INSIDE SCOOP

Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

September 05, 2018 at 1:08 am.

Texans look for bounce-back season

Heading into the season-opener against the New England Patriots, the Houston Texans’ locker room and practice fields are relatively harmonious environments.

There’s plenty of joking around and camaraderie.

Heading into the season, Texans head coach Bill O’Brien is encouraged by the intangibles of his players and how they interact.

I think there’s good chemistry,” O’Brien said. “I think they’re a team that seems to get along pretty well. I think they work very hard. They do everything we ask them to do. They don’t go into it with blinders.

“They ask good questions about why we’re doing things, and as coaches we do a good job, I believe, of telling them why, but I think they work very hard and I think it’s a locker room of high-character guys.”

Entering his fifth season coaching the Texans and coming off a 4-12, last-place finish in the AFC South division last year, O’Brien is upbeat about the Texans’ outlook.

“I’ve always enjoyed coaching here,” he said. “Some days better than others, obviously, but I’ve always enjoyed the players here. This team is no exception. I really enjoy the players.

“Certainly they don’t probably enjoy me every day, but I enjoy coming to work with them. I think they work hard, they compete, they try to learn what we’re asking them to do.”

The Texans are poised for a bounce-back season.

They have a star quarterback in Deshaun Watson, an All-Pro wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins and an overhauled offensive line.

Defensively, the Texans’ 3-4 defense is headlined by J.J. Watt, Benardrick McKinney, Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus and Tyrann Mathieu.

The special teams needs to be better this year for this team to turn things around.

SERIES HISTORY: 9th regular-season meeting. Patriots lead series, 7-1. They are unbeaten at home against the Texans.