Johnathan Joseph wakes up at 5 a.m. to play basketball. When there’s an audible gasp among the media asking questions, he laughs.
Now in his 14th NFL season, Joseph still loves the thrill of winning. Whether it’s deflecting a pass in OTA practice that forced the offense to take pushups or winning a recreational basketball game, Joseph is motivated by his love of competition.
“I like to compete,” Joseph said. “Whether it’s in practice or game situations, that's what gets me going each and every time I'm out there. I never want to lose a rep, always looking to beat the guy across from me. At the end of the day, just being around the guys in this locker room, being around the game of football itself."
Joseph, now without Kareem Jackson for the first time as a Texan, is working on developing chemistry and leading a defensive backs group that added a number of new playmakers this offseason. Joseph will be joined veteran safeties Tashaun Gipson, Jahleel Addae and cornerbacks Bradley Roby and Briean Boddy-Calhoun. Houston also invested draft picks in the revamped secondary, selecting Kentucky product Lonnie Johnson and Central Michigan’s Xavier Crawford.
"I think we made some, obviously, additions in free agency,” Joseph said. “Then we had a couple of guys get drafted, added some pieces. I think my role overall is just being a leader, leading by example, helping guys out, wherever they may fit. Whether it’s with the defense, just learning the city, just being comfortable with the guys on the team. And obviously, just taking it to the practice field and then eventually training camp and into the regular season games."
So where does a veteran cornerback like Joseph look to for leadership and inspiration? Joseph finds it everywhere from the basketball court to his younger teammates to fellow Rock Hill, South Carolina native Benjamin Watson, tight end for the New England Patriots.
“I just continue to look at the younger guys and just across the league,” Joseph said. “You always have to be willing to learn and take different things in. Different schemes, different techniques they come across. I think for me, the main thing is just to continue to be healthy. When I'm healthy, I think I can always go out there and play at a high level and help this team win ball games. My guy I went to high school with, Benjamin Watson, I think this is year 16 for him. I always looked up to him and I'm chasing him."
Joseph has started 175 games over his career, missing just nine games in his eight seasons with the Texans. He is currently the Texans all-time leader with 105 passes defensed and is tied with Jackson for the most career interceptions (16) in franchise history.
Check out some of the best shots from the second week of Texans OTAs.