Ryan Fitzpatrick, wearing a vintage-looking t-shirt with the slogan "Original Bazooka Bubble Gum," smiled as he moved around with the help of a pair of crutches. Like his teammates, Fitzpatrick was clearing out his locker on Monday just two weeks after undergoing season-ending surgery for a broken tibia.
"Not pleasant," Fitzpatrick said of the experience. "I haven't really dealt with any major injuries before, so having the surgery and my wife having to take care of four kids and me and being pregnant. I felt bad the last few weeks, but I'm starting to become a little more independent in what I can do and I'm moving around a little better."
It would be the biggest injury the ten-year veteran quarterback has ever faced over the course of 97 games played with five different NFL teams.
After spending a few days in the hospital, Fitzpatrick was released but limited in mobility. Now, he can put more weight on his leg but he'll have to wait until the broken bone heals up completely before he can resume all normal football activity again.
"I'm trying to strengthen my leg and keep the quad, hamstring, calf muscles from going away," Fitzpatrick said. "It's going to be another month or so before that bone is heals up. Then the process will start of getting that leg to fire and become normal again."
With the offseason now underway for Houston, head coach Bill O'Brien will begin his evaluation process for all positions, quarterback included. Fitzpatrick hopes his future includes more time as a Texan after spending the past three seasons with three different teams. He and his wife, Liza, are expecting Baby No. 5 in April and have settled into Houston since he was signed on March 20.
"I'd love to be here," Fitzpatrick said. "Aside from all the football stuff, just the city of Houston and my family settling in a little bit and really enjoying our neighbors, our community, and the people that we've met. We think it's a great place to live and raise a family."
Fitzpatrick was coming off back-to-back wins, which included a six-touchdown performance in against Tennessee that earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors until he broke his leg early in Week 15 against Indianapolis. He threw for 2,483 yards, 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions through 12 games in 2014. Fitzpatrick also rushed for 184 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 50 carries.