Amobi Okoye's hard work has paid off with NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month honors.
At 20 years old, Texans defensive tackle Amobi Okoye is the youngest player in the league to win NFL honors. On Wednesday, Okoye was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for September, making him the second Texan to win the award.
"It means a lot," Okoye said. "I feel like it's just scratching the surface as far as it goes, ourselves and myself."
The rookie, who has started all four games this season, earned the award for his dominating pass rush performances. Okoye has recorded an AFC-high four sacks for 30 yards and a team-high four quarterback pressures.
He also has notched 10 tackles and one forced fumble. Okoye's improved performance against the run has been impressive, especially to Texans coach Gary Kubiak.
"He's played really well," Kubiak said. "He's played the run better than we thought he would as a rookie, and we're just excited about his progress."
The defensive tackle made his greatest strides in the team's Week 2 win over the Carolina Panthers, registering his first two sacks of the season and setting the Texans' rookie record for most sacks in a game.
In Atlanta, Okoye tied another Texans rookie record by recording a sack in three consecutive games. His four sacks in September were the most by a rookie defensive tackle since Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams had five in December 2003.
With Okoye on the defensive line, the Texans have become the sixth-ranked run defense in the NFL and the team finished the month of September ranked 14th in total defense, their highest ranking in the first month of the season in team history.
Okoye, however, tries not to think about rankings or statistics.
"I'm just taking it one game at a time," Okoye said. "It's just a start for me to accomplish all the goals I want to accomplish, and hopefully I can keep this thing rolling."
And the rookie knows that to keep things moving in the right direction, he has to play with patience and consistency. Still, Okoye's teammates want him to enjoy the award he has worked hard to earn.
"I'm happy for him," defensive end Anthony Weaver said. "He's a kid that just goes out there and works hard every day. And it's awesome when you see him have this kind of success so early."
*List of Texans Players of the Month Awards: *
|Amobi Okoye||NFL Defensive Rookie||September||2007|
|DeMeco Ryans||NFL Defensive Rookie||December||2006|
|Marcus Coleman||AFC Defensive||September||2003|
|Chad Stanley||AFC Special Teams||September||2002|