Bill O'Brien calls relationship with GM Rick Smith 'a partnership'

HOUSTON -- Texans coach Bill O'Brien opened his news conference Wednesday saying he and general manager Rick Smith have a partnership and that all decisions about the team are made together.

"Rick Smith and I both have respect for each other," O'Brien said. "We work together every day. We communicate every day. It's a partnership. Decisions are made by two of us. Obviously they require the concurrence of the owner, Bob McNair. When it comes to personnel, coaching and playing, it's a partnership. That's how it works around here."

O'Brien was reacting to a report that he and Smith had a confrontation about releasing former quarterback Ryan Mallett on Saturday after he was late to meetings and missed the team's charter flight to Florida and that there was a rift between the two top figures in the organization. The Texans lost to the Dolphins 44-26.

Asked Wednesday whether he and Smith had a confrontation, O'Brien said, "No."

The Texans released Mallett on Tuesday and signed quarterback T.J. Yates. Yates was the Texans' fifth-round draft pick in 2011, and he led the team to its first playoff victory that season when then-starter Matt Schaub was injured.

Mallett's tardiness Saturday marked the second day this year he was known to have been late. He missed a practice in August three days after Brian Hoyer was named the starting quarterback.

"Every year we go over the team regulations," O'Brien said. "We don't have a lot of rules, but the one rule we do have is we want guys to be on time. We're not talking about starting a meeting 15 minutes early and that type of thing. If the meeting's supposed to start at 8 o'clock, then be there at 8 o'clock. Be there at 7:59 ready to go. The way that we deal with those issues when they're not here on time -- it's dealt with internally. But if it's something that happens time and time again and the message isn't getting through, then we have to make a decision in that regard."

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