Head Coach Bill O’Brien
Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel
OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney
WR DeAndre Hopkins
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
How did QB Tom Savage do at practice today? Was he throwing OK?
“Yeah, he had a good day today.”
Just banged up and bruised? He was on the injury report yesterday.
“I think he’s all right. He’s good.”
What do you want to see from QB Tom Savage on Sunday?
“Just try to really lead the offense, get the ball in the end zone. The quarterback’s judged on two things: how many times he gets his team in the end zone and wins. That’s basically how it’s judged.”
Last week you said you wanted the team to ‘let it rip’ in the game against the Rams. Do you want more of the same this game with quick starts?
“Yeah, we need to get off to a good start, no doubt about it. I mean, we can’t get off to a slow start like we did last week. That’s not good. Defense did a good job keeping us in the game last week, 9-7 at halftime. But, turnovers killed us, and we can’t do that. You can’t do that in any NFL game. So, we need to try to get off to a good start.”
How do you think QB Tom Savage and the offense have been at pushing past previous drives, forgetting about whatever happened on the previous drive?
“Probably not very good, seeing as we only have 14 points in two games. So, probably an obvious answer to that question.”
Yesterday, Quarterbacks Coach Sean Ryan was asked if he’s ever seen players in the past that are much better in practice than when they come in the game. Have you seen players like that?
“Oh yeah, throughout 20-plus years of coaching, no doubt about it. Some guys can be in a practice and read a card and go out there and run the route or block it or play the coverage the way it’s supposed to be played and look like world beaters, but that’s not the way the game’s played. That’s always the case in coaching. That’s why – it’s really a great question because, really, you could stand up here all day and talk about it. That’s why one of the major things you look for when you’re evaluating a player, whether it’s the draft or free agency or whatever it is, is you’re trying to look for instincts. Is the player an instinctive player? Because the game never really goes exactly the way – practice is scripted for the most part and the games are unscripted. So, the most instinctive, most talented players are the best players on gameday.”
How difficult is it to evaluate players because the only way to really do so is play them in games and that affects the win-loss record?
“It’s a big part of evaluating a player. You have to watch the tape and you have to make that evaluation on your own. Is this guy an instinctive player? Like, for instance, when you watched Deshaun Watson at Clemson, it was clear that this guy was a very instinctive player. It was obvious. When you watched, let’s just say Lamar Miller when we were looking at free agent running backs back then, you could tell he was a very instinctive running back. (Jadeveon) Clowney, very instinctive player. You could go down the list. Those are usually your best players. In some cases, they’re very talented and they have that combination of instincts and talent and sometimes, look, they may not be the guy that runs 4.2 (forty-yard dash). Maybe they’re a 4.4, 4.5 guy, but they’re very, very instinctive so they play the game at a high rate of speed because they’re so smart about how the game’s being played, if that makes sense to you guys.”
Quarterbacks Coach Sean Ryan said QB tom Savage is a relatively young player because he’s inexperienced. Would you agree with that?
“He hasn’t had a ton of experience, but it’s time. It’s time. Time to get going.”
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE VRABEL
Can you talk about how ILB Benardrick McKinney has become more of a leader and how he’s been playing?
“Well, since he’s got here he’s loved football. He loves the whole process. He loves preparation. He’s embraced every role we’ve tried to put him in, whether that be first and second down, switching over to MIKE, calling the defenses, playing different spots on third down. So, he’s embraced that role and he enjoys it. He’s a great teammate. He loves being around here and he plays hard, he plays physical.”
Does ILB Zach Cunningham stand out as a rookie, meaning he fits right in and knows what to do?
“Yeah, he tries to continue to improve. The thing about Zach (Cunningham) is he runs around, he plays hard. I mentioned this earlier, but he’s much more physical than I guess what we maybe saw on film coming out. So, he’s just got to continue to develop and continue to get better and continue to improve.”
You as a player saw WR Andre Johnson on the other side of the ball. What do you think made him great?
“I think any time that you can mix great effort and talent, you have a chance to have a special player. Not everybody’s going to be as talented as Andre (Johnson) was, but Andre was talented and he played extremely hard, he practiced extremely hard and prepared. So, you get a pretty deadly combination when you can mix those two things.”
You played football for a long time, did you see many backs like Cardinals RB Adrian Peterson?
“No, and those guys were asking me if I got one of those stiff-arms. I think I was in my 13th year in a preseason game and I came off the fullback and next thing I know I caught one of those stiff-arms in a preseason game in Minnesota. So, there’s a lot of great backs, and he’s certainly one of them with the longevity, the production. He runs hard. He’s had 58 carries the last two games. So, we got a great challenge ahead of us.”
Was the way that CB Kevin Johnson played against the Rams encouraging?
“Yeah, he looks like he’s getting healthy. (He) ran around, flied around. He’s always aggressive. He’s willing to tackle. And so the more healthy bodies that we can get out there and the guys playing as fast as they possibly can, that’s going to help us.”
CB Johnathan Joseph got beat against the Rams for a touchdown. What have you seen from him and what people are doing to attack him?
“They got on top of us and it was a play that really, if we’re able to keep playing, it’s 16-7 at that point in time. I know that they scored a touchdown and then they got us on it, but if we can keep playing and not let one play affect us, I think we can still win it, we can overcome those things and I thought that we did that for the most part the last time. We just have to limit big plays in general, whether that be in the running game, the passing game. And everybody, we talk about it. We talk about everybody being involved with it, whether it be the rush, the coverage, the effort, the pursuit. All those things tie together. It’s never just one guy. We never put it on one guy.”
CB Kevin Johnson’s physical style may surprise people with his size, is that what you want out of him?
“Yeah, that’s his nature. He’s an aggressive person by nature. He gets excited and he’s a quick-twitch player that’s not afraid to tackle, to throw his body around. So, we appreciate that.”
OLB/DE JADEVEON CLOWNEY
How much did you watch Cardinals RB Adrian Peterson growing up?
What do you think of going against Cardinals RB Adrian Peterson now?
“He runs hard, very hard.”
Have you gotten to know him?
“I trained with him a couple times.”
What can you say about his work ethic?
“He works hard and he runs hard.”
What do you think has made RB Adrian Peterson so good all these years?
“He runs hard, very, very hard.”
What do you think about a guy who’s been at that level and that physicality for so long?
“It’s incredible. The guy runs hard. Just don’t let him get up to your second level. As a defense, it’s going to be a long day for us. We have to bottle him up early before he gets going.”
Have you become friends with Cardinals RB Adrian Peterson since you’ve worked out with him?
“He’s a pretty cool guy, yeah. Not bad. He runs hard.”
Can you talk about how ILB Benardrick McKinney has become a leader on defense?
“He’s the same guy every day, seriously. He works hard, he knows what’s going on, he stays in tune with the defense. He’s a vocal leader out there. He speaks, he leads us, puts us in the right calls. He’s a smart guy.”
Have you known anybody to get the best of Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel like Cardinals RB Adrian Peterson’s stiff-arm?
“Man, the guy’s crazy, so he’ll come out and tell you somebody else got him or something. You don’t expect that coming from a guy like Vrabel. He’s a guy who’s always on the winning side all the time.”
What do you see in the quarterback position for Arizona behind QB Carson Palmer?
“Both of them, they get the ball out of their hands very quick. (Blaine) Gabbert can throw the ball – not like Carson Palmer, I can tell you that. But, he can get in the right situation to make plays. Both of the guys that are coming in can both do that. I just said we just got to get it started early and keep our same intensity the whole game. You can’t play one good half. We have to play a whole four quarters against them. I don’t think they’re going to stop no matter what the score is. Both of us are looking for the win, some build up, so expect to come out hard, tough, fighting game.”
We’ve heard your teammates say you need to play a complete game. How do you have that mindset in all four quarters?
“All four quarters, like I was saying. We have to finish the game. We started one half, either we’re starting fast or we’re starting slow and finishing strong, starting fast and not finishing. It’s like one or the other. We just got to be consistent the whole game, starting fast and finishing strong instead of starting slow and finishing strong. So, I think we’re going to come out fired up this week and we’re looking forward to going out there and stopping them from getting going.”
What would it mean to break this losing streak on Sunday?
“It would mean a lot. We’ve been in a lot of tough, close games this season. We still came up short a few times, but we’ll get back on the right track this week, hopefully, and get a win. It’s rough getting a win in this league, but we need one.”
With the way that both teams have been set back this week and a lot of teams have suffered quarterback injuries, do you think the NFL’s too quarterback-centric?
“I don’t know, man. The position’s important. You have to have somebody out there throwing that ball around, moving the ball around and the quarterback’s what you need in this league to win. So, we got to have more good ones. But that’s rough. Aaron Rodgers is great, we had a good one. (Tom) Savage is going to have to go out there and lead us, so we’ll get behind him and cheer him on and get ready to go.”
What do you think about WR Andre Johnson being the first to go into the Texans Ring of Honor?
“It’s great, man. I got to spend a little bit of time with him when I first came in and just watch his career and what he did was special. I’m happy for him.”
What did you know about WR Andre Johnson before you became a Texan?
“He’s real good. I didn’t know much, but I got to meet the guy. But he put up numbers and he’s a great receiver. He’s a good guy. He taught me some stuff about how to take care of myself since when I was here spending time with him, so I appreciate that.”
In the short time you and WR Andre Johnson spent together, do you have a favorite Andre story?
“No, man. He was quiet, man. He’s just the OG. He was always quiet, came in, kept his head down and did his job. That’s something I kind of took from him, the stuff he was doing in the morning and before practice and stuff. I kind of picked that stuff up. He didn’t really do much talking but just watching him, he’s a great leader.”
Did you recognize pretty quickly how cool he was?
“Yeah, man. He was always cool. When I first met him, he just stayed that way, just come in and do his job, he just stay low-key around here. Nobody even really said much to him, big dog, but he’s the man. I’m happy for him.”
How do you feel you’re playing right now?
“I don’t know. We’re losing. I’m not playing good enough to get no win yet. I got to keep going. I think I’m having an OK season. Six sacks, some tackles for loss, I got to continue to get better in that category. Keep getting better and better each week, improving my tackles and sacks for loss and doing what I can do to lead this team, get a win, whatever it is. Just go out there and play hard and be physical.”
Do you think there’s anything different that you can do on those plays to create turnovers?
“Go after the ball more, I guess. You’re out trying to get strips and get the offense in those situations, take care of the ball. But we’re just out there competing at a high level and I love trying compete and be physical. I’m having fun.”
WR DEANDRE HOPKINS
Do you ever think about being in the Ring of Honor some day?
“I hope so. That’s why I play the game. I want to be the best, so whatever accolades come with that, I just got to go out there and keep continuing to prove my play on the field.”
What is one thing that WR Andre Johnson taught you that you continue to do today?
“Try to be consistent no matter the circumstances around you. That’s really the main thing. He told me and showed me with his play.”
Is there a memory or something that really stands out from your time with WR Andre Johnson?
“Yeah, there’s a lot. But one I would say was my first year in the league when he got hurt. It was the second game of the season versus Tennessee. I had scored the game-winning touchdown and was coming in the locker room after the game. He met me, jumped on me before we could even enter the tunnel. So, that was one of my favorite moments.”
Do you and WR Andre Johnson still communicate and is he still a part of your life?
“Yeah, of course. That’s like my big brother, so he’s always communicating with me.”
How valuable was former WR Andre Johnson in teaching you about life off the field as you came into the league?
“That was one of the experiences that I felt helped me become the player I am, not just on the field but off the field as well. Just having a guy with that experience in the locker room that knows this city, that knows football, knows a lot about life, that was one of the best things I think that could have happened to me, being drafted here.”
Did former WR Andre Johnson immediately take you under his wing or did he feel you out?
“Immediately. From the first day I got drafted here, the second day after I got drafted here, he met me at Del Frisco’s and had dinner with my mom and I. It felt like family from the beginning.”
Did you watch former WR Andre Johnson play while you were at Clemson?
“I didn’t. I didn’t really watch much NFL at Clemson.”
Were you a basketball fan at Clemson?
“No, I really didn’t watch sports at all.”
What did you watch on TV at Clemson?
“Call of Duty. I didn’t really watch TV though.”
Did you have an idea of who former WR Andre Johnson was before you got to Houston?
“I heard about him. I really didn’t know much of him, though, until I got here. Everywhere you go, you see people with 80 jerseys on and just the way this city embraced him, you had no choice but to know who he was.”
Was it noticeable how much former WR Andre Johnson embraced the city of Houston, even still?
“Yeah, of course it is. The thing is that he still does, that he left off doing the charity stuff that he does for the kids and just everything that he does in the community that he still continues to do.”
How quickly did you and former WR Andre Johnson get close once you got here?
“Close, very close. I mean, it didn’t take that much time. The first practice, I went out there and made some plays and he was like, ‘All right, I think this guy is ready.’”
Do you try to take some of the younger wide receivers under your wing the same way former WR Andre Johnson took you under his wing?
“It is, but I don’t really think about it too much. Just go out there and let your play speak for itself and the rest will follow.”
What did former WR Andre Johnson teach you about being a man off the field?
“Where we come from, both he and I, not the best circumstances, so I feel like that’s something that we grew up with, especially the places that we come from knowing where we wanted to be and knowing what we wanted to do once we got there. Just seeing him take it to the next level and the things that he did, it challenged me, not just as a football player but as a person in general.”
Do you have a favorite play or moment from former WR Andre Johnson?
“There’s a lot. I would say one of the best plays I saw him make was the Arizona Cardinals game, the catch on Patrick Peterson. I don’t know how he caught it, but that was one of my favorite plays by him, if you ask me.”
What do you think will be the key to ending the losing streak this Sunday?
“Going out and having a good practice. Executing in practice and just taking it over to the game because sometimes we do have a good practice but we might leave some stuff on the field during a game, but just taking it over and playing complementary football, offense and defense.”
Did you feel like there were points left on the field in the first half of the Rams game?
“Always. When you lose the game, there’s always points left on the field that you wish you could have back.”