Xavier Su'a-Filo is a lot further along than he was 365 days ago.
As a rookie in 2014, the second-rounder out of UCLA missed OTAs because of his alma mater's quarter system. While his rookie teammates were practicing with veterans for the first time, Su'a-Filo was back home trying his best to stay in shape and prepare for the rigors of an NFL campaign.
"It feels like night and day to be honest with you," the offensive lineman said on Wednesday. "Learning the offense again, reviewing a lot of things, I just feel comfortable out there. There's a little bit of time, always things I can work on to get better, but I just feel a lot more confident out there."
Su'a-Filo played in various spots on the line during preseason games last August, and wound up seeing
action in 13 regular season games at left guard. With the departure of Chris Myers, there's a strong chance Su'a-Filo will start at left guard and Ben Jones will move over to the starting center position. So far, Jones has been impressed with what he's seen from Su'a-Filo.
"X is a good player," Jones said. "He works really hard, he has a bright future and he's going to keep on grinding and I look forward to seeing how he progresses."
Left tackle Duane Brown, who played a few dozen snaps next to Su'a-Filo last season, agreed with Jones.
"Xavier is looking to make a big jump in his second year," Brown said. "He's learned a lot on the go. He's got the offense down pretty good this year."
Being sandwiched between Brown and Jones has been a learning experience for the former Bruin.
"Ben's taught me a lot about the offense, he's real smart as well," Su'a-Filo said. "Obviously he's a center so he's taught me what he sees and what to expect. Biggest thing with Duane is he's giving me advice on how to be a good pro, and how to have a routine every single day and follow it, take care of your body and stuff like that."
Much was obviously thought of Su'a-Filo for the Texans to select him as the first pick of the second round in 2014. If he takes steps to fulfill the promise seen in him, the Texans offense will be that much stronger.
The Houston Texans roster in photos. (Updated 4/16/2021)