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Houston Texans

A pair of former first-round picks worked out for the Cowboys on Tuesday.

Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News reports that cornerbacks Gareon Conley and Deandre Baker tried out for the team. They also worked out linebackers Willie Harvey Jr. — as previously reported — and Noah Dawkins.

Conley played for the D.C. Defenders in the UFL this year and was a Raiders first-round pick in 2017. He spent two full years with the Raiders and then was traded to the Texans during the 2019 season. He went on injured reserve in September 2020 and missed the year, so he has not played an NFL game in four seasons.

Baker was Conley’s teammate this year and he saw action with the Chiefs in 2020 and 2021. He was a Giants first-round pick in 2019, but was waived after being charged with armed robbery in 2020. The charges were eventually dropped.

In his first six seasons as head coach of the Texans, Bill O’Brien led them to the playoffs four times. Then he was named the team’s general manager, made some highly questionable decisions, started his seventh season 0-4, and was fired.

Unsurprisingly, O’Brien regrets ever agreeing to take on the GM responsibilities.

“That was a tough time in Houston,” O’Brien told Adam Breneman. “We were a good team, we made some decisions relative to the organization to try to fill the GM role, we went after some guys, we couldn’t get them, at the end of the day we went a full year really without a GM . . . and then there was a year we just said, ‘We’ll make you the GM.’ In the end, that’s not who I am.”

O’Brien said he quickly learned that his strengths lie in coaching, not negotiating contracts or making trades.

“I didn’t really enjoy being the GM,” O’Brien said. “I didn’t enjoy negotiating contracts. In some respects, I lost relationships with some of the guys that I was coaching because I didn’t enjoy that. In my opinion, there’s very few guys in the history of football that can ever do that -- and they’re the greatest of the greats. I feel like I’m a good coach, I know how to coach, but those things I’m not great at. I can evaluate talent, I know how to evaluate talent, but I shouldn’t be negotiating contracts and things like that. So in the end, that was a mistake by me. I really wish I didn’t do that to be really honest with you.”

O’Brien is now the head coach at Boston College, where he hopes focusing solely on coaching, and not on contract negotiations or trades, brings him success.

Two years after he was drafted, Texans wide receiver John Metchie still hasn’t been able to do much on the field. But his head coach loves the work he has done this offseason.

Texans coach DeMeco Ryans says that Metchie has performed very well this offseason.

“You talk about a guy that’s improved a lot throughout these OTAs and minicamp, Metchie has shown up,” Ryans said, via the Houston Chronicle. “He’s looking more explosive this second time around.”

Metchie missed his entire rookie season because he was diagnosed with cancer two months after the Texans selected him in the second round of the 2022 NFL draft. He returned to the field in 2023 and played in 16 games, catching 16 passes for 158 yards.

Ryans also talked up two of the Texans’ other backup wide receivers, Xavier Hutchinson and Jared Wayne. The three starting receivers in Houston will be Stefon Diggs, Tank Dell and Nico Collins, but Houston looks like it will have a deep wide receiver room, and perhaps some tough decisions to make when it’s time to cut the roster down to 53 players.

Among the reasons for higher expectations in Houston this season are the additions of running back Joe Mixon and wide receiver Stefon Diggs to the offense, but there are also high hopes for what a returning member of the team can do in 2024.

Tight end Brevin Jordan scored a memorable 76-yard touchdown in the team’s playoff win over the Browns in January, but big plays as a receiver haven’t been a constant throughout his time in the NFL. Jordan has 51 catches for 525 yards and five touchdowns over his three years as a pro, so he hasn’t been a focal point in the passing game to this point in his career.

With Diggs, Nico Collins and Tank Dell in the receiving corps, that might not change in 2024 but head coach DeMeco Ryans said that Jordan has done his best to stand out this spring.

“Brevin, I joke with the guys, I show plays from practice, from the previous practice in our team meetings. I say, ‘I have my daily Brevin clip.’' Ryans said, via Aaron Wilson of KPRC. “I show a clip of Brevin every day. He has a highlight of just, Brevin’s playing so fast, so decisive and he’s making some really great catches, tough catches. He’s done a great job for himself over this offseason as well. Man, he’s improved. I see him, he’s confident and he believes that he’s a dude, and he can be for us and he is. And I’m excited to see that confidence that Brevin is displaying throughout.”

It remains to be seen how all the pieces will fit into the offensive puzzle for the Texans this season, but it’s fair to say that having so many of them is a big reason to think they can improve on last season’s success.

The Texans are in a very different position than they were at this point last year.

Few people were projecting them to win the AFC South and win a playoff game as the offseason program wound down in 2023, but that’s exactly what happened thanks in large part to the contributions of a number of rookies. Quarterback C.J. Stroud and edge rusher Will Anderson starred on the field while DeMeco Ryans proved to be the right choice as a first-time head coach on the sideline.

Their presence would make the Texans a favorite for another playoff run on their own, but adding the likes of Stefon Diggs, Joe Mixon, and Danielle Hunter to the roster has pushed the bar even higher heading into the 2024 season. Handling the change in expectations has been a frequent talking point around the team as a result and Anderson’s view is that the team will be able to do it because they expect even more from themselves.

“Of course you’re going to see stuff like that, but I think it’s very important that we keep the main thing the main thing, and the main thing right now is just us being able to control what we can control,” Anderson said, via Jordan Dajani of “And that’s everybody showing up for workouts, everybody making sure that they’re honing in on their playbook and everybody coming to practice, competing and having fun, so when the season comes, we can go out and compete and win games, and we can focus on getting to the ultimate goal, which is the Super Bowl. But for right now this offseason, we just want to keep building that team chemistry and making sure that nobody’s expectations are higher than the expectations that we have for ourselves.”

The Texans pulled off a remarkable turnaround in 2023, but that doesn’t guarantee anything for 2024. Anderson’s answer suggests they know that and that there’s still a hunger for growth that could make for an even more successful run this time around.

Veteran cornerback Steven Nelson announced his retirement Sunday after nine NFL seasons, Aaron Wilson of KPRC reports.

Nelson had interest from the Texans, Raiders, Giants, Rams, Commanders and Dolphins, per Wilson, but decided to spend more time with his wife, Monica, who is pregnant, and his family while pursuing his various business ventures.

He has a large livestock farm outside of Houston and a podcast.

“Retirement, after thinking it over and having some talks with my family, I think it’s time for me to take a step back and spend more time with my family,” Nelson, 31, told Wilson. “I’m extremely proud of what I was able to do in the game of football. . . . Coming from a small town without a lot of resources, having to go to junior college, making it out of there to go to Oregon State, which was across the country from my family, going through a lot of trials and tribulations to get to where I am today and to be able to persevere and make it this far. I’m extremely proud of my legacy and my career.”

The Chiefs made Nelson a third-round pick in 2015, and he played four seasons in Kansas City, two in Pittsburgh, one in Philadelphia and spent the past two years in Houston.

Nelson intercepted a career-high five passes last season, including an 82-yard interception return for a touchdown in the wild-card playoff win over the Browns.

In 130 career games with 115 starts, Nelson totaled 13 interceptions, 87 passes defensed, two forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, one sack, 456 tackles and 11 tackles for losses.

He did not completely close the door on a return at some point.

Jake Paul and Mike Tyson were supposed to fight on July 20. A health issue for Tyson resulted in a postponement.

There’s now a new date: Friday, November 15.

“Although we had to postpone the fight, I will resume training shortly,” Tyson said in a press release. “I am thankful to the medical staff that treated me and to MVP, Netflix, and AT&T Stadium for working diligently to find the best reschedule date for all parties. While we have a new date, the result will be the same no matter when we fight. Jake Paul is getting knocked out. On Friday, November 15, watch this in-person at AT&T Stadium or live on Netflix.”

The fight will make for a busy month at AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys host the Eagles five days earlier and the Eagles 10 days later before closing out the month with a Thanksgiving game.

For Netflix, which will stream the fight, the date provides a useful dry run roughly six weeks before Netflix hosts a pair of NFL games on Christmas Day. The stakes will be higher when it comes to streaming the fight without glitches; the stakes will be even higher for the December 25 doubleheader: Chiefs at Steelers and Ravens at Texans.

The Texans struck gold in the 2023 draft by adding players like quarterback C.J. Stroud, edge rusher Will Anderson, and wide receiver Tank Dell to the lineup and Anderson thinks they did it again in the second round this year.

Cornerback Kamari Lassiter earned a reputation for being tough in coverage at Georgia and he’s shown the same knack when faced with trying to interfere with Stroud’s passes this spring. That’s put him in the mix for a starting job right out of the gate and Anderson gave a strong endorsement of what he thinks Lassiter can do in Houston’s secondary.

“I’ve been so amazed by him, man,” Anderson said, via Aaron Wilson of KPRC. “He’s been making plays left and right all over the field. He’s electric, man. Another young guy that we can’t wait to keep seeing grow and stuff like that. And I think he can do great things for this defense and be a part of something special that we have going on here.”

Head coach DeMeco Ryans called Lassiter “relentless and attacking” on the field, which has him “trending in the right direction” as the team wraps up their offseason work. Assuming he picks up where he left off come training camp, Lassiter’s likely to see a lot of action this fall.

Stefon Diggs has played in 14 playoff games. His teams won seven of them, but the receiver has gotten only as close as the conference championship game.

Now with the Texans, Diggs gets a chance for a breakthrough with the third team of his career.

Houston’s NFL teams have never played in the Super Bowl, not the Oilers and not the Texans. So, both Diggs and the Texans, are seeking something they haven’t yet obtained.

“I feel like I’ve been chasing the Super Bowl since I got in the league,” Diggs said, via a transcript from the team. “To say like you get to one specific place and say this is where I want to try to win it, but this is where I’m at right now. Obviously, I believe in this team and the quarterback. Those are unspoken things that we all can assume.

“For me, chasing a ring, it isn’t like I came here to chase it. I came here to win and that starts with game one. Moving forward, of course, you want a ring. It sounds good to be like you won a Super Bowl, and you won a ring, but it takes a lot of effort and consistency. For me, I’m going to take it in one day at a time. It starts in practice. It starts in walk-through. It starts in the meeting rooms. For me, winning is always in the forefront of my brain with everything I do. It’s one thing at time, rather than jumping the gun. I don’t put the carrot before the horse.”

His trade to Houston gives the Texans one of the top trios of receivers in the league, with Diggs joining Tank Dell and Nico Collins. Diggs had 107 receptions for 1,183 yards and eight touchdowns last season, while Collins made 109 catches for 1,297 yards and eight touchdowns and Dell contributed 75 catches for 709 yards and seven touchdowns before fracturing his ankle.

The hardest part for C.J. Stroud might be in keeping all three receivers happy.

“I feel like that’s something I knew coming in,” Diggs said. “Before I got here, obviously, I knew that Nico had a hell of a year; Tank just got hurt, but he was going to have a hell of a year. It’s always a balance. It’s not my job to call the plays. I’ve just got to get open and catch it. For me, it is not something I would worry about. You do your job, you get the ball. I feel like this offense is one of the offenses that got a lot of horses in the stable, you know what I’m saying? You let them all loose, and we’ll figure the rest out.”

Wide receiver Stefon Diggs spoke to the media on Tuesday for the first time since the Bills traded him to the Texans and he spent a lot of time talking about his experience in Buffalo during the press conference.

Diggs’s relationship with Josh Allen was a significant piece of that conversation, but it has little to do with what will happen now that Diggs is playing for the Texans. Clicking with quarterback C.J. Stroud is the major piece of that puzzle and Diggs said that he’s “happy” to be in Houston for the 2024 season.

Stroud also got a chance to chime in on how things are going and he said that the wideout has been doing what’s necessary to mesh with his new team.

“Diggs is fitting in great, he’s come in with his head down and just working,” Stroud said, via DJ Bien-Amie of “He’s helping me out a lot. He’s come in and been a leader, which I’m proud of him for. He’s been unselfish and wanted to see other guys eat. That was his main thing he wanted to be around dogs. He stepped into that role where there’s a dog everywhere.”

The Texans reworked Diggs’s contract after the trade and the wideout is set to become a free agent after the 2024 season, so the prospect of a major payday in 2025 should be motivation for Diggs to continue working for the best possible outcome in Houston.