Antonio Smith returned to practice on Wednesday after completing a league suspension that kept him out of the Texans' season opener and their final two preseason games.
"Before the game, I had a lot of text messages," Smith said. "Danieal Manning texted me, (Brian) Cushing texted me, J.J. (Watt) texted me. They gave me some encouraging words. It made me feel like I was there even though I wasn't. I think that's just a tale of what type of team we have."
Smith, who was placed on the active roster following Monday night's 31-28 win, was at Reliant Stadium waiting to greet his teammates when they arrived early Tuesday morning.
"It was early, very early," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "I think he wanted to see his teammates more than anything. I give him credit for wanting to get into the weight room too. I think he was excited to see his teammates and letting him know he was proud of them for finding a way to win."
With Smith's return, the Texans defense gains another playmaker alongside J.J. Watt to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
"He keeps the balance in what we're doing with our front as far as pressure and where it's coming from," Kubiak said. "And (DE Jared) Crick did a good job. Jared played very well. Antonio's another pass rush ability type of guy and helps us from a pressure situation. We had a little bit of a problem the other night getting there with our base stuff. It'll be good to have him back in the mix."
Smith, who said being away was "like a bad dream," joked that he watched the game at home and would be discussing with his teammates.
"Being able to watch the game and seeing the things that I saw, and be able to critique them like I'm going to do tomorrow, because I'm'Tone the coach too," Smith said on "The Antonio Smith Show" on Texans Radio.
With Smith back in the lineup, the Texans hope improve to 2-0 against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
"He adds to the whole team," Kubiak said. "Antonio's an energy guy, plays extremely hard, has a lot of fun playing football and you can count on his effort. I really think we did miss him in some situations and going through the course of getting ready the night before the game. He's always fun to be around the night before the game, the energy that he brings. I know we missed him and we're just glad to have him back."