If you're not already doing this, make sure to hit the team's official site each day for OTA reports. They have transcripts of post-practice quotes and, considering the general lack of access fans have to the actual OTAs, they're a gold mine of information. Here's a link to yesterday's OTA quote sheet, with selected tidbits posted here for your perusal.
(on who some of the second and third year guys are that are stepping up) "There’s some guys really jumping at me, when I look at Trindon Holliday starting to look like a wide receiver out here, he’s making plays. I think Garrett Graham is doing some good things. The defensive side of the ball, I look at (Bryan) Braman and how far he’s come in such a short period of time and also Torri Williams. What we’re going to eventually be will probably have a lot to do with how many of those types of guys step up and all of a sudden become real good pros, so we’ll see."
(on WR Keshawn Martin in the return game) “Well, he’s automatic catching the ball. That’s the first thing you look at. He’s very confident in doing that. You never find that out until it’s time to go play, but we’ll keep working.”
Wait a minute...returners can be automatic catching the ball? Why was I not informed? Here I've sat, like a sap, thinking that repeated muffs by Jacoby Jones were just part of the game. I feel like a fool.
(on if anybody was absent today) “Nobody quit. No, that’s tough. I talked to him (Dwight Jones) a couple times and he had a good college career and he’s a talented young man. It’s a grind. It’s tough out here. Hopefully, he’ll get home and things will feel a little better about it and he’ll come back and give it another try someday. He’s a very good athlete.”
I'm guessing and hoping that's just coach-speak. If an UDFA thinks OTAs are too much of a grind, it's hard to fathom him becoming a successful professional.
(on WR DeVier Posey) “He continues to do good things. I want his conditioning level, and I’m not saying it’s bad but all these young guys need to get to where you can go all day in this Texas heat. They think they’re okay until they get down here. When that gets better, his talents will continue to take over. He made some plays and he’s a hard worker. He’s one of the last guys leaving here every day so that’s important.”
(on if the wide receiver position is a concern) “It’s a concern. But I like the ability we have on the team right now with the group and we’ve come a long way just in five days. Guys that have been on the big stage, this group hasn’t but it’s got the ability to go out there and do it. Lestar (Jean) is acting like a dang good player out here every day, so we just got to stay committed to them. But we’ll continue to look, we’ll continue to watch some of these guys that are out there and see what happens through the first of June. But we got to stay focused on this group because this might be what we go to camp and then the season with. We’ll work and gotta get it done. That’s our job.”
(on ILB Bradie James) “He’s the signal caller. He calls all the signals and all the audibles. He already knows them, so that’s the good thing. We put in a few different things, but he’s caught onto those real quickly. He’s real familiar with what we’re doing and how we want it done and what changes we need to make in the heat of the battle. That’s what I like about him.”
(on where ILB Bradie James is right now compared to when he last coached him) “Pretty much the same. The guy is a field general, is the quarterback out on the field, knows what we’re calling. Sometimes we signal things, which I can go through the whole signals with some guys and I just do one thing and he knows what the call is. If we play somebody that has a hurry-up offense, he has no problem. It’s boom-boom-boom, he gets it done. That’s the real help he gives you.”
Odds on Darryl Sharpton unseating Bradie James as a starting ILB this year? I'd say between slim and none. Would have been tough for Sharpton, coming off that injury, to jump right in anyway, but James' knowledge of the scheme is a huge advantage.
(on learning about players during OTAs) “Yeah, that’s more what we had to do last season to see what everyone could do. Once we realized how good (Brian) Cushing was rushing the passer from inside, we did it quite bit last year, if you noticed and we got better and better at it. Same thing with Brooks Reed and what he could do. J.J. (Watt) can stunt and he’s really quick at it, so we utilize that. Yeah, the more you learn about them, the better you can call and set up things for them, specific players that do specific things. Same thing with Connor (Barwin). Connor’s a really good rush guy. We could use him as a drop guy but we switched in the middle of the season and said, ‘Hey, you’re our rush guy,’ and he had 10 or 11 sacks right after that.”
After years of Richard Smith and Frank Bush steadfastly refusing to adjust to anything, I re-read stuff like the paragraph above and silently weep with joy over our good fortune at defensive coordinator.
(on rookie OLB Whitney Mercilus’ performance so far) “I think he’s done a good job, but it’s tough. OTAs, everyone looks good in some shorts, so we’ll wait til August when we get the pads on and start playing real football.”
I'm guessing that Brian Cushing doesn't watch a whole lot of NFL Combine coverage. Instead, he chooses to tackle passersby.
(on whether he feels like this is his team) “Well, I really wouldn’t specifically put it on one person, but if it’s said to be that, that’s fine with me. That’s something that I’ll accept and continue to go forward with, but we’re a collective unit. It’s all of the guys, whatever 53 we put out there, chipping in and contributing."
Nice answer. Veteran answer. With no Cap'n Meco, make no mistake: This is Brian Cushing's defense.
(on what Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips has meant to him and to the team) “Oh, a ton. How well he coaches this team and how simple he makes it. Football is just a whole lot more fun playing for him. You’re free, you play loose, and you just go out there and have a good time.”
I'm going to take at least a week of bereavement leave whenever Wade Phillips is no longer a Texan. Said week of mourning may well end with me forging a funeral pyre and throwing myself into it.