- Field Yates, ESPN Insider
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Each week we use this space to highlight members of the New England Patriots' upcoming opponent that have a connection to the team. This week, we lead off with a player that spent part of 2013 on the Patriots' practice squad and has become a surprise defensive contributor for the Houston Texans.
Linebacker Jeff Tarpinian: Originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Iowa back in 2011, Tarpinian was released by the Patriots from their practice squad this year before landing on the Panthers' practice squad, albeit briefly. He was signed by the Texans, who had been hurt by inside linebacker injuries, on Oct. 28, and quickly has made an impact. In three games, Tarpinian already has 14 tackles.
Cornerback Josh Victorian: A former member of the Patriots' practice squad, Victorian is a reserve defensive back in Houston who has two tackles in three games played this season.
Associate director of pro scouting Bobby Grier: A member of the Patriots' organization for nearly two decades from 1981 to 1999, Grier joined the Texans in the same role he currently serves in. He worked in a number of capacities in New England, including three years as the vice president of player personnel from 1997 to 1999.
And now, a trio of current Patriots with Texans ties.
Defensive tackle Chris Jones: A sixth-round pick for Houston this past April, Jones was waived by the Texans and Buccaneers before landing in New England. Given that he already has five sacks this season and is playing a healthy number of snaps per game, it’s fair to wonder if the Texans wish they could have this one back.
Running back Cierre Wood: The practice squad player was undrafted out of Notre Dame, landing on the Texans, where little-touted backs have gone on to success (notably, Arian Foster). Wood was among a trio of Texans who were released from the active roster as a disciplinary measure after an incident the night before a game against the Chiefs.
Linebacker Ja'Gared Davis: Another current practice squad player, Davis was signed by the Texans as an undrafted free agent out of SMU this April. Upon being waived in late August, Davis landed with the Patriots via a waiver claim. He was promoted to the active roster for one game this season before being waived and re-signed to the practice squad.