Safety Will Demps spent the first four seasons of his NFL career with the Baltimore Ravens from 2002-05.
Safety Will Demps and defensive end Anthony Weaver started their pro careers with the Baltimore Ravens. This week, both players will start for the Texans against their old teammates.
Nostalgia? Memories? Renewing friendships?
Yes, all that – before the game starts.
"They gave me the first opportunity to play in the NFL," Weaver said. "They'll always hold a place in my heart, but I'm on to new things now here in Houston. While that place will always be special to me, come Sunday there will be no hugs during the game."
Weaver was the Ravens' second-round draft pick in 2002 after an outstanding career at Notre Dame. He started all 16 regular-season games as a rookie and started 30 more over the next two seasons.
He looks forward to greeting Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, the only holdover coach from the 2000 Super Bowl XXXV team.
"We spent a lot of time together," Weaver said. "He taught me a lot. I owe that man a lot, so it will be good to see him."
Demps was a rookie starter on the 2002 Ravens along with Weaver. Demps had a tougher climb than Weaver. He was an undrafted free agent from San Diego State, but still played in 14 games and had 10 starts as a safety in his first season.
"When you start your career playing with a good defense like they were, learning how to be an NFL player, it's definitely going to be mixed emotions," Demps said of the game on Sunday. "It's another game and it's a game we really need, coming from the loss we had last week."
Demps remained in Baltimore through the 2005 season, starting 11 games that season before being placed on injured reserve with a torn ACL. He started 16 games for the Giants in 2006 and signed with the Texans in September last year. Demps started eight games last season and was named an AFC Pro Bowl alternate.
The friendships Demps formed during his four seasons in Baltimore are secondary this week.
"All the emotion aside, when I step on to the field, it's all about winning the game," Demps said.
The Texans stumbled in their opener last week in a 38-17 loss to Pittsburgh. The Steelers ran effectively and played rugged defense, which is exactly what the Ravens like to do.
Demps sees the upcoming game as a battle of defenses.
"They are going to be tough out there against our offense, so we've got to win that battle with our defense," he said. "We've got to win it for us on our defensive side, create the big plays and get off on third down."
Weaver's final season with the Ravens in 2005 contained an assortment of injuries that cost him six games. It also included his best game as a Raven.
"There's a bunch of moments but, game-wise, the last year I was there we played the Pittsburgh Steelers, who later won the championship," Weaver said. "I had 10 tackles and two sacks. It was my best game as a Raven and something I was proud of."
Weaver stays in contact with some of his former teammates.
"A lot of the guys I played defensive line with, we're still very close and will be the rest of our lives," Weaver said.
Weaver hasn't kept in touch with Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, but he knows what to expect on Sunday.
"He's one of those guys who is a natural leader," Weaver said. "Our offense can be expecting him to be running all over that field on Sunday."
A win against their former teammates would be sweet for Weaver and Demps. It might even wash away the foul taste that still lingers from the Texans' Week 1 defeat.
"For the most part, guys have it in the backs of their mind, but we've moved on," Weaver said of the disappointing start. "We took one on the chin and like any good fighter, you get back up and try to win the next one."
Demps confessed to being troubled by the opening loss.
"It's one of the tough losses you've got to eat," Demps said. "There are a lot of sleepless nights, but it's correctable. You can't sit there and say it's another bad year or week and carry that grudge.
"You look forward to Wednesday because you want to get back and correct the mistakes you made last week. It's another week and another time to move forward."
EDITOR'S NOTE:Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky. Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro sports.