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Old 05-16-2006, 08:29 PM   #1
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Default Williams does 'good job' in first practice

HOUSTON -- Mario Williams was headed to a meeting, then turned to see the throng of reporters that had followed him across the practice field.

It may have been the only moment all morning the No. 1 draft pick looked uncomfortable.

The defensive end fit in seamlessly with his new Houston Texans teammates Tuesday, going through about two hours of drills. It's a good sign considering the Texans will look for Williams to start immediately as they switch from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 scheme.

The 6-foot-7, 292-pounder signed a six-year, $54 million contract, with $26.5 million guaranteed, the night before the draft.

There was no rookie hazing for Williams, just lots of encouragement and pointers from several veteran defensive linemen. Travis Johnson, Houston's first-round pick from last season, was among those helping out.

"They're taking me under their wings and just pushing me to get better," Williams said. "They're already big brothers to me. I feel very comfortable."

Tuesday was also Gary Kubiak's first practice as Texans coach. He has replaced Dom Capers, who was fired after Houston's 2-14 season.

"It's easy to sit in that meeting room and talk about, 'We're going to run the ball. We're going to do this or that,'" Kubiak said. "But you've got to start to do that on the field and have them start to believe in what you're doing."

The Texans chose Williams over Southern California running back Reggie Bush, looking to inject some life into a defense that was ranked 31st overall last season. He could finally give Houston a disruptive pass rusher.

"It's a new experience and I've got a lot to learn," Williams said. "It's a little quicker, but it's not like it's overwhelming or anything like that."

Kubiak was impressed.

"He stopped a lot of our plays," the coach said. "He did a good job. To hop in there day one with the starters and go -- that's a lot to ask. It looks like he did a fine job to me."

The Texans plan to line up Williams against a tight end, a task that might take some getting used to.

"I'm just going to the strong side," he said. "Whew. That strong side is exactly that -- you got the tight end with the tackle all the time. It's a little different there, but I'll be fine."

Williams knows a lot is expected of him.

"I feel like it's a team and I feel like the whole d-line has my back," he said. "I'm going to go out and I'm going to play as hard as I can for them. I feel like whatever happens it's as a unit. I don't feel like the one in the spotlight out there."

Williams, described as a cross between Lawrence Taylor and Julius Peppers, broke North Carolina State records for career tackles for a loss and sacks.

"I hope that maybe one day I can overwhelm people in the NFL the way I did in college," he said. "I've just got to work hard."
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