Houston Texans defensive end Will Anderson Jr.
Houston Texans defensive end Will Anderson Jr. (51) forces Miami Dolphins quarterback Skylar Thompson (19) to fumble the ball during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, in Houston. Thompson recovered the fumble on the play. Credit: AP Photo/Eric Gay

Texans rookie edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. can’t help but feel he has something to prove not just to players standing across from him and his teammates, but to the scouts who are breaking him down each week.

The Alabama standout and the player the Texans gave up assets to move up to take No.3 overall last spring, has heard so much about his impressive speed since the NFL Combine. But Anderson is out to prove there is more to his package than speed.

“They sleep on my power,” said Anderson, who is 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds. “They see me and my frame, and they’re like, ‘Oh, he’s probably just a speed guy.’ And then I – boom – I hit them with power as a counter, anything like that, so it’s just good to have that speed to power a lot of people wouldn’t think of my body type having.”

Both his speed and power have been on display during his two brief preseason appearances where Anderson has quickly made his presence felt. He is coming off an impressive outing during last weekend’s second preseason game against the Miami Dolphins.

Anderson recorded two tackles, one tackle for loss, a sack and a forced fumble during the Texans’ 28-3 home loss to Miami. During an early Miami drive, Anderson dropped running back Raheem Mostert for a five-yard loss around the goal line.

But his most impressive play of the day came on an obvious passing situation with the Dolphins looking at second-and-10. Anderson went unblocked, ran over running back DeVon Achane and strip-sacked quarterback Skylar Thompson, which resulted in a 14-yard loss.

Anderson enjoyed that hit the most.

“They called the play, they knew that was gonna happen,” he said. “I just go out there and do my job and whatever the coaches tell me to do.”

And the Texans coaching staff have certainly been impressed with the player the team thought so much of that it moved back up to take him one pick after drafting C.J. Stroud second overall. Taking Anderson appears to be a great decision and perhaps the steal of the draft.

“Will [Anderson Jr.], I thought he did a really good job of disrupting,” Texans first-year head coach DeMeco Ryan said following Saturday’s game against Miami. “Playing on their side of the line of scrimmage; that’s what we want from our defensive end. It’s good to see Will show that. That’s what we know Will can do. It was fun to see him make a play. It was fun to see the energy after he made a play. And Will has shown, just as C.J. [Stroud], both guys have shown [the drive] to get better each and every week, and I’m proud of where they are.”

Texans linebacker Denzel Perryman said what fans have gotten to see during the first two preseason games is the intensity Anderson brings every day in practice.

“I’ve said this before, Will [Anderson Jr.] comes into work every day angry,” Perryman said. “I can see him doing that every play, every day. It was an amazing play, to be honest with you.”

As impressive as Anderson has been, he says he is still learning and soaking up as much knowledge as he can.

“Really just trying to do what my coaches told me to do,” Anderson said. “I think one of the biggest things they’ve been harping on for the D-line is just getting off the ball, wreaking havoc and being physical.”

Anderson is showing signs he is up to the task.

“It was fun, but it just goes back to being disciplined, doing what my coaches are telling me to do: get off the ball, take two steps, climb up the field and be physical,” Anderson said Saturday night. “(Coach Ryans) doesn’t really care (what you do) as long as you’re being physical and fast.”

I've been with The Defender since August 2019. I'm a long-time sportswriter who has covered everything from college sports to the Texans and Rockets during my 16 years of living in the Houston market....