The Houston Texans and safety Lonnie Ballentine have had a rough start to their union. Ballentine, who has been plagued by injuries since his arrival to the team in 2014, was the final pick in the 2014 NFL draft and arrived with intrigue and potential, much of which was triggered by his 6’3" and 225 lbs. frame. The rangy safety has been slowed by injury, including 2015 when, after a small sample of productive play, Ballentine injured his knee going for a tackle which would put him on the shelf all through the summer and training camp.
Ballentine would have a tough rehab moving forward, trying to get back on the field, but the Texans were not ready to move on from him despite having seen little action from him over the past couple of seasons.
“I think he’s done a really good job of being able to compartmentalize and understand that when he’s here his focus is on, whether it’s rehab or the game plan, now,” said O’Brien of Ballentine. “He does a really good job of that. I think he’s got a good maturity about him and I think that’s going to help him in his career.”
This season, Ballentine did not practice a single day during the summer or training camp but the Texans made sure they did not cut their talented safety loose. The Texans had Ballentine on the physically unable to perform list during camp and, when the season arrived, moved him to the regular season PUP list. That move gave Ballentine more time to rehab from the knee injury which he suffered last season and, in a matter of 6 weeks, he was ready for game action.
“When he was injured last year, he was playing a lot. You could argue that he was starting for us and then he was helping us on special teams,” explained O’Brien of Ballentine. “He’s got good length, good athletic ability. He’s an instinctive player. We felt like the best decision for this football team was to rehab him and get him ready to play because when he could help us, we felt like he could help us.”
Ballentine saw his first game action last week against the Denver Broncos, getting in at safety when Corey Moore exited with a concussion. Now, with injuries throughout the team, Ballentine will find himself on the field more responsibilities.
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