The Texans envision rookie safety Jalen Pitre operating in a versatile role and contributing immediately.
Signed to a $8.95 million contract that includes a $3.692 million signing bonus, the second-round draft pick from Baylor models his game after New Orleans Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu, a former All-Pro selection and Texans defensive captain, along with Arizona Cardinals standout safety Budda Baker.
A former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-American, Pitre can play either safety spot, nickel or as a quasi-linebacker playing close to the line of scrimmage.
Depending on how quickly he transitions to the NFL, Pitre could push for a starting job right away. He's that talented.
"You saw Jalen Pitre lining up early, love what he has done," Texans coach Lovie Smith said.
The Texans like Pitre's aggressive, fired-up style of play.
"He plays with his hair on fire," Texans general manager Nick Caserio said. "Versatile player. They used him a little bit inside in the slot. He played safety, so he has some position versatility. I think he might have a role in the kicking game. Tough, instinctive football player, loves playing football. His energy was infectious when he was in the building.
"I would say Jalen falls in the category of embodying the types of people and players that we want to have in this building. Kind of their vigor and joy playing football. You see it in the way that he plays."
Pitre led Baylor with 18 tackles for losses and had three sacks and finished with 76 total tackles, intercepting two passes, breaking up seven more and had three fumble recoveries.He had 60 tackles as a junior and was an All-Big 12 selection with 60 tackles, 13 for losses, two interceptions, returning both for touchdowns and 2 1/2 sacks. He's a converted linebacker who started as a true freshman before redshirting the following season with a shoulder injury.He lined up as a hybrid linebacker-safety in a position called the Star in a 4-2-5 defense under Dave Aranda after Matt Rhule was hired by the Carolina Panthers.
"Coach Rhule's defense gave me the backbone of my development early on," Pitre said. "He taught me the ins and out of offense and defense. With coach Aranda, he gave me the nuances of how to play with that knowledge. Both coaches were great and they played a big part in the development of my career."
Legal update on Darius Anderson
Texans running back Darius "Jet" Anderson continues to practice with his teammates after being arrested and charged with burglary with intent to assault as a woman, a former girlfriend, accused him of breaking into her home and threatening her. The case is in the process of being resolved.
"I would say it's an ongoing investigation," Texans general manager Nick Caserio said. "I would say there's a lot of misinformation that's been out there from the beginning, so really don't want to get into a lot of speculation. Darius has cooperated every step of the way, so at some point there will be a resolution. We don't have any additional comment."
Anderson was assigned a Sept. 20 court date and his bond was reduced to $20,000 from $50,000.
"He's innocent," attorney Kelly Benavides said in a telephone interview. "He denies any allegations. We look forward to investigating and presenting our case in court and clearing his name'
Tight end Antony Auclair, a rugged blocker and Canada native, was carted off the field with an ice bag on his right knee.
Several players didn't practice or were limited Friday morning.
That includes the following players who are on the physically unable to perform list: defensive end Jordan Jenkins (ankle), tight end Teagan Quitoriano (foot) and defensive back Tristin McCollum (shoulder).
Defensive end Jon Greenard (offseason foot surgery), linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill (knee surgery), center Justin Britt (foot) and wide receiver Phillip Dorsett (undisclosed) didn't practice. Greenard had eight sacks last season to lead the team.
"Jonathan Greenard is coming off a major injury," Texans coach Lovie Smith said. "Justin Britt is coming off an injury. Some of those players that we are watching their reps a little bit, but you'll see them for the most part. This is a big year for Jonathan Greenard. He is healthy now. In order for us to have success, I talk about playing better defense, it starts with our defensive line.
Wide receiver Nico Collins, a third-round draft pick from Michigan, has made strides this offseason since his rookie year last season. Collins looks much more comfortable and polished running routes.
Rookie running back Dameon Pierce has caught the football well out of the backfield. He's working behind veterans Marlon Mack and Rex Burkhead, but the expectation is that Pierce will show more once the Texans begin contact drills. Mack has displayed a definite burst in drills and has a chance to be the primary back two years after tearing his Achilles while playing for the Indianapolis Colts.
Texans general manager Nick Caserio said that the team had 95 percent participation in the offseason training program with 35 to 40 players regularly working out at the training facility over the summer.
"Their commitment speaks to their attitude," Caserio said. "The effort, the commitment to work has been good."
The Texans will practice in full pads for the first time of training camp on Monday.
The Texans are encouraged by the progress of first-round offensive guard Kenyon Green, the 15th overall pick of the draft.
The former Texas A&M All-American and All-SEC selection was limited during the spring, but appears to be fully healthy now and getting up to speed. He's a candidate to start left guard next to Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil.
"Kenyon Green is going to help us win a lot of games," Texans coach Lovie Smith said. "We're going to get him into the mix as soon as we can."
Aaron Wilson is a Pro Football Network reporter and a contributor to Sports Talk 790.