HOUSTON -- Somewhere, Derrick Mason has an Oilers helmet, a reminder of just how long he has lasted in the NFL.
The 37-year-old practiced with the Texans on Thursday for the first time since he was traded from the New York Jets.
It's an all-too-fitting place for Mason to make a fresh start after a brief and rocky stint in New York. He was a fourth-round draft pick by the Tennessee Oilers in 1997, just as the franchise was leaving Houston.
Back then, Mason had the same No. 82 he wears now, and he briefly worked with the team in Houston before it moved to Nashville for good.
"I kind of came full-circle, so it's a good thing," Mason said. "Everything happens for a reason. You try to find some good in a situation that could've possibly been bad. You make the best out of it and you move on."
Mason caught just 13 passes in five games for the Jets, and he was benched in favor of rookie Jeremy Kerley on Sunday in New York's 30-21 loss at New England. Mason had envisioned helping the Jets make a Super Bowl run, but the team said he underperformed and jumped at the chance to deal him away when the Texans inquired about him.
Houston went looking for another receiver after Andre Johnson injured his right hamstring two weeks ago against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Texans coach Gary Kubiak hopes Mason can learn fast and be ready to play by Sunday, when the 3-2 team visits the Baltimore Ravens (3-1).
"I'm comfortable with him playing," Kubiak said. "I think he'll be fine, and I think our guys will help him, too."
Mason said he's ready to take on whatever role Kubiak sees for him.
"I'm just here to have fun and enjoy it, and whenever my number is called, just make the play," Mason said. "If it's inside or outside, it doesn't matter to me. As I continue to pick up on the playbook, I know that my role will expand some. And then once (Johnson) comes back, we'll see where it goes from there."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press