The ties between the staffs range from Romeo Crennel to Jedd Fisch. Even executive vice president of football operations and interim general manager Jack Easterby.
But additional familiarity can be found between the rosters of the Houston Texans and New England Patriots heading into Sunday at NRG Stadium.
Four ex-Patriots players are currently in Houston’s locker room. Five ex-Texans players are in New England’s. And as the 1 p.m. ET visit nears, here is the list.
Brandin Cooks, wide receiver – The Patriots once acquired Cooks and pick No. 118 overall in the 2017 draft from the New Orleans Saints. No. 32 overall and No. 103 overall went the other direction in the exchange. And during the Oregon State Beaver’s lone campaign with New England, he caught 65 passes for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns. Cooks, whose option was exercised, then went to the Los Angeles Rams in the spring of 2018 as the Patriots acquired a first-round selection that became Georgia offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn. The 27-year-old Cooks circled back to the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. And he became a Texan via another trade this past April. Cooks stands with 43 receptions for 549 yards and three scores this fall. He has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark with three different clubs.
Chad Hansen, wide receiver – Hansen had been awarded to New England off waivers on Labor Day weekend in 2018. The wideout by way of California and Idaho State would be waived eight days after his arrival in Foxborough. Houston marks his fourth organization dating back to then. Hansen was claimed by then-head coach Bill O’Brien’s Texans one July ago. He has resided on the practice squad this season since its formation in September. The 25-year-old originally entered the league in the fourth round of the 2017 draft with the New York Jets.
Keion Crossen, cornerback – The Patriots filled out Crossen’s draft card at pick No. 243 overall in 2018. The Western Carolina Catamount proceeded to log 14 tackles during his rookie year while playing 113 snaps in the kicking game. And in the preseason finale of Crossen’s sophomore NFL summer, he defended a handful of passes and came down with an interception. New England traded Crossen to Houston in exchange for a 2021 sixth-rounder in the days that followed. The 24-year-old corner has been on the field for every Texans game dating back to then, tallying 23 tackles as well as 440 snaps on special teams.
A.J. Moore, safety – Though a member of New England’s 2018 undrafted class, Moore landed in Houston as rosters trimmed from 90 that August. The Ole Miss Rebel had seen 51 snaps on defense and 61 snaps on special teams during his preseason with the Patriots. And with the Texans, he’s been in for 36 career games and gone from a core special-teamer to a secondary starter. The 2020 campaign marks Moore’s first as a captain for Houston. The 24-year-old was activated from injured reserve this November.
Brian Hoyer, quarterback – Hoyer started nine games under center for the Texans in 2015 and checked in for 11. He went 224-of-369 for 2,606 yards with 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions en route to the AFC wild card. Houston would be the fifth stop on the tour of the 2009 undrafted free agent out of Michigan State. Hoyer, now 35, returned to the organization he cut his NFL teeth with this March on a one-year, $1.05 million deal. The three-time Patriot stands as the third QB on the depth chart.
Jordan Thomas, tight end – New England claimed Thomas off waivers last week, and the 24-year-old from Mississippi State is on track make his debut versus the organization that drafted him in the sixth round back in 2018. Thomas played his first NFL game against the Patriots. He saw action in 21 and started a dozen while with the Texans, totaling 21 catches for 223 yards and four touchdowns. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound target was waived at roster cutdowns this September and accrued recent months with the Arizona Cardinals.
James Ferentz, center – The interior lineman via the Iowa Hawkeyes signed with the Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2014. Ferentz went on to spend his rookie season on the Houston practice squad after passing through waivers and was claimed by the Denver Broncos at the start of 2015. The 31-year-old earned a Super Bowl ring while in Denver and has done the same while in New England. Ferentz started the first two games of his career in 2019 and has tacked on a third in 2020.
Nick Thurman, defensive tackle – Thurman, who cleared waivers and re-signed to the practice squad Wednesday, has appeared in six games this season for New England as a standard elevation, Covid-19 placement and 53-man member. He’s started the first of his career and also registered seven tackles, including one for loss. The 25-year-old University of Houston alum was originally signed by the Texans as a rookie free agent in 2018. Thurman would be waived after his rookie training camp and briefly latched on with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for offseason workouts in 2019. Thurman then signed with the Patriots that May and remained for all of last campaign on the practice squad.
John Simon, linebacker – It will be back-to-back Sunday reunions for Simon, a fourth-round pick of the Ravens in 2013 who departed from the practice squad to join the active roster of the Texans in 2014. The former Ohio State Buckeye and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year started 13 games and appeared in 38 while with Houston. Simon reached 100 tackles and 10 sacks over his three-year run. The veteran outside linebacker is 30 now, and in the third year of his run with New England. Simon has started all nine contests this campaign while gathering 34 tackles, a pair of sacks and a pair of batted passes.