Oct 23, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Houston Texans running back Dameon Pierce (31) carries the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Pitre, Pierce excited to play for Ryans, eager to get on the field with new Texans’ coach

Safety Jalen Pitre and running back Dameon Pierce, the Texans’ most productive rookies this season, are excited to play for new coach DeMeco Ryans. Like their teammates, Pitre and Pierce are ready to go to work for Ryans, who had his introductory news conference on Thursday.

Ryans shared the stage with chairman and CEO Cal McNair and general manager Nick Caserio. They were so thrilled with the hire they cracked a few jokes.

“Any time you get Nick smiling, that’s a good sign,” Pierce said this weekend at the TriStar Houston Collectors Show at NRG Arena. “He’s a guy that doesn’t show many teeth, and he was showing all 32 in the interview I saw.”

During his news conference, Ryans talked about Pitre and the defense and what he wants on offense.

“It’s a blessing to get to work with a guy like coach Ryans, somebody who’s doing well in coaching but also had a great career,” Pitre said at the TriStar Show. “He understands what it takes to be a high-level player in this league. He wants to teach us what he knows. I want to learn as much as I can from him and continue to evolve my game and get better.”

Pitre was one of the players Ryans singled out during his session with the media.

“Seeing Jalen Pitre, loved him coming out of Baylor,” Ryans said. “Loved the blitzing, loved just the play speed of Pitre. Just to see him come out this past year and have five interceptions, the way he attacked the ball, man, Jalen, we’ve got to continue to do that. We’ve got to continue to take the ball away.”

Pitre led NFL rookie defensive players with 147 tackles – second in team history to the 156 Ryans made in 2006 when he was voted NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

“He knows what it takes to be the best,” Pitre said. “He knows what he wants out of his players. I’m looking forward to learning from him. There’s going to be a lot of growing with him. I see a lot of good things and a lot of bad things I can grow from.

“I’m eager to continue to learn from my coaches and help my team keep moving in the right direction. I want to bring my best to the table and help this team win as much as we can. I’m looking forward to this season. It’s live – that’s the word I use. You can tell the energy is real. It’s good to have that feeling back in Houston. I’m ready to get to work.”

Pierce missed four games because of an ankle injury but still rushed for 939 yards and generated 1,104 yards from scrimmage. He led the rookies in average yards rushing per game (72.2), tied for second in broken tackles (35 a game) and was fourth in average yards after contact (38.9).

Ryans was the 49ers’ defensive coordinator this season when they ranked first in yards and points allowed, reaching the NFC Championship Game for a second consecutive season. Coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense finished fifth, including eighth in rushing and 13th in passing.

“He’s my new coach, and I’m going to follow our leader,” Pierce said. “Great coach, great hire, comes from a winning background. He brings another element we need. The system they had with the 49ers with (running backs) like Christian McCaffrey and Raheem Mostert that fit in that system I think it can translate to our offense.”

Last week, Ryans said, “How I envision the offense looking, we want to play with precision, effort and physicality. We want to own the line of scrimmage. We want to establish the run game first, but we also want to be balanced. We  want to be efficient.

“We want to have playmakers we can get the ball to. Everything about our offense, we want to make sure that we’re adaptable to the players we have, making sure we’re playing to their strengths, getting the ball in our playmakers’ hands and letting them make plays.”

Pierce was the Texans’ best playmaker before he was injured.

“I feel good about that,” Pierce said. “I want to be bigger, better, more efficient and mature. I want to grow as a player and as a man. Any time a player can have a coach that relates to him – a guy that’s walked the path he’s going to walk – that’s a great guy to have leading your team, especially when it comes to building a young team. That experience is going to pay dividends for us in terms of development and us growing as players.”

Pitre and Pierce met with fans, signing autographs and posing for pictures at the TriStar Show on Feb 4.

“TriStar is great, big time,” Pitre said. “I grew up here attending things like this hoping to meet Texans’ players. This is a surreal moment for me being in this position. I’m blessed that they asked me to be out there today.”

Pierce felt the same way.

“I’m honored that TriStar wanted me to be here,” he said. “It means a lot because it means I’m somebody the fans want to see. Any way I can interact with fans and give back and show faith I’m all for it.”

(John McClain writes four columns a week for GallerySports.com. He can be heard Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday on Sports Radio 610 and  Thursday on Texans Radio. He does three weekly Houtopia podcasts for 610. He also can be read three times a week on SportsRadio610.com).

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