Transcripts: Bill O'Brien Press Conference (8-21-2020)

Now that you've had another week RB David Johnson, WR Randall Cobb and WR Brandin Cooks, how do you think they're doing and what do you expect to see from them beginning with Kansas City?

"I think they're doing well. I think it's an interesting time. Like I said yesterday, we'd be getting ready for our third preseason game. These guys, they were able to work out during the offseason, no doubt about it, but not really with us. They're all on these different ramp up periods. Everybody is on track to be ready to go when the season starts, but there's just different ramp ups. It's hard for me to explain that. It's just, it is what it is relative to how we tested these guys and where they were at and what they needed from a load standpoint. That's what we're doing. I think all those guys have done a great job. They're really good pros, they really understand what we're asking them to do. It's been good."

When you look at ILB Zach Cunningham and other top linebackers in the league, what are your thoughts on Zach and his future?

"We want Zach on our team. We want Zach to be a Texan for a long time, no doubt about it. He's just a really good player. He's very instinctive. He's got good speed. He can do a lot of different things within our scheme. He plays on special teams. He's on the punt team. Really good guy. Same guy every day. We think that it would be great if he was with us for a long time."

As camp has progressed, what are some things you found out about RB David Johnson, WR Randall Cobb and WR Brandin Cooks them that you didn't know before?

"Just the way they work. They put the time in every day. They come to work every day. They're great guys in the locker room. They communicate well. They want to do what Deshaun (Watson) needs them to do within the route. They're smart and they understand what we're trying to do. They're good teammates. They're DTS. They're dependable, tough, smart. That's what's great about them."

How do you think the lack of preseason games will affect waiver pickups and the amount of trades that may happen since scouts can't see guys at other camps?

"That's a great question. I think obviously it will be affect. You just don't have the game tape. There's a lot of unknown. You don't know where exactly a guy is relative to somebody that maybe is on the waiver wire or some other way to acquire a player. There are a lot of unknowns. I'm sure it'll affect it. We study. We try to do the best job we can of watching previous tape of the player and understanding who the player is when the waiver wire comes out every day. For us – I'll just speak for myself – it's going to be a little bit different."

It seems like the tight ends have been doing well in practice so far. What do you see in the talent there and what they bring to the team?

"Good players. All a little bit different in their skillset. Fellsy (Darren Fells), he does a really good job in all phases. He can block. He's good in the passing game. Really smart player. Jordan Akins had a really good day yesterday. With Jordan, it's all about consistency and just being consistent. He's a great guy. A really talented guy. Jordan Thomas has had a good training camp. He's come back in shape and doing some good things. Kahale Warring, look, he works hard, he's a good guy. Last year he didn't play, so this is a year where he really needs to take a step with the offense. I think he's doing better. He had a better day yesterday. It's a good position. Dylan Stapleton, the undrafted guy out of James Madison, he's been really, really good. Tough guy. Learning the game. He tries to do what we ask him to do. I really think the position is a good one."

What is it about the way QB Deshaun Watson learns that if he makes a mistake in practice, he doesn't generally make it again?

"He's smart. He's got a really good memory. He understands what he sees. He's able to really communicate what he saw on the play, why he did that, why he made that decision. He doesn't make many mistakes. He's smart and he's got an ability to really understand what he just saw and then be able to say 'OK, this is what I saw, this is why I did it.' You see that at night on the Zoom calls, too. He'll tell the offense, 'Hey, this is what I saw, this is why I did this and made this decision.' It's been good."

Does QB Deshaun Watson's quick learning help you know that if you make an adjustment between series of a game, he's probably not going to make the same mistake over in the same game?

"Just the conversations on the sideline with him are always good because he's very calm and he gives you exactly what he saw. He can recite each play like 'hey, this is what I saw on the second-and-10 play. This is what I saw on the third-and-2 play. I don't really like this play today. We've got to take this one out.' Whatever it is, he's good at understanding what he just saw and being able to communicate it back to you between series."

TE Darren Fells has described how great the COVID-19 protocols are within the organization and that it made his family comfortable with him playing this season. How good does that make you feel as a coach, husband and father about the steps the organization has taken?

"I think it makes us all feel good. I think we spent a lot of time – Jack (Easterby) and I came back here on July 4. We got the protocols on the night of July 3 and then there were other people in the organization – everybody from our PR department to our training room, to our strength staff, to our operations, to the cafeteria, to Suzie Thomas, our counsel. And then obviously, the support of the McNairs. We made a lot of changes in a week. I don't know if you guys have been inside at all, probably not, but when you see it again, I think you'll say 'whoa, that's different,' because within a week or two we changed locker rooms, we changed hallways. The other two people that have done an unbelievable job are Geoff Kaplan and Ray Clarage. They've really done a great job of doing what you're talking about. So, when the players came back, I think that they were impressed. I think that's a big deal. That creates team belief. Team belief is a big deal. That's good that Darren said that."

With the skillsets of WR Kenny Stills and WR Brandin Cooks, will we see more immediate routes from WR Will Fuller V this season?

"That's a good question. I think Will runs the whole route tree. I know he's known for the deep shots because he's really, really good at those and he's had connections with Deshaun (Watson) over the years, but he's a really good route runner. He can run the short stuff. We use him everywhere. We use him in the slot. We use him on the outside. He can run 20-yard in-cuts and he can run the 12-yard slant routes. We use him in a lot of different ways and we'll continue to do that."

Do you expect WR Keke Coutee will be at practice today? What's going on with him?

"I think he'll be out there today. I just gave him a day off. Looking at a few things with him on the – again, it's taken time for me to get used to this, but we've put a lot of time into this GPS and these player loads, high speed, how many times did a guy reach 19 miles an hour. We had a guy yesterday, A.J. Moore (Jr.) reach 21 miles an hour on a kickoff coverage. We take those things into account. With Keke, it's a lot of short space stuff. We felt like, hey, let's give him a little time here and then bring him back today. He should be out there today."

It's typically difficult for rookie wide receivers to make an impact. What specific challenges does WR Isaiah Coulter face as he transitions from the FCS to the NFL in a shortened offseason?

"It's hard. It's hard. I think the big think with Isaiah, he's very talented. He's got good size. He can run. He can catch. He's got all the tools that you need but it's just totally different. You go from playing at Rhode Island to the National Football League, it's just different. The coverages are different. Obviously, the talent level is different. He's getting better, though. He improves every day. He works at it. We'll see. The wide receiver position in this league, if you go back through history, rookies at the wide receiver position, it's tough. It's a tough transition. More press coverage, much better corners, much different coverages. So, it's hard but he's working hard every day to try to get better."

You mentioned the soft tissue injuries and how you have tried to address them. Can you explain more about that and how do you monitor those and why it's important?

"When they came back, we tested all of them with different types of criteria whether it was just conditioning level or hamstring strength or whatever the test may entail – quad strength or quad flexibility. All of those things. Then we got that information and Mike Eubanks, Roland (Ramirez), Ladd Harris – we have a really good team that puts all this information together. We hired a guy from the University of Texas named Matt Van Dyke. He's really good, too – a new guy. There's a lot of brain power in the room. I just listen. I'm quite obviously the dumbest guy in that room, so I just listen. They give us information and then we can now plan how we're going to practice these guys, what's the plan for these guys. Ultimately, the health of the team is the most important thing. If you have a healthy team – any team – if you have a healthy team then you have a real shot. So, a lot went into it. Then we implement the plan for each player. Each player has a different type of ramp up schedule based on where they were from that testing. I think there's been some things that have been adjusted over time but I do think we're on track."

Wade Phillips said WR Brandin Cooks was probably the smartest receiver he's ever been around and is a good route runner. Do you think the route running of speed guys like WR Will Fuller V and Cooks often get overlooked?

"I think when you have the combination of good speed – Wade's on the money there with his evaluation. When you have the combination of really good speed and you can run the routes, kind of like I was saying earlier, that's a really good combination. Sometimes you have guys that are just straight-line fast and they can run go-routes and they can run maybe a post route or whatever. But if you have guys that have speed and then they can do a lot of different things, you can line them up in different places and you match them up in different places, then that's a good thing. The whole key to all of it is the health, making sure they stay healthy and they're ready to go and you get good practice time with Deshaun (Watson). Right now, I believe we're on track there. Brandin is a very bright guy. Randall Cobb is a smart guy. Will is a smart guy. Kenny Stills. Those guys, they're really bright guys that can run routes and they can all run."

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