HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
With C Nick Martin out, what’s your outlook on the center position and C Greg Mancz filling in?
“I’m really not going to get into all these injuries. I don’t really know where information is coming from. You know, I can tell you that Nick Martin is out. I’ll confirm everything with you when I talk to a doctor. I’m not a doctor, so I don’t speak for doctors and I’ll make sure that I confirm everything as soon as I know all the details. So, obviously Nick is out, Mancz is in there, we’ve got Tony Bergstrom, we’ve got Dalton Freeman. Still got a bunch of guys we’ve got to get ready to play here. We’re still in preseason mode.”
Is there an update on ILB Benardrick McKinney? He wasn’t out at practice
“Benardrick McKinney is fine. He’s got family—it’s good news, I’m not going to get into all the area of that. But he’s missing the day for a good reason and we’ll update you on that when we get confirmation.”
Is the quarterback rotation for Sunday’s game going to look similar to last week’s?
“It’ll probably look similar. A lot of it depends on how it’s going, you know? If it’s something where we feel like we want to get Brock (Osweiler) some more snaps, let’s just say in the first half, then we’ll continue to play him. It should look similar to the way it looked against New Orleans.”
Will you judge it on a snap count as opposed to more of a series count?
“That’s probably a decent way to look at it.”
Are you slowly finding where some of your defensive linemen, specifically NT D.J. Reader and NT Christian Covington will fit in once the regular season comes around?
“That’s a good question. We’ve got a lot of versatility up front. I think you just mentioned two guys that I think can play nose, can play end, I think that in certain situations they can rush the passer on third down, two-minute situations. We’ve got a number of guys that can do a couple different things. Brandon Dunn’s another guy who can do a couple different things. We’re going to continue to evaluate that. Again, just like all of these decisions, when it comes to the 53 man roster, those are going to be tough decisions.”
Aside from C Nick Martin, what are your thoughts on the offensive line situation overall?
“I think it’s an interesting question. This is football. You have to be ready for injuries from a couple of different standpoints. You have to be ready for—because of the nature of the game, as a coach, it’s the next man up. And as a player, whatever happens, it’s a tough, tough sport. It’s a contact sport, things are going to happen. The other thing that I think we’ve done to this point is we’ve built some depth on the offensive line at that position. Certainly, you want all your starters out there, there’s no doubt about it. That’s an obvious statement. But if you have decent depth then the ‘next man up’ principle really does apply and that’s where I think we’re at right now.”
How would you evaluate T Chris Clark’s performance up until this point?
“Chris has played well. He played well against New Orleans, he’s a good pro, he’s played in big games, he’s a really good guy in the room, not only in the offensive line room but in the team meeting room. He’s a good guy to have on our team.”
Some coaches use halftime of the third preseason game to simulate a regular season halftime and implement the starters back in to start the second half. Will you use a similar approach Sunday?
“Every halftime for us is similar to how it would it be in the regular season. The first thing we do is we get together as coaches on offense and defense before we speak to the players. We have it set up where offense is down at one end and defense is down on another end. They’re off their feet, they’re getting hydrated, whatever they need to get done, checked out by the trainer and then we’re making adjustments. We’re actually confirming adjustments that we’ve already made in the first half and then we relay that info to the players. You only have about eight minutes to do that so you’ve got to move quick and you’ve got to think quick and you have to be very clear in how you talk to your players. After that, as it relates to who’s playing, relative to the preseason, I don’t really have a distinct ‘this is the way we do it every week.’ I think it’s different. It depends on how the game is going, depends on who we want to see play and do certain things. But as far as the way we handle halftime it’s pretty similar every week.”
How is WR Keith Mumphery coming along and have you seen progress from him in his second year?
“Yeah, Mumphery has done a good job. He’s played well for us, I thought he had a good week last week, he’s followed that up with a good week here, he helps us on special teams and he’s definitely improved at wide receiver.”
Are you seeing more progression from the kick returners?
“No doubt. I think that, just relative to the rookies, when you’re back there for the first time it’s different. The punters are a lot better, the ball is hit much higher in the air, there’s factors, like in San Francisco—not here when the roof’s closed, but in San Francisco like the wind that maybe they didn’t have where they played in college or they didn’t have to think about it as much. So I think as we move towards the regular season I think all of those guys have improved. We work it every single day and we’ll determine who the main guy is down the road here, but we’re going to keep evaluating that position.”
C GREG MANCZ
You’ve been out there working with the first unit. How’s that been going for you?
“It’s good. I take it one day at a time and try to fix any errors from the day before. I have some good older guys out there, (Chris) Clark, Jeff (Allen), X (Xavier Su’a-Filo), (Kendall) Lamm, some guys that have been there and help me along the way.”
What’s your relationship like with QB Brock Osweiler?
“It’s good. He did a great job when he first got here of sort of taking us in and showing us things through his eyes. He’s been very helpful.”
What are your thoughts on how you’ve played so far with the first unit?
“I think it’s just a play-by-play thing, not even a day-by-day. Every play I just try to do my best and see where we go from there.”
T Chris Clark told us he’s been talking to you and offering you encouragement a lot. How helpful has that been?
“Chris Clark’s been in the league a long time and he knows what he’s doing. So I think he knows how to get us all in the right mindset and keep me going play after play.”
It’s different hearing that from a teammate as opposed to a coach.
“Sure. I’m very appreciative of everything (Chris) Clark does, whether it’s on the field, off the field, a tip, whatever it is. He’s very helpful.”
What’s the best advice you’ve received so far?
“Probably the very best advice I heard was to take a deep breath after my first snap out there and when I came back, so that was big.”
What have you improved on and what do you still feel like you need to improve?
“I still need to improve everything, and really a lot of it was sort of getting back into the mix of things. I’ve got to improve everything, and every day I just try to improve a few things.”
Most people think the Arizona Cardinals are Super Bowl contenders, how about that challenge for you?
“Sure, it’s another great opportunity. All I’m focused on is doing my job and focusing on my calls and trying to do the best I can do every play.”
Have you talked to C Nick Martin about his situation?
“I’ve texted Nick and he’s a great guy, so I know he’ll be fine.”
Can you talk about the trust the offensive line has in light of the injury situations?
“The nice part is we’ve had a lot of time to practice together. We’ve had a lot of practices so we’re building it and we have some great guys who are out there and have played a lot of football. So, I trust them. I’m just trying to earn their trust back.”
How much more prepared are you for what’s going to be thrown at you this year as opposed to if all this happened last year?
“It’s nice to have the system a little more in your brain. As a rookie, there’s certain things that you don’t quite grasp yet, and it’s sort of nice to be able to see those.”
T CHRIS CLARK
How would you evaluate the offensive line with the injuries you all have had?
“The guys are looking good. We understand as a O-line it’s always a ‘next guy up’ mentality, so being able to just move forward is a thing of the O-line. We know that, we all understand that and guys are looking good.”
What do you think you guys need to work on because you’ll be out there longer this week?
“There’s always room for improvement every week. I feel we’re getting better. The chemistry is coming, you can feel it, you can sense it on the sideline, wherever you are, things are starting to get on one accord. So just building that chemistry game by game has been huge for us and I feel like it’s going in the right direction.”
Arizona is one of the better defenses in the league.
“Oh yeah, Arizona is a good ol’ defense, man. That’s going to be huge for us, huge task and we’re looking forward to a game like that. That’ll be a great challenge for us.”
With T Duane Brown’s injury still lingering, how ready do you feel to be the starter heading into Week 1?
“Whatever it takes. We’re all role players and we all have a role to play. When things like this happen, you it to happen to a teammate. You hate for things like that to happen, but injuries do happen. We understand that as a team and as players and like I said it’s just a ‘next guy up’ mentality and Duane works really hard. We still talk all the time about things I can get better on or how he’s doing, just whatever. He helps me out a lot, (Derek) Newton helps me out a lot, just different guys and we help each other out because we have the same common goal in mind.”
With new pieces on the offensive line, talk about the communication you guys have formed.
“Communication has been huge. We start at practice. At practice we’re keying in on little details, so attention to details is something that we’re striving on, and those things matter. Just being able to talk about those things now in practice, when they come up in the game, we already know. It’s like a fist, the five O-linemen are like a fist. We’re trying to stay strong and tight-knit.”
The communication with QB Brock Osweiler seems to be getting better every day.
“He’s looking amazing, man. I think he’s doing a great job managing the game, putting us in the right places, doing what he does, he’s doing an excellent job. He really is.”
How good does it feel to know your quarterback is taking care of business behind you?
“It’s huge, man. If you trust the guy next to you and behind you, that is huge. That starts at practice. We’re building those relationships at practice and just knowing that if a guy is there for you in practice he’s definitely going to be there for you in the game. We’re definitely working to stay together and stay tight-knit. We do things together off the field as well so just being on one accord all the time is huge.”
What do you think about C Greg Mancz and the way he’s stepped in?
“I was just talking to Mancz on the field. I was just at practice talking to him and I said ‘keep doing your thing, boy. You’re doing a good job, you’re doing a hell of a job. I’m proud of what you’re doing.’ He’s stepping up big. He’s making tough calls and he’s right, so that’s huge. I am so excited about what Mancz is doing and how much I’ve seen him improve.”
Do you look at yourself as a veteran who can help him along the way?
“Yeah, I help as much as needed. I’ve been in the situation being a young guy and having to step into a role, so I understand exactly what’s going through his head. When we get down time I talk to him all the time about different things and situations that might come up, how the game goes from preseason to season, it gets a lot faster. Getting up and making calls as quick as possible is going to help us and like I said, just staying on one accord.”
Has the spotlight been too big for him?
“No, he’s loving it. He’s enjoying his moment. These chances don’t come around every day. But when you do get your chance you have to make sure you thrive, go forth and push through it. He’s doing a really good job.”
T KENDALL LAMM
Does having a year under your belt help build your confidence?
“You get a year under your belt, a year under the offense. Now in the second year coming in and having to step in, fill the role wherever they need me to be is giant. The familiarity of the offense is big and I feel pretty good.”
How big of a role does T Chris Clark play?
“Big time. Chris is a vet. I’m pretty sure this is nine years. Having a guy like him who can come in and play the swing tackle who I can personally learn from as well is big because nine years in the NFL, you don’t get that not being a quality guy and a quality player. I just try to learn what I can from him.”
How much have the workouts helped throughout camp?
“It’s huge. You cannot simulate that. I’m playing against the first team, their guys, each and every team we go against. It’s just helping me in the long run when the time comes and if I do need to step up during the season. It just helps tremendously.”
Did being undrafted out of college put a chip on your shoulder?
“It’s always in the back of my head. Of course, I don’t say it too much but that’s something that has driven me since I’ve been younger. Coming out of high school, not getting recruited heavily. Going to App (Appalachian) State, doing well there and then coming here. It’s just part of my journey. It’s always something that’s always right here. You never have to say it but it stays in my mind.”
Can you talk about C Greg Mancz and what he’s bringing to the table?
“That’s my boy. If you all know me, that’s my roommate. Me and Greg bounced ideas off each other last year when we were undrafted rookies together, we live together now, he’s the head guy at the center position now so I just try and make sure me and him are on the same page. He’s got such a great football mind and I’m really happy to see he’s doing well.”
What do you think about C Greg Mancz in that role?
“I know Greg probably better than anyone because I live with him, so that’s a role that he’s done. He’ll excel for sure.”
How does C Greg Mancz handle it all?
“You’re never completely a guy that as it taken care of. You have to be on the same page with the other four guys as well as Brock (Osweiler) or whoever is the quarterback. That’s just part of the center position as far as far as the offensive line goes. Greg is always a sponge, taking in new information. I mean, he excels when it comes to that.”
C Greg Mancz said QB Brock Osweiler was good about getting you guys together early on, how much has that helped?
“It’s been big. You start the chemistry early, Brock’s a great guy, he lets you know what he needs you to do and he’s very up front. You have to respect that he makes sure we’re on the same page and that’s the biggest thing.”
Are you surprised by how quickly you all have come together with all the mixing and matching?
“Not at all. Our O-line room is very, very close. It starts from the top down with Coach Dev (Mike Devlin) then Duane (Brown) and (Derek) Newton keeping the room very tight. Every O-line I’ve been on, though, this is how it is. We’re very tight-knit, we’re a family in there so it doesn’t shock me at all.”
How would you describe C Greg Mancz personally?
“Let me think. If there’s one term I have to say it’s ‘that’s my dog.’ Me and him are like this, so that’s my boy.”
Who else recruited you out of high school? Was Appalachian State the only school?
“I had a few, those were the smaller offers. I was 240 coming out and I was a basketball player and they looked at me as maybe a tight end. But that’s in the past. I had a few but App (Appalachian State) was near and dear.”
What would you say to those people who passed up on you coming out of high school and college?
“I appreciate it because it’s shaped my mind on how I view things and how I work. I wouldn’t change it at all.”
How tough was it to put on the weight to be an offensive tackle?
“It took a while. I’m still kind of slim, I eat as much as I can, but it was a process. I always knew from my standpoint that I didn’t want to put the bad weight on and just jump to 290 and not be a fit 290. So now that I’m 305-310 and it’s the right way I feel good.”
WR JAELEN STRONG
Are you looking forward to this game and getting more opportunities?
“Definitely, and to have it here in Houston is going to be great, a nationally-televised game. It’s going to be a test for us.”
Since you went to Arizona State, does playing against the Cardinals mean anything special to you?
“Not really. They’re just another team coming in here and we’re trying to win.”