OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR TIM KELLY
Could you tell us about your quarterbacks?
"Yeah. Tyrod (Taylor) is doing a good job coming in here and, you know, being professional and getting a good grasp of the offense, how things are shaking out, the different reads. For a guy who has played as long as he had, a lot of it ends up just being translation. He understands the plays, just now how we call it and what are kind of specifics from this offense to the different offenses he's played in. He's doing a good job with that. He's got a really good control of the huddle. He's doing a good job of leading that offense. Davis (Mills) is coming in each day and again, like, if you think back with our spring, those practices –typically, the first time you see these red areas is typically in the middle of May. Now he's seeing it for the first-time last week, whenever it was, Saturday. He's seeing it again today. You can see improvement, threw a couple of touchdowns for us. Again, the big thing with him is just going to be continuing to get better every single day he is on the field and he's doing that. He is working at it. It's a lot. We put a lot on that position and that respond. With Jeff (Driskel), you can see his athleticism take over at times. He has a strong arm. For him, for a guy who has played in the league, just really getting comfortable with our terminology and kind of what we're looking for when we call certain plays."
What sets OL Laremy Tunsil apart?
"Yeah, he's a freak. He's really big. He's really strong. The one thing that kind of comes -- the more we get to work with him, you really see how detailed he is, particularly in his individual technique. So, the way he prepares, how seriously he takes practice, the way he's out there, it's been really good. It's been really good for those younger guys to be able to see how a man as talented as he is still comes out and works, and you can see him just drenched at the end of the day because he's taking all those reps and the one-on-one reps. It's really important to him. He's doing a good job paying attention to details. Not just his individual technique, but really the scheme and what we're asking for that group."
As QB Davis Mills goes through the preseason, I recognize he makes mistakes, but what are the ways you track him making progress? What are some of the bars you want to see throughout preseason? "Really just coming in, and as elementary as it sounds, not making the same mistake twice. For us as coaches, when we can get that from our players, it shows that they're coachable. It shows that they have a good grasp and a good understanding of what we're asking them to do. At that position in particular, right, you don't see the panic mistakes anymore. Things are starting to slow down, and he's really starting to feel comfortable when he's back there, particularly when he's in the pocket."
Is it strange having QB Deshaun Watson out there in the role where he was playing?
"No, not for us."
What will the passing game look like this year compared to last year?
"Each year your team is going to be different, so you have to find ways to really play to your strengths and find ways to cover up your weaknesses. So, the nuts and bolts of the offense are going to be similar, but, again, we're going to put our own touches on it to take advantage of the different players we have in the room now. You look at our wide receiver room, and there's been a dramatic change in that room, and not just the people in there, but the types of bodies, things along those lines. So it wasn't much different than any other offseason other than the fact that we're looking to take advantage of the people we have in the building to put them in the best spot to go out there and make plays for us."
What did you like about getting to work with QB Tyrod Taylor during this process?
"I mean, it's been great. With his professionalism, he comes in, he wants to be great. He wants to come in and know exactly what's going on. He's got command of the entire offense. Again, just the way he approaches every single day, it's been really good for me. It's been really good for everyone in the room."
What are the challenges of having a new quarterback?
"Yeah, that's part of the job description too. You've got to be able to go out there and adjust. We're going to do everything we can to get him prepared and give him as many looks and put him in the best spot. At the end of the day, we have to come out here and practice and get reps. That's why we're so glad today that coach let us go back in the red area so we can go back and let those guys get more reps and let Tyrod (Taylor) get reps in the red area. That's what we're going to look to continue to do, and really for every position, not just the quarterback room, but just continue to improve in the different techniques we're asking them to go out there and execute in."
What have you seen from WR Anthony Miller at this point, and how do you kind of help get him involved and up to speed to make plays for the offense?
"He's a guy who's incredibly competitive. You can see it, some of the different catches he makes. He's got really good play strength. He's got good change of direction. He's got good size for the position we ask him to play. So, R.P. (Robert Prince), Ben (McDaniels), Anthony, they've all done a good job coming in here. When the trade happened, I was on the phone with him. We were e-mailing formations and trying to get him caught up to speed right away. There's never a wasted minute. He's doing a good job, putting in the work to make sure he is getting himself back to where we need him to get to, to trust him to go out there and make plays."
How much does OL Tytus Howard's versatility benefit the offensive line?
"Yeah, it allows us to get our five best on the field. Especially at that position, it's the sum of all five parts. So, having a person who not only can handle it physically but can handle it mentally allows us, again, to get the five best players on the field and not necessarily just pigeonhole someone into one specific position."
What about the running backs?
"A veteran group. They all have a unique skill set, and they've all bring really good experience, and they all bring good leadership, right? So, Philip (Lindsay) comes out here, they all have a huge chip on their shoulder for one reason or another, and they're all phenomenal pros that come in and practice the right way. You can see Mark (Ingram II) out there finishing his runs. You see Phil (Lindsay) exploding with the ball in his hands. David's (Johnson) making plays for us, and obviously Rex (Burkhead) has been good for us when he's been practicing. They all come from different backgrounds, and they all bring a wealth of experience, and they're good football players. They're doing a great job. Danny (Barrett) has been working with them, again, teaching them the ins and outs of the offense, and they've all picked it up rather seamlessly."
What's it like seeing free agent OL Dennis Kelly come in here for a workout?
"Yeah, we'll see him in a couple weeks."
You've worked a long time with QB Deshaun Watson. How strange is this? He's not out there today, but the last couple days, but how it's been handled, he's not taking all his reps?
"For us, we're worried about the guys that are out there practicing. We're out there, and Tyrod's (Taylor) taking the snaps, and we've got J.D. (Jeff Driskel), we have Davis (Mills), and they're doing a good job for us. That's really all we can control and all we can focus on is make sure we're getting those three new players ready to go."
You've got three new quarterbacks. Has QB Deshaun Watson been helpful with the quarterbacks?
"Absolutely. He's been a great asset for us in the room with some of the stuff we do, some of the stuff, how he sees it, how he sees the intent of the plays, it's been great. He's been very helpful for those players. Again, we're doing a good job keeping him engaged and going through some different stuff
with him. He's been good for those players."
SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR FRANK ROSS
Can you talk about having WR Andre Roberts come in here and what you expect from him?
"Andre is a consummate professional, super-detailed in everything he does. Working hard just like everybody in a new scheme, under a new coaching staff and trying to assemble each piece daily. So, he's been great and as a unit—everybody as a return unit—their focus right now is just daily fundamentals and improvement."
How much confidence does it give you knowing you've got a snapper who has never had a bad snap in the last few years?
"Who's counting? Yeah, that's great. That's a blessing and he's working every day to improve. So a guy that's been in the league for as long as he has and improving, and working to improve, is all that you can ask for."
Can you talk about K Ka'imi Fairbairn?
"Same for Ka'imi. He had a great year last year, but again, mindset is every day you come in, you've got to prove yourself. Every kick you come in to work, and he's going to take that one and then the next one and then the next one and just move forward on a daily basis. It's been that way since the start of camp and really happy with where he's at and his work ethic."
You had a good punter in P Bryan Anger, and now P Cameron Johnston. Talk about what you expect from Johnston.
"Every player on the team, it doesn't matter whether it's the punter, whether it's the kicker, whether it's the guy in kickoff or punt coverage. Expectations are high as far as playing within the scheme, playing within your body, and just maximizing your talents, and then whatever we ask you to do, you do it to the best of your abilities. I think Cameron has been doing that so far."
Can you talk about DB Tavierre Thomas and his experience on special teams?
"Yeah, so Tavierre, playing against him, he's proven over the last few years of his career the impact that he can have. Same story goes with everybody that walks in here on a daily basis. It's what can I prove today to be able to improve and then make that impact play, make that constant and the consistency across all of the phases that he would be a part of. So far, so good, yes."
Do you guys look at each player who is brought in an decide how to use them on special teams?
"Special teams coaches, that's what we do. We're touching every single player on the team from the left guard on the field goal unit to the left guard on the punt team. So we evaluate everything. Yeah, absolutely, blessing in my life that started, and that was a foundational piece for how to work through looking at talent. So things like that."
You mentioned all the different people, but is it more important (to put) more emphasis on your team, on your group to make plays? With so many different faces on offense and defense.
"That's the nature of the NFL. Every year there's going to be new pieces, new coaches, new schemes, new things. It's our job to work to put those together as quickly as possible, but also at the same time, do the basics right. Do the little things right, and our fundamentals, that's where it's going to start. Want to play with detail in everything we do. The rest should take care of itself, fitting that puzzle together."
What excites you about this group you've been working with the last few weeks?
"It seems like it's a hungry group to learn. The best teams you've been around, they are learning first and they want to learn more and want to improve every day. So if you just have that much, you're going to have a fighter's chance."
Can you talk to us about the long snapper situation with LS Jon Weeks and LS Mitchell Fraboni?
"Sure, that's a great question. Competition everywhere. Competition for me. Every single player on the team is competition, and that's just the mindset and the mentality. That could be for a rookie to a guy who's been in the league for 10 years. That could be for two of the same-age veterans that are both new signings. It doesn't matter. Competition everywhere. You've got to bring it every day and that's what we're about here."
Who are some of the running backs that might stand out on special teams?
"Everybody is improving. If we're going to ask the starting running back to play in a phase, if we're going to ask a running back that is a special teams emphasis player, they're all going to compete and improve, whatever that is for the team. Just like Coach Kelly says, it's all about the team. We're going to do that. Whatever we're asking each player to do, we expect them to do it at the best of their ability and full pedal down on the gas there."
What value does RB Rex Burkhead provide to that system?
"Rex comes from a similar coaching tree. I would just say having experience in that scheme has been really good for him, picking up where he left off and adding in the new stuff here. He's been very experienced, and the detail is impressive."
ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH / DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR LOVIE SMITH
"Good seeing everybody. You know we've had a chance to have a couple of practices right now. Early on in the offseason, you don't get the chance to an awful lot but now I can kind of talk about some of our players and kind of know where we see them fitting in our defense. Very pleased with the instillation. We've had a chance to but in different situations right now. The guys have been coachable, and you want competition as much as anything at training camp to get a chance to see who the players are. It starts up front and we have some guys, quiet a few guys, that we want to see, that we think can contribute. The linebackers have been awesome and the secondary. It's all coming together a little bit, if you could say that after a week of practice. We have a basic philosophy on how we want to play football. Yeah, we want to stop the run, we want to be sound and all those things. They determine the winner by how many points you score and that's one of our goals on defensively to score as often as possible, just like on offense. And if we can't score, it's about taking the ball away. It's not a good defensive game unless you've done more than make a tackle. Takeaways are important and if you've been at practice, you've seen guys buying into that. Again, it's always good to get into pads and I can't wait to see where it goes from here."
You talked about how turnovers are important and last year this team did not have a lot. What do you do to practice that?
"First off I think it's a mindset. You said turnovers right. Offense talks about turnovers, they turn it over. We as a defense, you can't wait for the offense to turn the ball over you have to take it away. So on defense, first off, the philosophy that it's a takeaway. You have to take the way on the defensive side and then you got to practice it. Simple as that. An offensive person when you have completion say ok that's a good catch. For us if they catch it, it's a chance to take the ball away. It goes with that mindset. You just have to keep practicing it, like you practice tackling, like a receiver practice catching the ball. All of those things."
What's it like being an icon, a legend and a trusted veteran all rolled into one when it comes to defense in the NFL?
"I'm sure you guys had a chance to talk to the offensive guys a little bit. If you start playing football early on, defense in general seems to be what football is about. I've had the chance to be around it for a quite a long time and I've seen a lot of good defenses. Nick (Caserio) and David (Culley) have done a great job of bringing in a lot of new guys too that are really hungry. As a defensive coach, you just kind of want guys to take coaching and buy into what we're doing. We're getting on the same page. It's been documented how bad we were last year defensively, but to have a chance to do something about that and to bring our Texans back is pretty important to us right now."
What are the challenges of turning that around?
"Well, challenges, I mean, you start from it all. We played the run well last -- I mean, that's a lot of discipline with that. We've talked about take-aways quite a bit. The good thing about it is you get to start over. It's new blood. None of us, things that happened last year, as a team, that wasn't us. We get a chance to start it over again, and we've seen signs of improvement."
One or two guys stand out for you so far?
"Yeah, and I hate to talk -- what is this, the second day of pads? I'll just say this, I haven't been displeased with anyone. I feel better about the guys that I see eventually making plays. You can point to some of the guys, Justin Reid, Bradley Roby made some. We like some of the depth, Eric Murray back in the secondary have stood out. Linebackers -- you know, this is a linebacker friendly system, and Zach Cunningham is an excellent football player. I'm not telling you anything you don't know. Getting Christian Kirksey here, to have our quarterback on the defensive side, has been big. And then up front, we're going to play multiple guys. We don't just play the starting four. We have great competition there, and you see them making plays throughout."
What have you seen from DL Maliek Collins?
"All of the positions are important, but our three technique, it starts with him. He's the closest guy, pretty much to the center that can really make plays. Maliek Collins can play that. Ross (Blacklock) can also. So, I feel like we have at least a couple guys. D. Walker (DeMarcus) has gotten back there too. So, we have a little bit of depth there. Back to your question on Maliek. He can rush the passer. He's an athlete, which we're looking for. He's been in the system quite a while, pleased with what he's done so far."
What do you see about DL Charles Omenihu, DL Jordan Jenkins, DL Ross Blacklock and DL Whitney Mercilus?
"We see good competition. Omenihu, I've been asked about him a few times. We have a couple of guys that have position flexibility. He's one of them. You see him lining up for us, has a three technique in more passing situations. For second down, six technique. So, we have a few guys with position flexibility that will help on game day. We'll let him go."
What about DL Roy Lopez?
"He's a flash. He's flash is what he's done. He will be playing the nose guard position for us, but he's a nose guard with a little bit of three technique athletic ability because he has a little bit of wiggle to him also, strong, compact. He's done some good things. You need to be bringing young players up through the system. Like what he's done so far."
Everyone in this offseason on pretty much every level of the defense has talked about being able to use their instincts
"I hope that's the case."
How do you coach that, and what's the value of that?
"Well, our defense is based on that first off. We're not going to have a million blitzes and things like that. We want to be able to put guys in position, first off, get good talent, put them in position, let them use those instincts to make plays. Eyes on the ball. But we'll have a multiple package. I was asked a little while ago about the Tampa two. Our defense is not a Tampa two defense. We're going to play a little bit of cover two, but it's so much more. As they talk about instincts, it's about eyes on the ball seeing that's where the take-aways come, and we'll be doing quite a bit of that."
After being everywhere doing so many things, what is it like for you to be back in your home state coaching, working here, being part of the Texans?
"I think everybody can, when you say back home, we can all kind of identify with that a little bit. That part has been great. Everywhere I've been. I've been gone a long period of time, but I was never that far away from Texas. Last time I had a chance to really be on the football team was at Big Sandy High School, which was before most of you were even born, probably, I'm going to say. But it's good to be back and to have a chance to coach our professional team, the Texans, that's pretty special."