HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN
“A couple things here on the game last night, I thought there was improvement from a week ago. Still a lot of work to be done in several areas but definitely thought that there was improvement in our play as a team. On the injury situation, I’ll start with Nick Martin. His ankle is still being evaluated. It is an ankle injury. It’s still being evaluated by our doctors and our trainers. Really don’t have any update for you right now. Nick Novak’s in the NFL Concussion Protocol. He suffered a concussion at the end of the game last night on the last kickoff so he’s in that protocol and we’ll see how that goes day-to-day here. (Ka’imi) Fairbairn has a quad injury. It’s not serious but it is a day-to-day deal that he’s going to be dealing with. Alfred Blue should be back to practice this week. Derek Newton’s making progress. Not sure when he’s going to be back but he is making progress. Duane Brown is making progress also. He won’t be back this week but he is definitely making progress. J.J. Watt obviously will not be back this week but he’s making a lot of progress with his rehab too. So that’s basically an update on the injuries and I’ll open it up to questions now.”
With a high ankle sprain like C Nick Martin’s, do you have to wait for the swelling to go down before you make a judgment?
”That’s probably more of a question for a doctor. But yeah, I think any time you have an injury whether it’s ankle or knee, I think you probably do have to wait for swelling to go down before you can really make a judgment.”
Is there a possibility C Nick Martin could need surgery?
“Right now, I’d say yeah, that’s a possibility, but that hasn’t been determined yet. But that is a possibility.”
Ed Werder tweeted that you said DE J.J. Watt might miss the first two regular season games. What do you think about his status?
“I’m not on Twitter so I’m not sure about that but I just don’t think anybody can predict when J.J. will be back. I would say though that knowing J.J. the way I do that he’ll be back sooner rather than later. He’s progressing really well. He’s been able to do some things on the Alter-G Treadmill in there which is a really good sign so as you guys would expect J.J. is really wanting to do a lot more and he’s doing a good job of following the doctor’s orders but we feel good about where’s he’s at right now relative to the beginning of the season.”
What do you think about starter C Greg Mancz’s development and how he played last night?
“Look, I think he had a solid night. A couple times he was having to block (Saints DT Nick) Fairley who’s a very good player. He got beat a couple times but he also held his own quite a bit against their front and so for having not been out there a whole lot up until this preseason because of his injuries that he’s had, you’ve got to give the kid a lot of credit. He’s paid attention, he’s very smart and I’m glad we have him.”
In terms of the offensive line and playing backups, do you think it’s kind of a blessing in disguise that you have built some depth this way?
“I think that’s a big part of it. When you look at the positive side of it, we have built some depth here with that position over the last couple of years. The two guys that played tackle for us last night for the majority of the night, (Kendall) Lamm and Chris Clark, those guys played pretty well. I know that through their careers so far – Lamm being a younger player, Clark being around for a long time – they’ve both started games before. Clark started a Super Bowl. We have confidence in those guys. I thought that they both played well. Jeff Allen had to miss last night’s game for personal reasons. He had a death in the family. He will be back this week. He had been playing well for us. The right guard position last night was okay – some good, some bad. I thought Greg (Mancz), like I just said, had a solid night. Xavier (Su'a-Filo) did some decent things, some improvement that he needs to make in certain areas, but overall it was a decent night.”
What did you think about the way OLB Jadeveon Clowney played last night?
“I thought he was active. I thought it was good that he was in there. It was good to see him back out there. There are some improvement, like every player, that he needs to make in certain areas. Overall, he was very active, made a lot of plays, pressured the quarterback, had a sack, set the edge in the running game, ran around, hustled around. It was good to see.”
Because it’s such a big deal here, the new synthetic surface, what did you think about it? Did you hear any kind of reaction from the players?
“I believe that our players really like it. I think that it’s a really nice surface. It reminds me of the surface that we played on in New Orleans last year in the preseason. It’s similar to the one in Dallas that we played on last year in the preseason. I know our players really like it. With it down now, we have the ability to go in there and practice on it without having to walk across the street. We can go right across the hall here. I think it’s really good for our team.”
With some guys going down with injuries on the defensive line, what have you seen from the guys stepping up in their place?
“I think that (Christian) Covington’s had a good training camp, (Devon) Still was pretty active last night, did a lot of things. D.J. Reader, for a rookie, I think he’s playing pretty well. We’ll get Brandon Dunn probably back this week. We’re going to ease him back into practice but he’ll be back. And there’s other guys. There’s other guys that I think are playing pretty well. But I thought that, overall, those guys were active. They did a good job. Obviously I’m not mentioning Vince (Wilfork). Vince obviously went in there and did a good job. I think they had 57 yards of offense in the first half and not a whole lot of rushing yards, and I’d say Vince has a lot to do with that, taking up a lot of space, not getting moved around on the inside. Pretty happy with where the D-line is after last night. But again, I say that but there’s a lot of improvement to be made with this team. We’ve got a long way to go here. We’re still in training camp. There’s a lot of things we need to improve upon, but it was good to come out with a win.”
What did you see from OLB Brennan Scarlett?
“He got out there and ran around. It was good. He did some decent things. Good to be out there on the field. He has a long way to go, though. We think he has a chance to be a decent player, but he missed a bunch of time with a hamstring. He has a long way to go.”
After you watched the tape, what did you think about QB Brock Osweiler’s performance compared to right after the game?
“I thought he played well. I thought he commanded the offense well. I went for it there on fourth-and-3 and he tried to make a play to Will (Fuller V). I’m sure he wishes he had that throw back, but other than that I thought he played pretty well. A couple throws that we need to do a better job of coaching. A couple throws that we had there to Braxton (Miller), a couple other things. But overall, I thought he commanded well, he was good in the huddle. I thought he had a decent night.”
Did QB Brock Osweiler do what you want at the line of scrimmage or is it too early for you to give him much leeway there?
“He’s got a bunch of leeway at the line of scrimmage. We do a lot at the line of scrimmage. He handles that really well. Most of our plays are plays where he has to make a decision either at the line of scrimmage or after the ball is snapped. He really has to do a good job of understanding the foundation, the basic information of our offense. He’s done a good job of that.”
What did he do better than the first game?
“I think one of the things we wanted to do in this game was open it up a little bit. We threw the ball down the field a little bit more. We didn’t really do that, other than the one fade ball to (DeAndre) Hopkins in the San Francisco game, we hadn’t done that in the San Francisco game. The guy throws a nice deep ball. Obviously, the Will Fuller V touchdown. Threw some nice comebacks – the one to Fuller V on their sideline. There were some really good down-the-field type throws, the crossing pattern to Braxton (Miller). I thought that was one thing that he did well, which we know he can do, is throw the ball down the field.”
How would you evaluate QB Tom Savage’s playing?
“He has made a lot of strides. We’re not going to make a judgement off of one play. He did have a really good two-minute drive at the end of the half that ended in a field goal, which was a really well executed drive by him. And then he came out and we called a slip screen and they had it covered and he threw a backwards pass so he just has to learn from that. To me, with him, that’s a mistake that won’t happen again.”
How do you think WR Braxton Miller has learned the offense?
“Very well. I think Braxton and Will (Fuller V) for rookie receivers have done a really good job. I said that last night. I think the fact that they’re out there every day, they get all the reps, they’re in all the meetings, they’ve been able to stay healthy, that goes a long way towards being able to learn. When you’re going against our defense, all the different things that our defense does, it really forces you to have to learn the position and learn all the different ways to run routes and things like that. I think they’ve both done a good job of learning.”
What did you see from ILB Reshard Cliett in terms of getting to the ball and moving around?
“I thought it was okay. He did a good job on special teams. He was down there. He was active on the punt team. I remember one in particular where he was right there. The guy made a fair catch and he was right there to make the tackle if the guy had decided to return it. I thought he was active. I thought it was definitely an improvement for him.”
Do you have more flexibility with your playbook this season?
“There is more diversity at the wide receiver position and at the running back position. Then it all comes down to who are we playing, how are they going to play us, how are we going to deploy these different guys? I think we’re a long way off from that. I think we’re still, in some ways, we’re still installing. We’re still doing some basic things to make sure that our guys have a foundation for the season. Like every team, we’ve got some injuries we’re dealing with. I think overall we do have a pretty good skill set of skilled players on our team.”
Can you give us a progress report on your special teams?
“I thought our special teams played pretty well last night. I thought that Nick (Novak) and Shane (Lechler) kicked the ball well and I thought that our coverage units were really good. I thought our gunners, I thought that Kevin Johnson and A.J. Bouye, Charles James, those guys did a nice job as the punt gunners. The guys that run down there and really contain the returner. They did a nice job. I thought a couple of the returns were decent. Akeem Hunt had a couple nice ones. Some of that we need work on, especially in the punt return game. That’s probably an area where we need to really work to improve this week, but I thought overall our special teams did a nice job last night.”