Robert Nelson changed his jersey number to 21 this year, inspired by his favorite NFL player Deion Sanders.
The undrafted cornerback out of Arizona State was No. 32 last year, while another undrafted teammate, A.J. Bouye, wore the No. 21 jersey and finished with a standout season. Nelson now hopes he can do the same, channel his inner Sanders and make a Texans squad that finished first in the NFL last year.
"I haven't made the team yet, so I'm just focused on being the best and helping the team and making this team," Nelson said Tuesday. "I'm an undrafted guy so there's nothing guaranteed for me. I just got to go out here and give it everything I got every day."
Nelson became a regular contributor on special teams and defense, after spending the first five weeks of the 2016 season on the practice squad. He saw his first NFL action since his 2014 season with Cleveland, when Kareem Jackson and Kevin Johnson suffered injuries last October. Nelson made a splashy 2016 debut, picking off Andrew Luck in Week 6.
"I think it gave the team confidence in me," Nelson said of his first career interception. "Since I started playing this game I've had confidence in myself but it's just about having everybody else comfortable with you knowing the scheme (and) competing at this level. So, that's the most important thing."
This offseason, Nelson is fine-tuning his technique by competing against another Pro Bowler every day, DeAndre Hopkins.
"What else could you ask for? He's one of the best receivers in the league, so he's making me better and I'm learning from him," Nelson said. "He talks to me while we're going through it after the play. If we get a little too physical, he tells me certain things to watch out for. So, he's teaching me and we're both getting better at the same time."
Nelson played in every regular season and postseason game following win over Indianapolis. The third-year cornerback, who first signed with the Texans practice squad in Week 17 of the 2015 season, hopes to build on what he started in 2016.
"Every day he's coming out, competing and getting better and just taking the coaching from us, me and (secondary) Coach (John) Butler, and also just listening to Johnathan (Joseph) and Kareem (Jackson) on some things that could help better him," assistant secondary coach Anthony Midget said. "He's also just been a guy that's put in the extra time and extra work and it's been showing up in OTAs."
Nelson finished the 2016 season tied for the team lead with 11 special teams tackles in just 11 games played.
Check out some of the best shots from the third week of Texans OTAs.