New Texans DE Smith looks to bring pressure on opposite side of Williams

HOUSTON -- Mario Williams has become a ferocious pass rusher in his three NFL seasons.

Too bad the Houston Texans haven't had any pressure coming from the opposite end since Williams was drafted.

Antonio Smith is hoping to change that in his first year with the Texans after helping the Arizona Cardinals reach the Super Bowl last season.

Ends to a mean

The addition of DE Antonio Smith to a line that already had Pro Bowl DE Mario Williams gives the Texans two elite edge pass rushers:

Antonio Smith
Games/Starts: 16/10

Tackles: 41

Sacks: 3.5

Forced Fumbles: 2

Mario Williams
Games/Starts: 16/16

Tackles: 53

Sacks: 12

Forced Fumbles: 4

  • These are 2008 statistics

The defensive end, who signed a five-year, $35 million free-agent contract with the Texans, joined Williams and the rest of his new teammates for the first time this week after missing the first week of practices because of an injured hamstring.

Smith can't wait to play with Williams, the right end who was drafted first overall in 2006, and believes they will help each other.

"I watched him, and teams like to double team him," Smith said of Williams. "So that must mean I'm going to get single-teamed most of the time. So, hey, I'll have fun, and once teams realize you can't single-team either one of us, they're going to have to find a way to get us blocked."

Williams had 53 tackles and 12 sacks last season despite dealing with near constant double-teams playing opposite Anthony Weaver. The Texans released Weaver during the offseason after he recorded only one sack in three years with the team.

Smith also is an upgrade over Weaver in size. Weaver is about 6-foot-3 and 274 pounds. Smith is 6-4 and about 285, a perfect complement to Williams at 6-6 and 283 pounds.

"He's a big, strong player," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said of Smith. "It's not like we have a small end and a big end now. We've got two pretty good-sized bodies out there."

A fifth-round pick in 2004, Smith joins a Houston line full of first-round draft picks. Along with Williams, the Texans have tackles Amobi Okoye (10th in 2007) and Travis Johnson (16th in 2005).

Smith had 41 tackles and 3.5 sacks last season, and he has 125 tackles and 14.5 sacks in his five-year NFL career.

For now, Smith is trying to get a feel for the team and learn the defense. After Smith has his bearings, Kubiak plans to move him around some, letting him rush from the inside and occasionally drop back in coverage. It's a role with which Smith is comfortable after the Cardinals used him in much the same way in most of his five seasons with the team.

Fantasy rankings

Despite the presence

of Mario Williams and Antonio Smith, NFL.com's Michael Fabiano still sees

the Texans as a low-end fantasy defense in his rankings. More ...

"I've never really done just one thing my whole career," Smith said. "It's like second nature to me. Once I learn the technque they want me to use, I think I'll be fine. I know how to do it all."

Kubiak can't wait to see how Williams and Smith can work together next season.

"He's the big, strong, powerful guy opposite of Mario," Kubiak said of Smith. "He helps us with the tight end and those types of things, not letting them off the line of scrimmage. He can go inside and rush the passer, which I saw him do throughout the playoffs very effectively. So he's a key and that's why we brought him here."

Smith started in three of Arizona's four playoff games last season and had a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the Cardinals' Super Bowl loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. That experience could be invaluable for a Texans team that's still looking to make its first playoff trip.

Smith has plenty of advice for his new teammates, but he'll hold back until he has been with the Texans a bit longer.

"I've been trying to feel everybody out," he said. "There are some things that I would say, about how to get deep into the playoffs that I learned in the last year. But everything I saw on our team (in Arizona), I see on this team."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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