Johnathan Joseph is back.
The ninth-year cornerback is returning to form in training camp after missing OTAs in May and June, and his new head coach is in no mood to rush things.
"Johnathan Joseph has had a ton of success in this league," Bill O'Brien said recently. "We just want to make sure that he is ready to go when he feels like he is ready to go and the doctors and the trainers feel like he is ready to go."
If you watch practice, it's hard to tell that Joseph was even injured. He's taking part in drills, has picked off a pass or two, and is pointed to by defensive backs coach John Butler as a model for how to do things the right way. But Joseph doesn't plan on just coasting into the regular season, and explained what how he's trying to improve on an individual basis.
"We have a new defense," Joseph said. "I'm trying to understand my job fully, overall. Get a great grasp of the defense. Just working on the small things within myself."
Second year safety, and fellow former South Carolina Gamecock D.J. Swearinger has extreme confidence in the defensive leader.
"It's the same J-Joe," Swearinger said. "You know: fast, smart, plays his leverage all of the time."
When Joseph arrived as a free agent in 2011, he helped bring credibility to the defense. Instantly, he was a leader on that unit along with linebackers DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing. Three years later, he's still a leader, but in a different way.
"I'm not really a vocal guy," Joseph said. "But I have stepped up in that category of being a lot more vocal. Staying on guys. Pushing guys. Challenging guys, as well, when needed. I'm embracing that role a lot."
With a new defense installed by coordinator Romeo Crennel, and the addition of a playmaking pass rusher like another fellow Gamecock in Jadeveon Clowney, Joseph is confident about an improvement.
"I think it'll bring more to the table from the standpoint of turnovers, sacks, whatever you're looking for from a defensive standpoint," Joseph said. "We're just trying to get everyone on the same page so we can utilize all our bullets when the games get going for real."
Joseph and the Texans continue with two-a-days on Saturday at the Houston Methodist Training Center.