Houston Texans rookie nose tackle Louis Nix will likely undergo surgery for an issue unrelated to the knee injury that has hampered him since last season at Notre Dame, head coach Bill O’Brien said Wednesday.
Nix, a third rouner who started training camp on the active physically unable to perform list following a series of offseason knee surgeries, was placed on season-ending injured reserve earlier Wednesday.
O’Brien revealed the decision to “probably” have Nix undergo another procedure at his Wednesday press conference at NRG Stadium.
“I would tell you that it did have a lot to do with health,” O’Brien said of the decision.
“He had a knee issue that he started off on the PUP (physically unable to perform list), and he has another issue right now. None of them are life-threatening, but they’re season-ending injuries. We’ve decided medically to operate on him and hopefully he’ll come back stronger and ready to go for the offseason program.”
O’Brien’s explanation, however, leaves open the possibility that non-health-related issues with Nix were a factor in the decision to vacate Nix’s spot on the active roster. O’Brien in the preseason criticized Nix’s work ethic and professionalism, saying Nix had “a long way to go” toward being an NFL player.
The Texans on Wednesday signed veteran nose tackle Ryan Pickett, a 13-year pro who spent his last eight seasons with the Green Bay Packers, to take Nix’s roster spot. Pickett, 34, last season graded out 54th of 69 nose tackles, per Pro Football Focus.
O’Brien declined to discuss specifics of Nix’s new issue.
“I do want to be clear about just my feeling on injuries,” O’Brien said.
“One of the reasons why I don’t always disclose injuries, number one is because I think it’s personal with the player. If the player wants to talk about it, I let the player do that. But I don’t really want to talk in detail about injuries as far as the player goes. That’s one of the main reasons why I do that, and obviously with the competitive advantage and disadvantage and things like that.”
O’Brien said his plans for Nix haven’t changed.
“He’s a guy that we have high hopes for in the future, no doubt about it. He’s a guy that we think is a future 3-4 nose (tackle),” O’Brien said. “
Nix was considered a first-round talent after his sophomore year at Notre Dame, but fell to the third round amid injury concerns starting last season.
O’Brien said Wednesday the Texans considered the possibility that Nix wouldn’t be able to contribute for his entire rookie season during the pre-draft process before trading up to get him at No. 83 overall.
“I think you talk about all those things, and I think that’s probably the case for every rookie you bring in. It really is. Because at the end of the day, when they get here and they go through your offseason program and then training camp, you never really know what’s going to happen with young players. I think that’s the case with every guy.
“When we drafted Louis, and we still feel the same way, we felt like this was a guy that had the body type and the ability to be a 3-4 nose (tackle) for us, and we still feel the same way.”
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