One year ago, D.J. Reader was training for the most extensive job interview he would ever have.
The 2016 NFL Scouting Combine.
Now entering his second season with the Texans, the 22-year-old nose tackle is happy to have those days behind him.
"It's crazy," Reader said last month. "I'm not out there running 40s now. I don't have to worry about doing that or worry about any coaches coming up to me and just pressuring me. It's going to be fun. It's going to be fun to be able to just get to straight football, get on your body and work on yourself better."
Reader, drafted in the fifth round (166th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft, spent his rookie season learning from All-Pro Vince Wilfork. Reader saw action in all 16 games last year and started both playoff contests.
While Wilfork hasn't officially announced his retirement, he did say he may have possibly played his last game after the Texans Divisional Playoff loss at New England. If Wilfork does hang up his cleats for good, Reader has absorbed as much as possible in his short time with the veteran nose tackle.
"The best in the league for 13 years," Reader said. "You watch that every day in practice, every day at work, every day in meetings, it become second nature and you get to pick up on little things that he does and things that he tells me. Still having him around – he lives out here, so still having him around will be good for me."
With his rookie year in the books, Reader has some advice of his own for prospects who will begin the NFL draft process this week.
"Just try to stay off that wall," Reader said. "Then when you do hit that rookie wall, get close to it, get comfortable and just grind through it. Don't let it break you. It's going to be a long year but have fun with it. It's a blessing. It's a great opportunity you're about to have."
Several players on the current Texans roster played in the Senior Bowl in years past.