For the first time since his days in Coral Gables, Florida, Darryl Sharpton is calling plays and running a defense.
The inside linebacker spent the first week of organized team activities (OTA's) getting his teammates aligned and into the right position prior to the snap. And it's a familiar task, according to the former Miami Hurricane.
"It's kind of like riding a bicycle," Sharpton said. "My first two or three years here I was used to just getting the calls, listening and lining up. Now I'm the one making the calls."
Brian Cushing is still rehabbing his knee injury, so Sharpton has filled the void while the defensive captain has been out. Sharpton injured his hip in the regular season finale at Indianapolis. Head coach Gary Kubiak said he'd keep the fourth-year veteran out of special teams work to "be protective".
"It feels good to be back out there, and doing what I do best," Sharpton said. "And that's play football."
Brooks Reed, who lined up alongside Sharpton at the other inside linebacker spot frequently during the first three OTA's, said Sharpton's a natural fit for the position.
"He knows what to do, he's a smart guy, and obviously physical," Reed said. "He'll do a great job."
Safety Danieal Manning likes what he's seen from Sharpton during the first few days of practice, and believes 2013 will be a year to remember.
"He's getting comfortable with the defense, comfortable with the guys," Manning said. "I think this season will be a breakout season for him. He's flying around in all those drills. He's flying around on the field."
Sharpton's 2011 and 2012 campaigns were truncated to just eight and seven games, respectively, because of injuries. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph is excited to see Sharpton back, and also thinks his presence will be a major plus for the defense.
"Obviously he can help us," Joseph said. "He can come in and play the run and the pass. Just getting a guy back like that is just tremendous for this defense."
While he's played in each of the last three seasons, he hasn't been in as much of a leadership role. Being there now has conjured up some memories from his collegiate days.
"It's something I haven't done in a while," Sharpton said. "Not since I was at the University of Miami. But being put in this role, it feels good. I know a whole lot more about the defense. I'm having to call more plays and line guys up. So it's extra responsibility, but I look forward to it."
Sharpton and the Texans resume work at the Methodist Training Center on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday following Memorial Day.