As Martinas Rankin walked off the grass field at the Los Angeles Coliseum, he clutched a signed jersey.
The Texans offensive lineman had just played against an old high school teammate, Rams rookie wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge in his first NFL game.
"We're the first guys to make it as a player in an NFL game since the 80s so it was just a proud moment," Rankin said.
For Rankin, it was a proud moment for multitude of reasons. Earlier in the week, he passed his physical and was moved from the PUP list to the active roster. The Texans third-round pick out of Mississippi State had not practiced since suffering an injury in rookie minicamp.
"It's tough," quarterback Brandon Weeden said. "He hadn't played in a while and coming off an injury, that's a tough deal. You know, he hadn't taken a whole lot of snaps when I had been in there so after practice the other day, we ended up working on some things. Snap count and those types of things."
Weeden and Rankin worked together to get their timing down and to help the rookie adjust to the quarterback's timing and inflection.
Rankin had exactly five days to get ready to play left tackle in a preseason game.
"I just tried to soak it all in and enjoy the process, enjoy the moment. Go out there and have fun," Rankin said.
When he did enter on the Texans second series against the Rams, Rankin could not have asked for a better first NFL play, blocking for Alfred Blue's three-yard touchdown run.
"Without watching the tape I feel like he played really well," Weeden said. "He's a big guy, he's athletic, he's a prototypical build so yeah, I'm excited. He's a versatile player."
Thank you to our Traveling Texans that represented the team in the city of Los Angeles.