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Smith talks draft, free agency

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Texans general manager Rick Smith is busy evaluating draft prospects and getting ready for free agency. He talked to Texans TV's Brooke Bentley about the Texans' needs this offseason.

Brooke Bentley (Texans TV): The Texans rounded out their defensive staff by hiring Bill Kollar to coach the defensive line. Talk about the mentality he brings to the defense?

General manager Rick Smith: Well, I've known (defensive line coach) Bill (Kollar) probably as long as anyone in this league. Our relationship goes back over 20 years and I've always known him to be a very aggressive coach. And he fits the profile of what (defensive coordinator) Frank Bush has talked about with respect to what he wants to do and how he wants the defense to play. So, we'll be an attacking, aggressive defense and Bill certainly brings that temperament to the defensive line and I'm just excited to have him aboard.

{QUOTE}Brooke Bentley: Frank Bush used those words "attacking and aggressive" when he became defensive coordinator. What kind of identity do you want to see the defense have next season?

Rick Smith: Well, I think we'll be sound in what we do and that's going to be the biggest characteristic that I think you'll see. I think we'll be a sound defense and I think we'll be aggressive. And I think that you'll see us emphasize tackling and be sound in what we're doing. And I think when you do that, I think when your players understand what you're asking them to do and they have all of their assignments down and they know exactly what the offense is going to do, I think that allows them to be more aggressive. And I think that's what you're going to see out of our football team.

Brooke Bentley: Of course, getting that identity means bringing in more talent. You just got back from the Senior Bowl in Mobile. What did you think of the defensive talent there?

Rick Smith: It's a good group of available draft players coming out this year. And certainly, you look at one position in particular, the linebackers. There are a number of excellent linebackers, whether you're talking about inside or outside linebackers. There's a really deep safety group, so we certainly will continue our process at this point. And the combine is not far away and before you know it, it will be April and it will be time to add to the team. But obviously before then, we have free agency to address. So, it's an exciting time for anybody in personnel this time of year."

Brooke Bentley: You return an offense that's pretty loaded. Coach Gary Kubiak has talked about needing a pass rusher opposite Mario Williams and getting more playmakers on defense. What kind of talent do you think the Texans need this offseason to get to the next level on defense?

Rick Smith: I agree with those assessments. I think that when you look at our football team on the defensive side of the ball, I think you can always improve athleticism. I think, in addition to some of those things, you can always improve your corner position. You can never have enough men that can cover. And so you're always looking to improve yourself on the edge that way. I think a big-time safety – I think (S) Eugene Wilson did a nice job for us when he had his opportunities to play. So, I certainly would expect him to continue, provided that we can get him signed back. He's an unrestricted free agent, as you know. And so, we want to continue to build on some of those things, but then to add another pass rusher maybe opposite Mario (Williams) like (head coach) Gary (Kubiak) is talking about. And I think overall, improve the athleticism on that side of the ball, I think we'll be fine.

Brooke Bentley: Let's move to free agency. There are two big Texans who are free agents: tight end Owen Daniels and cornerback Dunta Robinson. Talk about your approach to re-signing players this year?

Rick Smith: Well, Owen (Daniels), in his case, he's a restricted free agent so it's not such an urgent issue as it is with Dunta (Robinson). And that certainly is our priority. As we talk about free agency this year, we've got some players that we've got to get under contract. And that's what we're going to do and we're working hard at this point to try to get a deal with Dunta completed. I think that's going to be our focus, to get him done. I mentioned Eugene Wilson, he's another one that's going to be free that we'd like to bring back. And so, that's where our focus is right now with respect to free agency."

Brooke Bentley: What about going after players outside of the organization? How aggressive will you be with that?

Rick Smith: Well, we're always aggressive in the since that we're going to do our due diligence and we're going to make sure that we're very clear on what the class looks like and how those guys might be able to come in and impact our football team and to the degree that we can entertain adding a player or two at one or two of those positions. You know, we'll go about doing that as long as everything fits. We're big on making sure that as we add players that they fit in our locker room, that they're good men, that they're good football players, that they enjoy playing the game. So, those things are important to us and so that's what we'll be looking for.

Brooke Bentley: When you look back to last year, how different is your approach with free agency and the draft this year compared to last year?

Rick Smith: It's not any different. It's the same. We're going to go about our process the same way. We do what we do and that's evaluate our football team at the end of the year. Let's see where we're weak and where we think we've got an abundance of players. And so the positions we feel like we need to address, we're going to go and address those. We get two shots. We get free agency, we get the draft. And so, hopefully, when we put everybody together in August, we will have done a good job of assessing some of the areas that we think we need to get better at and continue to try to develop a winner around here.

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