Transcripts: 9-20-2021 Press Conferences 

HEAD COACH DAVID CULLEY

Opening Statement

"First of all, let me just start off and just say this before I get asked Deshaun Watson will be deactivated this week, just like he has been for the first two ballgames. As far as Tyrod (Taylor) goes, at this point right now, it's day-to-day. He's getting an MRI, he's been looked at. We'll just see later on this afternoon how it is and what happens, and we'll just take it day today with him. If he's able to go and ready to go, he'll play."

What's your feeling about QB Davis Mills potentially playing against the Panthers?

"He showed exactly what he has shown throughout training camp for us. We know he's always one of those guys that when a bad thing happens, he comes back, he makes a play. He had the INT there and came back the next series and ended up just playing exactly like we thought he would play, it never bothered him at all. And basically, that's what we expect from him, to be able to play that way when the adversity comes. He's had some adversity and he's responded very well to that, and he did a good job of doing that yesterday."

What is the backup quarterback situation if something were to happen to QB Davis Mills?

"Well, we have Jeff Driskel on our practice squad right now, and depending on what will happen as we go later on into the week, if we need to, we'll bring him up."

Who was the emergency quarterback if QB Davis Mills got hurt yesterday?

"We're not really sure. We would've gone to the wildcat, probably, and put Mark (Ingram II) and those guys back there."

Not DB Justin Reid?

"Well, let me tell you something. Justin Reid is our emergency kicker, not our emergency quarterback."

Well, you did tell CBS that you were the emergency quarterback.

"I did, I did, but that was really just a joke. Let me tell you something, if we get back there, call the game if they put me back there. It's over."

If you call up QB Jeff Driskel from the practice squad, would you add another quarterback to the practice squad?

"We haven't sat down and talked about that yet."

How about the two receivers who got hurt yesterday, WR Nico Collins and WR Danny Amendola?

"They're still being evaluated right now. We're not sure if they are going to be available this week. We'll know a little bit more about that – same thing with Tyrod, it's kind of day-to-day right now. I do know that Nico's injury was pretty significant with what he got. Matter of fact, I just saw him walking in a little bit while ago. But we'll just see what happens. We're going to take it day-by-day with those injuries."

You had thought that DB Justin Reid was okay. Is that the same thought on him today, that he'll be alright?

"Yes, he should be fine."

Would you have run the wildcat yesterday with RB Mark Ingram II?

"That might've been what we would have done. I'm not really sure what we would've done at that point, but that's been an option for us."

What did you like that you saw from your team yesterday?

"The coming back from adversity. I thought when we had the fumble that early, they went and they scored. Those things can be psychological, especially early in the game, playing on the road, when that happened, I'm telling you what, we didn't bat an eye. Our offense came back in, Tyrod (Taylor) took us in there and just took us down there, we end up getting a score. The resiliency that they had all game, even in the second half when we were down 10 points. The fact right there is, Davis (Mills) did a heck of a job of being able to put us in a situation to get us back to 24-21, or whatever it was. And then put us in a situation at the end of the game that if we were able to kick the field goal, we probably were going to onside kick and possibly have a chance to win the ballgame at the end."

What do you think of how QB Tyrod Taylor has played this season?

"Excellent. It's obvious that when he went down, it was a blow to us. When we went in at halftime and we looked him over, he says, 'I'm alright.' But I looked at him and I looked at him in his eyes, and it was just his competitiveness saying, 'I'm okay,' but I kind of knew he wasn't okay. But as soon as I realized, I told him, 'Look, we're going with Davis (Mills).' I said, 'This is for the long haul, this is not for the short haul.' So when I went in and told our football team that Davis Mills was going to be our quarterback for the second half, those guys, it was like, let's go play. And they went out and they did that. But to answer your question about Tyrod, to that point, we couldn't have asked any more of what we were doing at that point with him in there."

What do you think you will learn about your team with QB Tyrod Taylor out?

"Well, we talk about the next-man-up mentality, and I know at that quarterback position, it's a little different position than some of the other positions when that happens. Our team has the utmost confidence in Davis (Mills), and they had the utmost confidence in all those guys. We had guys coming on and off the field all yesterday, because it was a very physical game and we knew it was going to be that way. Guys were going back in, guys were coming out, they were going back in. And that's the kind of football team we have, and those guys will play 60 minutes. That's kind of been our mantra of being able to play 60 minutes, and I thought yesterday they did that. They showed that when adversity comes, when things happen that's not good, stay the course they stayed the course and gave us a chance."

Can you talk about how in the second half your defense handled the run?

"Well, I think our defense played well. I think this is what happened in the second half, going back and looking at the video, is that we got the ball in the second half. The first two possessions that we had in the second half, we went three and out. The first one, they got it, they went down and they scored. Okay. Second time, we get the ball again, we throw an INT. They get the ball, they get three points. So they got 10 points off of us going three-and-out, with us having the ball. Momentum completely changed there, and that could've been a tough deal for our football team. But they hung in there. And basically, after it got to that point, we had to have a drive. Davis (Mills) put the drive together there at the very end. We got down there, we missed a field goal that didn't give us a chance to win. But I thought overall, more so of us getting a little tired, was that offensively, we couldn't stay on the field when we first got the ball those two first two possessions.

Have you had time to revisit that decision to decline the penalty?

"If I had to do it over again, I would have taken the penalty. I'll tell you as I thought about it, it was more out of frustration than anything. This is what happen is, we were second and 7. We get a false start, I think it was Tytus (Howard) had a false start. Then we go to second and 12 then very next play we lose three yards on it. So, now we are second and 15. And then we got the penalty, the first thing that went through my mind and I was a little frustrated at the time because I was thinking field position. I did not want to do anything to hurt us. Because Cam (Johnston) as a punter, we had the ball right there at about the 49-yard line. I figured that he has been very, very good at being able to pin them back, and I was thinking that. But again, that was just out of frustration on my part because of the series that we were having at that time. But no, if I had to do that again I would take the penalty. And give our offense a chance to get the first down, which I should have done."

What do you see from the Carolina defense?

"They are playing well. They are 2-0 right now. Obviously, they are 2-0 partly because they have been playing complimentary football. Offensively, defensively, and special teams. And defensively, I think that somebody told me that I don't know if anybody has scored on them in the first half this year. Hopefully we will be the first, but, it's just another opponent on the schedule. They're the next team up. We have a lot of respect for them. And we are just going to play our game."

What about the opportunity to show a national audience what this team is all about?

"I think you are going to see the same football team that you have seen for the first two games. Hopefully we just eliminate the two turnovers. And if we eliminate those turnovers, then it's a completely different Texan football team."

What about some of the injuries with DL Roy Lopez, DL Charles Omenihu and OL Laremy Tunsil, will those guys be available?

"They are available. They just got some knicks. It was a physical game. It was one of those games were that's what happens. It's a tough game, and those guys will be available."

DB Terrance Mitchell did not come back in but was not ruled out, will he be available?

"Terrance is in concussion protocol. That is the reason he did not come back in." 

Can you talk about the job that the offensive line did, especially early against Cleveland's defensive ends?

"One thing that helped us was going into the game, they knew we were going to run the football. Basically, having to be able to defend that kind of slowed those guys down again. As a matter a fact, our offensive line did such a good job that they had one sack. And the one sack that they end up having during the course of the ball game came on a blitz at the end with Davis (Mills) in there. It was just a hot deal where we can't block that guy and he wasn't able to get the ball out. But other than that, they did an excellent job. They did the same thing in the first ball game and they are doing an excellent job in doing that. I am very happy with we're we are with those guys."

What is it about the personnel that makes you guys like to run the ball so much?

"Well it's not so much about the personnel as it is that there is softness up in there. Obviously, Justin (Britt) is a guy we like going behind. Basically, what Tim (Kelly) and those guys do is they take to where we need to be able to take it. Of course, Mark (Ingram) is an excellent tackle-to-tackle runner, and he does a great job at doing that. And when he is in there, you usually see some runs that usually look like they should be going to the outside or should be going outside. And when he sees something because of his vision, he ends up taking it up inside and getting us some good yardage there."

WR Brandin Cooks had 14 targets yesterday. If QB Davis Mills does play, how valuable is it for Cooks to be out there?

"He's been Mr. Consistent for us. He's our guy out there that we know you can trust. As a matter of fact, on that last touchdown he came and told Timmy (Kelly) 'Look, this play right here I know will work. Just get it to me. Tell Davis (Mills) exactly what we are going to do and what to do and we will get it.' And they actually did it, and that's the trust they have in him."

Thoughts on DB Justin Reid and how he has played so far?

"Well I'll tell you what, it's been really really good. And I told him, I say this to him all the time in practice, 'Look, I don't mind you being a ball hawk, as long as you are being a ball hawk in the frame work of the defense,' which means it's ok to go get that ball as long as no balls are going over the top of you. And right now, he hasn't had any balls go over the top of him, but people are starting to see that he can get a nosey in there sometimes when he sees things, because he has good football instincts. But he's done a good job of playing what our scheme has allowed us to play and he's been able to make some plays whether is getting interceptions or creating fumbles. That's the kind of football player he is."

Did QB Tyrod Taylor get hurt on the touchdown or did something happen before that?

"I think there was a little tweak on the touchdown. Something happened on the touchdown. It wasn't to the point where he felt that he couldn't go. But yes, and I am sure everybody that saw on the sideline, you kind of saw when he went over there, he kind of felt something there. Something could have happen then but with the way he is, he never said anything to anybody. But he knew something was wrong."

DL MALIEK COLLINS

What challenges do you face against a running back like Christian McCaffrey?

"We went against two dynamic backs last week, too. The goal is to stop the run, that's the No. 1 goal."

How do you feel you all have been doing that, as far as stopping the run, as well as the pass rush?

"We can always improve, especially from yesterday, when it comes to stopping the run. When you don't stop the run, you don't get many pass rush opportunities, so that's something we have to work on going forward."

What are the challenges of a short week like this?

"I think a short week, and then coming off a loss too, you've just kind of got to put that behind you and just work on what you need to improve and be better next time when we step out on the field."

Carolina is another team with a lot of pre-snap movement. How does that affect how you approach things on the line?

"We just play the defense's call. We line up and just play whatever's called."

When your rookie quarterback comes in and your starter goes out, does the defense react at all in a way of taking more ownership?

"For sure, but I feel like when one person goes down, the next man comes up and it's their job to hold it down."

Do you think your team losing a lot of defensive players played a part in them being able to run the ball more effectively in the second half?

"Same thing on the question before, when one man goes down, the next person's got to step up and do their job."

How do you feel about your own performance from these first two weeks?

"The goal is just to get better each week individually and be what I need to be for this team to be successful."

Can you talk about the turnover that you all caused yesterday?

"Yeah, J. (Justin) Reid, he went and got them."

What was it like getting DL Roy Lopez ready for the moment to play well?

"Roy comes to work every day. He approached the game the right way, and I feel like he was ready for his opportunity."

What have you seen from DB Justin Reid as a playmaker?

"He's a great leader. Obviously, he's going to get the ball, and he's off to a great start."

What changed when the Browns started to succeed at running the ball?

"I put that just on us. We've got to go out there and do a better job of tackling and finishing on the run."

On a short week, how are you able to put yesterday's game behind you and get ready for Thursday?

"I mean, you've got to. That's the league. You play on Sunday and you've got another one coming up on Thursday. Every team in the league goes through a short week at some point, so it's important for us to just put that behind us after we finish the film and stuff today, make our corrections and it's Carolina now."

After two games, you guys have been rotating defensive linemen. How fresh do you feel as opposed to other years?

"I've always been in a rotation on defense like this. I mean, it is what it is. You're going to always feel a little beat up from games anyway."

WR BRANDIN COOKS

What do you think about QB Davis Mills as a rookie stepping in and how he played?

"In my opinion, I think he did a great job. Obviously, when you get you put in a situation like that, one of the things you want to show is toughness. You know he took a couple to the face and bounced right back up and when you see that from a rookie, you got a lot of respect for him. Obviously, we got some things to clean up all of us but from that standpoint he definitely showed that he can handle hits in the pocket like that."

QB Davis Mills told us yesterday that the game plan didn't change to much when he went in. How much is he able to do things that QB Tyrod Taylor?

"Obviously, that's why we have practice. Like he said, we didn't have to change up a lot of things because his command on the offense. He has that, he knows what's going on. I think TK (Tim Kelly) is comfortable to keep doing what we've been doing."

If QB Davis Mills has to play, do you expect him to be more comfortable than he was just being thrown in and not having those first team reps?

"Absolutely. I think from that standpoint because you know what you're going in with. Throughout the week, you can have those types of meetings, those conversations and guys getting on the same page. I think TK (Tim Kelly) will be totally fine."

How disappointed were you guys personally for QB Tyrod Taylor?

"You feel for your guys. A bunch of our guys that went down, but especially T (Tyrod). Everything that he puts into this game and to see him go down like that, it's crushing. But knowing him, he's built for it, he'll find is way back and I bet you he's grinding right now to come back as quick as he can."

When you found out that QB Davis Mills was coming into the game, did you pull him to the side and speak to him?

"Not really. It was one of those things, you just go with the flow. In my opinion, when you over do it like that, you start talking, you get in his head. So, I was just letting him be him, let him know that we got him, and I think that's what we all did."

When did you suggest that touchdown play to Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly?

"Right after we didn't get that touchdown after the run play."

RB Phillip Lindsay said that having a lot of veterans in this locker room will help with the quarterback situation. Do you agree?

"Absolutely. I think he has a great point, having a bunch of vets just to be able to be behind him, that he can trust and lean on. Really any guy on any position. You talk about the O-line, bunch of vets. Receiver room, running back room. I think that helps and goes a long way."

Where did that play come from in your mind?

"Oh, that was TK (Tim Kelly). That was all TK. I just had to remind him that we had that play in there."

You rank third in target share among all players in the league right now, how does that feel kind of taking on that high volume?

"Built for it, but at the same time just continue to play my role and doing my job the best way I can and when my number is called, I just try to be there. And that's all I can do."

Can you talk about what you are seeing from Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly this year?

"Like I said before, I just see the confidence and just the flow. He has a great grasp of the flow of the game, a lot quicker making personnel calls, or calls in general. You can just see he's that much quicker, and you love to see it.

What does it say about QB Tyrod Taylor that he wanted to come back in the game after getting hurt?

"That's who he is. If it ain't broke all the way, this guy is going to try to find a way to be out there, and that's why you respect him. Like I said, he's built for it, and to be able to show that toughness for his team and his leadership, you respect that from your quarterback for sure."

Is it any more special for you guys to be able to change the narrative on national television and show a lot of folks what you all are about?

"To us, it's another game. As far as what time we play, that's up to the TV schedule. But we've just got to continue to be who we are, focus on ourselves and do our job the best that we can, and tune out all that other noise."

What's the most important thing that you guys will have to do on Thursday to win?

"I think just playing complementary football, and just doing it for four quarters, not just sporadically. Offense, defense, special teams, just doing those things together. When the defense gets a turnover, try to capitalize, et cetera. So I think just playing complementary football."

Where have you seen QB Davis Mills grow since the time he has gotten here?

"I'll have to say just his command, as well. The times that he does get in there and practice, he has a command of the offense and the huddle. A lot more vocal, a lot more confident in that aspect. And just not being quiet, but steps up and talks when he needs to. So when you see that from a young guy and see that build every single day from spring camp until now, that's been huge."

A lot of your teammates have described Head Coach David Culley as consistent. How do you see that consistency?

"The energy that he brings every single day, you're exactly right. Consistency is a great word, because he's never down, he's always got energy and he's going to bring it every single day, and that's what you love from your head coach."

What does that energy do for your team when you lose QB Tyrod Taylor at halftime?

"Really, it just tells the team that we've got to be consistent as well. 'Next-man-up' type mentality. We work for it, we build for it, and to see the confidence in your head coach I think trickles down to the team, as well."

Can you talk about the way the offensive line protected the quarterback?

"That's been huge. We've said it all camp, we've got a physical group upfront. It's easier said than when you go out there and do it against some elite rushers, week in and week out, that's been huge. Our offensive line, like I've said before and I'll say it again, those guys are some dogs, and I'm glad they're protecting our quarterback for sure."

RB PHILLIP LINDSAY

What did you see from QB Davis Mills when he played in the second half, and do you think he'll be a little more comfortable this week if he has to play?

"Yeah, I think you guys all see how it is to be a rookie quarterback that has to get thrown into the fire right away in a hostile environment. But as he got more comfortable as things went on, he looked sharp, he looked good, and that's what it is. Being in Denver, we had different quarterbacks all the time, and young ones, and that's just how it goes. You've got to get your feet wet and you've got to get used to it, and Davis wasn't the one taking all the reps at the beginning of the week. So I'm excited to see what he does as time goes on. He'll get better as time goes on, so that's how it goes when you have a young quarterback."

What do you and your teammates think about the opportunity to go on national television and show the country what this team is all about?

"This is our job. For us, we go out there and we just play football. I don't look at it as like, 'Oh, go out there, we're on national TV in front of the whole entire world.' I think that's how we are every week, and so for us, it's more so continuing to stick together. Put good things out there and you'll execute, and the little things that are holding us back, we've got to clean up. And I think that we do that, we're going to put ourselves in a great position to win a lot of football games."

In the first half with QB Tyrod Taylor, you guys were using the running backs to set up screens. How effective was that, and can you all continue that if QB Tyrod Taylor isn't available?

"You guys see how it is when you can get going, and we can get in a groove and we can set things up, good things happen. Tyrod has done a great job of doing that. And yeah, as long as we can stay ahead of the chains and stay in our game plan, good things will continue to happen no matter who's there at quarterback. It all comes down to all of us. There's 10 other players on the field that has to do their job, and if everybody does their job, things will go our way, and that's what it comes down to. Not just the quarterbacks."

What do you think this team will learn from playing without QB Tyrod Taylor?

"You have to understand, this team is an older team, so we've been in the league for a while. There's a lot of players that have been in the league for a while, and it's about being even keeled. When you're doing well and you're winning, you've got to stay the same. When you're losing sometimes, you've got to stay the same. I think that for this team, it's just about being ourselves and going out there every day and executing what we do, and play Texans football. And I think if we do that, we'll be okay."

How has the leadership from Head Coach David Culley helped you guys keep that mindset?

"He knows what he wants from us, and we know what to expect, and that's go out there and play football. Play Texans football and hold each other accountable, and I think we do a good job of that. Coach Culley does a great job of holding us accountable, and we want to win for him. And we're going to continue to do what we have to do, clean up little things, so that we can do that."

Head Coach David Culley said that QB Tyrod Taylor wanted to come back into the game after he was injured. What does that say to you about his leadership in the locker room?

"Tyrod is a competitor. He wants to be out there, he wants to do what he can to help this team win, and for him to put his body on the line when he's not feeling at 100 percent, that just shows the kind of grit that man has. You guys will probably be seeing him sooner than you guys think because of that mentality he brings, and the smoothness and the calmness. But he really wants to win. He really wants to be out there for us, and we want to do the same thing for him and the rest of our teammates. We have each other's backs, and that's what we're all about."

Can you talk about Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly, the kind of game that he calls and the adjustments he's been making?

"It's my first year with TK, but I think you guys are seeing a more confident man that knows what he wants to do. For us, it's about executing and trusting what he has planned for us, and trust the process. It's about staying ahead of the chains, and if we can do that, it's easier for Coach Kelly to do what he wants to do and get us all involved and make explosive plays. So we've got to just go back to the drawing board, and we've got to stay ahead of the chains and do what we do best."

What have you heard about the Panthers defense and what is your guys' readiness to take them on?

"They're going to be physical, they're going to be aggressive. Like you said, they jumped off on a fast start, so they want to continue that. For them, it's like, what better way to do that than a quick turnaround? And for us, it's like, what better way for us to get back on track with a quick turnaround? So we've got to jump into more film on them and stuff for that for me to express more, but they are. They're aggressive and they're hungry, they want to win. This is the NFL, wins are hard to get, so you try to take advantage of that. And we've got to try to take advantage of this short week and get a win."

When you change from the starter to the backup quarterback, does that change the running back role?

"Yeah, I don't think it changed more so the mindset of us, it's more that we just have to key in on who we have, our protections, doing the little things right, that sometimes you can get away with when you have a veteran quarterback. But nothing really changes. If we do our job and everybody executes their part, then it's going to keep him calm and he can do his part and his job. So we just need to do our job. We need to do a better job of making sure we stay ahead of the chains and just protect him and let him get his reads. And if we do that, we'll be in good shape."

How did you guys feel in the moment of scoring after losing some key players to injury, and what does that say about the depth of your team?

"That's exactly it. That's why depth is so important. That's why everybody plays a vital role in their position. It doesn't matter if you're on practice squad, you're on second team, you have to be ready at all times. And the team that has the great depth and doesn't have a fall-off on the next person up, is going to be the teams that are successful later on in the year. For us, it's just about understanding and knowing that you've got to trust the next person up. The person that's so-called 'on your practice squad,' has to be ready at any time, and thrown in that position so that we can continue to roll. I think we do have great, great depth, and players that are willing to do what it takes to win games. I'm excited to see some of these players that are probably going to have to fit in some roles here soon. We're going to see how it goes."

What do you think about DB Justin Reid's tweet?

"I think that Justin is a fiery, fiery person. He wants to win. He understands what we have in this team and he understands what it takes to win. And that's the NFL in general, you've got to stay healthy. For us, it's just the luck of the draw, you've just got to continue to roll with it, just keep battling. We have a great team, you guys see that. You guys see that we have a team that if we can stay healthy and stuff, we will put great drives together and we'll score some points. Now we've just got to stay consistent with it, and I think that's over time."

What did you like about your touchdown play?

"I liked that it was a great setup play. I think that we did our job. I liked that the things we're doing in practice are showing up in games. How things are going in practice with the play calling and stuff and the execution is showing up when we do the right things. When we stay ahead of the chains, like I've said, and we stay level-headed, good things happen. And good things will continue to happen as long as we continue to buy in and we trust the process."

Some people have described Head Coach David Culley as consistent. Do you see that?

"Whether we're winning or losing, he's going to stay the same person. He's going to stay true to what he does. He cares about us and he cares about us as individuals, and I think that that's what you guys see. You see a coach that's been around for a very long time that's seen a lot of football. But he also cares about his players and his coaching staff, and it shows every game, every practice. You can just go up and talk to Coach any time and feel like a human being, not just like a coach. He understands where we're at and where we're coming from, and we want to win a lot for him, because he does a lot for us."

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