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Adibi thinking big


When linebacker Xavier Adibi entered training camp as a rookie last year, he was undersized and overwhelmed. The former Virginia Tech standout was trying to learn the Texans' playbook and keep up with starters DeMeco Ryans and Zac Diles.

The road didn't get any easier for Adibi. He contracted a mystery illness that caused migraines and stomach sickness. Halfway through the 2008 season, he had been active for just one game, and his condition had caused his weight to drop drastically.

Adibi sat out for several weeks and tried various medications until one worked, and the timing couldn't have been better. The Texans were down a linebacker after Zac Diles broke his leg in early November, and they needed a player with more speed on the weakside.

Adibi provided to be just that. He made his first career start at Indianapolis on Nov. 16 and finished with a game-high 14 tackles, including 13 solo stops. The following week at Cleveland, he posted four solo tackles and recovered the first fumble of his career. Adibi finished the year with five starts and 34 tackles.

It was a solid finish to a bumpy rookie season, but Adibi knows he has to step his game up even more if he is going to re-claim his spot with the first team.

The Texans selected Brian Cushing with the 15th overall pick to start next to Ryans on the strongside. Adibi will be competing against Diles for the starting weakside position. The two shared reps during OTAs, but Adibi feels much better prepared for training camp in year two of his pro career.

{QUOTE}"Your first year, you're thinking a lot," Adibi said. "Everything is just new to you. Your eyes are wide open and you are nervous out there. Your second year, you are out there having fun and learning a lot and doing the thing that you love to do, which is play football."

Adibi has gained about 20 pounds since last season, and teammates have said he looks like he weighs 240. Adibi also has gotten himself into the best shape of his life, thanks to an intense workout program designed by head strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright.

"It's totally different from last year," Adibi said. "Last year, it was more about maintaining, but lifting with Ray has helped me out so much. I was in very good shape going into OTAs, and I know I am going to be in very good shape going into training camp."

Adibi's quickness makes him a perfect fit for defensive coordinator Frank Bush's defense, which is predicated on the linebackers shooting the gaps and flying around to make plays.

"It is going to be more of an attacking defense," Adibi said. "Frank Bush installed it during OTAs; you can already tell what he is going to bring to the table this year. We are going to fly around and be more of an attacking defense. We are going to be playing a lot faster than we were in the past.

"That suits my game a whole lot. That's how I was in college, and that's the way our defense was in college. We are going to be an eight-man front and force the offense to do what we want them to do, which is go through the air. Then, we can just pin our ears back and blitz and do what we do best."

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