Transcripts: Bill O'Brien Press Conference (8-25-2020)

What have you seen from DT Ross Blacklock and what do you expect from him this season, especially over the first month?

"Ross is a hardworking guy. He's worked really hard. He's definitely improved. I think all the rookies – I've said this a few times, I've probably said it too much – I just think it's a tough year. You don't have any – first of all, you had no offseason program. We have a really good rookie development program that Jack (Easterby) runs. You didn't have that. Then all the practices you have post-draft. All the conditioning sessions. It's not their fault. It's just how fast can he get caught up to the speed of the game. I think the guy really works hard. I think he's a really good player and I think he's going to help us. All those guys, not just Ross, they're a long way off. I mean, it's just a totally different ball game than college. But they're working and Ross is working and he's definitely improving."

With DT Ross Blacklock being your second-round pick and being really smart, would you expect him to get up to speed quicker than the other rookies?

"I just think that – it doesn't matter where you drafted him relative to that, relative to your question. I just think his work ethic and the way he's coached. Weave (Anthony Weaver) does a really good job with those guys. You see improvement. You see improvement. At TCU, that's the other thing, like at TCU he was slanting and angling a lot. He was on the move quite a bit at TCU. For us, it's a little bit of a different system. We're going to be on the move at times but we also play a lot of technique. Not that TCU doesn't. TCU does a good job but I'm just saying it's different, and so I think he's getting better and I think he's working hard. Yeah, we have high expectations for him, no doubt." 

When you think about where CB Lonnie Johnson Jr. fits into the defense, do you see him playing more corner or also some safety? How do you feel like can help you game plan for teams like Kansas City?

"Look, I think you got it. I think he's a versatile guy and I think primarily he's an outside corner, but last year he did some different things. He'll help us on special teams. I think it's week to week. We've got to look at the opponent and see where Lonnie's skill set fits the best relative to how we want to play that opponent. He does a lot of things well. He's a good guy. He works really hard and he's got good size. He's kind of a unique skillset, right, so he can do some different things. I think the big thing with Lonnie is health, making sure he stays healthy, just like pretty much everybody. That's the key, but if he stays healthy he'll have a good year for us."

Do you have an update on WR Keke Coutee and what's been keeping him from practice as well as OLB Jonathan Greenard?

"I would say that Keke, we're just watching him a little bit. I don't want to get into the details. We're only two weeks out from the game. Keke is having a good camp. I think relative to ramp-up again, that's going to be my general answer to injury questions. It's just a different type of ramp-up for different guys. Sorry I can't be more specific about it. I just can't. I just don't believe in being real specific about injuries as you know from seven years. The other one is who, Jon Greenard? Yeah, Jon's doing all right. Jon will be all right. He's hanging in there. He'll be out there eventually."

What are your thoughts on the tragedy that happened in Wisconsin?

"You know, it's hard to put into words. You're trying to, primarily right now coach the football team. Working really 19 hours a day coaching the team but when I went home last night, I actually saw it for the first time. I had heard about it. I saw the video. It's disturbing. It's terrible. I don't want to really get into politics. I think you guys know where I stand on this. I think that systemic racism is a major problem in this country. I think that we all have to come together and realize that these social injustices have been going on for a long time. A long, long time. It's not just police. That's one thing I want to make clear. It's been going on a long time in our economic system, in our real estate system, our medical system and everything. It's time to come together and realize that everybody should be treated as equal, and that's how I feel about it. But my primary job is to coach the football team. I do feel passionate about these things and it was an awful thing to watch."

Hurricane Laura seems to be headed more towards the Houston area, how does that effect your plans for practice and the scrimmage on Thursday or is it too early to speculate?

"It's hard, you're right. But I'm looking at two different models. Now we're going from – it's funny, these are two off the football subject questions, you're right. But now I'm looking at a European model and I'm looking at this other model and I'm like which model do you, I don't even – one looks like it's headed toward Louisiana and we're on the west of it. [If] we stay on the west of it, maybe we'll be OK. Last time I checked I didn't have a degree in meteorology, so I don't know but we're definitely watching it. We had a phone call last night, Jack (Easterby) and I, had a phone call last night with Jamey Rootes, Suzie Thomas, Jeff Schmitz and Greg Kondritz. We're on top of it and we'll make a call when we have to make the call. I think this one is different than (Hurricane) Harvey, right. you guys probably know better but it's more about wind and Harvey was about rain. I think wind is an issue relative to our bubble and things like that, so we'll stay on top of it."

How important is the Thursday scrimmage to your team development and could you reschedule that due to the hurricane?

"Yeah, you definitely could reschedule it. I think it's important. I think it's just that, I think you have to, without preseason games, in my opinion just for our football team, what's best for our team is to have two of these scrimmages. At least one of these in full pads where we warm up like a game, we treat it as much like a game as we possibly can. Coaches in the press box and kind of go through all that. Basically, the logistics of a game. We're going to try to do it. We're going to try to keep it for Thursday. Obviously if the weather affects that, we'll just move it back and we'll figure out another day to do it."

Without contact on a punt return and no preseason games, is it hard to evaluate what you have in the punt return with no one coming at you full speed?

"I would say that's the same every year. I mean, you're not going to really – I think you're talking about preseason games but in practice you're never really going to go live on a kickoff or a punt. But yes, you do get it in the preseason games, you're right about that. I think we have a guy back there, DeAndre Carter, who's done it before. We've got Randall Cobb, Will Fuller (V), Keke's (Coutee) done it. John Reid did it in college. We've got guys that we have quote-unquote video evidence of them being able to do it. Just as long as they're working. I think the big thing is catching it, the technique of catching it, reading the trajectory of the punt. That's the big thing you're trying to get out of practice relative to the returner himself."

If you do have to make hurricane adjustments, how much of a setback is that for you considering you start earlier than other teams, excluding the Chiefs?

"I mean, it is what it is, right? There's not too much you can do about it. I wouldn't look at it as a setback. We've had good, hard practices. No one wants to go through a hurricane, but if something like that happens, we just adjust and adapt. That's 2020, right? This is like typical for 2020. You've got all these things going on and now you've got a hurricane. It is what it is. You adjust. You adapt. Jack (Easterby) and I call it 'stick and move.' Stick and move, man. This is what it is. If we get a hurricane, it's terrible but we just adjust our schedule and these guys – we'll have the team ready to go."

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