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Your Texans: Bush and Franklin


Defensive line coaches Frank Bush and Jethro Franklin put on a good show as the Texans' synchronized screamers. One yells, the other follows. At times, they appear to be a bad cop-bad cop act to squeeze the last ounce of effort from their sweat-drenched players.

They are good friends off the field. They're a loud and blunt one-two force as coaches.

"Chemistry is a part of coaching too and they have coaching chemistry," veteran defensive end N.D. Kalu said. "When one is talking the other doesn't try to talk over him.

"They coach the same and they don't contradict each other. They have chemistry out there and I think it trickles down to the defensive line players."

Most coaches yell. It's part of the job description. The Bush-Franklin duet would do well in an NFL screaming coaches contest.

"What's good about them is that two-a-days are so long, but when they are over there yelling right behind you, it motivates you to finish the drill and finish the practice," Kalu said. "It's good having them around."

Bush is beginning his first season as the Texans' senior defensive assistant, but he has history in the city. After an injury-shortened career with the Oilers, he also served the organization as a scout, linebackers coach and defensive quality control.

Bush left the Oilers after the 1994 season. He worked three seasons with Denver and two with Arizona before coming home to be with the Texans.

Bush scouted Franklin, then a Fresno State sack specialist, and the Oilers drafted Franklin in the 11th round in 1988. Franklin returned to Fresno State in 1991 as a defensive line coach.

Franklin also has stops with UCLA, Southern Cal, Green Bay and last season he was defensive line coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before joining his friend on the Texans' staff.

A compelling duo was formed and they are hard to ignore.

"We both understand the urgency at hand," Franklin said. "We want to get these guys to do what they don't want to do so they can become who they always wanted to be.

"Frank has those Super Bowl rings (with Denver). We want to get some of those Super Bowl rings coming this way."

Bush doesn't consider his and Franklins' coaching styles unique.

"Jethro and I both coach with emotion and passion," Bush said. "We just kind of let it go. It's not that we try to play good cop-bad cop. Sometimes Jethro is a little louder than me and he's bigger than me.

"I think we just coach and it kind of happens that way."

Kalu says his coaches are fair.

"When you do something good, they are the first ones in the screen room when we're watching film to jump up and down giving you the high five," Kalu said. "It's both positive and negative."

The Texans suffered through controversy last season when they drafted defensive end Mario Williams over hometown favorite Vince Young, who led Texas to a national championship and then was taken by the Tennessee Titans.

Williams didn't develop into an instant Pro Bowler. He started all 16 regular season games. His 4.5 sacks set a Texans rookie record, but it didn't meet his expectations.

{QUOTE}The Texans followed last season's draft by taking another defensive lineman with their first-round pick: University of Louisville 20-year-old Amobi Okoye, who must now face the instant super-star expectations.

Okoye likes the coaches who will help lead him through his rookie season.

"They are very intense," Okoye said. "They are cut-to-the-chase kind of guys. They let you know without the BS. They know the expectations also, so they are pushing us."

Okoye knows the pressure Williams received last season. Now it's Okoye's turn.

"We're working together to meet expectations," Okoye said. "He was in the same shoes last year. I'm in the shoes this year. But it's everybody. Everybody leans on each other. We're all hungry."

Okoye was the youngest athlete to appear in a collegiate game at age 16 in 2003 for the Cardinals. Training camp has quickly taught him it doesn't mean much to Bush and Franklin if he doesn't perform now.

"Nowadays if you're a first-round pick, they give you a lot of money to come out here and do some things so you have to come out and do what's expected of you," Okoye said. "There are good times and bad. Hopefully, when the time comes, you'll be ready to go."

As the defensive talent mounts, the pressure increases on players and coaches to climb the defensive charts.

"When you look at pressure, I don't really see it as pressure," Bush said. "It's not pressure because of who those guys are. There is pressure because we have a standard and a way we go about doing things."

"We are a work in progress," Franklin said. "We don't care how it was before. We just know that we have to get a job done and those guys have to get the job done."

Bush says he doesn't care about sacks or other statistics.

"I'm from the old school. I'm not a stats guy," Bush said. "I probably couldn't give you one thing about we did this well and we got this many that of that and it made us successful.

"I think if we get these guys to play as a unit, and create a certain tempo for our defense, in my mind that will be enough and the stats will come. The only stat is winning."

Kalu dresses beside Okoye in the Texans' locker room. He knows why he's there.

"I don't think he needs much leadership but that's why his locker is right next to mine," Kalu said, "so he can see what it takes to make it in the league for 10 or 11 years."

Kalu might tell the kid that stats do count.

"Every coach says that (stats don't matter), but it's the first thing they look at when they want to criticize you on how many sacks you had," Kalu said, smiling.

They all agree the Texans' defensive line is a work in progress.

"The picture is not painted yet. The picture is not done," Franklin said. "We're still brushing up the picture and trying to make it so when it's done and said, it's a beautiful picture."

Franklin even said it without screaming.

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.

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