Head Coach Bill O’Brien
Quarterbacks Coach Sean Ryan
WR DeAndre Hopkins
G David Quessenberry
QB T.J. Yates
Conference Call with Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin
Conference Call with Steelers LB T.J. Watt
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
What do you think about what you’ve seen so far from QB T.J. Yates?
“He came in, obviously, late in the season. He’s a very bright guy. I don’t think it –”
I’m sorry, I meant Steelers LB T.J. Watt.
“Well, let me finish about T.J. (Yates). Since I was on that track. T.J. Yates, he came in late in the year and he’s done a good job for us. I know it’s been tough. I think the Jacksonville defense is a great defense, and to come in there for your first start, that’s not easy, and I know he’ll get better. T.J. Watt, great player. Not to anybody’s surprise. Plays the game very aggressively. Has great instincts. Very difficult to run certain plays to his side. He’s got, obviously, great length and plays the game 100 miles an hour which I know is not a shock to anybody in Houston. Those backyard football games must have been unbelievable in the Watt household. So, he’s going to be a tough matchup. They’ve got Bud Dupree on the other side. They’ve got (Stephon) Tuitt, (Cameron) Heyward on the inside, (Javon) Hargrave. It’s a big challenge for us.”
What are your thoughts on WR DeAndre Hopkins and OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney being named starters for the 2018 Pro Bowl?
“They deserve it. Those guys have played well this year. They’ve shown up every week and played very hard, played very productively. To be recognized as one of the best players at your position in the NFL is a big deal. Congratulations to them. It’s a great honor for them.”
How did it feel to tell G David Quessenberry that he was making the active roster?
“It was pretty cool. We did it, I think Rick (Smith) called him yesterday and then today in the team meeting, I usually go over the roster changes and things like that and we announced that he was up on the 53 and he got an ovation. So, it was very cool.”
Do you think G David Quessenberry will play against the Steelers?
“Yes, he will play in the game.”
How special is it for you to have G David Quessenberry out of the situation and will play as well?
“It’s incredible. You think about what he’s come back from. We’ve been here the whole time. I can remember every step of the way. Not as well as him, obviously, and not as well as Kap (Geoff Kaplan). But, just relative to coaching, I can remember that spring when he just didn’t look great and Kap saw something that wasn’t right and he went right over to the doctors, M.D. Anderson, obviously. To overcome what he’s overcome, to be able to step back onto the field in an NFL football game, is an incredible accomplishment for him. And I know for him, he’s such a driven guy, he really wants to go out there and play well. He doesn’t want to just show up and (say) ‘Yeah, thank you.’ This isn’t a pat on the back. This is a roster move. He’s gotten better every week this week on the practice squad and we think he can help us.”
Do you expect QB T.J. Yates start against the Steelers?
“Yes, yes I do. T.J. will be the starter.”
Do you think QB Tom Savage will play again this season?
“I think it’s – I’m not ready to say no, but I think he’s a ways off.”
Will you play G David Quessenberry at guard or use him as an extra tackle?
“I’m not going to – I wouldn’t go down that road with you.”
What about T Julién Davenport?
“He’ll play, and he’s a tackle.”
Is T Julién Davenport going to play left tackle?
“I don’t know.”
Is G Jeff Allen out?
“Don’t know yet.”
How much does it change the Steelers offense without WR Antonio Brown?
“It’s hard to quantify that. He’s such a great player, and to me, they have other great players. You go through their film, obviously, Ben Roethlisberger – Hall of Fame quarterback, great player. Le’Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant, JuJu (Smith-)Schuster, Jesse James. Offensive line’s real good. So, do they have guys that can make up for the loss of Antonio Brown? Yes. They’re a very explosive team, but he’s a great player. There’s no doubt about it.”
What have you seen from TE Stephen Anderson lately? It seemed like he was more sure handed earlier in the season.
“I think he’s come up with some big plays for us. He’s been a little bit up and down the last couple games. He’s very hard on himself. Really just want him to go out there and kind of just take a deep breath and play. He knows how to play. He’s a very smart player. He’s a good player. I think he’ll play well this week.”
When Steelers LB Ryan Shazier went down, it got a lot of attention. As a head coach, did you address that all with your team? Did you worry that guys may see that and wonder if they could be next?
“I didn’t address that. We talk about proper tackling technique all the time. Not to say that he wasn’t in great technique on that, just overall, trying to eliminate your head from the tackle as best you can which is very, very difficult to do, obviously very difficult to do, keeping your head up and things like that. And we do – Mike Vrabel is very close to Ryan Shazier. Braxton Miller, college teammate, very close to him. So, we were able to stay up to date on that. It’s just a terrible thing, and knowing him, having coached against in the NFL and at Penn State, I know he’s working real hard to try to get back.”
C Greg Mancz played all but one snap at center last year. Is he a better center than guard?
“That’s hard to say. I think that he brings qualities to both positions. He might be a little bit more comfortable at center, maybe, but that’s not to say that he’s better at one position than the other.”
When the team gave G David Quessenberry the ovation, how emotional was that?
“It was. They clapped, I don’t want to make it sound like it was more. They clapped loud, but I mean, it was cool. To be in that room and to know, especially all of us that have been with him since he was diagnosed with that horrible disease, it’s a very, very cool moment.”
Looking at T Julién Davenport and some of the progress he’s made, what do you like about him and what do you think the upside is of coming from a small school?
“I think he’s got tremendous upside, which is a very dangerous word because you have to fulfill that potential. But, I think he’s got a good work ethic. He’s a very serious guy. He takes the game very seriously. I know he’s going to work hard in the weight room. He works very hard to prepare. The veteran players help him a lot – Chris Clark, Breno (Giacomini) – those guys have really helped him. Derek Newton watches tape with him quite a bit. So, I think that helps him. I do think he can be a good player and a lot of it’s going to be determined by how good of an offseason he has and how hard he works.”
With the issues you’ve had this year with injuries and your record, how practical is it for you guys to turn this around next year and get back to contending for the division and being a playoff team with the talent that you have, especially knowing you will get QB Deshaun Watson back and getting some of these key guys healed up?
“I would tell you I totally understand the question, but that’s probably more of a postseason, training camp question. Every year’s different. Every year’s different. Every year is completely different from the previous year. Doesn’t matter what players are back, there will be new players here next year. There’s a draft. Obviously, there’s free agency. There’s different things that may happen between now and next year. Next year is so far off. Our only focus is really on this Pittsburgh game because if we’re not focused on Pittsburgh as an organization and as a team, then we got a problem. We’re not going to be in good shape on Monday, Christmas Day, because they’re a great team. So, next year, that’s not really even something that’s entered anybody’s mind, especially mine.”
What does it mean to you that for two weeks in a row, QB Deshaun Watson has come out and supported you?
“Look, I don’t really know how to answer that question. I appreciate all the support that anybody – I think that’s just the way I think any of us are. People support you, it’s a nice thing. But, at the end of the day, we’ve got to focus on Pittsburgh and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
With OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney, two Pro Bowls in two healthy seasons, he said that he still thinks he can get better. What else, as far as you see, can Clowney improve upon?
“He’s right. Look, he’s a dynamic, explosive player. He plays the game very hard. There’s probably a lot of things he can do in the offseason to help him, especially during this time of the year, December heading into January. I think those types of things are where he can improve. There’s always things that we can improve upon relative to pass rush or taking on the running game or working in the weight room or conditioning or whatever it is – that’s for any player. So, I think he’s right about that, and that’s probably what will help him in his career, that he has that type of attitude.”
For OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney’s position as a pass rusher, sacks and quarterback hits are the glamour stats, but can you speak to the importance of run stopping and how would you compare those two disciplines for a guy at his position?
“He’s great at that. He can stop the run. He’s got great instincts. Some of the ways we move him around, he ends up in the backfield quite a bit because of his athletic ability, his explosion. I’m not sure what his TFLs are this year, but I know they’re up there. He’s had a bunch of tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He had the same thing last year. So, that’s a big part of what he does.”
QUARTERBACKS COACH SEAN RYAN
How hard is it to combat the Steelers pass rush when you continue to have injuries and changes in your offensive line? How do you compensate for that?
“I think you’re always aware going into every game of the opponent’s strengths, and obviously, especially when it’s a pass rush from a quarterback’s standpoint, you’re always talking about – I think some of the things that you do is you try to have some concepts where the ball comes out quickly. I think you noticed we threw a couple things last week as the game went on where the ball came out faster, so you’re looking to do that. You’re looking to stay balanced as much as you can between run and pass, to help you out with the pass rush as well. So, it’s things that we talk about all week long. We go into every game like that regardless of the situation of who’s playing or who’s injured. So, it’s something we’re always conscious of and do our best to combat a good pass rush.”
What can QB T.J. Yates do better against the Steelers than he did against the Jaguars?
“I think him and I, what we talked about coming off of the film and some of the things that we saw, there were a few times where I thought he had a receiver open early on that he could’ve gotten the ball out of his hands that maybe he just wasn’t comfortable with the throw or didn’t feel good about it, but it was there. And I think after looking at the tape together, he’d be the first to tell you he saw a few things where the ball could’ve come out of his hands. So, I think those are things that we just got to work on and get better. That will come through playing a little bit more football, just getting some more reps, getting some more live reps. I think that’s going to come to him as we keep going, so that’s one thing that I think we’re really going to harp on this week, is if it’s our first progression and if it’s there right now, take it right now. Let’s not miss chances like that. Let’s get the ball out of our hand and keep the chains moving.”
Even though Steelers LB Ryan Shazier is out, they’ve still got good people in their front seven. What impresses you the most about their pass rush?
“I think they’ve got good speed in the outside. They’re big and strong and physical on the inside. So, that’s a pretty good combination. It’s pretty impressive to watch.”
WR DEANDRE HOPKINS
What does it mean to you personally and to this team to know that T David Quessenberry is going to play in an NFL game after everything that he’s been through?
“That’s amazing for what he’s overcome, cancer. Right there alone, just for him to even be able to be normal in life and not just come out on the football field but just be a normal person, a lot of people don’t come back from that, especially what he had and how bad it was. For a guy in my (rookie) class especially, I feel a little bit more happy for him because not many from my (rookie) class are still here. But what he’s battled, I mean, this whole organization, this whole city’s been behind him. So, it’s no surprise.”
How important is making First-Team All-Pro to you?
“I only got Second-Team All-Pro, so first-team, it’s the best of the best.”
Texans QB Deshaun Watson has said on multiple occasions that he really likes working with Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien and wants him back next season. Do you want Coach O’Brien back next season?
“Bill’s a great guy, great coach. Everybody in this locker room loves him, so why not?”
G DAVID QUESSENBERRY
What was it like for you in the team meeting when they announced you were on the active roster and everybody started clapping?
“That was this morning, actually. It was a really good feeling. It was something that we had worked for, not just for years, but really since we got back here. Everyone has seen what I’ve been through to come back, so it’s just a moment that they kind of acknowledged me.”
Can you envision how you will feel on Monday?
“We’ll see. I’m excited. I’m excited just to cut it loose and just play ball and just be like a normal player. I’m in the game plan. I’m really excited to suit up and play on Monday night.”
Head Coach Bill O’Brien said that this wasn’t a ‘pat on the back’, this is something that you’ve earned with your play. To be rewarded, not only with your story and your battle but also with your football ability, what does that mean to you?
“That’s something that really means the most to me. I did get diagnosed and that was unfortunate and the way that the team has supported me has been awesome, but the way that they’ve treated me now has been fair and now we’re ready to play and there’s an opportunity for me and I’ll make the most of it.”
What did your family say when you told them?
“They were really excited. They know how hard it’s been. They know how hard the journey’s been, how long it’s been and they’re excited to watch on Monday night too.”
Were you surprised when you got the call from Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Rick Smith?
“When I saw when Nick (Martin) went down, which broke my heart, he’s a good friend of mine. I kind of had a feeling, just the way I had been feeling at practice and the way I’ve been practicing that I might get an opportunity and then I was pleasantly surprised, I guess, when I got it. It was exciting.”
At training camp when things first happened and you were diagnosed, there were a lot of positive reviews coming out about your football ability. Where do you feel like you are today relative to that?
“I feel good. I feel strong. I feel like my footwork – that’s something that I’ve really just focused on this year, is just my fundamentals. I had not played for so long that I was rusty in training camp. It was just little things like reaction, my feet, my hands and all that. And I feel like I’ve just really focused on that this whole season and I’m confident. When I get in my stance, I’m confident of what I’m going to do now. In training camp I was, but not like I am now. So, as far as back to where I was, I mean, I’m different, I’m older, I’m more experienced, I’ve studied the game longer. But, I’m just as ready as I’ve ever been.”
Were there ever times where you sat around and daydreamed about the possibility of one day actually being in a game? When you were going through tough times, did you ever sit and think about that possibility?
“Yeah, every day. Every day.”
Can you put your journey into words? Where you were during the dark times, when you finally did what you had to do, won your battle with cancer and then trying to win your battle on the football field?
“It’s been long, it’s been really tough, hard on me and my family, but that’s just the journey that I’ve been on. I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by amazing people to support me through those times and now we’re back to playing ball.”
This will be your first NFL game which is hard to think of. You were drafted in 2013 and then it’s Christmas Day on National TV. There is a bit of a storybook component to this for everything you’ve been through.
“Yeah, I’m kind of – nothing that I’ve been through has been normal, a normal path since I’ve been drafted. This is just one of those things that lines up for an awesome opportunity on Monday Night Football on Christmas. I’m ready to roll.”
It seems like this was always the final goal for you. Obviously, you wanted to be healthy, but when you were diagnosed and the first time you spoke, you were always convinced that you were going to play again and you were going to make a mark in the NFL. That seems like that was always the goal for you.
“Absolutely. Since I got drafted in 2013, it’s kind of been one thing after the other preventing me to get onto the field, and I think finally now all that’s passed and I’m ready to get on with my football plan.”
What are your thoughts today about how your teammates have been with you every step and never cast you aside and here you are?
“It’s what they saw too. It’s what they believed in me. They knew me as a player, they knew me as a person and they thought, they believed this day would come eventually. I put in the work and here we are.”
What has Head Coach Bill O’Brien meant to you throughout this whole process?
“OB (Coach O’Brien) has had my back since I got here. Even since before I got diagnosed, that spring when he was here. It’s a special feeling knowing that your head coach has your back like that and really cares about you.”
Is there any certain person or certain message that you’ve heard since moving to the active roster that is most special to you?
“My teammates, family, friends, the people that work here as a team. The people that have seen me the whole way through, kind of like where I was at, what I went through hand where I’m at now. They all just mean so much to me. They’ve all meant so much to me while I was going through my fight and my journey.”
Do you expect it to be emotional when you first enter the game?
“Yeah, I do.”
What does it mean to have won the George Halas Award, given to the NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed, and have you embraced what it fully means to be a cancer survivor and know that title will forever be attached to you?
“That was hard for me at first just because I don’t always want to be known like this but then I’ve talked to so many patients and survivors and they’ve said that my story gives them hope or inspiration and that’s something that means a lot to me and something that I’m willing to bear and something that I’ve embraced.”
What do you get out of visiting patients with cancer?
“I don’t know if it’s really for me. It’s hard for me when I go there and I see what they’re going through, I know how much it sucks and I know how scary it can be. But if I can help them out at all or help their families out at all, then that’s what I get out of it.”
Have you thought about how this moment will feel for yourself and for your family this Monday?
“I’m sure it’s going to be special for them. Finally. We talked about it and dreamed it and worked for it and now it’s here. For me, I get to play on Monday Night Football on Christmas. Like, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
How did your battle against cancer help you in your battle to get back on the field?
“That’s a good question because they’re not really similar at all. They have their own challenges. I would say that it’s going to take time and it’s going to take hard work and the sacrifices. There’s no shortcuts to get back there. As long as it takes, you’ve just got to put the work in and do the little things every day to beat it and get back to playing.”
QB T.J. YATES
What does it mean to you to see G David Quessenberry getting a chance to play in his first game after everything he’s been through?
“I mean, it’s awesome. It’s storybook type stuff. I was with him when he got diagnosed. It was me, Chris Myers and Quessenberry at Ben Jones’ wedding the weekend right before he got sick. We spent that whole weekend together. I remember him, he was feeling sick. Then, he came back and it was like that next Monday he got diagnosed. It was unbelievable for everybody involved and obviously him included, but to see how far he’s come back and to see his body transformation once he got sick, how much weight he lost, how much muscle he lost. To work as hard as he did to come back and to get to this point and to get this opportunity, it’s really cool.”
What was it like when it was announced in the team meeting that he was going to be on the active roster and play?
“It was awesome. Everybody was really happy for him. Nice round of applause when coach announced that he was activated. He broke us down out there and everything. It’s an inspiration for everybody.”
How familiar are you with Steelers LB T.J. Watt and what do you think of him?
“Just watching on film, he’s a heck of a player. It’s really strange to see how him and J.J.’s body movements – they’re like almost the same player out there. Obviously, T.J. is a little smaller but he’s very quick and they have a lot of the same traits as far as getting their hands on balls and tipping balls, rushing the passer. He’s a great pass rusher. He’s got a lot of good stuff on film. We definitely have to be aware of where he is at all times.”
What do you see from their defense and how they generate a pass rush? What do you have to do to try and counteract that?
“They do. A lot of multiple fronts, a lot of different looks up front to try to confuse you and get your protections wrong and mess with your protections. We just have to do a good job of ID’ing it and get people in the right places and move forward.”
How ready do you feel after getting more time and reps?
“Obviously starting for the first time in two years, you have to get kind of back into the groove of things. In the San Fran game, I could kind of just go out there and read and react and go play. But with a week of preparation, different team, different look, it’s just kind of going through the process of getting back out there on the field.”
What are some things you’re focused on this week so you can improve?
“Definitely starting fast. That’s a goal of the whole offense and the team, really. We have to get something going early to kind of get momentum built and just kind of build on that.”
Do you remember when you were back in Houston and playing for the Falcons while the Texans were wearing ‘DQ Strong’ shirts? Can you imagine what it was like then and what it’s like now with G David Quessenberry?
“Yeah, it was cool. I remember the guy that made the shirts for DQ in Houston, I got the guy to make some Atlanta shirts and all the offensive linemen in Atlanta got together, we got a picture. It was more of a thing to show David that he had support all over the league.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH STEELERS HEAD COACH MIKE TOMLIN
What has Steelers LB T.J. Watt meant to your defense and how good has he been despite little experience at outside linebacker?
“He’s been a solid, consistent contributor and I don’t want to underscore that. For a rookie to be described in that way, we don’t take that lightly. He’s simply been a quick study. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes (and) he definitely doesn’t make the same mistake twice. He plays with a great deal of intensity and I think those things allow him to be consistently productive for us. We’re pleased, obviously, to have him.”
How would you describe Steelers LB T.J. Watt’s personality?
“He’s all business, and appropriately so. We’re pretty transparent with our young guys. We tell those guys it’s better to be seen than heard in the early stages of their career and to take in information to make themselves extremely coachable and likeable. I think that, more than anything, he’s a good listener, and I think his behavior’s displayed that. I think we’re just beginning to get to know him.”
Being on the committee, do you think the catch rule will be revisited and what do you think about the rule in general?
“I’m certain it will be revisited. There’s just been too many controversial plays and plays worthy of continual discussion. We’ve got our work cut out for us this offseason.”
Did you have a message to the team after the injury to Steelers LB Ryan Shazier and how they should go about their jobs?
“I don’t believe that any of us have any pre-set message for situations such as that. I’m just as concerned and taken aback as anyone regarding Ryan and his personal health and safety. Really, more than anything, I just try to be as truthful as I can with them and work through whatever issues may arise in a very natural way, which is what we did.”
Do you think that when players see massive injuries, like what happened to Steelers LB Ryan Shazier, it can cause them to second-guess their careers?
“These guys have been playing football virtually all their lives. I’m sure they’ve had that meeting with themselves in some form or fashion. I don’t believe it requires any formal discussion from me.”
What do you see from Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins?
“He’s a dynamic player, combat-catch guy. I think that’s probably the most defining thing or the most shocking thing about his game as we study him this week, is he’s always open because if he’s in one-on-one circumstances, he can make the combat-catch, and does consistently. And even sometimes in the two-on-one situations. He’s a big-time, big-time playmaker for them.”
What do you see from Texans OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney?
“His versatility. He plays all over for them, in base and in sub. It’s not a one-man job being prepared to block him. Everybody’s going to see him in some form or fashion and I think that’s one of the unique things about him outside his outstanding physical traits.”
What is the secret to the Steelers’ ability to sustain excellence?
“I don’t know that I have the answer to that. Really, we just put all our eggs in the 2017 basket. We don’t waste a lot of time thinking about the things that we’ve happened to have enjoyed in the past or worked to build off of those things. We’re singularly focused on this opportunity with this group and I think that singular focus helps us probably more than anything.”
How important is the stability in the Steelers coaching staff?
“I think stability is a product of doing your job. I don’t know that any of us lay our heads down at night feeling really good because of stability. I think we all lay our heads down at night knowing that we’re all working extremely hard and working in the same, singular direction in an effort for us to be successful, and that produces stability.”
What is it about your team that allows you to excel in tight games?
“I think, more than anything, the more you’re in those circumstances, the more you maintain clarity of thought, you have good, clean communication and you allow your talents to show. We’ve been in these situations some and I think that we’ve grown from them. Our preference is to grow with wins as opposed to losses, and thankfully we’ve won a heck of a lot more of them than we’ve lost.”
Does winning start with Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger?
What is inside of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger that him to continue to excel?
“I just think he relishes the opportunity to compete. He’s a lot of things, obviously, for us, but more than anything he’s a big-time competitor.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH STEELERS LB T.J. WATT
How disappointing is it to not be able to go up against Texans DE J.J. Watt for the first time this Christmas?
“I just think I’m more disappointed that he’s not able to play this whole season. I think obviously there’s a lot of hype around us two playing each other, but more than anything, I just love to see my brother on the football field and it’s really unfortunate that injuries happen, but hopefully he’ll be back better next year.”
Is Texans DE J.J. Watt doing any trash talking this week?
“No, no trash talking. Always just good quality conversations.”
Can you talk about your role on the team and how you think you’ve played this season?
“I don’t know, I think the film speaks for itself. I feel like I’ve done a decent job as a rookie. Obviously I feel like I’m my biggest critic and I feel like I definitely can do a lot better and I plan on doing a lot better and I’ve just been trying to be as consistent of a player as I can be and just try to be a difference maker for the defense.”
What do you see from Texans QB T.J. Yates and what are the keys against him?
“T.J. Yates is obviously a starting quarterback for an NFL team. He’s a good quarterback. They have a good running game to help support the pass game, which helps the play-action and it also helps when you spread the ball and it helps to have (DeAndre) Hopkins to throw it to. I grew up watching T.J. Yates back there so it’s just crazy that I’m playing the Houston Texans after watching them for so many years with J.J. on the team. It’s crazy that I have watched a bunch of these guys and now I’ll be sharing the field with them.”
How much pride do you take in the Steelers’ pass rush?
“A lot. I think a lot of it goes to our defensive backs in the back end. A lot it goes to the guys up front, too. I think we always talk rush and coverage going hand-in-hand and if you want to have a great defense, you have to first and foremost stop the run and then you have to be able to get to the passer and affect him as much as possible because any quarterback in this league will pick you apart.”
With Texans DE J.J. Watt being out of this game, how much easier is it for your parents to know who to root for?
“I don’t know, you’d have to ask them. They’ve been watching the Texans more than they’ve been watching any other team of the three of us. So, I don’t know if they’re still going to be rooting for the Texans on gameday. I hope they’ll be rooting for the Steelers but I definitely understand they’ll be torn. You’d have to ask them that question.”
Are your parents going to attend the game on Christmas?
“Yeah, they’ll be at the game. They’ll definitely be there.”
How cool is it for you and the family to have three brothers in the NFL?
“It’s very special to have three kids come from the same household in a small town, Pewaukee, Wisconsin. To just really work our tails off and be competitive in everything that we did growing up to really get to the ultimate level of football in the NFL and to be succeeding is a pretty crazy story. But at the same time, we’re just so hungry to keep getting better and to keep chasing success.”
How is your personality different from Texans DE J.J. Watt’s?
“I always tell people that J.J. and I are very similar. He definitely has more personality just because he’s been in the league for so long he can kind of open up a little bit more. Me, I’m a little bit more close to my chest until I know you more and I think that’s just because I’m a rookie and I like to just kind of handle my business and I feel like all those personality traits will come down the road.”
What’s it been like to be the little brother and see Texans DE J.J. Watt in movies, hosting award shows and jetting around the country?
“He’s a superstar, and I think rightfully so. The guy works his absolute butt off and no one sees all the behind the scenes work that he’s put in to get himself to this point. I think that is what I’ve been able to witness this whole time, is to see a guy who’s handled success so well and yet stays so humble and has been able to stay the same person inside and out throughout this whole journey of success. I’m so proud to have him as my older brother and my number one role model in my life because he came from out of Wisconsin to being able to host shows, be on the late night shows, raise all this money for people and have so much success on the field but he’s still the same person, and that’s why I love him to death.”
Is there any advice Texans DE J.J. Watt has given you that’s helped as a rookie?
“Yeah, I tell people this all the time. The one piece of advice that has really stuck with me is just keep your mouth shut, learn the playbook and let your play do the talking. A lot of rookies, he said, from his experience, come in trying to talk the talk but they can’t walk the walk. He said if you just come in and you let yourself gain respect through what you do on the football field, you’ll be all right. I think that’s why I’ve been trying to do such a great job. Everyone always says I’m so serious, I’m so serious that I need to lighten up, but at the end of the day, football is my job and I take it very seriously to be successful and that’s what I have to do to end up where we want to be as a team. That’s one thing that he’s taught me and it’s stuck with me ever since he told me.”
What did you immediately think when Steelers ILB Ryan Shazier suffered his injury and did it make you question why you play football?
“It’s unfortunate. It’s unfortunate to see a guy go down on the football field and just the way that he went down, he grabbed his back right away. You knew it was more serious than a routine injury. I don’t think I talked to myself about what am I doing out here because when we play football, we know what we’re signing up for. As unfortunate as an injury is, we kind of have to keep playing.”