Head Coach Bill O’Brien
Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel
QB Deshaun Watson
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
How is RB Tyler Ervin doing so far this preseason?
“He’s doing a good job. He’s a smart guy, very versatile guy – special teams, offense. I think he could even play DB in a pinch. So, just one of those guys that you really need to have on a pro football team, and he’s had a good camp. Big key with him is we just have to continue to keep him healthy.”
Has S K.J. Dillon come back well from the injury last year? Is he starting to show something?
“It’s been OK. I think it’s been – and it’s not because he hasn’t put the work in. He’s worked extremely hard, but sometimes guys come back from those injuries faster than others. He’s putting the time in. He’s working really hard. I think some of it’s just getting confidence in his ability to cut off that knee. He’s a tough guy, but he’s a ways away.”
What about S Marcus Gilchrist? He looks like he’s getting better every day.
“Good pro. Brings a good work ethic every day. Smart guy. Good teammate already. Definitely a good Texan.”
Is it pretty helpful to have S Marcus Gilchrist back there given the youth at the position?
“Yeah, he has a lot of experience. He just got here, but Dre’s (Andre Hal) got a lot of experience. Dre’s been back there for a while now – not that he’s a rookie, he’s not a tenth-year player – but Dre’s got a lot of experience. Dre’s a good leader back there, but Marcus (Gilchrist) definitely has experience and probably does help the younger players with that experience.”
How do you think WR Jaelen Strong’s handled this camp this year with all the wide receiver injuries?
“He’s done a good job. It’s a battle every day. We went up against Malcolm Butler and today (Stephon) Gilmore was out there, so we’ll watch the tape, see how it went. I think the receiver group’s working hard. They need to come out here every day and have the right attitude and try to get better every single day.”
It looked like a good, physical practice. What did you think?
“I thought we got a lot out of these two days. They were really good. I think, relative to training camp, I think we’re a better football team than we were two days ago just because the guys came out and practiced hard. Wasn’t chippy. It was two good pro football teams practicing against each other, and I thought it was a really productive two days.”
Can you talk to us about your first camp in West Virginia?
“It’s been good. It’s been good. We miss Houston. We’re ready to go back and see our fans. There’s no doubt about that. We’re looking forward to the public practices. I’m sure there will be a ton of fans there. We’re excited about this year, but this camp has been good for chemistry, it’s been good for focus, it’s been good for a lot of different reasons and we’re looking forward to hopefully coming back here in the future.”
Can you talk about going back to Houston and playing your first home game?
“Yeah, we’re excited about playing in front of the home crowd. We have the best home crowd in the NFL. We know they’re going to be ready to go, even though it’s a preseason game. Houston’s a great pro football city. We know that these guys are really excited about playing in front of the home crowd.”
Do you have an update on WR DeAndre Hopkins?
“I think he’s fine. Look, the biggest thing with him is making sure that he feels 100 percent when he practices, making sure that when the season starts he’s ready to go. He’s proven a lot to this organization over the last few years. He’s fine. There’s nothing really wrong with him. It’s just more ‘Hey, let’s make sure this guy’s ready to go on September 10.’”
What have you seen from G Josh Walker?
“Josh Walker’s doing a good job. He’s a tough guy. He’s improved. He practices every day. He’s out here every day, working hard to get better. He’s had a decent camp.”
You had chance to go look at yesterday’s film work and bring it out here today, how do you think QB Tom Savage and QB Deshaun Watson performed today?
“Good. Look, it’s hard when you have a new defense come in – new scheme, new players, new skillsets on the other side of the ball – but I thought they handled it well. I thought they both had really good moments out there in two-minute, which was good to see. Deshaun yesterday, Tom today – made a beautiful throw to Jaelen (Strong) there on that play, which was a touchdown situation. So, I thought the quarterbacks had a good two days here.”
How do you think the chemistry and the bonding will translate to the regular season?
“I believe in that, so I’m hoping that it translates really well. This is a team that can deal with adversity because adversity is going to come. Football’s a tough sport. Things are going to happen where you’re going to have to pick yourself right up and be ready to go. So, I think the chemistry of the team’s going to help that. I think we have a tough team. I think we have a team that’s going to continue to get better. We won’t know the true identity of this team until probably the beginning of October, middle of October, but I think right now we’ve got a good foundation to build on.”
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE VRABEL
How is your first training camp as defensive coordinator?
“I think it’s gone OK. I think that the guys, for the most part, have tried to come out and get better each day and try to improve on a few skills that we’ve given them. We try to make the corrections in the film room and then try to translate the meeting to the walkthrough and the walkthrough to practice.”
How have you tried to put your stamp on the defense?
“I’m not really trying to put my stamp on our defense. I think I’m just trying to coordinate a group of professional athletes that were successful last year as a group. I think that we try to be competitive, we try to be physical, have a winning attitude every day and play with effort and energy. Our guys play hard and I appreciate that. So, I don’t know if that’s my stamp or that’s their stamp, but we try to have a culture that is built around competitiveness and winning.”
Do you think the players feed off your energy out there?
“I don’t know. I think that’s who I am. I think that they’ve known me for going on four years, and that they know I’m passionate, they know that I do this for one reason, and that’s to make the players better. I can’t do it anymore. I love the game, I love every coach that I’ve played for. I felt like they’ve made me better, from Bill Belichick all the way down to a college coach. I’ve played for great guys and they tried to make me better and I try to do the same thing for them.”
What’s it been like reconnecting with these New England Patriots players and coaches?
“They beat our ass the last couple of times we’ve played them, so it’s been hard to sit over on the other sidelines, but I think to be able to practice against them and see them in somewhat of a relaxed setting, it’s great. They’ve got a great staff, they’ve got great players. Tom (Brady’s) a phenomenal leader, good friend, all the way down to Matt Patricia, Nick Caserio, Berj (Najarian), Ernie Adams – all those guys that I was a part of a team and a championship team with them. Now, to be on the other sidelines, it’s fun during practice and hopefully we can be a little bit more competitive this year against them.”
What do you think about the work you got in against Patriots QB Tom Brady the past two days?
“Yeah, it’s invaluable. To be able to go against the players that they have and Tom (Brady) and the offense and Julian (Edelman) and Jimmy (Garoppolo) and Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) – all of them. They all play well, they’re all held to a high standard. I think it’s good for our guys to see how they practice and kind of how we stack up and how our fundamentals and our technique are.”
Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick said this morning that your situational awareness was really good as a player. Where did that come from?
“Probably from him. I think that – I learned a lot in Pittsburgh. I learned a lot of football, fundamental, physical football playing outside linebacker. Then, coming to New England, (I’ve) been able to try to take it to the next level and that’s really where I blossomed as a player. I didn’t start a game in Pittsburgh, then played eight years in New England then went to Kansas City. In those meetings, if you can pay attention and focus in the meetings, you can learn a lot. It takes some time, I think, to take it from the meetings and recognize that, oh, this is the situation, this is what’s happening, this is the formation. So, that’s why we practice. We keep going. Some guys get it quicker, some guys don’t, so we’ll continue to press upon them in the meeting room and then try to get them to see it out here on the field.”
Did you know when you were playing that you wanted to be a coach and did you pick the coaches’ brains back then?
“I’m not cut out to do much other than play football and now coach football. It took me nine years to graduate from Ohio State, if that tells you anything. I’m thankful to be a part of the National Football League as a player and now as a coach. I loved my time coaching at Ohio State, coached a lot great players, coached with a lot of great coaches. But being back here in the National Football League and coaching and having my kids be around this – they were around in the locker room in New England, now to be around these pros. They play the game. I want them to be around good people. They don’t listen to their mom and dad anymore, they’re in high school, so maybe they can see some of these guys as role models and try to follow their lead.”
Are you still able to learn something about your defense going against Patriots QB Tom Brady even in a more relaxed setting?
“Yeah. I mean, I think we can figure out if we’re physical, if we’re competitive, if we can play fast and aggressive, if we can get lined up to the tempo. All those types of things get answered when you play against good, sound, fundamental football teams like the Patriots.”
Can you tell after one day of looking at the film?
“Yeah. I mean, I think that we did some good things. Like in every practice, like in every game, you do some good things and then some things that you wish that you could do over and you try to correct and you try to come out the next day and build some more awareness and try to get those things fixed.”
How impressive was the Patriots offense?
“Well, it’s as advertised. There’s a lot of weapons, led by Tom (Brady). Josh (McDaniels) calls a great game over there and it was good because nothing was scripted and we all kind of had to just come up with the calls on the fly and think fast, just like a game.”
QB DESHAUN WATSON
You just stopped and chatted with Patriots QB Tom Brady. What was that about and how cool was that?
“It’s always good to be able to learn and watch a guy like Tom Brady – one of the best to ever do it – and see him in live practice to see how he works. What we talked about, we were just kind of congratulating each other on all the success that we’ve had, and he was just giving me a little tip here and there about this league and this system and Coach OB (O’Brien). It was a good talk.”
What does it meant have that kind interaction with him?
“It’s cool. It’s a blessing to be in his presence and have that opportunity to learn from one of the best that’s done it for a long time. It’s always good to talk to him and be able to talk to him more down the road.”
What do you admire most about Patriots QB Tom Brady?
“Just how consistent he is and how each and every play is a game rep. Each time he takes the field he’s out there taking charge, being a leader. He’s out there being the man of the team and controlling everything.”
When do you think you’ll know when you’re ready to start?
“Honestly, I have no idea. It’s one of those things where it just kind of clicks and everyone sees it, I’ll feel it, Coach OB (O’Brien) will feel it. But right now I’m just being patient, taking it one day at a time, learning as much as I can.”
How do you feel about your progress since camp started?
“The progress since camp has been very, very good. Honestly, in the spring I knew what I was doing but at the same time my head was swimming. But whenever I step on the field today, I can go out there and control the offense and do what they ask me to do and make good decisions, fast. I’m just trying to improve in all areas and continue to do that.”
How do you feel like you did the past two days against the New England Patriots?
“I thought I did pretty good. Yesterday was good, made good decisions, quick decisions, and did the basic fundamentals. Today was the same way. It was two good practices against a very good team. It was good work for us.”
What is the quarterbacks room like and how have you been able to learn from QB Tom Savage and QB Brandon Weeden?
“The quarterback room is healthy, it’s fun, it’s good. We have a great time in there. We learn, we compete. We all support each other and we want the best every time. Whoever’s on the field, we want them to be successful – score touchdowns, make good decisions and protect the ball. So, that’s what we’ve been supporting each other for.”
Do you feel like getting the first preseason game under your belt gives you a different level of confidence?
“A little bit. But I’m a confident player, I’m a confident person. I prepare myself. I make sure that I put in the work each and every day and make sure I’m prepared every time I step on the field. It was good just to get out there and be with a new team and just kind of get my feet wet and play against another team.”
How much do you look forward to getting a chance to play in front of your home crowd for the first time?
“It’s going to be great. I know we have a great fan base. The fans are going to come be supportive and it’s going to be a fun Saturday night. I can’t wait to get there and really just get a little taste of what the season’s going to be like.”
What did it mean to you that QB Tom Savage was the first to send you a congratulatory text after you got drafted?
“It was cool. Just another guy in the QB room that was welcoming me to the team and being supportive and being helpful. He’s kind of taken me under his wing and been helping me out with this whole system and everything. It’s been good, and it’s going to continue to be that way.”