Can you talk about the threat you and RB Duke Johnson can pose to defenses and what you see your role being this season?
"Oh, we're going to be a lethal threat, me and Duke. Not just as running, but like you said, as catching the ball. Really making defenses have to try to figure out if they go base or sub. We're going to try to really expose their defense. Whatever they give us, we're going to definitely be able to use that as an advantage for us and we're going to be able to really help out this offense and this Texans organization. For me, I just want to be able to be utilized in every facet of the offense as a running back first off and then being split out as a receiver coming out of the backfield. Just having the ball in my hands, being able to get the yards needed, the first downs, the touchdowns and really just be able to be effective in the offense for this organization, for Coach (Tim) Kelly and Coach (Bill) O'Brien."
What are the challenges you experience changing teams and learning a new playbook? Also, what is it like being in the facility with the new safety protocols?
"It's definitely been rough trying to learn this offense, only really because we've only been doing Zoom for the beginning. All of OTAs, all of April, all of the offseason. That's been tough for me. I've been more of a guy who needs to be out on the field, doing walkthroughs and being able to learn the offense that way. It's been a little tough and a little challenging. Since I've been in the league and honestly, being forced to learn three different offenses in the last three years before this has helped me out in being able to know how to learn offenses. What strategies I use, I use Quizlet and notepads and stuff like that. It's been able to help out a lot. Duke (Johnson) has been able to help me out a lot. Coach (Tim) Kelly has been able to help me out a lot and Deshaun (Watson). I went and threw with him a couple of times and he's very smart. He is very into the playbook. You would think he came up with it himself. That's helped out a lot. As far as being in this building during COVID, it's definitely been weird. We only can be in small groups. Not being able to see the whole team and being able to interact with the whole team and seeing everyone in the locker room together has been different. It's been tough figuring out how to learn guys' names and putting faces to names just because of that reason. We have to be split up, coming in the building at different times and so that has been pretty challenging in that aspect. Coach (Bill) O'Brien has been doing as much as he can – Jack Easterby – have been doing as much as they can to try to get everyone to learn each other and try to get everyone to figure out how to do this during COVID. All 32 teams have to do it. We're not the only one. Like O'Brien said, it's going to come down to who's going to be more disciplined off the field during these times and being safe off the field, and learning how to be a professional and be responsible on your own."
What have you learned about QB Deshaun Watson so far that you didn't know before?
"Honestly, I knew he was a great quarterback and I knew he was a great scrambler, being able to avoid tackles and sacks. I think the biggest thing I've learned is how smart he is and how well he knows the offense. Like I said earlier, you would think he came up with the offense. Then, his ability to know defenses. Knowing coverages, knowing what to audible the play to, to put us on top to win that play against the defense, whatever they throw at us. Being able to watch film from last year and knowing how much of a playmaker he is, honestly, and seeing it firsthand in the little spurts that we have of walkthrough and stuff has been amazing."
What are the challenges of both running and receiving out of two-back sets?
"We have done it enough where I am comfortable, honestly. Me and Andre Ellington, me and Chris Johnson, we've done it a few times. Last year with Chase (Edmonds), we've done it a few times and the year before that. I actually am pretty comfortable with it. I think it'll really help out our offense, is what I feel because they're not going to know who's going out of the backfield, who's blocking, or if we're both going out of the backfield, who's lining up at the receiver or who's staying in to run the ball. I feel like it's going to, honestly, help out the offense a lot."
Has there been anything you have done in particular to prepare for this season and stay healthy?
"Honestly, no. I've been trying to do everything every year in the offseason. I guess the thing is, everyday I'm working on it. Not just every other day, but every day, working on my little nicks that I had last year that kept me off the field last year. I think it's an everyday battle and an everyday thing I have to go through to make sure my body is as healthy as possible to get through this full season. Especially with what's going on, who knows what's going to happen this season. I just want to make sure that I'm able to play every game and every snap that I can in the games and be able to help out this offense as much as possible."
How do you view yourself as a runner between the tackles?
"I view myself as capable runner between the tackles. Knowing how to set up blocks, knowing how to use my leverage and being able to distinguish what the linebackers and what the d-line is doing and getting through those tight holes and getting the yards needed."
Can you evaluate the offensive line you'll be playing with?
"This is the thing I am probably most excited about is how good and dominant our offensive line looks. How strong they look and just from watching film from last year of each player, it's going to be very fun to say the least. I think it's going to help out the offense, those five guys up there. Their level of professionalism and how smart they are, first and foremost, is that. L.T. (Laremy Tunsil), Max (Scharping) and those guys, Nick (Martin), they're going to be very good for us. Tytus (Howard) and those guys are going to be able to help Deshaun (Watson) stay upright and get the holes open for me. I can't wait for the season to start."
Does it put more pressure on you and give you something to prove that people are equating Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins to you in the trade?
"A little bit, but honestly, I think I've always had pressure since 2016. I like the pressure. It makes me want to be better. It makes me want to compete more and do everything I can to prove the doubters [wrong] or want to make (Bill) O'Brien look good and want to make this organization look good. I'm excited about this season and I can't wait for it to officially get going."
What all did you do during quarantine to occupy your time besides running around with your kids?
"That's really about it. Chasing DJ and Londyn around and hanging out with my family and Meghan. Just really enjoying the time, especially with the uncertainty that's going on in the world. Family is very important and just being with them. Me and DJ were running around just this morning. He was riding his scooter and I was chasing him down. I think that's the biggest thing that I was making sure that I did, was being with them and enjoying time with them because everyone knows in the league that once the season starts, you don't get too much time. Now that I have two, I want to do everything I can to be with them so they know they have a father figure around."
What was your process like weighing the options of playing this season or opting out?
"The biggest thing was family. I sat down and talked with my wife, Meghan, and we talked about it. The pros and cons of everything. Ultimately, we said that we were going to ride this thing out and be here for the Texans and be here for (Bill) O'Brien. Actually, after talking to Jack (Easterby) and O'Brien, they did everything they can to make this organization and this facility as safe as possible. With the touchless doors to masks being worn all the time to the sanitation stations being everywhere – I mean, every five feet you see a sanitation station of stuff you wipe your hands with and everything. I think that's really what it came down to, is just talking with Jack and Coach O'Brien and being safe to know they're doing everything they can to make sure all the players are safe, all the staff members are safe, and they're going to abide by all the rules with this COVID-19."
Can you explain how the players are using Quizlet?
"I think I'm the only one, I don't know if anyone else [does], but I've used Quizlet ever since I got into the league as a rookie. What it is, is literally just flashcards that you can use and they give you different choices, multiple choice, or you can write it out or they give you different questions. It's helped me out a lot. I think especially learning this offense, it's back to kind of a B.A. (Bruce Arians) type offense where there's a lot that goes into it. There's one play but there's multiple formations that it can be ran out of. So, Quizlet has helped me out a lot in learning this offense and like I said, since I'm going to be utilized a lot coming out of the backfield and used as a receiver, I have to learn formations. He uses a lot of different formations which is really good because at the beginning it's tough to learn but once I get it down, it's going to be very good for us in disguising what we're running and what we're doing on the field."
How important are the padded practices and scrimmages going to be for you and the backfield? Can you evaluate the other backs in the room?
"For me, it's going to be very, very important for these outside practices and just because I am more, like I said, learning on the field. Just the timing of the blocking, being able to correlate with Deshaun (Watson) and his tendencies throwing the ball to me. Being able to run the ball between the tackles outside and just being out on the field is going to help me a lot compared to Zoom. For me, watching it, I hate to say it but I kind of space off watching Zoom. It's tough for me to learn that way but on the field, I can stay focused a lot more. As far as third backs go, a lot of good players for us. Buddy (Howell), Hig (Karan Higdon Jr.), Scottie (Phillips), who just got here this year. I think they're going to be really good and it's going to be tough for (Bill) O'Brien and for the organization to pick that third-string back for sure."
Can you describe your relationship you built with TE Darren Fells in Arizona and what it's like to play with him again?
"Me and Darren actually got to Arizona, it was both of our first years in the league. We were both kind of scrambling, trying to figure out not just the playbook but being in the NFL. Honestly, we were both kind of fending for ourselves. With him being a tight end and me being a running back made a big difference as well. I did know that he picked up the offense pretty quickly and I know that he's a professional first and foremost. He knows how to handle himself on and off the field and me and him joke about it all the time that he was really the second coach in the tight ends room our year after he learned the playbook so fast. We talk all the time about those days and how good we were in 2015. We're trying to do the same thing here in Houston and I'm glad that I get a familiar face here that I don't have to learn. We can kind of talk to each other and I know how he plays already and it's going to help out our offense a lot just because I know his tendencies, that he's blocker for the run game and he's good in the redzone, scoring touchdowns."