Could you start off talking about how it got a little heated there?
“We have to stop doing that. We don’t have time for that. Obviously, in a game, that’s a bad penalty. We’ll talk about it tonight. These guys are competitive. It’s about that time at camp – seven, eight practices in. They’re competing during team drills but we can’t do that.”
Why did you lead them around the goalpost when you made them run?
“Because I’m part of it. I have to be part of that. I’m accountable for holding them accountable for not fighting. So, we have to stop doing it. Not a big deal, but can’t do it.”
Any update on WR Will Fuller V?
Are you concerned after the fall he took?
“I’m concerned any time a guy has to leave practice early. I’m always concerned about the safety of the players.”
Did you give ILB Benardrick McKinney the day off?
Can you talk about your running back situation? It looks like you’re going to have some tough decisions.
“There’s a lot of tough decisions at every position, really. Every single one. The running back position is very competitive. You’ve got first- and second-down guys. You’ve got third-down guys. You’ve got three-down guys. You’ve got guys that are doing a good job on special teams. You have a lot of different role players in there. It’s a very competitive position. Great guys, compete hard every day. I thought the second offense ran the ball pretty well today, and that was (D’Onta) Foreman. He did a nice job. Overall, we just have to see how it all plays out.”
What about RB Dare Ogunbowale?
“Dare’s doing a good job. He’s a young guy. He’s helping us on special teams. He’s made some nice plays on special teams and he’s learning our offense. He’s got a long way to go, just like most rookies, but he’s doing a good job.”
Do you think QB Tom Savage and QB Deshaun Watson are pushing each other to be better?
“I don’t think there’s any question about that. Those guys are competitive. They’re both good. (Brandon) Weeden’s in there. He throws really good balls. I think that that whole room is very talented. Great guys. Root for each other. They’re making each other better. There’s no doubt about it.”
On defense, are you guys preaching taking the ball away?
“We have to. That’s something we do every year. Last year we kind of fell off a little bit with that. Turnovers are a key stat in this league. If you can take care of the ball and you can take the ball away, then you have a real chance to win a lot of games. We’re practicing (that) and I’m sure every team is practicing that. That’s a key stat in our league. That really defines winning and losing.”
Now that you guys are a week in, what have you seen that you’ve like as opposed to what you haven’t liked?
“There’s not much that I haven’t liked. I didn’t love the way the first-team offense played today. I thought it was a little up and down, but I thought that the second-team offense played well. I think it’s been a very competitive camp. It’s been up and down as far as one side of the ball has gotten the best of the other side of the ball, back and forth a little bit, that’s what I mean. That’s good. If you’re dominated by one side of the ball, that’s not a good thing for your team. So, I think that we look like a very competitive team. We just have to keep trying to get better every day.”
Do you think you’ve ratcheted up the intensity of your camp each of your four years here?
“We try to be physical every year. Look, I think every year we’ve been very competitive. I don’t think there’s any other way to do it. When you’re in full pads, you have to compete on the field. That carries over to the games. You can’t come out here and slop through it and then expect to go into the games and compete. I do think that this has been a good camp, a physical camp, a competitive camp, and I think it’s going to help our team.”
What do you think makes it get heated at practice from time to time?
“It’s part of practice. It’s part of the game. It’s a competitive sport. You come out here every day and compete and you’re going against the same guys every day, so something’s eventually going to happen. It’s part of the game. We love it. We still love each other. We go into the locker room and still talk, but between those lines, everything goes.”
What do you think about splitting time between defensive end and linebacker?
“The coaches figure that out. I’m just out here to do whatever they want me to do, like I’ve been doing. I let them deal with that. That’s not our job to figure out. Just go out here and practice hard and you’re going to get the reps you deserve off of what you practice and everything. I think we got a good group of guys out here right now. Everybody’s practicing hard and everybody looking good, so just let time tell.”
Do you enjoy working in two different spots like that?
“I love it. Moving around is great. The coaches know what’s going on. They put me in the right situation, right place to make a lot of plays. I love it.”
What have you thought about your first couple days here?
“Pretty good. Just kind of taking it slow, trying to get back in the wind of things, learn the defense, trying to pick up everything. I think it’s been going pretty good.”
What do you think about the opportunity here?
“I love it. Wherever I’m at I like the opportunity, but especially here. I’ve been playing for – this will be my seventh year. Every time you turn on the film and you see this defense, it’s always flying around, they’re always getting to the quarterback, they’re always causing turnovers. It’s one of those things where I’m excited to be here.”
What is it like going from the New York Jets to the Texans, who have won the division the last two years?
“Well, I’ve only been here two days so I can’t tell you that much of a difference. But I do know that it’s a great coaching staff here, guys work hard here, a lot of veterans, a lot of good, young guys, and everybody seems very family-oriented.”
What do you hope to bring to these guys?
“Just be myself. I’m a guy who’s been known to be able to do multiple things, a big communicator and try to make plays.”
How are you health-wise?
“I think I’m doing pretty good. Like I said, I’m taking it slow. Obviously a patella (injury) in December is one of those things that’s not the easiest thing to come back from, but I think I’ve been ahead of the curve, and the training staff here has done a good job with me the first two days so far.”
How exciting is it to be with so many Clemson guys?
“It was one of the first things I thought about because I just remember seeing the draft and seeing them take Deshaun (Watson) and take Carlos (Watkins), and I’m just like, ‘Man, that’s a bunch of Clemson guys over there.’ So, for me to be here to add to it, it just gives me a little bit more room to talk junk to Kareem (Jackson).”
Did you know T Breno Giacomini at the Jets?
“Yeah, I knew Breno. We’ve been talking. I know him pretty well.”
How good is it to be here with him?
“Pretty good. It’s good to see him back out there. He missed most of the year last year so to see him back out there and back in the swing of things and looking healthy is a good thing.”
Does it help to have some guys here that you know or have seen play at your alma mater?
“Once you get to year seven you’ve kind of played with guys, you’ve trained with guys – me and Kareem (Jackson) train with each other every offseason, so I’ve known Kareem. You meet guys during the offseason. It’s not like a great relationship but it’s some form of relationship.”
What do you think about being teammates with DE J.J. Watt and DE Jadeveon Clowney?
“Obviously, this pass rush here, with (Whitney) Mercilus and (Benardrick) McKinney and those guys being able to get after the quarterback – I always say a D-line is the DBs’ best friend and we can get coverage sacks for them so we can be their best friends. It works hand in hand.”
How did it feel to be back and get some contact?
“It felt great, it felt great. It’s real football. It’s been a long time coming. It felt really good. It’s just so much fun out here practicing with the guys in this atmosphere. You can really focus on football. You can really focus on your skills because we’re not dealing with the extreme heat, so you actually can go out there and really make sure you lock in your skills, which I think is a big deal. Today was a great day. I really enjoyed it, had a lot of fun popping the pads a little bit, playing some real football. It’s just another step. Every single day in training camp is a step and you need to stack all the blocks on top of each other and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Was it good to get back out there and do what you do?
“Obviously we had a bumpy road for a little while here, so it’s very good to be out there, to be having fun. I’m having a blast. I love the game, I love the guys, I love my teammates. It’s just so much fun, and that’s what this game is about. It’s a kid’s game. So, I’m just out there really enjoying it and, yeah, every day is a blast.”
Do you have to pace yourself a little bit in practice?
“I think they do a good job of doing that for me because they know what would happen if I tried to pace myself, but I think what I have done a better job of is listening to them. I think they’ve put a really good plan in place, they know exactly how they want to progress us toward the season because – I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned from early in my career is I’m not going to go out there and win a game on a Tuesday in the middle of training camp. We’ve got to win games on Sundays in September, October, November, December. So, the biggest thing for me is getting ready for that first game of the season and they have a good plan in place, so I’m just following the plan.”
Is there anything you would change about your game or be mindful of going into the season?
“Not about my game but more just about the practice plan that we have in place, especially for training camp, stringing all these practices back-to-back, making sure we’re very smart about the rep count. As far as my game goes, I’m just trying to make it better. I’m always trying to improve it, I’m always trying to make it better. Whatever way that I can enhance my game, I’m always going to try to do that.”
When you’re on the sideline, is it fun to watch your teammates?
“Oh yeah, it’s great. That’s what’s cool about training camp – you have 90 guys. So, there’s a lot of young minds out there. There’s a lot of young guys who are itching to learn, who are itching to hear what you have to say, so it’s really fun to be able to see these young guys so eager to play and be able to coach them up and take that raw ability and that raw emotion that they have and funnel it into a really good football player, and you can see it every day. I think that’s one of the fun things about training camp, is you can see the young guys every day get a little bit better, a little bit better, watch their confidence grow, and it’s really fun. I feel like an old guy talking like that, but it’s really fun to watch.”
Do you take pride in being a role model to those guys?
“Yeah. I think as you go up in your career – I mean I’m only 28 years old, so I don’t like to consider myself too old yet – but I think it’s just fun when you see these guys come into the league asking questions and wanting to learn. To be able to share that knowledge and to be able to share what you’ve seen, it’s exciting. It’s really exciting. When you can see it go from the meeting room to the walkthrough to the field, I guess that’s probably what coaching feels like. It’s a really cool feeling when you watch those guys put it into place and then you see them smile after they make a big play.”
Did you have someone like that to look up to?
“I’ve had a bunch of great people over my career. Antonio Smith was one early on for me, he taught me his ninja assassin ways. Some wild, some really good, but he was a great guy for me early on in my career. I had Coach (Bill) Kollar, who was a great coach for me early on and now I have a phenomenal D-line coach in Coach (Anthony) Weaver as well. So, I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of good people around me in my career. Wade Phillips and RAC (Romeo Crennel) and now Weave and (Mike) Vrabel, I’ve been very, very fortunate.”
What do you think about the competition at running back?
“I don’t know a single thing about it. I have no clue who’s in the backfield, I’m not even kidding you. All I know is there’s somebody back there that I’ve got to tackle. But I honestly don’t know. Is it good? I know we’ve got one damn good one, that’s for sure. I know Lamar’s (Miller) an awesome back, but I honestly haven’t watched.”
Was it fun getting a sack in practice?
“I mean, you can’t tackle him, so no. I like wrecking game plans, that’s what I like to do. If I can ever do that, that’s my goal, but it’s just a lot of fun to play with my guys. It’s a lot of fun to play with the team, go out there and have fun. It’s a battle. Every day’s a battle and that’s what makes it so fun.”
When you hear coaches talk about you in game plans, does it show the hard work is paying off?
“It’s all a big chess game. That’s all it is at the end of the day. They’re trying to stop us, we’re trying to stop them. It’s just a really, really physical chess game, and I think that’s what makes it so fun. People say football’s just a bunch of guys ramming their heads into each other but there’s a lot of thought that goes into it. There’s a whole bunch of mind games going on. It’s a fun game. It’s a blast. I love it.”