HOUSTON -- A condition of human nature often causes us to use words in an aspirational manner. Saying things we hope to do, describing ourselves in ways we hope to be, not actually as we are.
So when you hear a person tell you he's motivated, tell you he wants to be great, those words need corroboration.
That's exactly what receiver Jaelen Strong offered when he returned from the break between the Houston Texans' offseason program and training camp this year. He lost 20 pounds in the month off, and he lost them for a very important reason.
"Thought about what I went through to get here to where I’m at today, how much of an opportunity the Texans gave me by picking me," Strong said. "Just had to sacrifice and do whatever I needed to do."
Strong, who the Texans drafted in the third round, has looked quicker and smoother in the first two practices. He's known for having good hands and has shown it so far.
"He came back in shape, passed the conditioning test," O'Brien said. "He has had two decent days of practice, decent days. He just needs to keep stringing them together. He has had a good couple of days here, and that’s good for us to see that."
It's a stark contrast compared to his start to organized team activities which featured Strong suffering a hamstring injury on the first day -- an injury often indicative of being out of shape. He came in after the draft at 231 pounds -- 14 pounds heavier than he weighed at the combine. As a result we didn't get to see what Strong could do, and he didn't really have an opportunity to get back into shape during that time. O'Brien made clear to him that he needed to fix that, and soon.
"Coach O'Brien isn’t going to sugarcoat anything to me," Strong said. "He wants the best thing for me, so whatever he asks of me, I have to be coachable, I have to accept it. The opportunity he gave me to be a Houston Texan means a lot to me. I’m all ears. Whatever he needs me to do I’m going to do."
Young players don't always listen, but Strong did. It can take months or years for some to comprehend that they are wasting an opportunity, but Strong knew it right away and did something about it. He came into training camp at 211 pounds, and said repeatedly this past weekend that he still had a long way to go.
It's a good sign for his future.