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Okoye sees good things ahead


Amobi Okoye spent time after practice on Wednesday with one of the Texans' athletic trainers to rehab a quad problem that has caused some discomfort in his right knee this offseason.

It's a minor setback in what Okoye hopes to be a productive couple months before the start of 2009 training camp.

"Anything I can do, I'm just working," he said. "The trainers, the doctors, all I can do is just do what they say. I wanted to be a doctor when I was growing up, but fortunately I'm an athlete now. So all I can do is listen to what the professionals say."

Okoye had an MRI done on his knee several weeks ago, after which doctors advised against him undergoing arthroscopic surgery. He said his right knee still doesn't feel quite like it should, but Okoye wasn't limited at all during the first week of OTAs.

"I've got a lot of expectations for myself this year," Okoye said. "Being the kind of guy I am, the kind of season I had last year—it's not what I wanted, definitely not what I expected. But all I can do is work, do my best and work. I leave the rest up to God and my coaches and whatever other factors."

{QUOTE}The Texans have a lot riding on the third-year pro from Louisville. The 2007 first-round draft pick is the anchor of the team's interior defensive line, which is one of the few areas that the Texans did not address in the 2009 NFL Draft.

"Amobi's got to step up," general manager Rick Smith said this offseason. "He understands that we are counting on him to take that next step this year."

Considering that defensive tackle Travis Johnson has been sidelined during OTAs with an assortment of ailments, the Texans are counting on big contributions from Okoye, DelJuan Robinson, Shaun Cody and Frank Okam to hold down the middle of the defense.

Okoye, who holds the team rookie record with 5.5 sacks, is the lynchpin of the unit. He was hampered by an ankle injury last year that cost him two games, but coach Gary Kubiak expects Okoye to turn the corner in 2009 and become a force from Week 1 through the season finale.

"He's a guy who was brought in here to be an uphill player, rush the passer," Kubiak said. "He's had his flashes as a player. We're looking for a consistency in the long haul. Hopefully, (new defensive line coach) Bill (Kollar) can do the work to get him there."

Though it's only been a week of OTAs, Okoye said he loves what he has seen so far in defensive coordinator Frank Bush's new scheme. Bush's attacking, aggressive style of defense plays to Okoye's strengths as a pass rusher.

"He's been here as long as I've been here, and that's one guy that's definitely helped me a lot," Okoye said. "I have belief. That's the first thing: You have to believe in the system. I have to believe that this is going to work.

"(Rushing the passer) is what got me here. My hope is that this is exactly what my game needs."

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