Just two years ago, rookie Benardrick McKinney's head was swimming in training camp.
"The game was super fast," McKinney said to Texans TV. "Everybody was flying around. Everything was going just too fast for me and I had to settle down, just think about college ball and settle down, just be comfortable and play football, just have fun and talking a lot. Then it just started to come, the preseason games and the regular season games and just start to build my way up and try to understand football. Coaches put me in the right spot to make plays. (Defensive coordinator Mike) Vrabel did a great job of just telling me what I should look at, my keys, and I've just been taking the coaching ever since."
After seeing action in 30 games with 27 starts, and two postseason starts, McKinney is now one of the leaders on a No. 1 ranked Texans defense. The starting inside linebacker recorded 187 tackles, 117 solo, 13 quarterback hits, 15 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks, two passes defensed and one forced fumble in career regular season games. Last season, McKinney led the Texans in tackles and ranked third in sacks.
"He's a pro, he's a pro," head coach Bill O'Brien said Sunday. "He loves the game. He prepares. He loves meetings, loves practice, loves everything about football. He's one of our leaders now. He's on the inside there with Cush (Brian Cushing) and that's a good duo on the inside. He's come a long way since his rookie year, and he's one of our better players, there's no doubt about it."
McKinney still remembers what those first days of camp as a rookie were like. He hopes to help the younger linebackers make the transition the way he did with the help of veterans on the team.
"Camp is one of the hardest times before the season," McKinney said. "You've got to work all day, every day so I'm just trying to help them out with whatever they need help with, make them laugh, just try to have fun. I'm like the fun guy in the room so I just like to have fun so there's never like a dull moment and nobody's getting bored. We're just trying to get better."
Check out some of the best shots from the first week of training camp at The Greenbrier in West Virginia.