OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR TIM KELLY
What all can you do with QB Davis Mills now that he has a full game under his belt?
"I think being able to go out there, and he's proven he can go out and handle the operation and make good decisions and protect the football. Being able to go out there and continuing to find ways to score points is what we're going to try to do."
How much can WR Brandin Cooks help a young quarterback?
"A lot. Obviously, Brandin (Cooks) has done a great job the first three games here with his production. And really, that goes to how he prepares and how he practices each and every day. He's out there running hard, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, doing a good job of building that trust with the quarterback, so the quarterback knows exactly where he's going to be, what he's going to do. There's never any doubt with that. When you have that type of trust between a quarterback and a wide receiver, it allows them to go out and produce the way that Brandin has over the past three weeks."
How much more responsibility does QB Davis Mills have this week compared to last week?
"Same amount of responsibility."
Can you talk about the Buffalo Bills front seven and how dangerous they are?
"It's a group that's well-coached, that's very disciplined, that's going to play their technique. You've got established players. Jerry Hughes, obviously Ed Oliver's got some juice inside. Star (Lotulelei) is big inside, he's a force when he's playing on first and second town. You look at the puppy out of Miami who's got some speed and the ability to bend the edge. With their defensive line, they've got a wide variety of guys that can come out and affect the game. With their two backers, they'll come off the field, they are good athletes, they run sideline to sideline and they'll make every tackle if you let them. So, we've got to do a great job making sure we're getting up there and covering those guys up, and really including their star (Taron) Johnson in that, too. More so than most that we've played, he's incredibly active in the run game with his ability to come in and fit. It's almost like he's a mini linebacker. They've got a very active front. Like I said, they're very disciplined and they're well-coached and they fly around."
What challenges has OL Tytus Howard seen in the first three games that he may not have seen in the preseason?
"With Tytus (Howard), with the way that he prepared during camp, I felt like he's been as well-prepared as he could've been. Obviously, when you're playing a new position for an extended period of time, each time you get out there it's going to be somewhat of a learning experience. But I felt like Coach (James) Campen has done a great job of getting him prepared for everything that's coming his way."
In the past, the Texans have had trouble scoring in the first half, but now you've been getting off to a fast start. What's been the difference?
"Our guys have done a really, really good job of coming out, understanding the game plan. Really, as simple as it sounds, we've done a better job of executing. As a coaching staff, we've done a better job of putting them in a position to execute. Over the past couple years, going back and looking at it this offseason, because obviously that was a big issue. I think we scored once last year in the opening drive, in Jacksonville. Trying to figure out why that occurred, there's a wide variety of reasons. But we really focused on trying to eliminate the self-inflicted wounds that plagued us in that opening drive in the past couple years. Through three games, our guys have done a good job of that particularly in the first quarter. Not necessarily just the first drive, because obviously last week we wanted to score, same deal against Jacksonville the opening week of the season. Our guys have done a good job being really locked in and focused on the game plan and coming out and executing."
Can you see the game starting to slow down for QB Davis Mills?
"I think every time a rookie quarterback is going to take the field, you're going to see improvement from that standpoint. Especially considering the limited experience he had in college, coming out in training camp, and again, this wasn't a typical offseason either. A lot of times he's getting adjusted to that speed during the spring. With the certain circumstances, he was making those adjustments in August and he's done a good job. Every time he's taken the field, you're seeing gradual improvements there in that area. Hopefully today we can go out there and take another step forward."
What is the challenge of knowing that defenses are going to focus on WR Brandin Cooks?
"It's fun, kind of. It's going to come down to our ability to teach the game plan to him and allow him to be able to kind of embrace it and understand what we're trying to do and what we're trying to get out of him. In my opinion, that's part of the challenge of coaching at this level. Kind of that chess game and having guys that are as smart as Brandin (Cooks) is, that can handle different things along those lines, makes that part of it fun."
How do you see leadership from RB Mark Ingram II on a day-to-day basis?
"The way Mark (Ingram II) comes to work, comes to meetings, comes to practice, he attacks everything as opposed to just kind of being here and getting through. That's contagious, especially when you have a guy who's been doing it as long as Mark has, coming and having that excitement to go out. At practice, we were in full pads yesterday, coming out and doing everything we're asking him to do and attacking it at 100 miles an hour. That type of thing is contagious. And just his personality, the way he kind of gets along with everybody, brings everybody together, it's been great having Mark in the room. Again, hopefully we can continue to kind of grow that culture that he's being a big part of instilling here."
What has kept the run game from being efficient so far?
"A number of reasons. There have been times where we have been out leveraged, and I've got to do a better job of getting us into better plays. There have been times where we've missed blocks, there have been times where we've missed cuts. From every room, every position room, every coach's room upstairs, we all got to do a better job of just making sure we're eliminating those issues from happening.
Will WR Anthony Miller be used more in the game plan now that he is healthy?
"Yeah, Anthony (Miller) has done a good job doing what we're asking him to do. He was able to come out and have some production for us the other night. Again, hopefully he can come out and continue to play well."
SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR FRANK ROSS
Is K Ka'imi Fairbairn back?
"Yes sir. Excited for him. Did a great job while Joey (Slye) was taking the team reps throughout his time the first three weeks of the season rehabbing on the side, taking reps on his own, being a consummate professional and did a great job with that. Excited for him to continue in progress to see if he's ready to go this week."
What are you looking for from K Ka'imi Fairbairn to make you feel comfortable as far as watching in pregame warmups to see what is distance is and could it be shorter with him coming back from injury?
"I don't think you're going to put a player out there that can't perform to the best of his abilities on any phases or role being asked. If he's going to go out there and be our kicker on Sunday, he's going to be ready to kick whatever his range is. If he can kick from 75 out, we'll kick from 75 out. We expect him to be at full capacity if he's out there being our kicker on Sunday."
At what point will you know if he's fully ready to go?
"Just go to continue to progress throughout the entire week. Make sure that coming back off an injury, especially a kicker that same repetitive motion, making sure that its feeling good with no soreness and as you can recover day in and day out. So, toward the end of the week here to answer your question."
Do you think WR Andre Roberts is pressing with two fumbles?
"No, I don't think pressing is the right word. We just have to do a better job as an entire special teams unit, everybody win their matchups across the board. Whether it's a kickoff or a punt return have those guys relative to the punt that comes off the foot have those win when its our opportunity to take it, when it's our opportunity to fair catch, when it's our opportunity to bring it out of the end zone, etc. make those plays count. We've had flashes, we have to be consistent in improving that phase."
What did you see from K Ka'imi Fairbairn yesterday at practice in full pads?
"Good set yesterday. Looked good, felt good after and was able to push through his leg and cut it loose, not hold anything back and again not feeling sore after. Feeling good at this point with him."
What have you seen from Buffalo's kicking game?
"Heath Farwell, coordinator, that guys pumps those guys up. Former player himself. You can see his passion for football. If you take schematics off the board, this guy his high motor, he is tough, he played hard as a player, energetic, never stopping on any individual play and that's how his unit plays. These guys are tough. They fly to the football. They are high energy. You can see the sideline from the all 22 tape, you can see the tape reflects the energy they are coaching with across all phases. They are finishing blocks, they are rushing hard, those guys are flying down on kickoff coverage making an impact tackle, things like that. So, whenever we go up to Buffalo, we better make sure we are matching that enthusiasm, that effort on a play to play basis."
How do you value field position versus possession?
"I think every game there is a strategy involved and every game is going to be played out differently. But you got to look at the flow of the game, you have to look at how they are moving the ball, how we are moving the ball, the conditions outside. If we do go up to Buffalo, notorious city for having inclement weather, if its raining, if its windy, etc. so all those factors are going to come into every decision we make. Whether it's being aggressive or conservative or whatever term you are talking about, we just have to make sure we are in tuned for whatever this situation may be. Of course, all those things can apply at any point and time and yeah when you are going from third down prepping for a fourth down on any side of the ball, any phase, those things are going to come up when we are making those game management decisions."
ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH/DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR LOVIE SMITH
Do you expect to get those three guys back you were missing due to injuries?
"We are hoping. Had a little bit of time. They are getting better. We are different without them. Those are three good football players that we need to help us, we have a whole lot more success with them out there. But they are coming along and hopefully that will be the case."
Can you talk about how LB Joe Thomas played and what you think of him overall?
"I think Joe's did a good job. He's been in the backup position. When we initially brought Joe down here, he's going to compete of course for time which he's done but he's going to have a big special teams role which he's had. Valuable guy to us, did some good things last week."
What have you seen from DL Roy Lopez and his progression as a rookie?
"He's gotten better and better. Coming in as a rookie, you have an idea of what you need to see on the football field. He impressed us early. I thought he would be a good run support player which he has been. He's been a little better pass rusher than I thought as a nose. But he's done everything we've ask him to do. He's getting better and better. He's getting more reps and he will continue to get reps."
What stuck out to you with his pass rushing that surprised you?
"Just that he can pass rush and that's no knock against him. It's just in college he didn't have a lot of sacks and he was more of a run defender in college. And our nose guard is going to get double teaming an awful lot, you don't always think of them as a pass rusher, but it helps the more athletic ability you have."
Having DB Justin Reid back, what does that mean for you as a defense?
"Just in general we gave up some big passes last game. Justin is one of our best defensive players period. He has ball skills. Just having him back in the secondary of course helps everything. Missing him took a big chunk out, but he stayed in the game. Hopefully he will be back out there for long."
How important will tackles be this week especially going up a quarterback as mobile as QB Josh Allen?
"Just talking about them offensively is going to be a challenge for us. Josh Allen is as good a quarterback as there is in our game, in the league playing in the National Football League right now. Three excellent receiver, two good running back, outstanding offensive line. So tackling is critical. It's critical each week. You have to keep those explosive plays to a minimum and that normally says something about how you tackle and whether you get them down, yards after contact. We didn't do as good a job as we need to last year in that area but hopefully that will be the case this week. But we are just pumped up about this game. For me on a personal note, I think there are about six other coaches on their staff that I've either worked with or known all my life, something like that. It's always fun when you get a chance to compete against guys that you consider like a brother a little bit."
What do you need to do against QB Josh Allen that you weren't able to do against QB Sam Darnold?
"I think most of it is that when a quarterback runs you have to have eyes on the ball. We are more of a zone team, which would say we should handle those a lot better. (Sam) Darnold just did a super job of avoiding the rush and making timely plays. He was a better runner than I gave him credit for before going into the football game. Josh Allen won't surprise us. We know what kind of athlete he is, got excellent speed, he's a big target, and he likes to run. Of course, he's a passer but they have designed runs. We are going to see a quarterback draw different times in the game and that's just what we have to prep and be ready for."
How do you feel about the amount of pressure you guys were able to generate with four right now?
"I think the pressures been good. Everything needs to be better. Pressure is a lot about coverage too, making the quarterback hold the ball a little bit. It's about pressure and blitzes and things like that. We haven't been able to do everything we would like to, but I am always going to say that. Just like tackling, the pressure has to be better and it will be better. It definitely can be better and will be better and we will see how it goes this week."
What have you noticed with play recognition from your guys in those zone styles?
"I think everything the guys have done an ok job. We've lost two games. We haven't played our best ball yet so nothing is at the standard we would like for it to be. Play recognition, all of the above that you are talking about, not what it will be but as time goes along it should get better and better. It's a process. We are going through the process and we need to see growth and all those areas this week."
What did you see from DL Jonathan Greenard in his first game back?
"He was productive when he played in the preseason and I don't know how many reps, but he probably got as many reps as any other defensive lineman this week. He's exactly what we are looking for at the six-technique position. He's big enough to play the run. He definitely has pass rush ability. He plays hard. Reps, same thing, as a young player who hasn't played a lot but there is a reason why we are giving him more reps. I think he can help us as we go forward."
How hard is it to game plan for a player like WR Stefon Diggs?
"I think that's just live in the NFL for a cornerback and for a secondary. Each week we are going to play outstanding football players. Our corners have that. They go against Brandin Cooks every day he can do all the things you talk about. But for a player like Diggs, he's a tough player too. He's a confident football player, I might add. I'm going to say this, you can go into the slot, go into other receiver positions, it's a challenge for our guys in all three areas. There receiving core is so good. I mean they also play four at times. I haven't seen a team play a lot of five receivers which they have done also. It'll be a big challenge. It will start up front with the pass rush and hopefully we can keep the ball in front of us."
Does WR Brandin Cooks practice as hard as he plays?
"Absolutely. He's an outstanding competitor, outstanding player. You want a veteran player to show the young players how to be a pro. He competes constantly whether its blocking. He's a receiver that can do it all. Seen a lot of good ones and I knew a lot about him before I got here and to see him every day, I know exactly what he can do and that's what he's done every game."
How does that challenge your depth on the secondary when you play a team that likes to play five wide receivers?
"Five wide receivers will challenge anyone Just think about it. If you match up so five receivers, so five corners. Most times you don't have five that you feel really good about. Five receivers calls you to do somethings. But at the same time, it limits the offense a little bit too. You have five guys that are blocking, its just five line man, you kind of know that a little bit, so that protection part. Most times you go five wides of course the balls coming out a little bit quicker and things like that. So, there's an advantage to it but there's also a disadvantage to it and that's the reason teams don't play five receivers every snap."
Can you talk about the learning curve with LB Zach Cunningham?
"It's a process still. He's a young player, good football player. He'll get better and better. His strong suit has been geared more toward run support, playing the run, making tackles. But I think there's another level that Zach can go to and that's getting his pass coverage skills up on par with his tackling skills right now and that will happen. He'll get better and better as it goes along."
WR BRANDIN COOKS
What confidence and growth are you seeing from QB Davis Mills?
"Every day he's getting better. From the moment he took his first snap in Cleveland until now, you see him growing just in his process, the way that he leads, and you just love to see it as a teammate of his."
How do you prepare for the defensive backs of the Buffalo Bills?
"First and foremost, they've got a great secondary. They've been playing at a high-level year in, year out. The way that you prepare for that is just watching film, practicing, working on your craft, and when it comes game time, you hope those things come to fruition."
How have you been able to stay so consistent with your production throughout your career?
"I'm blessed, man. God's given me a gift to play this game at a high level since I was a little kid. I'm just grateful for the gift and I try to take advantage of it the best way that I can, be the best player I can, continue to work on my craft, being confident and knowing who I am, playing multiple teams. But at the end of the day, I know I can continue to play this game at a high level, and I'll continue to show that as long as I'm playing."
How do you explain how you are off to the best start of any Texans receiver in history, considering you are playing with a rookie quarterback?
"Once again, when you really trust in the process, you trust in your craft, you put in the work, everything else takes care of itself. I'm honored, but at the end of the day, we are just getting started. At the end of the day, just got to continue to work and be the best I can and continue to lead those around me. It's not all about me, it's about everyone. If we can get some wins here, it'll be even better."
Is it fun for you knowing you are going to be the focus of the defense?
"Absolutely. That's the challenge that you look forward to, but you put in the work. At the end of the day, there are some great defenders out there. You've just got to continue to just put on great film and go in those battles, and I look forward to it week in and week out."
How much do you think what you do during the week helps you on Sundays?
"It helps me tremendously. At the end of the day, when you practice right, typically you put yourself in a better position to succeed on Sunday. I really take that serious. I've been around great players that took the week seriously in practice, and I learned behind them, I learned through them, and I mold that to my game."
QB Davis Mills says you guys work together after practice. What do you take away from that?
"All of us. All of the receivers and pass catchers are working with him after practice, and I think that's important regardless if he's young enough. Just because there may be something going on in practice you didn't hit that you don't want to walk off that field with a bad taste. You get it after practice, but you're also able to talk through what you're seeing, what you feel. You necessarily can't do that at the flow of practice, so you kind of get those opportunities after. I think we all do a great job at that. Not just myself, but all the pass catchers on this offense."
How do you guys determine what things you want to spend more time on after practice?
"I think it starts with, 'Okay, did you hit it in practice? If not, okay, we're going to get that after practice.' And little things that you're not typically able to work on, just because you've only got so much time on the practice field. So, it varies every day."
What does it mean to you to have Associate Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith say the way you practice helps his defensive backs prepare for Buffalo's wide receivers?
"I take that seriously. At the end of the day, they've got to get prepared, I've got to get prepared. Getting that battle out in practice is huge, but I just try to do the best that I can and lead in unnatural ways. Not just making plays, but making others better around me, and I think I've shown that throughout my career, and I'll continue to do that the best way I can."
Is there anything you guys can do as a wide receiver room to help the run game?
"I mean, blocking. We've got to block, and we've got one of the best blockers in Chris Conley. He does it at a high level. He really leads the room in that aspect. He takes it seriously, and you see it week in and week out. I've got a lot of respect for him, and it makes us around him better and we take that seriously as well."
OL TYTUS HOWARD
After playing a few regular season games at guard, is there anything you've seen early on that you didn't get a taste of in the preseason?
"I think everything's a little different when you get into a game. Everything's faster, a lot of different schemes, a lot of different players. So, I've just been taking it day by day and learning each day."
What's it going to be like going up against Buffalo's front seven?
"It's going to be a battle. They got a pretty good front seven. They got a pretty good defense in general. I think the goal is for us is to improve, keep stacking on the good thing we do and learn from the mistakes we make. So, we go out compete at a high level, do what we practice to do and I think we should be fine."
What's your comfort level now at the left guard position?
"I think I get more comfortable every week, every play. There's still a learning process but I think I'm doing a pretty good job. But, there's always room to improve and I am taking it day by day to get better and be the best version of myself for the team."
What did you see on film from last week to improve in the running game this week?
"Attacking more. I think we missed some assignments so just no more missing assignments. Then we can be better on the double teams. There's just a lot of little stuff that we do but we weren't consistent with it. The biggest thing is being consistent in the run game and that can help us better."
Do you feel like sticking with the run game even when you're not having the yardage you hoped for it keeps the defense honest?
"When you stick to the run, keep running it even when you aren't getting the yards you hoped for, that's when the play action plays can come, the big shots. I think that's one good thing about our offense is we got a good play action game. We should just keep it going, keep improving on our running game, it's going to get better and we can go from there."
Is there kind of a chip on the shoulder with the offense of not having the running game and not having the early success like you guys wanted?
"Like I said, we watched the film. We always want to get better every week. The first week we rushed for a lot of yards. Second, we didn't do it, third week we didn't rush for a lot of yards. Just keep stacking on those wins and those losses and just keep moving forward with it getting better day by day. The biggest thing for us is to be more consistent and I think when we do that as an offensive line, the sky's the limit for this offense."
When a team runs a lot of twists against you, does that require more of you as a guard than a tackle?
"Yeah, I think it's a lot more when you are playing guard with games and stuff when you are playing tackles because it's such a small space and you have to knock the guy for the tackle and then you have to come back and block your guy. It's a little bit more but we've gotten a lot of games ran towards us these first couple of games so it's a good thing for us to get those early on in the season so we will be prepared for the rest of the season."
What is your assessment of QB Davis Mills after his first full game?
"I think Davis is going to be a pretty good player in this league. Everything didn't go his way it didn't go our way as an offense, but I think he battled. He showed that he can play in this league and can lead this offense, lead this team and I believe in him."
DB JUSTIN REID
How you feeling?
"I feel pretty good. I've been making steady progress throughout the week, following the plan that we have set and its been going pretty well."
Do you expect to play?
"Yeah, at this point I do."
What comes with the challenges of playing the Buffalo Bills?
"They have a talented offense. (Josh) Allen came in as one of the favorites for MVP coming into this season so he's obviously a talented player. They have Stefon Diggs, they have Cole Beasley, they have Emmanuel Sanders, they have Isaiah McKenzie who is a really fast cat. They have some talent but that's the NFL every team has talent, every team has fire power. It's just who plays better on Sunday."
How hard was it watching your team play last week?
"It was tough. It was tough. I really wanted to be out there. Unfortunately, I couldn't even be on the sideline because it was a hazard for me to be out there with were my knee was at that point. I just wish I could be out there with the guys helping out any way I could, but we still keep moving forward."
How much different is the scouting report now versus when you guys played him in the playoffs?
"He has a little bit better pocket presence. You can really see he has a lot more confidence in his arm. Still a mobile quarterback like he always was but from the tape I've watched, I wouldn't say not as mobile he just doesn't run as much because he trusts his arm to make the throws that he wants to throw."
They are one of the pass heavy offenses is the league. What kind of pressure does that bring to a defense when they are going to pass on early downs?
"As a defensive back that just tells me there is opportunities for interceptions. It's going to come down to rushing coverage. As long as we are getting pressure in his face but also keep them contained so he doesn't use mobility to get out of the pocket. There will be opportunities to make plays on the back end. We know we are going to have shots down the field to (Stefon) Diggs, we know that Cole Beasley is a favorite target of his, his go to guy. So, we are going to keep a special eye out for those two."
How hard will it be to trust your eyes this week with the threat of QB Josh Allen running out of the pocket?
"Well, fundamentals are fundamentals for a reason. They're what you start with, they are the building blocks, so you take that with you and pack it up with you, whether it's a home game or an away game, and that's what you lean on to begin with. I don't think it will be any more difficult as long as you just stick to them. They're the bread and butter of what makes defense work, your fundamentals. As long as you're checking off those boxes, making sure if you've got man coverage, you're playing eyes on your man. If you've got zone coverage, you're filling whatever your zone is, and don't get your eyes lost with all the play action, or whatever is going on. If you've got clean eyes, it's going to be really easy to do your job."
What have you heard about the Buffalo Bills' crowd noise?
"Oh, Bills Mafia I've heard is pretty crazy, man. I had a former teammate of mine, Harrison Phillips, he got drafted to the Bills. I follow his Twitter page and I see all the things that he does in the community every day. But Bills Mafia just seems like it's awesome. Now, it won't be as loud when I'm on the field, obviously. Their offense is going to be out there, so it probably will be a little more quiet than when our offense is on the field. But I still love going to away games. I love the electric atmosphere, I love being the guy to step in and kind of go attack another team's home turf. So for me, it'll be a lot of fun."
Being one of the leaders on this team, have you gotten a chance to talk to QB Davis Mills away from the field and see where his mind is now that he's the starter?
"Yeah, he's very cool, calm and collected. This guy doesn't seem like anything really phases him as far as in a stressful way. He has a talent, it's just settling in. It's been a tough year so far for all the rookie quarterbacks, but as long as they keep getting the experience and they keep staying on track and does what Coach T.K. (Tim Kelly) is coaching them to do, he's going to settle in fine. He has a lot of talent. He just has to iron out some of the wrinkles, and he'll be fine."
How much did you guys interact at Stanford?
"About Stanford? Well, I lost a bet to Ka'imi (Fairbairn) last week when they lost to UCLA."
Did you and QB Davis Mills overlap at Stanford at all?
"My last year was his freshman year. But he had an ACL injury, so he was in the training room more than he was out on the field."
Associate Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith said he wants to get a lot of pressure with just the front four. Does that make it harder for you all when they're not blitzing?
"I'm a firm believer that football starts in the trenches, both on the offensive side and the defensive side of the ball. Everything starts upfront. If you have pressure upfront, if you have dogs upfront that are really getting after the ball and creating havoc, it's going to make everything else fall in line and be really easy. I'm a big fan of how they rotate and how they keep those guys upfront fresh. As long as they're creating pressure, it's going to make opportunities for everybody to make plays.
What has been the reason why we have seen a different version of you on the field, with your ability to get takeaways?
"Combination of things. I'm a big fan of Coach Lovie Smith's defense. I feel like it was one of the defenses that was made for me, just because it lets me just be more aggressive and be myself. When I see opportunities to make plays, I have the green like to go and do it. I love the system, I overall feel more healthy, and going into four years in the league, I just have a different level of confidence and maturity with being able to diagnose what's happening on the offensive side of the ball, because you've seen it a couple years in a row. You just get to play a little bit faster."