HEAD COACH AND GENERAL MANAGER BILL O'BRIEN
What kind of weather report are you getting for the game and what do you think that means for the teams?
"We have a few weather experts in our organization – well, they consider themselves weather experts. I won't really tell you who they are. They tell me that last night that it was good that we got out in the rain a little bit because there might be some rain. Look, at the end of the day how does that affect the game? First game, there's going to be a lot of unknowns so when you add weather to that, you just try to do the best you can to train your team, if you have the opportunity to do that, how to play in the rain. Both teams have to deal with that so if that's the case, both teams are going to have to deal with it."
How good do you feel about the wide receiver group as they have been able to build chemistry? Can you give us an update on WR Brandin Cooks as he came out on the injury report?
"I feel good about the wide receiver position. This will be the first time that a lot of those guys have played in a game with Deshaun (Watson) and Deshaun with them so obviously there's some unknowns there. They've practiced hard. They've done everything we've asked them to do. Relative to the injury report, you guys have it. You guys can interpret that the way you want to. You'll see who takes the field when we take the field on Thursday night."
Can you talk about the challenges of game planning for a guy like Chiefs TE Travis Kelce?
"It seems like we've been playing against these guys and Travis Kelce for a long time. He's just a great player. He's very instinctive. He's very athletic. He's got great hands. Excellent route runner. He can block. He's one of the best in our league. We have tremendous respect for him. In the end, he's going to have some catches. That's football, the passing game and the rules which we all have to play under. He's going to get his catches. We have to do a good job of tackling him and making sure we know where he is on every play. He's a great player."
You know that the entire country will be watching this game and this season, how do you balance knowing that while preparing to come out of Kansas City with a victory?
"It's an excellent question. It's one we've thought about a lot. I think at the end of the day it's still a league about winning. It's all about winning. It's early in the season. It's the first game of an unprecedented year. Even guys like Romeo Crennel who have been in the league forever, they will tell you they've never seen anything like this where you had no preseason games, no offseason program. There's a lot of unknowns in the first game in a normal year and there's definitely unknowns obviously in this year. Our guys are excited about it. They feel good about where there are right now from a conditioning standpoint relative to early in the season. They've worked hard. They've done everything we've asked them to do and now it's going to come down to – I think like it always does, who is the team that makes the least amount of mistakes. That can play the smartest on a consistent basis and can stay the healthiest throughout the game. All those different things. That's what we're going to try to do. We know we're going into a tough environment, a weird environment, really, because of no fans or not as many fans, the whole thing. It's going to be interesting but our guys – they're excited about the opportunity."
Going into the season what are your final thoughts on RB David Johnson and how much do you believe he will have bounce back season this year?
"I don't get into bounce back seasons. I mean, this guy has been a very productive player in this league. He's an excellent football player. He's had a really good training camp for us. He's an even better person. He's been a great addition to our locker room, very professional. I think it's really good when you have all these guys in your locker room that the young players can really look towards as great examples. David's going to go out there and he's going to play a good game. He's going to play hard. He's going to try to do everything the right way. Hopefully that's something that our team is looking for and he'll continue to do that."
Can you talk about where you are special teams wise and with Special Teams Coordinator Tracy Smith?
"I feel good about where we are. Guys have really carved out some roles early in the season there. You'll see that on Thursday night. We have a good core group of players. We have guys that can run. Guys that love special teams. Tracy is a good teacher. He's got them in the right spots with where we believe they need them to be relative to the first game. We're going against a really good special teams unit led by a really good coach in Dave Toub. We know there's a big challenge in front of us. (Harrison) Butker the kicker is an excellent kicker. (Mecole) Hardman the returner. They've got a lot of good special teams players. We need to be up to the challenge but our guys are excited about it."
Can you talk about the speed the Chiefs have at the wide receiver position?
"Yeah, they can fly. They can fly. There will be a lot of speed in this game. There will be a lot of speed, a lot of guys on the field that can run from both sides of the ball relative to their positions. Wide receivers that can run. Linebackers that can run. DBs that can run. Defensive linemen that can run. It's going to be a game with a bunch of guys out there that are really good, athletic football players, so I think it's going to be exciting to watch."
Do you find yourself in any type of comfort zone heading into such a unique season?
"I understand what you're trying to ask, but this is a league in which you can never be comfortable. I think as a coach and a player you're always trying to think about what's next, what are you doing right for your team, what's the best decision for the team. Personally, for me, I just have great people around me that help me in the role that I have – players and coaches and staff. Obviously, we've talked a lot about Jack Easterby. The guy has just done an unbelievable job here and just been a really great guy in our organization. Then the coaching staff and the scouting staff, and then most importantly, the players. The players have really come in here and worked hard. I think relative to where we are in the beginning of the season, we're all excited about it. We know it's a big challenge. We know we're playing the Super Bowl champs from last year and it's a big challenge. But our guys can't wait to try to meet that challenge."
How do you balance blitzing Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes or dropping players into coverage against him?
"It's a tough deal. He is a very instinctive player. Deshaun (Watson) is a very instinctive player. They're probably having the same types of things that they have to think about on their defense because both these guys are so instinctive. If you don't rush them and let them stand back there, they're going to hurt you. If you do rush them and you fly by them, they're going to break out and scramble and make plays down the field. Look, it's a fine line and we're going to do the best we can to try to line up and play each play and try to adjust during the game, but it's a very, very challenging game."
TE DARREN FELLS
Is there anything you can share with us that the team is talking about doing before the game in relation to the social justice initiatives?
"We're still discussing it. We haven't come up with an agreement yet so that's still up in the air."
What is it like for you getting ready to play on Thursday night given all that you guys have been through?
"It's definitely one of my most interesting seasons I've been a part of this year – this career I should say. I see a lot of excitement. Everybody is excited to be back, the season's starting, Thursday night game. It's always fun to be a part of a Thursday night game and going out there and going up against KC again. It will be a fun night."
Is last year's playoff game still on your mind and will what you went through come to mind when you step into the stadium?
"As a competitor it's always on your mind when you have to go back and face a team that you lost to. It's definitely one of those things that everybody's thinking about and trying to make sure it doesn't happen again and go out there and fight until the end."
What is your confidence like with the flexibility with the red zone offense?
"I'm extremely confident in the skillset that we have in our offense. We have a lot of talented guys. I feel at any point when any of these guys get their hand on the ball, they can make things happen. I feel we have one of the tough offenses that will need to be looked at this year."
What are your thoughts on TE Kahale Warring and what you have seen from him this year so far?
"He's definitely made huge growth this year. He's gotten a lot of opportunity compared to last year where he got hurt and didn't have the opportunity to grow as a player. He's been out there and I've seen a lot of growth from him. He's always been an extremely talented player. It was just having to grow into the league not being able to play in the games, it's tough to develop as a player when you don't have that. But I've seen him grow a lot."
How do you feel about being a part of the first team that has to travel with the new protocols? How do you plan to spend your night before the game in the hotel?
"Pretty much nothing's changed. I'm going to go straight from the plane to the hotel room and pretty much not leave the room. That's normal for me. The biggest thing is really just having to go to another team's facilities and play against them not knowing how they've been keeping the virus out of their building and what their protocols are. That's the only thing that really worries me but I'm more focused on getting the W as of right now when it comes to football."
As a tight end in this offense playing with a quarterback like QB Deshaun Watson, how exciting is it that for you knowing that the field will be stretched like it will be this season?
"It's definitely exciting. Tim (Kelly) has always been a phenomenal coach, so now having him running the plays is going to open things up a little bit more, I guess. We have an extremely talented offense. So many different weapons at every position. He knows that as a coach so he's going to try to utilize everybody everywhere. It's just one of those things that you're looking forward to seeing what he can do."
CB BRADLEY ROBY
Have the Texans players talked more about pregame social justice demonstrations prior to Thursday's game? If so, what was the conclusion after those discussions?
"We've talked about it. We're still talking about it currently. So, I guess we'll have to see."
With CB Gareon Conley being placed on the Reserve/Injured list yesterday, how do you think the secondary will adjust to his loss?
"Any time you lose a starter, it's something you have to deal with. I think that the mentality here is the next man up. You have to be a deep team to go far in the playoffs and get to the Super Bowl, things like that. So, you have to have depth and I think that's something that we have here. I think we have a lot of guys that are flexible, versatile and can play different positions. Gareon won't be able to play the first couple of weeks but we have guys that'll come in and step up for sure."
What are the challenges in defending Chiefs TE Travis Kelce?
"They have a great offense, great quarterback, great receivers. Kelce's probably one of the best route-running tight ends in the league. He demands that attention and respect. We're going to get after him. I'm sure he's going to try to do his best versus us as well. We're just going out there to compete."
How has facing Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes several times in the past helped prepare you for this game? Also, what do you think about the wide receiver group the Chiefs have?
"Well yeah, definitely played those guys a lot, playing in Denver. I've probably played them, I don't know, 10, 12 times. So, I'm very familiar with the guys, with Andy Reid and Mahomes. We all know all the receivers they have – fast guys, route runners, some route runners. It's going to be a test for sure, especially Week 1. It's going to be a great test and we're looking forward to it. I think everyone knows what they bring to the table so no need for me to speak on it. Just go out there and play."
Do you think Thursday will be an emotional night after such a unique offseason and the result of last year's playoff game?
"It's going to be unique for sure just given the circumstances, like you said, of the offseason. I think it'll be emotional for them. They're going to celebrate the Super Bowl I'm sure pregame or something like that. Just the history of how the game ended last year. It's two different teams from this year to last year. It's a whole new year. There's definitely going to be some emotions for sure on both sides heading into the game. I feel like this is best matchup you could do to start the season."
How have your offseason workouts prepared you to play against the Chiefs?
"I think this offseason was very tough for everyone. I think you're seeing that now with a lot of guys getting hurt in training camps, a lot of soft issue injuries and things like that. I just think it was a tough offseason to kind of gauge where you're at conditioning wise or anything – If you're over working, you're under-working. I think everybody had to deal with that. Me personally, I just tried to keep grinding, keep my conditioning up, keep my strength up and not trying to overdo it, but not trying to not work enough. I think it's that balance. I think it'll show in the first couple of weeks, the guys that kind of did it right."
How much will tackling be a challenge due to the unique offseason and a lack of contact in training camp?
"Definitely. Definitely. I think that naturally there's no preseason games, a lot of teams probably have been cautious to try to tackle their own players in camp around the league. So, I think that these first couple of games, it's going to be weird. It's going to be preseason-like, but real stats. Everything is going to count, but it's going to look a little bit sloppy on both sides of the ball for everyone. I just think so because we haven't played against anyone else but our teammates, so I think early on those first three games is going to be a little bit sloppy and then everyone will kind of get in their groove as the season goes on."
How do you feel about being the first team to travel?
"To me, it's not a big deal. We have to do what we got to do at the end of the day. We haven't discussed in full detail everything that's going to be different this year than last year. I think we're going to go over that today. I don't think that much of it. We're going to get ready. Thankfully, we're going to play with some people in the stands. I think that's going to be a little better than having that first game and just having no one out there. I think it'll kind of let us transition into having no fans at other places, so I'm looking forward to it. It's a new experience. We have to adapt, so I'm looking forward to it."
Is there a moment in a game that makes you feel like you are back playing football?
"Definitely. That first hit is definitely going to wake you up if you're not ready. Those first couple of plays when you're out there and you're just running around, and I think it's that first hit. When you get that first hit and you get him on the ground and get up, I think that's when it's like, 'OK, we're out here. We're playing. It's for real, full speed.' So, I think that's it for everyone. When you get hit in the mouth, that's when you wake up."
With Defensive Coordinator / Defensive Line Coach Anthony Weaver taking over as the defensive play caller, how do you see some of the changes on the defensive line affecting the secondary?
"I'm looking forward to it. I really like Weave a lot, Coach Weaver. I like his energy. I like his attitude. I think as a defense we're going to adapt to his attitude and just the way and the fire that he has. I look forward to us playing with that fire. We definitely have some things that are different than last year when it comes to the d-line and things like that. Like we said, it's a new year, so we've got to go out there and compete and see what it looks like."
Could you describe how the entire defense has come together under Defensive Coordinator / Defensive Line Coach Anthony Weaver?
"I think personally, a lot of the front seven is kind of coming back from last year with some different guys in there. Personally, the secondary, I think we're coming together a little bit more. We're starting to really create a bond. I know that for secondaries, that bond y'all share and how close you guys are on and off the field dictates how successful you are on the field. So, I think we've gotten a little bit more cohesion than last year. I'm looking forward to see what progress we've made."