DeAndre Hopkins drove by NRG Stadium last week, as preparations for Houston's Super Bowl were underway.
It was bittersweet.
"I was like, dang, I'm supposed to be playing in that stadium," Hopkins said.
NRG Stadium underwent a massive transformation to prepare for Super Bowl 51 in the weeks leading up to the championship game. Larger than life pictures of Tom Brady and Matt Ryan covered the windows, while Patriots and Falcons logos were stamped on the endzones inside.
For many Texans players, seeing the stadium hosting two other teams in the championship was unsettling. However, it also served as added motivation to work even harder.
"I was talking to a couple of our players who were in the training room rehabbing this past week," head coach Bill O'Brien said on Texans Radio. "They had to come in with the big posters of Brady and Ryan and they were like, man I never even imagined how difficult this would be to come into our building. It's really not our building this week. You feel like a stranger in your own building and I said to them, well that's one little bit of motivation maybe to get us over the top."
After defeating the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Wild Card game, Houston's playoff hopes were cut short at New England in the Divisional Round. The Texans had more ball left in them to play, according to Whitney Mercilus, who adds that the Texans have a lot to look forward to in 2017.
"Honestly, there's more room to grow and outdo myself, outwork other people, be better at my position," Mercilus said last week. "That goes from everybody across the board. From defense to offense to special teams so we understand what we have here and what we did last year and the sky's the limit on having returning pieces like J.J. (Watt) and everybody being healthy. We can do some pretty special things. We just got to go out there and do it every Sunday."