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Bill O'Brien: A change in 2017

This year is different.

The sentence above is uttered at least once per season, and often more than once, by every NFL player, coach and executive.

But for Bill O'Brien, 2017 is markedly different than last year.

The Texans head coach is calling the plays this season as the offensive coordinator. But he's also been more hands-on in terms of coaching up his players than he has since arriving in 2014. O'Brien discussed that change after a practice during rookie minicamp in mid-May.

"I've been probably doing more coaching myself in the last four or five weeks than I've done in the three years that I've been here," O'Brien said.

In 2016, the Texans defense allowed the fewest yards per game in the NFL. The offense, however, struggled in comparison. Changes were made, and O'Brien will now be in charge of that unit. Improving from the bottom third of the league in points, yards and passing yards per game is an important task for O'Brien.

"I'm very involved and I will be very involved," O'Brien said. "We have to get better offensively. We're all working hard together."

The Texans managed to win nine games, the AFC South and a playoff contest last year, but O'Brien and company want a lot more. To that end, he's been enthused by the assistants he has around him, and the way his team came prepared to work this spring.

"Really spending a lot of time trying to figure out what we can do to be better," O'Brien said. "Our players have shown up here in great shape. They're working hard. We've got a really good group of guys we're working with. We've added a good mix of guys now with this rookie group and I think I'm just having a lot of fun."

O'Brien and the Texans will experience more of that "fun" in a new setting for training camp. Next week they'll head to The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The unforgiving days of 90-plus degree practices with stifling humidity will be replaced by mountain air and typical daily highs in the lower 80s.

A lot will be different this year. But even more so than in seasons past for O'Brien and the Texans. They're charged up and ready for the change, and the challenge of chasing down a Super Bowl championship.

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