Head Coach Bill O’Brien
Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel
WR DeAndre Hopkins
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
Did OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney have the day off today?
Can you talk about T Kendall Lamm and if he will be starting?
“We like Kendall Lamm. We have a number of candidates to play over there. We’ll let it play out through tomorrow and then we’ll kind of see. Offensive line, you’ll probably find out who’s playing on the offensive line, relative to starting, on Sunday.”
WR DeAndre Hopkins leads the NFL in yards receiving in the fourth quarter. Why do you think it is that he seems to get stronger as the game goes on?
“There’s no doubt about that. I think he’s strong in the beginning, but you’re right, he does get stronger as the game goes on. It’s a credit to him. I also think that in some of these games, we’ve been behind, we’ve been throwing the ball a lot, so obviously the ball goes to him quite a bit. But, no doubt about the fact that he gets stronger as the game goes on.”
Have you seen that WR DeAndre Hopkins has a lot of endurance?
“Yeah, he’s definitely in good shape. He can run all day. He practices that way. He’s definitely in top condition, no doubt about it.”
DE Ufomba Kamalu has had a couple sacks for you this year, what do you think he’s done since stepping in?
“It’s been good. He was inactive a couple times but then he was active and he took advantage of his opportunity. Tough guy. Knows our defense well. We can play him in different spots. Helps us on special teams a little bit. Does a lot of different things for us.”
With OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney, there seems to be this perception that when he came into the league there was some issue with his motor or effort and that it’s only now starting to come around. Can you speak to what you’ve seen from Clowney in terms what kind of effort he’s giving you guys?
“I would tell you that’s probably – and not toward you, but whoever referenced that – that’s probably one of the most ridiculous statements I’ve ever heard. One thing about the guy is he plays as hard as any player I’ve been around. He practices hard. Like I said yesterday or earlier in the week, he was injured, so he missed a lot of time with, obviously, the knee injury that was well-documented, he’s had other things that he’s had to deal with relative to injuries. He’s healthy, so he’s able to be out there all the time and practice. And I think practice makes you better and the way he practices makes him better. And then you see what he does on Sundays. He plays very hard on Sundays.”
How can you scout and evaluate factors like toughness and explosiveness from college players when there’s a lot of other factors to consider?
“I think it’s hard. I think that the draft and all those things, there’s definitely an inexact science to all of that. You try to take as much information as you can relative to what you see on film, when you meet with the prospect, what you feel about that prospect, when you talk to guys that you trust that have coached him, what they tell you. There’s some guys out there that you may not know very well (who) may beat around the bush as far as what they feel about the kid but then there’s other guys who are going to tell you the truth. I think there’s a lot of info that goes into it and then you just try to make the best decision.”
Is there any way to know if QB Tom Savage’s interceptions are part of his learning curve or whether it’s in his nature?
“Before this year, when he played for us, that was one thing he had not done, was turn the ball over. I think some of it is his experience. The one that he had the other day in the Ravens game on the third-down play that he tried to force it in there to Bruce (Ellington), that was a coverage where he thought (C.J.) Mosley was doing one thing, he did something else, and maybe he learns from experience there. All I know, the bottom line is, is that it has to stop. That’s not just him, I mean, it’s the fumbling, and we have to get more takeaways. We’re not getting any takeaways. So, when you turn it over and you’re not taking the ball away, you’re not going to win, and that’s kind of where we’re at right now.”
What have you seen from Titans QB Marcus Mariota this season and how does that stack up to his past performance?
“I think it’s pretty well documented what I’ve said about Marcus Mariota. I think he’s a very good young quarterback. I think that he’s got a lot of ability throwing the ball to be a pocket passer and obviously he can run the ball. Look, sometimes interceptions, there’s a story that goes with every interception. Some of them are batted balls, some of them are bad decisions. But I think overall that Marcus is a very dangerous quarterback that if you let him get into a rhythm, he’s going to hurt you.”
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE VRABEL
What have you seen from ILB Zach Cunningham and his development?
“I think he’s willing to learn. He’s coachable. He plays hard. He runs around, he does everything we ask him to do. He’s instinctive. And he’s getting better every week, I think he really is. I think he makes mistakes – I got to do a better job coaching him, just on the little things, but every time he sees a play, he normally is able to adjust to it the second time around and improve.”
With OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney being the primary guy getting the sacks, how tough is it to get pressure from a variety of people as he tries to get the quarterback down?
“I think that you ask a couple different questions, one was about turnovers or ball disruption. So, I think we’re all involved there just like we are in everything else in defense. I think we got to do a better job of tipping balls at the line of scrimmage, try to bat some balls, get some PBU’s in the rushes. We got to make plays on the ball down the field. We got to try to challenge down the field. And then, sooner or later, we got to hit somebody hard enough to knock the ball loose. So, I wouldn’t necessarily all put that on the pass rush. I think that there’s a lot of things going on. If you’re rushing the passer and you can’t get there, maybe you can tip a ball. Certainly would like to get strip sacks. Then we got to find a way to disrupt the ball down the field.”
What do you think about where ILB Brian Cushing is in the brief time he’s been back?
“It’s just good to have him back. I think that it just brings an energy, an attitude, a presence, a veteran presence in the meetings. It’s just been good to have him back in there talking and visiting with him. I think that he’s working his way back in. He’s been gone for a while, but it is certainly good to have him back.”
How far has OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney come in terms of understanding that you have to bring it every play, every drive for the entire game and that there has to be that mentality or approach of intensity on the field, on the sideline and in the locker room?
“I don’t think there’s ever been an issue with trying to get JD (Jadeveon Clowney) to understand that he’s got to play with intensity in the games. He plays hard. He plays hard, he plays relentless. And so I think that what he’s doing is he’s understanding that he’s got to take care of his body and we got to do a good job of taking care of him. He plays a lot of snaps for us and he knows that and he understands that. There’s a fine line of practicing him and how much does he do during the week. I think that we do put him in a few different spots based on the week, so he’s got to get those looks and those reps. As long as he’s taking care of his body, I think that you see great effort on Sunday.”
What do you think of NT/DE D.J. Reader and the potential that he is based on what he’s already starting to achieve?
“D.J. (Reader), we put it on him that for us to play well inside, he’s got to do a good job. You look at Brandon Dunn, he had his best game probably since he’s been here. I think that you look at Brandon Dunn, who’s a developing player that kind of was on the practice squad and maybe didn’t play as much and now he’s kind of tasted what it feels like to be an NFL football player and playing the games and contribute. I think the more you see that, the more that he wants to stay in there and wants to be a leader and wants to be into it and help with the checks and see what’s going on. So, watching him play and him develop has been fun. I think we’ve always thought that D.J. was pretty good and he needs to be pretty good and then watching Dunny develop and make plays and get excited, that’s going to be important for us going forward.”
Has OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney become more of a leader, especially since DE J.J. Watt and OLB Whitney Mercilus went out with injuries, whether it’s in the locker room or on the sideline with the guys?
“I think that JD’s (Jadeveon Clowney) always been that type of guy. He’s got a great attitude, he’s got energy, he loves football. And there’s different ways to lead. I think that JD’s going to lead by example and I tell him, ‘When you play as hard as you do and you’re productive, then you have to demand that type of effort out of everybody else during the games.’ So, you can’t sit there and force a leadership style on a guy. I think that he just has to continue to do what he’s been doing.”
What are some of your options at outside linebacker since putting OLB Ben Heeney on IR, OLB Brennan Scarlett getting injured and waiving OLB Lamarr Houston?
“We brought up LaTroy (Lewis), we brought up Gimel President from the practice squad – guys that we’ve been working with and have been here. So, they’ll get an opportunity today in practice. It’ll be a big day for them to see how they are able to take the meetings and translate it to the field. Ufomba (Kamalu) worked in there a little bit during the game. So, we’ll have a couple options to look at.”
How happy are you with the way you’ve been able to adjust at halftime?
“I think if you look at it from our standpoint, really where we really struggled was the sudden change in think in the red zone. We hadn’t allowed maybe two or three rushing touchdowns the whole year. I think that the understanding is we get the ball and they turn it over or something happens, a penalty or something, there’s a conversion on third down that we thought we were off the field. We got to go back out there and we got to play defense and we let them run it in. So, we started the game well and I think that we started the second half well. What happened was we didn’t play very well in the red zone. We didn’t force them to kick enough field goals or field goal attempts.”
How do you feel that you guys have done defending an up-tempo offense?
“I think good. Is that a loaded question? I’m not sure. I think well. I just remember back in Cincinnati (we) went three plays and we got them at third-and-2 and we were able to call a pressure while they were going fast and we stopped them. D.J. (Reader) made a hell of a play. And then the other night, they came out and tried it and we got off the field. So, I think our guys understand that and I hope that they’re ready for it. We talk about it each week, or we try to have an idea when teams may try to do it. But, I think OK. I think that we probably have to be better in two-minute, but first and second down when teams are trying to mix up the tempo, there were times – I guess you look at the Rams, they do a good job of mixing tempo. Again, for the most part, as long as we’re getting lined up and guys aren’t uncovered and somebody’s not blowing an assignment, as long as everybody’s on the same page, we’ll take our chances and let them play. So, as far as just you don’t want to have one guy playing one call (and) somebody else playing another because that’s when real bad things can happen.”
WR DEANDRE HOPKINS
What did you think when you saw the pictures of your jersey that ripped during the game?
“We lost the game so I didn’t really think too much of it.”
You lead the league with 10 defensive pass interference calls against you. What does it mean to help your team out in that way?
“That’s big because those are plays that don’t go on the stat sheet that help for a team to score. So, anything to help my team put points on the scoreboard is big. That’s definitely something that goes unnoticed, I feel like, just not with me, with players around the league.”
Does it feel like this is maybe your best overall year so far?
“No, my team is four-and-something, so.”
That’s what it comes down to?
How much has Wide Receivers Coach John Perry helped you and the other receivers this season?
“Big. He’s a good coach. He knows what he’s talking about, especially with the help of Wes (Welker) in there.”
What do you think it is about you that makes you stronger as the season goes on?
“I would say the way I train in the offseason, the way I train my body to be prepared in the fourth quarter. I see a lot of guys and their stamina is at an all-time low in the fourth quarter, and I feel like mine is still where it was in the first quarter of the game. But I would just say the training.”
Do you know how your jersey got ripped and do you know how it happened?
“I always cut my jersey a little bit just to kind of get an extension of pads. But I don’t cut it like all the way down, so it’s always been the same every game. I don’t know. It was a physical game. They’re a good defense. They haven’t allowed people to score points in three games so they weren’t trying to allow us to score any points from the get-go because it happened like the first possession of the game so I knew it was going to be a physical game. That’s kind of the way it was going to go. When I saw it happen, it was just like, you have to go out there and fight through it, even if the refs don’t call a penalty or not.”
Do you take pride in how tough you are?
“Yeah, for sure. I played defensive back before I was a receiver, right before I got to Clemson. That’s something that I was raised on, being in South Carolina, playing defense, just kind of getting down there in the trenches. That’s kind of how, I would say, I play wide receiver a little bit, with that physicality of I’m not going to let anybody out-tough me out on that island.”
Do you think that sets you apart from other receivers?
“Yeah, I would say so. I would say so because I see on film where some guys get beat up at the line of scrimmage or when the ball’s in the air, they’re just a receiver.”
How much pride do you take in what you’ve been able to do this year even with all the changes and injuries and after your contract extension?
“Since I’ve been in the league, I knew my worth. I knew what I can do for an organization, I knew my position and where I felt like I was in the NFL, so there was really no concern over when I get money, that was going to change my mindset or how hard I work because I still don’t feel like I get the credit of being the best even though I feel like I am, and the body of work I put in, even though stat sheets might not say it. But still I feel like I can improve in my game to where there’s no doubt in people’s minds that I’m one of the best.”
You’ve been so successful even when teams know you’re going to get the ball. What does this mean to you?
“It’s just a testament to how we work at practice, also, as well. We practice with two guys on me sometimes and it’s just kind of like, all right, we know Hop’s getting the ball right here. He needs to get the ball. That’s just my mindset going out there. I don’t really care what my bank account says or off the field issues or what’s going on outside of the field. When I’m on the field, I’m going to go to work. That’s my mindset. Even if I was the number two or number three receiver, I would still have that mindset. So, it doesn’t really affect anything that goes on out there. But I know people are going to target me, teams are going to double-team me, but that’s just more fire to me to go out there and prove I can still get open.”
Since you get double-teamed so much, what’s your reaction to single coverage?
“I hope Tom (Savage) can see that they’re singling me, because sometimes – I don’t want to get into details, but yeah, I just hope when they do single me, that he sees it, because it’s rare. So, when they do single me, in the back of my head I’m like, ‘Come to me.’”
What are you doing specifically in your offseason training to maintain your stamina?
“I run at least five miles a day. Just long distance. A lot of the people I know, they don’t train like that. They do a lot of quick stuff, just speed drills. But I run long distance. I’ve always been like that, though, even when I was in high school. That’s just how I train myself.”
Did you ever run cross country or anything?
You just run long distance for fun?
How special would it be for you to be named All-Pro this year?
“That’d be big. I feel like that’s something that all receivers, especially my caliber who consider themselves number one receivers, to be All-Pro, that’s something that you work on as a player and that’s just something that you play this game to get the accolades that you work for.”
What does it mean to you to have ILB Brian Cushing back on the team?
“That’s big. He’s like a big brother to everybody in this locker room, just his presence alone. It’s good to have him back here.”
Do you feel you’re not talked about enough as an elite receiver in this league?
“I feel like it’s coming along. I don’t really follow social media a lot, but my little sister, that’s what she does. She always sends me stuff that people say, even y’all sometimes in here, negative or good. So, she keeps me up to date on that because she knows I’ve never liked social media or what people say about me or what commentary (there is). But yeah, she did send me something to where the NFL had me at the number two receiver and number seven overall offensive player in the league. So, I feel like it’s definitely coming along. Even though our record is what it is, still to get that accolade and that respect, I definitely feel like people are noticing my work.”
Does your little sister ever call you angry about what she reads about you?
“No. She just laughs about it because she knows how we are. She knows we don’t really get too up and down about stuff that people say. She’ll just be like, ‘Don’t talk to that reporter.’ Seriously, though, that’s what she says.”
Is it hard for you not to check your Twitter notifications?
“No, because I probably wouldn’t have social media unless I played football. I’m from the country, we don’t really care about that stuff.”
Do you put more on yourself to try to help this team improve since you consider yourself the best in the league at your position?
“Of course. I’m the highest-paid player that’s out there on the field for this organization. So, of course I feel like it’s on me. If I’m double-teamed or triple-teamed, to still come down with the play and I hold myself to that mindset every time I’m on the field. I feel like it’s on me. I want the game to be on me. If it’s third-and-1 and we got to get it, I want them to come to me. I want that pressure to be on me because I feel like I work that hard day-in and day-out and just over time to have that pressure on me, and I like it.”
What’s the team’s mindset going forward?
“We still know some things can happen for us to at least get a shot in there, so that’s our mindset right now, to win out, basically. We’ve won four, lost seven games, so 9-7 is still a possibility. That’s what we were last year and we still made it into the playoffs. You hate to have to depend on teams, for them to lose, but we still feel like if we win out, something can happen.”