Texans S Grayland Arnold uses ‘dog inside’ to fuel growth in third season

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Throughout the loud chatter and trash-talking between Houston Texans coaches and players on the offensive and defensive side of the ball during 11-on-11 drills, some repeated sentences can be heard loud and clear throughout the timed activity.

“Good play 35,” says one of the players from the sideline.

“That is how you get to the ball and make a play three-five,” says a resounding voice from the coaching staff.

That number being shouted out consistently belongs to defensive back Grayland Arnold. He is trying to prove to head coach and defensive coordinator Lovie Smith that he deserves more playing time in the defensive backfield this season. Arnold saw limited action last season on the defensive side of the ball as his presence was felt primarily on special teams. 

“I feel like this is really big, having a coach that understands you and knows you’re playing style and knows who you are,” said Arnold about having Smith as his coach.

The Kountze native knows that he must go above and beyond to get more playing time this season, especially with the amount of talent the Texans have in the defensive backfield. Arnold knows that every time his number is called, he has to make the most significant impact on the field, even if, most of the time, he is the smallest in stature at 5-10, 187 pounds.

“I am a competitor,” Arnold said about his drive and determination. “I ain’t the biggest guy. I ain’t going to ever be the biggest guy on the field. Nine times out of 10, most times when I step on the field, I am going to be one of the smallest guys. But it is the dog inside of me that keeps me going. I always had faith in God that I could get to the next level and compete.”

Getting to the next level didn’t come the traditional way for the former second-team All-Big 12 selection out of Baylor, who announced that he was entering the 2020 NFL draft after his redshirt junior season. Many experts had Arnold projected to be drafted to teams such as the New York Giants and Washington in the later rounds. Still, he did not hear his name called and signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent.

Not hearing his name called was something new for Arnold, who was All-State in two sports (basketball and football) at Kountze High School and was a standout for Baylor.

“I feel like, for anybody, it’s a humbling experience,” said Arnold about his draft day experience. “You are coming out early; you’re expecting to get drafted. So, it humbled me, but at the end of the day, man, like I say, it don’t matter, drafted or not, your ass still got to compete. You got to go compete.

“It don’t matter if you get that bag up front or down the road. You got to go prove it. You got to go earn it. So, it was a little humbling experience, but at the same time, it’s the same mindset going into it.”

After multiple stints of being shuffled back and forth from the Eagles’ practice squad and active roster, Arnold was released on September 3, 2021. Twelve days later, he discovered he was headed back to his home state of Texas as the Houston Texans signed him to the practice squad. 

Now, all Arnold is hoping for is an opportunity to get more playing time this season, but he knows that he must be willing to play multiple positions in the defensive backfield along with special teams.

“I have been going back and forth between nickel and safety, so I had a lot of footwork drills I did,” said Arnold when asked about his work in the offseason. “I did a lot of conditioning and a lot of running. During OTA’s I was in a lot of positions, so I just wanted to be versatile.”

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire