Transcripts: Whitney Mercilus Press Conference (8-23-2020)

When you look at some of the guys you've added to the defense this offseason, what do you feel like the pass rush can be like this year with you coming back and having a healthy DE J.J. Watt?

"I mean, especially with Weave (Anthony Weaver), the way he's constructed the defense, added some really great packages to this defense, allowing everybody to utilize their abilities. Not just me or J.J. but you've got Brennan Scarlett, you've got Jacob Martin and also Jonathan Greenard. So, being able to do all different kinds of things, drop, stuff like that. We've got some very versatile guys. Especially in our secondary, too. Guys that can run all day."

As far as you individually, what did you work on this offseason to sustain your rush and production for all 16 games?

"Honestly throughout the pandemic and whatnot just staying at home and being able to go through the moves. Walk through them, even on air. Walk through the house, doing something like that. Also, working out with a personal trainer, just doing some hand combat things. That's about it. Things I've been doing for years."

This is the second time Associate Head Coach Romeo Crennel has stepped aside for a younger defensive coordinator to come in. Was it awkward the first time it happened and how does he handle that?

"Romeo has confidence in the guys who step into that role. You absolutely do see that and allow them to take the lead, take the charge and you always have Romeo there to consult. That's what we've seen and so the thing is, we have confidence behind anybody who's the leader of the pack. We understand that they know everything about the game, and Romeo has seen a lot. So, for example, Weave (Anthony Weaver) consults Romeo as far as how to run the defense and come up with some great packages, explain things, why not to do this, why to do that and all that. So, we pretty much rock with everybody who's been there."

How would you say that Defensive Coordinator / Defensive Line Coach Anthony Weaver and Associate Head Coach Romeo Crennel differ in styles in how they go about interacting and instructing you guys?

"Weave as far as – I don't know if you want to say like 'young blood' or whatnot. But as far as him coaching the d-line and stuff like that, which I've been in his room and how he interacts with the d-line is the same way in which he interacts with the entire defense, so it's no different. As far as his thought process, as far as how he wants to play the game and stuff like that, he's played before, as well, too, in this league, so he understands us from a player standpoint and what we want to see and what we want to do and stuff like that. We're able to work in conjunction with that. Romeo, old school a little bit. Since the time he's been there, he's done some great things to allow us to be able to play fast and not think and all that. There's some little differences but a whole lot of similarities as well."

What are your impressions of OLB Jonathan Greenard so far?

"I think he's great. He's just got to clean up a few things. He's coming along just nicely. His learning curve is just fine as far as picking up the defense and doing the correct things. Just like all of us, we've got to be able to pick up our stamina just a little bit in practice and all that, just because it's a unique time, and just clean up the fundamental technique things."

Can you talk about the differences between Associate Head Coach Romeo Crennel and Defensive Coordinator / Defensive Line Coach Anthony Weaver as defensive coordinators?

"As far as the differences, I mean, as far as what Romeo has ran as far as alignments and stuff like that, it's still similar in regards to Weave. Just a few caveats as far as the changing up some of the pressures and stuff like that. They have two different philosophies as far as that goes. Those are the differences we see at practice. We love it as an entirety, allowing us to use our different skillsets across the board."

Can you talk about where you think the defense is so far given the shortened offseason and training camp?

"Yeah, it's real interesting. Nobody could predict this and all that. As far as where we stand at, not exactly where we need to be, I'll tell you that. We've still got to push even harder to break our limits right now and keep pushing forward as far as stamina wise as well, and our fundamentals and techniques as well so it's on a consistent basis, and to work on our communication as well too, to be able to always be on the same page and minimalize a lot of the mistakes that happen at practice. We're much further along than we were three weeks ago but we're not quite there yet. We've still got a little way to go."

DE J.J. Watt's practice routine has been a topic amongst fans because it's been different. What do you see out of him and do you notice any difference when he's on the field practicing?

"There's no difference. The thing is, he gives 100 percent and is very enthusiastic and he gives high energy every single time. Any time he's in there, it elevates everybody's game. The things that he's done in this league and the type of attitude that he brings every day has been the same. It's consistent, always. No matter what. It might be a topic out there and that's fine, but we understand what's going on in here. He understands what he has to do and stuff like that, so it's always based off an individual. For us, as far as understanding where we need to be at, he's great."

How energizing is it for you defensively as a group, knowing in this look we see at practice that you can pressure from so many different areas with so many different players?

"It's awesome. It's the type of defense we strive for. Guys get to be in so many different spots. It's not even as if somebody can just be in one spot and just play that spot entirely. Somebody else can be replaced, whether you come off the edge or something like that. We've had edge blitzes before in the past before and stuff like that, but like I said earlier, we've got a lot of versatility, guys with a whole bunch of different skillsets. Man, everybody is loving it."

Several teams have had false positive COVID-19 tests and had to cancel or postpone practices. What are your thoughts on that and the testing procedures?

"Yeah, I definitely wouldn't have known that because definitely I was working my butt off at practice. As far as handling that, the organization has done a great job as far as putting in preventive measures and all that. Getting tested every single day, that was a negotiated between the union and the NFL in order to keep us protected and all that. The thing is, you can't babysit 80 guys on a team. You can't. It's impossible. What are you going to do, hire a bodyguard for everybody and make sure they're not going out and whatnot? That's impossible. The thing is, it falls on the person individually. The thing is, everybody has to be responsible and look at the bigger picture as far as what they want to accomplish. So, there's some people that are going to be on the same page and some that are not. As far as our team goes, we've done a good job of that."

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