Houston Texans Rookie Program
The Mothership provided several good quotes from Bill O'Brien regarding the rookies and adapting to life in Houston and becoming professional football players in the NFL:
(on what the Texans do to help rookies get acclimated)
"That’s a big part of their introduction throughout the whole year. I can tell you for this six-week period that they’ll be here. We have a nine-week off-season program, so three weeks with the veterans here and now we add the rookies to the mix here. As soon as the rookies get in, starting I believe this afternoon, from this day forward, sometime in the afternoon they’ll have what we call a rookie development program, which Sean Washington, our director of player engagement, is in charge of. That can range anything from teaching them how to set up a bank account, to how to get around the city, to life skills, like I was saying before, nutrition, when to wake up, rest, hydration.
One of the things we’re going to do this year, too, which Sean has agreed to which I really appreciate from Sean, we’re going to have certain coaches talk to these guys in some of these sessions where a guy like, for instance, Mike Vrabel can go into the room and not talk about linebacker play, but talk about what it means to be a pro and what it takes to be a pro and be a consistent guy for multiple years. We’re going to do more of that and involve the coaches in that too. We invest a lot of time in that and we believe in how we do it and hopefully it works."
This sounds like a great program to help these young men make the leap to their professional careers, and to help them learn things about this new city they are living in, how to manage their personal responsibilities of daily life, as well as all of the key prerequisites to succeed in the NFL.
New England Patriots & The Wells Report
With respect to his history with the New England Patriots, O'Brien was asked about his thoughts on the latest news:
(on his reaction to the Wells Report about the New England Patriots)
"No reaction. Really, I’ll be honest with you, I’m so concerned about the Houston Texans. Really every day, I’m just focused on them and that’s my biggest concern and focus. I don’t have any reaction to that report."
Conditioning in the Houston Heat and Humidity
"These guys need to get in better shape as a whole," O’Brien said. "That’s not entirely their fault. They’ve been training for the Combine, the 40-yard dash, the broad jump, the shuttle runs, all those different drills that they have to do. That doesn’t equate to football shape, especially in Houston. Some of those guys thought it was hot out there yesterday."
To O’Brien, having rookies out of shape on the first day is pretty much as regular as the summer heat in Houston.
"I can’t think of a year that I’ve been involved with this where it hasn’t that way, to be honest with you," O’Brien said. "To think that a group of rookies is going to come in and understand the shape they need to be in at this level, the NFL level, is hard. Some of the guys were in shape. There were some guys who were in decent shape for the start, but as a whole, we’ve got a ways to go."
O’Brien was asked which guys stood out, conditioning-wise. He responded in a joking manner.
"I would say that the long snapper was in good shape," O’Brien quipped. "He looked to be in pretty good shape. He snapped a lot of footballs. He did a good job."
The conditioning is part of the eye-opening experience for any rookie adjusting to this level.
"(Conditioning’s) definitely something that I’m going to be focusing on," said Kevin Johnson, the Texans’ first-round pick at 16th overall. "I’ve never played in this kind of heat, so it’s definitely going to be an adjustment, just coming off the NFL Draft. You’re not really in the shape that you want to get into yet."
"For us, it’s the speed of the game, the tempo of the game," said Christian Covington, the defensive tackle drafted in the sixth round out of Rice. "At the college level, you think you know what up tempo is against offenses, but you have no idea until you hit the pro level, so that’s something that we all have to go through come this rookie camp."
O’Brien gave a little insight as to how it usually goes as far as rookies’ conditioning.
"It’s not their fault," O’Brien said. "I always tell them, ‘Look, it’s not your fault, but here’s your baseline. Here’s where you’re starting from. Some of you guys, a lot of you guys, with the exception of a couple, really have a long way to go when it comes to conditioning. So you have six weeks to get yourself into condition. Then we take a little break, then we bring you back for training camp, and you have to pass a conditioning test when you come back for training camp.’ So they’ve got time, but they know how far they need to go."
I imagine some of these guys will be in full shock in July and August. At least rookie defensive tackle Christian Covington is used to the Houston climate. He basically just moved down the street from Rice University.