Terrance Mitchell contemplated the question for a moment, pausing to reflect on just how much his status and skills have changed since his first brief time with the Texans.
When the Dallas Cowboys cut the former Oregon cornerback and seventh-round draft pick five years ago, the Texans claimed him off waivers. Mitchell was only with the Texans for a few months before being released again and being claimed by the Kansas City Chiefs off waivers.
Since that time, Mitchell has ascended from roster afterthought to the rejoin the Texans as a starting corner on a two-year, $7.5 million contract on the heels of starting every game last season for a Cleveland Browns team that made the playoffs.
“I’ve grown a lot since the first time I was here,” Mitchell said in a telephone interview. “I’m here to help turn this organization around. It feels good to be back here. I’m a very competitive football player, and my goals, besides winning, is to intercept a lot of passes. I always feel like I’m going to have a chance to make a play.”
The Texans need Mitchell to solidify their secondary after trading their top corner, Bradley Roby, to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for a 2022 third-round draft pick and a conditional 2023 sixth-round draft pick while paying $7 million of his salary. Mitchell and Vernon Hargreaves will be the Texans' starting outside corners with Desmond King operating as the primary nickel.
A year ago, Mitchell started every regular-season game and two playoff games. He had 65 tackles, two for losses, three forced fumbles and 13 passes defensed.
The Sacramento, Calif., native, a part of the Browns’ resurrection, had a 77.2 run defense grade from Pro Football Focus and a 66.7 pass coverage grade last season.
“I would say I gained some experience throughout those years, so I would say I'm a better player for sure,” Mitchell said. “Oh man, it’’s a beautiful thing. I’ve got some great coaches, great teammates. It’s a fresh start.”
Signed to a three-year, $12 million contract by the Browns in 2018, Mitchell started 27 games over three seasons.
Now, the ninth-year professional is making a strong impression on his new teammates.
“He’s a physical corner,” safety Justin Reid said. “He’s smart and competitive, very enthusiastic. Very positive, doesn’t bring any negativity to the team. A great guy.”
Mitchell, 28, plays the game with an aggressive style. The 5-foot-11, 191-pounder has 197 career tackles, seven interceptions, five forced fumbles, 46 passes defensed and one sack.
A former high school running back who had 2,360 all-purpose yards and 24 touchdowns, Mitchell also intercepted six passes and blocked a field goal as a senior.
At Oregon, he finished with 144 tackles, seven interceptions, 25 passes defensed and four forced fumbles in 38 career starts before declaring early for the NFL draft.
Since bouncing around the NFL, Mitchell has been establishing himself and honing his skills.
Now, it’s time to put that to the test against Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
“We're still working,” Mitchell said. “It's an everyday process. We're stacking, and, shoot, we're just going to be ready for the first game, for sure.”
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