Tracy Smith knows the chances are limited for his special teams units.
It's that fraction of time that magnifies the importance of what they do.
"Special teams can swing the game and you only have one shot," Smith said in a Zoom with media on Tuesday. "If you go out there and have a poor punt play, you can't run it back on second down and punt it again. You have one opportunity and you can't miss those. You have to be ready to go each time we're out there. You can make a game-swinging play, good or bad, so we have to be prepared at all times."
Smith and the Texans have been excellent on special teams the last two seasons. He was the assistant in 2018 and 2019 under coordinator Brad Seely, who retired earlier this summer. Smith moved up, and is looking to continue the positive results.
"I'm hoping that the differences will be imperceptible to the human eye," Smith said.
The coverage units return a slew of impact performers, and the veteran long snapper Jon Weeks, punter Bryan Anger and kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn are also back as well.
"Those guys will help the new guys and everybody will get on board as we get going," Smith said. "Special teams' importance will not change."
After all, Smith said, the beginning of the NFL in 2020 will involve the Texans special teams one way or another: "the first play of the season on September 10th is a kickoff. I can tell you that right now, so we have to be ready to go."
Smith and the Texans begin padded practices on August 14.