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DeMeco Ryans' ability to relate to players bolsters Texans' credibility at NFL combine

Texans Wire logo Texans Wire 3/2/2023 Brian Barefield
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INDIANAPOLIS ⁠— One name that brought a smile to the faces of the defensive linemen and linebackers group Wednesday at the NFL combine was a former player.

The Houston Texans brought back one of their own in DeMeco Ryans to be the sixth coach in team history. In the past two years, Houston was not seen as a premier destination for rookie players looking to transition smoothly into the NFL.

There was a lot of toxicity surrounding the organization, with uncertainty at the quarterback position. The franchise quarterback requested a trade, and this was before multiple women accused the three-time Pro Bowler of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Houston also hired and fired two coaches in consecutive seasons.

The Texans gained some of its credibility back when they hired Ryans, whom Houston drafted in the 2006 NFL draft from Alabama. He has spent the last two seasons leading a top-five overall defensive unit with the San Francisco 49ers. Many college defensive players with aspirations to play on the next level have taken notice.

“It would be great,” said Alabama defensive lineman D.J. Dale about playing for Ryans. “Especially having that history at Alabama, it would be great. I would love to play anywhere, but if Houston was to pick me, I would be happy.”

Texas defensive lineman Keondre Coburn, who played high school football in Houston at Westfield, also loved the thought of playing for his hometown team and Ryans.

“DeMeco Ryans is amazing,” Coburn said. “I watched how his defense did this year with the 49ers, and they were amazing. I saw the achievements he did with the 49ers as their defensive coordinator, and now being a head coach, I just expect so much from him, and I believe he is going to be a great head coach in the league.”

One advantage that Ryans has is that he played in the NFL for 10 years ⁠— six with Houston, four with the Philadelphia Eagles ⁠— making him relatable to most of the players he will coach next season.

“I think I relate to guys because I’ve been in these guys’ shoes,” Ryans answered during his press conference. “I’ve played the game. I’ve been here through this combine process. I’ve played the game and played at a high level. I understand what players go through. Not only on the field, but it’s off the field, where guys are pulled in a lot of different directions.

“I understand that for you to be able to be a good coach, you have to be able to connect with guys. It’s not just about telling guys what to do. It’s being on that level with the guys where they have a true mutual respect for you. Guys truly feel that I have their best interest at heart. That’s the only thing I care about, which is developing great men on the field and off the field. I’m indebted to those guys. I want to see them be as successful as possible and see them create great lives for their families moving forward. That’s my connection with players.”


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