Kourtnei Brown almost ran out of gas before he scored on the Texans lone touchdown Saturday night.
The outside linebacker, a first-year player who technically has been in the league longer than one year, had just picked off Brock Osweiler in the third quarter of the Texans second preseason game against Denver.
"The play called for me to drop into coverage and I started as if I was going to rush and got back and the ball was right there," Brown said. "He threw it low enough for me to reach in and grab it. I noticed on my right the DB (defensive back) had the receiver. If he could just hold him for a minute, I could get situated. It would help out."
Brown got a burst from that defensive back and a block on his right, courtesy of cornerback Darryl Morris. As he was running though, he started to get tired.
"I saw all the lineman coming and I was like, 'Oh my God, I'm never going to make it. This is going to be embarrassing,'" Brown said, laughing.
Brown wasn't embarassed. He ran 69 yards for a touchdown that gave the Texans their only lead against the Broncos. It was big moment not only in the game, but in the career of a player fighting for job.
"He's done a good job," head coach Bill O'Brien said after the game. "He's made a lot of improvement in his game. He's in a very competitive position, but he's certainly made a lot of plays."
Learning a new system wasn't easy, but the 27-year old freely asked questions of his teammates, everyone from Vince Wilfork and J.J. Watt to his fellow linebackers Mike Mohamed and Whitney Mercilus.
As for scoring touchdowns, Brown had experience in that from his college days. During his final season at Clemson against North Carolina, Brown scored not one, but two touchdowns. He had a 20-yard interception return for a touchdown, a 26-yard fumble return for a touchdown, and a pass breakup that led to another interception for the Tigers defense during their 2011 season.
The 49ers signed Brown in May 2012 but released him a few months later. Brown then went on to have brief stints with Washington, Buffalo, Detroit, and St. Louis, before the Texans signed him to their practice squad in December 2014.
In the Texans preseason opener, Brown posted a game-high 2.0 sacks against the 49ers.
"It's a blessing, man," Brown said. "You never know when your time is up and you got to make the most of your opportunity whenever you get a chance. You know, I just thank God for the Texans giving me that ability to perform or play."
The Texans travel to New Orleans to face the Saints on Sunday, August 30 in a nationally televised matchup on FOX at 3 p.m. CT.