HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
“OK, so we’re just in the process here of trying to get this roster down to 75. We’ll make all of those announcements official at some point tomorrow because we’re still in discussions about some things, so we’ll go from there. But I thought the guys played hard in the game yesterday and roster decisions are not easy. It’s a tough time of year, especially for those players, but the rules are you have to get to 75 and then at some point next week get to 53. With that being said, I’ll open it up to questions.”
What do you think about the situation with 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick and what do you require of your players in regards to the National Anthem?
“Again, I’m just going to tell you that we encourage our players to stand for the National Anthem, to honor their country and that’s the way we handle it. I’m not going to speak about any other team. I know the league issued a statement on it. I know Mr. (Robert C.) McNair, myself and Rick Smith are big believers in standing for the National Anthem. Again, I’m a football coach. I’m in charge of coaching the Houston Texans. I’m not going to comment on any other team.”
Can you comment on the progress of S K.J. Dillon?
“He’s made a lot of progress, there’s no doubt about it. I think that one of the things you see with him, I think I said this last week, is he’s a contact player. He enjoys the physical part of the game and he made some mistakes out there last night, but I thought overall he played the game very hard and he’s doing a decent job of trying to get better every time he goes out there.”
What have you seen from the offensive line and what are you looking for from them with all the changes?
“I think that every position group, I could point to something - and the coaching staff - I could point to all of us and say there’s some things that we all need to improve upon. I thought the offensive line had some moments where they protected well. I thought that a couple of the runs, like the goal line run in the first quarter there, where we ran it in from the two yard line, I thought that was a very well-blocked play. I thought there were other ones in the running game that were well-blocked, there were other ones that we need to improve on. That’s kind of what the preseason is all about. I really like that group of guys. I think they practice hard. They take it very seriously, football is very important to them so I know they’ll work hard to get better.”
How big of a role does special teams play when deciding on the last few guys to make the roster?
“Special teams is a factor, there’s no doubt about it, with a number of roster spots. You look at how your team is put together, it’s not about the most talented 53, it’s about the right 53, and a lot of that has to do with special teams. If you look at our kickoff coverage yesterday, for example, I thought that there were a number of guys that did an excellent job on kickoff coverage. Guys were flying down there, making plays inside the 20 yard line, which is big for us. But special teams is a big part of what we look at.”
LB Brian Peters showed some versatility playing backup long snapper yesterday.
“Yeah, it was good. (Jon) Weeks had a little calf pull so we tried Peters there and he did a nice job. You know in that situation that you do have a guy, potentially, that could fill in as an emergency long snapper.”
Is there any update on T Derek Newton?
“I think Derek Newton is doing better. I think he’s made a lot of progress. I think he’ll be able to move around this week. Whether we play him against Dallas, that’s to be determined. But, I do think he can do some things out on the practice field this week.”
What is the status of T Duane Brown and how do you plan on working him back into the mix at offensive line?
“He’s working hard to get back in there. As far as a timetable for when he’ll be back in there, I’m not sure what that would be. I can’t pinpoint right now what date that would be. But when he’s ready to play, the doctors will let us know and the trainer will let us know. We’ll get him back in there at left tackle. A lot of these guys have been out for a while, including (Derek) Newton, Duane, and whoever else has been out for a while. You can’t just put them right back in there to play 75 plays a game, so we’ll have to look at that from a conditioning standpoint and all those different things. But Duane is working hard to get back in there. When he’s ready to go, we’ll get him back in there.”
Is there a chance T Derek Newton could play in Week 1 vs. the Chicago Bears?
What is the status of DE J.J. Watt?
“J.J. is progressing well. He’s made a lot of improvement over the last couple of weeks. He’s really on the right track. We feel good about where he is right now.”
Is there a possibility DE J.J. Watt plays in Week 1 vs. the Chicago Bears?
“Yes. I’m not committing to that, but I could definitely see that. When I look into my crystal ball, I could see him playing the Chicago Bears. I can envision that. That’s something that I’m envisioning. I’d like to see him in there for a number of our games this year.”
What are your thoughts on how the offense has been developing so far?
“I think that we’ve made improvement every week. That’s what I’ve asked those guys to do. There’s been some things that have to be better than they are right now. Obviously, running the ball. We’ve got to run the ball more consistently then we have in the preseason. There are areas like that to improve upon. But as a whole unit, they’re a lot better today than they were three weeks ago, if that makes sense. Our passing game has looked pretty decent. Again, it’s preseason. They’re not playing the whole game. There are some guys in there at times that maybe haven’t been together in practice that much, but because of the situation in the game they are in there together. That’s not always the easiest adjustment. I think guys have adjusted pretty well. I thought Brock (Osweiler) played well yesterday. I thought Hop (DeAndre Hopkins) had some big plays. I thought (Will) Fuller (V) and Braxton (Miller) made some big plays. I thought the tight ends got involved. It was good to see. Tyler Ervin had a decent day. There were a number of guys that I thought played well yesterday.”
How does the focus change this week with the preseason almost over, especially for your veteran players and starters?
“We have to get a lot of our team ready for Dallas, but another group of our team needs to be moving on to getting ready for Chicago and even games during the season where you have quick turnarounds. We’ll work on things maybe over the next 10 days where we know we’ll only have three days to prepare for a team. We may work on a couple things they’ve shown us in the past to be tough to deal with. It’s a difficult time of the year, just from a planning standpoint. It’s fun though. It’s challenging. You have to make sure that the guys are getting the proper work, the right work, if that makes sense.”