HOUSTON (CBS Radio) – Bill O’Brien knows how to handle the media and avoid hot topics, and Tuesday was no exception.
The length of the NFL preseason is an ongoing discussion, especially when serious injuries happen to star players like Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who will miss the 2015 season after suffering a knee injury in Sunday’s game against the Steelers.
“These games, they don’t count in the standings and so they have to be played and there are reasons for them to be played,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said after Tuesday’s practice. “I’m not in disagreement with how many are played or how they’re played or anything like that. I think it’s evaluation, I think it’s good to get out there in front of the crowd and all those different things. It’s good for young players, but at the end of the day the most important thing is the health of your football team and that’s what I think about quite a bit.
“It is one of the most important things you can think about as a head coach because at the end of the day, there is no gray area.”
O’Brien has rested defensive end J.J. Watt, cornerback Johnathan Joseph and veteran nose tackle Vince Wilfork, holding them out of the first two preseason games so far. When asked if he favors cutting back on the number of preseason games, O’Brien didn’t waste time avoiding that subject.
“I would never comment on that,” O’Brien said. “That question is for somebody way above me.”
But O’Brien has never hidden the fact that he’s a fan of practicing with other teams during training camp.
“I am a big proponent of joint practices,” O’Brien said. “I have a lot of respect for the coaches in this league. It’s kind of a fun thing – you call the other coach and you set up practice. I just really think the competitiveness of joint practices, especially the away ones where you can go away your team, you’re in the same hotel, it’s the same routine, you get to know each other well, you’re grinding through it with another team. I just think that’s pretty cool.”
Players used to use training camp and preseason games as a time to get back into football shape but O’Brien says times have changed.
“These guys really understand their own bodies – the good ones,” O’Brien said. “I was impressed with the level of conditioning that our team was in when they came back for training camp – about 98 percent of them.
“I mean Vince Wilfork – 35 years old, 12th year in the league – passed the conditioning test and this is a man that’s clearly not under 300 pounds.”