The Texans took to the field and to the podium yesterday for their first day of Phase Three OTAs, which is also the first day of the offseason where direct competition between offense and defense is allowed during drills. John Harris had his usual recap of tidbits and nuggets from the action on the field, and the Mothership was kind enough to upload several post-practice pressers from the players themselves. Here are some of the best quotes from those brief media sessions with DeAndre Hopkins, Whitney Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney, and Brock Osweiler.
How did the first day of OTAs go?
"There’s some things we’ve got to work on; some things we did good. First day out, so it’s not going to be the best. You’re not going to get our best showing today, but we did good. I would say Brock led us. The receivers paid attention. All of us were helping each other out there. It was some guys’ first time playing pro football, so just getting used to the tempo that we work at and I think we did good."
On Brock Osweiler’s command during practice:
"He operates like a pro’s pro. They come out and he demands the best out of everybody. Offensive line, the fullback, even the guys that aren’t in the huddle – he’s a natural leader."
On if the quarterback situation in 2016 feels better than last year since he already knows who the starter is going to be:
"I don’t really want to talk about last year. But since you asked, we thought we knew who our quarterback was going into last year."
On Jaelen Strong taking a step forward in year two:
"Jaelen’s been working all offseason. Even during what he was going through, he was working. The next day after that happened to him, I’m pretty sure I was talking to him and he was talking about going to work out. So that really didn’t affect him at all. I knew it wouldn’t, but he’s coming out and he’s playing with a chip on his shoulder for sure."
How much has Coach Vrabel helped in your development?
"Greatly. For a person who played 14 years in the league, you know he understands the point of view of players right now and to be able to share that with us it helped greatly, especially in the pass rush and setting the edge and things like that. Also [he gave] us a chance to recognize things that offenses were doing."
How can the defense improve this season?
"I’d say being able to be on the same page and building that chemistry that we have on defense. We’ve got a lot of the same guys who are coming back, just trying to bring along the rookies as well. What we need to do is just improve in areas of communication and being on the same page, making sure all eleven guys are on the same page on the field from day one."
Are you healthy?
"Oh yeah, I feel great. After two seasons, I feel like I just got healthy enough to be where I need to be."
Are you 100 percent?
Did you need surgery?
"Nope. I’m fine."
On his frustration with not being able to finish a full season yet:
"Of course it’s frustrating. You feel like you’re letting the team down when you’re not out there. Injuries happen. You’ve just got be mentally tough and show the guys that you’re ready to play."
On what it was like to work with all of the new receivers:
"It was fantastic. This is what football is all about. It’s about putting on helmets, calling a play in the huddle, breaking the huddle, and actually going out there and running it against an opponent, so today was a lot of fun. We finally got out there to get the bullets flying a little bit. Speaking the language, calling plays, running through cadences, making Mike [linebacker] points – it was a lot of fun to get back to work and really get going against a defense today."
Do these practices help with understanding where you are in the process of learning the offense?
"Absolutely. It’s like making a perfect recipe, if you will. You’ve got to add this ingredient and this ingredient, a formation, a protection, a route concept, and then a cadence at the line of scrimmage and reading the defense, and you’re exactly right. It’s a great test to see your knowledge of the offense and you know just working through your progressions and finding your checkdowns. Like all my other previous OTAs, day one there are some good plays and there’s some learning plays. There’s some plays you wish you had back but bottom line that’s why we’re out here practicing right now, and as long as you learn from those bad plays that’s part of the process."
How is your chemistry with the receivers developing so far?
"It’s growing every single day. Every single day matters, every rep matters, every rep is important. Just like I said prior, there’s going to be some good plays, and I don’t necessarily call them bad plays but learning experiences. Those are going to be incompletions [and] interceptions. Were we on the same page or were we not on the same page? There’s a couple pieces to the puzzle where it’s installing in the morning, and then it’s going out there, walking through it on the field, and actually repping it at full speed. For a lot of guys it’s maybe our first time repping that play so you’re not really sure what’s going to happen. Then we go into the film room a couple minutes from now and we watch it as a unit. We try to get on the same page and then we keep repping that. So that’s really the phase that we’re in right now. We’re learning in the class room, we’re repping it one or two times, and then we’re trying to learn from it and get on the same page."
What are the differences between Bill O’Brien and Gary Kubiak?
"You know, I really don’t want to compare the two coaches. They’re both phenomenal people and phenomenal coaches. Bottom line, today was my first experience in a practice environment with coach O’Brien and I loved it. I loved his energy. I loved his fire. He kept us on task, and he expects a lot out of us. As a player, you love that. Sometimes he’s going to get on you, which he should. I had a couple turnovers today. I’m going to chalk those up as learning experiences, and I’m going to make sure that they don’t happen again, but I want him to be on me. I don’t want that to be acceptable. But it’s a lot of fun to be out there with coach O’Brien. He’s a phenomenal football coach, he’s very smart, and he’s a lot of fun to be around.
We’ve still got one more day of OTAs to go this week, so keep it here on BRB for all of the latest news, reactions, and unparalleled levels of pure, irrational hype.