Growing up in Quebec, Antony Auclair spoke French fluently, but instead of watching hockey, he was watching CFL and NFL football.
He jokes that while his friends were looking for ice to play on, Auclair was in search of friends to play a game of football in the snow.
"You know, that's crazy because I'm Canadian, right?" Auclair said. "I don't even know how to skate, to be honest. I know it's weird."
Auclair committed himself to football, attending Laval University in Quebec City. In 2016, he was playing in the Vanier Cup, the Canadian university national championship game.
That was five years ago, and the last time Auclair scored a touchdown.
On Sunday against the New England Patriots, Auclair scored his first NFL touchdown on his only reception of the game.
"I was supposed to run a corner, and on my way to the corner, I was supposed to pick the guy that was covering Pharaoh (Brown)," Auclair said. "Really, that play was designed to throw to Pharaoh in the flat. I just saw nobody was covering me, so I was just staring, and I hoped that Davis (Mills) saw the same thing, and he did. So, we scored on that play."
Now in his fifth NFL season, Auclair was originally drafted by the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the fourth round (30th overall) of the 2017 CFL Draft. Instead, he signed with Tampa Bay as a college free agent and played four seasons with the Buccaneers. In 2020, he got to work alongside Rob Gronkowski when the four-time All-Pro tight end came out of retirement to be reunited with Tom Brady.
"I was with Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) more as a tight end," Auclair said. "I think that the preparation mentally, physically and doing all the little details outside of football to prepare himself for games and stuff, I think is off the charts for sure. I was trying to do that. During this offseason, I applied some of these things to my game, and I think that's showing right now."
Auclair saw action in eight games with two starts, primarily as a blocking tight end and on special teams, but suffered a calf injury that caused him to miss six games while on Injured Reserve. Auclair set out to put Gronkowski's advice to work and attack the offseason.
"I was out half of the year, and then I never came back 100 percent," Auclair said. "I think that was part of it, in my preparation and all that. So, I learned from these guys, and I try to apply that for myself."
This year, Auclair began the season on the Texans practice squad but has since started four of the last five games. Following the Cleveland Browns game, Houston signed Auclair to the active roster for good. Despite being used for his blocking skills, Auclair has a good understanding of what it takes to run routes as a receiver.
"I was a quarterback," Auclair said. "I always understood the game, the reads and stuff, why we do a certain concept, what are we trying to get there. I think that's a huge part of my game because I think I'm a pretty smart player because I played quarterback. In a concept, I try to know routes and why we're doing that."
Next weekend, the Texans travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Texans will host the Los Angeles Rams in Week 8 and kickoff is set for noon CT. Click here for tickets.