Before he ever met Tyrann Mathieu, head coach Bill O'Brien got a ringing endorsement of the safety from someone he admires: Bruce Arians.
Arians coached the Arizona Cardinals from 2013 through 2017. He had strong words for O'Brien when describing Mathieu.
"He said to me, 'I'll stand on that table 10 times for Tyrann Mathieu,'" O'Brien said. "So, that meant a lot to me and after meeting him, I can see why."
O'Brien relayed that story on Tuesday morning to media covering the NFL Annual League Meetings.
Mathieu, nicknamed 'The Honey Badger', has been a Houston Texan for eight days. But it was what he discussed with O'Brien in their brief time together on March 19 that impressed the head coach.
"All he wanted to do was talk about football," O'Brien said. "How he was used in Arizona, how he sees our defense. I was just very impressed with him, having not really known him, I've just seen him on film, but getting to know him and then when he came here, sitting down, having some meetings with him, this guy's going to be a real good guy in our locker room."
Passion aside, O'Brien likes how Mathieu "makes plays on the football" and is a "ball-hawk". In his first five NFL seasons, he's tallied 11 career interceptions, four forced fumbles, four sacks and nearly 300 tackles. Couple those numbers with his ability to play every spot in the secondary, and O'Brien's sold on Mathieu.
"He talked to us a little bit about how he was trained in Arizona, how early he would come in during the week to meet with his position coach (and) coordinator, go over the game plan because he was used in so many different spots," O'Brien said. "You can tell that from how he speaks about football and how he recognizes personnel and formations and how much he studies film. So, I think that's going to be something that really helps us."
Mathieu started 16 games last season, and was a First-Team All-Pro at safety in 2015. He and the Texans will begin offseason conditioning at NRG Stadium on Monday, April 16.