Transcripts: Bill O'Brien Press Conference (8-18-2020)

How do you feel about the redzone offense and what do you think can be the key to keeping that going early on?

"The redzone is an interesting part of the whole game. Everything shrinks down there. Windows open quickly and they close quickly. I think one of the main things down there, the reason why we were better was because of the experience of Deshaun (Watson) over the years. The more experience you get at quarterback, you understand how much faster the game is down there, you make really good decisions. Look, I think we can be better. We can improve in every area. Every year is different. We've got to do a good job of working it in training camp. We've worked it. We have to continue to work it. I think with the people that we have, running backs, tight ends, receivers, offensive line, high expectations for the red area."

TE Kahale Warring and FB Cullen Gillaspia haven't practiced the last few days, is there an update on that and will they be back soon?

"I would say, again, relative to the ramp up, they're at a certain phase. Their hamstrings are a little sore so we're going to make sure we do a good job of bringing them back properly. Again, I think one of the things, just speaking for myself, I don't know about any other team in the league, but without an offseason program, like I've said it to you guys before, the ramp-up for each individual player is a little bit different. Those two guys are practicing. They're working mostly on the side, but they'll be back at some point."

What is the balance between making sure QB Deshaun Watson get the reps he needs while preparing the backup quarterbacks?

"It's definitely a balance. I think that obviously Deshaun gets the majority of the reps but we have to make sure the AJ (McCarron) gets a good amount of reps. Alex (McGough), it's is tough because he just doesn't get a lot of reps just because if you gave everybody an equal amount of reps you would be running a hundred plays at practice and that's hard. That's hard to do relative to how we have to ramp these guys up. Deshaun gets the most, AJ has to take advantage of his reps and we have to make sure we have AJ ready to play. Those guys just won't get as many as Deshaun."

What is it like without having an extra punter or extra kicker here like you would in past training camps?

"You have an 80-man roster. You're very close to being down to what your team is. You have a 53-man roster eventually with a 16-man practice squad, 69 players. You're a lot closer to what your team is going to be than you were in past years. We do have workouts where we're bringing guys in – emergency list guys, guys that may compete to be on the roster at some point in time. So, we're doing that. Matt Bazirgan is leading that charge. We had a workout the other day for a few players and we'll continue to do that. The workouts, these guys, in order to get them in for a workout they have to come in three or four days earlier. They got to get tested for the COVID. It's a much different process than it was in the past. Plus, one of the rules says you have to have an intent to sign them, which, I don't know what that means. It's pretty grey but we're working through those things."

What was it that you heard about CB Gareon Conley that you liked before trading for him?

"We had scouted Gareon coming out of Ohio State. We liked his size. We liked his ability to make plays on the ball. He made a lot of plays on the ball in college. He made plays on the ball in Oakland. He's dealt with some injuries and he's still kind of working through those things. He's a good football player and at the point in time that we traded for him, we had received a third-round pick from Seattle and we turned that into Gareon Conley. We felt like that was a good move for our team based on where we were at that position. He's come in this year, he's comfortable with what we're doing. I think he'll make a good jump in our system this year."

What have you seen out of S Justin Reid and his development?

"He's a very smart player, very athletic player. Really good tackler. Tough. Good ball skills. He made a couple of really nice plays yesterday. He made a big play on a screen play that really had a chance to go a long way yesterday. He avoided the blocker and came up and did a good job on the ball carrier. He's a good player. Smart. Cares about the team. Like we always talk about, he's definitely DTS – dependable, tough and smart. No doubt about it."

Could you explain what you like about WR Keke Coutee so far and what you need to see from him?

"Some guys it takes a little longer. Keke has had to deal with injuries and when he's played, he's been very productive. If you remember in his rookie year, he had a big game against Indianapolis. He's a guy that just has dealt with some hamstrings, some ankle. I think the big thing for Keke is health. He's a very confident player, a very good player. I think Randall Cobb has helped him. Just watching how Randall Cobb operates, I think that's really helped him. He's had a good camp. I think he's done a good job returning punts in camp in addition to his receiving duties. He just needs to keep it going. I think the big thing is health, which is really the case with a lot of guys – it's just some of their journeys to a consistent career just take longer than other guys. Some of it's just luck, it's either bad luck or good luck. I think that he's on the right track."

Are there any certain drills to focus on during camp since you won't have any preseason games?

"I think in the preseason, obviously the trend for us is that starters don't really play a lot in the preseason anyway. The games are important for them, if they do play, to get a little bit of speed work in the games. But for your twos and your threes to be able to go out on the field in a game situation to go out and show us what they can do. It's also important for the coaches because you do have end-of-the-game, end-of-the-half situations that the coaches have to deal with in all three phases. We're not getting that without preseason games. Again, my experience in college, we didn't have any preseason games in college. What you do is eventually you'll have two or three game-like scrimmages, and a lot of those are for the coaches. They're obviously for the players, for the players to be able to go out there and execute and get on film without the coach standing two feet behind them, telling them what to do. I think that's something that we're going to work on. That's something that I'm hopeful that my experience in college where we had no preseason games and you had scrimmages, that helps you get ready for the first game."

What are your thoughts on bringing back all three specialists in K Ka'imi Fairbairn, LS Jon Weeks, P Bryan Anger?

"It was important for us. All three of those guys are important parts of our team. Ka'imi, he's won games for us in the past. He's got a really strong leg. Very talented kicker. He can make all the kicks we ask him to make. It's important for us to have him and that's why we extended him and he's doing a job in training camp. Had a really good day kicking off yesterday. Bryan did a good job. Very mature guy. Good pro. Been around a little bit. Came in and did a good job for us and wanted to bring him back. He's ramping up and getting ready to be as good a punter as he can be. Hopefully we're not punting too much. And then, Jon Weeks, he's been here forever. He's just a great guy. A great teammate. He's a leader and takes a lot of pride in what he does. When you have a long snapper that you can really count on, especially as a snapper, that's a big deal. We were glad to be able to bring him back."

What have you seen from DT Ross Blacklock early on?

"Ross has done a good job. I think it's hard. He came from a system at TCU where he was really well coached. He was on the move a lot. He was slanting and angling a lot up front. We do that. We definitely do some of that, but we also play base blocks. He's got to be able to play the block. He's good. He's strong. A really good guy. He's quiet, he works hard. He's been out there every day. You can tell just from him being out there every day and being coached by (Anthony) Weaver, he's getting better and better. We have high expectations obviously for Ross and if he stays out there every day and keeps grinding, he's going to be a good player."

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