What are a few pieces of advice Defensive Coordinator / Defensive Line coach Anthony Weaver has given you since you arrived?
"Really, it just starts off with the run game, understanding that you can't rush the passer unless you stop the run. He definitely made that a focal point for me as far as being a guy that can play the run. So, I just learned that I need to better my technique, obviously get stronger, put more weight on and then understand that being a complete defensive lineman starts off with being a good run stopper. That's definitely something I learned. Then, that guy on your shoulder that's telling you you're tired or you can't go anymore, you've got to brush that off and keep going and keep fighting because the other 10 guys on the field, they're depending on you to do your job."
How did you gain weight over the offseason and where did you work out in the offseason?
"Most of my offseason work was in Austin and a little bit in Dallas. What I did to gain weight was just really dedicate myself on my eating habits. I ended up hiring a chef with me that goes wherever I go, so I did that. Just lifting hard, man. Understanding that I have a goal and I have to reach that goal. Guys are depending on me to be a certain kind of player, so that was in my mind every day I stepped in the weight room and every day I had a session with (DeMarcus) Ware for technique work and things like that. Then just being on myself about my weight because that's something that I just have to be on steadily because it can drop. That's what I was really focused on in the offseason."
What do you weigh now and what did you weigh last season? Also, what were some of your favorite foods your chef and did you have a cheat meal?
"Most of the time now with camp and stuff I'm probably around like 282. I want to kind of stay in between 280 and 285 for as long as I can. The food that my chef would make that I really like would be like pasta and he's really, really good with making chicken. I learned that I really like broccoli a lot because I had to eat greens and really just dedicate myself to that. Oh, a cheat meal. Oh man, pizza all the way. Oh, pizza all the way. 100 percent. I love pizza."
How do you view potentially sitting out games in protest of social justice issues?
"I don't want to make it about me or what I would do, but definitely the team and us coming together and making a choice on that is what is important to me and what I'll go with. So, sticking with the team and us talking together as a group is where I would stand on that issue."
What do you remember learning from DE J.J. Watt as a rookie and how has he taught this season's rookies?
"With J, it's a lot of things that when I was a rookie, I mostly just kind of watched. I watched a lot of his tape, just watching him – even though I was in the game as well, just watching him. Just a lot of pass rush stuff. Just as far as how he sets up his rushes, what he does when he's not able to get to the quarterback. Just little things because I think the biggest separation between good and great is technique and effort. So, when you watch a guy, his technique as far as hand placement and his eyes and things like that in a pass rush, that is where J.J. excels. For me, I'm watching that and I'm like, if I can try and do that in my own way and make it my own thing, why can I not excel as well? With how he works with the rookies, he just tries to push them on effort because he knows they're talented. All of the rookies that we have are talented but you have to have that extra gear inside you, that extra push to go from just being a guy who was drafted in the league to being a guy that's making an impact in the league."
What type of questions do you ask DE J.J. Watt about technique?
"More so I've been asking questions this year because we've been playing alongside each other a lot more. It's just like timing on things, why he's doing this or where his hands are on this move. Does he rip? Does he arm over? Those have been big things for me, and then trying to translate it to my game has been the biggest topics of conversation when I'm talking to him about technique."
How long have you known DeMarcus Ware and what have you learned from him?
"I've known D-Ware since I got drafted. We just hit on Instagram and talked. Then when I went to Vegas last year for Von Miller's Pass Rush Summit we really connected there. As far as what I've learned from him though, just enhancing what I'm good at and don't steer away from what makes me, me. Then honing in on that and making it better because I think a lot for me last year, a lot of the things when I missed opportunities were basically because of my technique or trying to be somebody I'm not. So, really honed in on that and the technique-wise of it. That's what I was focused on for that month that I was with him."
How happy are you to be back playing football after a long offseason?
"It feels good. I love the competitive spirit and juices that we have out on the practice field. I love just going out there and competing with the guys and just finding ways to be better, honestly. Every day I go out there, I just think about things from the last practice that I can improve on for the next practice to be better than I was yesterday because it's always about just getting one percent better. If you do that and you stack on and you're very committed and consistent on that, there should be no doubt that you should go out there when it's game time and play at your best."
What are your impressions of rookie DT Ross Blacklock so far and how have you tried to help him as he acclimates to the NFL?
"Ross is a very athletic player, good hands. Definitely a smart guy, understands football. That's the first thing is understanding, at this level, football – period. I thought it wasn't that much of a difference coming from college to the NFL, but it is. As far as what I've tried to help him on, just really his pass rush. I think he has the run game pretty solid. But as far as pass rushing and being a three-technique or a shade that can really affect the quarterback, that's where I've really tried to help him, as well as J.J. (Watt) has."
What are your thoughts on the rematch with the Kansas City Chiefs and the necessity of getting pressure on Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes?
"Just like any quarterback in the league, getting pressure on the quarterback is very effective at messing up the rhythm, the timing. I think it would be even bigger because of the fact that there's been no preseason games. Just like in every NFL practice, you can't really hit the quarterback so you can't give him that flustering feeling. So, getting to him is just as important as getting to anybody. But as far as the rematch, it's the first game of the season, big game, just like any game, and it'll be a good opportunity for us starting off the bat with last year's Super Bowl champions. It'll be a good test for us. Great opportunity to show the work we've put in in camp and the offseason, how it's paid off."
Do you still have family in the Houston area?
"I think I have an uncle that lives in Missouri City. Something like that. But not really. Most of my family is either in Dallas or Nigeria."
How do you deal with the increased expectations that Defensive Coordinator / Defensive Line Coach Anthony Weaver and the rest of the coaching staff have for you this year?
"I have extremely higher expectations for myself, just coming from myself, than probably the coaches do. That's how it has to be. You have to push yourself to a limit that nobody else can push you to. You have to be self-motivated, self-driven, and I have all of that to a T. I think it's definitely something I understand and I appreciate, but I mentally try to push myself every day and tell myself that 'you need to be better. You need to go harder.' Because, like I said, when you're out there as an individual you understand that everybody on the unit is depending on you to do your job. I definitely understand that and try to do that to my best abilities."
Do you have any advice to college athletes who might have their season cancelled due to COVID-19?
"If that's the case, just keep your head down, keep working, honestly. There's not much you can do about that. That's powers that are above them. The biggest thing is just to keep faith in everything that they do, stay in shape, keep working and allow the people above them to sort out whatever it may be that needs to be sorted out, but not to get down, not to lose focus. Especially in school as well, academically as well."