How much does the strong finish last season carry over into this year?
“I think every year is different. I think that whatever happened last year has really nothing to do with this year. I really believe that. I think that we have to go out there and prepare and be ready for the challenges of a new schedule, new players that we’ll be going against. We have a lot of players back on our defense but we’ll be seeing some different players on all the teams we’re playing. I think one of the things we have to do on both sides of the ball and on special teams, we have to start better than we did last year. We need to start fast. We’ve talked about that with our guys. But I don’t think we even think about it as far as last year is concerned when it comes to like, what the stats were or whatever. Every year is different.”
Are you talking about starting faster in games or the season as a whole?
“I would say both. I would say we need to try to do a better job of getting off to a better start in games, and definitely a better start in the season.”
What do you want to see from QB Tom Savage in Thursday’s game?
“I think he’s improved. I’d just like to see steady improvement from him. I think one of the things that we have to do at that position on Thursday is take care of the football, manage the game properly, move the sticks on third down, execute in the red area, get us into the right plays. I think communication with the huddle, if we go no-huddle, all those different things. I just want to see steady improvement from him, and then Brandon (Weeden) will play, too, and see steady improvement from him.”
How important is the Dallas game for some of the guys trying to make the team?
“I think it’s significant. I think, first of all, any time you go out there and play a game it’s significant. I think there’s a number of guys that will be playing in this Dallas game that really are fighting for a spot on our team. There’s some really tough decisions that are going to have to be made over the next five, six days. This game will play a part of it. It’s not the only part, but it will be part of the decision process.”
Does it feel like a rivalry game when you play Dallas, even in the preseason?
“Definitely fans have talked to me about that. Also, just my Houston friends that are native Houstonians have talked to me about that. We know the significance of that, to play Dallas and understand that whether it’s preseason or not – it doesn’t matter - it’s a big game for this city. We talked to our players about that this morning. We’re going up there to win the game and play well.”
Do you think four preseason games is too many?
“I don’t think my opinion on that really matters, to be honest with you. I think that’s the way the league is set up, so whatever the schedule is that the league puts out, that’s what we abide by. I don’t think my opinion on that really matters.”
Do you think way teams have approached kickoffs under the new rule in the preseason will carry over into the regular season?
“I don’t know. It will be interesting to see. I know that in the preseason, there has been a lot more, including with us, a lot more of directional kicking and trying to put it in the corner, outside the numbers where they have to take it out. I thought that our coverage unit the other day did a really good job of covering kicks, and that was good to see. But as far as the whole league goes and how that will play out during the season, I think we’re going to have to wait and see. I’m not sure. I really couldn’t tell you. I think when the rule was put in place I think they were looking at it from a safety standpoint. We’ll see how that all plays out. I’m not sure.”
Can you talk about the team’s depth at cornerback?
“We have a pretty deep corner position. When you look at our top four, five, six corners, these guys are all good football players. Some have more experience than others, some have different types of skillsets, they can do different things, some guys can play safety, some guys can help us a whole ton on special teams and so I think it’s a good group of guys and it’s another —for the roster question — it’s another tough decision, how many to keep and things like that. Those guys, it’s a very competitive group.”
How do you decide whether to keep two or three QBs on the roster?
“I think it depends on how good you feel about your quarterback position and also how you feel about another position on the roster. Roster decisions are very tough because you’re trying to put together the right 53. Part of that has to do with, okay, are you releasing a player and exposing him to the wire in order to just keep a guy because you’re thinking conservatively or cautiously or safely about a position? That’s important, too, to have those types of discussions. Those are tough decisions. I don’t really have an exact thought on that, whether to keep two or three. I’ve been in places, obviously New England, where we kept two quite a bit for the years that I was there. I think we only kept three once when I was there. Then, here, we’ve obviously kept three and we’ve had a bunch over the last couple of years. I know this: we have three really good quarterbacks in our room. We’ve got Brock (Osweiler) as the starter, Tom’s (Savage) the backup right now, (Brandon) Weeden has really improved a lot so we feel really good about our quarterback room today.”
Has P Shane Lechler had the best camp of anyone on the team?
“I don’t know if you can say that. He and I talked a lot during the offseason about what we felt, he and I - you know, you’re talking to a guy that in some aspects has Hall-of-Fame numbers relative to Ray Guy being in the Hall of Fame and things like that. You’re not dictating to this guy. He’s a guy that I have a lot of respect for and we talked a lot about how he can improve to help our football team, and that’s the one thing about Shane, he is a team guy. He cares about the team and he wants the team to win. In 2002, that was the last time he had ever been on a championship-type team. The Raiders went to the Super Bowl that year. He’s somebody that really cares about winning and he knows that he’s closer to the end of his career than he is to the beginning and he wants to win. So, I think part of what you see is some of the things that we talked about and he’s executing it pretty well.”
What aspect of QB Brock Osweiler’s game have you been most impressed with so far?
“I think one of the things that we’ve seen that, to me, has been very impressive and has to continue during the season is his command of the offense. When we watch the tape--and even if you watch the TV copy, because we do look at that a lot because all of these players are mic’d up now, so we kind of use that as some of our study of opponents and our own stuff--one of the things that stands out to me, personally, is his knowledge and his command of the offense. That has to continue to improve and it has to—we can’t take a step back with that—and I think that’s something that he does really well. That’s what I would like to really see him continue to do when the season starts.”