Everyone loves rookies.
Right now, on the home page of www.HoustonTexans.com, rookies occupy three of the top five slots in our 'popular' rankings list at the top of the page. That list, created based on fans' searches, shows that everyone is excited about the new guys recently added to the Texans roster.
However, the 2015 draft class isn't the only crop of players we are seeing for the first time. There are several players from the class of 2014 that are finally getting a chance to show their talents and skills on the field. Names like Xavier Su'a-Filo, Louis Nix and Lonnie Ballentine have been singled out during organized training activities by the coaching staff.
In a recent interview with our own Drew Dougherty, Su'a-Filo mentioned "it feels like night and day" from his first to second season. While Su'a-Filo saw the field in 2014, a late start (UCLA is on the quarter system) had him behind the eight ball early in camp. This year the former Bruin spent a lot of time in the building during the offseason, looking to jump start his sophomore campaign.
Nix, who ended last season injured reserve, talked about dealing with a tough start to his NFL career.
"I learned a lot," Nix told Dougherty. "Sometimes adversity hits and sometimes you just got to deal with it. You got to keep moving forward. I struggled with things coming in, but now I feel a little bit more adjusted to everything. I just want to improve."
Now back on the field, Nix can add depth to the Texans front line. The team traded up for Nix last year, and some had the former Notre Dame nose tackle rated as the top interior d-lineman in the draft.
Another name fans have heard is that of 'Mr. Irrelevant', Texans seventh-round pick Lonnie Ballentine. After a hamstring injury forced him to the injured reserve, the former Memphis Tiger is finally get the chance to show his ability. The 6-foot-3 safety cuts an impressive figure on the field, and will have a chance to make a contribution to the squad in 2015.
In addition to those three, others from the 2014 class have commented on being more comfortable going into year two. Tom Savage, C.J. Fiedorowicz and Andre Hal have all shared that sentiment, and expect to be bigger contributors this time around. Number one overall pick Jadeveon Clowney is also on the mend, with could add another big piece to an already stout looking Texans defense.
It is almost like adding two rookie classes to the squad.
Take a look at photos from the Houston Texans' fourth day of OTAs.