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Smith, rookies excite at Pancakes & Pigskins

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The Texans held their annual Pancakes and Pigskins Rookie Breakfast on Tuesday in the Verizon Wireless West Club at Reliant Stadium.

The event, which was presented by H-E-B, allowed fans to get to know all the rookies and to hear from general manager Rick Smith about the state of the team.

After starting out the season with a disappointing 38-17 loss to the Steelers, the Texans weren't where Smith wanted them to be but he assured fans that the team would bounce back.

"The thing about this group that you have to understand is that it had nothing to do with the confidence level that we have as a unit, as a group of men working together to realize our goals," Smith said. "And our goal this year is to become a playoff-caliber team. We have come a long way. We have a long way to go. But the thing about it - when you really believe in yourself the way our coaches and players believe in themselves, then you are not subject to outside, external forces or things that happen to you."

{QUOTE}The coaches and players spent Monday reviewing game footage and preparing for Sunday's Liberty White Liftoff home opener against the Baltimore Ravens.

"I think you will be extremely proud on Sunday because the character of this team will be demonstrated on the field," Smith said. "You are going to see how this group responds to adversity. This league is difficult. You've got tough-minded people who believe in themselves, who believe in what you are doing. That's what gives you a chance to be successful in this league."

Smith urged fans to help the team by arriving to Sunday's game early and cheering loudly when the Texans' defense was on the field. The Ravens will be starting rookie quarterback Joe Flacco, and Smith would like to make Reliant Stadium a hostile environment for him.

"The thing that you can do to help us move in the direction we want to go is you can be loud," Smith said. "We're going to do our job, and our guys are going to do there job on defense where they (Ravens) won't feel comfortable, but you can help us with that.

"These guys really feed off of you. They feed off your energy. They feed off your enthusiasm."

The general manager also took the time to praise the Texans' class of 2008.

"I think you get a real sense of the type of men that we are bringing into this organization," Smith said. "It's different. I get a different feeling than when I walked through the doors a couple of years ago, and the reason why it's different is because of the type of men we are bringing into this organization, as evidenced by this rookie class. We are bringing guys who are good men, good football players, good athletes and are going to be good off the field. We want to do things as an organization with intelligence, diligence and integrity."

The Texans' first-round draft pick Duane Brown talked to the crowd about his first regular-season start against the Steelers. It was a tough game for the left tackle who went against one of the most physical and complicated defenses in the NFL, but Brown said he learned a great deal from the experience.

"You have to look for two or three guys coming off the edge," Brown said. "They have amazing athletes like James Harrison, who I was facing most of the night and a Pro Bowler last year. You've got Troy Polamalu coming off the edge, and he's another Pro Bowler. They bring them from all angles. Like coach (Alex) Gibbs said, they might blitz somebody from the stands."

Defensive tackle Frank Okam, a fifth-round pick, said the players now had their eyes set on beating Baltimore.

"It's the first home game," Okam said. "Really, we want to bounce back and show our fans what we can do. I think this is going to be a good team this year. We have a lot of talent across the board and a lot of depth."

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