It looked like Jordan Thomas was making some good plays in practice. If he stays healthy and plays to his potential, what does he add to this offense?
"He adds everything. He can play outside, inside, blocking, short, intermediate routes, long. He has the size and the speed. He's 6'6 and 255 pounds that can run a 4.5 or 4.6. He's a guy that's very talented and has so much potential. He's been working, you can tell. He came back ready and prepared for this camp. He's ready to go. Whenever he gets his opportunity, I'm definitely going to give him a shot. He's been capitalizing on those."
How did it feel to be back at practice in full pads after a strange offseason?
"It feels good to be able to be back with the guys. These past two weeks have been awesome and now the first time putting the pads back on, getting some thud and some clapping going on throughout practice. It brings up the energy and the intensity and everyone was ready and prepared for that. Practice went well and we got the job done. We got the work we wanted to put in. We've got to work to correct the mistakes later on during the meetings and keep pushing forward."
How do you go about making decisions when it comes to who to associate with and choosing endorsements and brands to work with?
"Definitely. Football always comes first and each brand that I work with, we make sure we know that. We don't allow anything off the field to interfere with what's going on, on the field. That's the first thing. Really for me, it's just who can I trust, who can I vibe with. Who is going to make me fulfill my potential and my dreams with what I want to do off the field and that reaches my goals, my values, or what I want to do to use this platform for. That's of course being in the community, being able to serve other people but also having fun and doing the things I want to do within the brand. It's like a big family for me. Everyone that I associate with, I treat everyone like a family."
During your college recruitment, how much did the Clemson football family mean to you, especially after your mom got diagnosed with cancer?
"The Clemson family, they were behind me through everything. Once I received that offer and I committed to them after my freshman, going into my sophomore year, it was family. It was a 'once you're in, you can't get out.' It was one of those feelings where I didn't want to get out. They've been supporting me ever since then, supporting my mom and making sure I'm straight. Every time I come on campus for a game, they show so much love and support. Everyone let me be free and I felt like I was at home. The Clemson family, Chad Morris and Coach (Dabo) Swinney, all the coaching staff, they made sure that I was good at all times. They made sure I was in good hands. They did their part and I did mine and it led to a lot of success."
What does it mean to you that Chad Morris' son is now wearing No. 4 at Oklahoma?
"That's my little bro, Chandler. He told me that he was going to wear No. 4. I think he wore it all through high school, too. Going to college, four is just – when I met him he was yay high. Very, very small. I used to see him running around the facilities and things like that. He used to always just sit there behind me and watch me, sit right beside his dad and just watch me. For me to be able to see him grow and have success and now be in college at a big-time university with the potential to go in to play as a freshman, it's definitely cool, and definitely seeing him wear No. 4 is awesome."
Can you explain how your recruiting trip to Auburn University in high school?
"The trip was something out of the blue. It was something that just kind of happened spur of the moment. I went down there and visited the school. It was nothing that I had to really explain to no one. Of course, with Clemson and Dabo (Swinney), we had our talks and things like that. I told them, once we talked, it was nothing that I changed in my recruitment. I just wanted to go somewhere that weekend and go somewhere different. That's what I did. I enjoyed that time at Auburn and I still committed to Clemson."
How important is it to get WR Kenny Stills back as soon as possible and how important is he to this offense?
"Kenny is a big piece of our offense. He can do so many different things. He can play inside, outside. His experience, his IQ, and just his leadership. I've been working with Kenny all summer so once he gets back rolling and able to get on the field with us, he's definitely going to be right where we left off last year and even more. He's been around, he's been encouraging everyone who has been able to practice. He's been working hard to get back on the field."
What do you think about how the Texans organization is bringing the fans to training camp virtually? How much do you embrace all of that?
"You have to embrace it. The fans, they support us and they keep us going. That's who we want to do it for, the whole family. The locker room treats it as a family. We're one nation, we're one Texans. For us to be able to continue to show our support because they're going to continue to show their support even though we have to do it virtually and it's a little different vibe this season starting off. It's good for us to have opportunities to give back in different ways and still support our fans."
How much does it mean to be a leader of this team and how much do you put on your shoulders to help this franchise get to places it has never been?
"It's just in my DNA. Leadership just comes with responsibility and things like putting the work first. People just follow. That's how I lead. With putting the weight on my shoulders, I don't see it that way. I know it's a lot of pressure to play quarterback, especially for this organization. We want to achieve things this organization hasn't done. I feel like I have the mindset and have the work ethic and the pieces around me to be able to do that. We're just taking it one day at a time. If I can just focus on that and not put too much unnecessary pressure on myself, I think things will just go as it should."
How do you become more comfortable speaking out and using your platform to talk about racial issues or reach out to the community? Is that something that's grown over the last few years as you try to become a bigger face within the NFL?
"I guess you could say that. I think it's grown in the way of just knowledge and learning. There's a lot of different things I've seen, especially with social justice, politics and things like that, but I didn't really understand fully. I understand the side that I grew up on, but I didn't understand the other side. So being able to understand both sides and then knowing who I am as a person and what I believe in, then I can be able to speak up. I don't want to speak up on something and then a question pops up later and I don't have a reason or knowledge behind what I said. Everything is timing and everything is just learning. That's what I've been doing this past offseason and so I've been able to speak up more about it."
What conversations have you had, if any, with your teammates about making sure everyone is responsible in their free time so the season can be played?
"We've got to be responsible. We've got to be professionals. We've got to do it the right way. For us to be able to do what we want to do, and that's play and have a season and stay on a team, you have to be able to give that advice, give those leadership talks. I've been doing a good job, J.J. (Watt) and definitely Coach OB (Bill O'Brien). He talks about it all the time. He makes sure that he uses other people's mistakes and brings it to us so we see it, so we don't have those same mistakes. We've been doing a good job of handling that, especially in a city like Houston. I think guys are focused and being able to take responsibility of what you're doing. We're doing a good job of that, but I can't speak on anybody else."
Last year at an event you said your favorite play was 'Go Route to Hop for 6.' What do you anticipate your favorite play might be this year?
"Go routes to 15 (Will Fuller V), go routes to 12 (Kenny Stills), go routes to 13 (Brandin Cooks), crossing routes to 18 (Randall Cobb), 16 (Keke Coutee), the boys, the Johnson boys (Duke Johnson and David Johnson) coming out of the backfield and spreading the ball around. Being able to find the open man and take my game to another level and just spread the wealth. Not necessarily we didn't do that in the previous years, but you have the No. 1 receiver in the NFL. He's going to do his part and get his targets. You have to make sure that he's doing what he needs to do. Now we have depth and we have a lot of experience and a lot of veteran guys. We'll be able to spread it around. Guys are going to do their part to be able to get touchdowns."
What have the conversations been like with WR Kenny Stills about some of the things going on in the country right now? What have you learned from him and what are those conversations like with the rest of the team as you come back together now?
"The conversations with Kenny have been really good. I've learned so much from him from the knowledge and different stories and different things that he's been experiencing this offseason and being a part of that. For me to be able to just sit there and listen and just be able to take in so much knowledge on what's been going on. I've been around Kenny all offseason, so that has been naturally happening. I think the guys throughout the locker room have been great about it. Everyone is aware of what is going on, of reality and not just sucked in on what's going on. We've been able to separate of course football but also reality and life. It's been good."
Now that you have had your first padded practice, what did you see and think of the offense today?
"A lot of talent. A lot of energy. A lot of guys that want to make plays. A lot of guys competing. That's all we need is guys that are going to compete each and every down, each and every play, and try to make a big play for this offense. None of us want to disappoint one another so we're going to do our job to the highest. Of course we're going to make mistakes. We're all human. At the same time, we're going to make sure that we're as consistent as we can to try to be successful."
When was the challenge of being the quarterback and being a leader while meeting virtually?
"The biggest challenge was when somebody's WiFi would go out. The Zoom meetings were great. We got a lot going on. People were actually communicating and talking. Whenever we could meet up, we would meet up, but the Zoom meetings were pretty awesome and we definitely got a lot out of them."