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Houston Texans

DeMeco Ryans, Connor Barwin return to NRG

This Sunday, Connor Barwin and DeMeco Ryans will be visitors in the stadium they called home for four and six seasons, respectively.

It will be their first return to Houston since becoming Philadelphia Eagles.

"It's going to be special going back to where I started playing," Ryans said in a conference call Wednesday. "I played there six years. A lot of great friends; it was just great players, great fans there. I'm excited to come back. I don't know how I'm going to feel. Right now I feel like a normal game, but I don't know how I'm going to feel until I actually get there, get out there, start warming and see how it actually feels being on the opposite sideline."

Barwin and Ryans are among seven former Texans on the Eagles roster that are returning this Sunday. Barwin, now in his second season in Philadelphia, leads the Eagles defense with six sacks. A second-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, Barwin finished his career in Houston with 19 sacks, the fourth-most in team history.

"Well, I don't know exactly what it means, but I'm excited to go back and play against a lot of my former teammates, see a lot of my good friends in that organization," Barwin said. "Four wonderful years for me. Obviously it's a big game for both teams though. I'm excited to see a lot of those people, but once we start playing it will be back to business."

Ryans, nicknamed "Cap" by his Texans teammates, earned AP Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2006. Ryans still holds the franchise record as the Texans all-time leading tackler with 636 takedowns.

He'll face Arian Foster, looking to rush for over 100 yards for a career-high fifth-consecutive game on Sunday.

"As I watched them over the past few weeks, I feel like they're back to running the ball really well," Ryans said. "Arian (Foster) is really setting the tempo for them. He looks like he's healthy again and he's doing a good job of running the stretch play, which he's been built for and he's done it for a while in this league. With him healthy, I think he's a top-five back in this league when he's healthy and he's running like he is right now."

Houston fans will be cheering against the players who were a part of the original Bulls On Parade defense that earned the first division title and playoff berth in franchise history. Barwin has already warned teammates about the noise level of his former stadium, preparing for its annual Battle Red game.

"I've told our guys that it was loud at Arizona where we played last week, but it will be louder in Houston," Barwin said. "The fans are great there. They keep the roof shut now. It makes it louder. Obviously that's a huge advantage playing at home for them and it's something that we'll have to overcome."

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