For the first time in his 10 NFL seasons, Jimmie Ward will be suiting up for a new team, the Houston Texans. In his first press conference with local media, he jokes about getting used to the Houston heat and Texas hospitality, but the move isn't all unfamiliar to the veteran DB. Ward had several reasons why he wanted to sign with the Texans in free agency with Head Coach DeMeco Ryans topping the list.
"First of all, Meco (Ryans), CU (Cory Undlin), and I like Nick (Caserio), our general manager and of course, it's the South and I got to play safety," Ward said. "I get to compete for safety starting spot so that's the main reason why I came."
A first-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, Ward played nine seasons for the San Francisco 49ers where Ryans began his coaching career and led the NFL's top defense last year. Undlin, who serves as the Texans defensive passing game coordinator under DC Matt Burke, spent the last two seasons in the same role for the 49ers in addition to serving as the secondary coach. Undlin and Ward had conversations about him playing for his position coach should either leave, but then the two parted ways.
"There were some other coaches and teams that wanted me to play safety too, but I felt like I had a better relationship with Meco and had a better relationship with Cory Undlin," Ward said.
In Houston, Ward is excited to continue to play in Ryans defensive scheme with second-year safety Jalen Pitre. The Texans are currently in Phase 2 of their offseason program.
"I'm loving it," Ward said. "I didn't know how amazing Houston was, just the culture, the food, just being in this organization."
Ward has appeared in 106 career games (79 starts), recording 433 tackles (324 solo), 11 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, five quarterback hits, seven interceptions with two returned for touchdowns, 44 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.