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Wong leaves Texans

And then there were seven. An original Texan called it quits Wednesday as the Texans began their first of several organized team activities at the Methodist Training Center.

Kailee Wong, a nine-year NFL veteran, walked away from the Texans after working his way back from a knee injury in 2005 to play in 10 games last season, coach Gary Kubiak's first in Houston.

While his retirement from the NFL is not yet official, it certainly appears that's the direction that Wong is headed.

"The deal that was presented to me from the Texans was more than fair," Wong said in a statement. "They've always treated me more than fair, which is all you can ask for in this business. I currently don't have plans to pursue other employment, but I'm postponing any final decision for later."

It didn't take long for Wong to endear himself to the new head coach and when the veteran linebacker was absent from workouts Wednesday morning, Kubiak informed the media that Wong would be absent from the team's roster this fall.

"What a class guy and what a great player," Kubiak said. "Houston is a better place and this organization is a better place because he was here. I'm sure going to miss him."

The feeling is mutual and Wong believes that the Texans are on the brink of a playoff berth.

"I do believe that this coaching staff under coach Kubiak and this team is going to bring the playoffs to this town and its well deserved for Mr. McNair as well as this city," Wong said.

"Obviously, I'm remorseful that I'm not going to be part of it, but with where I'm at, it's best for me to move on."

Wong came to Houston via free agency prior to the 2002 season after notching 210 combined tackles with the Minnesota Vikings the previous two seasons.

{QUOTE} He contributed right away and was a key part of a Texans defense that ranked among the league's best in several statistical categories in just their first season of existence. He played in every game his first three seasons in Houston, but was sidelined after five games in 2005 with a severe knee injury.

He worked hard to come back and managed to play in 10 games last season, contributing 12 tackles in a reserve role. Perhaps more than his athleticism, the Texans will miss Wong's leadership and presence in the locker room.

The Texans left the door open for Wong to return in 2007. General manager Rick Smith said Wednesday that Wong's decision to leave the team was his alone.

"It was absolutely his decision," Smith said. "He's meant a lot to this organization and been a class guy as you all know. We certainly wanted to give him every opportunity to be a part of this. That was something that was very important to Gary. So yes, this was his decision to make."

Wong didn't disagree.

"Ultimately, I love this team," Wong said. "My decision has nothing to do with the organization. It truly is a personal decision."

With Wong's departure, only five players remain on the Texans roster from the 2002 season. Punter Chad Stanley, guard Chester Pitts, guard/center Steve McKinney, cornerback DeMarcus Faggins, guard Fred Weary, safety Jason Simmons and kicker Kris Brown are the only players who are currently on the roster that were members of the Texans during their inaugural season.

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