HOUSTON -- There wasn't anger or resentment in Louis Nix III's voice as he spoke Wednesday afternoon for the first time since his coach's challenges both during the 2014 season and this March.
During the season, Texans coach Bill O'Brien said Nix needed to work on learning how to be a professional. Asked at the league meetings in March what he'd like to see from Nix in his second season, O'Brien said simply "the ability to make it through a practice."
Rather, Nix felt those comments had been overblown as a slight. He saw them as challenges from a man whose expectations he wants to meet.
"Bill would have said the same thing to my face," Nix said. "I took it as he does want to see me on the field. I haven’t been on the field. I haven’t really been through a practice because I had a lot of issues. Him saying all that, I took that as Bill just wanting to see me be the best player that I can be. That motivates me, of course, because I do want to be the best player I can be.
"I like Bill when he challenges me. I love a challenge. I can prove a lot of you guys wrong, too."
The Texans drafted Nix in the third round in 2014 and expected him to be their starting nose tackle. He entered the league after two knee surgeries to repair a torn meniscus. The second prematurely ended his 2013 season at Notre Dame. Upon arriving in Houston the following spring, knee problems led to another arthroscopic surgery, according to O'Brien.
He started the 2014 summer on the physically unable to perform list, but was elevated onto the active roster by August. He was inactive for the first three games of the season. Another injury, this one a wrist injury, landed him on injured reserve on Sept. 24.
Nix noted yesterday that injuries impact a player mentally.
"I guess expectations," Nix said. "Coming in and you’re supposed to be this guy to possibly help the team win. If you were healthy, maybe you could have made a difference. Me not being able to play, I never felt that. I got over that. A lot of guys encouraged me -- family, friends, and everybody. I’m just trying to move forward, do better, and just keep improving."
As for his goal for this season?
"My goal this year is to make it through a practice," he said. "That’s my goal."