A year ago, Texans wide receiver Jaelen Strong was a sluggish rookie. He was noticeably overweight, tipping the scales at nearly 230 pounds as if he was unintentionally bulking up for a move to tight end.
Strong chalked up the weight gain to the travel and lost workout time associated with the predraft circuit. He responded by changing his diet and increasing his cardio workouts to get down from 6-2, 230 pounds to a lean 197 pounds.
Strong has been one of the more impressive players at the Texans' organized team activities, catching a series of passes in traffic for first downs.
"I just said to him today how far he's come," O'Brien said Tuesday. "He's a guy that a year ago today, I was concerned about him from a conditioning standpoint. I just didn't know what type of condition he was in. It wasn't very good. He really at some point in time before training camp, he came back and passed the conditioning test and really took off after that.
"He contributed in some games last year. He had a really good offseason. He's in really good shape. He's playing well. Hopefully it continues. He's a guy that we're definitely counting on."
And Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has noticed a seriousness of purpose from Strong even during an offseason where he was arrested for possession of marijuana in February in Arizona.
When retweeting a link to this story, Texans beat writer Stephanie Stradley added, "No hype. Looks good." The Texans are looking for a starter opposite DeAndre Hopkins and Strong is competing with veteran Cecil Shorts and rookie Will Fuller for the job. He may face punishment from the NFL for his marijuana arrest, but the weight loss should help his speed and quickness.