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Houston Texans

Your Texans: Larry Kirksey


After watching Texans wide receivers coach Larry Kirksey, you start looking for the big stick. You figure he must have one. He walks so softly.

"He's more quiet," wide receiver Kevin Walter said. "He doesn't need to yell. You know when he talks, you need to listen to him. Every time he says something, you need to make sure you get that right and do exactly what he says, because otherwise, you're going to mess up.

"He's just not the type of person to yell as far as being on someone. He'll get on you, but he won't yell."

Veteran players like Andre Johnson know Kirksey's coaching style is unusual.

"Coach Kirksey is a great person," Johnson said. "He's probably the most laid-back coach I've had since I've been playing football.

"I was really shocked at first, because you really don't find too many laid-back coaches. But he always tells you, don't take that for a weakness. If he really wants to get in your face, he could. That's just not his way of doing it."

Kirksey, who has been coaching for 33 years, doesn't feel a need to yell.

"I'm kind of old-school I guess," said Kirksey, in his first year with the Texans. "I heard (running backs) coach (Chick) Harris say that he was loud, but I'm not a screamer and I'm not a yeller. That's just not me.

"If I've got to scream and yell at you, then you got the wrong guy coaching you. If I do bark, it's once a year and everybody stops and looks and says, 'Oh, something's wrong,' because you don't hear this guy yelling very often."

Kirksey still gets his points across to players young and the old.

"He's a great coach," Walter said. "He demands a lot, whether we're out here doing a walk-through or in a game, he demands a lot. You need to know your assignments. You need to be consistent.

"He's taught me a lot. He's helped me with this offense. He's helped me to be consistent and helped make me comfortable out there. He's done a great job with everybody, not only me, but all the receivers. He knows exactly what to do and I'm glad we have him as a coach."

Teaching is one of Kirksey's strengths.

"I like to think that I'm a teacher because coach has told us we need to teach these guys," Kirksey said. "I'm going to teach you. I'm going to squeeze you around the neck a little bit and look at you kind of differently when you do things wrong. But I expect you to do the right things.

"But my demeanor, don't let it fool you. It's been very successful through the years so I'll leave it at that."

That's almost an understatement. Kirksey's success is measured on a grand scale since he worked with Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens as San Francisco 49ers wide receivers coach for five years.

{QUOTE}Kirksey joined the 49ers and Rice in 1994. The next year, Rice hit career highs with 122 catches and an NFL record with 1,848 receiving yards. In Kirksey's six years with San Francisco, Rice caught 606 passes for 6,666 yards.

He also coached Terrell Owens for his first four years in the NFL, during which Owens caught 222 passes for 3,307 yards. That includes Owens' third season, when he caught 67 passes for 1,097 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Kirksey's resume impresses the Texans.

"That means a lot," Walter said. "He coached the greatest receiver who ever played the game (Rice). That's unbelievable. And he coached him for several years. He's coached many guys. It's unbelievable the talent he has been around and it's just awesome to have him here and have us benefit from his coaching style."

Johnson agrees.

"He's coached some of the best receivers ever, like Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens, guys like that," Johnson said. "If you have a question or anything, you go to him and he's always right there. He's always telling me things to try and help me improve my game.

"He's coached the best receiver to ever play the game. What more can you ask for? I remember when I first met him, he used to tell me a lot about Jerry, how Jerry worked and things like that. He's given me a few films to watch on Jerry. He always gives you things to help make you a better player."

Ironically, the quiet Kirksey doesn't want his star player to mimic his style.

"Andre's one of those quiet guys," Kirksey said. "I wish he'd be a little more talkative and take on more of a leadership role.

"But the thing about him is you know week in and week out, he's going to play hard and give you great effort and he's never ever going to back down from a challenge. So I think his game right now is that he is really starting to take off and he's just going to continue to get better and better."

That is Kirksey's goal with all of his receivers, teaching them to be better every practice.

"Our players are only as good as the coaches," Kirksey said. "We realize that as coaches we may know more information than these guys know, but it's not what we know, it's what the players know.

"When they know what to do, they can go and execute and get it done. That's the key and I just think coach (Gary) Kubiak's a very smart football coach and he's going to put the players in the best position to win and have some success. We as coaches are going to follow the things he's laid before us to get them going."

And you can use your indoor voice to accomplish that.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Carley is a veteran Houston sportswriter who has covered the NFL for more than 25 years. He has worked for such newspapers as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Houston Post, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and the National Sports Daily covering such teams as the Dallas Cowboys, the Houston Oilers, the Los Angeles Rams and the Oakland Raiders.

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