Linebackers coach Reggie Herring basically came out and said the Texans were better off without Ryans last week. Now, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has cemented the faith the team has in James by announcing he'll be the communicator on the field.
"He's the signal-caller. He calls all the signals and all the audibles. He already knows them, so that's the good thing," Phillips said Wednesday, according to the official team website. "We put in a few different things, but he's caught onto those real quickly. He's real familiar with what we're doing and how we want it done and what changes we need to make in the heat of the battle. That's what I like about him."
James' production declined this past season, his last in nine campaigns with the Dallas Cowboys, but Phillips doesn't see a different player than the one he knew in Big D.
"(He's) pretty much the same. The guy is a field general, is the quarterback out on the field, knows what we're calling," he said. "Sometimes we signal things, which I can go through the whole signals with some guys and I just do one thing and he knows what the call is. If we play somebody that has a hurry-up offense, he has no problem. It's boom-boom-boom, he gets it done. That's the real help he gives you."
Rehabbing third-year linebacker Darryl Sharpton might have more upside than James, but the latter clearly has Phillips' trust.