When the final preseason game was finished against the San Francisco 49ers, the Houston Texans filed into the locker room with mixed emotions. Some of the players who knew they were getting ready for week one of the season were smiling and laughing, while 22 other players were heading into a night that was full of questions on what their NFL future would be.
Ankrah arrived to Houston from Nebraska as a defensive end from a 4-3 defense, but the Texans saw him differently.
Ankrah during OTAs said his initial phone call from the Texans told him they wanted him for outside linebacker, no other position. The only issue was that
Ankrah had never played defensively as a stand up edge player, but he took the
chance to make his dream come true in Houston.
Fast forward almost two months later and Ankrah was sitting at his locker removing the tape from his wrapped ankles. The 6-3 and 262 lbs. frame stood up to greet me before we talked about what was ahead for the rookie.
Ankrah talked about his experience since arriving in June for rookie mini camp,
“I loved it and enjoyed every day. I woke up everyday with a new mindset to just come out and work. Try to be better at every technical part of my game as possible. I feel like I grew in the process and got acclimated to the defense and program.“ He added, “I love my teammates and the opportunity I had.”
The surgery to Jadeveon Clowney opened the door for Ankrah to work against NFL starters while the Texans experimented with Brooks Reed at inside linebacker. This became a big step for Ankrah who ended up getting plenty of playing time in preseason to win a spot with the Texans.
“I felt like I put my all out there in every situation I had, but if the coaches see it up to par or not, I respect their decision.” Ankrah said, “I just know I put everything I had out there. I respect my coaches and I am more than thankful for the opportunity.
Despite knowing the cuts that were coming, Ankrah stayed focused on what he could control, “I worry about what I can control. That is coming out here playing football and working on my technique.”
Uncertainty never stopped Ankrah from showing up everyday and doing his job, something that Bill O’Brien has engrained into his team.
“You just never know what is going to happen. I never let myself get too comfortable and I wake up every morning knowing I could get cut.”
The jump from college to the NFL was not too much for Ankrah. He has the size and strength to play the SAM linebacker in Romeo Crennel’s 3-4 scheme. He has some refining to do as a player but he has shown that he can hold the edge and provide some power moves rushing the passer. Ankrah felt as practices went on that he could play at the next level,
“I feel I can play in this league and compete at this high level. It is up to me to get my job done, day in and day out.”
When asked the question what he would do when he received the call that he made the team and what would his reaction be, Ankrah said with a smile,
“I would be more than glad, I didn’t get drafted and that is in the past. I don’t care how I got here and I am here. If I get that call that says I am here, I will be jumping for joy. There will be no words to explain that.”
Well Mr. Ankrah, time to jump for joy.