Jimmy Moreland has learned to trust his instincts. He doesn’t overcomplicate the game of football.
Find the ball, pick it off.
That approach has served him well in the past:
A school-record 18 interceptions and six defensive touchdowns at James Madison University.
Drafted in the seventh round by the Washington Football Team two years ago and forging a strong role with 86 career tackles, one interception and a 72.4 run defense grade last season as he played 518 snaps at nickel corner last season.
Claimed off waivers by the Texans and healthy again after being given an injury settlement to remove him from injured reserve with an injury settlement due to a bruised knee, Moreland is embracing his fresh start.
“I thought it was a new opportunity and glad to be back on a team,” Moreland said in a telephone interview. “These opportunities come around when they come around. When I landed with the Texans, I didn’t expect that. I’m just grateful to be here. They were the first one to call, so I’m just glad to be here.
“They’re going to get a player who’s always working hard and trying to do better for the team. I’m a ball hawk. I’m here to make plays. I haven’t scored in the NFL yet. Hopefully, I’ll score soon.”
Due base salaries of $850,000 and $765,000 over the next two seasons, Moreland, 26, gives the Texans a young corner with the experience of 30 career games. He intercepted Carson Wentz as a rookie.
He’s also a willing and capable tackler.
“You got to go out there and lay it on the line for the guy next to you,” he said. “The guy next to you is going to hold you accountable to make the tackle.”
Now, Moreland is getting up to speed on the Texans’ playbook and getting acclimated to his new surroundings.
“The routine is always same: watch a lot of film, get acquainted with the playbook,” Moreland said. “It’s defense. It’s football. Everything is the same. It’s just a different name for things. I’m trying to get a feel for the Texans atmosphere. The first day of practice, it was kind of hot. I’m getting acquainted with everyone. You just put the work in every day. It’s not a new thing.”
A native of Belle Glade, Fla., and a Royal Palm Beach High School graduate, Moreland beat the odds by earning a college scholarship and being named a Football Championship Subdivision All-American. He competed in the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game, shadowing future Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow in red-zone drills.
Belle Glade is referred to as “Muck City” because of the quantity of muck where sugarcane grows. It’s also a city known for a high rate of violent crime, drug addiction and AIDs.
Belle Glade also has a proud football tradition, producing NFL players like Moreland, Texans practice squad corner Cre’von LeBlanc, Santonio Holmes, Travis Benjamin, Fred Taylor, Louis Oliver, Reidel Anthony and several others.
“Belle Glade is a rough city, not too many people make it out of there,” Moreland said. “There are a lot of talented people there. I’m glad to be one of the ones who made it out of there. Once you make it out, you made it.”
Like many others from his hometown, Moreland has built his speed and quickness in an unconventional manner: chasing jackrabbits as they run out of a brush fire.
“It makes you pretty fast,” Moreland said. “That’s how you get your speed. If you're from Belle Glade, you know about the jackrabbits."
Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 years and has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128