HOUSTON -- For the 10 minutes or so of practice open to the media every day, running back Akeem Hunt makes his presence known.
No, not with his football plays -- though he has impressed Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien with those as well -- but with his dance moves. During the warm-up and stretching portion of practice, Hunt has provided energy, which is something O’Brien has noticed.
“He’s definitely one of those guys that brings a lot of energy and he has a ton of fun playing football, whether it’s out on the practice field or playing in games,” O’Brien said on Monday.
In Sunday’s victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Hunt ran for 52 yards on eight carries. He also had a third-quarter run for 33 yards that was called back because of a penalty.
“I thought he gave us a spark and that’s what we were looking for,” O’Brien said. “I thought he had earned the right to be on the 53-man roster through his play on the look team, the scout team and on the practice squad. I thought that he came in there and did a nice job for us.”
Hunt, who did not make the Texans' roster out of training camp, chose to sign in Houston and join the practice squad to start the regular season.
“It was just the best choice for me as far as practice squad goes because I actually know the playbook and I know all my teammates," Hunt said. "Everybody just makes me feel like I’m home and I feel like I’m welcome here.”
Hunt was a part of the Texans’ roster last season, playing in eight games, including the playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He had only one game with more than three carries, but he had three games in which he got into the open field and had a long run (plays of 17, 21 and 25 yards).
"He gets around the edge pretty fast," Lamar Miller said. "I think he's doing a good job in the open field being decisive and trying to make a good play."
Added quarterback Brock Osweiler: "Akeem is that guy who has so much bottled-up energy and if you get him the ball, he might be able to spring the big one every single time. He's so athletic and fast and a smart football player."
All season, O’Brien has preached the importance of players who can make a contribution on special teams. He said he liked what he saw from Hunt in that area on Sunday.
“When you look at Hunt [Sunday] on special teams -- forget about offense, that’s pretty obvious how he played on offense because he had the ball in his hand and he made some good plays -- but on special teams he was disruptive, too,” O’Brien said. “He may not have shown up as much in the stats as far as having a tackle, but he was down the field -- him or Don Jones were down there first, first or second, and making the returner, [Arrelious] Benn or whoever the returner was, have to make a first move before they really wanted to.”
Hunt said the praise from O’Brien has made him work even harder this season.
“It feels good to hear that coming from the head coach because he watches everything,” Hunt said. “He watches every rep and to hear him say that makes me want to push even harder to keep hearing him say that stuff."
Last season, Hunt was signed to the active roster after starting running back Arian Foster was put on injured reserve. This year, he was promoted due to injuries to Miller and fellow running backs Alfred Blue and Jonathan Grimes.
“This is the time of year when those guys are banged up and they need a rest, they need somebody to be able to come in and play for them and help them,” O’Brien said. “That was part of the decision.”
After his big game Sunday, Hunt said he was glad his teammates had noticed his energy and hopes it had affected them.
“I’ve always been the energetic type of guy, even when I was young,” Hunt said. “My mom said I used to run into walls when I was a kid. I just always carried that energetic spirit about myself.
"I just feel like nothing can go wrong if you just stay happy and get everyone around you energetic.”
The 31-year-old is in the top-10 in the league in both kick and punt return average
He may be 31-years-old and in the midst of his 10th NFL season, but the Atlanta Falcons' Eric Weems has once again been among the league's best return men.
The former B-CU and Seabreeze star is seventh in the league with 23.4 yards per kick return, and fifth with 11.7 yards per punt return. Weems' 73-yard punt return against Oakland earlier in the year is the fifth-longest of the season.
These numbers are nothing new for Weems, who was drafted in 2006. Over the course of his career, the former Wildcat and Sandcrab has consistently been one of the better returners in the league, averaging 24.3-yards per kick return, and nearly 11-yards per punt return.
This past Sunday against Philadelphia, Weems had another strong day, returning three kicks for 74-yards, including a 28-yard return in the first quarter.
Here are how some of the other former area stars fared over the weekend.
Ricardo Allen, S, Atlanta Falcons
The former Mainland star recorded five tackles in Atlanta's 24-15 loss to Philadelphia.
Allen now has 56 tackles this season, good for third on the team.
Leonard Williams. DL, New York Jets
Williams had a strong game last week against Miami, but was quiet in Sunday's loss to the Rams, recording just four tackles and a quarterback hit.
The ex-Mainland Buccaneer now has 39 tackles, six sacks, and two forced fumbles this season.
Ryan Davis, DL, Dallas Cowboys
After being inactive for a few weeks, the former B-CU star saw some action in the Cowboys' 35-30 win over Pittsburgh, playing 18 snaps but not recording a tackle.
It's been a down season for Davis, who was cut by Jacksonville before Week 1, but quickly signed with Dallas. However, he's done very little since joining the Cowboys.
Over the first two years in the league, Davis has 24 tackles, 11 sacks, and three forced fumbles.