On October 17th of 2010 the Houston Texans season took a turn for the worse, so bad the Texans lost eight of their last ten after their 4th quarter victory over the Kansas City Chiefs 35-31. To make this problem worse the Texans lost DeMeco Ryans to a season ending Achilles injury, which was one of the most gut wrenching sites for Texans fans. The lost of Ryans put the Texans in a world of hurt losing the "Captain" of their defense and even worse their heart and soul of the team.
This Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts will mark the return of Ryans to the Houston defense. One of the most respected players in the locker room, Ryans will be a welcomed site to a new look defense. With Ryans sitting out the last two preseason games, he has been declared by head coach Gary Kubiak 100% heading into kickoff weekend.
Since joining the Texans in 2006, the 2nd round draft pick from Alabama has made a name for himself and has become a fan favorite in Houston. Winning the 2006 Rookie of the Year Award, and being a two-time Pro Bowl Selection ('07,'09) and an All Pro Selection ('07) makes him the most decorated defensive player in their brief history. He started 70 consecutive games until his injury occurred and has over 550 tackles since joining the Texans.
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During camp, Ryans worked himself slowly back from his Achilles injury and at times looked unsure of himself thinking about his injury. He worked hard in camp to get back into playing shape, and it was evident how much he was missed in camp by his teammates. At the end of every warmup, during camp, one of his teammates would yell his name and he would yell out loud, "It's a great day to be alive!" after that the practice seemed to gain some life and intensity. Which is evidence that when he talks other players listen. Ryans was slowed down in camp by an elbow injury and kept him sidelined for the remainder of the preseason, but is primed and ready to go for the 2011 season.
His influence on the Texans goes deeper than stats, he provides a confidence to the team that can't be matched. Ryans prides himself on getting the defense line up and patrolling the middle on game-days. Now, he has the opportunity to be apart of something special that Houston has never had, a real defense. There is a chance that he can lead the team in tackles and be back to his old self. The odds are stacked against him, with the fact that players that come back from achilles injuries are never the same, but don't bet against Ryans.
I am excited to see Ryans back on the field on Sunday and be the leader of this new defensive unit, because if there is any Texans player who deserves some success look no further than him. An unselfish player, Ryans is easily one of the top inside linebackers in the league, when healthy. Health or not you can count that Ryans will be out there giving it his all on the field to make the Texans better and an opportunity to make the playoffs.