The Houston Texans arrived at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia yesterday. The players and coaches got time to settle in their "almost heaven" for the next 20-plus days. But Texans executive vice president of football operations and general manager Rick Smith had to face the media.
Of course, the first topic of discussion was about tackle Duane Brown. Brown is currently holding out, having already missed OTAs and mandatory minicamp. The Texans’ starting left tackle has two years left on his contract, and the organization has a track record of not re-negotiating deals until there is a year remaining on the current contract. With that being the case, Smith made it clear that he expects Brown in camp and there is nothing to discuss contract-wise at the moment:
Have you talked to T Duane Brown since the holdout began?
“I have talked to Duane, yes. I don’t know that this is a holdout. There is no contract dispute. Duane is under contract for two more years. That’s our position. We’re here to get our football team ready for the season. He should be a part of it. Duane and I have a really good relationship. He and I are from the same area of the country. In fact, my younger sister and he graduated from the same high school. He’s our longest tenured player on our football team. I think it goes back all of our first-round picks through him, from 2008 all the way up until now, on our football team. He’s an important member of our team and he ought to be here. He needs to be here. So, obviously we put him on Reserve/Did Not Report because he did not show up today, but as far as we’re concerned, we’re getting ready for the football season.”
What is the reasoning he gave you?
“Well, I’ll let him speak for himself. Again, from our perspective, there is no contract dispute because he’s under contract. So, we just want him here and he ought to be here.”
Do you expect to see Duane at some point during training camp?
“I’m not going to guess. I’m going to say that he ought to be here. We put him on the Reserve/Did Not Report list today. We’ve got 89 other guys that are here, ready to go to work right now. Those are the guys that we’re focused on. This is a wonderful facility to be in. We’re thrilled to be here, excited to be here in West Virginia. There’s a little bit of a buzz around the building, I think, in anticipation of getting here. We’ve got to get settled. We’ve got meetings tonight, but we’re here for a reason. This is a business trip and we’ve got to get our football team – the goal of training camp doesn’t change because we changed environments. The goal is still the same, it’s to ready our football team and to figure out who the best 53 men are that will help us chase a championship. That’s why we’re here, and the guys understand that, but it’s certainly is a beautiful environment to be in and we’re thrilled to be here.”
Of course, every word spoken in the media is a move on a chessboard for a GM worth his salt. For all the things that can be said about Rick Smith, he is most assuredly not a GM that minces words.
Smith has put the first shot across the bow. With Brown seemingly unlikely to speak to the media during his holdout, it may be the only shot fired for awhile.