Deshaun Watson and the newly-signed Tyrann Mathieu met at NRG Stadium for the first time this week.
Before he became 'Honey Badger' or an NFL All-Pro safety, Mathieu was just a football player that Watson enjoyed watching. The Texans starting quarterback was just a freshman at Gainesville High School when Mathieu embarked on his collegiate football career at Louisiana State University.
"He's been a guy that I've been looking up to since high school so it was awesome to get him on the squad," Watson said in an interview with NFL Network.
Mathieu arrived in Houston over the weekend after he signed with the team on Friday. He spent Sunday and Monday at NRG Stadium meeting the coaching staff, answering questions in his introductory press conference and getting to know his new surroundings after five seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.
"When I heard that he was leaving Arizona and we were one of the top teams on his list, of course I sent him a message saying, 'We'd love to have you in H-town. You can help us out,'" Watson said.
The respect is mutual.
Mathieu's decision to come to Houston was based on not only the Pro Bowl roster on defense, but also the high-scoring, record-shattering offense when Watson was on the field last year.
"It was an exciting football team to watch, especially when Deshaun (Watson) was healthy," Mathieu said. "I think having him, I think it gives a lot of us confidence. I think any time you play on a team with a quarterback with his kind of capabilities, it always gives your team an advantage and like I just mentioned, the guys on defense, I think those guys are dominant as well. So, it was a great group for me."
Watson set NFL records for the most passing touchdowns (19) through a player's first seven career games in NFL history and most passing touchdowns (18) by a rookie over any five-game span in NFL history. In seven games with six starts, Watson completed 126-of-204 passes for 1,699 yards and 19 touchdowns while rushing for 269 yards on 36 attempts and two touchdowns. Mathieu played an NFL-high 1,263 snaps last season through 16 games with 16 starts in 2017. In his fifth NFL season with the Cardinals, Mathieu recorded 74 tackles, four quarterback hits, six tackles for loss, 1.0 sacks, two interceptions, seven passes defensed and one forced fumble.