Head Coach Bill O’Brien
T Duane Brown
CB Kevin Johnson
CB Johnathan Joseph
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
What do you think about T Duane Brown’s return?
“Good. Glad to have him back. He’s in good shape and we’ll just keep working with him and see where it goes from here.”
Is there a possibility that T Duane Brown plays on Sunday at Seattle?
Is it possible that CB Kevin Johnson will play this Sunday?
“Yeah, he looked pretty good. Looked like he was moving around pretty good. I guess we’ll see how it goes throughout the week, but I feel good about it.”
How much can having T Duane Brown return help the offense?
“No question. You have a guy there – 10-year veteran, tough, athletic – you said it all right there. It’s good when you can add to what you already have and it’s good to have him back.”
What is it like to play the Seahawks in Seattle?
“Definitely one of the toughest places in the NFL to play. Very loud, great fans, great team, great head coach. They’re a team that’s been to the Super Bowl a couple times over the last few years. It’ll be a big challenge for us. Our guys are excited about it, but it’s a very big challenge, and a lot of it has to do with their crowd. Not only do they have a great team but they have the home advantage with the noise.”
How do you prepare QB Deshaun Watson for that?
“Just crank the music as loud as it’ll possibly go.”
Is that why you asked for louder music at practice?
“That would be the main reason.”
How do you feel about the music at practice?
“I love the music. I have different tastes in music and I love music, all kinds of music. I don’t pick that music. I have a resident DJ named Jenerro (Wade) that picks it for me. He’s a good guy. He does a good job. He takes requests, so if you guys have any requests when you’re out there during stretch.”
What music would you pick?
“I would pick all different kinds. I really would. I’m being serious. Obviously, I would pick Rick Ross. I would pick country, I would pick some Irish tunes. So, I have all different kinds of tastes.”
Do you play your playlist at practice?
“I haven’t used my playlist in a long time, it’s probably been about a year. We had a guy last year named Dowell (Kendrick) who was awesome at it, and now he left and he was replaced by Jenerro (Wade) and he does a great job. So, I kind of let them handle it. They’re a lot younger than me, so they kind of know a lot of the music better than me.”
What are the challenges of the offensive line and moving players around?
“I think any time that you have some moving parts, it’s always the communication. That unit has to be very, very cohesive in communication. So, that’s where – if you’re moving a lot of guys around, which we haven’t really had to do that as much as we’ve had in years past. And Duane’s (Brown) been here, look, he hasn’t been here for a while, but he’s been there a lot next to Xavier (Su’a-Filo). That’s not going to be an issue, but that’s where it has to come into play where, ‘How do you communicate?,’ ‘How do you see this look?,’ ‘How are we handling it?,’ and it’s got to be done at a moment’s notice. So, that’s what practice is all about, walkthroughs, meetings, and try to get that down before Sunday.”
Is there more of a familiarity now among the offensive line as these guys have been playing next to each other?
“Yeah, I think it’s more, it’s definitely all five playing together is a good thing, but it’s definitely the guys that play next to each other when you break it down from all five. So, when you have the, let’s just say, the left tackle (and) the left guard playing next to each other, they’ve done a good job for a while. Xavier (Su’a-Filo) and Duane (Brown) have done that for a while. Xavier and Chris Clark have done it for a while. Xavier and Kendall Lamm have done it. Even though that looks like moving parts, they’ve all had a lot of reps together. The right side’s been together quite a bit. It’s been Jeff Allen and Breno (Giacomini), or it’s been Greg Mancz and Breno, and then the center’s been in there quite a bit. So, the moving parts really involve, basically, Greg Mancz, Kendall Lamm to a certain extent, maybe Julién Davenport a little bit. But, it’s been pretty steady in there and I think it’s pretty cohesive.”
Does T Chris Clark have a chance to return soon?
“I would say it’s probably, in my opinion, day to day more than it is week to week. So, that’s the best answer I can give you on that.”
What do you think about the development of ILB Zach Cunningham, OLB Brennan Scarlett and ILB Dylan Cole and the contributions they’ve been able to make?
“Those guys, if you had to describe those group of guys – with the ones that you mentioned, Ufomba (Kamalu) jumped in there (and) did some nice things – I’d say they’re tough. They’re very, very active when they play. They’re very coachable. They try to do it the way that we’re coaching them to do it and I think they’re going to get better and better. I think the more experience you get when you’re a younger player – the whole name of the game, like I always tell you guys, is improvement. So, I think the more experience they get, the more you’ll see their improvement. As long as that can be the case, they’re not up and down, they continue to rise, that’ll be what we call an ascending player. That’s good.”
How pleased are you with the offense’s improvement in the redzone?
“It had to get better. I mean, it was terrible. So, there was only one way to go but up, you know what I mean? It wasn’t very good. I think when you get down in there, if you’re kicking field goals versus most teams, you’re going to be in trouble. So, we’ve spent a lot of time on it. We work on it almost every day during the week of practice this year relative to years past. I think we put as much time into it in the meeting room as much as we always have, but we practice it more. I think it has improved, but it has to continue to improve.”
You’ve got to be happy that the New York Yankees lost to the Houston Astros, right?
“Yeah. I mean, I think what the Astros did was just awesome. That crowd over there – (Jose) Altuve, the way that Charlie Morton pitched, (Justin) Verlander’s a warrior, (Carlos) Correa, (Evan) Gattis. I mean, you guys know by now my affinity with Gattis. That guy can play ball, man. He’s awesome. So, I’m looking forward to the World Series. I think A.J.’s (Hinch) done a great job. It’ll be a great World Series and I wish those guys the best.”
Would you invite Astros Catcher Evan Gattis over here at some point?
“Yeah, I mean we got some injuries at linebacker and that’s what he looks like. We got a fullback in Jay (Prosch), but he kind of looks like Prosch, doesn’t he, when he gets up? It’s kind of how I envision Prosch in the batter’s box. That was a joke.”
What makes your rushing attack, which is ranked second-best in the league, so successful right now?
“Well, I think there’s a lot of different things that go into that. I think that our backs and our line and our tight ends are doing a really good job. I think they’ve really been coachable as to what we want them to do and I think the addition of having Deshaun (Watson) – Deshaun’s rushed for a lot of yards, so that helps that stat. I think that’s a great stat, I think it’s an accomplishment to this point in the season, but it has to continue. We have to be able to run the football. This defense, Seattle’s defense, is obviously a great defense. I mean, they have their own nickname, ‘Legion of Boom.’ They’re a great defense, so we’ve got to be ready for what they do and we have to continue to improve.”
Is this a critical point in the season to keep improving?
“When you come out of your bye week, you really have to show improvement on the things that you’ve worked on, whether it’s self-scout, things that you need to improve upon relative to that. ‘This’ is something we’re not doing well, ‘this’ is something we have to continue to do well. I think you have to show improvement after the bye week. That’s why the bye weeks to me are so important from a coaching standpoint. What have you done to figure out the things that you need to continue to do well but the things that you need to change? So, I think that’s a big part of what I always talk about, is it’s an improvement league and it’s a race to see who can get better the fastest.”
Seven NFL teams did not score an offensive touchdown yesterday. What does it say about your team that your offense has been clicking?
“I don’t know. That would be something I would have to study. I don’t really know. Actually it’s interesting you asked that question because looking at Seattle’s defense – some of these defenses, like Seattle being a great example, they just have so many great athletes at every position. If you look at all three levels of their defense, if you start with (Michael) Bennett and Frank Clark up front, the inside tackles, then you look at Bobby Wagner at linebacker then you look at obviously (Richard) Sherman at corner and then Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, they have tremendous players at every position. I’m leaving guys out. I could name everybody that plays for them. I think it’s very difficult in this league to move the ball, I really do. I think that defenses are multiple, they do a lot of different things and they have great players and you have to execute at a high level to be able to score touchdowns, you really do, and you have to do it every week and you have to come up with a new way to do it every week in my opinion.”
Does it take a while for an offensive system to jell with the players and coaches for there to be success?
“I think that there has to be some sort of continuity. I think if you’re changing systems every year, that’s definitely a problem. I definitely think that the continuity of the system and then the continuity at certain positions, obviously quarterback, you want continuity at quarterback. We have that. We believe now we have continuity. We’ve had continuity at tight end, running back, wide receiver for a little bit now. So, I think that does have a lot to do with it but again, it’s really what have you done for me lately? You can’t rest on anything that you’ve done in the past. You have to continue to get better every week and that’s a big part of it.”
How much of a relief is it to get CB Kevin Johnson healthy?
“He looked good today out there moving around. It’ll be great to have him back. He’s such an energetic player. He means so much to our defense. I mean, he’s a first-round draft pick. He’s played like that when he’s been out there, so I think it will be good to have him back. It’s going to be good to have Duane (Brown) back. Those things are good things for this team.”
Is this a specifically challenging week for QB Deshaun Watson coming off a bye week, facing a difficult team in Seattle and having film of him out there?
“I think every week’s a challenge for everybody, especially a rookie. I think that every week you’re going against these teams that have different schemes, different great players, so you have to be able to compartmentalize. You have to be able to say, ‘OK, that’s what we did against Cleveland, but that’s going to change. We have to do this in order to move the football and try to score against Seattle.’ And so every week’s different. It’s just a totally different – it doesn’t mean that it’s better or anything like that, it’s just totally different in college. Every week is a different challenge. It’s 16 one-game seasons that you have to prepare (for), you have to start over every week. So, I don’t know whether it’s coming off a bye or whatever it is, I think every week’s a challenge, especially for rookies.”
You’ve had a lot of success with this team coming off the bye week. Is there something specifically you’ve done to achieve that success?
“I don’t really know. I think one of the things we are big on is that we’re all in this together, and I’m not trying to give you any type of coach-speak. I’m just telling you we look in the mirror first during the bye week. OK, what do we need to do better coaching-wise? Look at the self-scout, look at these things. Why are we having trouble doing ‘this?’ Why are we having trouble doing ‘that?’ Let’s figure out what we can do better. Is it about putting a player in a different spot, is it about a better scheme, is it about simplifying, what is it? OK, now let’s look at the players. So, look at you first before you start looking at the players. I think it’s very, very important that in football, that players and coaches understand that we’re all in it together and if you start pointing fingers, ‘Hey, you got to do this better,’ that doesn’t lead to successful football. So, I think that’s one thing that we try to do and hopefully we can be successful after this bye week.”
T DUANE BROWN
What made you decide to come back today?
“Ready to get back to work.”
Was everything resolved through all this? Has anything been accomplished?
“I’m just here working, man. I’m leaving everything else up to the front office and my agent. I’m just here to work.”
How ready are you physically and mentally?
“Very ready. It’s my tenth year doing it, so I’m very familiar with what I need to do in order to be out there and be productive and be efficient. I’m in shape, so just getting caught up to speed on the plays and the terminology and I’ll be good.”
Do you expect to play on Sunday?
“That’s up to the coaching staff. I’ll be ready.”
Did you feel that you’d play all along or did you ever wonder if this was going to happen?
“I knew I would play this year.”
Have you spoken to Head Coach Bill O’Brien yet?
“Yes, I have.”
What did you and Head Coach Bill O’Brien discuss?
“Just exchanged pleasantries and just meeting more to get up to speed on everything.”
What have you thought about this offense from watching?
“It’s incredible. Doing some great things. The line’s playing great. Great running game. Deshaun is (Watson) a special talent, the receivers have been doing good. Just clicking overall.”
How difficult has this thing been since this was the first time you’ve really been away from football?
“It’s always hard to be away from your craft but I’m excited to be back.”
Is today your first day back in the building or were you here during the bye week?
“This is my first day back here.”
How tough is it to miss this much time and lose the money that goes with it?
“Not worried about that. I’m just here ready to work (and) get back on the field with my brothers.”
What have you thought of QB Deshaun Watson and the new wrinkles on offense?
“He’s a special talent, man. I think Coach (Bill) O’Brien’s done a great job of catering to his skillset and he’s been able to do a lot. It’s been great to watch and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Have you seen the offensive unit start to jell in your absence?
“They’ve been doing great. Like I said, the running game has been thriving and doing a good job of protecting as well.”
How happy are you to be back in this locker room after all the months away?
“I’m very happy, man. I missed these guys a lot. It’s good to be back here. Ready to get back to work.”
Did you watch the team play during the season?
“I watched the games.”
Was it hard for you not being there?
“Yeah, it’s hard. Like I said, good to be back here now and looking forward to the future.”
Is there any uncertainty in your mind that you’ll be here through the trade deadline?
“I’m not thinking about that. Like I said, I’m just here to work, here to play, and everything else is up to the organization and my agent discussing.”
Your mind is focused on coming back and playing for this team?
“That’s it. That’s all my mind is focused on, is getting back to work and getting back to my craft and being back around the guys.”
Do you want to be in Houston?
“I’m here. This is where I want to be. I love the city of Houston, love the fans, love my teammates, and so I’m here to work.”
What’s been your teammates’ reaction to seeing you back here?
“It’s been great, man. Warm reception. These guys know how I feel about them, so it’s good to be back here.”
Why did you decide not to report during training camp?
“Not focusing on that. Just going to focus on the future and being here and being back to work.”
CB KEVIN JOHNSON
How are you feeling?
“I’m feeling good. Getting better every day. Excited to hit the field today and get back out with the team and just work to get better.”
Are you optimistic about playing this weekend?
“That’s the goal. Definitely going to go out there and give my best effort.”
What do you learn after going through injuries?
“It’s just part of the game. Appreciating when you’re out there. Every time you’re out there you got to give your full effort, your best effort, but it’s definitely big learning experience for me not being able to be out there with my teammates and I’m definitely going to go out there and take advantage of it when I’m out there.”
Do you feel good when you’re running?
“Yeah, I feel good.”
What do you need to see this week to determine if you’ll be ready to play?
“I’m just getting back out there competing with the boys, going out there against other NFL players after doing a lot of rehab, stuff like that. So, just going out there and getting back used to that.”
Was this bye week good for you physically to try to get yourself back on the field?
“Oh yeah, for sure. Just being as healthy as possible. I step out on that field, that’s the goal. Every week I’m just trying to get better and better and get healthy.”
Are you anxious to see this defense come together after the bye week after the loss of DE J.J. Watt and OLB Whitney Mercilus?
“Oh yeah, of course. Any time I can go out there and play with my teammates, I trust all the guys that are going to be out there. It obviously sucks losing J.J. and Whit. I believe in the guys coming in and the mentality of next man up.”
Are you anxious to get out there after seeing CB Johnathan Joseph and ILB Dylan Cole record some interceptions?
“Oh yeah, no question about it. I’m definitely itching to get back out there and make some plays for this defense.”
What are your thought on seeing T Duane Brown back in the locker room?
“It’s a good feeling seeing D-Bo back in here. He’s a great player, great guy, so any time a guy like that’s back in and around the building, it’s a good feeling for everybody.”
CB JOHNATHAN JOSEPH
Are you glad the bye week is over?
“Yeah. Obviously you sit down too long, you start to get out of rhythm, so you’ve got to kind of do things to keep your mind focused and keep your football mentally sharp, and obviously getting into football, there’s no better way than doing that.”
What’s it like to have T Duane Brown back in the locker room?
“I’m glad to have him back. We’re definitely more than excited to have him back. He’s a big part of this football team and obviously it’s a good feeling.”
Do the young players use the contact situation as a learning experience of what may happen down the road?
“I think in this league, everybody’s experience should be a learning experience for everybody, no matter what the situation is. You should just always pay attention and learn something from it, whatever it is.”
Are you having fun watching the Astros right now?
“I’m having a blast. I was just telling somebody I’ve been in a lot of sporting events, (but) I’ve never been a part of something like that. I was there for the clinching game to the World Series and it was something that just left a feeling in me I’ll never forget.”
Can what the Astros are doing inspire your team?
“Oh, absolutely. I’ve seen the progress they’ve made over the years, the turning point they’ve had. Every year getting better and better and finally reaching it. You look at this team, a lot of young guys here, a lot of talent here. Obviously you have the talent to get it done but you have to go out and perform and win games, and I think them energizing the city like that, us feeding off one another, it’s always a good feeling to support one another.”