HOUSTON -- Houston Texans rookie tight end Ryan Griffin is an NFL rarity. He's big, but even 6-6, 256 doesn't qualify as rare for NFL tight ends any more. It's that, if he makes the Texans' 53-man roster, Griffin will join San Diego Chargers defensive end Kendall Reyes as the only NFL players from New Hampshire.
The little state well known as the first to vote in the presidential primaries every four years, is beginning to make a statement in the NFL.
"Right now, it's just Kendall and me representing our state," said Griffin, a sixth-round pick from the University of Connecticut.
Griffin grew up in Londonderry, a town of 24,129. His home state has only 1.3 million residents, about half of Houston's population.
Going to Connecticut had a side benefit for Griffin, who was an outstanding basketball player in high school. He played pickup basketball games with players from the women's team that won the national championship.
"Well, it was when the women's team needed to run," he said. "They weren't organized practices, just pickup games in the gym. That was pretty cool to get to play with the best women players in college basketball. They were great players, and they were fundamentally sound. It was fun."
---Second-year receiver DeVier Posey, who underwent surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon in January, vows to participate in drills next week when the Texans have their three-day minicamp.
"I should be on the field," Posey said. "I can't sleep at night. I think about football all the time."
It's been less than five months since his surgery. He'll likely begin camp on the physically unable to perform list. He may have to begin the season on physically unable to perform, as well.
Entering his fourth season, Earl Mitchell is starting at nose tackle for the first time. In his first three seasons, Mitchell backed up Shaun Cody, but the coaches rotated them. Last season, Mitchell played more than Cody, who wasn't invited back after his contract expired.
"Earl's doing really well," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "He's a starter now, and he acts like one. He's very confident in what he's doing. Usually, that's what you'll see when a guy gets that opportunity; they'll take it and run with it. Everything this offseason, not just OTAs, has indicated that Earl's ready for his turn. I'm proud of what he's done so far."
There's an issue with Mitchell's backup. Veterans Sunny Harris and Terrell McClain and rookie Chris Jones (sixth round) are candidates to play behind Mitchell.
Veteran punter Shane Lechler has quietly gone about his business. He signed with the Texans after 13 seasons with the Oakland Raiders. During OTAs, he punts with the other specialists on a separate field, but has been impressive when called on for punting drills, as expected.
"He's got a big leg, and, obviously, he can directional punt really well," Kubiak said. "That's important. That's something we struggled with in the past.
"I really like the work he does inside the 20, but the biggest thing is he gives everybody (on) special teams confidence. When he talks, those guys listen because he has such respect from his years in the League."
After earning the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year honors last season, defensive end J. J. Watt believes his impact on the team will again come more with action than talk.
"I'm doing a little bit more talking than I've done in the past, but it all starts with my play," he said. "If I'm not playing well, nobody wants to follow me. I'm just trying to make sure I'm the best player I can be."