Surfing through Pinterest, M.J. Stewart looks for inspiration on a kitchen remodel. With the help of his dad, an electrician and all-around handyman, the Houston Texans DB and special teams standout likes to flip houses in the offseason. So far, he has flipped homes in Montana and Florida with an eye on Houston next. Stewart says he has found his niche.
"I'm a modern type guy," Stewart says. "I'm kind of into the white granite countertops with like the black cabinets and gold trim."
Now in his fifth NFL season and first with the Texans, Stewart has also seemed to have found a niche as a special teams playmaker for Houston.
"I have a picture that I took on my phone, M.J. in the virtual walk-thru room just working extra on his own," Special Teams Coordinator Frank Ross said. "Taking that special teams badge of honor."
Stewart often heads to the virtual walk-thru room, a meeting room with floor-to-ceiling LED video screen to see life-size replays on film. He will sometimes text Ross to go through film with him or send extra clips in the evening. Stewart says he wants to be inside Ross' head, making the correct call on when he's on the field.
"If he wants a scheme and I don't quite get it or I think I need some extra brushing up on, I'm going to make sure I get it so that we are on the same page," Stewart said. "Because I told him when I got here, 'We're going to always be on the same page, you feel me? So, whatever you need, I got you.'"
Stewart's hard work has already paid off with two of the biggest special teams plays in as many weeks. Against Chicago, the Texans ran a fake punt on fourth-and-1 in the third quarter. Stewart took the snap and scrambled for three yards and a first down.
One week later, he punched the ball out of DeAndre Carter's hands during a Chargers kickoff return. Stewart was just making a play, not even realizing that teammate Jaylen Reeves-Maybin was able to recover it at the Los Angeles 16-yard line, a monumental change of possession.
"It was just one of those moments where I just made a big hit, the ball came out," Stewart said. "I really didn't know it was out though but like I said, football gods. They work in mysterious ways."
Stewart admits he's never been part of special teams unit like this one. Selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Stewart spent two seasons with the Buccaneers before being released and picked up Cleveland for his 2020 and 2021 campaigns.
"Running the personal protector position, that guy is your quarterback," Ross said. "He has done an outstanding job of the work. What's so fascinating about a guy who's already established himself as a pro, he's had a reset. He comes back, 'hey, what do I've got to do this week to improve or prep for the Chargers in this case.' Fired up with the way he has executed and played. He's been an impact force on the field with production standard, from a production standpoint."
Stewart currently leads the Texans with seven special teams tackles through the first four games of the season.