Combine Pressers: Texans, Giants, Panthers

Earlier today, we recapped some noteworthy comments made by head coaches and general managers who spoke to the media this morning at the combine in Indianapolis. Those press conferences will continue through the afternoon until Falcons head coach Dan Quinn wraps things up with his appearance at 3:00pm central time. Here are some highlights from a few of the recent sessions, with all links going to the Twitter accounts of reporters in attendance:

Texans general manager Rick Smith and head coach Bill O’Brien:

  • Asked about how Larry Fitzgerald‘s new contract with the Cardinals might apply to Andre Johnson‘s situation in Houston, Smith said the club may have to address the veteran wideout’s cap number, but hopes to see him spend his entire career with the Texans.
  • Smith was very impressed with what he saw from quarterback Ryan Mallett in 2014, and said it was “apparent” he’d picked up leadership traits from Tom Brady during his time with the Pats. Both Smith and O’Brien said they’re hopeful Mallett, a free-agent-to-be, will be back in Houston. That’s not an uncommon sentiment at this time of year, but the enthusiasm coming from the Texans’ brass for Mallett seems genuine, and I’d be surprised if he ends up elsewhere.
  • Smith also expressed interest in re-signing cornerback Kareem Jackson.
  • While re-signing Mallett is a priority, the Texans intend to look at all the draft-eligible quarterbacks in this year’s class, though the top two likely won’t be available by the time the team picks in the first round.
  • O’Brien believes Arian Foster has plenty of football left in him, but wants to try to manage his workload going forward, and identified running back as a position where the team could look to add someone.
  • O’Brien called Case Keenum a “very viable” quarterback option for the Texans, though it’s not clear if the head coach meant as a starter, or simply as a piece on the 53-man roster.

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin:

  • The Giants’ goal is to keep Jason Pierre-Paul on their roster not just for 2015, but for many years beyond that, according to Coughlin, who wants to see JPP retire as a Giant. “How that works out remains to be seen,” he added.
  • Asked about his own contract situation, Coughlin said that it’s been set in motion and he hopes to be able to provide an update soon on that front. It sounds as if he may be in line for another one-year contract extension.
  • Coughlin had nothing but praise for safety Antrel Rolle, whom he wants to re-sign, but added that the team “obviously” has some financial limitations. The head coach wasn’t quite as enthusiastic when asked about bringing back defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, declining to comment on whether there’s still a place for Kiwanuka on the roster.

Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman:

  • While he thinks the Panthers’ salary cap situation is in a better place than it used to be, Gettleman cautioned that Carolina is “still not out of the hole,” adding that the team wants to make sure to do things right.
  • According to Gettleman, he walked into a situation in which the Panthers had a ton of money tied up in running backs, and is still working his way through it. The GM acknowledged that he has spoken to DeAngelo Williams since the season ended, but declined to say whether the veteran back will remain on the team’s roster for 2015.
  • Although he wasn’t talking specifically about Greg Hardy, Gettleman rhetorically asked, “Who wants a ticking time bomb?” when discussing the possibility of drafting or signing players with a history of domestic violence.
  • As for Hardy, Gettleman told reporters he has nothing to say about the free agent pass rusher as long as he’s still on Carolina’s exempt list.
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