Ryan Mallett: Always around

Ryan Mallett was always around the building.

From the time he got here, via trade with New England, in late August.

During the three week span in which he was named the starter, played in two games, and was shelved due to a pectoral injury.

But most interestingly, he was a constant presence in NRG Stadium and on the practice fields after the surgery. A free-agent-to-be, Mallett would walk across Kirby, arm in a sling with a big green towel over his right shoulder, and encourage teammates he'd known for less than three months.

In years past, other Texans have been injured in the second half of the season, and they were never seen or heard from until they signed with a new squad the following spring.

Not Mallett.

He was on the sidelines for the final five games of the year, as the Texans went 4-1 and nearly got into the playoffs. In January and February, he'd duck in and out of the cafeteria. Whether finishing a workout or on his way to the training room, he was already around.

Mallett even showed up with Bill O'Brien and his teammates at Texas Children's Hospital less than two weeks ago, decked out in Texans gear and a smile, to play with young patients and spread a little cheer.

The reason was simple.

"Regardless if I'm playing (or not). I go to practice with those guys, meetings with those guys every day. Even after I got hurt. So to me, I just wanted to be a part of it."

The camaraderie was key, but Mallett also said he was able to keep "the mental part of my game sharp" by taking part in the quarterback and team meetings.

"We had a chance at the very end of the season to make the playoffs. I just try to help as much as I can. To be around. I didn't want to be sulking around because I'm hurt and I can't play. There's nothing fun about that," Mallett said.

What is fun is that Mallett will be back in Houston next season, with a chance to build on the promising flashes he showed in a win over Cleveland. His time around the Texans before and after the injury spoke volumes about his dedication to the game, and his team, according to his head coach.

"There's no doubt about his love for the game of football," O'Brien said in late February at the

Combine. "Now he's gotta be able to go out there, rehab the injury and come back and have a consistent offseason."

Mallett signed on Tuesday, got a workout and treatment in, and planned to celebrate in low-key fashion by taking in a Tim McGraw concert at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. But hard work would be the gameplan from this day forward.

"Just continue to work and get better and try to improve," Mallett said.

There's a long way to go until Week 1 of the 2015 regular season. But one major component of the team is locked up and ready to go in Mallett.

And from now, through early September, and beyond...he'll be around.

Quarterback Ryan Mallett's 2014 with the Texans, in photos.

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