Back to Gillette Stadium the likes of head coach Bill O’Brien, defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, special-teams coordinator Brad Seely and assistant Wes Welker will go as the Houston Texans kick off the 2018 regular season on Sunday.
But the Texans’ coaching staff isn’t all that carries a history with the New England Patriots.
Three members of Houston’s active roster and two members of its practice squad were once Patriots. And when it comes to New England’s side, two members of the 53-man mix and two members of the scout team were once Texans.
Here’s a glance through the roster connections leading up to the 1 p.m. ET opener.
Matt Lengel, tight end – Claimed off waivers by the Texans in April and signed to Houston’s practice squad Sunday afternoon, Lengel appeared in his first six regular-season games with the Patriots back in 2016. New England added the former undrafted free agent by way of Northeastern and Western Kentucky off the Cincinnati Bengals’ scout team in the midst of that campaign, and his first career reception arrived via quarterback Tom Brady for a touchdown. The Patriots waived Lengel with the injury designation last August. The 27-year-old went on to log stints on the Cleveland Browns’ practice squad and active roster before finding his way to Houston.
Darius Kilgo, defensive tackle – Kilgo, who signed a futures contract with the Texans in January, also remained in Houston on the 10-man practice squad over the weekend. The 2015 sixth-round pick out of Maryland began his NFL tenure with the Denver Broncos before being claimed off waivers by the Patriots in November 2016. Kilgo would be let go yet retained on New England’s practice squad 10 days later, where he’d finish out the Super Bowl LI season with a ring. Briefly with the Patriots to begin 2017, Kilgo spent the remainder of last campaign on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ before beginning his Texans stint.
Angelo Blackson, defensive tackle – The Tennessee Titans’ selection at No. 100 overall in the 2015 draft, Blackson would accrue two seasons in Nashville before joining the Patriots’ practice squad to begin 2017. Blackson, who’d logged a half-sack against New England as a rookie, was snatched away to the Texans’ 53-man roster two months later. The 6-foot-4, 320-pound Auburn product appeared in nine games for Houston last go-around, starting one and posting nine tackles to go with a pass deflection. He cracked the active side of the fold again to commence 2018.
Johnson Bademosi, cornerback – On Labor Day weekend 2017, the Patriots acquired Bademosi from the Detroit Lions in exchange for 2019 sixth-round pick. Bademosi, a Stanford grad who’d spent four seasons with the Browns before joining the Lions on a two-year, $4.5 million pact, went on to enter into every game for New England last season, starting three and finishing with a career-best 29 tackles along with a pass deflection. The Texans later signed the 28-year-old cornerback and core special-teamer to a two-year, $6.25 million deal in free-agent waters this March.
A.J. Moore, safety – A member of the Patriots’ undrafted class this spring, Moore would go on to accrue 51 snaps on defense and 61 on special teams in preseason action this August. And despite seeing only two downs in the secondary through three weeks, the Ole Miss corner-slash-safety would be claimed off waivers by Houston in the hours after NFL rosters went from 90 to 53. The Texans were fourth in the claiming order Sunday, and walked away with Moore, fellow defensive back Natrell Jamerson and running back Gregory Howell.
Brian Hoyer, quarterback – Hoyer, who’s been a member of seven NFL organizations, started nine games for the Texans in 2015 and appeared under center in a total of 11. The well-traveled Michigan State Spartan went 224-of-369 passing for 2,606 yards, 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions on the way to a playoff berth. But Hoyer, who entered the league as a rookie free agent with the Patriots when O’Brien was named quarterbacks coach in 2009, returned to Foxborough last November having made additional stops with the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers.
Riley McCarron, wide receiver – The Patriots signed McCarron to the practice squad three weeks into September 2017. The undrafted slot receiver out of Iowa had been in training camp with Houston prior to then, as well as on the Texans’ initial practice squad. McCarron closed out his rookie campaign on New England’s and caught five passes for 55 yards while also returning four punts this preseason. The Patriots waived McCarron at the Sept. 1 roster deadline, yet he was promoted the active roster from the practice squad on Thursday.
Stephen Anderson, tight end – One day removed from a free-agent workout and one week removed from waivers, the Patriots added Anderson to the practice squad as McCarron’s spot opened Thursday. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound tight end signed with the Texans as an undrafted free agent out of Cal in 2016. Anderson caught 36 passes for 435 yards and two touchdowns in 28 career appearances for Houston. He faced New England four times, including preseason and postseason.
James Ferentz, center – Kirk Ferentz’ son, James, was 4 when the eventual Iowa Hawkeyes head coach took a job coaching the offensive line for the Browns in 1993. Bill Belichick, of course, was Cleveland’s head coach. Needless to say that time has flown. And James Ferentz, who broke into the league as a Texans undrafted rookie via Iowa in 2014, has taken a circuitous journey to New England. The versatile interior O-lineman joined the Patriots’ practice squad after the 2017 preseason and rejoined after mass cutdowns hit earlier this week.