The smallest Texan on the 53-man roster just might have more energy than any of his 52 taller and heavier teammates
At 5-9, 179 pounds, cornerback Charles James is the shortest and lightest Houston Texan. But James was a dynamo on defense and special teams in the Monday night win at Cincinnati, and has made at least one key play in each of the four games he's appeared since re-signing with the team in late October. After the win over the Bengals, James said his goal remained the same as always.
"Just tried to go out there again, and be a spark plug," James said. "Be a light of energy and make some plays and help the team win."
The word 'energy' is commonly tossed around whenever anyone is asked about the second-year defensive back. And it's not an empty description.
"This is a kid that shows up every day with a great enthusiasm," Bill O'Brien said on Friday. "I mean every day he walks into the building, he's ready to go."
The head coach said when he quizzed James in a team meeting, the cornerback spat out the answers before O'Brien finished asking the questions.
"He just has great enthusiasm and he loves the game, and tries to take advantage of every one of his opportunities," O'Brien said. "He plays through pain, he plays when he's banged up, and it's good that we were able to bring him back."
An undrafted free agent out of Charleston Southern in 2013, James played extensively in nickel situations against the Bengals, and wound up getting in on 47 defensive plays that night. He finished with a career-high six stops, and one of his biggest was a second quarter tackle for loss, when he dropped running back Jeremy Hill three yards behind the line of scrimmage.
"I read run from the get-go," James said of the play. "Went in. Jeremy Hill is a big powerful back. Tried to get him low. Tried to get him down around the legs."
After an August in which he became one of the stars on HBO's 'Hard Knocks', James was the final cut when the Texans trimmed their roster from 75 to 53 in early September. He signed on with Baltimore, but was let go by the Ravens in mid-October. He returned to the Texans shortly thereafter, to the delight of fans, his teammates and coaches.
"We're glad to have him back because he brings a certain amount of energy and attitude to his play," defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel said. "He does have quickness and some speed. He can recognize routes and play receivers, so he's been a good addition for us."
James added a special teams tackle as well on Monday night, and has consistently been around the ball on punt coverage. The Bengals averaged just 8.6 yards per return against the Texans, and James was part of a crew that shined in Cincinnati.
He and the Texans host the Jets on Sunday at NRG Stadium. Kickoff is at noon CT.
The Houston Texans roster in photos. (Updated 4/12/2021)