Houston Texans coach Lovie Smith is entering his 21st season in the NFL and his 12th season as a coach. The former 2005 NFL Coach of the Year has seen it all when it comes to the melding of rookie classes with veterans on a team.
Smith laid out what some of the expectations are for rookies when he met with reporters after organized team activities June 7 at Houston Methodist Training Center.
“I think when initially when you come in, I let the rookies know, the veterans don’t want to hear about you being young and you don’t know what you’re doing,” said Smith. “If we as coaches put you out on the football field, they expect you to perform. They read the papers, too. They know how you’re drafted, how you’re coming in, and you’re going to have to prove it on the football field and that’s what these young guys have done.”
The Texans finished the 2022 NFL draft with a nine-player class that included two first-round picks in cornerback Derek Stingley and Texas A&M guard Kenyon Green. Houston also had two second-round picks in safety Jalen Pitre and receiver John Metchie. Linebacker Christian Harris was taken in the third round, while running back Dameon Pierce provides youth as a fourth-rounder. The Texans had two fifth-round picks in defensive lineman Thomas Booker and tight end Teagan Quitoriano. LSU tackle Austin Deculus rounded out their class in Round 6.
Smith is pleased with the work ethic he has seen from the rookies thus far.
Said Smith: “They seem like they never leave the building and when they get their opportunities, they are stepping up and making plays.”
One of the key rules for forming cohesion and adapting to the NFL is for rookies to hit the reset button on their careers and leave their college accolades in the past, according to Smith.
“Another part of being a rookie is keeping your mouth shut,” Smith said. “I don’t want to hear about what you’ve done in the past. Just come in each day and work and they will start doing more. That veteran leadership will start going off on them and that’s kind of what’s happening right now.”
Mandatory minicamp runs June 14-16. It will be the last time the coaches get a chance to look at their whole team — rookies and veterans — before training camp.