HOUSTON (CBS Radio) – Training camp is a time for fans and media to start picking their favorite underdogs, especially with the eventual trim down to the 53-man roster.
One player that has turned heads throughout Texans offseason workouts and now training camp is unheralded rookie tight end, Stephen Anderson out of Cal. A bit undersized at 6-2, Anderson is now at 235 pounds, where he says his coaches want him to be, and he uses the fact that he went undrafted as motivation.
“I enjoy it,” Anderson said after Wednesday’s practice. “It always has a chip on my shoulder. Just like college, I walked on and now I’m undrafted. So, it’s kind of full-circle and everything. I definitely feel like I’m capable of playing with everyone who’s first-round or whatever round they went. It keeps me hungry every day.”
As a rookie, he’s just trying to learn as much as he can and help the team in whatever way he can, but this is what he sees his role as right now.
“Someone who’s versatile,” Anderson said. “Someone who can help with the blocking and go out and catch balls and everything. Be a big role on special teams.
“Whatever they want me to do, I can do it. Whatever role they have me playing right now, I can go in and catch in the middle, the outside and I can go in and complete my blocking assignments.”
Head coach Bill O’Brien likes Anderson’s progress but says there is always room for improvement as the competition continues among the diverse tight end group.
“Stephen Anderson had a really good offseason, but now we’re in pads and it’s a little bit different,” O’Brien said. “He’s got to stay up with the tempo of that. But all those guys are a little bit different in their skill sets.”
Anderson finished his Cal career with 101 catches for 1,260 yards and seven touchdowns over his final three seasons from 2013-15. He’s feeling more comfortable each day, but says this is the biggest challenge so far.
“The mental game, the playbook,” Anderson said. “Fortunately, I came from a faster conference, so people talk a lot about the speed a lot when you come from college into the NFL, and that hasn’t surprised me a whole bunch. It’s just the mental game and how much knowledge everyone has of leverage, of technique and everything. That’s really something I’m trying to adjust to every day.”