Without hesitation, and as no surprise, Deion Sanders said "The ball's meant for me."
Following the morning practice, the Pro Football Hall of Famer fired that sentence off as an answer to undrafted rookie A.J. Bouye's question about how to play a deep ball. Sanders, at the Houston Methodist Training Center with an NFL Network crew, was surrounded by the Houston secondary and some other assorted young players. They asked a few questions, and the man nicknamed 'Prime Time' spit back more wisdom. Perhaps the greatest cornerback in NFL history, Sanders peppered the group with advice on all manner of subjects.
Sandwiched in between interviews with safety Ed Reed and wide receiver Andre Johnson, Sanders bent the collective ears of Houston's defensive backs.
He used Reed as an example when showing proper hand placement in coverage. He preached the virtues of being aggressive and ball-hawking as a defender. He implored them to study tape in their free time at home. He exhorted them to "drain" Reed of all his knowledge. He stopped in the middle of all of it when he saw safety Shiloh Keo to his right, and hugged him with an enthusiastic "That's my dog!"
And a few moments later, his impromptu lesson was complete. Head coach Gary Kubiak, who was the San Francisco quarterbacks coach the year Sanders and the 49ers won Super Bowl XXIX, was happy to have him on hand.
"I was with Deion in San Francisco," Kubiak said. "So I know him. I think it's good for all those young kids to sit there and listen to him talk. Talk about working. The importance of making plays. It's good for them."
Sanders also won a Super Bowl ring the next year with the Dallas Cowboys, and finished his career with 53 interceptions and 22 touchdowns scored on defense. Merely having him on the sidelines this morning put an extra pep in the step of the Texans' defenders.