same kind of drive. All the goals are the same. Everything is we're all about team first. We're all about making each other better, doing what's best for the team and each other. That's why the practices out here, they're hard, but everyone is getting better with it. We all enjoy each other's company."
You've seen change through different teams, players, locker room, and all that stuff. How does it feel to you?
"Everything is great right now. It's a day-by-day thing. Everything has got to keep going in the right direction. We have a great group of veteran players, young players, guys that are hungry, they work their tails off. When you have that and you have a group of guys striving for the same goal, you're going to push each other, and it's going to work out for the best. I'm excited to see what happens."