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News » Houston Texans Inside Slant 2009-03-06

Houston Texans Inside Slant 2009-03-06

Houston Texans Inside Slant 2009-03-06
After playing five seasons with Arizona and helping the Cardinals reach their first Super Bowl, DE Antonio Smith was ready for a change.

Smith's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, lined up visits with the Texans and New York Giants at the start of free agency. Smith said other teams interested in him were Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Seattle and St. Louis.

Texans GM Rick Smith, coach Gary Kubiak and defensive coordinator Frank Bush had targeted Smith as a top priority to replace Anthony Weaver because they plan to keep Mario Williams on the right side. They didn't want Smith to make other visits, so the Texans on Saturday gave him a five-year, $35 million contract that included a $12.5 million signing bonus.

"I think it's going to be an electrifying year for the defensive line," Antonio Smith said. "I think we're (Smith and Williams) going to be a great pair. We're going to cause a lot of havoc for offensive linemen."

Smith, 27, is an Oklahoma City native who doesn't lack confidence. He played at Oklahoma State and was drafted in the fifth round by Arizona in 2004. As a rookie, he played for Bush, then Cardinals linebackers coach.

"I'm excited to play for (Bush) again," Smith said. "At the beginning of my career, he kept me grounded. He always kept me hungry, making me work. He raised my level of play, even as a practice-squad player, teaching me just how to practice and how to always go hard and to always give my all."

Smith, 6-4, 285, gives the Texans more bulk up front. As a pass rusher, Smith had 51/2 sacks in 2007 and 51/2 last season, including two in the playoffs.

"Antonio's worked so hard to get where he is today," said Bush, who coached Smith during his first three years in the NFL. "I've watched him go from the practice squad to a part-time player to a starter.

"I think he'll flourish in our system. Playing the left side, he has to be strong enough to fight through double-team blocks with the tight end, and when the tight end goes out on a route, he's got to beat the tackle, too. I think he can do that."

Antonio Smith came to Houston last Friday night.

"From the moment I got here, I loved the hospitality," he said. "I got a good feel for the coaches. Everybody just seemed like down-to-earth people you'd like to be around.

"I know what I can bring to the table will help the people around me. I'm going to play my heart out for them, and once they see how much I give for my teammates, I think we can feed off each other.

"I think once you have a good chemistry - and that's exactly what we had at the end of the (season) and the push through the playoffs - once you've got the good chemistry and believe in each other, there's no stopping you."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 6, 2009

Andre Davis Name: Andre Davis
Position: WR
Age: 29
Experience: 7 years
College: Virginia Tech
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