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Texans veteran DB Desmond King not shying from Houston's potential: 'We're an up-and-coming team'

When Desmond King joined the Houston Texans four years ago, most of the talk around the team was negative.

So negative, in fact, former Texans running back Phillip Lindsay even claimed folks outside the organization looked at Houston as the NFL's "scum bucket."

My, how times have changed.

Houston is now an AFC darling, coming off a 10-7 season that included the Texans' first AFC South title and first playoff win since 2019. That alone would be deemed a success for a team that has spent most of the last half-decade in the cellar, but thanks to the addition of and instant success enjoyed by quarterback C.J. Stroud, these Texans have their sights set on greater goals.

With this in mind, it was easy for the 29-year-old King to return to the Texans in 2024.

"I wouldn't say that's the only reason I'm back," King said Saturday, via Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 Houston. "I'm going on my fourth year in Houston. I've done seen the evolution of the team and the organization just being here for those first couple of years and seeing where it's at now, knowing my capability and what I can bring to the team, why not be here with Houston?

"We're an up-and-coming team and we're here to stay. We're just getting ready for the season and I'm here."

If anyone has earned this payoff, it's King, a veteran who arrived in Houston with the hopes of simply continuing his career and providing leadership to a team in transition. He enjoyed success amid the Texans' struggles in 2021 and 2022, even filling a role as a punt returner for a squad in need of capable talent at several spots, but as Houston trudged to 4-13 and 3-13-1 finishes in 2021 and 2022 under the direction of two different head coaches, it would be fair for a player like King to consider options elsewhere.

He did that in 2023, signing with the Steelers. That didn't last long, though, as Pittsburgh released him during the season. When it came time to find a new home, King headed to a familiar place: Houston.

He latched on at the perfect time, rejoining a Texans squad that had morphed from also-ran to budding contender, playing in seven games (three starts) and recording 47 tackles (five for loss) as part of a revitalized defense directed by rookie coach DeMeco Ryans. With Stroud leading an exciting offense, Houston reached the playoffs and blew out the Cleveland Browns on Super Wild Card Weekend before falling to the conference's top seed, the Baltimore Ravens, in the Divisional Round, sending the Texans into the offseason carrying the promise of potential into 2024.

Immediately, it was clear the Texans would no longer operate as an NFL afterthought. That was all King needed to decide he'd run it back in Houston, where the veteran understands the 2024 season could be the start of something great -- as long as the Texans don't waste time reading their own praise.

"Just honestly, it's all about staying focused on the goal," King said. "We know what kind of team we have. That said, you see it every day in the locker room. It's what we do when we go out there on that field. Yeah, we have the noise. We have the hype behind us, but that's not out there on that practice field when we're out there working.

"That's what it's about. We're out there putting blood, sweat and tears in every day. We know what we have and we've got to believe in what we have, and that's what really matters."

There's no guarantee the Texans will carry their momentum into another successful season in 2024. Plenty has to go right for any NFL team to sustain success, but King is now certain Houston has what is needed to win. And after spending two seasons in mediocrity, the wait will hopefully be worth it.

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