Head Coach Bill O'Brien
QB Brock Osweiler
NT Vince Wilfork
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
How was day two of minicamp?
“Day two was good. Very competitive. We got a lot of situations done. The situations are just as much for the coaches, myself and the coaching staff, as they are for the players. You put yourself in things that may come up during the game and I thought that we got a lot accomplished there today. I thought that both sides competed really well.”
Who are the guys going into their second or third year that you have been pleased with?
“I would say one guy on defense that I haven’t been asked a lot about that I think has really improved during the offseason and was improving at the end of last year is Benardrick McKinney. Benardrick McKinney is a guy that really understands our defense well right now. He has got a very unique skill set, can do a lot of different things, not just play inside linebacker. He can help us on special teams. He can help us on third down. He can do a lot of different things for us. So, I think he’s a guy who has improved quite a bit. I think when you look at the offensive line, I think it has been pretty interesting to watch Derek Newton. Derek Newton practiced this offseason. I think he came back in good condition. To me it looks like him and Duane Brown, they’re both - you know obviously Duane being here for so long, being such a good player for us, he’s a leader. He hasn’t been in there because of injury. He’ll be back hopefully during training camp, but Derek Newton took on some leadership responsibility this offseason and I think that has been good. Those are two guys that I would mention that I think had good offseasons and improved.”
What have you seen from S K.J. Dillon?
“I think for most of the rookies, they have a long way to go. I think the true test for a lot of these rookies will be training camp when the pads go on, how they play in preseason games, how they practice on a day-to-day basis. K.J. is no different. I think he’s a good guy. He’s a competitive guy. He works very hard, but just like most of the rookies, they all have a long way to go. It’s going to be a big test in training camp as to how they perform when the pads go on.”
Can you talk a little bit about field goal kicking?
“It’s very competitive. Nick Novak has been around for a long time. He’s a guy that works extremely hard. He’s a great teammate and he’s out there this offseason, he’s in the weight room all the time. He’s trying to improve his skill set as a kicker, kickoffs, obviously field goals, different types of kicks that we’re going to ask these guys to make. He has really worked hard at it. We bring a young guy in here, Ka’imi Fairbairn from UCLA who seems to be a natural kicker. He has got a nice, smooth motion. The key for young kickers like Fairbairn is how they do when the lights go on. When you put them in a game situation where there’s 70,000 people out there in a preseason game. Maybe he has to make a game winning kick in a preseason game. How’s he going to perform then? I think that’s a key for any young kicker, any rookie kickers. It’s a very competitive position and we’ll see how that plays out during training camp.”
Is anything different without having Hard Knocks around?
“Where should I begin? There’s no cameras in my office. I don’t get mic-ed up at 7 am until midnight. They’re not filming me sleep on my couch in my office. I think that Hard Knocks, the farther you get away from it, you listen to some of the fans and they loved it. I do believe that you saw a lot of great things for our organization, number one being our players. I thought it did a good job of showing the type of guys we had on this team last year as far as the character and the work ethic and the way those guys compete. Overall, I think the nature of football is its one team in those walls, it’s really trying to come together as a team, no outside distractions. That’s a very big part of a winning football culture, a winning football team. With the Emmy’s and all those things, that was great for Hard Knocks. Like I said, the people for Hard Knocks were great to work with, but we’re certainly glad to be back to normal heading into training camp.”
How happy are you to practice against two teams this year instead of one at the last minute?
“I think it’s really good. I think it breaks up camp. It adds some excitement to camp, especially when you have two teams with two great head coaches in Chip Kelly and Sean Payton. Very easy to work with. Obviously I’ve known Chip for a while, I’ve known Sean for a while. These guys are looking forward to it. We’re all excited for it. I think it helps your players. They get to go against different schemes, different skill sets, have to adjust in different ways to what they’re seeing with a different team. It helps us as a coaching staff and as a scouting staff to see the other team and see what’s on that other team as far as personnel and schemes and things like that. It’ll be very productive for both teams.”
How have things changed since you started coaching and in the past couple years due to new technology?
“It has definitely changed. When I first started in the NFL, that was pre-2011 CBA. The rules were different then. Even in training camp, you had two-a-days. Two padded practices. You had more time in the off season. The guys came back sometime in March relative to later in April. You had more time with them. You really have to do a good job of understanding the fine line of wanting your team to jell, getting your team enough reps like you just said, especially offensively, getting these guys enough reps together, but also not overworking them because in the end they have to be as fresh as they can possibly be for the first game of the year and you’re building towards that. Not only are you trying to put together a team, but you’re building towards how you’re going to be and how you’re going to perform in that first game. I think a lot of that is why we added to our support staff with our sports science program and letting Erik Korem kind of look at our players and catapult system and measure their workload and talk to us about the practice intensity, day to day, week to week, looking at the schedule. During our schedule this year we have a short turnaround. It’s game two against Kansas City and then it’s a quick turnaround to the third game in New England. Not that we’re looking ahead but we have to plan ahead for those situations where there is a quick turnaround as far as player workload and things like that. There’s a lot more that goes into it than when I first started and it’s something that we think about every day.”
Are you going to have to force QB Brock Osweiler to take a break or does he need a break?
“That’s a great question. We’ve actually talked to him a lot about what he’s going to do. When we’re done tomorrow, not the rookies, but the rest of the team. They have basically about five weeks off. So I think one of the guys, just to use Brock as an example. It’s important for him and he knows this. He has actually brought this to us, you know, continue to throw. Maybe he has some guys out to where he’s at, wherever he goes. Throw to some guys, continue to study. He’ll be able to take his iPad with him with all of the practice film and the playbook on there, but also to take a break. You have to be able to clear your mind, you have to be able to recharge your batteries. You can’t go at it like we’ve all been going at it for the last nine weeks and I think though, when you look at that position in this league, the way that that position is now, with all the other things they see defensively, all the things they need to know offensively, it takes that type of work ethic, especially when you’re in the building. To be here at 5:45, to put the time in on your own, not just what you’re hearing from me or (George) Godsey, to put the time in on your own. To put the time in with your teammates. It takes that amount of time for that position and he has done that. It’s going to be important for him to also relax a little bit, get away from it, but continue to block out some time during the day to look at it.”
How is the chemistry on the offensive line with new players and veteran players?
“The true test for that will be during training camp when they put the pads on. That’s the real true test for that group to gel, same with the defensive line. With all that being said, I have been very, very pleased with the progress that those guys have made as far as their communication up front. One thing I have been very pleased about it is when you either hear them behind the huddle or from walking from meeting to meeting, they’re talking football. Hey look if I get this, I’m going to make this call. If he makes this guy the mic, I’m going to make this call and this protection. There’s a lot of good communication that goes on up front with those guys. I think the addition of (G) Jeff Allen and “Bergy,” (C Tony) Bergstrom has been very good. Those guys have jumped right in and learn our system and it has been a very productive spring. Adding a guy like (C) Nick Martin. Nick Martin is coming in here and so far it looks like a rookie who is mature beyond his years. He understands the work ethic. I’m sure his older brother has helped him with that a little bit, but he has come in here and done some good things. I’m pleased with the progress that they’ve made, but there is always a ‘but’ when there’s no pads on. The true test will be when the pads go on and we’ll see how they continue to gel.”
Has T Duane Brown been able to help QB Brock Osweiler with all that he knows about the offense?
“No question about it. Duane has been in every meeting. He’s out there. Once he gets his rehab done, he comes out for the team portion of practice. He’s talking to the young guys behind the huddle. He’s talking to Brock about maybe some adjustment that he made during the play. Duane is a leader. Duane is a leader. I think in some ways for guys that are that many years in the league, to have a spring where maybe they’re observing, I think it helps guys like that when they’re at that stage of their career. Albeit, he’s had an injury. We don’t want that to happen, but I mean I think it has been good for him to be able to observe. He has been in everything. He has been in all the meetings and he’s looking forward to getting back.”
What does Father’s Day mean to you?
“Now my wife says every day is Father’s Day, so it’s probably a better question for her. Father’s Day is special. Personally, I remember Father’s Day because it involved the US Open. I remember watching the US Open with my dad growing up on the TV, so that’s kind of my memory of it. For me, personally, to be a father, there is nothing more important than that and that’s something I try to relate to the team. We don’t have a lot of fathers on the team, but we do have some and I think being able to relate some of the things that are going on with your own family to your team, that helps to connect with your team. Father’s Day is a very special day.”
QB BROCK OSWEILER
Head Coach Bill O’Brien said he think it’s important you take some time off between now and training camp. What is your offseason going to look like? Can you give us a rundown?
“As far as what coach said, taking some time off, I’m a big believer in that as far as giving yourself some mental time away from the game to kind of refresh your mind and get ready to go for training camp. Same with your body. If you don’t give your body a break, you can run yourself right into the ground. I’m going to head back to North Idaho and Northwest Montana and train at the local high school up there and throw the football up there. Over the course of the Fourth of July, I will take a little time off, a few days there, and spend some time with friends and family. But really outside of the week of the Fourth, it’s what coach said. I’ll be staying in my book, reviewing the tape of OTAs. I’m a firm believer that, as a quarterback, there’s always something that you can be doing to get yourself better. So if you’re going to take some physical time off, maybe you still stay in the book. If you’re staying in the book, maybe take some physical time off. Then there’s time where you pull completely back and there’s time where you stay completely in physically and mentally. We’re getting ready to hit the ‘go’ button and start training camp. There won’t be many days off, but the week of the Fourth I will take a little refresher and hit the reset button.”
What will be the keys during training camp?
“I think offensively it’s just focusing on the details of our offense. There’s a lot of things that go into it, formations, motions, shifts, different cadences, different route concepts, run checks, pass checks, and so it’s just focusing on the details and focusing on the line of scrimmage operation. Then the biggest in training camp is if you make a mistake, clean it up and then don’t make it again. That’s why we practice. We practice to try to perfect things and try to be very clean as far as our operation goes. I think it’s just focus in on the details, make the most of every day and every rep, then when a mistake is made, clean it up in the meeting room and move forward.”
Is anything different for you as you prepare knowing that you will be starter this season?
“I get more reps in practice, that’s probably the biggest difference. But as far as my preparation over the summer months, from my time being a backup under Peyton (Manning) to now as the starter here in Houston, nothing will change. I will prepare the same exact way I always have. I’ve always continued to work out, throw, stay in my books, stay on my iPad watching tape and then kind of pull back over the week of the Fourth of July then get right back into it. I don’t think you have to recreate the wheel. I think you just need to enhance, change a few things and just ultimately try to find little tweaks without changing the whole wheel to, like I said, make yourself a better player.”
Are there any guys on offense who have surprised you so far?
“I can’t pinpoint to one or two guys. I’ve been extremely impressed with this entire football team. Just how we’ve come out on a daily basis in OTAs and now minicamp and competed against each other. The defense is pushing the offense. The offense is pushing the defense. Everybody is out there working together to get better. I think the way you get better as a team is by competing like it’s a game during practice. That’s what both sides of the ball are doing right now. I think that’s a credit to everybody on this roster.”
Have you settled into Houston yet and have you seen much of the city?
“I feel settled. Houston feels like home. I think a large part of that is just how the city has welcomed my wife and myself. I love this organization. I love coming to work every single day. It’s a great work atmosphere. When we do get some time off, we’ve tried a few restaurants and have gotten around the city a little bit and got a good feel for the area.”
Can you start to see similarities in the Texans wide receivers compared to the Broncos receivers that you worked with last year?
“I’m not going to compare the two groups. The receiving core that we have here in Houston is a fantastic group. It’s a special group. It’s a group that comes into the building every single day and works to get better. At the end of the day as a quarterback, that’s all you can ask of your wide receivers. If they come in, work as hard as they possibly can and try to get better every single day that makes you very happy as a quarterback. I’m proud to call those guys my teammates and I have a ton of respect for that entire receiving core.”
Has Duane Brown been a good resource for you in terms of learning the offense and getting settled in it?
“Duane is great. Having his presence in the locker room, on the practice field, in the weight room – he just has this sense of calm about him. He’s obviously a veteran. He’s been around the block a few times. Obviously, he knows the city very well. I’ve had some great discussions with him. Really looking forward to him getting back on the field and playing some football with him.”
When you talk about having great discussions with him, do you mean as far as the offense goes or is this off the field stuff?
“Just in general. Something’s off the field, something’s as far as how he views pass protections, the run game – a little bit of everything.”
Your dad is on the road a lot. Father’s Day is coming up this weekend. Just kind of what your thoughts are on Father’s Day and what it means to you.
“Father’s Day is a very special day. It’s a day that means a lot to me. For me, personally, my father has done so much for me. I could never repay in any single way. I’m so appreciative for everything he has done for me. When I was young, he coached all my Pop Warner football teams. He coached the baseball team; he did everything. It’s a day that I can show him my gratitude and appreciation. It’s a special day.”
Your eyes lit up a bit when you talked about Montana and Idaho. I know it’s where you are from, but what is special about that part of the country to you and how does it kind of help you to rejuvenate a bit?
“Northwest Montana, Kalispell, and then north Idaho over in Coeur d’Alene where I was born, it’s so beautiful. For those of you that haven’t been up there this time of year in the summer, I highly recommend going to buy a plane ticket and go check it out. It’s just beautiful. The weather is great. There are lakes everywhere. The mountains are gorgeous. There is fresh air and small towns. It’s a beautiful place.”
I understand the comparison with Denver and Houston are forbidden territory, but can you compare Bill O’Brien as a coach and your father as a coach when you were coming up?
“My dad had an undefeated record in Pop Warner football. We did tie a game, but for three years, we were undefeated. That’s all I’m going to say about that.”
Are you being recognized around town? What kind of response and feedback are you getting from people around?
“I think my height gives it away. I can’t really hide anywhere, just a phenomenal response. The whole city has embraced us. Everybody has been extremely friendly, and we really have made Houston home. We thank the city for making this such an easy transition for us.”
NT VINCE WILFORK
The last two years the Texans have finished well on defense and said they would start fast the next year, but didn’t. What did you learn from that, that will enable you do to it this year?
“Well, start faster. Being able to trust one another a lot quicker and understanding the defense and what we’re trying to do as a whole, not just as individuals. I think as the season went on last year, I think we got to a point where we started trusting one another, started understanding the defense, started understanding everyone’s role. I think everybody embraced their role. You all can’t be a starter, you all can’t be a superstar. You all have specific roles you have to play, and I think we did a real good job toward the end of identifying that and making it happen. One of the biggest things is trust. I think we started that with workouts, then OTAs and now minicamps. Just being able to trust my coaching staff, trust one another and have fun. Hopefully that can roll over into the season. That’s something that we’ve been focusing on this offseason.”
Can you talk about the competition at right defensive end?
“We have a lot of guys. The good thing in our room is we have a bunch of defensive linemen that can play across the board, and that’s always good. And not just defensive line, defensively itself. I think we have guys that can play different roles, and for an offense that’s pretty challenging when you can move guys around. Especially having guys like (John) Simon and J.J. (Watt) and Cush (Brian Cushing) move around inside with B-Mac (Benardrick McKinney). The younger guys, (Christian) Covington can play end and come in to play nose. Dunny (Brandon Dunn), he can play end and be a nose, I’ve play across the board up front. We have a lot of guys on our defense that can move around, and that makes our defense pretty good when we’re able to do that and do it well. We just have to continue to keep the pressure on one another and understand what we’re trying to do defensively. If we continue to do that, I think we can continue to be a good defense. It starts now. I think right now we’re in a pretty good spot with the defensive stuff we’ve put in. The young guys that come in, they understand what we’re doing. One thing we can’t get away from is having fun. Football is about having fun. We’ve been having a lot of it out there on the field. It’s been very competitive on both sides, but at the same time getting good work done. I’m excited about it.”
What kind of impression have DE Devon Still and his daughter made on you?
“It’s funny, we actually talked about this, I think, yesterday. We had a guest speaker and he came in and dropped a lot of knowledge on us and kind of made you think of things a lot differently. Devon was talking and what he’s been through with his daughter and what I’ve been through at a young age with my family and my mother and my father, we both look at life a little different than probably the average person that’s in the locker room. Not saying that guys haven’t been through anything, but with Devon being recently with his daughter, and she’s healthy and she’s doing well, and me being 20 and 21 with my parents, we both look at things a lot differently. I think the message we received was a very positive message. We went out and had a very good day of practice yesterday. We went out today and had another good one. Any time you can get a team to talk about a message that they received and kind of want you to feel and you can kind of see the energy and hear guys talk about it throughout the locker room and meeting rooms and stuff like that, that’s a positive sign. That’s something Billy (Head Coach Bill O’Brien) will do a real good job of – bringing guest speakers in to talk to us. Hopefully we all can get something from them, and I think we all did this past time.”
What do you think about NT Christian Covington how much progress has he made?
“He’s very, very talented, very smart. He’s very explosive. He’s a hard worker. Our group is full of guys that are just hard workers. I think the Texans do a real good job of bringing the right kind of people in here that fit that mold. Smart players, great guys off the field, on and off the field. With one year under his belt and now he can get a full offseason and he understands the defense a little more, you know football a little bit more. I can just see from last year to now, he’s grown. That’s what you want in second-year guys, third-year guys. You want to see them do this, and he’s definitely doing that, along with a lot of guys. We have a good group of guys. I don’t think there’s any teammate we dislike. We all get along, and that’s very rare in the locker room. Normally your good teams have that. That’s one of the characteristics that we have here. We all get along. We’re family. We just need to continue to play like that. I think we saw last year once we trust one another and feed off one another, we can do some good things. So, we’re excited about it.”
Are the young guys comfortable asking you a lot of questions about the defense and playing on the line?
“Yeah, for the most part. I was just talking to D.J. Reader. We were having a conversation about when Romeo (Crennel) stands up and talks about a certain defense, I can make certain checks and what adjustments and all that stuff. Just by him picking up on that, little things like that – and he asks questions. That’s one of the things I want to do. I want to be able to answer questions. They have no fear in asking. I always tell them no question is a dumb question. You can ask a million questions and if you need a million answers, we’ll try to get it figured out for you. Our guys have done a real good job of that. For the most part, guys have been in their playbook. We hold each other accountable. I think we’re doing a lot more of that now than last year. Once we started doing that more toward the middle of the season last year, we really changed our style of play and how we approach the game. It was all for the best for the team. I think we started that early this year. In our meeting rooms, we get after it. We have questions, we have tests, we quiz each other, we move players around in different positions, just to force them to communicate and force them to understand what the defense calls for. I think we’ve been doing a real good job of that. I’m very impressed with our rookies. We have a pretty strong group of rookies – all of them, from the defensive line all the way to offense and special teams. They’re pretty special right now. I know it’s early, but at the same time, having a good football I.Q. is something that can win you a lot of football games. I think right now we’re showing [positive signs of that.”
How meaningful was the Father’s Day video that one of your children was involved with?
“As a parent you really don’t know. Sometimes you piss your kids off when you tell them, ‘No,’ or sometimes it’s like, ‘Not right now,’ and they storm off. It was really good to just get the feedback and hear how they really feel about me as a parent, as a father. It was special for me because like I said, I tried to do the best I could as a father. Just to hear those words come from my kids, it shed some light on what I’m doing, I’m doing it right. I have to make sure I start giving them more, ‘Yesses,’ now, I guess.”
What will Father’s Day mean to you?
“Well, I’m not big on anything: Father’s Day, Christmas, birthdays. My kids, my wife, they’ll tell you that I’m not big on it. I don’t know what I’m going to be doing, to be honest with you. I might be working in the yard, I might be at a restaurant, the kids might have something planned. I have no clue. I’m just blessed to be living. That’s my biggest thing. I want to make sure my family is happy. It’s not about me on Father’s Day. To me, every day is a Father’s Day as long as I can get up and take care of my family. I don’t take one day out of the year to pat myself on the back because I’m doing what I’m supposed to be and supporting my family, especially my kids. That’s how I look at it. They’ll tell you that for Christmas, I don’t want nothing, birthdays, I don’t want anything, Father’s Day. They have to kind of figure me out. But it’s not hard to figure me out, trust me. I love everything outdoors, so they can get me a pair of boots and I’ll be happy.”
You’ve played against a number of really good quarterbacks. What impresses you about QB Brock Osweiler?
“His poise, his mechanics in the pocket, understanding the game. He knows where he wants to go with the ball, he knows where the ball needs to go. You can just tell he’s been in a system that taught him very well. Playing up on Peyton (Manning) in that offense, you can tell there’s a lot of carry-over, and the smarts he has coming from that. I’m very happy to have him as a teammate and it’s something positive for us. We’re very excited, he’s excited. He’s a natural-born leader. His first day here he showed he was a leader, and I think everybody has responded to him. Like I said, it’s early right now, but at the same time, everything he’s bringing to us right now, and everybody else, not just Brock – Lamar (Miller) and the rookies and the new guys – what they’re bringing to us right now is good. We’re just going to have to continue this through training camp and hopefully in the season we’re going to be able to start faster and have a better season than we had before.”
How has your training in the offseason changed?
“I’ll tell you what, a lot more reps, I’ll tell you that. I don’t know if that counts. Have to talk to Billy O (Head Coach Bill O’Brien) about that. When it’s time to work, I work. That’s one of the things I never shy away from work. I never shy away from getting better. I always attack each season. How can I get better. What I need to do before I can start talking to anybody else. I have to make sure I’m okay. Things I think I need to be a better teammate. So, the older you get, the harder it gets, I’ll tell you that and I can’t do things. I can’t roll out of bed like I did ten years ago and just be ready to go outside and start running. That doesn’t happen anymore. I have to touch my toes a little bit now, stretch out the back, make sure the shoulders are loose. When I walk I have a few cracks here and there. Besides that, I think I’m pretty good.”
You have body parts making sounds?
“Oh, absolutely. Stuff pops I didn’t even know was supposed to pop. I think I break stuff. But it’s just one of those things. I guess it comes along with the territory. Playing for so long and just grinding all the years. All in all, I think I’m very happy with my off season. What I’ve accomplished so far. Things I wanted to get done, so far up to this point. For me, everything is on the right path as of right now and hopefully continue that for my teammates and for this organization so we can have a successful season. We’re definitely doing everything we possibly can now to lay a good foundation for this team and this organization and especially for our fans. We want to make everyone proud and I think if we continue to do this we will.”
What keeps you playing in the NFL after everything that you have been through in your career and after all that you have accomplished?
“The love for the game. The passion for it. I was asking (Linebackers Coach Mike) Vrabel before, ‘how do you know when it’s time to let go?’ He said ‘trust me, you’ll know.’ And right now, it’s not time. I mean I feel good. When he told me that I just started realizing and thinking about okay is there anything that I feel or did that I can’t do and the answer was no. I said until I feel like I can’t perform at a certain level or my body can’t take it, or I’m mentally not there anymore, it’ll be time for me to hang it up, but I think I have a couple good more years in me to continue to go as long as my body stays healthy and mentally I’m there. I think mentally, for me, mentally, it will go before my body will. It’s just the amount of stress over the years that you’ve been in the game and to play this game you have to be mentally there. If you’re not mentally there, I don’t care who you are. You won’t make it. It’s not a basketball where you can shoot a ball or baseball where you can go out and hit balls and stuff. Football is mentally and physically draining. It’s stressful, so you have to be here mentally and physically. I think for me it’s more mental than anything and until that goes out, I’ll continue to keep pumping.”