One week into training camp, Will Anderson, Jr. looks like the same player he was at Alabama. Just ask his college, and current Texans teammate, Christian Harris.
"He's still a dog," the second-year linebacker said of the rookie defensive end.
Harris' words are high praise, not a slight. That duo, along with rookie linebacker Henry To'oTo'o and second-year receiver John Metchie, III overlapped in Tuscaloosa together over the last four years. Following a recent practice, Harris reflected on how similar Anderson looked in Houston as he did in college, when he terrorized opposing offenses beginning his freshman year.
"I'm basically seeing the same thing I saw from college," Harris said. "He's hungry and he's been a sponge too – taking all that advice from the vets and the guys that he can. He's just coming out here working every day, so that's really all you can ask."
Head Coach DeMeco Ryans has liked the mental approach Anderson's taken to improving as a pro. Through the first few months on the job, Ryans explained how Anderson's not let up when it comes to getting better.
"He comes out with a relentless motor," Ryans said. "He plays with a physical mindset every play, and everybody around, they can just look at Will and see how we need to practice. What does it look like if you want to be a great player? You have to work that way, so it all starts with the work ethic, and he's there. That's what we want."
Each day in training camp, and especially during the first two padded practices, which were Monday and Tuesday at the Houston Methodist Training Center, Anderson has routinely been in the offensive backfield disrupting things. The Texans traded up to third overall in April's NFL Draft to select Anderson, and thusfar, the All-American has justified those moves.
"Every rep I just go as hard as I can and just be there for my teammates," Anderson said. "I just give everything I've got for those guys and keep straining."
Veteran Jerry Hughes said he's seen some similarities between Anderson and All-Pro pass rusher Von Miller.
"Just how great he is with his hands," Hughes said. "He is already fast and he's able to kind of setup some of his rushes off of his speed already, so that he's able to kind of understand the game it's going to be tremendous for us."
In this new defense of Ryans' and coordinator Matt Burke's, attacking is a key. Anderson will be a tip of that proverbial spear, according to the head coach.
"We don't want him coming off, reading, playing slow," Ryans said. "The main thing we want him to do is play as fast as possible so he can go make plays for us. We're not going to slow him down."
The only thing halting Anderson on Wednesday is a scheduled day of rest for the entire squad. He and the Texans will return to practice on Thursday at the Houston Methodist Training Center.