Cole Popovich, who worked as an assistant coach for the New England Patriots from 2016 until his departure in 2021, is set to return to the NFL. According to a report by Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 Houston, the Houston Texans will hire the 38-year-old as their new assistant offensive line coach.
Popovich started his career at the collegiate level before finding his way to New England. He started his tenure with the club as a coaching assistant, primarily on the offensive side of the ball, and in 2019 was promoted to assistant running backs coach under Ivan Fears.
One year later, with long-time offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia announcing his retirement, Popovich and Carmen Bricillo jointly took over that position. The duo coached New England’s O-line through the 2020 season and appeared set to return the following year as well.
However, Popovich left New England the following offseason. His departure was tied to the NFL’s Coronavirus protocols.
“From a staff standpoint, Carm will be coaching the offensive line. These are all things that play off the protocols from the league and so forth, so I’m not going to get into that any further. It is what it is,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said at the time about Popovich leaving the team after five seasons.
Center David Andrews also followed the “it is what it is” mantra when discussing the matter.
“You know, I appreciate Cole and always will love Cole,” he told reporters in July 2021. “He was a great coach. I know Bill addressed the situation, and it kind of is what it is.”
Popovich spent 2021 out of football before joining Troy in January 2022 as its offensive line coach. One year later, he is now making a comeback at the NFL level as assistant to new Texans O-line coach Chris Strausser.