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Special teams vital in Lovie Smith's eyes

Special teams success is vital to Lovie Smith.

The Texans head coach has served as a defensive coordinator in various spots throughout his coaching career, most recently doing so in Houston last fall. He'll again call the defensive plays in 2022, but at his introduction Tuesday he was very quick to point out the importance of good special teams play.

"We're going to win football games based on what we do with our special teams," Smith said.

Frank Ross was Houston's special teams coordinator last year and he returns in the same role for 2022. His squads experienced successes like having 43 percent of Cam Johnston's punts get downed inside the opponents' 20-yard line. Or Ka'imi Fairbairn nailing a franchise-record 61-yard field goal. And Tremon Smith returning a kickoff for a score, something the Texans hadn't done since 2009.

In an interview with SportsRadio 610, Ross explained the two things—attention to detail and energy—he must continue to provide for Houston to excel on special teams.

"One thing that I bring here to the Texans is I carry over that detail as best as I possibly can. Putting players in a position that they can be at their best. More than anything, a guy like a special teams coach touches every player on the team. That's what we do. We make sure we have to coach every player. Having those guys in the right spots, that is my number one job. Then, of course, letting those guys go out and make plays. So creating that energy is going to be who I am."

In Smith's opening statement to the media on Tuesday, he hailed Ross as "an outstanding special teams coordinator". That's high praise from someone whose Chicago Bears special teams units were elite for much of his nine-year tenure. And General Manager Nick Caserio is optimistic Ross and his crew can improve in their second year.

"Frank's a little bit more comfortable," Caserio said. "I think Frank probably learned a lot first time being in that position for a full 17 games. He just has a better understanding of the personnel and how to incorporate them."

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