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Cody escapes from Detroit


Shaun Cody is a former second-round draft pick from the University of Southern California.

Shaun Cody celebrates his Mexican-Irish heritage by calling himself Green Bean and confesses he needs to learn to speak Spanish.

He'll likely be fluent in his second language before Texans punsters let him forget his recent past. Cody and quarterback Dan Orlovsky escaped to the Texans from the Detroit Lions after an 0-16 finish last season.

While it was a painful experience last year, the former Lions are easy prey for locker room jokes. Based on the theory it's better to laugh than cry, the new Texans take the ribbing with a smile.

"We get ribbed a little but not too much," Cody said. "It's about all you have left to do is laugh about it."

Yeah, and pray nothing close to it ever happens again.

"It teaches you a lot when you go through something like that about the guys you play with and the coaches you play for and about yourself," Cody said. "You've got to learn something from it."

Cody learned that it was time to move on.

"I think it was time for a fresh start," Cody said. "I'd been there four years. It was time to start anew."

Despite being part Mexican, Cody acknowledged he needed improvement in his Spanish skills.

"I come from Southern California, which has a big Latino community," Cody said. "I've got to learn some more Spanish. I've got to get Rosetta Stone."

Described in any language, Cody had his best season with the Lions last season. He made 12 starts in four seasons with the Lions. He had 37 total tackles, giving him a four-year total of 140 tackles, 1.5 sacks and one interception.

Knee and shoulder injuries slowed Cody's progress after he became the Lions' second-round draft pick in 2005. The Texans are looking for a healthy season as Bill Kollar begins his first season as defensive line coach.

"He's stepped right in," Kollar said. "He's a good, tough guy. He had some problems at Detroit staying healthy, but he's stayed healthy here. I'm really pleased with the way he's been going so far."

{QUOTE}Kollar has seen no losing attitude in Cody.

"I kid him a little bit, joking back and forth, but he played at USC," Kollar said. "He might have had a national championship or two. Everybody realizes they had some bad breaks before. Miami won one game and they turn around and go to the playoffs the next year. Each year is a separate year. He's ready to move on and get going down here."

Cody doesn't apologize for the Lions' effort.

"We had a great coach in Rod Marinelli who didn't let us quit," Cody said. "It didn't go the way we wanted, but he never let us quit. He didn't give up on us and we didn't give up on him."

Cody had been a part of winning programs at USC. He expected to continue his success with the Lions.

"It tests your psyche to go from an organization that's all about winning to having losses," Cody said. "That's how we started out at USC. We were 6-6 and then we got the ball rolling. It just never clicked for us in Detroit. I wish the best for those guys."

Cody already has found a mentor to help him stay healthy.

"Í'm a grinder," Cody said. "I've been talking to Jeff Zgonina out there. He's been in the league for a while. I'm getting tips from him. He's a grinder, too."

Cody and Orlovsky have been together throughout their four-year pro careers with the Lions. Now, they are teammates again with the Texans.

"We've been around each other for a while, so it's good to have someone that you can change teams with and have that comfort zone," Cody said.

Orlovsky is pleased he and Cody are getting new challenges.

"It's nice to have a face down here that I've been around for a couple of years," Orlovsky said. "I'm excited for him and the opportunities he has here and to help our team.

"We'll bust each other's chops and bring up stories from the past. They will just make us smile. As rough as our time there was, we had some good times."

They still must face the barbs of wide receiver David Anderson, who set the tone early with the former Lions. It didn't take Anderson long to remind Orlovsky of his highlight blooper against the Vikings, when he ran out of the end zone for a safety at the Metrodome.

"David is the worst, he doesn't hold back," Orlovsky said laughing. "It's just fellas having fun. David came up to me the first time I met him. He said, 'Hey, I'm David. I'm going to be all over you about that.' So that was the ice-breaker."

Anderson's humor isn't malicious, just the most persistent.

"Dan tells a good story about it (safety)," Anderson said. "There was a timeout and the coach told Dan, 'Don't do anything stupid,' and so he goes out and runs out of the end zone. The players couldn't help themselves. They had to laugh. That was beyond stupid."

Humor can't erase the feeling of not turning it around in Detroit.

"It's disappointing to be a part of a team that never got the ball rolling, never got to the playoffs and never got a good winning streak," Cody said. "What's good about this situation is we're with a team that's going in the right direction. In Detroit, we had our roller coaster. Here, we feel we have everything going in the right way, young players, old crusty veterans to deal with.

"It's a good thing."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky. Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro sports.

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