With a powerful thud and serious recoil action, Texans defensive tackle Brandon Dunn slams his hands into a blocking sled.
At the direction of private defensive line coach Brandon Jordan, Dunn shoves around the machine in unison with teammate Jacob Martin.
Joined by newly-acquired Texans defensive tackles Jaleel Johnson and Vince Taylor and New Orleans Saints first-round draft pick and former University of Houston standout pass rusher Payton Turner for independent workouts, Dunn and Martin are enjoying the shared expertise and camaraderie.
"I think it's dope,” Martin said following a session at C.E. King High School. “I think it helps build that chemistry for playing together and getting a feel for how guys work and getting a better feel for how a guy’s football IQ is and getting to learn their movements. That's such an important part of having a cohesive group up front. The good teams I've been on, the defensive line brings energy. Being able to work with these guys, it's truly a blessing."
Dunn, who ended last season on injured reserve due to a hip fracture, is happy to benefit from Jordan’s well-practiced teaching techniques and spend time with teammates as he sheds rust and gets back to full strength.
Jordan has coached everyone from former Texans defensive tackle D.J. Reader, who’s now with the Cincinnati Bengals, to the Texans' Jon Greenard, to the Buffalo Bills’ Ed Oliver, the Tennessee Titans’ Bud Dupree, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ T.J. Watt, the New York Jets John Franklin-Myers, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Roy Robertson-Harris and K'Lavon Chaisson and the Detroit Lions' Michael Brockers.
“This is great,” Dunn said. “This is my fourth week since I've been cleared. I just want to get some work. Some of my ex-teammates and former teammates come here I'm basically we all get work together. We're all defensive linemen. We all know what we need. I reached out to Brandon. He answered the call. He took care of me. I've been there with him ever since."
The Texans’ final organized team activity was over a month ago, but Dunn and his teammates haven’t stopped working. They’ve putting in overtime as they prepare for training camp and trying to rebound from a disappointing 4-12 campaign.
“I hope it speaks volumes,” Dunn said. “I hope it rubs off on some young players around me. At the end of the day, we all have to work. We're all working for a goal. I'm just a part of the crowd.
"I just want to win. We all want to win. That's the most important thing is winning and that's been imbedded in the players. We're going to take that and go to camp and hopefully everybody gets the message that we're out to win, nothing else. Simple. It's all simple, just three letters: W-I-N.”
Based out of New Orleans, Jordan travels frequently and is often in Houston to meet with clients. He trained over 90 NFL clients last offseason.
How does Jordan have so many clients without advertising?
“Word of mouth,” Jordan said along with a nod to social media. “Instagram, it’s been doing it for me.”
Working with four players from one team gives Jordan a lot of satisfaction.
“It’s always good to have teammates here,” he said. “They get to push each other. They get to hold each other accountable. It’s a way to grind together. We move a lot. We move our feet. We’re going to have our hands active.”
Johnson hustled through drills as he acclimated himself to Jordan’s pace and his teammates’ high standards.
The former Minnesota Vikings lineman joined the Texans this offseason on a one-year contract.
“It feels great,” he said. “It’s good to get in some work with my fellow teammates. It’s always a good time. It means a lot, being able to build camaraderie with these guys going into the season. It pays dividends us being on the same page early in the year. I think that will help us down the line.
“This is great work. This is my second time working with Brandon. I devote my time to him and he devotes his time to us. I’m a team player. I’m ready to work.”
Taylor played last season for the Cleveland Browns. He normally trains in Miami, but wanted to get a head start with his new team and remained in Houston after the offseason training program to continue his workouts.
“It helps us out,” Taylor said. “We get to compete and learn from each other. It’s going pretty good. We get to talk about things and learn from each other. Brandon is a good dude. I can relate to him. I’m going to keep coming back. I’m learning a lot.”
Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 seasons, including the Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. He has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128.