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Jonathan Owens looks back at NFL journey: "I just started crying" | Daily Brew

Jonathan Owens' life is full of some crazy stories.

"So this a crazy story of how I found out my ACL was torn in high school because I didn't know for like six months that it was torn," he begins. "I didn't know. I did long jump in high school, and I actually won the meet and afterwards my knee kind of swelled up."

A senior at Christian Brothers College High School in St. Louis, Owens had competed in the first meet of the track season that spring with graduation just two months away in May.

"I'm like, 'Mom, I think I need to go get it checked,'" Owens said. "I had already committed to my college at the time and we go and the doctor is like, 'Yeah you have a completely torn ACL.' I jump off my left leg so I'm like, 'How is that even possible?'"

After that, Owens immediately ended his track career and turned his focus exclusively to football. Five years later, Owens tears the ACL in his other knee.

"It was crazy," Owens said. "Didn't have one injury all of college and then first three weeks in the NFL, I tear my ACL. At that point, I don't know how it works. I get all the way here and I tear my ACL and then a guy from the front office, he comes down and tells me they are going to put me on injured reserve."

Fresh out of Missouri Western State, he had just begun his NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals in OTAs. He rehabbed, worked out and got healthy for training camp, only to be cut ten months later.

For three weeks, Owens didn't know what he would do if football didn't work out for him. He'd spend his days calling former teammates and trying to work out. Neither made him feel much better.

"I would be sitting out at the field with my little speaker, water bottle and sitting on a bench because I couldn't find it to go out there and work out," Owens said. "Just having guys talking to me and telling me, 'You're good, bro. Something's going to happen. It's a long season.' People will tell you that but, in my mind, when you'd only played football since I was 12, I don't really know what I am outside of it."

Owens says he passed the time at his house, playing with his dog until his agent finally called with some much-needed good news. Houston wanted to bring Owens in for a tryout. Owens was determined to make it a one-way trip.

"I told him, 'Man, that's it for me,'" Owens said. "I'm not being cut anymore. I can't do it. I got there, there were like five other safeties. I just left it all out there."

Sept. 29, 2019.

Jonathan Owens remembers the day the Houston Texans gave him the news that they were signing him to the practice squad.

"I just started crying," Owens said. "That was all I - In my mind, I just wanted to be on practice squad. I just don't want to be at the house. That happened and changed my life."

Owens packed up his dog and all of his belongings for Houston, not believing his good fortune. During that 2019 season, Owens remained on the practice squad, facing former Texans wide receivers like DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller V.

"I was just getting better every day and that was just my mindset," Owens said.

As an undrafted player, Owens knew that his path to football would have to go through special teams first. Coming from a Division 2 program, Owens had impressed scouts when he posted a 43-inch vertical, the best in his draft class and ran a blazing 4.3 40-yard dash. Confident in his physical traits, Owens knew he could not only contribute on special teams, but excel and that would eventually lead the way for his time on defense.

"Even when I was on practice squad, I always consider myself the best in my eyes," Owens said. "Earlier in my career, I was just playing special teams. Even when I was on special teams, I would always tell myself I know I can make those plays and I'd visualize myself and I'd just watch guys for four years."

Now in his fourth season with the Texans, Owens is that guy making plays on defense, starting next to second-round draft pick Jalen Pitre. The longest-tenured Texans defensive back on the roster, Owens is currently tied for the NFL leader in tackles (36) through the first three games of the season, while also setting a new franchise record for most total tackles through the first three games of the season.

"I think it's good to have success stories like that," Head Coach Lovie Smith said. "Guys come into the league in a lot of different positions and a lot of different places. Some get drafted high, like Derek Stingley or Jalen Pitre, but some have to follow a different path and both can end up in the same spot and that's the case with Jonathan."

"It just shows that I'm doing my job and it definitely makes me feel good," Owens said. "I have had a lot of tackle opportunities so it just shows that I'm not missing many so just doing my job, man. It just feels good because of where I came from. This is my first full, official season starting and everything so it's just amazing but still more work to be done. It's only Week 3."

Last year, Owens finished with 16 tackles, one interception, one pass defensed and one fumble recovery in his first two starts in seven appearances.

When he isn't playing football, Owens is currently wedding planning with fiancé and Olympic gold medal gymnast Simone Biles. But that's a crazy story for another day.

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