Head Coach Bill O'Brien**
(on any cuts that he would like to share) "Right now, we're still working through the process. I think we have till about three o'clock today. So we're still working on that. When I head back from here, I have a team meeting at 2:15, a brief one there, and then I'm sure Rick (Smith) and I will get together to finalize those things."
(on today's full-padded practice) "It was good. It was good. These guys went out there and competed hard today. We were out there for about 2½ hours. We were able to get a lot of good work done: situational work, red area, third down, two minute. We did some no huddle work. We did a lot and I felt like these guys worked hard. You know, these guys have worked really hard and it's a fun group to be around because of that."
(on how he is going to play the players in Thursday's game) "You know, there is going to be certain guys that probably won't play a whole lot in this game so that we can get a look at other guys that need to be evaluated more than they have been during the preseason, if that makes sense. So, I'm not going to get into specific names, you know, like I always say to you guys, I really respect the question, but I think you can figure it out. We'll play certain guys a lot more than we play other guys, and really it's because there are still a lot of guys on this roster that have a chance to make the team. So we feel like in fairness to them with our last preseason game here, it's important for those guys to get a lot of reps."
(on how Case Keenum and Tom Savage will be rotated) "Yeah, we'll start Case in the game. We'll start Case in the game and then we'll determine based on the amount of plays because again, it's hard, it's a difficult thing in a game that you're trying to make a fair evaluation. We'll start Case and then we'll see how many plays we get there with him and then we'll put Tom in at some point."
(on if Ryan Fitzpatrick is ruled out for Thursday) "Yeah, I would say Fitzy (Fitzpatrick) probably would not play in this game, but he will be ready to go. You know what I did in that first game where I put him back in for a two minute drive, something like that, that might happen. He would be, he'll be out there dressed and ready to go."
(on how many quarterbacks the team will take into the season) "I would say more than likely there will be three quarterbacks on the roster to start the season."
(on the three quarterbacks currently on the roster will be the three going into the season) "Well, I would tell you that, obviously, these three have been with us for a while, especially Case (Keenum) and Ryan (Fitzpatrick) and then Tommy (Tom Savage) came in after the draft, so more than likely it will be these three."
(on if he values how long the quarterbacks have been with him) "You have to put value in that because they've put a lot of work in and they know the system, all three of them in different levels because Tom (Savage) got here after the draft. All three of these guys have an understanding of the system. They've all had their share of decent moments. Like all of us, they've had their share of not so good moments. But they've improved every week, and so you definitely take that into account. You also take into account that you're always going to try to do whatever is best for the football team because you owe that to the other 53, 52 guys or however many it is. You do what's best for the team, but at the end of the day these three guys certainly, you take that into account that they've put a lot of work in."
(on how many players he wants on the roster at each position and if that is a fixed number) "It is not fixed and it's something that is a very difficult process because you have to look at the health of a player, the future health of a player, how many guys you would need at that position on game day, the 46 roster, how many of those certain guys are involved in special teams. That takes a definite part, that's a part of the decision, too. It will be a, obviously, after the game it will be a long night Thursday night. It will be an interesting day on Friday and again like I've said from day one about these guys here, every one of these guys, even the guys that we released over the past couple days here, these guys have worked extremely hard, so this part of the job is not easy. Not that anyone should feel sorry for me, that's not what I'm saying, but it's a very difficult part of the job because these guys have worked so hard."
(on what factors he looks at for the practice squad) "Well the rules have changed, so now you can have 10, and the rules just changed last week. The other part of the rule that's changed there is who is eligible for the practice squad now. Those rules have changed, so we're still in the process of sorting that out. That's a very big part of our team. Meaning that any one that you put on the practice squad is there because you think eventually they may have a chance to help you and they're not just there just to fill up so called meat. They're there because at the end of the day you think they may help you. I can give you a million examples. Guys like Dan Connolly at New England, he was a practice squad offensive lineman. Now he's been I think a four or five year starter at guard. Steve Neal was a practice squad defensive lineman I believe in New England. He played 10 years as an offensive lineman. Benjarvus Green-Ellis I think was back and forth between the practice squad. These are guys, I'll give you an example, Arian Foster, I think he started out here probably on the practice squad. These are guys that you know will have a chance to eventually be good football players for you so you have to do a good job that you have the right number of players at each position, but also guys that you think can help you in the future."
(on if getting to the cuts is tougher than he thought it would be because of the competition in training camp) "Well, I'll tell you, I thought that it would be tough. I thought that the decisions would be tough because I know from April 7 on, I really do believe this, I believe we're always going to work to improve our depth here. All those things, every year that I'm here as the head coach I'll always be working to improve our depth. But at the same time, the guys that are here right now and how they've competed at every position, every position; every position has been very, very competitive. You look at wide receiver on our team. The wide receiver position on our team is very, very competitive, and those guys and there are other positions like that too, but those guys at that position is a good example of those are some tough decisions that we have to make there. Who is on the 53? Who's on the practice squad? Who do we release? We've got some guys that have done some good things, and I could probably talk to you about that, that type of example at every position. These decisions will be tough, but these are decisions that have to be made."
(on putting players like Tom Savage and Alfred Blue in positions they weren't expecting in preseason games) "With a young player I think it's very important because part of being a young player is certainly, you're going to have an amount of nervousness going into your first game, your second game, regardless of its preseason, regular season. The sooner you can find out about a guy how he reacts when the so called lights go on, is important for your coaching staff and for your team. I think you give two really good examples there of two guys that have gone in there and actually, you know, performed pretty well. Not that they've been perfect. Nobody's been perfect, starting with me. Nobody's been perfect, but they've gone in there as young players. These guys are 22, 23 years old. To go in there in an NFL game not really knowing when you're going to go in and going there and performing admirably is something, there's something to be said for that. That's good for those two guys."
(on if Randy Bullock is ahead of Chris Boswell in the kicking battle) "You know, that's something, again, we have to discuss. I would say were not really sure on that yet. I would tell you that Boswell will definitely kick in the game and probably punt in the game also. I also say that Randy, I'm sure will have a certain amount of kicks in the game too."
President Jamey Rootes
(opening statement) "As Kevin mentioned, I'm Jamey Rootes, president of the Houston Texans. I'm also the president of Lone Star Sports and Entertainments, which is a sister company of the Texans that does other events at NRG Stadium. We've got an exciting 10 days coming up for NRG Stadium and NRG Park: this Thursday with the San Francisco 49ers and then we open the regular season on September 7. We welcome our fans back for the regular season, the first game under Bill O'Brien's leadership in the regular season against the Washington Redskins. Clay Walker on the anthem, Smash Mouth at halftime, the best tailgate in the National Football League—certainly the game experience is second to none as well. In the middle, we have an event, the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff. This is our second playing of the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff. Now, officially and definitively, the game is sold out with LSU and Wisconsin, arguable the best and most important college football matchup of the opening weekend, on Saturday night at 8 PM with our friends at ESPN. This has been a decade long quest for us, to put together this type of opportunity for Houston. It's our second year and we're mapping it out well into the future. We're one of only three communities in America that have the opening game of this type and then close with a major bowl game, Big 12-SEC, with the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl and we are excited to be able to do it for Houston. Certainly the economic benefit is tremendous, but our ability to showcase this great community to a national television audience, with such a great matchup, a great stadium in NRG stadium and then people flocking in to our community having an experience over Labor Day weekend and our hope is they go back and tell those in their hometown what a great place Houston is. We know that it is one of the most friendly places on the planet. We're thrilled to have the opportunity. It's one of the largest college football crowds in Houston history. This is one of the most important college football games to ever to occur in our community. When you think about what our organization is all about: winning championships, creating memorable experiences and do great things for Houston, today's luncheon is a great example of how we go about doing great things for Houston and then bringing events like this for our community to get all the benefits—the marketing benefits, the economic benefits to our community, and we're proud to be able to do it because we have the best fans in the National Football League. This is the best city in the world and we're looking forward to the next 10 days."
(on if there are any changes to NRG Stadium) "Last year, the big news was the new video boards, the largest in a sports stadium in the world at the time. This year, the most recognizable will be the change of the name of the stadium, going from Reliant Stadium to NRG Stadium. Our staff has done a tremendous job doing the changeover. There are thousands and thousands of logos all over the place, street names needed to be changed and they executed it in seamless fashion so that fans can come out on Thursday and throughout the season and see a new name on the stadium. We have 50-plus gameday innovations and we were talking earlier about coffee on the main concourse, as small as that, or a seven-figure sum invested for LED lighting, which I believe we're the first sports stadium in America to have these new energy-efficient LED lights, and everything in the middle. We've got an incredibly energized, passionate, hard-working team that is thinking creatively about how to bring these innovations to fans. It's already recognized, our gameday experience is one of the best on the planet. Every year, we look to take it to a new level and this year is no exception."
(on if the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff has been sold out for a while) "Not technically sold out for a while because we have several different outlets, our seats, LSU, that wanted to have an availability of seats, Wisconsin, and there were some others. Slowly, but surely, we worked through all of those and now have officially today—we were very close for a long time—but officially, definitively. TicketMaster.com has the secondary Ticket Exchange, that's the place to call. Mainly, I'm communicating to you to please don't call our box office because there is nothing they can do to help you. We talk about creating raving fans, and the last thing we want to do is disappoint somebody, so Ticket Master is the place where you might be able to get them on the secondary market."
(on if Clay Walker will be singing the national anthem for the opening game) "Yeah, Clay Walker, national anthem for the opener. Smash Mouth at halftime, a big favorite of mine, so my kids were impressed."
(on if having Wisconsin and LSU has prompted the stadium to have more beer available than ever before) "That was the first issue we worked through when we knew LSU was coming. Actually, alcohol responsibility is an absolute priority for Texans games and our fans do comply with everything that we put together, to make sure that they have a great time and enjoy themselves responsibly. We'll use those same principles on gameday for the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff. We just have to make sure everyone has a great time, but does it in a responsibly fashion. All of the things that we put in place Texans-wise will be in place for the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff."
(on the process of getting J.J. Watt and Patrick Peterson to serve as honorary coin toss captains and what that means to the game) "It was just an ask. J.J. Watt has such a deep connection to Wisconsin. In fact, he came to us and said, 'We'd like to use the Houston Methodist Training Center for a pregame party to bring all my friends from Wisconsin. J.J., Barry Alvarez, the alumni group of Wisconsin, we'll have 2,000 people in the Houston Methodist Training Center. It wasn't difficult and we're thrilled to have stars of that caliber for that game. It kind of makes it fun for the fans."
(on this year's matchup being more high-profile than previous years and if this is the direction they are looking to take) "You'd like to maintain your conference affiliations that you have with the bowl game, which is Big 12 and SEC, but the most important thing is that you have a compelling matchup for the fans. Next year, Texas A&M-Arizona State is going to be another great matchup. In the near future, we'll be announcing 2016. We're working on 2017, 2018, 2019. Will they all be no. 13 against no. 14? That is an amazing matchup for us. Maybe, maybe not, but we always want them to be compelling matchups and we're pleased to be able to do it this year and it looks like into the future we'll have that kind of competition going forward."
(on examples of the Texans making adjustments based on what they hear from fan feedback) "There are lots of examples. We are a very responsive organization. We not only welcome feedback, but we proactively solicit from our fans. The fan feedback mechanism is one of them, but the J.D. Power and Associates research, every verbatim comment that comes in is read and processed as we prepare for the next season. The coffee on the concourse is a great example. Our fans said that that's what they wanted, so we provided it to them. Time of day clock in the stadium, a lot of them are small things but if we can make an adjustment to improve just one fan's experience, we're going to try and make that happen."