Texans nickel back Tavierre Thomas stands out as one of the bright spots in a rebuilding season.
Signed to a two-year, $4 million contract that includes $2 million guaranteed with a $1 million signing bonus, Thomas has started a career-high six games and has a career-high 67 tackles with one interception. He has a 77.5 Pro Football Focus analytics grade and has allowed a 52.8 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks.
The former undrafted free agent from Ferris State is having a breakthrough season as a shorthanded Texans defense prepares for Sunday's game against Los Angeles Chargers strong-armed quarterback Justin Herbert.
“That’s exactly what we’ve seen is growth from him," Texans defensive coordinator Lovie SMith said. "Tavierre’s role primarily was as a special teams player, but all the things that you liked about him as a special teams player I thought we would like with him playing defense, and that’s been the case. He’s a willing tackler, starting off with that. He’s got excellent ability, speed. He’s a student of the game. He’s a sponge, really, and he can play multiple positions, too."
As a mainstay in the secondary, Thomas has allowed 20 receptions for 167 yards and no touchdowns on 30 targets.
“I’m just really going out there and doing my job," Thomas said. "Coach Lovie and the coaching staff are putting me in position to make plays and when they come my way, I have to make them because I know if I don’t make them he’s going to be on me. It’s Lovie so I just listen to him and he puts me in position to make plays, so I just go out there and try to make them. Hopefully, I can make some this week.”
Thomas has adapted well to Smith's coaching style.
“He’s been coaching for a lot of years," Thomas said. "He’s got a ton of Hall of Famers. I feel like with that type of coach, I don’t feel like there is nothing wrong that he can tell me in life, in football. He’s like a father figure out there. He holds me to a high standard. I just go out there and when the plays come my way, I just want to make them for myself and my family but also him because he puts me in position to make plays. I love it. He’s a great coach.”