General Manager Brian Gaine
CB Aaron Colvin
C/G Zach Fulton
T Seantrel Henderson
G Senio Kelemete
GENERAL MANAGER BRIAN GAINE
“Good afternoon. Thanks everyone for coming. Before we get going, I just want to give a special thanks to Bob and to Cal McNair and the McNair family for supporting us, Coach O’Brien and myself, and giving us the resources and the opportunity to go out and seek players that can help us build a championship roster here at the Texans. I want to thank our scouting staff, working and coinciding with our coaching staff together on putting a plan in place to pursue players that can help us win football games on Sundays, but also be good character men and be good teammates here for the Houston Texans organization. And most importantly, the players for believing in us and our vision on how we wanted to build our team here in the division, to help us build a championship-caliber roster. A few of the things that attracted us to the players that are here today – No. 1 was each member that’s here today, each guy that’s here has playoff experience from the 2017 season. They know what winning football looks like and we’re bringing that into our locker room. That’s an important element here that we want to add to our team. No. 2 was versatility and position flex. Each one of these guys has demonstrated that performance on Sundays – their ability to play other positions other than the position one that they’re coming here to play and to contribute for the Texans. We have a young quarterback that we feel has a promising future. We had to make a good, strong commitment to the offensive line. That was certainly something we worked on here through the winter. The other thing was, with the return of the pass rush, we had to find another element that would help us in the secondary. We did that as well with our player acquisition process. The most important ingredient is as a team, we want to get bigger, longer and stronger, and that’s our intent here in how we’re going to build our business model and the types of players and the body types that we want to add to our football team. We feel like we accomplished that as well, in terms of size, length, strength and athleticism. Each one of these players brings that to the Texans. But this is only one phase of the player acquisition process and we’re not done and we’ll continue to work to try to build a championship roster the City of Houston can be proud of. We look forward to the draft. There will be other portions of free agency that we’ll continue to look to upgrade the roster and we’re always looking to try to make the roster better, either through free agency or the draft as we move through the winter and spring. Thank you very much.”
Could you talk about specifically CB Aaron Colvin – what you like about him, what role you envision him to play?
“Aaron we’re very familiar with as it relates to the Houston Texans because he played within the division. Aaron played in the AFC Championship game this year. Knows what winning football looks like. Versatility to play inside and outside. Aaron’s five-foot-eleven, six-foot, 190, 195 pounds – makes us bigger, longer, stronger on the inside, but gives us the versatility to play outside, too. He can play man, he can play zone, he can blitz and he’s a good tackler.”
What do you think of each of these offensive linemen individually and how do you see it fitting together in terms of competition at the guard and tackle spots?
“One thing we wanted to do is add versatility and position flex to any offensive lineman that we would bring in to the Houston Texans. What we want to do at the offensive line, we wanted to get bigger, longer and stronger. We feel like we’ve done that, No. 1 with Zach Fulton. Zach has played all three spots on the interior offensive line – left guard, right guard and center. Talking about a guy who’s six-four, six-foot-five, 320 pounds. Someone we’re very familiar with because we’ve had to play the Kansas City Chiefs in recent years. Highly productive player at any of the three positions inside. With Seantrel Henderson, he’ll compete for a position at the offensive tackle position. He’s played both right tackle and left tackle in his career. For us, he’ll add depth, versatility, the ability to start, the ability to swing to left, he can play right. At six-foot-seven, 330 pounds, he makes us bigger, longer and stronger. With Senio Kelemete, he’s started all three positions on the interior offensive line – left guard, right guard, center. He’s even played offensive tackle in his time, also played jumbo tight end. He makes us stronger on the interior as well. As well as very athletic. He can pull, he can run, he can get to the second level, he can play at the point of attack and he’s a good pass protector.”
There was speculation heading into free agency that any player who demonstrated during the national anthem would be considered a non-starter. How much, if at all, was that a factor in your evaluations and ultimately your moves?
Would you call that report inaccurate or not something that was discussed inside the building?
“Inaccurate and not discussed.”
Regarding your quarterback position, obviously free agent QB Colin Kaepernick was working out here in Houston and I’m sure there are going to be changes to the team’s depth chart, do you have any thoughts about his future and your evaluations of him?
“So, I would speak to the quarterback position and what I would tell you is we’re evaluating that as it relates to free agency and what’s available in the draft. So, we’re wide open as it relates to improving our roster at any position.”
Do you plan to sign a tight end now that TE C.J. Fiedorowicz has retired?
“First and foremost, to talk about C.J. (Fiedorowicz), C.J. has retired from football. I was here when C.J. was drafted and I had a chance to watch C.J.’s maturation as a professional. Very tough decision for him to do that. We do have some good solutions in the building. We feel very good about our tight end position right now as it relates to who’s here, but we’re always going to be looking to upgrade the roster. C.J. was an important, integral part of the offense. Very versatile guy. He was able to block at the point of attack, he could help us in the passing game, was good in pass protection. So, we wish him well.”
Do you feel like TE Ryan Griffin can be your No. 1 tight end?
“I feel like Ryan Griffin can be a contributing tight end for us and our offense.”
What is your focus going forward now in other positions of priorities?
“So, we’re always going to evaluate as it relates to any position that we feel can upgrade and help us put a championship performance on the field at any position. We’ll evaluate that on a case-by-case basis, but we’ll look for opportunities in free agency to continue to build on offense and defense and equally on special teams. But we’re also focused on the draft as well. We know that’s around the corner. We’ll start our meetings here in April. Our scouts will return. Our coaches are out on the road right now scouting players as well, working players out on pro days. So, that’s all part of the vision – both free agency and the draft.”
Did you feel like you had a clear plan on what was needed as you hit free agency and with what you’ve landed early on?
“A very unique circumstance and experience for me because I was very familiar with the roster before I came here, having been here for three years and then leaving for one year, but also not too far removed from it as well to know what the Texans had. A short time ago we were two-time division champs, and that’s our goal and that’s our focus. Our focus will be on the AFC South, to get back to the top of that. So, anything we can do to help and improve the roster to position us to do that, we will consider it.”
Now that you’ve had more time to evaluate this roster, what’s your overall take about where this team stands and how much growth internally you have to make to be able to get back to that championship level?
“I believe it’s a year-to-year performance and every year you have to start over. when the guys come back here in April for the offseason program. We’ll start our process of trying to get back to a championship-caliber-level team, but the process of building a winner is on a day-to-day basis. It is a 365-day-a-year process in terms of trying to make ourselves into a championship-caliber roster. So, that continues on a day-to-day basis. My hope is that we can continue to build on the pass rush and continue to improve in terms of accumulating coverage players. The ability to stress the passer, that will lead to some turnovers. Always be strong up front. And you can see equally on the other side of the ball, we made a large commitment to the offensive line to try to try to improve the parts and pieces that we put around this quarterback that we believe in, that we think can help us win some football games. Adding to the offensive line equally will benefit us in the running game. So, we’re hoping for the twofold benefit of improving the offensive line with the talent acquisition process – that it will improve protection for the quarterback, but it will also help our running game, with both of those facets needing to improve this offseason.”
Can you talk about bringing back CB Johnathan Joseph? And what would you feel about trying to bring free agent S Tyrann Mathieu here?
“So, I’ll speak to Johnathan Joseph, and Johnathan has been a winning player throughout his career. He’s part of the plan here to continue to build a winner. As it relates to Tyrann Mathieu, any player that we feel is going to give us a chance to win football games that fits within our culture and within our program, within our budgetary means, we will consider.”
With the amount of cap money you have left and the pool of players still out there, do you feel like there are a lot of opportunities to improve the roster or do you feel like it’s getting somewhat thin and you have to go bargain hunting at this point in free agency?
“There’s still opportunities to improve the roster, but it’s a careful balance between what you do in free agency and equally, if you’re looking at that position, what would be available to you in the draft. So, you kind of navigate that fine line and you’re constantly looking at where the surplus and maybe where the deficiencies are to solve some issues of your roster.”
Ideally in free agency you would let deals come to you, but with QB Deshaun Watson coming off of a knee injury, how much urgency did you guys feel to really shore up the offensive line? And do you feel like you’ve been able to do that effectively?
“We feel like we’ve been able to upgrade the offensive line with the players that we added here today, but we’re not done just yet. It’s not just the offensive line. We’re going to continue to work to put weapons around Deshaun (Watson) – not just on the offensive line, but if it’s perimeter players, if it’s tight ends, if it’s backs, if it’s more offensive linemen. We’re going to continue to do that to try to put everything in place to help Deshaun be successful on Sundays.”
CB AARON COLVIN
Did you talk to Jaguars CB A.J. Bouye about his time with the Texans and did he have good things to say about the organization?
“Yes sir. I actually talked to him last night. He was a close friend of mine for the year that we spent together. He did nothing but say positive things about this place and all the great experiences that he had.”
Did you decide to come to the Texans because you also have a chance to play outside and knew those positions were taken with the Jaguars?
“Truthfully, I just control what I can control. No matter where they put me – I can play linebacker if I have to. No matter where they put me, I plan to make plays. I plan to win my one-on-one battles. Outside, inside, safety, no matter where it is. That’s just my mindset.”
What was it like being on the Jaguars when they made that big jump last season and beat the Texans twice? Do you envision the same thing happening here?
“It always feels good to win. We got things right at the right moment. Our brotherhood, we began to come really close. I know that the guys, they’re very familiar with that. Of course I feel like we’ll do that here. We have the right pieces in place once we get guys healthy with Deshaun (Watson) back and the incredible D-line, the secondary. We’re going to do a lot of good things here.”
What do you think about the Texans defense and the guys you’ll get to play with, especially up front?
“I’m very familiar with the defensive line, playing against them for my first four years. The work speaks for itself. You got guys like J.J. (Watt), (Jadeveon) Clowney of course, (Whitney) Mercilus, all those guys can play. It’s going to be an honor to be able to cover my guy so those guys can make plays and get sacks. That’s just the goal. Rush and coverage always go together, and I truly believe that.”
What do you think this group is capable of and what would you tell Texans fans that you bring to the table here?
“Look at the past. Other than last year, the Houston Texans were always at the top of the AFC. There were some unfortunate circumstances that happened last year with injury. That’s just a part of the game sometimes. That’s how it works out. But just after talking to the staff and after talking to a couple of the players, we’re going to win. That’s our goal. That’s our only goal, is to win. For the people that’s not too familiar with my work, we had some great players in Jacksonville, especially last year. I’m fine with having to do the dirty work but I know that my role is important. There’s really not too much talking with me. I can do all this chit chat and try to make people believe, but I can show you better than I can talk it.”
C/G ZACH FULTON
What do you feel you bring to the table having played so many positions for the Kansas City Chiefs?
“I bring a lot of versatility. I bring a lot of playoff experience, just a competitive edge to my game. I play with a lot of nastiness and I feel that it can definitely benefit this team.”
Have you talked to G Jeff Allen?
“Yeah, I talked to Jeff (Allen) a couple of days ago. I’m excited to be here with him and I’m excited to see him.”
When you look at a team like this that has a mobile quarterback, what is it like blocking for someone like that?
“It’s a little different, but definitely makes it a lot more exciting. He’s definitely a great quarterback to block for and I’m very much looking forward to it.”
How tough is it to build continuity on the offensive line when there will be so many new players?
“It’s pretty tough, but as an offensive line, you always want to build chemistry any way that’s possible whether it’s doing stuff off the field or stuff in the community. It’s going to be pretty tough but I think once we get that down through the offseason program, we going to be pretty good.”
Is the chance to block for QB Deshaun Watson something that was appealing to coming to Houston?
“That was definitely appealing. Like I said, he’s a great player. He has a bright future ahead of him. I think he will definitely make my job a little bit easier.”
What position have the Texans talked to you about playing primarily?
“Primarily be guard, but like I said, I’m a versatile player. I can help out wherever that may be on the offensive line.”
What are your impressions of what the Texans are capable of and what attracted you about the plan that General Manager Brian Gaine presented to you?
“Just that this is a great organization here. He’s building a championship-caliber team. The great City of Houston, what more can you ask for, honestly? It’s a great place to be here. Everything is lovely about it, so it was an easy decision for me to come here.”
Are you ready to take a step forward and make a position your own and establish yourself as one of the better players?
“Oh yeah, definitely. Wherever that position may be, I’m going to definitely find a home to settle into.”
What are your physical attributes in your mind that help you play a good guard?
“I would say my physical strength, obviously, and just being able to play center as well. I bring a good mindset to the game as well. It makes things a little bit easier when you play center because you know all of the positions and what everyone has to do. It makes it pretty fun.”
T SEANTREL HENDERSON
Do you think you’re better at right tackle or left tackle?
“I think right tackle. I played some left tackle during most of the preseasons while I was with the Bills and I think I’m pretty versatile. But I have more experience at the right tackle (position).”
How are you doing now with the Crohn’s Disease and how much does it mean for you to be able to play football?
“It means a lot. I was actually told I wouldn’t play football anymore once I got my first surgery and had an ileostomy bag and all those types of things. I ended up healing fast and getting back to it. I haven’t had any complications with the Crohn’s since two years ago when I got the surgery and when I got reconnected. I’ve been fine ever since.”
How much do you think previous punishments with the NFL are in the past?
“I mean, all of it’s in my past. I’ve dealt with a lot, went through a lot with it. I really don’t even like to think about it anymore. I like the space that I’m in now and the situation that I have here. I’m just ready to move forward and get ready to meet everybody and start winning down here.”
How excited are you to have this opportunity and be here with General Manager Brian Gaine, who was with you in Buffalo?
“Really excited. Brian really pushed to get me out here. I most definitely appreciate it and everybody else that helped, also. I’m very excited to be here.”
What made you decide that you wanted to come to Houston?
“Houston’s always had a great team. The city alone, too – it’s Houston. I’ve only been down here a few times but I have family that lives down here also. As far as the organization, it really speaks for itself. Last year was really kind of just an off year, like nobody ever saw that coming but things happen. That’s how the game goes.”
What did you think about the chance to block for Texans QB Deshaun Watson?
“It’s going to be great. He’s a prolific quarterback already. I know he’s going to come back, he’s going to bounce back and it’s going to make my job easier and I think everybody else on the line, also.”
After everything you’ve been through, what does it mean to you to be healthy and have an opportunity to play football?
“It means the world to me, honestly. I didn’t think I would even be here two years ago and now I’m standing here with you guys. I’m just happy to be here and excited to keep moving forward and get this thing rolling.”
Did you think your career was over two years ago?
“I did. I was told I was going to have that bag on me for the rest of my life and I knew I wouldn’t be able to play with that. After I started healing up, I started getting out of that down moment and (my) spirits started getting lifted a little bit more and I looked up and I had my second surgery and I was back to training again.”
What do you think it will take to get back to starting again and winning a position battle?
“I think just to keep the same motivation that I have, the same grit and grind that I have every day, working hard (and) creating, now, new relationships with coaches and players. I think I’ll be fine. I’m a great competitor.”
Being told that you would never play again, how does that change your outlook as an NFL player and what you want to bring to this team?
“It changes it a lot. Like I said, I’m still here. I’m ready to come down here and grind and get to know all my new, fellow colleagues and things like that. I’m just excited for the whole opportunity and situation.”
What have you heard about Head Coach Bill O’Brien or Offensive Line Coach Mike Devlin or some of the guys you’ll be working closely with?
“I heard they’re pretty cool guys. Player-coaches, for the most part. That’s pretty much it.”
What or who got you through that low part in your life when you thought you weren’t going to be able to go back to the NFL?
“My mom was there for me and also my dad, my grandmother and my great aunt. They were all there helping take care of me, whatever I needed. I wasn’t that healthy when I first got out of the hospital, so it was pretty much most of my family that was there for me helping me through every step when I needed them the most.”
Is there something that stuck out to you when you realized that you could play again?
“One of my last appointments before I went and got my bowels reconnected, when they told me that I wouldn’t have to have the bag anymore, that’s when I was like, ‘OK, I’ve got a chance. I’ve got a shot.’”
How hard was it to come back from not playing football and getting back into NFL playing shape?
“The only thing with me, it was like reverse because I actually lost weight and didn’t have to lose weight. I was down like 47 pounds or something like that and I just had to eat and keep my diet and train and train and train, but I did it. I got through it. I’m happy to be here.”
Do you come here fully expecting that one of the starting tackle spots is yours?
“Yeah, I plan to start here but I know I’m going to have to compete. I know there’s still other guys here that were here before I got here, so my mindset is just be the great competitor that I am, keep the same grind and just keep moving forward.”
G SENIO KELEMETE
“Before we get started or I start answering some questions, I just want to acknowledge (that) I got some sad news today that Mr. (Tom) Benson has passed away and I just want to send my condolences and my prayers out to the Benson family. I just wanted to get that out of the way first.”
What is your philosophy on being able to play multiple positions?
“I think it’s important to your game, if you’re trying to add tools to your game, because then not only do you know one spot, you know two or three or four other spots. That kind of makes the playbook, I feel like, more easy to kind of grasp because you know what’s going on on the back side and you know what’s going on on the front side.”
What do you think is your best spot? Do you feel like a natural guard?
“My spot is wherever they need me to be. I’m going to compete at whatever spot they put me at and we’re going to take it from there.”
You have a little bit of pass-catching experience too, we see?
“Yeah, maybe a little play-action.”
Did you ever have interactions with Texans Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob McNair before signing here and if so, what were those interactions like?
“No. I mean, we talked to the staff yesterday. I feel like this team is an up and rising team, they just had a few injuries at key spots and it kind of just derailed their season. I really want to come here and contribute and turn this team around and bring it back to a championship-caliber team.”
Where’s the confidence that this team will get back to the playoffs quickly?
“Everybody goes through adversity. I feel like, me coming here, I feel like I’m a great leader. I’m not real vocal, but I’m going to lead by example and then hopefully everybody follows suit and also, too, I feel like as an O-line, we’re going to set a standard here. We’re going to be able to run the ball when we want to run the ball and we’re going to be able to pass protect and protect Deshaun Watson.”
Do you think there’s something good about coming to the Texans with other offensive lineman and all learning together?
“Yeah, we all talked about it. We have versatility. You can shift and change us wherever and I feel confident in that room because the sky’s the limit.”
Do you feel the sky is the limit because of QB Deshaun Watson?
“Oh yeah, definitely. It’s a lot different coming from New Orleans, from a future Hall of Famer, Drew Brees standing back there. He’s a pocket-passer. And then coming here and knowing that you have a young quarterback that’s up and coming and he’s going to be a star himself. I’m just excited to be here.”
How does QB Deshaun Watson make your job easier?
“I mean, he can make O-lineman look good by just making our guys – if we miss a block, he can just roll out and probably gain 20, 30 yards and make that look easy. I’m happy to be here.”
Does it make you feel good that Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis tried hard to keep you and that they said they’re going to have three guys to replace you because of your versatility?
“Oh yeah. Whenever you have the team that you’re with really pushing to keep you, that makes you kind of feel grateful because then they really want you (to be) part of their plans. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity coming here and possibly playing or being a starter.”