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Houston Texans

Maddox finally enters a comfort zone


It's only a matter of time. That's what Anthony Maddox had to keep telling himself over and over again during the first two years of his NFL career. Maddox, who burst onto the Texans roster last season with 37 tackles, two sacks, and oh yeah, a touchdown, was always a talented defensive tackle. The problem was nobody knew it.

Maddox found himself in a log jam on the Jaguars depth chart behind Pro Bowl defensive tackles Marcus Stroud and John Henderson. Consequently, Maddox had very few opportunities to impress and he admits, frustration got to him at times.

"You always have those thoughts come through your head," Maddox said. "I was playing behind two Pro-Bowlers and it just seemed like for a while that the league was a lot harder than I thought it was.

"But whenever I would get a chance to play, in preseason games or whatever, I knew I could be a good player in this league."

That chance never came in Jacksonville and when Maddox was released in September last season, the Texans quickly snatched him up. Maddox spent a month on the practice squad before being inked to the active roster in October.

He then quickly established himself as one of Houston's most reliable defensive lineman. It would be easy to say today that the Texans knew that they had something as soon as Maddox became available, but defensive coordinator Richard Smith admits that he knew as much about Maddox prior to last season as every other Texans fan.

"I didn't know anything about him," Smith said. "When he came over, he was just a guy that got cut from another football team. But right away he got in there and he's got great short-area quickness and really made a difference.

"He's a high effort guy, he gives you a great days work. He's a blessing in my opinion. I love his attitude, his effort and everything he stands for. You can see that he's very hungry."

Maddox's days as a furniture delivery man have been well documented. Smith thinks that Maddox has put those days behind him and believes that Maddox's hunger to be a success is the key.

For his part, Maddox has always been ready for a chance, but when the opportunity with the Texans arose last season, his appetite to become a star only increased.

"When I got here, I was a little bit hungrier because it was a new place and I knew I had a chance to start all over and prove myself to some new people," Maddox said. "It was a great feeling."

{QUOTE} Following Maddox's performance last year, most notably the last game of the season in which he had nine tackles, including a sack plus a forced fumble that he returned for a touchdown, for the first time Maddox finds himself in a comfortable position entering training camp.

He's now the player that other guys are going to have to supplant as the starter.

"I don't feel a lot of pressure," Maddox said of the upcoming season. "I just know that it's my job and know they're expecting a lot from me."

"They put a lot of money into the defensive line already except for me. I just have to go out and try and do as well as those guys or better."

And he doesn't think out-performing his competition should be a problem now that he can play with more freedom with a spot on the roster already secured.

"You don't have to worry about making the team so that's not really a concern. It doesn't slow you down.," Maddox says. "You can actually put that focus on your play and working harder, getting techniques and things like that down.

"It actually makes you a better player. You don't have to worry about where you're going to be or how much you're going to play."

That could mean a lot of trouble for opposing offensives this season and better all-around play for a Texans defense that should rank among the league's best.

"With him and Amobi (Okoye) on the inside, it really helps our quickness and now you're talking about a situation where we're extremely competitive in there at that position and that just really improves the quality of play all around," Smith said.

And two times next season, that opposing offense will be Jacksonville, the team that never let Maddox realize his potential. There's no ill will between the Jaguars and Maddox, in fact he still talks to the guys that he was forced to watch from the sideline.

"All the time, we hang out," Maddox said of his relationship with Stroud and Henderson. "I talked to them after almost every game. They were just happy for me. They always said they I would get a chance and they're very supportive and when we play them it's always a lot of fun."

A lot of fun for them maybe, but probably not too much fun for the Jags' offense. If Maddox is a difference maker in a Texans win against Jacksonville next season, they only have themselves to blame

"I learned a lot in Jacksonville from (Stroud)," Maddox said. "He taught me a lot. I try to model my game after him. He works extremely hard in practice and that's what I try to do. He's always running around and that's been my thing."

Thank you Jacksonville.

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