When you look back to when you reported with the rookies until now, how much more comfortable do you feel and what do you think you can achieve this season?
"It's definitely been a different change. The world is in a weird situation, but it's all about adjusting to new things and just the things the rookies have been through, I think we've improved a lot as a group. I feel like this group that we have, our rookies can really help the team in a good way. Just have to keep improving and stacking those days. As far as it's been going, it's been a good process. Just taking every day one by one and never taking a day for granted."
Head Coach and General Manager Bill O'Brien said the scheme you played at TCU is different than here. How do your responsibilities here differ from what you were asked to do at TCU?
"Fort Worth, TCU, my responsibility to kind of holding gaps for linebackers and safeties to flow and make tackles. It's essentially almost the same thing here but at TCU I was more lateral when I stepped and we slanted so much. It's not up the field, it's always side to side and lateral. Here, I can go up the field, get off the ball, penetrate, create more havoc than I did in college. I like this system a lot more because it takes more thinking out of it as a d-lineman. So, I just have to work on my technique and get better at that in a new system and stuff like that. It's coming along."
What do you think about playing against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs with that being your first NFL game against the Super Bowl Champs?
"He's a great guy. Great player. I just want to keep improving and learning from the vets, gaining their trust to be able to go out there and play with them and to play [against] the team who just won the Super Bowl. Just learning each and every day, trying to get better with my technique. In practice I'm just trying to improve to put myself in a situation where I can play and help the team in a positive way."
You were very emotional when you signed your contract. Now that you're practicing 15-20 minutes from your house, have you experienced some 'Oh, wow' moment since then?
"Yeah, I've had a few. The one when I signed, the day I signed, it hit me hard because from draft day up until to that point, just all the emotions and stuff. It's still surreal. Being able just to go home and see my mom after practice or just being able to know that this is home, it's a blessing. It doesn't happen to everybody so I'm just taking it in every day, being thankful I'm not somewhere far away. I'm right where I want to be. Growing up this was my favorite team so I can't be more excited and more happy to play here."
What is something you anticipated being the biggest challenge for you as NFL practices got going and how do you feel you've handled that since training camp started?
"I would say one thing as a rookie, like I stated earlier, it's like you're a freshman all over again in college, l like to say. You're starting from the ground up. You've got to earn your respect. You've got to gain the trust of the vets, the coaches and the players around you. So, your eyes get real big, you don't know what's going on and you're trying to pick things up as they go. But once you get everything down, everything start to slow down for you, so as long as I'm staying on the right track, studying, asking questions, doing extra work, I think that it's a good way of staying ahead as a rookie. Like I said, it's a crazy year for us, so we've got to just be able to adjust on the fly. This year, this league is not going to slow down for nobody. You've just go to play a game of catch-up right now."
What have you learned from working with DE J.J. Watt?
"That's an interesting dude. He's a workhorse. Interesting in a good way. Just trying to pick his brain every once in a while. Just being able to learn from him. He's a super-vet. He's been in the league since I was a freshman in high school. Just being able to play next to him and play with him, it's an honor. I'm trying to learn as much as I can while I'm here and while he's here. One day hopefully I can be in that status, but that's down the road."
Have you reminded him that you've been watching him since you were a freshman in high school?
"No, but I will tomorrow. That's crazy, though. It's been a long time. I used to watch him a lot. After school I used to just come and watch some games. I would just watch his pass rush. It's crazy."
What has been the toughest thing for you in your adjustment into the NFL? Is there one thing that stands out?
"I'd say the time that you have that's free because you don't have school. You use it wisely. You use it for your body. use it for extra work, extra film. You're not going to class after practice, so you have a lot of time on your hands to use it to your best ability. Like I said, getting in the treatment training room. Get an extra stretch, lift. I do yoga every night. Just kind of go over my plays and do yoga every night and just get ready for the next day instead of laying around or doing whatever you're doing. I just put in that extra work. That'll help in the long run."
Has something happened in your short time being a Texan where you said 'I did this, I belong' or anything like that?
"No. You can never get too comfortable. I've made plays, but it's still not good enough. I just want to be able to be at my best every single time I play or I'm out there. Just continuing to learn and soak up knowledge as much as I can."
We saw DE J.J. Watt post about some donuts the rookies got him. What do you know about that?
"We were supposed to order Kata Robata for the vets, me and another rookie. It was just miscommunication with the vets and the rookies and the rookies took the L, so we brought J.J. and them donuts the next morning trying to make it up. Kind of like bringing your girlfriend flowers after y'all got into an argument. That's kind of what that situation was. But unfortunately, we're still going to have to get the food."
What are your impressions of Defensive Coordinator / Defensive Line Coach Anthony Weaver and Associate Head Coach Romeo Crennel and what is it like playing for them?
"Coach Weave is a great dude. I can honestly say that I've never been around a coach that acts and carries himself like Weave does. Great dude. Technician. Loves to have fun. Just a great guy all the way around. I'm glad he's my coach. I met him at the combine and I said to myself – I met him for 20 minutes and I said, man, I wish this dude was my coach, and I only knew him for 20 minutes. It's kind of crazy how things work out. Romeo, he's a great dude. He's a legend. He's been around the league 30 years. Just picking his brain, too. We talk a lot after plays. He tries to get me right and tells me what's wrong and what's good and what I could've done better. Just being able to have them two around me is good."
How does it feel knowing you haven't played one down yet as a Texan and you are already a fan favorite? How does it feel being embraced by the city of Houston?
"It's love. I love this city until the day I leave it. It's a beautiful place. I never have plans on leaving. Way, way after football, I'll always be a Houston guy. Just knowing the people out there support me and my life could've been a completely different shape and nobody could've known me but people support me and love what I do and I love what I do. It's a complete blessing. Anybody that buys a card, wants a signature, a fan, anything, I'm all for it. It doesn't matter about the money or anything about it. At the end of the day, I could be doing something else that's not, what's the word I want to say – not improving my life or making somebody else's better. I made that kid's life a lot better. I made his day. That's all love."
Can you talk about some of your personal goals you have set for yourself as you head into your rookie season?
"Like I said, continuing just to learn all the knowledge I can, just gain trust in the vets. Let them know they can trust me while I'm on the field with them, that I'll do my job. Just keep grinding and just keep striving to be great each and every day. My main goal my rookie year is just be a sponge. Soak up everything I possibly can so whenever I'm older I can make things slow down for me and I can pass it on to the next person."