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Texans A.J. Cann Finding Rhythm With Familiar Face At OTAs

A.J. Cann already understands the ins and outs of working with Texans offensive line coach George Warhop

HOUSTON -- One thing A.J. Cann hopes his new teammates find out quickly is there is a standard playing underneath Houston Texans offensive line coach George Warhop. Everything comes down to detail with him, and he'll let you know right away if one rep isn't polished enough. 

"He’s going to be about his work each and every day," Cann said Tuesday at OTAs. "I know he’s a laidback coach but when it’s time to get after it, he gets after it. He’s never going to change for anybody. He’s going to be him and that’s what I respect about him.”

Cann was convinced by Warhop to come and reunite with him in Houston after spending three seasons together with the Jacksonville Jaguars. One of the other major factors in signing a two-year contract worth $10.5 million was a phone call from Lovie Smith. 

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Smith floated the idea to Cann that he would be the veteran of a young roster with potential. It was the laid-back demeanor of the head coach that Cann was attracted to, mostly due to the similarities he can in himself. 

That's been the consensus of Smith since he was named Houston's coach in February. Of course, that's only the side fans get to see. 

"He really doesn’t say much but you can tell he’s got a little spark about him," Cann said. "I kind of like him to stay cool and quiet. You don’t want to piss him off.” 

Cann's role in Houston is to be a leader of the offensive line for younger talent. He's nearing 30 and has been one of the more consistent role players at his position since being drafted out of South Carolina in 2015.

The Texans used the No. 15 selection on Texas A&M's Kenyon Green. The hope is Cann can show his fellow SEC alum the ropes as he adjusts from college ball to the pros. Cann understands are the practices in the SEC train talent for weeks of work at the next level. 

Green, a two-time All-American, has the added pressure of being a first-round talent. 

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"They are going to expect a lot of him but be who he is every day and that’s who he’s been. A humble quiet kid," Cann said of Green. "He’s been working hard for the past two weeks he’s been here and I think he’s going to be a hell of a player.”

Cann has the rep count that should pencil him in at right guard in Week 1 against Indianapolis. He's started 94 games out of 95 appearances, 92 of which came from the right guard spot. 

Last season was the first year he missed extensive time in his career after suffering a season-ending MCL injury in Week 4. And yes, Cann made sure to say career, mentioning how he hasn't missed much away from the field since he was a six-year-old playing in little league. 

"I’m feeling really good," said Cann. "I’ve been out there with the boys doing everything, involved in everything and I feel really good right now and can’t wait to show what I can do.”

Smith said following practice that no one should "put too much into who’s getting reps right now” in large part due to missing players. Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil is not practicing during the voluntary workouts. The Texans also are limiting the reps of those dealing with injuries. 

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Houston has options in terms of its front five. Max Scharping and Justin McCray remain under contract for another season. Fourth-year pro Tytus Howard has reps at multiple positions. The Texans could have a battle at swing tackle between third-year pro Charlie Heck and rookie Austin Deculus from LSU.

After playing with him in Jacksonville, Cann believes the better one is in run blocking, the more enticed Warhop will be. It can't get much worse for the Texans after the franchise-low 3.2 yards per play in 2021. 

"Every offensive line I’ve played with would say this, being as physical as you can in the run game," Cann said. "It’s something I look forward to.”