RB MARK INGRAM II
What are your thoughts on joining the Texans and joining a veteran running back group?
"First of all, I'm excited to be part of the organization. I'm excited to be a Texan. I'm excited to come to a great city in Houston and just be the best player and the best person I can be for the organization, for the city, for my teammates, for my family. I'm just going to be a player that works his butt off, tries to prepare myself to play at the highest level possible to help my teammates, help my team win and to be the best player I can be for the team. Being a part of the backfield with David Johnson and Phillip Lindsay, I'm excited about that opportunity. The more backs that you have that can be great and excel in many different ways – I appreciate their games. I've been a fan of David Johnson and I told him that. I've been a fan of Phillip Lindsey and I told him that. I admire the way they play the game a lot. I admire their professionalism and I think all of us have played the game at the highest level in this league. For us to be able to compete and make each other better, but most importantly make our team better, is nothing but an advantage for us."
Can you explain your explosiveness and the chip on your shoulder you bring after not playing as much at the end of last season?
"Yeah, that was bad how that ended. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't ideal for how I wanted that season to go or how I thought my season would go and for me to be able to help my team in the playoffs and just winning. It was tough but the blessing in disguise was that my body, I feel super healthy. I feel super explosive. I'm springy right now. I feel like I'm going into this off season heathier than I have in the past few offseasons. Just my body feels great. I've been training, I've been working and my body feels great. I'm running around good and moving good, so I'm just excited I can get a great, strong offseason of working and training and taking care of my body to put my best foot forward. Like I said, I still feel like I can play my best football. I feel like my best football is still ahead of me. Unless you look at my birth certificate, you can't tell that I'm 31 years old by the way I play, by the way I run, by the way I move. I feel like my game still has a lot left in the tank and I'm excited to go out there and prove that."
What was is about the Texans that attracted you to them?
"Honestly, they wanted me. They called and I flew in for a visit and they expressed their interest in me. Obviously just going somewhere that wants you, somewhere that wants you to be there, that's always a good connection right there in general. Obviously, Coach (David) Culley, I was with him for two years in Baltimore. He had – it made it an easy transition and an easy decision for me because I know what he's about and I know the type of man he is. He was very encouraging and a positive influence to me in my two years in Baltimore. Just to be able to play for him and help him out here in Houston, it was a great opportunity and I'm excited about it."
How do you view yourself as a teammate?
"I really just go be myself. I just try to be myself. I try to be me. I can't be anybody else. I can be me. 100% authentic and 100% genuine. In those places I had great teammates that accepted me and took me in and Iet you build relationships with. I go hard for my people. It doesn't matter who you are, if you're my people, if I love you and you're my teammate or my friend or my family, I'm going to go all out about it. When I get with my teammates and we develop that comradery and that closeness, that bond we have together, I'm going to go hard for my teammates because that's what I do. There's nothing fabricated. It's not like I'm trying to put on a show or get on TV. I genuinely love my teammates. I genuinely love my friends, my family. I'm going to go hard about it and I'm going to support them, try to encourage them and lift them up every chance I get. That's just what I do. It's just genuine. It's just authentic. It's just me being myself and developing friendships that last lifetimes with my friends and my teammates and so forth."
Is your karate kick celebration going to be your go-to celebration?
"No, no. We're going to take it on the road. We're going to do it to other people's logos. I missed and I didn't connect the kick. It was all respect. It was just a little something. We're going to go on the road and do it to their logo."
What do you think it will be like in the locker room with so many new players who joined the Texans on short-term contracts?
"I think guys are just going to lean on each other. I think guys are going to be motivated. You're only there for a short term, so obviously you want to put your best foot forward and be able to have longevity and long-term security in the league that we're excited to play in and blessed to play in. We know it's a tough league, so I think everybody has the chance to go out there and prove themselves and I think we'll lean on each other. I think guys will have a chip on their shoulder. I know a lot of guys they've signed are guys who have been in this league, who have played in this league. It's just an opportunity to go out there and put your best foot forward and showcase your abilities. As a pro that's all you can ask for – an opportunity. As a man, that's all you can ask for, is an opportunity. I'm looking forward to my opportunity and many of the guys who have signed on this Texans team over the offseason are looking forward to their opportunity as well."
What did you think when you heard Head Coach David Culley finally got an opportunity to be a head coach? What kind of job do you think he will do as the face of the franchise?
"Really, I was excited for him. I know he's been coaching a long time. Many, many years in the league, in college. He's done the coaching thing for many years. He's just a great guy. He's a great human being. I think he genuinely cares about his players, he genuinely cares about his staff. He genuinely cares about the people around him. He's just a good person all around. He's encouraging, he's down to earth but he also will hold you accountable. He wants to win. He wants to be a winner and he's going to demand perfection and that you to perform at the highest level. I know he demanded that out of the receivers in Baltimore. I know he demanded that every time he addressed the offense or the team. He had a high standard that he set, and guys respected that on the team. I definitely respected it myself. I think he's going to do a great job. I think guys are going to rally behind him and going to support and want to play their best football for him. That's the type of guy he is. He's going to be a [players' coach] and a guy who is real and supports his players and supports his team. When you have a guy like that who encourages you and supports you like that, you want to go hard for him. I think most of the guys will see that and kind of have that response to it."
What would it mean to you to help turn around the Texans running game?
"That would mean a lot just to be able to take a team to tops in the league in running the football. I think that's everybody's goal and I think in order to be a great team in this league you have to be able to dominate the line of scrimmage both offensively and defensively. Just having a running game that is strong, that is efficient and effective, that can be a great asset for a team and a great way to build an identity as a team. To have the opportunity with the other backs, with the offensive line, with our whole entire team being able to create a better run game and a run game that's tops in the league, I think that's something that we're all striving for."
How do you see yourself complementing RB Phillip Lindsay and RB David Johnson?
"I think all three of us do everything really well. I think you've got guys that can run inside well, run outside well, come out of the backfield, run great routes and catch the ball well and be dangerous with the ball in their hands in space. So just the opportunity to come in and work with those guys, compete against those guys – competition breeds excellence. If we're all competing, we're all going to get better and if we're getting better than that means we're going to help the team be better. I don't know necessarily what my role is going to be. I know I'm prepared to be able to do the entire playbook from running routes out of the backfield, lining up out wide, from picking up pass protection, if we're running power or inside zone or outside zone or toss sweeps – whatever is needed I feel like my ability will be able to do whatever the offense is asked of me. So I'm just going to work my butt off. I'm going to learn the offense. I'm going to put my best foot forward and whatever my role is, you've got to earn that. Nothing's going to be given to you. You've got to earn everything. We'll see how everything plays out but I'm going to be working my butt off to be the best I can be for my team."
What type of leadership do you think you will bring to the locker room?
"I think you just need to have a group of guys that care about one another, a group of guys who want to hold each other accountable. When you line up next to that person in the huddle, you know you can depend on him and you know he's depending on you and it just has to be that you're going to go hard and execute your assignments to the best of your ability. You don't have to do anybody else's assignment. You just have to focus on doing your assignment. You win your job, you win your play, if every person on offense, if every person on defense, if every person on special teams does that, it'll be a successful play. If you have 10 people doing it right and one person doing it wrong, we've got to hold each other accountable or somebody has to pick up the slack for that. Everybody has to have each other's back. Everyone has to have a bond on and off the field. It's one that you never want to let your brother down, that you want to win, you want to be great and accomplish something special. You just want to have that mindset, that mentality in the locker room and amongst your team."
How much do you think your success in Baltimore and New Orleans will help you set a high standard in Houston?
"I'm just going to go and lead by example. I'm going to practice hard. I'm going to work hard. I'm going to take care of my body. I'm going to be a guy who guys can come up to and talk to. I'm not like some super-nothing. I'm just a guy. They can come talk to me and I'll tell them my genuine experiences that I've had in the league. I've had successes. I've had failures. I've had things that have knocked me down and I've had to get back up. I'm just an open book and I'm here as a resource to my teammates. I learn from them, they learn from me, you learn from each other. That's part of being a team. I don't do anything crazy. I just be myself. I'm not trying to be something that I'm not. I just want to be myself. I'm going to be Mark Ingram II and I'm going to be someone who works his butt off, who tries to prepare himself to play at the highest level each and every opportunity I get and someone who is just going to be a great person, a great teammate to people around the facility and people in the organization. I just try to stand on those basic principles, treat people how I want to be treated, work my butt off and hopefully just leading by example and being able to encourage others offering that leadership."
What is QB Tyrod Taylor's reputation around the league?
"He's a baller, man. He's just a baller. He's a guy, he's a true professional. He's a winner. He scraps and he's a fighter. He appreciates the professionalism it takes to be at this level and have a long career. It's not easy to be in this league for a long time and play quarterback. Every time he gets his opportunity, he helps his team. Every time he gets an opportunity to play, he shows out. You've got to respect that. As a player, watching him over all these years, even from back in college, I've always respected his game. I've always respected his approach to the game, his professionalism, his desire to want to get better, his desire to want to win, his desire to want to be the best. Just from afar, I've met him a few times. We've spoken a number of times, but just from afar, I've always admired his game and how he approaches the game."
What did Drew Brees mean to your career and what do you think his legacy will be in the NFL?
"He meant everything to me. He's just helped me so much as a player, as a man, just learning how to be a great husband, a great father, how to be a person who gives back in the community. Business adventures, he's been an open book for me. Just coming in as a rookie, learning how to be a pro, learning how to approach walk through, learning how to approach film, learning how to approach practice, learning how to approach body recovery. All those things – how locked in he was at walk throughs. Paying attention to detail, always wanting to be perfect, striving for that perfection. Those are all things that I learned from him and saw from him consistently for eight years straight, so I understand what it takes. It wasn't given to him, it wasn't just something that happened on Sunday. He always had his same routine, his same consistency. He was always willing to learn new things to improve himself and improve his teammates. Just learning that stuff from him, you just kind of learn how to be a pro along with many other veterans that I had learned from being a young player in the league. I think his legacy is just he's played this game, was a great human being, a great father, a great husband, a great teammate, a great humanitarian and obviously one of the best to do it statistically ever in the NFL. He has many different legacies, but Drew Brees is the man. He's the GOAT. First ballot Hall of Fame person, first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback. He deserves everything that's coming for him in retirement."