Cedric Smith is the new strength and conditioning coach for the Texans, and takes over after spending the previous three seasons in Kansas City.
Head strength and conditioning coach Cedric Smith has been on the job since early February after spending the previous three seasons in the same position with Kansas City. He's transformed the Texans' weight room and changed the way the team goes about its conditioning program.
With OTAs and mini-camp complete, Smith huddled with HoustonTexans.com for a brief Q&A session about his experiences in Houston.
How have the first few months gone?
"From a strength and conditioning standpoint, it's been awesome. It's been really good and I've been impressed. Getting the opportunity to come here as a strength coach, they were going to allow me to do some things a little bit differently than the guys that were here were used to. A lot of the new guys and the young guys have had, in some form or fashion, some of the things that we have decided to implement.
"But for the most part, I think it was a success and will continue to be. I'm not afraid to say that. We've got guys that have gotten stronger, that have gotten in better shape. One of the things we wanted to accomplish was explosiveness and training on their feet. Getting guys to train on their feet and understanding the connection between being explosive here in the weight room and being explosive on the field. I think those things have happened. I think it's something that's kind of permeated at each position and through the team as a whole."
What's your relationship been like, thus far, with the players? Many of them say your program has been a challenging one, in a good way.
"I like to try to be real with these guys and I don't waste words. I don't talk a lot. Everything we say and do is of the utmost importance. I do believe the guys have bought in to some of the things that we're doing. It's also not rocket science. It's not about 'Cedric's Program.' We just want to do our part in the weight room to help us win. As far as relationships, it's been great. Sometimes, it's been abrasive. If I don't have a few relationships like that, then I'm probably not doing my job. But at the same time, the guys understand that I'm doing it for their good. I want them to be better. I want us to be better as a team. That's the only reason we do what we do."
There are many ways to lead, but by nature, you have to be one of the tough guys, right?
"Yeah, and it's not an easy thing. You tell a guy he's gotta go to work for 16 weeks out of the year, and then if you don't make the playoffs, 10 to 12 weeks later he's got to come see me and start working out for the next 14 weeks, 15 weeks, 16 weeks as part of an offseason conditioning program. You're not always the guy that they really want to see in their offseason.
"There's a happy medium in there, but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and say 'This is what we have to do to change our mentality, some of the things that we didn't accomplish last year to get over the hump in some areas.' That's what my job is, to help them do that."
What sort of things make you happy on a day-to-day basis with the job?"Seeing the progress the guys have made. The advances, numbers-wise, in some of the lifts that we've done. Whether it's power cleans or squats or bench, whatever. From going back and looking at the cards from Day One to now and just seeing some of the guys' improvement.
"Watching Andre Johnson come in and work like a pro, and knowing that he's doing that, DeMeco Ryans is doing that, everybody else in here better be doing it and having that type of mindset. Those are the types of things that make me happy."
You were a fullback in the NFL for nearly a decade. Do any of the players ask you about your playing days?
"Some of them do. I shy away from it some. I don't want to make a big deal out of the fact that I played and now I'm a strength coach. Because it goes both ways: just because you played, it doesn't make you really good as a coach. And if you didn't play, it doesn't mean you can't be a good coach.
"If they ask me, sometimes I'll tell them about some things that I went through. I've had some similar circumstances and I can identify with a lot of these guys trying to make a team and trying to stay on a team. Making sure that you're good on special teams and making sure that you outwork everybody in the offseason program, and that's going to be your opportunity."
How prepared was this rookie class for what you wanted them to do?"Because these guys are so young, most of them have been through some of the things we're doing right now. The plyometrics, the power cleans, working, pushing, being explosive and understanding that the weight room is a place of energy and intensity. I have the rookies show up at 7 a.m., because you always want that extra time so they understand how to do things the way you want them to do it.
"I tell these guys 'Hey, you're with me. You're my freshman class. I want this to be a good start not just for me, but for you as well.' Most of them have done it and are very prepared because of the way things go now in Division I. There's a lot of that that still applies to this level."
Last thing: Do you have any drill sergeant in you? Because you sound like one out on the practice fields when the guys are running.(Laughs) "I've got none, man! I have no drill sergeant in me. I just try to get my point across."