**General manager Rick Smith
(opening statement)** "It absolutely is a very, very special day and a very proud day for our franchise. This organization, a year ago, made a decision in our quest to bring the championship to this city. We decided that we were going to build a championship-caliber defense. Some of the acquisitions that we made during the offseason via free agency as well as the draft were indicative of that decision, and they have proven to be some smart decisions. I wasn't here in the selection of this young fellow (Ryans) beside me, but I've been proud to watch him in his development this year. It's very rare in this league that a rookie will come in to the mike linebacker position and essentially lead the entire defensive unit. To the degree that DeMeco did that this year, it was just amazing to watch the consistency of which he played, the level of excellence that he played and the leadership that he provided for our football team. It was just a rare, rare occurrence. It is with great pleasure and pride that I announce that the National Football League's Defensive Rookie of the Year is our very own DeMeco Ryans."
LB DeMeco Ryans
(opening statement) "Thank you all for being here. I would just like to say that I'm very proud of this award and this is a huge accomplishment this being my first year in the NFL. This is an outstanding award and I'm very proud of it. This is not only an individual award, but this is a team award. Without my teammates, I wouldn't be sitting here in front of you today. And those guys, they helped me out a lot. They took hold of my leadership out there on the field and they made my transition to the NFL a lot easier. This is just a little step that we're taking as an organization, as the Houston Texans are moving forward toward being a great team. I'm happy to start this off by being the Defensive Rookie of the Year. There should be a lot more to come in the following years, and this is going to jump us off into next season with a great team that we're going to build. We're planning to be a playoff team and this is the start of our championship run here for the Houston Texans. I'm just proud to be here, proud to be a Houston Texan and I'm proud to have this award."
(on why things clicked so quickly for him) "I think it's a credit to the coaches. I ended up in a good system from Alabama. Coming to here, we sort of had the same defensive scheme and everything just rolled around fine for me. The only thing I had a problem with at first was the terminology and communicating everything with the defense. Like I said, the guys weren't hard on me. They embraced me and they took me in and they helped me make the transition real smooth, and that's a credit to my teammates and my coaches for that."
(on what linebacker coach Johnny Holland has been like) "Johnny's been great through out, from the first meeting to the combine and coming here on draft day meeting Johnny. He started coaching me right then on draft day. He's coaching me about what position I need, what position I was going to be at, the calls that I was going to have to make. And he's just been an excellent coach. I haven't had too many coaches like Johnny. He's always himself, and he's a great coach. He's a great linebackers coach."
(on whether this is vindicating after being selected in the second round of the 2006 Draft) "It does because now you look back at it and you say, 'Who was the best defensive rookie of the 2006 class,' and you'll see DeMeco Ryans there."
(on whether he was surprised) "I wouldn't say I was surprised, because my motto coming into the league was being the best. When you go out and you play so hard and you do things the right way, good things come your way. And that's what I did. I just stayed focused and just kept plugging, kept fighting to try and get the team better, and good things happened for me."
(on whether there is a bonus in his contract for being Rookie of the Year) "I have to go back and look at it."
(on how this ranks in his football career) "Right now, this is the top moment. Right now, I'm in the highest level of football, the NFL, which everyone's drive is to get to the NFL and play with the best. And now that I'm here, and to be touted as being the top defensive rookie of the year, is a huge honor for me."
(on his first thought when he found out) "I was asleep in bed this morning, and (Texans media relations director Kevin) Coop(er) called me. I woke up pretty quick when he said that I won Defensive Rookie of the Year. I started getting ready to come over today. I was happy."
(on whether he went back to sleep) "Oh no, I had to get up and get my suit together."
(on what he needs to do to take his game to the next level) "I think it's just a matter of me going out and getting better, building off of what I had this year, working with coach Holland and coach (Richard) Smith and just building off of what we have. For me, it's going to be being consistent week-in and week-out and becoming the leader of this team, not just the defensive unit, but stepping up and being a real leader for our team."
**General Manager Rick Smith
(on comparing Broncos LB Al Wilson to DeMeco Ryans)** "You know, the leadership qualities (are similar). That's the first thing that
comes to mind, the instincts. (Ryans) made -- we talked about this the other day
-- a lot of tackles, 150-some odd tackles in this league. It's incredible. And
you have to, obviously, have great keys in diagnosing and great football instincts
to be around the football that much. So I think those two things are what I think