HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) — No one will mistake Andre Hal for the star of a Texans defense with NFL luminaries like J.J. Watt, Vince Wilfork or Brian Cushing.
But you could make a solid case that Hal’s emergence at free safety last fall was a key impetus for Houston’s 7-2 stretch run that resulted in an AFC South title.
After all, he led the team with four interceptions in 2015, and the Texans posted an 8-3 record in games he started.
So it’s no surprise that the free safety is assuming more responsibility through five days of Texans Training Camp. He’s been all over the field, deflecting a pair of passes during Thursday morning’s practice and vocally lining the Texans up.
“That’s your job playing safety,” Hal said. “You have to be the leader of the defense. The coaches trust me to do that. I’m taking it on pretty well.”
The secondary has been a bright spot for Houston so far in camp, as young depth mixes with experience against a young receiving unit. Hal is straddling that experience line, but his play down the stretch last year makes him a de-facto veteran in Romeo Crennel’s complex scheme.
But the third-year defensive back out of Vanderbilt said he’s obviously not resting on his spot in the defensive backfield. Hal said this training camp is about improving as a vocal leader and a physical tackler.
“Just always communication and getting everybody lined up, telling them what you see from [the offense],” Hal said.
“From there, it’s fitting in the run and filling in my run gaps. The guys are counting on me to help them out.”