HOUSTON — After staving off the numerous questions about the firing of Brian Gaine as general manager, Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien continued to speak of the team’s progress as the mandatory minicamp winds down.

O’Brien is trying to gel together an offense with a lot of personnel changes, especially on the offensive line. He said that the unit has shown some signs of improvement, but until they put the pads on, it’s a small positive.

“I think without pads, so I think you really have to qualify that answer to make sure that you know they don’t have pads on,” O’Brien said. “Everything on the front whether it’s offensive or defensive line, is determined by when you put the pads on. So, take that and qualify this answer however way you want to. They’ve improved. They’ve improved in their knowledge, they’ve improved in their technique.”

Another change for the Texans is having an offensive coordinator. O’Brien has been calling the offensive plays ever since he came to Houston, but he feels Tim Kelly is an asset to the team since he knows O’Brien’s style of offense and can unlock the potential for this offense.

“Tim is a very bright guy. He’s a very smart, young coach,” O’Brien said. “One of the better young coaches I’ve ever been around. I’m not saying he’s like 20 years old, but relative to some of us he’s younger. He’s a really hardworking guy and a really good communicator and he’s done a nice job with the offense.”

On defense, linebacker Benardrick McKinney is looking to improve on an impressive 2018 campaign that saw him record 105 tackles, including six tackles for loss. It was good enough for him to get a spot in the Pro Bowl.

“Getting to the league, I knew it was going to be a challenge for me,” he said. “I worked my butt off every day, took the coaching, and just to be a Pro Bowler, it means a lot to me. I just want to step it up a notch and continue to try to be the best player I can be, and maybe one day be one of the best linebackers in the league.”

Now McKinney wants to be more of a leader and a mentor to the rest of the Texans defense, including inside linebacker Zach Cunningham.

“Me and Zach, we’re friends on and off the field. So, the chemistry between me and him is still growing,” McKinney said. “It’s great chemistry. Like I said, we have a great time off the field and on the field. If we see something different, we’ll talk about it. We’ll talk to our coach about it. But we always click, and 95 percent of the time we’re always seeing like eye-to-eye.”

As for the offseason, McKinney is taking things day-by-day.

“There’s a lot of things that I need to get better at but I’m just trying to help get the defense ready,” he said. “Just trying to be the leader I am, work on my craft, get the young guys ready. I think I can just improve a lot just being a leader and just get better at doing what I need to do.”

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