Head Coach Bill O’Brien
WR DeAndre Hopkins
P Shane Lechler
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
The NFLPA cleared the Texans of any mistakes from how you guys handled QB Tom Savage clearing concussion protocol during the 49ers game. What do you think about them officially saying what you basically felt and that no mistakes were made?
“I think we handled it the way it was supposed to be handled. I think it just, speaking for us here at the Texans, it’s always about trying to do the right thing, doing the right thing by the player, doing the right thing by the rules and that’s what we try to do.”
Are you glad that the NFLPA has made improvements to the concussion protocol so something like what happened to QB Tom Savage wouldn’t happen again where you followed the rules but he probably shouldn’t have gone back in?
“Sure, yeah, I think there’s a lot of things that can be improved. So, I think anything where you can help the, obviously, the safety of the player in this game is the most important thing. I think anything like that helps when you try to improve that process.”
What is the plan at quarterback this Sunday?
“(T.J.) Yates will start and more than likely (Taylor) Heinicke will be the backup.”
You told us going into Christmas that you were expecting some big surprise at the house, do you want to share it with us?
“No, because it didn’t really work out. Maybe I’ll have to talk to you guys off the record, OTR. Not here.”
Today was the last practice of 2017, did you take a moment to look back on the season?
“No, not really. Really we’re just focused on the Colts, we really are. We’re just trying to figure out a way to get on the winning side of things. That’s the big thing. The time for that is after this game. Right now, it’s really just trying to figure out how to beat the Colts. That’s really what it’s all about.”
I know last year WR DeAndre Hopkins’ numbers weren’t where they were this year, but you still believed that he was helpful to your playoff team. What is the difference in him last year compared to this year? I know he had that stretch with QB Deshaun Watson, but he still played similar without him.
“Yeah, I mean, ball’s been thrown to him. He’s made the plays. He’s had a great year. He’s always looking to improve. He came back in great shape, works hard in practice, does everything we ask him to do. And when the ball’s thrown to him, 99.9 percent of the time the guy’s going to make a play on the ball. So, that’s really what it comes down to.”
WR DeAndre Hopkins looks faster. Is that possible?
“I mean he’s fast. He’s a big guy. He can run, he’s got great hands. Like I said, he’s always trying to improve. We’ve never timed him or anything like that but he’s a big, fast guy, no doubt about it.”
New practice squad TE Jevoni Robinson has a basketball background and hasn’t played football since high school. How has he looked?
“Just got here. Very eager to learn. Obviously has really good length, athleticism, but (he’s) very raw when it comes to playing the game. Obviously, we brought him in here to work with him so we’ll see how it goes.”
How difficult is it to replace WR DeAndre Hopkins?
“Will (Fuller V) will have to step up like he always does. Braxton (Miller) obviously, Cobi Hamilton, Chris Thompson, guys like that. Everybody’s going to have to contribute. When you lose a player like ‘Hop,’ (DeAndre Hopkins) it’s tough because obviously his production has been at a great level this year. Those guys will step up. We have a lot of confidence in those guys.”
WIDE RECEIVER DEANDRE HOPKINS
How are you feeling?
“Kind of upset because I’m not playing this week. This is my first game since I’ve been playing football, since I’ve been in the NFL, that I’m going to miss. So, pretty upset about that. I asked if I could go out there and just do a push-up on the first play, just so I could have, will continue my record. But, yeah, I’m upset about that.”
How proud have you been of that streak?
“Very proud, very proud. I don’t know too many players who can say they haven’t missed a game since they’ve been playing in the NFL. And to me, I take that seriously, because I take care of my body. It’s the way I prepare, not to miss a game, not to let this team down.”
Do you feel like you ended on a good note with that catch in the end zone the other day against the Steelers?
“Yeah and no, because I wanted to catch it with my right hand. I made that catch plenty of times before. I don’t know if it was the light, I don’t know what it was, but I should’ve caught it with the right hand.”
Now that you’ve seen the video, you can’t even admit that the catch was pretty amazing?
“Yeah, it was amazing. It was amazing because, I mean, just to be able to catch it still over your head and keep two feet down – I don’t know a lot of players that would think to still try to get two feet down with a player underneath them.”
You were joking on Instagram with Migos’ rapper Quavo after he suggested he could be a backup quarterback here. What do you think about him joking about that?
“It was definitely a joke. I don’t think he could hold anybody’s jock strap in the NFL, honestly. So, he should definitely stick to music.”
Are you ready to say that that was the best catch of your career?
“No, the Giants catch was the best catch of my career. Maybe if I was in a bigger market, the world would definitely know it was the best catch of my career.”
Did you see QB Taylor Heinicke joking with Quavo about their quarterback records?
“No. See, that’s why I like Taylor (Heinicke) because Taylor’s the dude. I don’t think Quavo was on Taylor’s level. I mean, it could have been, I don’t know, but I don’t think he was on Taylor’s level.”
PUNTER SHANE LECHLER
How do you look at what you’ve done this year and how it affects your future plans?
“If you’re trying to get to the question of, ‘Is this my last year,’ no it’s not. I have too much, I think, still to offer the game and I just hit the ball good consistently this year. Are there some I’d like to have back? There always is and I’ll look back at them over the offseason and see what I’ve got to do to fix that. I think I went into the year with a good plan and for the most part it worked out.”
How have you managed to produce at such a high level for such a long time?
“I think just being competitive. (With) the punters, there’s been a big turnover in the last five years. There’s a lot of young guys out there that can hit it a long ways and (I’m) just trying to keep up with some of those guys. Brett Kern down in Tennessee had probably one of the best years a punter could have. My hat’s off to that guy. He hit it well all year, solid, good person, too. That’s it. I think I went into the year, like I said, with a good plan and it came out good.”
What did you think about what University at Texas P Michael Dickson did to be named MVP of the 2017 Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl?
“That was outstanding. I think (he had) 10 out of 11 down inside the 20 (yard-line) or whatever and a few inside the five (yard-line). That’s outstanding. He did a good job.”
Is it hard for you to compliment University of Texas P Michael Dickson, the 2017 Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl MVP, because he goes to Texas and you went to Texas A&M?
“Yeah, it’s not my favorite thing to do. But no, I wish we’d get that rivalry back together, I know that.”
How special is it for you to be competing at such a high level for your age?
“I’ve talked to people in the past that have done it for a long time. Now it may not be in the football arena, but I’ve talked to (Roger) Clemens and those guys and you just have to go out there with the same mindset you did when you were a first-year player. Just go out and prove yourself, that you belong on the football team day-in and day-out. Don’t take it for granted and don’t think that this game owes you anything. Go out and earn it and that’s kind of the approach I’ve taken.”
Do you have an idea of how long you want to play? Maybe 20 years? Is there a number in your mind?
“Not really. I mean a want a Super Bowl ring, bad. If I could get one of those I’m not sure what I would do afterwards but I mean you never know. I think the way that this team this year was hit with such hard injuries and stuff like that, there’s no way I would walk away with the talent that’s in this room. I’m very excited about next year and looking forward to it.”
What do you think about the future of this football team?
“Like I said, this is not what we expected this year but the future’s bright. That’s all you can say, because you can’t predict what’s going to happen next year or anything like that. I do like the guys that we’ll go onto the field with next year and I think it’s going to be an outstanding group to start the season.”
How much would you like to see the coaching staff return next season?
“I definitely would like to see Bill (O’Brien) back. Like I’ve said, there’s a lot of stuff that was out of everyone’s control this year. That’s kind of where we are with that and hopefully he’s back and we’ll see.”
Are you surprised with what you hear outside of the locker room?
“No, it doesn’t surprise me. I mean that’s the arena we live in. That’s kind of what it is and you’ve kind of got to go into every game and know that you have to believe what’s inside the locker room. That’s the only way you’re going to win. Even whenever you’re at the highs of highs and everyone’s patting you on the back, if you start believing that, you’re going to get beat. So even when you’re at the low of lows, you start believing that, you’re going to lose. So you’ve kind of got to stay with and believe what’s in the locker room and go with that.”
What does being a captain every week mean to you?
“I think Bill (O’Brien) just trusts me to say the right things whenever we win or lose the coin toss. I don’t know that it’s really like a selected, ‘You’re the captain.’ I think it’s like, ‘Hey, we trust Shane. He’s been out there enough times to know exactly what to say.’ I enjoy it, I take pride in going out there and doing that every Sunday.”
How hopeful are you to be able to finish your career with the Texans?
“Oh, I’m very hopeful. I do not see myself going anywhere else and playing. I’m home, this is my hometown, my fans, I feel like. This is where I grew up. I’ve already spent enough time, 13 years, away from here playing this game. I’m not looking forward to going anywhere else.”