“Probably one of the most improved players on our football team, Jaelen Strong. From this point, where he was last year compared to where he is now, he has turned it around 180 degrees. He’s in good shape, he has made a lot of plays this spring.” - Bill O’Brien.
It is not often that Bill O’Brien goes out of his way to give a specific player on his team praise, but he made sure before the break to give his second-year wide receiver his due. The NFL is about growing as a player and, in less than a year, Strong has turned it around and put his early career on the right path.
Coming into the draft, Strong was widely considered a first round pick who fell to the third round, possibly due to news shortly before the draft that he would require wrist surgery. That turned out to be nothing major and the Texans landed a gifted receiver who had plenty to learn in a short amount of time. However, on top of the learning curve, Strong came into OTAs with a weight issue that had to be addressed.
“I didn’t get bad advice, but I was going down a wrong road,” explained Strong. “People were just telling me good things. Nobody really was telling me what I should have heard. I came here and it was what I should have heard.”
What he needed to hear came from O’Brien with tough love which came after Strong was unable to finish practices during OTAs and Mini Camp due to poor conditioning.
Strong was put on notice, “It went off last year, actually. He (O’Brien) told me that I better get myself together. That’s really when it started for me, the dieting and everything I do to get right.”
Eating right and constantly working out, even on days off have proven to help him beat his demons from his rookie season. Strong is now able to look back on his mishaps and learn from those experiences.
“That’s the biggest thing. When you are making this jump, everybody’s telling you the good stuff about you. Everybody’s telling you what you’re doing well. No one really has your best interests,” explained Strong. “At that point, you have to dig deep.”
It took another mishap this off-season in Arizona that put some questions on whether he could be the guy across from DeAndre Hopkins. Strong has accepted the mistake and has answered the bell by coming out and getting to work. Feeling like he let down his family and the Texans, Strong realized that his team had a plan for him.
“When I came here, I know the organization really cared about me. They really showed that they really wanted me here,” said Strong. “To repay them, I have to go out there and work every day like it’s my last day.”
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