Head Coach Bill O’Brien
ILB Brian Cushing
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
Did you have a better practice today?
“It was better. I mean, we competed. We got a good team, we got a good bunch of guys and they want to practice well. I thought they come out here today and competed pretty well.”
Could you give us an update on the offensive line?
“I’m really happy with where our offensive line is. I really think that there’s a number of guys that have come back in great shape. I look at Jeff Allen. Jeff Allen’s come back in really good shape. He’s playing really well. Breno (Giacomini). Breno’s a really good edition to our team, he’s a tough guy, obviously being from Massachusetts. That’s a joke. Still getting used to that sense of humor. Kendall Lamm over there on the left side, then you have Greg Mancz, who’s come in there as kind of like a sixth, seventh guy. Can’t say enough about Nick Martin, what he’s meant coming back here at center. Of course the proof will be in the pudding during the season but I’m really happy with the way they play.”
Are you OK with the way they responded to the heat?
“Look, it’s not easy coming back, obviously from 75 degrees in West Virginia to whatever it is here, but that’s Houston. That’s what it is and our guys really responded well today to that.”
Can you talk about a guy like ILB Brian Peters who has found a way to be useful in different facets?
“I can’t say enough about Brian Peters. I mean, this guy loves football, he’s a leader, he works extremely hard, he does whatever the coaching staff asks, puts the team first all the time, really good teammate. Really good example for the younger players, guys that are practice squad guys or have been released or whatever it is. Never giving up. He’s a great kid.”
Your son Jack was here today. How special was that?
“Very special. He’s 15 today. Fifteen years old. For Jack, that’s a milestone birthday. Credit Colleen (wife) for all that. That’s 24/7 and (a) very special day to have Jack here, being 15.”
What do you like about what Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel has done for you?
“I think he does a lot. I think he’s very knowledgeable, he’s a good leader. He’s got good command on the field, good command in the meeting room. He’s a good coach.”
Do you notice if your players feed off of Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel’s energy?
“Absolutely. I think you have to have energy as a coach. If you’re coming out here and you’re not bringing energy as a coach, then you’re going to have a hard time asking your players to have energy. There’s different styles of coaching, but he has a really good style, the way that he coaches.”
When healthy, can you envision any scenario in which your top two quarterbacks both play in a game in different situations?
“Sure. I mean, I envision that, I can see that, but that’s not the approach that we’re taking. Tom’s (Savage) the starter. Tom’s playing well this camp. Tom has really had a good camp. He’s only thrown three incompletions in two games. He’s really got good command of our offense, and like I’ve said, Deshaun (Watson) is a very, very good, young player who has a great future in this league. I mean, let’s put the cards on the table. That’s what it is. But Tom has been here for four years. The way that we want to play, the style that we need to play relative to getting guys lined up, relative to cadence, relative to protection points and route reads and putting guys in the right spot, Tom’s ahead of Deshaun on that.”
With the way the game is played today, inserting a different quarterback in the game is asking a lot of the other personnel to adjust, right?
“No, I don’t think so. I mean Deshaun – they run the same offense.”
Former Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Tom Landry tried a multi-quarterback approach.
“No, that’s what I’m saying. I’m not going to do that. We’re into going to get into this – we’re not doing that. Tom’s (Savage) the No. 1 and Deshaun (Watson) right now is No. 2. And then we’ll go from there.”
Do you have a policy with players protesting the national anthem and how do you feel about that?
“Our organization believes strongly in the national anthem and standing for the national anthem. I believe in everyone’s right to free speech. I do think that there’s a separation between politics and football. In the end, it’s about lining up and trying to win the game, but I grew up in a family that made sure that we all understood the rights of people, to never look at the color of another man’s skin but to see what was in that man’s heart, that woman’s heart, to find out what it meant to trust somebody. Were they loyal? Were they good people? It had nothing to do with what they looked like. At the same time, like I said, this organization believes strongly in the national anthem and believes in standing for the national anthem. We’ll see how it goes from there.”
What do you think of DE Christian Covington and how he’s come along?
“He’s doing well. He’s a tough guy. He’s playing with a little bit of a painful deal right now. Plays through it, smart. He’s become kind of a leader, especially to the younger players. Great guy.”
Can you talk about WR Bruce Ellington?
“He’s been a good addition for only having been here 10 days, two weeks, whatever it is. He’s been a real good addition. He’s got good quickness, he’s a competitor. I think the big thing with Bruce is staying healthy, making sure he gets the treatment and he’s able to stay healthy. If he’s out there for us, he’s going to make plays for us.”
Was it an off day for some of the guys?
“Look, on that deal, I don’t have to release any injury reports until the regular season. So, you can ask me all the injury questions you want, clearly there’s guys that are, we have all different – it’s training camp. I’ll release the injuries when I absolutely have to.”
ILB BRIAN CUSHING
How was the heat?
“Better. Yesterday it took a little bit to get used to, but at the same time it’s muscle memory. You remember it pretty quickly. I mean, we were only gone for three weeks, so it’s good to be back. This is the weather we are going to be practicing in so we have to get used to it and get used to it fast.”
It looked like defense had another good day.
“Yeah, we try to do that. We try to have some good days. We go out there and compete. You’re only as good as your last practice and your last day, so we understand that. So, wipe yesterday clean, come out here and try to have the best day and same thing for tomorrow. That’s kind of the mindset we have and it’s going to be going forward. Every day just try to repeat it.”
What’s Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel like?
“Animated. Interesting, but extremely knowledgeable. Very smart. His football IQ is through the roof. He’s just a football person. He’s a football player and now he’s a football coach. He is football, 100 percent, all the time. He’s the kind of coach that’s always trying to put his players in the best position possible and it’s truly a team defense. Everyone’s got to do their job for it to hold up and to be successful, and he does a great job teaching that. We just try to relay it on the field as best as we can.”
What are your thoughts on ILB Dylan Cole’s performance in Saturday’s game? You’ve kind of been mentoring him a little bit, what has come of that relationship?
“He’s a talented kid. He’s a talented kid. He’s a tough football player. I kind of like his game a lot. He’s undersized but he makes up for it with his instincts and his speed, and I think that’s what’s important. He’s done a really good job coming in and showing a lot of good flashes of football.”
How do you feel for this time of year?
“Really good. Really good. Ninth year now in camp and going into our third preseason game, as good as ever. So, I’m just very pleasantly surprised at how I feel.”
I saw your family out here yesterday, were they there with you at all in West Virginia?
“No. No, but it’s the first time coming out to practice and they were at the game the other night, so it’s obviously an awesome opportunity any time they get to come out and just see what their dad does for a living.”
What do you want to see on Thursday in the joint practice with the New Orleans Saints?
“We’re just going to be competitive. That’s the most important thing. I don’t think we’re going to try to scheme each other or get competitive advantages and certain plays or what. (But) it’s pretty simple football. It was the same thing with New England for two days, and New Orleans is a good football team, New England’s a good football team, and we try to go out there and we just try to compete. At the same time it kind of breaks up the monotony of football camp too, so you get away and get to play against some other guys and definitely it’s beneficial for both teams.”
Both New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees and New England Patriots QB Tom Brady in the same preseason, even if it’s vanilla, there’s still something to benefit from.
“No, it’s not bad experience at all. Playing against two of the greatest ever, back-to-back in two practice weeks. Like I said, it’s definitely beneficial for us.”
Do you and your defensive teammates feel like you should have the best defense in the NFL?
“We can say that all we want but we have to put it out there and we have to put it out there every day. So, we have a lot of work to do to live up to that and we understand that. It’s a group that’s willing to do it. So, we’ll see, and it should be interesting.”
Does it feel like this team has the vibe of a playoff team?
“I think so, especially because of how many guys are returning from last year’s team that made the playoffs. But every year is different. There’s years that you could swear we wouldn’t make the playoffs and we would, and there’s years that you thought we definitely would’ve and we didn’t. So, you just have to play good, consistently, every single week starting with the first week against Jacksonville.”
Regarding players protesting the national anthem, with strong military ties, how do you feel about that and have you guys discussed that at all?
“I think, if anything, it would be just discussed in this organization and how much we respect the national anthem, but, at the same time, we respect everybody’s rights. So, obviously there are individual decisions on what to do, but no matter what a teammate does, we have their back.”