RB DAVID JOHNSON
How excited are you to return to the Texans?
"I'm very excited to be back. The staff and the organization did great with me coming over from Arizona. I had a great time transitioning. They did everything for me and my family, so I was very excited to come back. Now, seeing a lot of new faces, I'm excited to meet a lot of new guys, guys that I actually know from being in the league but being new as teammates. I can't wait to get that going."
What do you think about the additions of RB Mark Ingram II and RB Phillip Lindsey?
"Honestly, I think it will be great. I think it will be great for us because it will help us all stay healthy and play in this long season, now hearing that they're going to add another game to the season. I think it will be great for us, like you said, having veteran guys. That way we can all play together and it won't be a lot of learning to be a professional athlete. Guys are really respected in the league, guys are responsible, real good pros in the league. I think it will help out a lot with this team, with the team moral and getting everyone going, especially with this run game. It was a tough running game last year and hopefully we can all, all three of us, can contribute and get this thing going."
How can you use your success at the end of last season to carry over into the upcoming season?
"Really just as motivation, knowing that I've still got a lot left in the tank, knowing that I'm still able to contribute in the running game and be an effective player, an impact player for the team. It really just helps motivate me in this offseason getting ready to go. I think the biggest thing is just staying healthy. As a running back, that's the main thing. If you're on the field I think it will help out and it'll obviously be a good thing to be able to play. I feel like with those three last games I had last year, it gave me a lot of momentum going into this next season."
Have you had a chance to talk to QB Deshaun Watson?
"No, I haven't had a chance to talk to him at all."
How familiar are you with OL Marcus Cannon and how excited are you to run behind him?
"I'm very excited. Just hearing the stats and him being a great lineman for us, it'll be good. It'll be good for us as an offense obviously and I think it's going to help out – when you see a lot of guys like L.T. (Laremy Tunsil) being a great, dominant o-lineman, it really helps my motivation to be able to able to run the ball and it makes my job easier."
What does it mean to the running backs to have Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly and Running Backs Coach Danny Barrett back?
"It means a lot, especially for me. I've had so many different running back coaches and head coaches over the last five years for myself. Just to have the same running back coach, not just that but Danny being a great running back coach, he shoots it straight to me. He's very respected in the organization and in the league. He lets me know if it's a bad play, he'll be honest with me. If it's a good play, he keeps me motivated and lets me know I can do better. I'm really excited to have him back. He's a coach that's taught me a lot. With me being a veteran, you always think that you know a lot, but for him to be my coach again, I've always felt that I can learn from him and grow from him in my performances."
Can you talk about the work you and your foundation have been doing in Houston?
"Yeah, COVID has been tough around the whole world and obviously it's still going on. For our foundation, we try to do as much as we can, it being most importantly for the children and their families who need help. Our foundation, we just had our first event – granted it didn't go as planned, obviously, because of COVID, but we were able to raise a lot of money. What we want to do is put technology in the hospitals and the schools around Houston. We're still trying to do that. It's been tough, obviously trying to coordinate it because of COVID. We can't go into the hospitals like we normally would or into schools like we normally would. Our foundation is still trying to figure out exactly what we can do during COVID. We've tried to implement giving nurses and frontline workers meals, trying to help them out and try to do as much as we can to try to just be there for everyone that's dealing with this crisis. Also, with the power outage and with everything going on with the flooding that normally happens in Houston, we're trying to do as much as we can to be involved in this community and be engulfed in this community as much as we can to help out Houston, this city. Just from us being here even in COVID, we've had a lovely time. Houston is such a great community for us. We've found so much to do for us and our kids. We've done so many activities around here and hopefully we can continue to do that."
What do you think prevented you from being more successful in the passing game last season? Also, what can you improve on individually and as a team to improve in that area?
"First and foremost, I think the biggest thing is just staying healthy. Also, I think just trying to get more comfortable with my teammates, I think is the biggest thing. Being able to trust in them and them trust in me that I'll do my job first and foremost. Whether that's, like you said, route running, catching the ball where I'm supposed to catch it. I think that's the biggest thing, is just trying to be where I'm supposed to be in the passing concepts. I think that's where – now, me going into my second year, I can get more comfortable. Also, obviously, a lot of off the field distractions that were going on. Different coaches getting fired and everything like that. I think once we start calming down – me, myself especially, start focusing on what I can do and trying to improve my game as best as I can, I think it'll help out."
Are you doing anything differently this offseason to get better?
"I think the biggest thing for me is just trying to be as much in the training room. We have a great training staff here at Houston. I think that's the biggest thing is just trying to be more precautionary with all my – like you said, the fact that I've got a lot of lingering injuries that at this stage in my career that I've got to make sure that I am on top of. That's being in the training room more than normal. Not trying so much to train other places, not trying so much to do other things outside of the organization. Just trying to be more with the trainers there and make sure I do all my corrections, all my mobility work, all my range of motion stuff so I can prevent those injuries from happening. Obviously, in football you can't control all of the injuries, but trying to prevent as much as I can."
Do you think playing a year behind this offensive line will be advantageous?
"I think a year, with not just the o-line, but also like I said, teammates of mine with the group, this new coaching staff, getting familiar with those guys and being a year under the organization is going to help out a lot."
Do you have an opinion on the NFL potentially adding a 17th regular season?
"I do. I don't believe in it. I don't agree with it. I was one that was advocating against it during our NFLPA summit. It's tough because obviously the fans and everyone is excited to see more football, but as football players – especially as a running back – towards the end of the season it's tough to get through injury-free and all the nicks, all the bruises and being bruised up. That extra game is going to make it obviously tougher. I think it's not in the best interest of the players as a whole, so I think it'll be tough for us, for sure."
What do you know about QB Tyrod Taylor and what are your thoughts on him?
"I know of him. Obviously, I know of him. I've heard nothing but great things actually about him, that he's a great leader. Very well-spoken, boisterous leader. He's a good captain on the teams he's been on. He's been through a lot of adversity, as you can see last year a lot of adversity as well with what happened with him in the preseason and ended up hurting him during the season. That's a guy I'm really going to talk to a lot and get familiar with, become great teammates with and hopefully I can learn some stuff from him as well as being a professional athlete."
What are your impressions of Head Coach David Culley?
"I've heard nothing but good things about him as well. I actually know a couple of my teammates, one being Larry, a player of mine that I went to college with that he was his (inaudible) – inspirational, he's always positive. A lot of energy and I think we're going to need that on this team. Very excited to have him aboard. I've talked to him a few times and he just let me know my expectations of being a leader by example-type guy, being a guy that does my job in and out every day, off the field, on the field and being respectful that way. I'm going to do my best to help him out that way."
Do you look forward to the competition within the running back room in training camp?
"Most definitely. I think it'll make us all compete because we all want to play, obviously, so we all want to be on the field. Competition is going to make us all better and it's going to start, like you said, in the spring. Hopefully, we can do something with COVID going on, but it'll transfer all the way to the season. I think with us competing against each other, trying to make each other better and we all trying to see the field, it's going to make our team better, make our running game better and make our offense better."
OL MARCUS CANNON
What's it like to be back in a football mode after opting out of the 2020 season? Also, what was it like to be away from the game this past season?
"This last year was amazing. I got a lot of time with the family. A lot of time for myself to work out and stay in shape and just get my body right. Get my body right and my mind right. It was great. It was great to have some time off from all of the bumps and bruises I've had over the years. The part I'm the most happy about is the time I had with my family. That was great."
How does it feel to be back playing football in Texas?
"It feels great. It feels great. A dream come true."
Can you elaborate on how it feels to play football in Texas?
"I grew up in Odessa, West Texas and moving there from New Mexico, I really learned what real football is. Playing in Odessa, playing in West Texas and playing in Texas in general, every kid that plays wants to play in Texas in the NFL. They would love to play here but you don't get to choose where you play most of the time. I got drafted to the Patriots and man, I'm so thankful for those years that I had there but my dream always has been to play here in the great state of Texas."
Did you family celebrate when they got the news you would be playing for the Texans?
"Oh, they did. As you know, players find out earlier than the news or than the team puts it out, so it was fun trying to keep my family from posting things or telling too many people. It was mainly my mom. She was texting me every day if the Texans had let the news out so she could tell our family and all of our sisters and brothers and friends. My family is just happy. I came through the door and told my wife and the kids were there and they all were just so happy they could stay here. It's been great."
Did you have any idea you would be traded and what was your initial reaction?
"No, I did not know. When I heard the news, (Bill) Belichick called me and let me know they were trading me. It was bittersweet because I have a lot of friends there, I have a lot of memories there. That was the bitter part but the sweet part is that I'm playing in Texas again. I don't have any woes about playing here. There's only positives. It's a change from where I was but I'm ready to attack it and I'm ready to do the best I can for this organization."
What do you think your role will be as you join the Texans?
"I don't know what my role is going to be. I've met the offensive line coach, I've met the head coach, I've met everybody. I went down there last week and met everybody and I do not know what I'll be playing. I don't know how much I'll be playing. I don't know what position I'll be playing, but all I know is I'm on the team right now and I have the chance to show how good I am and show them they can use me. Wherever they want to use me, I'm ready to play. I did the same thing in New England. I had to play where they wanted me to play and I tried to do my best at it and I'm going to do the same thing moving forward."
What kind of championship pedigree do you think you will bring into the locker room and the offensive line room?
"I bring hard work. Hard work and dedication. I'm dedicated to this. Whenever we meet up and we start getting the playbook and start working out together and everything, I'm ready. I'm ready to do whatever I have to do to ensure that I'm putting our team in the best spot to win games. I'm no stranger to hard work and I like working hard and I like being around my teammates and working hard."
What kind of perspective did your health issues give you at the beginning and throughout your football career?
"When I was going through all that, I didn't know what was going to happen. I sure didn't expect to be where I am today having gone to however many Super Bowls or whatever. Just being in my tenth or eleventh season. All of this is a blessing. I'm thankful for how everything turned out. It was a pretty good scare back in 2011 when I was going through all that and I couldn't have prayed for anything better than where I'm sitting in this position today."
Do you like playing tackle or guard better and what is your reasoning?
"There's not one position – well, that would be lying. I like playing right tackle. That was fun. I got into a really good rhythm. I like playing guard, on the right side playing guard. I don't remember what year it is but I played versus the Saints one year when Dan Connolly went down, and that was fun. I've played the left side too, but I don't really have a super favorite position. I'm just happy to be out there. I'll play any position they want me to play. I'll put in the time to get as good as I can at whatever position it is and whatever it is, I'm ready to play. I'm just happy to be a Texan."
Who plays the piano in your home?
"Me and the kids. The kids are better than me, but I learned how to play a little bit of piano when I was younger. It's funny because I don't know how to read notes but my kids have tried to teach me every now and then. They're the piano players. I'm just a four-song guy. I know four songs pretty good."
Are your kids taking piano lessons?
"Yes. They take piano lessons and music. My daughter's in dance and ballet and all that good stuff."
How do you feel about the NFL potentially adding a 17th game to the regular season?
"I haven't really thought about that. This is the first news I'm hearing about it and I don't know if I'm in the position to comment on that. I love playing the game, so whatever rules they put out there and however we have to go about them, that's what I'm going to do."
What was your relationship like with General Manager Nick Caserio and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Jack Easterby when you all were in New England together?
"Jack kind of ran some operation things and he was our chaplain with the Patriots and my relationship with him was great. He was big on helping people become and be the man that they're supposed to be. My relationship with him was pretty good and the same with Nick. He was in every meeting with the offense, so we'd see him and interact with him on a daily basis. I'm excited that those two guys are here and I'm excited to be working under them doing what I need to do to help the team win and I'm glad they're here."
Have you had a chance to talk to Head Coach David Culley or any other offensive linemen yet?
"Yes, I did talk to Coach Culley. It was the first – I guess when I got traded here, I talked to him. Last week when I went in, I talked to him. There was a few offensive linemen there, about three of them, and met some of them. But I haven't met the whole offensive line, but I did meet all the coaches."
Head Coach David Culley seems to be very motivating. What was your conversation like with him?
"He is. He is. He got me excited just talking to him and his energy and just what he brings to the organization, I'm excited. He made me want to practice that day, but we have to wait a little bit. I'm excited to play for him. I'm excited to see what he's all about and he's great. He's great."
What do you know about Offensive Line Coach James Campen and his reputation around the league?
"I've talked to Marshall Newhouse, a great friend, also a TCU Horned Frog, who played under him. I met Coach Campen and he's amazing. Just talking about some technique things and how he coaches and his style. Hearing from Marshall Newhouse and I respect everything that Marshall tells me, and we had a long conversation about his days playing with him and again, I'm excited to play for him from what I've heard from Marshall. He was an offensive lineman when he played, so he knows how we feel and how we're feeling throughout the week. He knows to some point what we're thinking and how we're trying to go about things. I'm excited to play for him and excited to hear what he has to help me play better, help me be as good as I can be."