WR DANNY AMENDOLA
What's this like for you to play football in Houston after you grew up here?
"I'm blessed. Spent a lot of time playing here in Texas growing up. Pop Warner. High School ball. College ball. I am the son of a Texas high school football coach, so Texas football is definitely in my blood."
Did you get a chance to reconnect with anybody yet?
"Not so much time. I have been down here for a few days. Mostly in the building. Just trying to get acclimated with the staff here, the players, the locker room and that's it really."
What do you think that you bring to this team and especially the wide receiver locker room?
"Whatever I can do to help this team win, is why I am here. Whether it's knowledge of what I have been through over the years, being in this league and playing in this league. Whatever I can do to help this team win, that's why I am here."
Do you live here during the off season as well?
"I live in Austin. I got family here. My dad lives here. I got a lot of friends here. I'm from the Woodlands. A lot of my friends and family are here. Just excited to be back home. Excited to be here."
What has your offseason been?
"Just staying ready. Staying active. Training a lot. I got a great group of trainers in Austin. Great group of guys in Austin that I have been training with over the past five, six months. My body feels great. Wish I could have had a little time in Training Camp. But these past three days have been great. To get out, run around, getting my body acclimated to football again. Put the pads on and run around and try to make plays."
What was it like waiting for an opportunity?
"I just could only worry about what I could control. Had some talks with some teams. I wanted to make sure stayed ready and stayed in good shape. I ran routes. I trained with a number of quarterbacks in Austin. Colt McCoy and Baker Mayfield live in my neighborhood. So, we always have places to go and work to be done. Just try to maintain shape and stay ready and if an opportunity came, I would be ready for it."
Who do you train with to keep your body in shape?
"I train with a group at Ladder. It's a private gym in Austin. It's an app you can download on your phone. A lot of tech guys out of Boston that moved to Austin. It's a great app. But they have a private gym there, have a couple of trainers there that are good friends of mine. Really good trainers, good stuff. I stayed in great shape over the summer and I feel great."
As you have gotten later in your career, what are some things you have done to maintain your body?
"I just maintained leg strength. Keep pressure off your knees. Stay young. Try to feel as good as possible, try to feel as strong as possible from the waist down. And that has really kind of progress my career the past four, five years. I've been sticking to that model. It was no different of an off season than really any other off season. Just extended with no Training Camp."
Does this feel like old times with having GM Nick Caserio throwing you passes and being teammates with WR Brandin Cooks?
"Absolutely. A lot of familiar faces in the building. Coach (Robert) Prince, Nick Caserio, Guys I have been around for a long time. Played with Cookie (Brandin Cooks) for a year. Great player. Tyrod (Taylor), a guy I have been watching and playing against for a long time. We finally got to link up and play on the same team so I am excited about that. Lot of respect for a lot of guys in this locker room. We got a lot of good players, a lot of good athletes. This team is hungry and I could tell that when I walked win the locker room the other day, how hungry this team is to win. And I am excited to strap it up on Sunday."
What are your impressions of Head Coach David Culley?
"Coach Culley is awesome. I have known Coach Culley for 13 years. I played for Coach Culley in Philadelphia for a short time and got to know him. He's a guy I stayed in contact with my whole career. And got to see him be a part of really successful football teams. He's a great football coach. Everybody loves him."
What have you picked up from Head Coach David Culley?
"He's an old school receivers coach. He used to coach us at receivers. So, he knows our position in particular. He can coach the details. He's just a ball coach and that's ultimately what you want."
What did you think when he got hired for this job?
"I'm excited for him. He's been a friend of mine for a long time. I have the utmost respect for him and everything he has done for his players over the years. He has coached some great players. Sent a lot of guys to Pro Bowls. He's done some great things."
How much does your leadership and experience factor into what the Texans are going through right now?
"It's just one week at a time. You can't really overlook anybody. You can't look to far ahead. You got to learn from your mistakes. You have to get over them and on to the next play. One week at a time for us. Anything can happen in this league. I know that. We just have to put our nose to the grindstone so to speak, get working. Try to develop comradery, try to develop chemistry. Just keep grinding. It's one week at a time for us and anything can truly happen."
What's it like to be waiting for a chance at this point in your career and is this the latest you have started with a team?
"It is. I was on the street for six, seven months. That's the longest I have been on the street for a while. Very grateful for this opportunity. You get a different perspective when you are not on a team. I am very grateful for the opportunity. Very excited to be here, run around, play football. It's truly a gift and it's special to be here, especially at home."
What are some of your top memories from being in Houston growing up?
"I played right after September 11th happened. I played a high school football game, I think I was a sophomore, in the Astro Dome, Duncanville. It was a very special day, very special national anthem that day. Meant a lot to us. Obviously, the world has changed since then. I won a Super Bowl in this building. I played a lot of preseason games here. Played a lot of regular season games here. Been to a lot of rodeos here. So, I've been in this building a lot. A little bit perspective being on the home team's sideline which I am really excited about being in our locker room, which is awesome. I'm excited for this week to come, this Sunday to come and ready to go."
How easy or challenging has it been picking up this offense and how much of it do you think you got right now?
"This offense stems from a lot of the stuff we used to do in New England. I recognize most of the formations. Some of the verbiage is different with the coaches. They are changing some of the play calls so they can acclimate to some of the guys here. I'm picking up on that, taking notes, trying to learn it. I've been in the books 24/7 since I got here. Just trying to develop a role. Trying to expand my role on this team. Do whatever I can to help this team win. But pretty familiar with this offense. Pretty familiar with the role I will be playing. It's something I've done for a while. It all kind of really makes sense to me this offense. I love this offense. I love the style of this offense. A lot of freedom within the routes. A lot of freedom within the play style. It gives smarter players an edge to read defense and find zones, beat man coverage. I am lucky to be here. Blessed to be here."
Did you get a chance to watch your old teammate last night?
"Of Course, of course. I mean, everybody is excited to see the opening game of the season. Everybody was flying around last night. It was some good football last night. They were playing hard, you could tell. I passed out and was tired in the third quarter. But I kept the game on late and saw the ending. It was a fun game to watch. The NFL is a great league and it's back."
TE PHARAOH BROWN
When you think about the opening game, how do you feel comfortable in this offense the way you all are going against the Jags?
"I'm excited about the opening game. We've got fans there. Last year when I was here, we didn't have any fans, so just to feel that energy Sunday, I'm looking forward to that. Pretty sure it'll be a packed house. It's always good to start off in the division. That's our way to getting where we want to be at the end of the year, so I'm very excited."
Head Coach David Culley's talked about how you and the tight ends have adopted a fullback style into your game. How have you been able to do that within the offense, and how comfortable do you feel?
"I feel comfortable doing anything. I play football, football player, so whatever Culley asks, whatever the offense asks, I've been in plenty of offenses. I just do my job."
You Tweeted that this is the first time you've made the initial 53-man roster. Did it feel weird going into that day with cuts knowing that you were probably secure?
"It's a business, you never know what can happen. I wasn't nervous. I'm always just controlling what I can control. But you've got to just take those little victories and be grateful. I always said, you'll miss a lot of stuff on the journey if you're not paying attention to those small things, and that's what makes the journey worth it. That's what makes the process worth it. So I've always trusted my process, and that was just showing gratitude and just being thankful for what I've been through. Just like those small wins, you've got to keep that positivity."
Having established yourself last year, what do you expect from yourself from an individual standpoint this year?
"I wouldn't say I'm established just yet. I'm still working every day. This year, I've been named the starter, so obviously I'll be playing a lot more. Just taking advantage and doing one play at a time when I'm out there. Just one play at a time and just playing a game. I love it. I just look forward to playing my game. I don't really think about, 'Oh, I've got to go out there and do something.' I just go out there and be Pharaoh, and that'll be enough."
How did they communicate that you'll be a starter, and what does that mean to you?
"That means I'll be on the field and not on the bench."
Is there anything different from your time in Cleveland with QB Tyrod Taylor than now?
"The difference was that we (weren't) playing when there (were) real bullets. We were both on practice squad and really just giving looks to the defense. Now we're out there and we're running the show, so it's all on us. I think that's the biggest difference, that instead of getting the defense ready, we're actually the show that people is coming to see."
How much does your mentality and approach to football fit into what the team is trying to do in the run game, as far as being physical?
"We want to be physical in all aspects of the game. Mental toughness, physical toughness, I think all of our guys bring that to the table. In the run game, we have a great offensive line, some great guys that play a lot of great football in their past years. Obviously, the majority of them are new, but I think we mesh very well. We have some dogs on the front line. We've got some great backs: Mark Ingram II, Phillip Lindsay, David Johnson, Scottie (Phillips), so I think the way that they want to do it, we have the tools to be able to do it and bring it. I know that's something the Texans haven't had in the past. So it's a new Texans way of football here, and I'm excited to be able to be a part of it and be able to show it on this coming Sunday."
Who were some of the players that you looked up to when you were coming up?
"Players? I don't really look up to too many players. I don't really compare myself, not because I'm like arrogant or anything, but to me, when you compare yourself, that's like the death of joy. I'm good at my own way, so I never really looked up to players. I just always did me and worked on my game and took joy into what I do good, so I really didn't look up to a lot of people. I just study the game, a student of the game, and I look at more defensive players than offense players, because that's who I'm going against, honestly."
With the injury you've overcome, do you have to do a lot of extra preparations? What are some of the things you do to try to maintain your body?
"I do a bunch of stuff. A lot of manual hand work, therapy, yoga, meditation, needles. I mean, I do it all. The game is about being available and that's the biggest part of this game, is who's available. You see a lot of people around that's getting hurt here or there, so I just always take care of my body. It's bigger than football, you want to be able to be there for – I have two sons, so you want to be able to be there once we retire to move around and run around with them. My wife is always on me to take care of my body and stuff, so it's a group effort, group support to take care of myself."
Does your oldest son know much about football at this point? How old is he now?
"He's going on two, and he actually – last Tampa Bay game – he actually watched a game for the first time. So he knows, and once he sees me this week – they were late last week – so once he sees me warming up, I'll go up to him. He (doesn't) like really know, but we watched the game last night together, so he knows. He's interested."
What was Head Coach David Culley's message to the team this week?
"David Culley gives a lot of good messages. But really just going out there and taking it one game at a time, and being physical and just doing what we do. We want to go out there, we want to hit them, we want to be the hammer, we want to impose our will on them, and that was the message that I took."
You said Head Coach David Culley has a lot of messages. How would you describe them?
"Man, David Culley, he's like a – you've probably never been to a barber shop. But he's like the older guy in the barber shop that's got so much wisdom, or like at a barbecue, he's just always sitting there talking. But he might get lost in his thoughts, but if you really pay attention, he just has a lot of wisdom. I go up and talk to him all the time just about anything, because he's been through so much, (not) just in football, but in the world in general. His first coaching gig, I asked him yesterday, was like 1978. You can just think about all the stuff going on from when he was a child in the 60s and 70s. People weren't up here during the time, so he's lived that and seen how far we've come as a community, and it's just interesting."
QB Tyrod Taylor said earlier in the week, 'I'm looking forward to throwing the Pharaoh Brown. What are you looking forward to playing with QB Tyrod Taylor?
"Tyrod's a playmaker. I mean, he's been around this league a long time. He's led teams to the playoffs, and I'm just excited that he said he's going to throw the ball to me. I haven't gotten a lot of balls in my past, so I'm just happy that he said that. I didn't see that."
You've talked about how Training Camp is a good opportunity to be on the field in this offense. What do you feel like suits you best in this offense?
"I'm good with anything. I play football, so in simplicity, if you look at football, you put 11 guys out there and you want them to do a job. I want to be out there, one of those 11 players, every down. So whatever I've got to do, I'll do. Fullback, anything. It really doesn't matter; my mindset is to go out there and win. Whatever I do, I don't have an excuse, so I'm just trying to go out there and win. That's the mindset that I take and that's what I do. My first reps – I started playing fullback and I didn't take a rep. My first rep was with the Browns, and my first rep was an in-game rep, coming down hill at 6'7". I want to be on the field, so I want to be on the field. I work my butt off and I'm good at football. Anything they ask, I can do: special teams, anything. I'm just excited to be out there and play the game that I love."
Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly said football just seems to make sense to you. When did you realize football made sense to you?
"It always has. I think the journey coming from a lot of teams, I've been in the league five years, I haven't had the same coach back-to-back years yet. So those are new systems every time, even from college. I think just learning the game, just being the student of the game, learning these offenses, learning how to attack, learning defenses, watching film. I watch football. So it's just studying. You're good at your job because I'm pretty sure you put the hours in. That's really just what it boils down to. I just put in the hours and put in the work. I've always been an intelligent kid even growing up, so that was never a problem. I think it was just putting in those hours. You see these coaches, they're up here putting in hours too, trying to see what the defense is going to do. So when I'm out there, it's like the game is just kind of slower for me and I'm seeing stuff happening. I'm able to see the big picture of what's trying to get done."
How do you and your teammates block out all the outside noise and just prepare for the game?
"I can't speak to how they block it out. Everybody has their own thing. Some people may like to read it for motivation. I see it sometimes when I'm trying to get my news from people, but at the end of the day, (those are) all predictions. No matter what somebody says, that's their opinion. We're in America, everybody's got their opinions. But I look at it as just their opinion. But your opinion doesn't have any effect on me. I know a lot of people say, 'Oh, they're going to come in last place. Oh, they're going to do this. Oh, they're not going to win a game. Oh, they're tanking the season.' I'm a player, I play. We play. As a leader on this team, the 11 people that are going to be out there, we're going to play, period. If they don't play, you'll see me on the sideline fighting them all. When we go on the sideline and they give us a play, we are going out there to win. We're going out there to win, we're going out there to put it on the line. So as long as we do that, I'm happy. I'll be right here smiling no matter the result, because I know that my guys went out there, we went to war, we put 100 percent on the field. That's all I ask for, man. Whatever happens off the field—I used to like watching that stuff because that's like motivation. I used to keep a tab on everybody, I might Tweet them back like, 'Hey, what was that you were saying? You've got a chance to get back on the bandwagon, you know what I mean?' So, hey, that's what we like about sports, and that's everybody's opinion, and that's why we like media. That's why we like social media. That's one of the good things about it."
OL MAX SCHARPING
What have you found out about Head Coach David Culley?
"He's a great guy. I think he is a great coach. He's been in the league a long time. He knows what he is talking about. I think just having him here as a head coach, you can tell he cares about his players and that's good for us."
How would you assess how you have grown as a player this off season?
"I think everyone of us tries to get better every single day we are out there. So, if other people see that then I guess I am accomplishing something of what I am trying to do. As an offensive lineman, its about working with the other four guys that are playing along side with me. Just trying to get, especially with all the new guys coming in on the whole team and on the offense and offensive line, just getting used to working with those new guys. Building a relationship with them, how they communicate. And just moving forward."
What have you noticed about working with OL Marcus Cannon?
"I think you just notice immediately how intelligent he is. He's been in the league a really long time and it shows. He picks up on a lot of stuff. That helps when you are playing next to someone who has been there and seen it all. He has experience in the highest level and the highest games. When you are playing along side someone who has been there it really helps to focus you on maybe what you should be focusing on. Things you can tell about a defense or what he is thinking on a certain block, a double team. All that stuff."
When OL Marcus Cannon wasn't practicing, was there things you were doing to develop that baseline of communication and understanding?
"Every time we are all in the meeting rooms. Everyone is in the meeting rooms during camp and throughout the preseason. Whenever we are in there, it's a full room discussion. No one's voice is louder than another's. We are talking back and forth and have a discussion. If someone has a question, you are talking to them. If he comes over during practice at some point. I remember once specifically we were in a one on one against the d-line one of the practices. We were doing games and he came over to me and was like how are you setting on this. This is what I think I would do. If you do this, then I would be here. We have had opportunities to talk and build that relationship together."
How is OL Laremy Tunsil doing?
"LT is LT. He is always going to be smooth. He's doing very well. I think his son is in town, so, I think he is getting some family time."
Do you ever find yourself overthinking football?
"Of course. I am still working through that. That's a constant battle. Trying not to out do myself and over think something where sometimes football is a simple game. You got to block the guy in front of you sometimes, that's all you need to think about. I definitely think that happens every once and a while and just get out of my own head sometimes."
Where does that come into play?
"I think that just sometimes randomly throughout the game you will be thinking about something that happened previously. Or maybe they are going to do this when you are not focusing on what is right in front of you,what the defense is telling you. Sometimes you just got an over active mind going."
How have the offensive line handled the injuries and moving around on the line?
"That's the nature of the o-line. We are one of the positions where you never know what position you are going to have to play, who is going to be out there with you that week. Sometimes a shoe lace could happen and someone else could be in there that you haven't played with throughout the week because you weren't anticipating it. But we rotate in through practice at different positions. Everyone is moving along the line so that we're all is prepared, and we are all ready for situations that come up during the game or throughout the week. It's really props to Coach (James) Campen for doing that. Helping us in practices, get reps with guys. If it's a possibility that it could happen we are getting a few reps with them throughout the week."
What has your relationship been like with OL Justin Britt?
"JB's awesome. I mean, I think when you get a guy who's come in – again, his rookie year he played right tackle in the super bowl, and then he moved into center. So he's played almost every position on the O-line, so he gets every single position, what their job is, how hard their job is, what's different from his. So his communication and his leadership in the room has been fantastic."
Aside from one being on the left side and one being on the right side, are there any other subtle differences between left guard and right guard?
"Nah, I mean, it's really just you're in a different stance, so your feet are a little bit different, so you've got to flip the plays in your head. Other than that, it's pretty much the same offense. We run every play both ways, that's pretty much the way it is. You're going to know the plays both sides. It's just flipping your feet and making sure mentally you're on the correct side of the ball sometimes."
There's a lot of uncertainty for the future of this team. Do you find yourself overthinking that?
"Nah, right now we're just focused on the Jaguars. We're two days away from gameday, we're all excited about that. So right now we're focused on them and getting prepared for Sunday."
What's it been like establishing relationships and learning the tendencies of all the new running backs as well as QB Tyrod Taylor?
"I think I'll go running backs first. All of those guys, you've seen it in practice, they're explosive, they're ready to run the ball. They want to run the ball, and that's what we want as an offensive line. You want guys that are going to hit the hole hard, they're going to run for you, and for us, that's all you want. You want someone to lower their pads and get downhill, and we're going to get behind them and push them for an extra couple yards every time we can. That relationship, it's always a special relationship between offensive line and running back and quarterback. Those are the guys that we're there to protect through thick and thin. We have their back, they're going to have our backs by going in and scoring some touchdowns and racking up those yards. Tyrod, I think a couple people have said it, Tyrod's just smooth. He's a natural athlete, he's a great leader. When he's in that huddle, he's the one in charge. You get that mindset right off the bat. He knows what he's doing, he's been in the league for a long time. He comes up to everybody, he has a great relationship with every single person that gets in the huddle with him, and he's really a great guy to have leading your offense."