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Texans Wire Exclusive: Will Anderson details offseason studying entering Year 2

Iron sharpens iron.

The bible verse from Proverbs was an important catchphrase to the Houston Texans’ 2023 offseason during their first training camp under head coach DeMeco Ryans. It’s also a popular phrase to describe one’s plight to improve.

Entering his second season, defensive end Will Anderson Jr. is taking that to heart.

Whether that’s with reigning NFL Defensive MVP Myles Garrett or his new teammate Danielle Hunter, Houston’s young franchise pass rusher is looking at every avenue to improve.

“I’ve got to really just focus on myself,” Anderson told Texans Wire of his offseason. “It was a great break because, you know, in college, you just non-stop, you’re going spring football, do this. So this was a nice break to really just have a great balance between working out and having a great balance between resting and that.”

For the reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, this version of spring is new. It’s one without the requirements of a student-athlete or the rigorous preparation that goes through the daily process leading up to the NFL draft.

Since being selected third overall last April, Anderson has lived up to the hype Houston fans envisioned. He finished his rookie season with 45 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks while anchoring the edge for one of the NFL’s better run defenses.

Months later, the Pro Bowler can finally rest but he acknowledges there was work to be done and major room to improve entering Year 2.

During last year’s exit interview, the coaching staff tasked Anderson to work on his separation. It’s pivotal for defensive ends to make sure they don’t become trapped by opposing offensive tackles and spacing ensures they can use their hands and their full arsenal of pass rush moves.

Anderson was honest when asked if there was one specific moment where he saw improvements. There wasn’t. Every game he was able to point out a flaw in need of refinement.

“I think I caught myself a lot at the top of the rush being too connected and tackles being too, like, chest to chest with them and not getting that extension,” Anderson said. “So, I really just see mostly all my games that I want to do a better job of, you know, keeping that separation so they don’t get hands-on me a lot and I can be able to keep working my hands.”

How does a player of Anderson’s caliber go about improving on a stellar campaign?

Changes to his diet and exercise regimen were given. Young players will almost always gain an edge on the field from a full offseason of working with an NFL training staff and a professional-caliber nutritionist.

It goes beyond the physical aspect to become truly elite for players of Anderson’s caliber.

The former All-American acknowledged that his study habits have changed entering Year 2. Rather than focus on opposing tackles, he’s started to self-study his rushing moves, even going so far as to partner with teammate and Pro Bowl offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil to better his approach.

“I’m looking at my step, I look at my hand placement because talking with LT (Laremy Tunsil), which has been great, another great guy, he always says ‘You know Will, these are a couple of things that I see from you.’ So now I went back and watched like,  ‘OK, I might have to change up my stance right here, I have to change up my angle right here, ‘ ” Anderson said. “He was telling me, ‘I know when you get in this stance when you get in this angle, what you are going to do.’ ”

Considered one of the best pass-blocking tackles in the NFL, Tunsil has been the ideal teammate for Anderson to team up with. He’s made the Pro Bowl four times since being traded to Houston in 2019, including back-to-back seasons in 2022-23.

“Those are the things now like when I’m watching practice or I’m watching the film I’m looking at my steps, I’m looking at my angles, I’m looking at my departure,” Anderson said of his approach. “How did I get off this block? How did this move work? Why didn’t this move work? What did this tackle do so that move didn’t work? What did the tackle do so that move did work? So those are the things that I’m changing about my game that I want to focus in more that I’ve been spending a lot of time on this offseason.”

Given his talent and effectiveness from last season, the transformation should do wonders for Anderson. If it translates to gamedays, Anderson could reach  Hunter’s caliber in the pass-rushing department by the season’s end.

This past weekend, Anderson partnered with USAA and their “Huddle Up for Hurricane Prep” initiative to raise awareness and educate the public on how to prepare, react and recover from Hurricanes.

He met with emergency responders from the U.S. Coast Guard as part of an important subject where Texas ranks in the Top 10 most hurricane-prone states.

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire