How does it feel to be out here?
“I tell you what, it’s a beautiful place. The facilities are great. We had a productive practice for two-and-a-half hours. I don’t think we could quite do that in 100-degree weather, so it’s been very productive.”
What do you expect out of the team this year?
“Our defense was outstanding last year. I think we’re going to have a big improvement in our offense this year, and the defense is going to step it up a little bit also, I think. So, we ought to be well balanced. I’m really looking forward to it. I like our young players. They’re doing well, and of course (Tom) Savage has been playing well and he hasn’t had a chance before because of injuries and what have you. So, it’s a chance for him to get out there and show what he can do, and I think he’s talented. It’s a good group.”
What does it mean to have DE J.J. Watt back?
“Well, it means everything. We just have to let him work his way back in. He doesn’t need a lot of work on the field. He knows what to do. He should be 100 percent and we want to make sure that he is and he’s ready to go at the start of the season.”
Are there a couple things you’re most excited about at the start of this season?
“I guess the most exciting thing is to see the improvement in our offense that I think we’ll see. I think it’s just going to be a little more productive. I think that our run game is so important to us and I think that we’ve got multiple running backs that can do well. The young rookie from Texas (D’Onta Foreman), he looks like a good short-yardage back that’ll be able to pound it down there when it’s third-and-2. I think that our passing game’s going to be better. We’ve got some good, young receivers so I think they’re going to be able to put more points on the board.”
Any concern with T Duane Brown not being here in camp?
“Well, you know, he ought to be here. He needs the work just like everybody, so we look forward to his coming back. I’m sure he’ll be here, it’s just a matter of when.”
Can you tell us about DE J.J. Watt not being out there?
“We’re just trying to manage him. He’s ready to go. He’s in great condition and I think it’s important to get him ready for Sunday, September 10th.”
What about CB Kevin Johnson?
“Day off. Nothing to read into there.”
Where are you now in terms of the evolution of your offense’s pace and tempo?
“I believe in it. I believe in mixing it up. Speeding it up, slowing it down. Huddling, no huddling. I know that kind of sounds like an all-everything answer, but I think our guys really understand our offense now. Tom’s (Savage) had a really good training camp. He had a good day today. Deshaun (Watson), for a rookie, is really way ahead of any rookie quarterback I’ve been around. So, it’s been fun. I think we’ve got a team that, it goes back and forth – defense gets us sometimes and the offense gets them sometimes – and it’s not just defensive-dominated, and I think that’s important for the team. Now, of course, we’ve got to do it in a game. We’ve got to do it in a game, obviously, so we’ll see how that goes, but very happy with where we are right now.”
Do you have some thoughts about WR DeAndrew White?
“We worked him out yesterday. He did a good job. He’s in good condition. We had studied him when he was coming out. Strong player, kind of picked up some things just off of last night’s meeting, was able to go out there and function today. Hopefully he’s a good addition.”
How important is it for these younger players to really take another big step up in the second week?
“It’s important for everybody though. You know what I mean? The second week’s always tough because you haven’t been in full pads for six months, and now, last week you’re in full pads and now you have to deal with the soreness and all those things. Especially the younger players, you’re right about that, they have to be able to come out here and try to get better and not have the ‘woe is me syndrome.’ They have to come out here and get better. I really like our rookie class. I think they’re working hard, it’s not an easy training camp. We’re competing out there. We’re out here today for two-and-a-half, two hours and forty minutes so these guys are working good.”
How are you working on improving in the redzone?
“We have to be better in the redzone. We’ve got to be better everywhere on offense. We’ve said that all offseason. We know that. Coaching, playing, everything. So, we’re working all the different situations. We’ve been in the red area a lot. Sometimes the defense has gotten us, sometimes we’ve gotten them. Hopefully we can be more consistent in games.”
How do you protect plays that could potentially be successful for you?
“I think you have to run what you run. Your guys have to run the things that they’re confident in, but there’s obviously certain things that we won’t show in the preseason, things that we’re doing. I’m sure that’s the same for every team. But there’s also bread and butter things that we’re going to do. That’s what we do. That’s what I believe in offensively. We have to be able to line up and run these plays – they know it’s coming, we know it’s coming and that’s the way it is. But, then there’s other things that we’re doing, maybe it’s with certain players and certain positions or certain schemes or certain tempos that we’re doing that we would not show in the preseason.”
With guys like WR DeAndrew White, do you see things different in players who have been exposed to cultures like he has at Alabama and with the New England Patriots?
“There’s no doubt that guys that have the opportunity to play for Nick Saban or Bill Belichick or Andy Reid or Mike Tomlin or any of those guys that are great, all these guys that are great coaches. They bring something to the table because they understand what it means to come into practice and compete and having to learn on the run. I think when you looked at him today, it’s only one day, but you could tell he had that sense of urgency that you have to have at the University of Alabama in order to even see the field. So, yeah, that’s a good thing.”
What do you think about the chemistry between QB Tom Savage and WR DeAndre Hopkins?
“They’re working hard. They’re staying after practice. They’re coming out here early. I saw them out here actually on their off day – not actually doing anything physically, but talking about the route, watching film together. I think they get along real well. They believe in each other and it’s been a good camp for them so far. They kind of understand what we’re trying to do, relative to them. So, I think it’s been good and has to keep going. Deshaun (Watson) went out there today and made some plays today which was good to see. So, I think everybody’s really, really working hard to get better.”
What do you think about your chemistry with QB Tom Savage?
“It’s been great, it’s been great. Tom and I, we’ve been talking the whole offseason and so for us to come out here and do what we’re doing now, it’s no surprise to either of us. We knew we were going to come out here and kill it (at) this camp so far, and that’s what we’ve been doing.”
How much have you been able to work on chemistry with QB Deshaun Watson?
“We’ve been talking. We haven’t had a lot of opportunities to go with each other just because the reps are limited. You have so many guys out here, close to 100 players. He’s been working, we’ve been talking. Every time he does something on the field, we’re both right there communicating. Sometimes it doesn’t take you getting a rep on the field for you to actually get a rep.”
How have you been helping WR DeAndrew White on his first day?
“He did a great job coming out. His assignments, he knew. He was in a similar offense to this before at the Patriots. He’s been in the NFL so he was working extra. When he first came in, outside the meeting room, he stayed extra just to get his assignments down.”
When a guy does come in after camp has started, is getting acclimated part of it?
“No, the NFL is a small community. Most guys know each other or we have similar friends. So, it’s not like he’s an outsider from Europe that we don’t know. We have similar things to conversate about just because the NFL is a small group.”
How’s camp going for you so far?
“It’s going great. It’s going great. I feel great. The offense has been doing great. We’ve been doing what we wanted to do – come out here and move the ball around the way we want to move it around. Tom and I and all the other receivers, they’ve been doing good. I definitely see an improvement in this whole group, not just the wide receiver group.”
How was your first week of practice?
“I thought it was a really productive week. I think we got a lot of things done. Looking good.”
What about you individually?
“I protected the ball – that’s the number one goal, and just get the guys lined up and distribute the ball to the playmakers.”
Do you feel more comfortable the second week than you did the first?
“Yeah. Ultimately that’s the goal, is to just keep feeling more and more comfortable out there with the guys, and just going out there and, like I said, distribute the ball and protect it.”
Does Head Coach Bill O’Brien emphasize protecting the football more than anything else?
“If you just look at our team and with the defense that we have and the running back that we have and the guys we have up front, I think that’s just a no-brainer. If you can protect the ball, with us, it’ll lead to victories.”
What do you think of the job that WR DeAndre Hopkins has done out there?
“He’s a tremendous receiver. He’s a better guy. The one thing that I don’t think people talk about is how bright of a guy he is out there on the football field. He and I are on the same page right now. We’re working, we’re always hanging out, talking, and I think it’s just a good, good relationship right now.”
Do you have an example of when you’ve seen that from him?
“No, I mean, he’s always open. That’s one thing all receivers are, but he’s just always coming back, communicating with me on what he saw and it’s always the correct answer. It’s good to have, for sure.”
To what degree have you worked on pace and tempo as a tactical advantage?
“I think we’re always working on every different kind of tempo that there is, just to kind of get used to it so nothing really throws us for a curveball in the game. Knowing Bill (O’Brien), I think that’s just what we’ve been working on, is just all the different types of tempo. We always just have to be on our toes, ready to go.”
Generally speaking, what are some things you want to get better at?
“Ultimately we want to score touchdowns. Once we start working on the red area a little bit more – that’s the one thing I think we really want to improve on in training camp, is just touchdowns. We know Nick (Novak) and Ka’imi (Fairbairn) – they’re great kickers – but, no offense to them, we want to be out there scoring the points.”
What are some keys to scoring touchdowns in the redzone?
“Everything’s tight down there. It’s just what it is. Especially in this league, they’re good at disguising. All the safeties, they can do whatever they want back there because they know they don’t have much to cover. So, I think a lot of it’s just film study and seeing different looks that they give you and different ideas and just go from there.”
What do you think about the tight ends?
“Yeah, I think we have a great group of tight ends and I know all the quarterbacks are really excited about it.”