LB CHRISTIAN KIRKSEY
What are your thoughts on working with Associate Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith and LB Zach Cunningham?
"First it means a lot to play with Lovie Smith. I know a lot about him and heard a lot about him just growing up in the football world. I'm excited to play in his defense and, like you said, alongside Zach Cunningham. Zach is a player that he's going to be one of those guys that's always going to make plays. To play alongside him is an honor. I know his game a lot. I watch him on film and the things that he can do, the versatility he has, it's definitely a good partner to be with."
What do you hope to bring to this defense?
"I hope to bring just a bunch of energy. I've been in the league for going on eight years, so I've seen a lot. Hopefully I can bring some knowledge to this defense. Like I said, energy and versatility, whether it's in the passing game or the run game. I just want to be a spark. Also, bring a lot of leadership to this team and to this defense. Just helping guys along the way, pulling guys in the linebacker room, the locker room and just in general. Just being that leader and the guy that guys depend on. Accountability as well. I'm bringing a lot of stuff to this defense and hopefully I can get the respect from my teammates and from this organization."
What did you learn about QB Tyrod Taylor during your time in Cleveland together?
"First time I met Tyrod – man, just his work ethic and the way he carries himself is well-needed in the locker room. He's a guy that lets his work speak for itself. He's not going to be a rah-rah guy or he's not going to step outside of who he is. That's something that you need in the locker room, that veteran presence and that guy that can be a leader who not only talks about it, but he shows you through how he goes about his day-to-day business, how he goes to work every day and leads by example. I'm excited to work with Tyrod again. As soon as I saw he was coming to Houston and I was coming to Houston as well, I immediately hit him up and just told him I'm excited to be back with him and get this thing rolling."
How much did your father's leadership impact your life before he passed away?
"My dad, he did a lot for me. He showed me how to be a man. He showed me how to go about my business. He showed me how to work hard. I saw him work so hard in the church and in the household. I always say that my dad has probably the most patience I've seen in a person than anyone. I try to live life the way that he taught me to live. That's to be patient, whether it's with your craft or whether it's with people. Just have patience because I think that's an important thing when you're going through your NFL career. A lot of things sometimes may go the opposite direction of what you thought it was going to go but you have to have patience that things shape out in the end the way it's supposed to. He instilled a lot in me, just from the simple talks that we had from when I was little, he'd take me to football practice and just have those long talks that young men need to hear. My dad really helped me become the man that I am today and through my game, I just play for him, I play for my family. It's pretty cool to be able to play in Houston, where my mom now lives. I bought my mom a house back in March of 2020 and a year later, now, I'm headed to Houston and get to play in front of a lot of family. It's just a blessing to understand what my dad did for me and how he raised me and now in my NFL career I'm back with family again. It's all a blessing and it feels good."
What part of Houston does your family live in?
"They're out in Spring, Texas. It's not too far."
How tall are you?
What did you think of the glitch in Madden when you were registered as being a foot tall?
"That happened in my rookie year and a kid was putting his favorite players on the team and then once he tried to put me on his team, I don't know what happened – it was just a glitch in the game where I just shrunk and I was one-foot-two. It was kind of funny to me because out of all people I was like, how is it me to have the glitch? I'm also a firm believer in things don't happen by mistake. I was small going into college. I was like 185. I was told I was too small to play in the league, I was too small to play college football, especially at a high level playing linebacker. Proving doubters wrong and going out there and doing what I do, it was crazy how out of all people I became one-foot-two. That was the story of my life. I was always small. People always counted me out but on the game I was still out there making plays. I thought it was kind of cool just to correlate the video game to my actual life. I have a tattoo of David and Goliath on my arm and that's kind of what I live by. There's no obstacle that's too big for you to handle or for you to defeat. I just tied a bunch of stuff to it. I took it and I ran with it and I had a good time with it and the kids enjoyed it. It was a cool little experience."
How do you see yourself fitting in Associate Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith's defense?
"In the 4-3 defense, especially how Lovie Smith runs it, I can play any one of the positions. That's how versatile his defense is with these linebackers and then if you just look down the line of the linebackers that he has playing next to each other, it's pretty much interchangeable. I'm not going to go into depth of exactly where I'm going to play, but I know I can play all positions at that linebacker spot. I'm excited. I think the defense fits me well, my style of play. I think that his scheme is linebacker-friendly to where it allows you to really open up and be the player that you are. I'm excited to play with him and I think it's going to be a good year for me."
How exciting is this opportunity and have you ever seen this many players acquired in a short period of time?
"I haven't. I haven't. It's a bunch of guys that's coming in. One-year deals, two-year deals, so everybody's hungry. I think that we're building a team with a lot of competition. If you're an athlete, you're a competitor, you enjoy that when you've got a room full of guys that's hungry, guys that's trying to prove things, guys that's willing to win and trying to win and trying to put the extra work in. It creates a competitive atmosphere and that's how you create winners. I'm just excited to be a part of it and excited to see all the new faces. Me being on a new team and in a new organization, I think it's a good thing bringing all these guys from different places and a lot of veteran guys who have been in the league and kind of seen different things. I think when you put everybody together like that, you create this culture and you create this atmosphere of guys just trying to compete and guys trying to get better and guys trying to go out there and win. I'm excited where my career's headed and I'm excited to be a part of this organization."
How close are you to being fully healthy?
"I'm moving forward, doing everything I've got to do to get right. I'm all on track."
How quickly do you think the defense will be able to build chemistry together?
"Me personally, I know a lot of the guys that's coming to the team, whether I played with them in Cleveland or crossed paths just in this league. The league is like a big fraternity. You always see different guys just speaking with (inaudible). Different guys cross path, so with the team camaraderie, I think that it's not going to be super hard to jell. I think that the guys that this organization is bringing in, I think they're bringing like-minded people where personalities will mesh well. I know our GM is making the correct moves and he knows who he's bringing in. I think that it's going to be good for us to jell. I think it won't be hard at all, especially sending guys a few texts here and there who I already know and some new guys. I think we'll mesh well, and I think we'll mesh pretty fast."