The Texans special teamers are doing more than just practicing during OTAs this offseason.
Under special teams coordinator Brad Seely and assistant special teams coach Tracy Smith, they're bringing an attitude.
“We’re trying to establish a culture,” Seely said. “It’s about effort. That’s the No. 1 thing. We’re always looking for a great effort and I think that’s what we’re doing in these practices. Guys get a little tired and we got to keep pushing them and they understand it’s important for them to give all they got.”
Seely has served as an NFL special teams coordinator in every season since 1989 and has 40 years of overall coaching experience. Last year, the Texans special teams made big strides in a number of categories. In Seely’s first season with the team, Houston led the NFL in opponent starting field position with an average of the 25.5-yard line and ranked second in the NFL in starting field position (31.3).
"I think we improved in a lot of areas, just because I think we had a little bit of turnover in personnel and the head coach (Bill O'Brien) was outstanding about stressing the importance of being good on special teams,” Seely said. “I think our guys really had an attitude that they thought they were a really vital part of the football team, and I think that's huge when you out there to play and they think they can help us have some success."
The Texans had a number of new faces playing big roles on special teams. Rookie punter Trevor Daniel finished fourth in the NFL with 36 punts pinned inside the 20-yard line. Return specialist DeAndre Carter, claimed off waivers prior to Week 10, averaged 10.6 yards per punt return and 24.7 yards per kickoff return in the final seven games of the regular season.
Rookie Buddy Howell arrived in Houston just days before the 2018 regular season opener. He made his NFL debut in Week 2 and also solidified his role on the team as a special teams player. While he did not record a carry as a running back, Howell saw action in 15 games and finished with nine special teams tackles, one forced fumble in Week 6 against Buffalo and one fumble recovery in 13 against Cleveland.
“As a running back, you would love to get a carry but when you know your role and play your role, it’s a good feeling to go out there and compete because some people could get frustrated trying to beg for carries when don’t get carries,” Howell said. “I don’t really set myself up for that mindset. I just know they want me here for special teams, to make an impact on special teams. So, that’s my thing. If it get a carry, that’s a bonus for me.”
Howell’s attitude, much like the rest of the Texans special teams contributors, is exactly the culture that Seely and O’Brien want. Heading into 2018, the Texans put an emphasis on special teams, wanting to make major improvements from the top down to each player’s perception of playing on special teams.
“It’s great for me because he (Howell) understands why he’s on our team,” Seely said. “I think that’s a really big part of it is that all those guys that have roles have to understand what their role is and how they can help our team and how they can continue to be on our team and so Buddy’s one of those guys that took to it immediately. He understood what his role was and I thought as a rookie he did a really nice job for us."
Check out some of the best shots from Week 3 of Texans OTAs.