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Pro Bowl LB Denzel Perryman To Visit Texans

Texans Daily on FanNation 3/16/2023 Texans Daily Staff
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MARCH 16 PERRYMAN VISITING The Houston Texans are in line to receive a visit from free agent Pro Bowl linebacker, Denzel Perryman, according to reports. 

Perryman is coming off of a season that was cut short due to a shoulder injury, where he played in 12 games, starting 11, and amassed 83 tackles and 14 tackles for loss, with one sack. 

During his first year with the Raiders in 2021, Perryman had by far the best season of his career, racking up 154 tackles and five tackles for loss, and was voted to his first Pro Bowl.

MARCH 15 ALLEN TO BILLS The Houston Texans quarterback situation is a question heading deeper into the offseason. 

But on Wednesday, it got a little more clear, with former backup Kyle Allen signing a deal with the Buffalo Bills. 

Allen, who has 19 starts under his belt, will serve as the backup to superstar QB, Josh Allen. 

MAR 15 BIG DT TO TEXANS The Texans have signed defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins to a one-year, $10.5 million deal, as first noted by NFL Network.

Coach DeMeco Ryans surely envisions Rankins as both a wide-body and a playmaker, which he was for the better part of two years with the Jets.

MARCH 15 RODGERS INCOMING Aaron Rodgers is now heading to the AFC, making the Texans' path back to the AFC contention a little bit easier.

On Wednesday during his appearance on the Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers announced his intentions to join the New York Jets via trade.

"I will say this, this isn't a decision day," Rodgers said. "This isn't me announcing to the world what's going on. We're days past this. This is clearing things up. At this point, as I sit here, I think since Friday that I made it clear that my intention was to play and my intention was to play for the New York Jets."

Per Rodgers, deal particulars are still being ironed out between the Packers and the Jets.

"I haven’t been holding anything up at this point, it’s been compensation that the Packers are trying to get for me and digging their heels in," Rodgers said.

MARCH 15 TREMON SMITH SIGNS WITH BRONCOS: Tremon Smith's time with the Texans has ended. According to Reports, Smith signed a two-year deal to join the Denver Broncos as a free agent Wednesday morning.

He originally joined the Texans in March 2021 and provided solid production in Houston's cornerback corps and special teams unit. During Houston's Week 15 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021, Smith recorded a 98-yard kick-return touchdown — the franchise's first since 2009.

MARCH 14 CANN RELEASED The Houston Texans have released veteran offensive guard AJ Cann, according to reports. 

The Texans had recently traded for Bucs offensive lineman Shaq Mason earlier Tuesday morning, sending Cann's future with the franchise into question. 

That question has now been answered, with Cann now making his exit after just one year with the franchise. 

MARCH 13 NINERS GUY The 49ers-Texans connection is a real thing, for obvious reasons ... and here comes Jimmie Ward.

Ward has versatility in the secondary and of course he's a "DeMeco Ryans guy.'' He will be 32 this summer and was considered a leader-type guy in San Francisco ... and will surely be the same here.

MARCH 13 CASE IS BACK The Houston Texans are signing veteran quarterback Case Keenum to a two-year contract - possibly with the idea in mind for him to serve as a backup and mentor to whichever first-round QB the Texans take in the April NFL Draft.

Keenum, 35, is a Brownwood native who starred at the University of Houston and was a part-time starter for the Texans - one of his many NFL teams - back in 2013.Keenum (6-foot, 208) was a Josh Allen backup in Buffalo last year.


The Houston Texans continued to do their due diligence in their search for a new signal caller in upcoming 2023.

Per multiple reports, the Texans hosted Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker for a Top 30 visit. 

The 25-year-old transferred to Tennessee after a three-year stay at Virginia Tech. In the ACC, Hooker started 16 games, throwing for 2,894 passing yards and 22 touchdowns, adding 976 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns in his VT career.

Hendon was named the Vols starting quarterback in Week 3 of 2021, taking the reins from injured incumbent Joe Milton. In 22 starts, he threw for 6,080 yards and 58 touchdowns. He also provide to be a threat in the ground game, compiling 1,046 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.

While an ACL tear prematurely ended his 2022 college season, he still led Tennessee to 11 wins, while maintaining his reputation as one of the top quarterback prospects in the Draft. Despite mostly abstaining from working out at the Scouting Combine, he informed reporters that his surgery was successful and is on track to be ready for the 2023 regular season opener.

According to a report from The Draft Network, Hooker will also travel to meet with the New York Giants Tennessee Titans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts in the coming weeks. 


The Carolina Panthers have reportedly traded up with the Chicago Bears for the No. 1 overall pick in next month's NFL Draft.

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Bears give up their 2023 No. 1 pick, while receiving from the Panthers, No. 9 pick, No. 61 pick, 2024 first-round pick, 2025 second-round pick, WR D.J. Moore.

The Panthers can now draft their quarterback of the future.


The Houston Texans have re-signed safety MJ Stewart to a two-year deal worth up to $7.5 million, according to multiple reports. 

Last season, Stewart played in all 17 games for the Texans, finishing the year with 1 tackles, two fumble recoveries, one pass deflection and one forced fumble.

Stewart, who played in Houston last season on a one-year deal, also made stops in Tampa Bay and Cleveland throughout his career, spending two years with each team. 

Stewart has 178 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and 13 pass breakups in his career.


Wade Phillips accomplished a great deal in his NFL life, including his work coaching with the Houston Texans. But he's now out of the NFL and working as the head coach of the XFL's Houston Roughnecks ...

And Phillips - part of a first family of football in Houston thanks to his legendary father Bum - thinks he knows why.

“I hate to say it,'' said Phillips, 75, via the New York Post, "but I think it's age.''

Phillips believes that his record as a defensive coordinator should continue to qualify him for NFL work.

“It’s hard to beat my record as a coordinator so there’s got to be another reason,'' he said. "But that’s OK. I’m glad to be doing what I’m doing.”


The Texans announced Friday afternoon the contract termination of center Justin Britt, while signing defensive back Kendall Sheffield. 

Britt joined the Texans as a free agent in March of 2021. He played 11 games during his first seasonBritt returned to the team ahead of the 2022 campaign. But after the Texans' Week 1 tie against the Colts, Britt walked away from the team due to an undisclosed reason.

Sheffield played his first three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, where he recorded 101 tackles and six pass deflections in 38 career games from 2019 to 2021. He spent last season as a member of the Dallas Cowboys' practice squad. 

FEB 27

The Texans have re-signed veteran long snapper Jon Weeks to a one-year contract, according to KPRC. The 2023 campaign will mark Weeks' 13th season, all with the Texans after he began his career with the franchise in 2010.

Weeks played his 200th career-game in October and currently holds a franchise record for most games played in a row (210). 

FEB 23

The Houston Texans have hired Troy offensive line coach and former Patriots assistant Cole Popovich as an assistant offensive line coach, according to reports. 

Popovich worked in New England for five seasons, holding three different positions with the team, beginning his tenure with the franchise in 2016. 

He won two Super Bowls with the Patriots in 2017 and 2019, and worked as their co-offensive line coach in 2020.

Popovich spent one season as Troys offensive line coach.

FEB 17

CBS Sports is reporting that the Texans will hire Shane Day as a senior offensive assistant after Klint Kubiak was hired by the 49ers. Kubiak was their first choice, but will now go with Day.

Day has spent the previous two seasons with the Chargers as passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

FEB 15 

ESPN's Todd McShay is offering up his second 2023 NFL mock draft, and while the Texans come away with potential stars at QB and receiver (using picks No. 2 and 12, the analyst is suggesting that one reason Ohio State's C.J. Stroud will be Houston's top pick is that the Indianapolis Colts will trade up from No. 4 to No. 1 to select the quarterback from Alabama, Bryce Young.

The Chicago Bears presently own the No. 1 overall pick, but McShay predicts they will "be listening to offers" because of their commitment to quarterback Justin Fields. 

Read more about the Texans' mock "get'' here.


The Panthers are hiring two assistants with Texans ties.

Dom Capers, the Panthers' first-ever head coach and a former Houston top guy, is returning to Carolina as senior defensive assistant under new boss Frank Reich (who happens to have been the Panthers' first-ever QB.)

And also agreed to terms in Carolina is Josh McCown, who has agreed to be the new quarterbacks coach - his first full-time work as a coach even as a year ago he was under consideration in Houston to be the Texans head coach.


Tennessee Titans' defensive passing game coordinator has been a busy man this offseason. 

In January, it was reported that Harris, who at the time was the defensive backs coach for the Washington Commanders, would be leaving for Nashville to accept the defensive passing game coordinator role with the Tennessee Titans. 

However, since then, the highly-sought after assistant has been getting calls about becoming a defensive coordinator, most recently from DeMeco Ryans and the Houston Texans, who requested an interview with Harris on Monday. 

Harris has also interviewed for the vacant 49ers defensive coordinator spot, which was left open by Ryans when he accepted the Houston Job. 


Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is going to be a free agent. He has his 49ers connection with new Texans coach DeMeco Ryans. And Houston has its need - especially if it chooses to use its premium picks on positions other than QB.

Is Garoppolo to Houston a match?

Jimmy G wins in the regular season (40-17) and he wins in the playoffs. It's an idea worth considering, and maybe so is this one: Maybe a short-term deal for him (should his market make that viable) while also drafting a QB heir behind him?


The Houston Texans have completed their second meeting with San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans regarding their vacant head coaching position on Tuesday, the team announced. 

Ryans is thought the be the Texans top candidate, and per Texans Daily sources, is set to be hired sooner, rather than later. 


The Bears have the No. 1 spot in the NFL Draft. The Texans have the No. 2 spot. And one ESPN analyst insists that hunger for a quarterback will mean a bidding war to get up to that Chicago pick ... 

And that Houston is starving.

“I don’t think they (Houston) will sit at 2,'' Todd McShay said on an ESPN podcast. "I think they’ll do everything they can (to move up).''

And why?

"The Colts,'' McShay said, "are going to be the driving reason.''

His logic? The Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts (sitting at No. 4) want QBs.

Our logic-based question: How do the Texans, the Colts and McShay know which QB is which? What if Bryce Young is preferred by one team and CJ Stroud another? Why not just sit and wait for your guy to come to you?

Because it's Rumor Season. That's why not.


Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson interviewed for multiple head coaching jobs since the end of the regular season, including with the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts. 

However, despite those interview opportunities, Johnson has elected to stay in Detroit with the Lions. 

Johnson, 36, is the overseer of a turnaround of the Lions' offense and quarterback Jared Goff, which ranked fourth in the NFL in total offense, eighth in passing, and fifth in scoring offense. 

“I think a ton of Ben,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said recently. “He’s extremely bright. He’s creative, he’s organized, he’s a great communicator. I mean he’s got it.''

Before Johnson took over last season, the Lions ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in both scoring and total offense. 


The Houston Texans have signed reserve wide receiver Jalen Camp to a reserve/futures contract, the team announced Thursday. 

Camp spent most of the season on the Texans practice squad, playing 21 offensive snaps, and catching one pass for seven yards before being placed on injured reserve in mid-December.


Former Houston Texans No. 1 pick and current Cleveland Browns defensive end Jadeveon Clowney might be on his way out from yet another franchise. 

According to reports, Clowney is unhappy with his situation in Cleveland and could be looking to move on at season's end.

Clowney all but confirmed those rumors on Thursday, telling reporters he was '95 percent gone.'

Ninety-five percent sure I won’t be back,” Clowney told Mary Kay Cabot of on Thursday. “But there’s still that 5 percent. You never know what can happen.”

After Houston placed the franchise tag on Clowney, he was traded to Seattle and then went to Tennessee, before landing with the Browns. 

JAN 4 SAM TO START In the wake of the injury to quarterback Nick Foles, the Indianapolis Colts will have a new quarterback under center on Sunday against the Houston Texans, with second-year QB Sam Ehlinger set to make the start. 

Veteran Matt Ryan will serve as the backup to Ehlinger. 

Ehlinger has played in three games this season, Ehlinger has completed 41 of 66 passes for 364 yards and one touchdown with one interception. 

He has also rushed 12 times for 66 yards.

DEC 27 J.J. DONE Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt - on the very short list of "greatest Houston NFL players ever - is hanging up his cleats.

The 12-year NFL veteran announced his retirement on social media Tuesday morning as he prepares to face the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Watt, 33, was drafted 11th overall in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Texans and played 10 seasons with the franchise before his final two years with the Cardinals.

With 111.5 sacks, Watt currently ranks 26th all-time on the all-time list, with two final chances to climb higher on the rankings.

"My heart is filled with nothing but love and gratitude,'' Watt writes on social media. "It's been an absolute honor and a pleasure.''

DEC 23 COLLINS SHUT DOWN Texans starting wide receiver Nico Collins’ season is over. ... Brandin Cooks' is re-starting ... and a former Dallas Cowboys receiver is coming aboard.

Collins was placed on injured reserve due to a foot injury that has sidelined him since a loss to the Cleveland Browns. Collins has 37 catches for 481 yards and two scores on 66 targets.

Meanwhile, the Texans get veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks back from a foot injury for Saturday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.

Additionally, they have signed Malik Turner, formerly of the Cowboys, who this season has been cut by the Niners and Raiders.

DEC 22 TITANS RYAN TANNEHILL OFFICIALLY OUT VS TEXANS The Tennessee Titans will have to face the Houston Texans on Christmas Eve in Nashville without their starting quarterback, Ryan Tannehill.

Tannehill injured his ankle vs. the Chargers last Sunday, and was questionable throughout the week. 

And now, that decision has been made clear, with Tannehill officially being designated as out for the game. 

In his place, the Titans will start rookie Malik Willis. Willis replaced Tannehill in the Titans Week 8 win over the Texans.

In that game, Willis completed 5 of 6 of 10 passes for 55 yards and an interception, while star running back Derrick Henry ran wild for 219 yards and two scores on 32 carries.

DEC 21 NO TANNEHILL? The Tennessee Titans might be heading into a pivotal Week 16 game - for the Titans, that is - without their starting quarterback.

Ryan Tannehill hurt his ankle in Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Chargers and his availability for this weekend's matchup with the Houston Texans is "seriously in doubt," according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Rookie Malik Willis would start for Tennessee if Tannehill cannot go. 

The Titans are 7-7 and have lost four games in a row and cling to a one-game lead over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC South.

If Jacksonville beats the New York Jets on Thursday night and 1-12-1 Houston upsets Tennessee on Saturday, the Jaguars will move into first place in the division.


The Texans shut down standout rookie cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., and running back Dameon Pierce for the remainder of the season along with defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth, placing them on injured reserve. Stingley, a first round pick from LSU, has been out for a month with a strained hamstring. Pierce suffered a high ankle sprain against the Dallas Cowboys. 

He leads all rookie in rushing yards and has provided a dynamic, punishing running style. 

Rex Burkhead and Dare Ogunbowale will be the primary running backs against the Chiefs on Sunday. Royce Freeman was signed to the active roster with Pierce out, as was cornerback Jacobi Francis. 

The Texans activated starting defensive end Jon Greenard from injured reserve one week after designating him for return from a torn calf muscle. Greenard led the Texans in sacks last season. The Texans also elevated safety Will Redmond and tight end Mason Schreck from the practice squad.

DEC 14 PIERCE OUT Texans rookie running back Dameon Pierce sustained what a league source tells TexansDaily SI is a "mild high-ankle sprain'' in the Sunday loss at the Dallas Cowboys ... and it is believed Pierce will miss at least one game because of it.

Sources tell us an MRI showed no structural damage ... but arguably Houston's best player, Pierce will now likely sit for Sunday's visit from the powerful Chiefs.

DEC 11 PIERCE HURT? OUTS Dameon Pierce has been a big contributor to the Texans' taking a 23-20 lead to the final eight minutes of this meeting at Dallas against the heavily favored Cowboys ...

But the rookie standout is limping now, and will be monitored.

Rex Burkhead and Eno Benjamin are next guys up.

DEC 11 DIGGS, HANKINS INJURED During their Sunday afternoon matchup with the Houston Texans, the Dallas Cowboys lost a pair of key defenders to injury. 

Cornerback Trevon Diggs was forced out of the game with a hand injury, and went to the locker room for treatment. 

He has since returned. 

Defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins was also knocked out of the game on the very next play after Diggs. 

He is questionable to return.

Finally, Cowboys starting right tackle Terence Steele also went down with an injury, and is questionable to return with a left leg injury. 

He is currently in the locker room undergoing evaluation. 

DEC 4 HUG IT OUT Deshaun Watson is back on an NFL field for the first time in 700 days and it is all quite awkward.

The three-time Pro Bowler, the focal point of sexual-misconduct allegations that caused him to sit out the entirety of the 2021 season and serve an 11-game suspension this year, is here at NRG Stadium debuting for the Cleveland Browns ...

But not before half-hugging it out with his old boss.

Prior to kickoff, the former Texans star QB crossed paths with Houston owner Cal McNair. And 


Former Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has now taken part in his inaugural practice with the Cleveland Browns, after hitting the field for the first time on Wednesday.

Watson was traded during the offseason to Cleveland in exchange for three first-round picks, a third-round pick, and a fifth-round pick.

As a result, the Texans now own the Browns' No. 12 pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, giving them two first-round picks.

Watson played four seasons in Houston after being drafted out of Clemson with the No. 12 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

He ended his Texans career throwing for 14,539 yards and 104 touchdowns while completing 67.8 percent of his pass attempts. Watson went 28-25 after starting 53 games for the Texans.


The Texans were awarded wide receiver Amari Rodgers off waivers from the Green Bay Packers, according to a league source.

The Texans rank first in the waiver wire priority order with a 1-7-1 record. Texans general manager Nick Caserio has been active the past two days, including claiming running back Eno Benjamin off waivers from the Arizona Cardinals on Tuesday.

Rodgers was placed on waivers by the Packers. 

He has four catches for 50 yards and no touchdowns on eight targets in 10 games for Green Bay.

A former third-round draft pick from Clemson, Rodgers was a three-year starter for Clemson and a first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection.

The Texans acquire a four-year, $4.899 million rookie


The Texans added some potentially key depth in the backfield on Tuesday afternoon, when they were awarded former Arizona Cardinals running back, Eno Benjamin, his agent announced.  

Benjamin now joins veteran Rex Burkhead as a reserve behind rookie sensation Dameon Pierce, who has taken the league by storm in his first season. 

In 10 games with the Cardinals this season, Benjamin has 299 yards and two touchdowns on 70 carries, averaging 4.3 yards per attempt. He also has 24 catches on 33 targets for 184 yards in the passing game. 

NOV 13 ANGRY PIERCE The Houston Texans have one of the brightest young stars in the NFL in rookie running back Dameon Pierce. 

And one person who is paying close attention to Pierce is Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, who had high praise for the rookie ahead of their Sunday matchup at MetLife Stadium.

“I don’t know who said something to him or did something to him to make him so angry," Martindale said. "But that might be the angriest runner in the league.”

Through eight games, Pierce has been the most productive rookie running back in the league, as well as one of the top backs in the NFL overall, rushing 148 times for 578 yards and three touchdowns, while averaging 4.6 yards per attempt.

He will get another chance to make a case for offensive rookie of the year at noon in East Rutherford.

NOV 7 MOVES The Texans signed defensive tackle Brandin Bryant to the practice squad and released defensive end Derick Roberson from the practice squad. Bryant (6-foot-2, 306 pounds) is a former undrafted free agent (Nebraska, Florida Atlantic) who was signed by the Seattle Seahawks. Bryant has four career tackles in the NFL. Bryant, 29, has played for the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills. He was released by the Bills on Nov. 1.

NOV 4 TEXANS SIGN HARRIS TO PRACTICE SQUAD The Texans are signing veteran defensive end Demone Harris to the practice squad, according to a league source.

Harris cleared waivers after being released earlier this week.

Harris has played in three games this season and has recorded four tackles and one quarterback hit.

He was previously on the Texans' practice squad.

Harris (6-foot-4, 272 pounds) delivered a strong preseason performance with five tackles, one sack, one tackle for a loss, eight hurries and one quarterback hit.

Harris joined the Texans last year on their practice squad.

He has 11 career tackles, two tackles for losses and three quarterback hits in 14 games and one start.

He has played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs. 

A former undrafted free agent from the University of Buffalo, Harris was a Burlsworth Trophy nominee and a second-team all-conference selection.

NOV 2 TEXANS CUT 2 The Texans cut veteran defensive end Demone Harris from the active roster and defensive tackle Micah Dew-Treadway. Harris has played in three games this season and has recorded four tackles and one quarterback hit. He was previously on the Texans' practice squad.

Harris (6-foot-4, 272 pounds) delivered a strong preseason performance with five tackles, one sack, one tackle for a loss, eight hurries and one quarterback hit. Harris joined the Texans last year on their practice squad. He has 11 career tackles, two tackles for losses and three quarterback hits in 14 games and one start. He has played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs. 

A former undrafted free agent from the University of Buffalo, Harris was a Burlsworth Trophy nominee and a second-team all-conference selection. 

Dew-Treadway is a former Chicago Bears and University of Minnesota defensive tackle. Dew-Treadway went undrafted and signed with the Bears. He played four seasons at Notre Dame before transferring to Minnesota.


After requesting his release from the team last week, former Houston Texans linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill has signed a deal with the Arizona Cardinals, Texans Daily has learned. 

Grugier-Hill was the Texans leading tackler in 2021, and before requesting his release from the team, had started all six games this season. 

Grugier-Hill had played a total of 20 games for the Texans over the last two seasons, 148 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles, one interception, and five quarterback hits.


This belongs in the "rumor'' category, and it is worth noting that in our two recent conversations with NFL sources, the Texans organization continues to downplay the idea of trading receiver Brandin Cooks.

But teams are calling. And now the Dallas Cowboys - so goes the buzz - are being connected.

There are prohibitive reasons for him moving, as 1) we believe Houston would ask for a second-round pick in exchange and 2) he's got an $18 million price tag locked in for 2023.

But would he help Dallas or another contending team? No doubt, the "take-the-top-off'' vet succeeding in Houston (in seven starts this year the 29-year-old has 32 catches for 354 yards and one touchdown) despite shaky QB play.

He's a perennial 1,000-yard guy and his name has now popped up in two media spots, in Dallas and in New York. Are the Cowboys really that interested in spending what it takes here?


Texans nickel back and special teams ace Tavierre Thomas is expected to return to practice with the team launching his 21-day window to be activated from injured reserve-designated for return, according to a league source.

Usually, the Texans have players practice for a week or so before placing them on the active roster. 

Thomas was placed on short-term injured reserve with a pulled quadriceps suffered during training camp.

Thomas has made a sound recovery and has been running for weeks.

The injury represented a setback to the Texans' defense and special-teams units. Thomas is also a sound tackler. Tackling has been a recurring issue for the Texans' defense.

Thomas had a career-high 86 tackles and two interceptions last season in 16 games with one forced fumble. He played 56 percent of the defensive snaps and 67 percent of the special teams snaps.

Signed to a two-year, $4 million contract last year that includes $2 million guaranteed with a $1 million signing bonus, Thomas started a career-high three games last season.

The former undrafted free agent from Ferris State had a breakthrough season last year for the Texans and consistently drew praise from coach Lovie Smith.


Christian Harris' final college football game at Alabama displayed his athleticism and instincts.

He recorded three sacks, four tackles for losses and a forced fumble in a loss to Georgia in the national championship game.

Now, the Texans rookie outside linebacker is set to play in his first NFL game Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Harris was officially activated Saturday after being designated for return from injured reserve after straining his hamstring in training camp.

Signed to a four-year, $5.34 million contract that includes a $1.069 million signing bonus, the third-round draft pick turned heads at training camp with his ability to run and diagnose plays. Harris has speed to burn with a 4.44 time the 40-yard dash and is regarded as a versatile sideline-to-sideline defender.

“I was really excited then and really excited now," Texans coach Lovie Smith said of Harris' growth since the team drafted him. "We like the skill set, the talent of a young player. You have to keep that in mind. It’s his first game in a long period of time. I think he has grown as much as you can grow without practicing. He’s smart. He’s put in the time. Now you have to have that first game. We have to get him out there and let him start playing. Eventually, that’s what he’ll be able to do.”

Harris worked with the first-team defense during organized team activities before getting hurt the first week of August. He appeared in no preseason games and missed the first four games of the regular season.

If Harris plays beyond special teams snaps Sunday, he's expected to work in as the third linebacker along with second-year linebacker Garret Wallow in addition to special teams.

“Position versatility, I don’t buy that an awful lot with most people," Smith said. "Position flexibility with a young player is almost impossible to do that. We’re trying to get him up to date on one position. That’s the chore in itself to do that, an awful lot that goes into.

"Most people I hear say, ‘Put him out there and let him run around and make plays.’ It’s a little bit more to it. We’re trying to get him up speed on one position is what we’re trying to do right now.”

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