Houston Texans tight end Pharaoh Brown warms up before an NFL preseason football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Justin Rex)

Texans tight end Pharaoh Brown readily admits this has been a much improved training camp so far.

He is feeling more connected than ever with second-year quarterback Davis Mills.

“I feel very confident in what I can do,” Brown said. “Right now, it’s just building trust with Mills, the offense and with everybody.”

It’s a distinct difference from last season when Brown didn’t have the season he expected. While he views himself as a receiving tight end, his added weight made him more suitable for a blocking role and the numerous penalties against Brown last season even made that a reach.

So Brown went into the offseason determined to fix his mental approach to the game and change his body so that he could become more of a receiving threat this season. He went on a diet, eliminating Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce from his meals and that helped him shed 18 pounds and reduced his body fat to 14.9 percent from 18 percent. The 6-foot-6 tight end is now down to 262 pounds.

It’s led to a remarkable all-around transformation.

“What I took from it was just my mental, so after the season, I did a lot of stuff, just getting my mind right, getting my body right, just getting everything right,” said Brown, who last season caught 23 passes for 171 yards for an average of 7.4 yards per catch and had no touchdown catches. “Last year, was not one of my best years. I really just came out just a whole totally different player. I think it was a learning lesson, and you kind of go through that, everything. You have some kind of setbacks and it’s kind of helped propel me to where I’m at now.”

Brown, who is a native of Cleveland, had other motivations. He figured that cutting weight and becoming more of a receiving target for Mills would translate to a bigger contract after he signed a one-year $3.5 million deal to remain with the Texans.

“I always did like pilates and stuff like that, but I mean, I was a fat guy last year,” said Brown, who spent a season with hometown Cleveland Browns before being picked up by the Texans. “One of the lineman just was like, ‘I’m proud of you, man. You were a big o-line tight end last year and now you’re out there catching balls.’ I told him, ‘Yeah, I got a new financial advisor and they told me the blocking tight end gets the minimum.’ I’m trying to get a (Cleveland Browns tight end) David Njoku deal after this year, so we have to catch a lot more balls. A lot of that went into it and now I’m right where I want to be.”

Texans coach Lovie Smith, however, views Brown as a versatile tight end who can block and catch balls.

“He’s listed as a tight end, but he can play in line, he can move out,” Smith said. “It’s a tough match-up because he has big wide receiver skills. Just another weapon that we have to be able to use. We have a big guy in Pharaoh inside. We can line him up at a lot of different positions, so just gives flexibility to our offense.”

Brown will get to test his body and mental preparation against another team when the Texans host the New Orleans Saints in the preseason opener on Saturday night at NRG Stadium. He is looking forward to facing an opponent different from his teammates.

“Saturday, it’s all — it’s fair game,” Brown said. “I’m just excited to see all these young guys and the defensive guys go out there and really hit somebody and the offensive guys, our O-line let the leash off and get after somebody else.”