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Texans DE Will Anderson outlines transition from Alabama to the NFL

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By: John Crumpler

Will Anderson is off to fast start in his NFL career.

Despite the Houston Texans starting 0-2, Anderson has gathered 10 quarterback pressures, three quarterback hits, 1.0 sack, a tackle for loss, and nine total tackles through his first 95 NFL snaps. The Alabama product is an early favorite for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, and the talent that led him to be selected third overall in the 2023 NFL draft has been on full display.

Despite playing for Nick Saban in college, where he twice won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as college football’s best defensive player, Anderson has still had to adjust to the reality that is the NFL.

Anderson sat down with the Texans Wire to celebrate his recent signing with Klutch Sports by New Balance and discussed the diffferences between preparing for an NFL game compared to his time at Alabama.

“Honestly, if I’m being 100% honest with you, it’s the exact same,” Anderson said. “Alabama has just so much NFL related, it’s literally the exact same. I would say it’s not as intense as it was at Alabama. There, everybody is always on edge, meanwhile in the league it’s a player’s league. The coaches are there but the players are responsible for honing on the detail. The coaches provide what they need to provide but at the end of the day you’re the one going out there playing so you really need to be prepared and be studying everything. That’s probably the only thing that’s different.”

Anderson elaborated on how the coaching staff and players collaborate more specifically around film session.

“The players are a little bit more hands on when it comes to getting ready and preparing for a game,” Anderson said. “The coaches had more input in college than they do in the league. That’s the biggest difference, it’s more of a collaboration in the league with the players and the coaches. The coaches they watch the film, they break it down, they get statistics. Then we break it down, we watch the tape, and we come together and collaborate. In college, the coaches did everything and we just listened, wrote notes down, and went out to do what they told us. It’s way better in the league, I like it a lot.”

Anderson has been lucky to start his career under new coach DeMeco Ryans. The 2022 AP NFL Assistant Coach of the Year is considered one of the best defensive minds in football and won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year when he was with Houston in 2006.

The rookie defensive end commented that it’s been interesting to watch his own preferences and skillset be implemented into the gameplan by Ryans and the staff.

“In the NFL it’s way different,” said Anderson. “You actually have the coaches asking you what you like this week, what do you think about this? Do you want to put this in, stuff like that. I kind of like that better. At Alabama, it was kind of like you’re going to do what we tell you to do and you’re going to go out there and execute.”

From a football standpoint, beyond the statistics it’s been a simpler transition for Anderson. The most difficult transition has actually been the demands of players off the field, despite the lack of any classroom requirements as he had in Tuscaloosa. He detailed his answer well:

“When I played at Alabama we played a 4-3 too and I played a 9-tech, so all that stuff is easy. The transition was easy. I would say the routine, the off-the-field stuff is the biggest difference. We practiced very intense at Alabama, it was very physical, and that’s kind of how we practice here now. So all of that stuff is very easy for me.” Anderson continued to elaborate, “I think it’s just the routine of how much time you have throughout the day, what are you doing with your time, there’s so much stuff you have to make time for treatment, nutrition, watching film, taking care of your body. All that type of stuff, that’s kind of been the part I’m still trying to learn and navigate my way through.”

Houston fans will have to hope that Anderson just continues to improve as he nails down his routine and practice techniques. Thus far, he’s been everything the franchsie hoped for when they traded a king’s ransom to move up in the draft. It remains to be seen if he can captain Coach Ryan’s defense in the way everyone eventually hopes.

Originally posted on Texans Wire

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