Julién Davenport is confident.
After spending a year in the Texans playbook, starting the final pair of 2017 games at left tackle, and attacking his offseason, the second-year lineman has made strides. That confidence, and that improvement hasn't been lost on his head coach.
"He's really made a lot of progress," Bill O'Brien said. "He played at the end of the year and he held his own against some pretty good defensive ends. That was a good beginning for him, and I think he's built on that."
A fourth round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, Davenport played his college ball at Bucknell. His rookie campaign was a learning experience, and when the season ended, Davenport's progress didn't stop with it.
"He really did a good job in the time that he was away from here working out because when he came back here, you could tell he was in shape and ready to go," O'Brien said. "I think he's had a good spring. He just needs to try to keep getting better every day."
After veteran minicamp wrapped on Wednesday, I went 1-on-1 with Davenport and asked him seven questions about his goals, progress, the offensive line and more.
DD: What have you improved upon the most in that time?
Davenport: My technique. I made strides especially from the first year. Just coming in here the first day and continually working it. It's something I still have to work on. My feet, hands, the whole deal. It's a steady process and I'm trying to perfect it as much as I can.
DD: How beneficial was the time between the last game and the start of offseason conditioning?
Davenport: Now I have a really good understanding of the playbook. Things are pretty easy for me. With that I'm trying to master it as well. Master it with the defensive schemes that can be run against certain plays as well. So I'm still attacking that, but it's much easier out here for me now. I can just play ball.
DD: What was your reaction, a little over a year ago, to seeing the playbook for the first time?
Davenport: You come in, you see it, and you just see how thick it is. Automatically, you get a little tensed up. But our coach taught us that there are plays you can group together to give you a better understanding of how everything works, instead of everything being its own individual. Even though the plays you group together are slightly different, that helps you learn it a lot.
DD: With regards to learning the playbook, have you found yourself leaning on some of the veterans who've been in this offense, and have you also helped out some of the free agents and rookies who joined the team this year?
Davenport: Oh yeah. We all help each other any time it's needed. Sometimes you may just draw a blank and somebody may think something's supposed to be another way, and you've got to be able to step up and correct them. We're all constantly helping each other, constantly drilling things in and getting everything to where we mesh well.
DD: With that in mind, why do you think the 2018 offensive line might be improved?
Davenport: Like I said, we're meshing really well right now. I know it's just OTAs, and we don't have the pads on yet, but we joke around and we're a really close, tight-knit group right now. We're just working. We've come out here every day, and I'd say we've improved since we first stepped out here.
DD: As we approach training camp, how much has your comfort level risen?
Davenport: I want to dominate. I'm continuing to master the offensive playbook and learn defenses as well, and I want to go out there and just manhandle people.
DD: What will you do with the time from now until camp?
Davenport: I'll go home for only a couple of days, but then I'm headed down to Georgia to work out. But even the couple of days I'm home, I'll be working out. I'm going home because my sister graduates high school, so I gotta be there for little sister. It's a non-stop grind for me.